• Excuses, Lies and other Sales B.S

    We all know the old, well-worn joke

    Q. How do you know when a sales person is lying?

      A. Their lips are moving.nigel

    This joke resonates with many of us as we remember all the times we have been miss-sold, or listened to exaggerated claims made by those over enthusiastic sales people. By that I mean “Those” sales people. Not us or our people. Of course not!

    Yet the real whoppers, the most damaging untruths are not what sales people tell prospects. It is actually what they tell their colleagues, it’s what they tell you-the boss and most insidiously, themselves…Lies and excuses masquerading as reasons.

    Have you ever noticed when a sales person wins a deal it was because of what they said or did? Yet when they fail to close the deal it was always because of something apparently outside of their control?

    Here is what I mean.

    Lies Truth
    1 The target was not realistic I failed to build/action/fine-tune the correct plan to make the mutually agreed plan achievable.
    2 It’s the economy/market I failed to update the old plan that used to work to fit the new reality.
    3 Lost a big account unexpectedly My plan failed to take into account the likelihood of losing a big customer.
    4 Our delivery/quality/service has issues Our plan was based upon false assumptions. I did not adjust it to the reality of the company’s capabilities.
    5 Marketing is not generating enough leads Our prospecting plan and our prospecting skills did not get us in front of enough new opportunities.
    6 Our price is sometimes too high Our prospecting plan and our prospecting skills did not get us in front of enough right opportunities.
    7 Competitors have an unfair advantage We do not have the skills to effectively identify how we need to position ourselves when we face competition.
    8 Lost a key salesperson My plan failed to take into account the loss of a key person.
    9 Customers can’t make timely decisions We don’t have the skills to identify the real decision making process.
    10 It’s just not possible to build and implement a plan that guarantees success My self-fulfilling beliefs provide me with an excuse for inaction.

    So, why do they lie to themselves and us?

    One reason is that it is more comfortable to do so than confront the truth, the other is that we let them.

    We let them and ourselves get away with failing to take responsibility and ownership, we fail to get to the uncomfortable truth. We avoid the difficult conversation and we too choose the lie instead because… It is easier.

    “Truth will set you free”

    Tired of falling victim to these types of lies, excuses and B.S?

    Open to an alternative, no B.S approach to managing sales teams?

    Contact our office or come as our guest to a Business Leaders Sales Masterclass.

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

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

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  • SW3 – Some Will, Some Won’t, So What.

    The situations SME business owners (who are primarily responsible for their business’ sales) and sales professionals face on a day-to-day basis can take a tremendous toll on your emotional and mental well-being. If actively prospecting, you deal with rejections, frustrations, disappointment, and possibly disrespect on a daily basis.

    You probably experience more emotional ups and downs than most other professionals. And, no matter how successful you are, your income is less predictable than that of salaried employees. How you react to these setbacks drives your performance on future deals.

    For example, if your feelings about asking a prospect a difficult question stop you from asking, then you start a downward spiral to nowhere. First, you’re uncomfortable asking, so you don’t ask and end up wasting time with a non-qualified prospect. You then get angry with yourself and/or the prospect for wasting time. All these negative feelings and actions only serve to tear down your emotional and mental well-being.

    When you think about it dispassionately, it makes no sense to allow your emotions to be affected by one deal being lost or one difficult prospect– the world’s best footballer does not score a goal with every shot, the world’s best tennis player does not win every game. The very best sales people will win 50-70% of deals they chase. Not winning a deal is just part of the job. Remember this formula:

    In other words, it is completely normal to win some deals, lose some and as long as you have a process to continually find new and win opportunities it does not matter. If you concentrate on doing the basics right – having a proactive prospecting plan, qualifying hard, following a structured sales process, measuring and analysing results and working on continuous improvement of your professional selling skills – the results will come – guaranteed.

    Remember this formula: 

    SW3 = Some Will, Some Wont – So What

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool is Managing Director of Sandler Training in Cheltenham. He works with companies who wish to increase their return on the investment made in their sales team and with local business owners who need to improve their own business development skills. Prior to starting Sandler Cheltenham, Steve had a 25 year sales career including Sales Director positions with CapGemini and Capita. He also specialised in leading major deals in the IT, BPO and consulting markets. Tel: 01242 420750 Mobile: 0750 750 5996

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  • Are Your People Everything They Seem To Be?

    Many businesses have salespeople that are constantly busy – consistently working hard – but not getting the results they should be.  Why is that?

    • Some people with initiative may lack focus or clear goals, so they don’t work on or prioritise the right activities or opportunities.
    • You’ll hear salespeople with low self-responsibility make excuses, or blame other people for their lack of performance.  They will tell you that they “must have better marketing materials,” or “need more leads” to perform better.
    • Others fear rejection – you’ll find them working on proposals for prospects who’ve asked for a quote (without qualifying them first) because at least then they don’t need to go and hunt for new business.

    Understanding which of these applies is critical to both selecting and developing your sales team.  Thus being able to predict performance is critical when hiring or promoting your sales people.lion roger

    When assessing how effective or good your people are (or will be) at selling, there is one competency that stands out as a good predictive indicator of success.  That competency is Ambition & Drive – a measure of a person’s attitude of expecting to win and striving to be the best that they can be.

    But, how do you measure or score that attitude in an individual?

    Many organisations employ assessment tools that ask respondents to self-assess their abilities – we call these normative assessments. The problem is that for individuals who score low on self-awareness, their self-scored capabilities are unlikely to be a reliable barometer of their suitability or success in a job.

    In tests where people self-assess their own capabilities, a person can self-score themselves as “good” at everything.  Salespeople and leaders are segments of the business population to most likely to invest in themselves through reading or ongoing self-development.  A salesperson is likely to believe or at least agree that they are goal orientated and competitive irrespective of how they perform – they will tend to know that these are the answers successful salespeople give.

    Other factors – perhaps not measured by the assessment tool – can distort the link between a self-scored competency and selling success.  A person, deficient in raw sales ability, may be a good cultural fit for the organisation that helps lift their performance.  But how could we know that? What traits could a person be leveraging that might sufficiently compensate for weaknesses?

    I have found that well-designed ipsative assessments (sometimes referred to as “forced-choice”) provide a more objective measure of a person’s skills, behaviours and attitudes.

    Whilst competencies like Ambition & Drive propel success, negative competencies exist that torpedo success – for example, a high “Need for Approval” or “Negative Outlook” can get in the way of person’s sales success. And these negative traits or dispositions are commonly a salesperson’s personal blind spots:

    • A salesperson is unlikely to give themselves a low-score on being results-focused. However, a salesperson’s behaviour around maintaining a good customer-relationship (‘good’ things generally) can, in fact, slow-down or hinder the sales process –  especially if they don’t see that their focus on seeking the customer’s approval and keeping them happy may get in the way of completing the sale. This focus needs to re-assert itself post-sale to facilitate excellent customer service, retention and referrals but be managed during the sales process itself.
    • We all see things through our own lenses – through filters that colour our own personal view of the world.  People with a Negative Outlook tend not to think they are negative – they say “I’m realistic.” It’s a blind spot for them.

    When we look at evaluating our salespeople, we need to balance self-assessed or normative approaches with appropriate ipsative assessment tools that objectively score against benchmarks of successful behaviour and attitudes.  If we do that, we can avoid having a skewed view of our organisation’s capability and our people. If we use both together, we can objectively measure Ambition & Drive, uncover blind spots and help identify the effective actions that will improve our people’s performance.

    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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  • Is it your brain, or your second brain that gets you to the bank?

    I was reading an article from a past edition of Scientific American recently.  What was fascinating is the evidence emerging of the importance of the nervous linkage between our brain and our guts.  We all know about ‘butterflies in our stomach’ before we do something important and how our body feels when we are in stressful situations.  The article goes as far to suggest that our gut can be thought of as our ‘second brain’.

    That set me thinking about how we can behave in meetings with prospective clients.  I am sure that we all know that to become emotionally involved in a sale plays to the prospects system and can lead to appearing needy.  The chances of making a successful sale in those circumstances are significantly reduced.  That’s with our brain, though.  So, what about the gut?  Yes, surprisingly that old saying – trust your gut – does have some truth here.

    Just suppose your prospective client’s office looks as though it could do with a good coat of paint and you are offered coffee in non-matching chipped mugs.  Things are a bit thread-bare generally and XP is still running on the office PCs.  What might you start to feel?  A little uneasy?  Maybe cash is a bit tight?  Could they afford your service?  Just that feeling in your gut ……?

    In Sandler, we say ‘If you feel it, say it.’  Raise what you feel early on in the conversation.  “Mr Jones, my biggest fear is that we will get well into the meeting and you will say that you like my service, but when it comes to talking about the investment required and price, you will tell me that you don’t have the budget for it.  Would that be a fair statement?  Could we talk about that now?”

    If that turns out to be the case, better to find out sooner and have the chance to exit in a friendly manner before wasting your time or the prospect’s.  Move on to the next!  Increase your chances to getting to a prospect who does want to buy quicker and get to the bank sooner!  Take note of your ‘second brain’!

    For more food for thought about how to get to the bank quicker – and some for your ‘second brain’ in the form of coffee and biscuits – come to one of our seminars.  For more information you can find a Sandler training centre here.

    Graham Hudson

    Graham Hudson

    Graham is passionate about helping business owners, manager and professionals to transform the way their businesses grow. He works with business owners, managers and senior professionals in and around Winchester. He works best with those who are open-minded about changing what they do now, prepared to overcome embedded ways of thinking, move outside of their comfort zone and watch their business grow through applying new disciplines. Tel: 01962 217440 Mobile: 07889 546694

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  • Successful People

    Thinking about the attributes and qualities of successful people provides a great benchmark for us to audit our own ‘success factor’.  Look at the list below of 8 attributes of successful people that I have pulled together.  Augment the list if you think there is something missing – and let us know so we can build up a super list.

    Or you could take the list and using it as a benchmark rate yourself –

    1. Successful People Embrace change. Unsuccessful People Fear change.

    Change is always going to occur around us, indeed the only thing that will not change is the fact that change is inevitable.  Given this you have a choice.  Either you choose to adapt and flourish or slowly fail.  Some changes are incremental so unless you are vigilant you might not even notice things changing around you.  In some ways this is the most dangerous since those less attuned and focused on changing and growing (as a person, as a business) will, possibly without even realising it, decline.  Abrupt changes, whilst potentially more frightening, at least jolt us into action, albeit often late and less effective than if the change is anticipated and managed.  To be successful you need to set your own change agenda and work on this.

    1. Successful people want others to succeed. Unsuccessful people secretly hope others fail.

    Spending all your time hoping someone fails not only attracts bad energy, it’s simply a waste of time. All those times thinking about the demise of others is time that can be spent doing things to help you become more successful.  It is having the attitude of plentifulness versus the attitude of scarcity.  The attitude of plentifulness means that you do not need to worry about others, indeed you can see endless possibilities if the people around you succeed.  The attitude of scarcity means that you work on the premise the only one person can succeed so the more that fail the better your chances.  The problem with this latter position is that it creates failure.  If you believe success if scarce, it become scare and you suffer from this.

    1. Successful people accept responsibly for their failures. Unsuccessful blame others for their failures.

    Being a true leader takes one who will be honest when they screw up. It puts you in a position of solving the problem instead of complaining about it. This is the difference between taking responsibility and having the mindset “I am responsible for everything that happens to me” as opposed to one where you defend and justify.  If you are late it is the fault of the traffic rather than the fact that you choose to not get up 30 minutes earlier ‘just in case the traffic is bad’.  This choice may not have been a bad choice in itself (indeed over time it probably saves you a considerable amount of down time; the key is that it was your choice.

    1. Successful people talk about ideas. Unsuccessful people talk about other people’s failures.

    Talking about other people’s failure or faults is a waste of time. However, it can become very addictive.  It is an example of externalising responsibility. Thinking more positively and focusing on ideas and possibilities will have an uplifting effect on everything that you do.  Think about how much time you currently spend taking about other people in a negative way.  Imagine the benefits if all that time is spent on brainstorming the next big idea that changes the world, or even your world.

    1. Successful people give people all the credit for their victories. Unsuccessful people take all the credit from others.

    No matter who you are, it takes an amazing team of talented people to help you attain success. Spending time making sure the people you work with are appreciated will not only help attract the best talents to you, but help ensure everyone is giving their best efforts to complete the end-goal.  Taking the time to thank people who have helped you achieve each success is integral to how successful people operate.

    1. Successful people operate from a transformational perspective. Unsuccessful people operate from a transactional perspective.

    True leaders focus on growth and ways to make him/herself and the people around them better. It’s not always about just getting as much out of people as possible. This is not only short term thinking, but doesn’t set you up as a person people would want to be around with.  Taking the longer term view might take a bit more time in the short term but pays dividends longer term.  In response to a request for help ‘Here, let me do it, it will be quicker’ vs ‘let’s take the time to run through it together and then you have a go so you can do it next time’.

    1. Successful people forgive others. Unsuccessful People hold grudges.

    Successful people are always forward thinking and know that holding grudges can hold them back. Take Steve Jobs for example, even with his bouts with Bill Gates, it was ultimately Gates who took part in investing his own dollars to help save Apple. You can’t do stuff like that when you hold grudges with people.

    1. Successful people have gratitude. Unsuccessful people don’t appreciate others and the world around them.

    Being appreciative of the things around you keeps you grounded and makes you realise the beauty of the world. You can’t change the world if you hate it.  Successful people appreciate others and are comfortable complimenting, or even challenging them.  Unsuccessful people tend to do little more than criticise.

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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