• 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.

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:

  • 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

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:

  • 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

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:

  • Are Your Employees Motivated To Help Achieve Your Business Growth?

    In Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, he concludes that intrinsic motivation rather than rewards based motivation is a stronger factor to influence our employees’ production. This resonates with what David Sandler wrote over 20 year ago that the carrot and stick approach only produces short-term results.

    Pink says that there are three key areas of intrinsic motivation;

    • Autonomy – The urge to direct our own lives
    • Mastery – The desire to get better and better at something that matters
    • Purpose – Doing what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

    He goes on to say that “the use of rewards and punishments to control our employees’ production is an antiquated way of managing people.  To maximise their enjoyment and productivity for 21st-century work, we need to upgrade our thinking to include autonomy, mastery and purpose. Goals that people set for themselves and that are devoted to attaining mastery are usually healthy, for example, deepening learning, delighting customers and doing one’s best”.

    When we link this to business growth, can this insightful research help leaders discuss and agree goals with employees?

    We know that the company’s vision should be built from the top down and supported from the bottom up. The vision should be cascaded down to departmental goals and objectives and then down to individuals goals and motivations. Activities at every level should move the organisation towards that future goal. For that to happen, everyone’s activities must be in sync with the vision. If they are not, people may be working diligently, but not necessarily in alignment with the company’s goals. Their personal performance may be effective, but not in relation to the corporate goal. They may be highly motivated, but about the wrong priorities.

    Engagement surveys provide organisational leaders with valuable insight about employees’ feelings and attitudes by giving employees the chance to anonymously offer their opinions about their workplace environment. So ask yourself a question, if your annual engagement survey results were down this year, are employees goals linked enough to intrinsic desires?  If not, maybe now is the time to re-evaluate performance management in your organisation.

    Paul Sandford

    Paul Sandford

    Paul has over 30 years experience in business. He has a proven, track record with international technology companies, SAP SuccessFactors, Basware and Open Text, achieving significant growth revenue in competitive marketplaces. His last corporate role was at SAP SuccessFactors where he built a new market for them with Cloud HR Solutions into the risk adverse UK Public Sector growing the business from zero to £4M (over the customer lifespan) within two and half years. He now works with Business Owners, CEO’s, Managing Directors, VP’s of Sales and Senior Partners who are committed to growing their businesses and recognise that they need to be more effective in sales, customer care and performance management. Paul Sandford runs Sandler Training in North Hampshire based in Basingstoke

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:

  • The power of the 30 second commercial

    I was chatting to an old client from my last company about how his business was getting on.

    He was happy with it so far but felt that many of his potential prospects didn’t understand his company no matter how much he told them about what they did.

    This reminded me of a quote I read in the Sandler book “You can’t teach a kid to ride a bike in a seminar”.

    The book quoted George Bernard Shaw and said:

    “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.

    So I asked about his thirty second commercial.

    This stopped him dead in his tracks. “I have 2000 product lines; I can’t get that in a thirty second commercial! We need to sit down for 3 hours so that I can tell you about them”.

    Clearly, if he wanted to list all his offerings in that time, thirty seconds was a tough ask.

    Conversely, I wasn’t that hungry to listen to his product list for the time it takes me to drive from Manchester to London.

    But is it effective and does he really needs to spit out a product list in a first call or interaction?

    This is why a readily prepared thirty-second commercial can be so useful in shortening a sales process.

    However, a common misconception of the “Thirty-second commercial” or the “elevator pitch” is that you have to talk about what you have, Features, Advantages, Benefit’s.

    This might feel great for the “elevator pitcher” but often fails to meet the needs of the “elevator pitchee” and rarely can be achieved in thirty seconds. The result can often be confusion and discomfort. This can make both people in the conversation be “not OK”.

    A thirty-second commercial can give enough of an indication to anyone, to understand if there was at least a future conversation to be had on this subject.

    The listener has to understand that by engaging with this company, which pains may be taken away from them, leaving them with a clear vision of how the future could look.

    You don’t have to mention in detail products or services, you just have to help them to understand how they typically will feel after a successful implementation of the product or service.

    Focus on the pains that your product or service can eliminate. Help them imagine how their world can look without those pains. Then you can both see if there is a real business reason for you to spend any more time together.


    Roy Johnson

    Roy Johnson

    For twenty seven years Roy Johnson worked globally where he held leadership positions in market leading industrial automation and communications companies. Having left corporate life in 2014 he started his own sales training and management consultancy. Typically, his clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners. These are often people who went into business to follow their passion with a requirement to build a client base to make it successful. They are either looking to put a sales system with coherence and clarity in place and/or take the business to the next level. Roy helps them to develop a successful sales culture so that they can make tough sales decisions based on real data rather than instinct. Mob +44 (0)7867525868 Tel +44 (0)1782 518040

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:

  • Do you or your sales people ever feel uncomfortable discussing the money?

    Whether you are selling a product, a service or a solution at some point you will need to discuss money. This can often be the awkward moment as many people feel discomfort as this part of the sales process.  If you feel uncomfortable and the people you are selling to feel uncomfortable this can lead to a breakdown in rapport, maybe the classic objection of ‘I will think about it’ or a false interest to get rid of you.

    Here is some help – for the full version come along to a Sandler Sales Masterclass briefing at a local training centre as our guest.

    Firstly think about your background and how money was discussed when you were a child; maybe money was plentiful and there was always more where that came from. Or, like me, you came from a modest background and money was hard to come by and every penny was important.  Perhaps adults did not talk about money when you came into the room – it’s no wonder discussing money can be difficult.

    If you came from the ‘money is plentiful’ background, how do you think your tonality comes across when dealing with a ‘money scarce’ background person?  “It’s only a few thousand surely that’s affordable” can put your prospect in emotionally difficulty.  Or your sales people may be afraid of discussing big figures as they may never be in a position to afford the purchase themselves. This can sound like …”Oh! The quote has come out more than I expected, let me see if I can discount that for you as it’s a lot of money”.  This is where sales people give away margin even without any price objection.

    At Sandler we teach people to be ‘Disarmingly Honest’.  An example of this would be “I think I may be able to help you with what we have. Is it okay to discuss budget & investment with you now?  I sometime get uncomfortable discussing money I don’t know about you?  Well, we need to cover the figures so is it okay if I go through these to make sure I don’t miss anything?   Honest – absolutely.  Good for rapport building with a client – you bet.

    If they claim to be okay talking about money you have simply built rapport and got their permission to start to talk about it.  If you are okay talking about money next time stop to think about your prospect – are they?

    Berkeley Harris

    Sandler Training Bristol Tel: 01172 444 360 Mobile: 07584 074 774

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:


    Sandler’s I/R Theory (Identity/Role) represents the dual nature of our lives. Each of us has an “I” and an “R.” Our “I” represents our values, beliefs, principles, desires and emotions–our inner selves. Our “R” is made up of the many roles we play in our lives, or our outer selves. These roles include son, daughter, friend, student, salesperson, etc.

    The I/R model was developed to define the relationship between those two parts of our whole and to help distinguish between them. Although they are separate, they affect each other.

    If we confuse our role performances with our values as a human being, our self-image will go up and down with each performance. Regardless of the level of our self-image, we constantly work to bring our performance into line with that self-image. Therefore, if we translate our “I” perception as a rating between 1 and 10, without a 10 rating for our self-image, our role performance will be limited.

    How do you rate your “I”?

    If you rate your “I” between 8 and 10, you are a winner: you have a healthy self-image. You feel good about yourself most of the time, no matter how you are performing in your roles.

    If you rate yourself between 4 and 7, you are an at-leaster: if things go fairly well on your “R” side, you feel pretty good about yourself. If your role performance goes badly, you work to get back to average. People in this position tell themselves, “I may not be a winner, but at least I’m not a loser”.

    If you rate your “I” between 0 and 3, you’re in the category of non-winner: you allow your role performance to affect how you feel about yourself. That poor self-image affects your performance, putting you in a cycle of self-defeating attitudes and behaviours.

    The I/R Theory demonstrates the importance of separating “who you “I'” from “what you ‘R.'”.  Essentially, if you want to fix your performance, your earnings etc (your R), you need to first focus on and fix your self-image, view of yourself (your I).

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle Plus

  • 3 questions to ask yourself when hiring

    Over the past few months, I have had a number of conversations with owners and directors which are broadly similar.

    ‘We’re becoming more confident, seeing more opportunities. I’m thinking about hiring a sales person’. OK and..?  Well, I really need somebody in position within a few months, they need to be performing straight away,  I can’t afford to get it wrong, the last one hired wasn’t that good, we tried for 6 months and then had to get rid of them’.

    So, what are you going to do differently this time?

    I don’t know – do you have any ideas?

    Yes, start 6 months ago.

    Sorry, that wasn’t very helpful, but it’s the truth. You are where you are, but with that sort of approach you are setting yourself up for another hiring failure.

    If you are thinking you might need to recruit a sales person in 2015 or even next year, the time to start is now.

    Let’s just ask ourselves a few questions, starting with the obvious.

    1. Do I really need to add another person?

    For a moment let’s draw an analogy with a machine. If you were running a factory and you kept adding machines without optimising the output from your current capacity you would become uncompetitive and ultimately go out of business. Yet people add headcount to sales teams without even questioning if they can get more out of what they have.

    Do you have the data to analyse the performance of your current sales people? Have you compared the best to the worst? Do you understand where the differences occur and have you tried to develop/coach them to adopt the best practice?

    Have you templated your prospecting/sales process and examined where efficiency gains could be made? Could adopting a systematic approach to sales drive continuous improvement across the board?

    To hijack an old phrase from the quality manual ‘Do you even know what good looks like?’

    If training and developing your current team could enable you to achieve the same or greater sales growth than adding another person – which option would you take?

    1. Should I add or replace?

    Let’s assume you have done all of the above and you have seen some improvement. Have some not demonstrated an improvement or even a willingness to try? What is the impact of retaining them in your business?

    Potentially a risk that they pull others back down and possibly they themselves feel under pressure and unhappy in the role.  Certainly it requires a conversation and an examination of the possibility of redeploying them elsewhere or finding out if they are also looking to move on and need some assistance to find a better-fit role.

    1. Am I really ready to hire someone?

    Hiring is usually one other thing that managers can barely afford to devote any time to. After all, if it doesn’t work out it’s probably only going to cost £20-30K by the time you add up all the costs of the 6 month they get to prove themselves. Not much?

    So don’t make it an event. Continuously build links with people who you would like to add to your business.  Using the understanding you have developed in 1, build a picture of the type of qualities you need in a good hire. Don’t forget, having improved the current team you will no longer be replicating ‘average’ but adding in at a higher level. Consider also strengthening your hiring process through the use of a systematic approach and tools such as behavioural profiling.

    Stop thinking that your next sales hire is still 6 months or so away. Start evaluating and improving your current sales resource and preparing the ground for your next recruit to join an already high performing team.

    If you want to talk further, contact your nearest Sandler Trainer about how we may be able to help save money on hiring and get more from your current sales resources.

    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.

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:

  • The story of John – or is this the story of YOU?

    John runs his own very successful business … the product he delivers is outstanding … really high quality and his clients are more than happy to refer him to people they know … sounds perfect doesn’t it?

    The reality … John delivers an outstanding product … for those who were willing to stay the course through his sales process or perhaps we should say his lack of a professional sales process.  I’m sure this never happens to you, but it was not unusual for John to experience the following;

    • Spending a lot of time going to see prospects, providing quotes only to then find that he didn’t get the business and wasn’t really sure why
    • Finding it difficult to persuade prospects to pay a premium for quality – everyone wants a discount – no deal no sale!
    • Giving prospects lots of advice on what to do and how to do it – only to find they used the knowledge to shop around – we call that free consulting

    John hadn’t had a weekend off in months; his brain was constantly running over what needed to be done – contacts to be made – people to see – lots to do  – and never enough time in the day to do it. He promised clients he would get to them within tight timescales and then worried that he had overcommitted himself. John felt he was working his a** off but not getting anywhere … but he knew next week would be better … wouldn’t it?

    It is not so easy to charge a premium for quality if the quality doesn’t start until the sale is complete.

    John had a relatively traditional approach to selling:

    • Every call was an opportunity – at least go and see them, after all, there might be business in it
    • Once there assess if prospect could use his product
    • Tell them all about his product
    • Try and close the deal
    • Overcome any objections they might have
    • Promise to prepare and send a quotation (which would then disappear into his ever growing administration pile, or indeed, theirs)

    In the meantime his prospects were:

    • Misleading about their interest – sometimes they just needed 3 quotes and John happened to be one of them
    • Getting as much info as possible – that way they can shop around or do it themselves
    • Committing to nothing, giving him positive feedback and saying they just needed to think it over
    • Disappearing – I’m sure we all know someone who has not taken the follow-up call from that sales rep they just didn’t want to say no to

    In a busy marketplace how much do YOU invest in differentiating yourself by how you sell and NOT what you sell?

    John now has a sales process – he differentiates himself by how he sells – demonstrating his quality from the start.  As a result, he is:

    • Winning more business
    • Wasting less time – working less hours
    • Actually having weekends off
    • Sometimes even enjoying selling
    Lesley Mcluskey

    Lesley Mcluskey

    Lesley has held senior management positions in sales, operations, change and distribution and was Operations Director of a fast-growing business within a major global organisation responsible for a team of 500+. She established her business in 2008, initially focussing on management consultancy and developing growth strategies. Not long after starting her business Lesley became a client of Sandler to help improve her sales skills and today she responsible for the strategy, leadership and management practice within the Sandler Scotland business. With a passion for coaching Lesley is recognised for her ability to help others achieve their goals both personally and professionally. Lesley studied at Lancaster University and in 2005 completed her MBA studies specialising in Performance Management.

    More Posts

  • 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.

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me: