• Courage: Our free sales resource

    “Sales is a numbers game”.  How many times have you heard that?

    “Half of all marketing expense is wasted, we just don’t know which half”.  Is that familiar?

    What if they were just excuses to play it safe, not question our self-fulfilling beliefs, and continue to do what we have always done?

    Playing it safe.

    Experience tells us that if we want more sales, we have 3 options. Invest time and money and:

    Do more!   More marketing, more sales effort, more people.
    Do it better!   Up-skill the sales team, up-grade website and up-date the sales strategy.
    Do it differently!   Re-brand, re-position, re-vision.

    All of which work, but often just well enough to give us an excuse to play it safe and continue with what we know.

    Because of this, we can fail to consider using an infinitely powerful, free resource that is always available. Our inner courage.

    Courage. A three-step process.

    1. Ask yourself the following question. “What would I do if I had NO FEAR and knew I could NOT FAIL?”

    Who would you “cold call” that could transform your business?

    Where would you make a speech that would re-position you as an authority or industry thought leader?

    How would you talk to a prospect? To a customer?

    What stretch goal would you set yourself that would help you achieve the success you know you and your family deserve?

    What ambitious plan would you build to achieve your vision of success?

    1. If you think of something preposterous, something that you want to dismiss out of hand without really examining too closely, something that you want to back away from instinctively, don’t. Courage is acknowledging those things that scare us, but we do it any way.
    1. Share your options and your plan with a trusted advisor. Have them hold you accountable for taking action, learning a invaluable lessons from your failures and success, and encourage you to keep going.

    Success is the other side of the fear barrier- Sven Goran Eriksson

    Courage is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm- Winston Churchill

    No one achieves greatness by playing it safe- DH Sandler



    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

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

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  • STOP thinking about hiring, until you’ve started thinking about firing!

    How long does the new-hire honeymoon period last for you? How long until you are starting to sweat? How long until such thoughts as ” Maybe with a little more coaching from me they will get there.”, “Perhaps some more training will help them.”, ” Would I have hired them back then if I’d known where we’d be right now?”, or “Why did I believe what they told me during the interview process?”

    Here are 5 steps to keep the pressure off of YOU, and place it back where it belongs, on the shoulders of the prospective new hire.

    1. Hire slow, fire fast. Define the “red flags” for new employee behaviours, results, and leading KPI’s for the duration of the on-boarding process.
    1. Accountability. Hold them accountable for these behavioural goals.
    1. Prior to hiring, share your specific expectations  with prospective hires, and get their agreement to the on-boarding plan and the accountability process.
    1. Always be in hiring mode. Create a prospecting plan for talent, and a company culture of always looking for talent for the “talent bank”, rather than relying on job boards and recruiters who will often send you someone else’s cast offs.
    1. Don’t hire when you “need” someone.  Think about it.  They need a job.  You need an employee. The interview consists of two needy people meeting each other. It’s a recipe for a hiring disaster.

    If you’re interested in finding out more about how Sandler can help you and your company avoid the usual employer-employee dance contact your local Sandler Training Centre 

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

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

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  • How many accounts can each person handle?  

    The “Dunbar Number” from Professor Dunbar, the Cambridge Psychologist suggests that the average number of “relationships” per person is 150. He concluded this from looking at the average number of Christmas cards each person sends, this included friends, family business associates etc. (Google him for more details).

    I’m not that sociable!

    What sort of “relationship” does a sales person need? Depends…

    If it is a “transactional sale” i.e. order taking then no “relationship” is required, all you are required to do is get out of the way!

    If it is a long term “consultative”, “trusted adviser” or “counsel” relationship there is a limit to the number of “professionally intimate relationships” any one person can have.

    Your sales template and account management template will also tell you how many “touches” are required (with how many people at each account), as well as inform you of how many accounts can be sold, on boarded and managed by the sales team.

    Interestingly, in my own current business, which requires quite a high level of professional intimacy the number I came up with, after spending huge amounts of time, money and research with consultants and coaches was…42.

    A familiar number to anyone who is a fan of “The Hitch-hikers guide to the Galaxy”



    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

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

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  • A Thank you letter from the competitor

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Without a doubt, you have a superb product and service offering.  Your knowledge and experience is impressive.  On a level playing field, you would be a formidable competitor.  Thank you for your help in tilting the field in my favor.

    Thanks for being “busy”. All your hard work and effort keeps you unfocused and distracted. Thanks for continuing to do the same as all the other competitors, whilst believing you are ‘different”. Thanks for hiring my cast-offs. Thanks for putting up with mediocre sales performance, for not knowing how to hold your people accountable, or not knowing what to hold them accountable for. Thanks for encouraging the atmosphere of sales desperation, “quoting and hoping”, and saying YES to even the low margin business.

    Thanks for allowing your people to externalize the blame with “it’s the market, the competition, the prospect, the website, the pricing, and the weather”, instead of accepting responsibility “it’s me” and actually doing something different.

    And above all, thanks for continuing to believe that it’s expensive to invest in the development of staff that might leave while accepting the cost of not developing them, and having them stay.

    Yours, etc.

    Unfortunately, my competitor kept this knowledge to themselves. It was delivered eventually, by a friend. In an envelope marked Tough Love.

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

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

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    Harvard Business Review recently quoted “At most companies, people spend 2 percent of their time recruiting and 75 percent managing their recruiting mistakes” Harvard Business School article.

    It’s certainly an easy trap to fall into…

    Here are some excuses from those who have fallen into the Hire Fast, Fire Slow trap.

    “But I needed to hire someone right away”
“But they came with great referrals/industry knowledge/product expertise”
“But I didn’t realise the cost of a bad hire before it was too late”
“But they interviewed so well, and my gut told me they would work out fine”
“But I thought I’d hired a Superman. I didn’t know he was a David Brent”


    MYTH - We hire when we need someone.

    FACT - An interview with two needy people, one who needs to fill a vacancy, and another who needs a job, results in a bad hire.

    MYTH - My gut will tell me. I know a good sales person when I see one.

    FACT - All sales people, good and bad, have great CVs and interview well.

    MYTH - I need to be good at identifying people who can sell

    FACT – There is a huge difference between those who can sell themselves once in an interview and those that WILL. Charm and being personable are not indicators of being able to behave consistently on a daily, weekly monthly basis as a sales machine.

    MYTH - We have a long sales cycle, so it will take a long time for us to determine if they are working out.

    FACT - With an appropriate on-boarding process, hiring mistakes can be identified in 1-3 months, no matter how long the sales cycle.

    Just as top sales people recognise prospecting is key to sales success, top performing companies, recognise that searching for talent and creating the appropriate systems and processes, is key to business success.

    Ask your local business advisor for help with building your own “Hire Slow, Fire Fast” process before you spend 75% of your time in 2015 managing your mistakes.

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

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

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  • Interview Questions

    Developing no-nonsense questions for sales interviews.

    Interview questions nigel

    Let’s face it; every sales person has a great CV. And they all interview well. Those that don’t just get a lot more practice before they eventually turn up at your office.

    We also know there is a huge difference between those that can sell, and those that actually will. Those that say all the right things and those that can actually execute the plan.

    “Sell me this pen”. Do you remember that popular interview question from the eighties?

    Those of us that asked it quickly discovered that answers to this question and many others failed to predict accurately whether the hopeful candidate would actually be able to sell.

    So what questioning strategies might work better?

    1. Cheat! Using targeted interview questions derived from a thorough skills and competencies assessment tool, such as the Devine Inventory. These enable the interviewer to probe essential competencies such as “ambition and Drive”, “ positive outlook” “self-responsibility” and even “sales prospecting”. The report suggests questions to ask, quickly turning an amateur interviewer into a professional.
    1. Collect a list of tough questions that work for you. Here are 5 from my top 40.

    “ Why do people buy, and how do they make decisions?”

    “Successful sales people are always getting referrals and regularly prospecting. I’m sure you keep a list of prospects to call. Would you mind making a couple of calls now while I listen in?”

    “ Tell me about the prospecting plan you have developed for your job search?”

    “ What questions do you ask a prospect on the phone in order to determine whether they qualify for a meeting?”

    “We have a culture of accountability. That means we’re going to have measurements of behaviors – cold calling, follow up calls, appointments set, and of course sales closed.  Accountability means that you’ll be reporting these behaviors on a weekly basis.  What’s your opinion and past experience with accountability?”

    The interview is often a meeting between 2 needy parties. The candidate who needs a job, and the company that needs to hire. Tough questions are just one way to avoid hiring mistakes.


    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

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

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  • 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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  • Why accurate sales forecasting is so difficult

    Two Sales Directors were talking to each other. “How’s it going?” asks the first. “Great” responds the second. “We are having a fantastic week. The trade show was a big success. We got loads of positive feedback on our new product. We have been nominated for an industry award. Our new website is getting double the traffic, and we have hired a super guy from one of our competitors”

    “Same here” says the first, “we didn’t sell anything either!”

    Imagine you asked your Production Director whether the company was going to achieve it’s production targets and she replied “Well, I have a pretty good feeling that we might” or the quality director said “things are looking pretty good so far, but this quality thing ……it’s really just a numbers game”

    So, why do we take this sort of response from our Sales Department?

    Typically, it’s for one of three reasons.

    1. It’s conceptual. We don’t believe that the job of the sales department is to focus on building systems and processes that give a reliable, predictable, boring outcome. Instead, we get sucked into conversations about the outcomes themselves, about “exciting opportunities”, and “hopefully this deal will close before the end of the month”.
    1. It’s technical. We fail to take the time to build an ideal “sales template” and break the sales process down into discrete events. Or we break it down into discrete events but we fail to develop the appropriate skillset to ensure that a binary decision is made at the end of every event. Is this opportunity staying in my pipeline and moving to the next stage in the process, or are they disqualified? Instead, we get emotionally attached to every opportunity treating each differently.
    1. It’s personal. We hire the wrong people for Sales roles! Sure they have great CV’s. And of course they interview well. They can even sell! But will they?  Will they build a reliable, repeatable sales process that will get consistent results over time? We fail to ask the right interview questions like “ What’s your process for ensuring accuracy of your sales forecasting? “What are the criteria you use for keeping an opportunity in your pipeline?” “Describe your current sales process”.

    Sales need not be different to manufacturing.  Build a process, commit to the actions, fine-tune, and you can forecast the outcome.

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

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

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  • Should I wear a tie?

    I saw this question posted this week on a discussion group populated by “sales experts”. There were no shortage of answers to this apparently hot topic.

    Has nothing in the world of sales changed for 30 years? This “What should I wear?” debate has been going on forever!

    It consists of people expressing their “opinions”. And opinions, as the cleaned up version of the old adage goes, are like noses. Everyone has them. They all smell. And are all ugly. Except mine of course…mainly because I can’t see it!

    So, over the years I have interviewed dozens top performing sales people from many industries. (And even more bad ones. Sales people that is. Not industries)

    What they told me will not come as any great surprise to most of you*

    Short version: It does not matter what you wear.

    Long version: The prospect does not know or care what you are wearing when they realise they have a problem. They don’t know or care what you are wearing when they get a recommendation to call you. Nor when they convince you that the problem is important enough for you to find some time in your busy schedule to see them. Nor when they confirm to you on the phone that they are willing and able to spend some money should it turn out that you can help them. ….no matter what you look like.

    These successful people can all answer the question ”What is your strategy for building trust with another human being?”
    and, “How do you build a prospecting plan that will consistently produce an abundance of prospects” and “ What is your strategy for disqualifying weak prospects early?”.

    They DO NOT worry about questions like “Now I have successfully begged an appointment with someone who I hope is a prospect, I better make sure they like me and I impress them. What should I wear?”

    That’s my 2 cents. Thanks for reading.

    (*….especially if you have read “The Challenger Sale”, or “Why sales people fail, and what you can do about it” available as a pdf from me if I can find it on my new mac!).

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

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

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  • Are your competitors helping you, or are you helping your competitors ?

    Have you ever played poker? During my miss-spent student days, a friend of mine took me a Casino, and attempted to educate me in the nuances of the game. One lesson I remember particularly well.

    “ There is a mug on every table. If you have played at a table for more than five minutes and haven’t figured out who the mug is, get up and leave.- you are the mug”

    Years later, I learned a similar lesson in business. We would put huge amounts of work into proposals and presentations for big business opportunities. We’d get great feedback…but not win the deal. Eventually, in one of these “beauty pageants”, we found we had such a great relationship with the prospect, they helped us build a presentation that would beat our competitors. We enjoyed watching all the other mugs waste their resources in a futile exercise.

      Here are some common situations that our competitors can inadvertently help us by being the “mug”:

    Educating vs understanding

    “Our competitors do a great job of opening the door and educating the customer,… so we can close the deal at a higher value, often even using their proposals as a starting point”

    Promoting vs attracting

    “Their slick marketing, advertising, free trials and samples, is often interpreted either as too-good-to-be-true, or desparation-to-sell. That makes it easier for us to win on Trust “

    Hiring out of necessity vs Talent management.

    “My competitors hire B-players in a hurry. Often because they lost an A-player to me!”

    Hope strategy vs prospecting plan

    “Our competitors waste valuable time and resources trying to close deals that will never close. Our team gets the NO early and uses the time saved to get in front of real prospects that our competitors neglect “

    My old student friend now is now a private banker working in Switzerland. He’s no mug!

    Without being insulting, how often are members of your sales team “mugs”?

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

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

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