• Are your salespeople too smart?

    Recently I called a local trade seller with an enquiry, from a sales perspective it was a car crash, but provided a great example of why it pays to be a ‘Sales Dummy’ even in the simplest of sales situations.

    I had a couple of questions about which product would suit me best. Before I’d finished asking the first question, the sales assistant decided they had heard enough and could answer the question, so they jumped in.  Second question, similar result. He contradicts me on a factual but irrelevant point and gives me an answer which again doesn’t help. I won’t go on with the rest but it didn’t get any better.

    After I’d hung up and was sadly reflecting on how many  sales rules had been trampled, the one that came to mind was ‘Dummy Up – in sales it’s smart to be a dummy on purpose.’

    What came across on the phone was an affliction that traps many sales people, particularly if they have been selling for some time. They start to see themselves as an expert who is expected to dispense knowledge and they compound this by indulging in a bit of mind reading. They hear what they want to hear, some part of them gets excited and they can’t wait to jump in and start talking.

    Why does it happen? Fundamentally it’s a behaviour that is rooted in our own individual psychology and the beliefs we have built around that.  Interestingly the same drivers are often why people have found sales an appealing career in the first place and some sales people just don’t have the humility that’s required to change this behaviour.

    How would it feel if you went to see your doctor and within a few seconds of describing your symptoms they decided they knew what the problem was and you were on your way. What actually happens is  that your questions are answered with other questions and they carefully build up a clear picture of your situation, ambiguous answers are clarified and only then will a diagnosis start to form. They use their expertise in the background and the questioning process also helps you build confidence in them and accept the diagnosis.

    It’s a great approach for salespeople to adopt. Getting your prospects talking enables them to qualify their issues and you‘ll find out information that will help you either close the sale, or disqualify them as a prospect.

    Preparation is the key – think of some typical sales situations where you find yourself talking too much. Come up with some ‘Dumb’ questions to ask that will shift the focus  back to your prospect and keep them talking.

    PS. The next call to a similar supplier was answered more professionally, they took time to understand my enquiry, asked a few questions that enabled them to discover that there was an alternative product that could help address my fundamental pain, which, even though its more expensive, will be worth the extra.  I wonder how much business the first person misses out on.

    The smartest sales people know its best to be a dummy on purpose.

    Gary McKinney

    Gary McKinney

    Gary McKinney runs Sandler Training in Yorkshire, based in Leeds, helping business owners regain control of sales and achieve significantly improved sales results.

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  • You want to be Successful…so why Work So Hard?

    Many people believe that the harder you work, the more you will accomplish.

    The problem is: most people are working very hard, but they find they are not accomplishing as much as they’d like.

    Working hard

    In business development (or “selling”) activities, many people deliver proposals, presentations and then follow up with phone calls, more meetings, emails, voicemail, etc. Opportunities may stall, but they’re reluctant to abandon something they’ve put so much time and effort into…

    Some might find they come across a giant opportunity, so they invest the time, effort and resources preparing to pitch for that “big deal”, that could make a monumental impact on their business…mind you, that’s without taking any steps to really qualify the opportunity first. You can guess where it finishes.

    Either way, people are working hard… but when you look at the pipeline of sales opportunities: the same names keep coming up, with nothing really moving forwards.

    Smart working

    Working smart is about using an efficient system or process to develop or progress the activities you are working on.

    In selling, working smart is about having a systematic framework that gives you the specific criteria or benchmarks to meet, so you can qualify or disqualify a prospect early on, and ensure that you focus your time and resources on opportunities that are worthy of attention.

    Steps to Working Smarter

    My two steps to working smarter:

    • First, take a close honest look at the motives that drive you or your people’s approach to selling:
      • Are your actions guided by a system with specific benchmarks that you must hit to keep the process moving forwards?
      • Or are opportunities sometimes being chased for emotional reasons?
    • Second step. Commit to taking actions that are guided by measurable criteria, and not by emotional reasons that lead you or your people to chasing inappropriate opportunities or hanging on too long to other “deals” when they no longer meet your criteria.

    Work smart, not hard.

    Roger Plahay

    Roger Plahay

    Sandler Training in Bath & Bristol A Chartered Accountant by profession, Roger spent his whole career sceptical of salespeople, sales methods and has the firm belief that 99% of sales training simply does not work. He leads effective Sales Development and Business Growth for ambitious business professionals by helping them break the conventional rules that constrain them and win more business.

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  • Do Boy Scouts Make The Best Salespeople?

    Are you Prepared?

    I’ve seen and heard this all to often, salespeople booking appointments and then forgetting about them until the day before the meeting… Is this something you do?

    Is preparation a last minute activity often consisting of quickly looking through your scraps of notes from the last conversation or meeting you attended… And perhaps a quick review of the company website, advertising or marketing materials and/or you think to yourself ‘I’m good at what I do, don’t worry I know my stuff’, and ‘wing it’ through the meeting and then when your preparing a presentation that’s been requested from the prospect you look back you realise you didn’t ask specific questions?

    You maybe asking yourself ‘isn’t that enough, or what more can I do?’

    Ok, think forward to the meetings you have booked with a new prospect and ask yourself these questions…

    • What are the three questions you’ll ask the prospect after you say, ‘Hello’?
    • What questions will you ask to create rapport and get to know the prospect?
    • What questions will you ask to explore the prospects need and hone in on the underlying reasons for, or events that precipitated the need for this meeting?
    • What commitments will you ask for if there is a fit between what the prospect needs and what you can provide?

    If you haven’t identified and rehearsed the questions you’ll need to ask to start the meeting, explore the prospects requirements, qualify the opportunity, and systematically move the meeting to an appropriate conclusion, THEN YOU’RE NOT PREPARED!

     

    Peter Jones

    Peter Jones

    Peter Jones is Managing Director of Sandler Training in the East Midlands. Peter works with business owners and MD’s who want to increase their return on investment made in their sales team and business owners who need to improve their business development skills.

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  • Are You and Your Salespeople Selling or doing loads of Stuff?

    “Stuff” is everything other than focusing on the key sales priorities that actually close new business.

    “Stuff” could involve:

    • Calling existing clients who don’t really want to buy      any more services from you
    • Writing endless emails and perfecting sales proposals      that hardly ever lead to closed business
    • Going to sales meetings only to find the prospect is      looking for “free consulting” and is a time waster
    • Attending networking events and speaking to people who      aren’t really able to buy
    • Doing admin

    A-Player successful salespeople realise that Effective Time Management is the key to all sales success.

    The weekly activities for A-Player salespeople in order of priority are:

    1. Prospecting
    2. Selling
    3. Account Management
    4. Admin
    5. Stuff

    The weekly activities for Average performing salespeople in order of priority are:

    1. Stuff
    2. Admin
    3. Account Management
    4. Selling
    5. Prospecting

    In order to get your salespeople to become A-Players in 2014 you might need a systematic no-nonsense approach to selling and business development that breaks a lot of the traditional rules of selling and gets great sales results.

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • Two minds are better than one

    Many business owners, department heads and sales professionals can feel like their days are spent on some form of never-ending hamster wheel. They are in a constant state of ‘action-mode’ because being ‘busy’ feels like it should equate to accomplishment. And of course this is a great place to be, some of the time.

    When I take on new clients, some of their current challenges can result from recent hiring mistakes. On further analysis I sometimes find that they made the same hiring mistakes two years ago as well, and even two years before that! This indicates that there has been little or no review of their hiring process over this period despite the costs and consequences to the business.

    Likewise when I speak to sales people I often find they are wasting time on opportunities that don’t close and doing a lot of ‘free consulting’ with prospects who don’t buy. More digging often reveals that they had this same problem two years ago!

    When a business owner, sales manager or sales professional brandishes their 20 years of industry or sales experience, is it really two decades of learning and development or one year repeated over and over? Most businesses do not have a process in place for continually assessing and improving how they are hiring, prospecting and selling. The market is evolving – but they are not.

    I have just returned from a three day conference in Florida where I spent time with 300 other Sandler Training professionals reflecting and reviewing how I am doing things. My own natural orientation inclines towards being in action-mode. It provides me with a (false) perception that I’m ‘moving forward’. The conference allows me to take stock and re-assess where I am, re-charge and return with new and improved ways to grow my business.

    If you are a business owner, sales manager or sales professional, make sure you have a regular forum for learning. Failing to do so can result in today’s headaches coming back to haunt you again and again.

    Andy McCreadie

    Andy McCreadie

    Andy McCreadie is a critically-acclaimed coach and facilitator who excels at identifying core sales and management challenges and implementing transformative growth strategies. Before setting up Sandler Training in 2007 in the South West, Andy spent six years as a strategy consultant for Accenture, selling and delivering high profile consulting projects to blue chip companies. He then worked in direct sales – in London and Sydney, managing business development teams across a wide range of industry sectors.

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