• Will you pick up the hoe and go for the no?

    I’m not green fingered by any stretch of the imagination – but I’ve been guilty in the past of trying to cultivate prospects that were in effect weeds in my veg patch.

    As opposed to wasting time thinking we can nurture these ‘wild plants’ in the hope that they flower into fabulous future clients and customers, why don’t we pull them up by the root, toss them in the recycle bin and turn our attention to crops that have a high yield potential and need our attention?

    We call this ‘going for the no’ – which is completely counter intuitive and goes against everything I’ve been taught to do historically. “Ask open ended questions; get the client to say yes, yes, yes! ……”

    It’s like forcing rhubarb – keep prospects in near darkness and force them to strain to the candlelight until they give in and grow. Unlike rhubarb which will ripen and be ready for eating, forcing prospects to do business leaves a sour taste – and even if they add to your harvest short term, it’s unlikely you’ll reap long term business.

    The thought of disqualifying prospects makes sense intellectually (i.e. wouldn’t my time be better spent growing my current clients and working with those prospects who want, need and are willing to pay for what I have to offer) – but sometimes we’re comforted emotionally by the fact that we have lots of ‘prospects’ in our pipeline. The truth of the matter is that spending time trying to force those who in reality have no need, interest or desire to work with us is like starving our entire garden of nutrients – whilst the weeds will continue to dominate, our precious prospects wither and die.

    Anyway, I’m off into the garden – anyone else picking up their hoe and clearing away those weeds and dead wood?

    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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  • Why Training Doesn’t Work

    Many business owners and leaders believe that “training doesn’t work.”  They’re right: a one off, ‘quick fix’ 2 day or two week training session doesn’t work.

    Take tennis, for example.  I played in my teens, but nothing since.  Recently, I found a tennis coach and I’ve committed to two visits a week to the tennis court.

    I’ve made some advances. My coach showed me how to hold a racket so that I can hit the ball with the right timing. She developed my forehand swing so I am able to find the right position for maximum strength in the wrist.

    After six weeks of hard work, a light goes on. The various elements of the game begin to come together.  I don’t have to think about every little thing.

    I ask my coach, “Will I be ready to join the county team soon?”

    Her reply: “Well for someone who starts tennis as an adult, practicing for an hour twice a week, it will take about three years.”

    I was stunned but I realised that she was right.  To reach a semi-pro level was going to take work.  I wish I could fix my game by just attending a two day tennis boot camp, but I can’t.

    Today, we are influenced by the ‘quick fix’ society.  Neuroscience research confirms that our brain needs repetition over time to learn. Brain imaging studies show we do more unconscious practicing of what we are learning when it is spaced out and reinforced over time.

    This is true for whatever new skill we want develop, whether it’s to become a doctor, lawyer, and engineer or upgrade sales or leadership skills.

    It takes time to develop game changing skills.  A coach will put you on the right path and your determination and commitment will take your skills to a professional level.

    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

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  • The Real ABC of Sales

    Who remembers Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross? No, not “Coffee is for closers” but “ABC – Always Be Closing!” That stuff works in films and boiler rooms but in the real world, people sometimes buy, but in spite of you pulling those stunts, not because of it.

    In Sandler we teach that you close at the beginning. We call it an Up Front Contract. It’s the single most important part of the sales process. It’s where you agree at the beginning what will happen at the end.

    Why do you always want to establish an up front contract at the start and end of every conversation or call?

    1. The contract IS the CLOSE. Close at the start when they are not expecting it or resisting it.
    2. The contract ensures you and your prospect start and end every interaction in an Adult to Adult. Without it, only about 15% of interactions start in Adult to Adult ego states.
    3. The contract protects both sides.
    4. The contract creates the right conditions for parity since you are never less than your prospect’s equal, even on your worst day.
    5. You never suffer from mutual mystification, so neither side is ever confused nor are expectations ever carelessly mismatched.

    For an upfront contract to be effective the following conditions must exist.

    1. No wishy washy up front contract terms ever.
    2. Up front contract terms MUST BE:
    • Clear
    • Specific
    • Certain
    1. The contract must be MUTUALLY:
    • Agreed
    • Accepted
    • Understood
    1. YOU must be willing to enforce the contract terms to achieve a Win-Win or No Deal.

    Without you making the effort to fulfil all 8 of these conditions, your contract will not hold water. Doing this requires you to be tough enough to plant your feet, to be ready to walk if you can’t reach an agreement that serves you both. Failing to meet these conditions means the prospect can drive a coach and horses through your contract and wriggle out, leaving you grasping at straws.

    A simple up front contract follows the ANOT model.

    • Actually
    • Naturally
    • Obviously
    • Typically

    “Actually Helen, can we agree some ground rules and and agenda before we get into the detail to make sure that we are working towards an outcome we are both happy and means our time together is well spent?”

    “OK. That makes sense.”

    “Naturally, you will have a lot of questions for me about who we are, what we do, what we are good at and not so good at, how much we charge, how we work, who we’ve worked for and our results? Is that a fair assumption?”

    “Yes.”

    “And I have a few questions for you so that I can see your business through my eyes and we can both decide if it makes any sense to continue our conversation based on the answers we both give. Are you OK with that Helen?”

    “Yes, that seems reasonable.”

    “Obviously we aren’t for everyone, and not everyone is right for us, so can we agree that if either side isn’t comfortable or the answers we give to one another’s questions suggest there isn’t a good fit, that we can both walk away form this without any hard feelings and no pressure to continue? Are you comfortable telling me “no thanks” if you don’t see a fit?”

    “Yes, I’d prefer we were direct.”

    “Good, that’s a relief. Me too. And you’d be OK if I told you “Helen, I don’t think we can help you” or “Helen, we aren’t the right company to do what you are asking”? You wouldn’t be upset if I told you that?”

    “No. Of course not. I’d rather you were up front about whether you can help so we don’t waste our time.”

    “Excellent. I agree. I hate wasting other people’s time or having my time wasted too. Typically if you haven’t said “no thanks” to us and we haven’t said “we aren’t right” to you, it makes sense to agree a clear next step at the end to make sure we keep moving the conversation forwards and don’t end up wasting each other’s. Have you ever met someone, hit it off, seen a fit and because you haven’t put a clear next step in place you realise that 6 months have gone by and you did nothing so the time you had together was completely wasted?”

    “Sadly yes.”

    “Can we agree we won’t ever do that to each other Helen? We won’t waste each other’s time and we’ll put 10 minutes aside at the end to map out who does what by when to keep the dialogue moving forwards, or we agree to part as friends and end the relationship cleanly without any wated time?”

    “That makes perfect sense to me. Let’s do that.”

    Take a moment to dissect this conversation. Both sides have reached mutual agreement, acceptance and understanding. The terms are clear, specific and certain. And the salesperson is in a position to enforce the contract at the end in the event that Helen suggests she wants to “think it over”.

    “I’m sorry Helen. I don’t understand. Has something changed?”

    “Huh? What do you mean?”

    “Do you remember at the start of our conversation ….?”

    Alec Baldwin got it wrong. ABC means always be contracting.

  • So whose decision is it, anyway?

    So there you are, talking with this great potential client, right in your “sweet spot”. He has so much aching need for what you can do for him and he is prepared to spend time, money and resources to fix them.  Moreover you have the perfect solution within that budget which will make them pleased to have done business. What could possibly go wrong?

    Have you been there? And then, just as it is all about to happen, once they have details of your proposal, presentation and proof of concept, your potential client casually mentions that they need to review against competing providers, or take time to discuss it at board level; or they will need to get authorisation from the FD.

    I have been there. I am sure you have too. We can blame the prospect all we want or take it all on the chin as inevitable in business, but really it is our fault – Totally our fault. We get so excited about what we can do for the prospect and what that will mean for us, that we just plain slide over a major part of the client acquisition process.

    Before we do anything, before we waste time, hope, money, resources, (more hope), we have to fully qualify our prospect.  Who else is involved in the decision? Who will be affected by it and might put a spanner in the works? What needs to be decided? It could be that a whole raft of things has to happen internally or with us before the decision can be confirmed. When would that be? Are there critical time lines that we are not aware of? Is the timeline they gave us at the outset real? Where geographically or in the organisation will the decision be made? How will that decision be made? According to what criteria: Price? Return on investment? And why is the decision being made at all or at least, why is the decision being made that way?

    What difference would it make if we knew all this before we got excited and emotionally involved? Would it change the way we present our solution? Perhaps we would stop in our tracks right there. We could save hours of everybody’s time if we had the courage to ask for this detail. “Mr Huge Potential Client, will it be OK if I asked you some questions about how you make a decision like this, who tends to be involved, that sort of thing?” How long does it take in the sale interview to ask for this detail? Perhaps as little as four or five minutes. Five minutes versus enormous waste of resources including false hope.

    Do not forget this important disqualification step. If you do forget, you may wish most heartily that you had spent more time with a Sandler trainer to help you with some techniques and even, perhaps, to instil the required courage.

    Paul Glynn

    Paul Glynn

    Paul’s experience spans over twenty years of selling, sales management and training. He has worked in the financial services sector including accountancy and has been responsible for the commercial success of sales departments at director level in advertising. His clients report up to 300% increase in turnover by working with him. He is dedicated to helping businesses grow through assessments, training, coaching and mentoring. Tel: 01784 390623 Mobile: 07866 518848

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  • Venting. The Success Killer

    Do you know a “venter”? They tell you their industry is in a lull, their market isn’t a good place right now, and management can’t get their stuff together so it makes it impossible to do their job. They unload all of their issues on you time and again, simply to get it off their chest. Do you ever feel the need to vent? Why?

    Some people feel they need to ‘talk things out’ in order to understand how to deal with things. Do we ever trick ourselves into thinking venting is productive? How can we tell whether or not we are addressing a situation with an analytical eye or just complaining about it? If you assessed what you’ve gained from venting your frustrations, what would you be left with? Most people would admit: nothing.

    How do we have a productive conversation about our issues instead of simply being negative?

    Try these four steps:

    1. 1. Assess the facts of the situation free of emotion. Look at only the reality of the situation, and focus only on the things that you can control. No: “but she does this” or “he never does that”. Avoid placing blame, instead look for areas where you can take self-responsibility.
    2. 2. Brainstorm your ideal situation. What would the scenario look like if you were happy and comfortable with it? Explore the positive potential of the issue.
    3. 3. Identify the gaps. What are you responsible for in your current reality that is keeping you from your ideal situation? What are the things that need to change in order to remove roadblocks from getting there?
    4. 4. Use your understanding of the gaps and make a plan. How can you take action to move out of your current situation and into the ideal situation? How can you affect positive change in the environment?

    Above all: execute the plan. We can’t move forward venting about the same problems over and over again. Sometimes we have to go above and beyond the call of duty to make positive changes. If you are waiting around for other people to change, you may be waiting a long time. Sandler always said: “You must be a willing participant in your own rescue”.

    When you find yourself needing to vent or unload a negative situation on someone – stop. Assess analytically, and act. Addressing the reality of a situation doesn’t have to be a negative conversation. That’s a choice you have to make.

    By Anneli Thomson, MD of Sandler in Oxford.  Anneli is an expert in sales force development and hiring sales A players.  In her spare time, she is also a keen champagne drinker and extreme sports fan.

    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.

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