• Decision-making process: black hole vs clear future

    About a week ago a client rang asking for help with a really big prospect. Based on the first sales meeting with the decision-maker she agreed to write a proposal, but having submitted it all had gone quiet. The opportunity wasn’t dead but had got stuck somewhere within the prospect’s company.

    As we debriefed her meeting it became obvious that she didn’t have a clear idea of the prospect’s decision-making process. She had established she was talking to the main decision-maker, but the rest was a mystery so she didn’t have a clear future of what would happen next. This is far from uncommon, the importance of really understand the decision-making process of your prospect is often underestimated, yet without it you can easily lose control of the sale temporarily (prolonging the sales cycle) or permanently (lose the sale) as my client did.

    Some of the questions we talked through in the debrief were:

    • Why did they need a proposal?
    • What happens on the prospect side once the proposal has been submitted?
    • Who else would be involved in the decision-making process? How would they be involved?
    • When were they going to make their decision/go ahead with the work?

    Here are a couple of tips to help you with understanding your prospect’s decision-making process:

    • Don’t rush this step
    • Ask more questions so you really understand what their decision-making process involves, not just who is involved

    o   Prepare the key questions you need to ask in advance

    • Be prepared to challenge their process if it doesn’t make sense for you/them. Often companies ask for proposals because that’s what they have always done, not because it helps them make the right decision.
    • Always have a clear future about what happens next
    Caroline Robinson

    Caroline Robinson

    Caroline Robinson is Director of Sandler Training based in Cambridge, working with fast-growing companies who are ambitious about taking their business to the next level. Tel: 01223 882581 Mobile: 07739 344 751

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  • Are you happy with your level of performance?

    The Route to Success

    Are you happy with your level of performance? Are you happy and confident to remain at today’s level of revenues, profit or income?  If your answer is “Yes:” congratulations! You can now save yourself even more time by closing this window and not reading on.

    When we embark on a long-distance car journey, there are a number of things we need to know, understand and have for the journey to end in success:

    • destination – a clearly defined destination, to know where we are heading. How else will we recognise if or when we have arrived?
    • starting-point & roadmap or GPS satnav – tools or processes that allow us to identify where we are start from; and the clear roadmap of our journey, including landmarks so we know we’re on the right path.  Without a starting point, map or satnav, how are we going to know how to get to our destination?
    • resources – the tools, assets and know-how for our journey: access to a vehicle (and roads!) knowledge or competency to drive the vehicle, fuel for our journey, funds for more fuel or stop-offs on our journey, time allotted to make the journey.
    • contingency planning can help us get to our destination more efficiently – knowing alternative routes in case of traffic jams, roadworks, cover for breakdowns will help “guarantee” our safe arrival at the destination.

    Business success is a like a car journey – we can manage more successful business outcomes if we have in place: a business destination, satnav/roadmap, resources and contingency plans on overcoming potential roadblocks.

    Most businesses have aspirations to grow or develop – but some are without a clear goal or destination. I often find that these businesses are driven by circumstance: their results are inconsistent and the outcomes are reactive; rather than successful by design.

    Whether our goal is for a better business or to get in front of a certain type of customer, our first step is to identify (as clearly as possible) what our aspirational future state looks like – what our future business looks like, or the detailed profile of our ideal customer.

    The clearer the picture we have of our goal, the better equipped we will be to identify the roadmaps, landmarks, resources and contingency plans needed to achieve the goal.  To quote Stephen R Covey: “begin with the end in mind.”  We can then start to achieve success by design, rather than leaving it to chance.

    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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  • Ego is Your Enemy

    Ego starts to form at the moment you have your first painful experience in life. You begin protecting yourself with a wall which you build one brick at a time, outwards, and upwards. And as you receive slights, disappointments, you hurt yourself, you’re shamed for role failure (school, parents, peers) you keep building the wall to protect yourself.

    Shutting people out, never letting people in, being afraid to ask questions or ask for help for fear of looking stupid, weak, inadequate, becoming a perfectionist so no one can ever shame you again like you were shamed when you decided, “Never again will anyone make me feel that way again” are all reactions to our sense of Who we are, our Identity, taking some kind of beating and wanting to protect ourselves from feeling diminished like we did when at some point or points in our history.

    Ego is the voice in your head when you’re having an argument with your spouse that says, “Are you going to let her get away with that?” and despite the sensible voice in your head telling you not to do it, you do it anyway and you say something you are just about to regret for 3 weeks and suffer from a bad back from sleeping in the doghouse. Scoring points in a marriage or relationship rarely results in long term happiness for both parties, does it?

    And in sales, how often is our ego our own undoing?

    We are focused on our wants and needs so we project that to the prospect and they feel like we don’t have their best interests at heart. We are preoccupied with the row we are going to face when we get home so we don’t pay attention to what they are saying, and we ask a question that proves we weren’t listening, so we prick their egos and before you know it, we’re both at it. Scoring points, proving we are more credible, wise or knowledgeable than they are. If our egos are really huge we will not even realise what ewe are doing to others.

    A financial planner I know visited an accountants to review one of their client’s portfolios. He spent the whole time saying how good he was, how bad and stupid the client was and how badly he’d been advised. In the end the accountant asked him to leave and he was left with the impression they liked him, they see the value he offers and that they will refer future business his way. I know the accountant and they will NEVER do business with him. Some people are blighted with a high sense of self that far outstrips their aptitude or altitude.

    Ego is the thing that stops us from asking questions for fear of appearing ignorant, unprepared or naïve. Yet when I ask naïve questions I often get thanked by the others in the room who I’d assumed understood what was going on, but didn’t and my question and the answer that followed it helped them get clarity too. Ego is what limits us to charging market rate than premium based on the value you deliver to the prospect. Ego prevents you from allowing yourself to dare, to push to the limits of your talents and prevents you from turning your talents into strengths. Ego stops you talking about money with ease and comfort. It’s ego that is the nagging voice of self-doubt that undermines you so you regularly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    It is ego that makes us feel like we are not worthy to be in the presence of people more successful that ourselves. It’s ego that causes us to fail to take responsibility, to see role failure as a personality defect, to believe we are bad people or doing a bad, dirty thing when we sell, when we discuss money, when we talk to strangers, when we make money easily. And it’s ego that causes us to think we know best, “Here, let me show you how I’d do that” or “Do you know what you should do?”,and blames and diminishes others, “You always do that”, “You’ve ruined everything”.

    Ego NEVER serves you well and is guaranteed to find its match in someone else who as insecure and dysfunctional as you are (i.e. nearly every other member of the species). You will take one of three positions. That of Victim (“Why does this always happen to me? Life is sooooo unfair”), Persecutor (“You are a failure. You are a disappointment. You always ruin things. I might have known you’d mess this up! Typical!” and that of Rescuer (“I was only trying to help”, “You’re doing it wrong. Here! Let me have a go!”)

    Staying non-attached to the outcome, letting go of your ego, being mindful and focused on the present moment takes you out of this dark and dangerous place. It leads to clarity and cohesion between you and your prospect. It leads to partnerships where you co-develop solutions and move forward by mutual agreement. You develop relationships based on mutual agreement, mutual understanding and mutual acceptance towards shared objectives. No mind reading. No mutual mystification.

    Great salespeople never let their ego get between them and the reason they are in front of the prospect. Nor do they ever forget a good result is a clean Yes with an order, a clean No with a clear future next step, a clean No with a referral or a clean No with a lesson. Anything else and you have just wasted their time and yours.

    Never allow yourself (ego) to get between the prospect and their decision to buy.

  • Should I wear a tie?

    I saw this question posted this week on a discussion group populated by “sales experts”. There were no shortage of answers to this apparently hot topic.

    Has nothing in the world of sales changed for 30 years? This “What should I wear?” debate has been going on forever!

    It consists of people expressing their “opinions”. And opinions, as the cleaned up version of the old adage goes, are like noses. Everyone has them. They all smell. And are all ugly. Except mine of course…mainly because I can’t see it!

    So, over the years I have interviewed dozens top performing sales people from many industries. (And even more bad ones. Sales people that is. Not industries)

    What they told me will not come as any great surprise to most of you*

    Short version: It does not matter what you wear.

    Long version: The prospect does not know or care what you are wearing when they realise they have a problem. They don’t know or care what you are wearing when they get a recommendation to call you. Nor when they convince you that the problem is important enough for you to find some time in your busy schedule to see them. Nor when they confirm to you on the phone that they are willing and able to spend some money should it turn out that you can help them. ….no matter what you look like.

    These successful people can all answer the question ”What is your strategy for building trust with another human being?”
    and, “How do you build a prospecting plan that will consistently produce an abundance of prospects” and “ What is your strategy for disqualifying weak prospects early?”.

    They DO NOT worry about questions like “Now I have successfully begged an appointment with someone who I hope is a prospect, I better make sure they like me and I impress them. What should I wear?”

    That’s my 2 cents. Thanks for reading.

    (*….especially if you have read “The Challenger Sale”, or “Why sales people fail, and what you can do about it” available as a pdf from me if I can find it on my new mac!).

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand runs Sandler Training in the Midlands based at the Innovation Centre in Longbridge.

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