• Why Change?

    How serious are you about growing your business, your profits and your services? Most businesses owners say they are doing ok so why do they need to change?

    Most business owners are great at delivering products/service but as they grow and develop the business they neglect the need for new skills, creating unseen inefficiencies and ‘grow themselves cash poor’.

    Why?

    We all have four devils within us: EGO, APATHY, IGNORANCE and FEAR.  One of these four prevents them from change, therefore managers become bottlenecks within their own company.

    Example…

    Just this week I spoke to a business owner, who on the surface is doing really well – and is just about to employ his 10th sales director! Unfortunately he hasn’t made any changes to the hiring or the on-boarding process.  He has not put in any systems or processes in place to check this decision so that he doesn’t make the same mistake for the 10th time.  Why? Because he would have had to do something differently and one of his devils stopped him CHANGING.

    Another example today, the owner of a business told me he just employed three BDMs. He has no on-boarding process, no framework to coach, train and mentor new staff. This is the first time he has hired BDMs. They have been there for 2 months and all they achieved is ‘getting to know the business’. With no targets, no direction and no accountability they will burn profits and quickly impact on cash flow.

    So what’s happening?

    Both these owners have a desire for success but have not committed to CHANGE. As a business owner it is your responsibility to educate yourself and your people. Managers who don’t commit to continuous education burn profits and don’t even realise until it’s too late.

    So what is commitment?

    Commitment is taking responsibility for where you are right now, reviewing the good, bad and the ugly and doing something about it. Commitment is asking yourself “what don’t I know”, what do I need to learn?” Recognise the devils within you and ask others for help.

    What’s stopping YOU from CHANGE?

    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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  • 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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  • The Success Code  

    People define success in different ways: some by money, some by job importance and others by work/life balance.  Whichever way we view it, do we have both the aptitude and the ability to succeed – ‘can’ we succeed versus ‘will’ we?  As business people, there are four key areas which must be in place to ensure that ‘can’ becomes ‘will’.

    1.Self-talk

    Opinion has it that over 70% of the thoughts in our head are negative or limiting.  Negative thoughts create fear and hesitation, which prevent us from taking the critical actions necessary for success.  Take the time to reframe your self-talk from negative to positive.  Every time you have a limiting thought, develop a positive one to neutralise it.

    2. Baggage

    We all carry baggage around with us which holds us back, such as wanting to be liked, struggling to ask for decisions or being uncomfortable talking about money.  We need to understand our own baggage and make a commitment to learn new skills which will help us overcome it.

    3. Risk

    We all have a risk quotient that guides our actions.  Somewhere between risk everything or risk nothing is the right choice for all of us.  Stretching comfort zones allows us to take appropriate risks and achieve growth as a result.  We must examine our comfort zones because they create a success trap and we must decide to take bolder actions.

    4. Beliefs

    These are thoughts that have either been programmed by others, originate from past experiences or are based on judgments made through observation.  We should regularly and systematically test our beliefs to ensure they are based in reality, not fiction.  We must challenge outdated beliefs and create higher performing ones to free ourselves from mediocrity.

    Here are some pointers to success:

    • Examine your level of self-awareness. How large is the gap between where you think you are and where you really are in terms of success? Be honest!
    • End each day with a review of lessons learned and create a plan to utilise them the following day.
    • Review your skills toolbox and make sure you have the right tools for success. Where are the gaps?
    • Understand your ‘killer’ weaknesses and make sure they’re not hiding in your blind spots.
    • Every morning, ask yourself, “What would I attempt today if I had no fear of failure?”

    Melissa Arnot- the 31 year old who has climbed Mount Everest three times said “Out here, we face the consequences of our decisions every day.”  In business, this statement is no less true.

    Andy McCreadie

    Andy McCreadie

    Andy McCreadie is a critically-acclaimed coach and facilitator who excels at identifying core sales and management challenges and implementing transformative growth strategies. Before setting up Sandler Training in 2007 in the South West, Andy spent six years as a strategy consultant for Accenture, selling and delivering high profile consulting projects to blue chip companies. He then worked in direct sales – in London and Sydney, managing business development teams across a wide range of industry sectors.

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  • Success is Permission to Fail

    Failure is part of the human condition.

    Despite this, we understand from childhood and as we enter the world of work that it is only when we succeed at something that we are rewarded with praise or personal gain. Yet failure is something to be celebrated and should not be feared or frowned upon. I would even go as far as to say that if you’re not failing then you’re missing out.

    I was reminded of this recently when listening to the story of Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. In 2002, Brunel came second in a BBC public poll to determine the ‘100 Greatest Britons’.

    Amongst Brunel’s greatest accomplishments, (the Great Western Railway to name just one) were numerous and sometimes catastrophic disasters. With each of his designs, he sought audacious solutions to long-standing engineering issues and this is what made him one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution. Brunel had an unrelenting determination to step outside his comfort zone, push boundaries and conquer personal failures.

    Business owners (and sales people) can learn a lot from the likes of Brunel. Typically we live our lives in one of two ways; we are either risk adverse in the way we do business or operate within our roles (often because we worry too much about perceived consequences) or we do take risks but when the risks don’t pay off, we look to apportion blame to others or cite external factors as the cause.

    If we are not failing, we are repeating the same patterns of ‘safe’ behaviour. When you passionately champion something that stretches you, of course, mistakes are bound to happen. Accept these mistakes and take personal responsibility for them, otherwise golden opportunities are wasted.

    If we are ambitious and want to create growth or change, then we must learn to fail and accept our part in the consequences constructively, in a way that doesn’t make us risk adverse.

    Learn to see failure as a tool to improve performance. It is not our successes that help us grow and enrich our lives; it is the lessons we take from our mistakes.

    Give yourself permission to fail and you’ll feel better for it.

    Andy McCreadie

    Andy McCreadie

    Andy McCreadie is a critically-acclaimed coach and facilitator who excels at identifying core sales and management challenges and implementing transformative growth strategies. Before setting up Sandler Training in 2007 in the South West, Andy spent six years as a strategy consultant for Accenture, selling and delivering high profile consulting projects to blue chip companies. He then worked in direct sales – in London and Sydney, managing business development teams across a wide range of industry sectors.

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  • Who is defining your success?

    Each of us have different definitions of success, that point at which we say, enough, I’ve reached my target, or I’ve haven’t but I will redefine success to equal my attainment.

    Perhaps you are someone who uses each level of achievement to set your next target, to see how far you can go.  Adopting this mindset brings the possibility of failure, but you’re comfortable with that. Setting a personal target is one thing, setting targets for other people is almost a futile activity. If they don’t share your belief that it’s an achievable target or have the drive to work towards it then it’s likely the target will not be achieved.

    If we consider this in the context of employees, their personal definitions of success and their attitudes will have a huge effect on the outcomes they achieve and consequently the success your business achieves.

    Consider further what it is that delivers success – what are the key activities you require people to perform? How well do they do that? Why do some produce better outcomes than others?

    Levels of skill and knowledge will be a factor but what about their levels of ambition?  Is failure something they cannot contemplate?  Factors such as these can impact the most fundamental levels of their performance. For example will they look for opportunities for self-advancement in how well they perform their roles or does the scale of the task fill the time available?

    Ask yourself this question. Am I managing people who are bringing me opportunities or am I drained by people bringing me headaches? Do I constantly have to ‘motivate’ individuals, listen to excuses about why it didn’t happen and will never happen or do I see people who are continuously challenging themselves, failing and improving.  Possibly you think it’s perfectly reasonable to take four meetings with a prospect before securing business or even that it’s OK to take four meetings and then not secure business. You haven’t challenged this definition of success, therefore it is has become the norm, reflected in the performance of your employees.

    So what is your definition of success? Is it matched, or bettered by your employees? Are you taking the time to really understand them and what makes them tick? Helping them to become target setters and adopt a culture of improvement will bring a huge change to your experience as a manager and to the performance of your business.

    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • The 3 Biggest Mistakes When Hiring Sales Talent

    steve bWe consistently have clients coming to us for help with fixing their underperforming sales people. Often we can help but sometimes we have to advise that the person concerned is wrong for the role and there is little that can be done to fix the problem. Better, by far, to hire the right people in the first place.

    Over the years we’ve learned some pretty important lessons around interviewing sales people. Here are three common interview pitfalls you should really try to avoid.

    Mistake 1: Interviewing the CV.

    Fast forward to your next interview. It is five minutes before the candidate will be on the phone or in front of you. You say to yourself, who is this guy? You then frantically print out the resume and skim it. You then proceed to interview the CV. “Tell me about the job you had? What was your success there? Why did you leave? Blah, Blah, Blah…”

    I’m sure your process isn’t as bad as this, however, here’s the mistake: you need to know what you are looking for. Define your needs beyond the CV and the clichés. Start with understanding what the key job functions actually are and rank the importance of each one.

    Mistake 2: Placing emphasis on the wrong selling skills.

    You only have a certain amount of time with your candidates. Make sure you know which skills are most important for success. For example, we sometimes hear clients say that they ask a candidate to “do a presentation” during the interview. Having them do a presentation is not a bad idea, however, what’s your process for understanding the candidate’s ability to prospect or question and qualify what the client actually needs? In your world, is that more important than the presentation?

    In the past have you hired people that love to present and then spend their days and nights “chasing” and “following up?” What are the top 10 skills they need to execute to be successful? We often see this list vary however presentation skills are rarely in the top 5.

    Mistake 3: Assuming that because they can do something, they actually will.

    “Will Do” is the hardest thing to judge during an interview. Attitude and motivation can sometimes be faked long enough to get a candidate through an interview. Sales people can have talent but can lose their drive and motivation. Ask yourself the question, especially of sales people in the latter stages of their career – why have they not succeeded in past roles and are now applying for a new job? Sometimes there is a good reason but beware of people with careers that have stalled or are in decline.

    We recommend you use hiring assessments to measure core competencies around:

    • Ambition and drive
    • Takes action
    • Resists stall and objections
    • Accepts responsibility

    Without these assessments, you are relying on likability and gut feel. Your odds of finding an effective candidate will suffer.

    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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