• What Scares You?

    How have you been enjoying Halloween? Carving pumpkins? Trick or Treating? Watching scary movie? Traditionally on Halloween we enjoy a fright. We dress up as an awful witch or a blood sucking Dracula. Darkness comes as the night draws in earlier as winter approaches and the stage is set for a spooktacular time, yet have you thought about what scares you in business?

    In play, as at Halloween, we allow ourselves to be scared however so often in the work environment we ignore or bury what is really petrifying us. So now you are thinking about it, what scares you? The things that give people a fright, whether they are business owners, directors, professionals, sales teams or sales managers often stem from the same things.

    Firstly there is fear of failure. This can often rear its ugly head when people won’t even try, just incase they fail. They would rather stay where they are than do anything that could bring about failure in their eyes or in the eyes of others.

    Secondly there is fear of rejection. We all know sales is all about people so we worry that they might not like me. If I ask that tough question or tell them the absolute truth they will reject me so instead we put our needs first and just keep them liking us.

    Thirdly there is fear of success. People often find this one hard to believe because everyone dreams of having a bigger house, more money, providing for their family surely? Of course they do, but don’t misunderstand fear of success. Many people believe they don’t deserve success and have a self-destruct button. They seem to get on a roll of doing well and then all of a sudden they do something that gets in their own way and they show themselves they can’t be successful.

    The most important thing to do first is to be aware of what scares you as only then can you start to recognize it and do something about it. So this Halloween what gives you a fright in business?

    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

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    TwitterFacebookLinkedIn

  • Glencoe Blog

    Four months ago my husband bought me a present.  How nice you might be thinking.  Well hang on because the present was entry to an off-road mountain marathon in Scotland in October.  As you may imagine my reaction was probably more muted than he had anticipated.  To give you some context, I have done a marathon before but it was 5+ years ago, and I found the training and event itself an incredibly painful experience, plus I’ve had a child and eaten lots of cakes since so wasn’t really in the mindset of embracing another one.  However I am a competitive soul, so to be told that he was doing it too spurred me to start training in the flatlands of Cambridgeshire, not the ideal mountain training ground.

    Very quickly I realised that something was different to when I trained for the previous marathon.  For some reason I wasn’t finding it as painful, not spending every minute thinking ‘when will this be over’ ‘why is running so hard’ ‘I hate hills’ etc.  It took me a little while to work out what was different. Attitude.  Since my last marathon I started journaling every day and one of my affirmations is that exercise makes me more effective in work.  Stepping up the training was the first time that I realised that this journalling had fundamentally changed how I viewed running and made the whole experience more enjoyable.

    Having made that connection, I took it further and started to do some visualization, which I had heard a lot about but never done.  Now as I am running I am channeling my inner Alistair Brownlee. That world class triathlete has a very distinctive upright running style which makes for highly effective running.  Previously my husband has described my running as rather pigeon-toed suggesting there was clearly some room for improvement!  I got some external guidance on my style and was told that running more upright would make the single biggest difference when transforming from pigeon to athlete.  Of course it’s the first thing that goes when I get tired but visualizing AB’s running style helps me correct that.

    I’m also in the process of changing my attitude to pain. Previously I would see it as an awful thing and drop back into the negative mindset, making the whole thing harder than it needed to be. Now when it hurts, I think this is making me fitter and stronger and more effective at work.  Writing it down makes it sound a bit daft, but its really helping.

    There are still 4 weeks to go, but my training times are coming down, my mileage has increased surprisingly easily and I’m feeling much fitter, stronger and most importantly mentally stronger.

    So, what on all earth does any of this have to do with sales?   There are so many parallels I could draw on but I’m going to pick on prospecting.  I used to have a similar attitude to prospecting as running.  I used to hate prospecting, what a waste of time cold calling, no-one is ever in etc.  But over the years I’ve been journaling about prospecting too, as well as getting external help with technique and even now every day continue to work on making my attitude more positive. And boy has it helped with my results.

    So my challenge to you is what do you think too negatively about and how does that affect your performance.  What are you doing to change your attitude, improve your techniques and ultimately improve your sales performance?

    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

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    LinkedIn

  • Asking Great Questions

    Learning to ask great questions is better than learning to say great things. Initially the prospect should be doing 70% of the talking. How else will you get to know about them, their business or if they have problems you can help with?

    Unfortunately, many times this is not the case and many feel the mark of a dynamic salesperson is their ability to thoroughly answer a prospect’s questions (even the unasked questions), demonstrate knowledge and expertise and provide detailed information about their product or service.

    In the situation where you’re unloading everything you have, but you’re not getting qualified information from the prospect, who’s in control? After they have all your information, what happens next? Any chance they’ll decide they can fix the problem themselves with the information you’ve provided? Would they take your information and shop it around or use it to keep their current supplier ‘honest?’

    Here are three reasons why asking great questions is important:

    1. Great questions focus on the buyer’s concerns, not features and benefits. Is it more likely they’ll buy for their reasons or yours?
    2. Questions help uncover the prospect’s PAIN and how critical it is to them, both from a business perspective and personally.
    3. The highest form of respect is listening. When you ask a question and they respond, ask another question to show you not only listened but are interested in knowing more. They just may give you more.

    The more time you spend talking, the greater risk of doing a lot of ‘unpaid consulting’. You’re not in business to be an ‘unpaid consultant’ and you can’t help solve prospect problems with features and benefits that don’t fit.

    Ask great questions. Discover and understand the problems. Only then is it time for the features and benefits that fit.

    Anneli Thomson

    Anneli Thomson

    Anneli is an expert in sales culture and talent management. She is a keen champagne drinker and triathlon enthusiast. The UK Franchisee of the Year 2014.

    More Posts

    Follow Me:
    TwitterLinkedIn

  • Are you sabotaging your own business?

    Here’s Why You Might Be Sabotaging Your Own Business

    Running your own company can cause you problems. But are you unknowingly creating some of them? 

    Let me explain.

    Many recent surveys have shown that only one third of UK workers are engaged with their organisation. But should this matter to your business?

    It depends. Are you frustrated that your staff are often sick or fail to understand your customer’s needs or lack creativity or sometimes your top people unexpectedly leave? Do you feel that maybe they aren’t adding the value they should be to your business?

    Your business probably doesn’t have any of these issues but take a look at the below table which sums up recent research from various groups.

    Neil Liddell table

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It is clear from this research that there is a definite link between employee engagement and high organisational productivity and performance. But it goes much further than this.

    The conclusion from all the employment engagement research conducted by the major players is that employee engagement impacts positively on:

    • Moral
    • Absenteeism
    • Stress
    • Innovation
    • Retention
    • Motivation
    • Involvement
    • Advocacy

    Some business owners view some of these points as “nice to have”. But a Gallup study demonstrated that those with the highest employee engagement averaged 18% higher productivity than those with lower levels. 18% higher productivity, for any business, would have a significant impact on their bottom line not including the other benefits.

    The question is, if the benefits of employee engagement are so significant then why are so few doing so?  A major report just released in July this year from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Management Commission puts it down to:

    1. Short term gains brought about by cutting budgets, making redundancies and, in some cases, reducing quality and customer service levels. This has lowered morale in many companies with the result being; employee disengagement.
    1. Old–fashioned pyramid structures stop employees from engaging fully with their company.
    1. Many businesses are still reluctant to invest in management training. This leads to reducing leadership and management skills which has a negative impact on employee engagement.

    So why is so little being done to improve matters?

    The recent recession is one possible reason why there has been a focus on short term gain and leadership and management training has been put on the back burner.

    So what can MD’s do now to improve their employee engagement and ultimately their bottom line? They can:

    1. Focus on the longer term goals of the business.
    2. Adopt a flatter management structure as this give far more employee engagement.
    3. Invest in leadership and management training.

    As business strategy adapts to the new growing economy it can either skill up or carry on regardless. However the research suggests that those who fail to cultivate an employment engagement culture by taking the suggested measures are likely to be the losers along with their company’s bottom line.

    Neil Liddell

    Neil Liddell

    Neil enjoys premium recognition with leading decision-makers, he embraces the lifeblood of the Sandler™ methodology. As Managing Director of Sandler Training Central-England, he brings drive, passion and decades of goal-breaking experience to what he and Sandler™ do best; create world-class sales professionals and help CEOs drive lasting growth through training, counsel and ongoing support. Tel: 0845 0573563 Mobile: 07547 227442

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    TwitterLinkedIn

  • The Art of Balance

    There is an old saying that we have all heard, ‘ There are always 2 sides to every story’. But sometimes we forget that we are sounding one-sided, and when you’re trying to sell, or develop a relationship, this can really hurt you, and lose you a lot of points from your Bonding and Rapport Loyalty card.

    You don’t have to have too many conversations before you hear one-sided views: “Skodas are rubbish”, “That was definitely a penalty” or “Scotland should be independent”.  No surprise that some people think Skodas are great, that no way was it a penalty and Scotland should stay part of the UK.   Politicians and Salespeople are often the worst offenders. When you listen to the political party speeches, from any party, what you hear are one-sided arguments why they believe they are best for the UK, and why the other sides are fools or misguided.  Many amateur salespeople too often sound like the prospect would have to be mad not to see the value of their product or service, or they sound like they can solve everyone’s issues. Typical one-sided statements might start with “ My product will help you in many ways…..”, “ We’re the only company that can…..” or “ I’ll show you how you’ll get at least a 20% improvement………”

    In Sandler, No is OK is a classic ‘balanced’ move. It communicates that you see both sides that things could go both ways, and this is a massive bonding and rapport move. “We’re proud of the results we’ve achieved in your industry but I’m not presuming at this point that we’ll end up working together’, for example, takes the pressure off both sides and enables the conversation to be relaxed. Sometimes you see a physical reaction in front of you, and this leads to more open and truthful discussions.

    Human beings – and that includes you – can readily think of both sides of any situation, but it’s more often when they’re listening than when they’re speaking. Serious business people are ‘balanced’. They assess pros and cons, investment and returns, going left vs going right, and we should communicate in this balanced way if we want their respect and trust.

    Here’s a classic example of where I got the balance wrong when I was starting my Sandler Training business.  I visited a big ticket IT managed Services Company in Surrey. My prospect was the VP of worldwide sales, was a Swede, and D/C profile (Extended DISC: D=direct/decisive/goal focused; C=conscientious/correct/analytical).  He clearly didn’t want a lot of warm up chat, so I set what I thought was a reasonable UFC (up front contract) for the meeting.  When the contract was done, and early in the discussion I asked ‘So tell me about the challenges that your sales team face when they’re out trying to win business’.  His response stopped me in my tracks.  He said ‘ I didn’t invite you here for a counselling session’. Now that was a spine straightener, and I didn’t properly recover.

    When I was debriefing this later in the day I realised that my comment was not balanced – it sounded like “I can fix everyone’s problems with selling and lucky you, I’ve turned up here to solve yours”

    I have never said the same words since. Now I would make a balanced suggestion, “ When your sales people are out there trying to win business, tell me about what’s working well and enabling them to bring in the orders, and tell me about some of the areas where you feel there is room to get more effective, to raise their bar a little”

    Business people are comfortable talking to anyone who is balanced, that sees both sides. Sound one-sided and you’ll sound like an amateur sales person, or even worse like a politician, and you’ll get treated like one.

    Steve Swatman

    Steve Swatman

    Steve started his Sandler Training business in 2008 after 25 years of successful sales and sales management in the technology markets, both in large established companies and start-ups. He is the lead trainer in the Sales Academy for Microsoft and their partners. He trains people who have the guts to change and the humility to laugh at themselves. Mobile: 07799 838908

    More Posts

  • Is there any advantage to following conventional wisdom?

    Is there any advantage to following conventional wisdom? Or, by doing so, will you only be following rules made by other people? Rules that may no longer be appropriate…and may actually work against you.

    Let’s examine some conventional sales “wisdom.”

    Cast your net wide – “tell your story” to as many people as possible.

    That’s an excellent strategy… for the barker at the fair ground. Everyone who walks by and everyone at the fair ground within earshot is a potential customer for the attraction he is promoting. When was the last time you had the luxury of standing in one spot as potential customers drifted by; or sitting at your desk as prospects, eager to obtain information and place orders, clogged your incoming phone lines?

    For the most part, the carnival barker expends the same amount of resources – vocal energy – regardless of the size of the crowd that walks by or the likely interest of the individual crowd members. But, for you, the professional salesperson, the amount of resources used, of which time is likely the most precious, should be directly proportional to the size of the “crowd” to whom you attempt to tell your story. Telling your story to people who don’t have a high probability of interest is a waste of those resources. Casting a narrow net, being selective and narrowing your focus to prospects that fit a profile based on specific criteria is a more efficient strategy.

    Emphasise the unique aspects of your product or service.

    The unique aspects of your product or service differentiate it from that of your competition. Isn’t that a good thing? Well, yes, if there is a distinct connection between the unique aspects and the acknowledged needs of the prospect…and the prospect recognises the connection. The prospect is likely to view the “unique aspects” that don’t address his needs or are introduced too early in the selling process for him to make the connection as added expense to be avoided. Your unique aspects may facilitate your unique exit.

    Make polished professional presentations.

    What could be harmful about a polished and professional presentation? Often, they are too polished. They are so well rehearsed that they come off as robotic displays of concepts, facts, and figures, complete with supporting charts and graphs. Technically, they are precise and complete…and cold. They lack the human element. Yes, prospects buy based on the facts and figures, but they buy from people with whom they are comfortable and whom they trust – people who can share information rather than just present it.

    Presentations can also be too professional. That is, they encompass every conceivable aspect of the product or service – including those in which the prospects have no interest or need. Such professional presentations divert attention from the core issues around which prospects are prepared to make decisions and instead, give them reasons to put off making those decisions.

    Focus on the benefits and advantages for the prospect.

    Prospects have their own reasons for buying specific products and services. And their reasons may be, and often are, different than the reasons you perceive or the reasons your company’s marketing/advertising department chose to spotlight. Focusing on any specific benefits and advantages before determining their relevance to the prospect’s goals and initiatives and the importance the prospect places on them is likely to work against you.

    If your product or service has more than one set of benefits and advantages, you need to carefully test the waters with your prospects before focusing on any particular set. It’s better to get their attention slowly than to lose it quickly.

    You can follow conventional (conformist, conservative, predictable) wisdom and achieve conventional results. Or, you can chart your own path, follow your own rules, and achieve unconventional (unusual, original, exceptional) results. There may be some real wisdom in that.

    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.

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    LinkedIn