• The Fourth Wall of Business

    In the theatre, the “fourth wall” is the wall between the actors and the audience. Behind this wall, the world of the actors is exactly as the audience imagines it. The good guys and the bad guys all fit within the story being told. If the fourth wall is “broken” the audience is directly acknowledged theThe Fourth Wall of Business management spell is broken. Once broken, the fourth wall is hard to reconstruct and the audience may not be happy. Think of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables during first act, turning to the audience and speaking in a normal, loud Brooklyn accent, “Yo, could you get off the cell phone? I’m trying to work here!”

    The Fourth Wall of Business is similar. As the owner of your business, your employees look up to you. As a leader, you are their “hero.” If you are a customer service pro, clients look to you as their rescuer. Doctors, Attorneys, Accountants, Architects are the professionals we place on a pedestal. The pressure is to maintain the “fourth wall.”

    Owners and professionals break the fourth wall with actions that don’t fit with the story. When employees see the boss crying, drunk, acting out, cheating, lying, or acting out of character, then the spell is broken. Years ago, my father was loyal to his physician, until one day the doctor told my dad “your gall bladder needs to come out.” My father picked up his coat and left the office without a word. The doctor called him later that night and my father told him, “It’s in my record that I had my gall bladder out 10 years ago, goodbye.” This was an honest mistake, but for my dad the fourth wall was broken; the hero was an illusion.

    All leaders must always be leaders-in and out of the office. People follow people who are like them, they like them and there is a mutual respect. Business relationships are frequently dissolved for “they just are not the same person anymore.” In my career, I have seen bosses cry, cheat, and lie, cause others to lie—all outside the character I thought them to be. They lost my loyalty and my relationship changed to one of mutual distrust. Why? Because if they would do it to clients, they will do it to me. They broke the veil of the fourth wall. Yet prior to the break— I was blindly loyal.

    Leadership is a Broadway play, performed by a psychiatrist!

    Read your audience, know your lines, and be what the audience expects-every time.

    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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  • Leadership Skills Shortfall is Holding Back the UK Economy

    A lack of leadership and management skills is hampering the growth potential of small businesses and acting as a brake on productivity, according to a new report published recently by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

    The report found that while three fifths of small business owners (59%) say they update their business knowledge and skills at least once a year, specific management training is often lacking.

    Only a quarter of small firms questioned (25%) had undertaken management training in the last 12 months. One in four (26%) had never undergone any form of management training at all. The FSB also found few smaller businesses seek external management training for staff, with just a fifth (19%) offering such training to their employees.

    Currently just under half of all new UK start-ups fail in their first three years. Studies suggest that a leading cause of failure is poor leadership and management skills. This skills shortfall partly explains the growing productivity gap, with the UK consistently trailing behind its competitors, falling a full 18 percent below the G7 average. This is the widest productivity gap with the G7 since comparable estimates began in 1991.

    Here at East Midlands Sandler we specialise in training and developing leaders and managers – this is our core business.  We do this through re-enforcement training, using proven methodology which is guaranteed to work.  We get results – great results – every time.

    A recent example is a client who came to us after been stuck at £3.5m turnover for the past 7 years.  Everything they tried failed. They joined Sandler and after 18 months being on the programme they had increased their turnover (and profits) to £7m.

    This is the type of success story we have all the time, for varying sizes and scales of businesses of course.

    Don’t be one of the 75% of businesses who are standing on their own foot and holding the business back.  Make your first positive step and come to a complimentary Sandler Masterclass.  Click here to find your local Sandler Trainer.

    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.

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  • Call Higher or Die Slowly

    In today’s environment, we have to stop acting and looking like beggars with briefcases and begin to recognise that the name of the game is taking business away from our competitors. Let the others wrestle it out at the procurement department and with the low-level influencers.

    In today’s environment, the best salespeople call on the decision makers-presidents and CEOs. Why? Because presidents and CEOs don’t have budgets. They make budgets. To connect a president or CEO of a company, you need to present yourself as having equal business stature. You need to learn to sell the way a CEO sells. You need to read their books and use their techniques. The only way to blot out your competition for good is to be in the ear of the CEO or president and become one of their trusted advisors.

    Now stop and count. Of all of your prospects, how many are you calling on at the highest level possible? If zero, expect to fail or have an excessively long sale process.

    The two most dominating thoughts for a salesperson are:

    • I am the CEO of my business.
      • I absolutely believe my product or service, along with my expertise, can make a difference in your 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

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  • Are you tuned-in?

    Don’t we have some great radio? I often think how fortunate we are here in the UK –  it’s one of the things the BBC does fantastically well, commercial radio would never produce some of the stuff we get.

    On Wednesday evening this week I was driving and absentmindedly tuned in to Radio 4, the subject was the Glasgow Art scene  and the lady being interviewed was very fond of the word ‘conversations’. Art in her world was a conversation. Odd, I initially thought, not a word I would have used.

    Hang on a minute

    Now bear with me here – Mulling this over for a few seconds I converted conversation to communication and the fact that what I’d just heard was her attempt at communicating to others this particular concept. The concept was that ‘Art’ was a conversation –  a means of communicating a view on a particular subject – but one that illustrates the problem of communication – it’s actually fraught with risk –  what the sender is trying to say (en-coding) will not be received in the same way by the receiver (de-coding)

    Conversations are the iterative process that qualifies, refines and restates to improve the quality of the communication.   At least that’s what I took away and that may have been nothing to do with what she was trying to say. That’s the beauty of thought provoking radio!

    What do you hear?

    Communication is at the heart of the modern world.  It’s becoming rapidly more complex – email, social media are adding to the mix, yet communicating well is not a skill we generally spend much time learning about.

    Her comments had set me thinking about just how many opportunities we have to mis-communicate, particularly in business – what are the key elements of communication – how many opportunities are there to get it wrong? In sales it’s a minefield yet its vital to ensure we understand what our prospects are saying and that they understand us. So how can we communicate effectively with the people we do business with ?

    Tune-in

    Well before you even speak you look and listen for clues on your prospect’s preferred communication style.  This gives you a better chance of en-coding your message in a way your prospect will be able to de-code.

    You tailor your communication with respect to that and to further understand how they are going to attempt to understand you.  Too often with salespeople, through either laziness or ego, it’s about their preference not the prospects’.

    Permission to speak

    You will also need to get permission to actually have a conversation. Your prospect is expecting a sales message  – if you don’t do what they expect they are likely to be confused.

    You are aware of the things that often prevent that happening – your prospect may short change you on time so you feel time pressure and end up short-circuiting the sales process. Or you fail to establish at the outset what your respective expectations are for their meeting or to discuss what might be acceptable outcomes.

    Subsequently the conversation becomes a game of trying to guess the others agenda- which more often than not results in both sides failing to clearly understand each other.

    Get permission to deal with those issues before they cause problems.

    Become a Conversationalist

    You continuously develop your sales conversational skills and you change the focus of your conversation. For most people their focus is to demonstrate their credibility or earn the approval of their prospect so they are not listening to understand but to impress, listening for their cue to metaphorically jump onto the stage and earn their prospects applause.

    You could say they are present physically but mentally they are not ‘tuned in’. They gloss over potential issues, fail to allow their prospect to work out their questions, often because they believe they have heard something negative and they are worried that it will jeopardise the outcome they want – a ‘Yes’.

    The failure to communicate effectively results in the seller focusing on painting the picture they want their prospect to see – a ‘Features and Benefits’ pitch. The prospect knows it’s not quite what they are looking for, so they try to spot the flaws. They avoid making decisions, they think up objections, they go into hiding.

    Instead, invite your prospect to have an open and honest conversation about the problem they are trying to solve, the money they might be willing to spend and help them work out if and how it’s something they can decide on.

    Gary McKinney

    Gary McKinney

    Gary McKinney runs Sandler Training in Yorkshire, based in Leeds, helping business owners regain control of sales and achieve significantly improved sales results.

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  • Before you approach a prospect, consider the lifetime value of the relationship

    If your sales objective is to make the sale regardless, get the biggest order possible and structure the best deal for your company, then your entire focus is really on you.

    Many salespeople will say and do almost anything to make the sale. Too few will take the time to fully understand the prospect’s real needs and desired outcomes, and show the concerns (or courage) to present the best fit solution that perhaps doesn’t always represent a big win for them. They trade a potential long-term relationship, repeat sales and referrals for a quick and often one-time sale and then wonder why customer loyalty is so hard to come by.

    However, when your objective is to help your prospect get their needs met and put their most important needs first-congratulations. You now see the prospect as a real client with long-term relationship potential. When you put your prospect’s needs ahead of your own, it makes them more open to do business with you. Also, you gain a new perspective on what prospects want and why they act the way they do.

    Top salespeople consider the lifetime value (LTV) of their prospects, not just the next pay period or the next commission check. When you place the LTV of a prospect first, your entire approach and attitude toward them automatically puts their needs and interests ahead of your own. It will also change your strategic approach to how you work with them.

    Begin the approach to your prospect by considering their LTV, including potential referral business, and you’ll find your “trusted advisor” role becomes much easier to achieve.

    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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  • Tomorrow’s Managers and Leaders: Goal Setting

    Businesses are like gardens and people within companies are like flowers. Sometimes those carefully sown seeds lie dormant because they lack the appropriate environment for growth. Often they produce shoots but aren’t nourished sufficiently to ensure that their full potential is reached.

    Goals are set; targets aren’t met.

    Plants that are provided with suitable support and are fed the correct nourishment will continue to blossom and grow.

    January is the time for planting seeds and setting new goals for the coming year. As managers, whilst acknowledging that your staff engagement is ever changing will be mindful of developing a more specific coaching and mentoring process through which your co-workers will achieve the company’s goals.

    A key part of this process depends on individuals identifying and achieving their personal goals, which in turn will have a positive impact on corporate triumphs, whatever the size of your business.

    Now is the time to introduce your employees to a world-leading new system aimed at increasing staff motivation and engagement, improving accountability, reducing the hidden cost of staff retention and avoiding the expense of an ineffective job-holder.

    Sandler Training can help you to achieve this through a structured system that teaches SMART goal setting as a means of ensuring both personal and corporate growth.

    Sandler Training is an internationally renowned company which has been working with professionals and their teams for 30 years, helping them to develop, execute and achieve their goals.

    The Sandler Goal Setting System is designed to address all areas of life so that goals are engaging and work in harmony with each other, thereby accelerating success rates.

    If you want to motivate your team, improve staff engagement, reduce staff turnover and implement a new and effective accountability process, contact your local Sandler Training Centre.

    Be an intelligent gardener and grow something new!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    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.

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  • Becoming a Trusted Adviser (Not Just a Vendor)

    As a sales trainer with Sandler Training, I spend a lot of time talking to my clients and I get paid to work with them in four areas of their business: Strategy, Structure, Staff and Skills. Because I spend hours talking to them, I learn quite a bit. And despite that fact, they still manage to surprise me with the questions they ask me.

    Recently a client of mine asked me to come out and speak to his customer service team, a group of people I had never met and he had rarely spoken about. At the end of my two-hour presentation, as he was walking me to the door of his facility, he suddenly looked over at me and said “Thanks for coming out. It will be great for the Customer Service Reps to use the same language as the Sales Team–by the way, do you know a plumber?”

    I answered his question and gave him the name of a client who just happened to be a plumber. Then I asked him a question. “Why ask me for a plumber?” “Simple,” he said. “Every time I get something from you I end up with more value than I bargained for. More importantly, if you do not know an answer, you tell me that. That leads me to believe that if you recommend a plumber to me, that plumber is going to be a good one.”

    Take a look at your business card and ask yourself what it is that you sell. If you are a car salesman, you probably spend quite a bit of time talking about cars; if you sell web services, you probably spend hours discussing SEO, SEM or whatever your niche is. Here is the challenge: the goal of sales is not to be a vendor of a product or service. The goal is to become a trusted advisor to the clients you serve.

    “Fine,” you say. “Everybody knows that, but what does it mean?” Well, the definition is pretty simple. A trusted advisor is a person relied upon by their clients to have expertise in not one, but in many areas of a business. A trusted advisor is the person who gets a phone call about a question clearly outside of his specific area of responsibility, simply because the decision maker values his judgment and perspective.

    Here is a quick test. Over the next 14 days, keep track of the number of questions your clients ask you about products, services and issues that they are facing–ones that your company does not provide a solution for. If you are a web services professional, you count the questions that do not involve the internet. The higher number of questions, the better job you have done making yourself a highly trusted advisor. The lower the number the closer you are moving to vendor-ville.

    Times are tough, and the economy is giving buyers an excuse to be even more selective about who they work with. But one thing has always and will always be true in sales: trusted advisors keep their accounts while vendors get replaced.

    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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