• That’s not my monkey

    Imagine walking into a prospect’s office and having him or her say, “I have a problem. There is a monkey on my back and I want to make it yours.” Any normal person would know better than to say, “Great, toss that over here and let me add that to the monkeys I am already working with.”

    As a sales coach, I spend time with quite a few people who have big monkey collections. They have accepted that their prospects and clients’ problems are actually theirs. Unfortunately, these monkey collections have some predictable consequences.

    First, a large collection of monkeys generates a higher level of stress because they are not yours. You can’t control their constant chatter and yet, it is often all that you hear. Second, a loud noisy troop of monkeys will keep any salesperson from focusing on the right higher-priority tasks (typically this is the “I do not have time to prospect” excuse). Finally, because of the constant chatter and the lower level of productivity, a large monkey collection will create the perception that the salesperson is ineffective.

    To get out of the monkey bickering business, salespeople need to follow this simple process:

    1) Recognize the Monkey,

    2) Identify its owner.

    3) Define the impact.

    4) Commit to feed or shoot the monkey.

    Not every problem is your problem. It may not be your monkey. Not every problem needs to be fixed. Some monkeys are pets. If your prospect would rather feed his pet monkey than shoot the problem monkey, there really is no sale to be made.

    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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  • Salespeople don’t need regular training.

    Attending the BESMA awards run by the ISMM recently I was forcibly struck by a comment made by one of the successful senior salespeople attending.

    He works for a multi-billion turnover multinational manufacturing organisation. He was singing the praises of his company, in particular about their sales training. He told me that in his long decades of selling he had not been trained since he started his profession until his current company who insist on good excellent technical and sales training.

    “So what does your monthly programme look like?” I asked.  “Monthly? Monthly? I don’t want to waste my time in sales training every month!” He said. He had only been on a day or so training in the last twelve months.

    This got me thinking on two levels.

    On the first level, how many companies had he worked for? For how many years had he not had any reinforcement, refresher, sharpening, challenging, developing investment?

    From my own experience I know the answer. Big companies often hire good sales people and expect them to be and continue to be good salespeople.

    Bearing in mind they are the engine for revenue, would that same set of companies take the same view over any other delicate, mission critical tools? No upgrades. No maintenance. No sharpening and allow the cutting edges to go blunt. Would they? It would simply not make sense. And yet sales people don’t get trained regularly.

    I think I understand why. When you hire a legal person or an accounting person and once they are qualified they don’t need more professional training. You hire them and they do the job. If they don’t, you fire them.

    So why should salespeople be any different? In fact salespeople are very good at claiming at interview stage (and beyond) that they are brilliant at what they do and need no supporting net as they weave their personal magic across the high wire.

    However, accountancy is a process that does not engage on a personal level. The success of the process is not intimately linked with what is going on inside the head of the person doing it.

    Unlike sales, bookkeeping does not rely on saying or asking the right things in the right way at the right time. Sales is a whole lot more to do with the quality of the person who is doing it than the product being delivered.

    You cannot just hire a salesperson and expect them to perform.  They will get into bad habits. Being accidentally “critical parent”, demonstrating way too early, being afraid to walk away from prospects that don’t qualify. The list goes on.

    On the second level, salespeople don’t want to be trained properly. That might look ridiculous.  But they have targets to hit so time spent in the “classroom” is time wasted, commission forfeited.

    What’s more to admit that training might help suggests they are not being honest about that claim to be able to run along the high wire with no net. They are not even honest with themselves about that. They cannot be.

    If they question what they are doing, try something different, admit to their weaknesses, basically look down for a moment….they might fall off the high wire… and  remember, there is no net!

    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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  • The Streets Are Littered With Flat-headed Squirrels

    Last week, I found myself trapped in a fast food restaurant. This restaurant boasts that they have served more than six billion. Still, the people in front of me seemed to be having a new experience; they simply could not decide between meal one and meal two. To call them indecisive would be an insult to vacillators all over the planet.

    There is one factor that will shape your business more than any other, and that factor is your ability to make decisions. Whether it is a hiring issue, a pricing issue, a customer service issue or any of the myriad decisions that we all face on a daily basis, your ability to decide and move forward will impact your business more than any other factor for the next 90 days.

    Truth be told, this ability to decide has already shaped the business you currently have. The decisions you have made (or have avoided making) have consequences.

    Next time you are out in your car, take a look and see if you can find any members of the squirrel family who happen to be indecisive. They will be the flat-headed ones squished in the middle of the road. They saw the car coming–they just were not able to figure out whether they wanted to move left or right.

    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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  • Trade Shows & Exhibitions: 9 steps to closing more business

    ICSC dealmaking

    ICSC dealmakingSo are you selling on site, gathering or qualifying leads, qualify leads, launch a product or service, meeting or negotiating with existing customers?

    It’s easy to attend exhibitions and trade shows and be uncertain if it was worth the investment. It can take a while to know if you have a long sales cycle.

    To ensure your time is well invested, make a plan to work smart in preparation, on site and afterwards.

    1. Start with your end in mind.

    This classic Stephen Covey advice is essential.

    You can’t make your clients and prospects do what you want. You can only manage your behaviour.

    So be clear on what outcomes will make it worth investing in a specific event. If you aren’t completing sales on site, measure qualification conversations, disqualifications and yeses to agreed next steps. That way, you will know what actions you need to take to get the best results.

    2. Why are you exhibiting or attending?

    Some shows, like the massive retail property events run by the International Council of Shopping Centers are deal making. Retailers, agents and shopping centre landlords have back to back meetings looking at floor plans, and agree terms for leases in new and existing malls. It’s really time effective.

    If your show is deal making style, start early. Put dedicated time into filling your diary with the clients and prospects you really want to meet.

    Track the progress on appointment making weekly – so it gets the priority it deserves.

    Make sure you get their mobile phone numbers and email addresses. Send them the meeting as an online appointment request.

    Use their mobile if they are late for your meeting. You may not get the meeting but they’ll be more inclined to try to reschedule or meet you afterwards.

    3. Get very clear on your process

    If you won’t be concluding your deals on site, be your goal to qualify and get off site meeting with the decision makers? Is it more time effective to have short initial meetings at the show?

    Is there prep you and your contact can do to make the face to face time really effective?

    Make sure you decide so you can manage where you spend your time on site and afterwards and what you will achieve.

    4. Block time out in your diary.

    Do you set aside enough time to follow up and get back up to speed when you return to the office?

    Block out time so you can follow up promptly. Allocate time for next step meetings & calls and to catch up with other work.

    If other staff will support you in the follow up, make sure they have time blocked out too.

    5. Make the date on the spot.

    Don’t say “I’ll call you next week to fix a time”. Don’t be that guy or gal swirling through your phone to look for a time that works for you to have that follow up call or meeting. Have a printed diary with you.

    If you have an online diary, print out the week at a view A5 size so you can get 4 weeks double printed on aA4 paper. Take 3 months diary so you don’t have to default to following up for a date afterwards.

    In the evening, drop an electronic diary invite to confirm the meeting or phone call. This a simple step for a slight edge in getting faster follow up and not losing momentum. Our clients tell us that more of those post event calls actually happen because it’s in their prospects diary too.

    6. Intelligence. 

    Make sure your whole team knows what info is useful to you. And how to feed it back so it’s corporate knowledge, not just in their head.

    If you can’t meet the decision maker on site, gain intelligence on their current suppliers, their cast of characters and decision making process.

    7. Find out what your competitors are up to.

    Never ever criticise them to your prospects. It’s not good business practice and if they are the incumbent supplier, you may tip your prospect into recalling all the good reasons why they work with them.

    Listen to what other people are saying about them. Visit their stands.

    Scout for potential staff – any competitors’ staff you’d like to hire?

    8.Avoid the time thieves.

    It’s easy to have interesting conversation that’s fun and absorbs a deal of time without much purpose. It’s your responsibility to manage the time and move elegantly onto the next prospect to qualify them.

    Know your process – qualify or disqualify for clear next steps. Agree next specific steps with your prospect while you are with them.

    9. Don’t pitch – be conversational

    Drop your pitch & listing the features and benefits. Develop your 30 second commercials.

    Get the prospect to decide where to take the conversation.

    Ask your local Sandler Trainer if you don’t know how. Click here to find your local office and to book into an Executive Briefing.

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies runs Sandler Training in East Anglia with monthly Master Classes in Norwich

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  • Stop Cold Calling!

    There are a lot of good reasons to pick up the phone and reach out to new prospective customers. When it comes to finding new business opportunities, the phone offers a high level of efficiency, is relatively inexpensive, and is a great way to gather valuable information that can help us find business.

    However, cold calling isn’t really selling–it’s more closely aligned with marketing. In fact, let’s stop using the term “Cold Call” and replace it with the term “First Contact Call” (FCC). Use these FCC’s not to “make sales” but rather to qualify or disqualify further actions. After all, “making a sale” for most of us, takes more than one phone call.

    By the way, I recommend using the phone as only one method for finding new business opportunities. If it is the only prospecting activity you use, it tends to create a lot of pressure. Pressure on you, your prospect, and every phone call. Regardless of how often you use the phone, let’s start by looking at the activity in a different way.

    Starting to feel better yet?

    This article is intended to provide you a step by step process for making first contact calls.

    1. First contact calls (FCC) are generally part of a strategic business development plan. We may want to call into a varied and large list of opportunities, or we may have a narrowly defined target list. We may know exactly who we are calling, or just the persons title or position. These variances will determine how we structure our calls. I hate getting calls from people that ask, “May I speak to the owner of the business?” If you are doing this stop, please! Add a step to your process that allows you to get this information before you make the FCC. When people call and ask for Brad, they are much more likely to get through.
    2. Make first contact calls to uncover and discover relevant information. For example: because I am in the “Sales Force Development” business, when I make first contact calls, my only goal is to learn if the company I am calling has a dedicated sales force, how they are organized, and what their leadership structure looks like. Your qualifying information would be different, and you should know what it is before you start. I often get the information I need from a receptionist, administrative assistant, or even a sales person. If the company I call qualifies, I make another “first contact call” to the specific person I have decided is the appropriate level to start the discovery process.
    3. When making calls, start bold! By that I mean–do not sound like every other sales person and telemarketer making 500 calls per day. Be authentic and different. If you can’t figure out how to do this you are doomed before you start. Learning this skill will soon become your main sales advantage over your competition. If you are struggling to make calls, think “outrageous.” That’s right outrageous, off the cuff, out of the ordinary.
    4. STOP telling people who you are, what company and products you produce, and how they can benefit from meeting with you or buying from you. This type of phone call is too traditional. We want the people we call to share information, tell us enough about themselves and their company. We want to make sure we should even have a phone conversation. Figure out the most relevant questions you can ask to get your prospect to do most of the talking.
    5. Be prepared to close the call. If the person you are speaking with is not a good opportunity for you, find a way to move on. If they are, have a plan to transition from the initial stage of your call into the next stage of your sales process. It may be a face to face meeting, a webinar, or a scheduled time where the next call should occur.

    Making FCC’s may never be easy or fun for you. However, if you work on the style and structure of your call, you will be better received. As your calling improves, you will begin to feel better about the activity will see the phone as an asset in building your business and not something to fear.

    Remember making phone calls is what we do in order to put opportunities into the pipeline. STOP trying to sell on your first contact calls. It lowers the pressure on you and your prospect and your calls are better received.

    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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  • Do you pay staff commission?

    Paying Commission

    Paying Commission
    Companies paying commission and overtime will need to review their holiday pay arrangements and possibly the way they pay commission.

    Following a European Court of Justice decision and subsequent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision in Lock vs British gas Trading, a case that was first heard in 2012, employers will have to pay commission as part of holiday pay. For more details of the case read on here: http://www.personneltoday.com/hr/holiday-pay-case-eat-confirms-employers-must-pay-commission/

    Commission, guaranteed overtime and overtime where an employee may be required to work will have to be included in holiday pay. It will affect staff who normally receive commission and overtime and are paid less when on annual leave. The details of how payments should be calculated have not been decided yet.

    British Gas have requested permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal so that there can be a definitive ruling on the issue so the case is likely to go to Appeal.

    So what should you do in the meantime?

    You can do nothing. You can get legal advice and change your commission and holiday pay structures. You can make financial provision for back pay.  Your lawyers are sure to be providing their clients with a briefing soon – so read it and then decide.

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies runs Sandler Training in East Anglia with monthly Master Classes in Norwich

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  • I hired experienced Sales People, so my Job is done right?

    Small business owners tend to stay small because they do not install systems and processes into their business. Most owners want to hire “experienced” sales people. The mentality is to hire someone, teach them about their products and services, then expect the person to “go sell”. What’s the problem? If we hire experienced sales people, once they learn the product or service, they should be good to go, right?

    Wrong. Why do small business owners experience so many failed sales hires? Largely because there is too much left for interpretation between knowing the product and making sales. Owners hope “experience” will fill the gap. The truth is that a sales person’s experience in one company or industry most often does not transfer to another. The problem could be a different type of customer, a difference on the level of customer one should call upon, or a different set of competitive issues. There are countless reasons that explain why an “experienced” sales person will not succeed in a new company.

    What should a business owner do to overcome this issue? Creating a common set of expectations and defining the customer profile are great places to start. A customer profile may be defined in terms of geography, prospect type, industry focus, and appropriate level of contact within the client organisation. Clearly identifying the prospective customer base will keep your sales people focused in the right area. Holding sales people accountable to a common set of expectations ensures they will be completing activities that enable their success.

    Further, define your sales person’s role by clearly articulating how they should make contact with the new prospects. Teach them how to start a conversation with the target client. Help them understand the common problems your company solves for new customers. Challenge them to bring back quality information gathered in their sales calls. Make them qualify new prospects in terms of the customer’s ability to spend money and make decisions. The more detailed the activity, the more success your sales people will find.

    While hiring “experienced”, sales people is a decent first step, using specific selling systems and processes are the only way to put that “experience” to good use.

    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 Negative Prospects Are Your Best Prospects and Positive Prospects Are Your Worst

    “Look for buying signals” I was told by most of my bosses in my early sales career. “Look for signs that they’re positive”.  Based on that advice I should have retied in my early 20’s instead of being up to my eyeballs in debt, afraid I was going to get fired every Monday morning as we relayed our forecast to the assembled team and our manager.

    I was a very hard worker, usually first in and last out. I researched my prospects’ companies, their markets, the competition and did a pretty good presentation. I regularly received compliments for the thoroughness of my research, commendations for my insights and ideas, and positive, reassuring statements like, “I’m impressed Marcus. You’ve clearly thought a lot about this. Thank you. You’ve given me some great ideas which I really like. Can you do me a favour and put it all into a proposal?”

    I was chuffed to bits when I heard things like that. I dashed back to the office, reported in to my boss that we’d had a really good meeting and spent the next day or so knocking up a work of genius in the form of a proposal that was tantamount to a blueprint on how they could address their issues using our services. I’d print it off, often multiple copies, bind it up, produce a snazzy cover (very important) and put a protective plastic cover over the top and post it first class. Then I’d wait a couple of days to make sure it had time to get there. I’d follow up with a call to make sure they’d got it. “It looks great. Marcus, give me a few days to read it through and talk it over with my boss” were words that sent me into elation. I hung up, reported to my boss what had just been said, s/he was happy and Monday came, I forecast it as 50% or higher depending on how positive the prospect had been … then I followed up.

    At this point they were usually involved in some kind of kinky act (tied up) or had been abducted by aliens since every effort I made to get feedback was met with a gatekeeper telling me the medium cheese I was chasing was not available. Six, 12, even 20 chaser calls went in until eventually Mr Abductee picked up when i called after Betty had gone home. “Marcus, there was nothing wrong with your proposal. The timing just isn’t right / my boss said no / our current supplier said they could do it cheaper etc” and all my hard work went up in smoke in my mind. I said some pretty rum things about them once I hung up (for which I am truly sorry), I worried I’d be for the axe as I needed that sale to make my target.

    What I find most galling is it took me 17 years to work out that my need for the approval of strangers and my belief that I should do whatever the customer asked me to, to make them happy was utter nonsense and misguided in the extreme.

    Every now and again, I came across a truly terrifying prospect. Usually the MD or CEO. He took no nonsense. He wasn’t interested in my presentation. He gave me a hard time, questioned everything, asked really tough questions and made decisions on the spot without needing a proposal, just an invoice. Many told me “no”, but they did so quickly and without hesitation or prevarication. I was in and out of their office fast with a qualified decision.

    What did it take me 17 years to learn?

    Beware the positive prospect. They usually have no money, no authority and want to know what I know but don’t want to pay me for it. Welcome the negative prospect. They’re negative because they’re busy, don’t want to make a bad decision, have money to spend and make decisions quickly and without playing games or trying to steal what I know.

    Are you a slow learner too?

  • I Love Voicemail

    While some salespeople might see voicemail as a dead end or a link in a long game of phone tag, opportunists see it as a chance to learn even more about the prospect before interacting with them.

    If you listen closely to a prospect’s outbound voicemail message, you can pick up clues to help you adjust your style to be more like theirs.

    For example, I’m sure you’ve ever heard a slow, steady message like this: “Hello, you’ve reached John Witherspoon. Please speak clearly into the phone and state your name, your phone number-twice-and a brief message. I will return your call shortly.” This person is obviously detail-oriented, and will require a detailed message from you.

    How about this one (said with a quick tempo and strength in their tone): “You know what to do! (beep)” This person has a dominant style and may not even listen to your message. If you do leave a message at all, be brief and to the point.

    Instead of hanging up the phone immediately or leaving your favourite message, pay attention to the tonality, tempo and the words used in their message so that you can easily mirror their style. This strategy should give you a head start in building rapport when you do finally meet.

    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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