• Happy Ghosts and Goblins season to you!

    I am a terrible “bah humbug!” when it comes to “trick or treat” but I do take a keen interest in Ghosts.

    The Ghosts I mean, to clarify, are clients who don’t ever complain but just disappear. We may have just have started doing business with them and they suddenly fly away to a competitor, even back to their old supplier. Or worse, they are stalwart clients who have been quietly using our products or services for ages and now they don’t. If we ever think to challenge them they tell us things like their priorities have changed or they have “outgrown us”.  In all honesty, we know for the most part those excuses are in the same category as “the cheque’s in the post”; a form of words that we cannot sensibly refute but everybody knows is a “business lie”.

    So why have they gone? First of all, do you care? What is the cost to you if they go? Well, let’s do the calculation. How many have you had leave you over the last 12 months? And how much does it cost to replace a new client? Now most businesses cannot answer that question, so let’s change that to how much would you be prepared to pay if someone could just give you a decent client? Chances are the real cost of acquiring a client is way above that, but let’s use that if we need to for our calculation. How much, therefore, would it cost to replace all your ghosts over 12 months? That could be a large number.

    Now the big number. How much profit would you have gained from each of those ghosts had they not left you?

    What, therefore, is the total cost of Ghosts to you over the past twelve months? Bear in mind, this is a real number. This is money that should have been in your bank and now is not.  This is a cost to the business just to stay still. Whatever growth figure you had in mind for the year, you have to add this figure to it in order to stay on track.

    If you knew you had that large cost in say, operations due to wastage, or in accounting due to excessive bank charges, would you be keen to reduce, minimise, even eradicate it? No doubt this a number big enough to care about. Particularly when you think that the competition has got your money instead; the client is still buying, just not from you!

    So how did the Ghost come about? What department or function was responsible for scaring them to death, driving them away, making them feel they were not valued? Your organisation did it to them. But who and how? Anybody who speaks with your brand, verbally or in writing, could easily create a ghost.  Inadequate communication, bad customer service, poor customer experience, lack of good up-sellling or cross-selling, all could be the root cause of your quietly growing, and increasingly expensive, graveyard.

    Time to stop the plague of Ghosts?  Time to investigate with your Sandler trainer what can be done? It would cost some money, time and change throughout your organisation to fix the issues, but would it be worth it?

    Paul Glynn

    Paul Glynn

    Paul’s experience spans over twenty years of selling, sales management and training. He has worked in the financial services sector including accountancy and has been responsible for the commercial success of sales departments at director level in advertising. His clients report up to 300% increase in turnover by working with him. He is dedicated to helping businesses grow through assessments, training, coaching and mentoring. Tel: 01784 390623 Mobile: 07866 518848

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  • When Should We Respond to Request for Proposals (RFPs)?

    The RFP from a whale prospect lands in your in-box. What do you do next?

    Most salespeople get excited, tell their boss that all their hard work cosying up to this company’s middle management and procurement team has paid off. They’d spend a day or two reading through the tome that reminds them of War and Peace, written by an 8-year old lawyer. Then they’d get the team together to plan who was going to do what. Much resource would be thrown at meeting the unreasonable deadline set by the “prospect” … but not much actual thought.

    They wouldn’t ask some fundamentally important questions; questions to which answers are imperative to decide what we do next, because  NOT ALL RFPs ARE LEGITIMATE! In fact, most aren’t. Most are an attempt to get free consulting from vendors too scared, excited, lazy or stupid to check if the RFP is even real.

    Consider these questions…

    • How did we make the list for receiving this RFP?
    • How many RFPs were sent?
    • What do we know about the prospect’s history surrounding RFPs?
    • Do they have a preferred supplier list (PSL) and are we on it?
    • If not, do they always give the business to someone on the PSL?
    • If we decide to participate, what happens next?
    • What role, if any, will their incumbent supplier play?
    • Will the low bid be the one that wins?
    • What results is the prospect company hoping to achieve by implementing the contents of the RFP?
    • Why aren’t they doing it in-house?
    • Is the timescale realistic?
    • Do we understand what caused them to go to market with this RFP? DO we understand the different drivers and centres of dissatisfaction?
    • Do we have a sponsor, coach or advocate in the prospect company to whom we can submit a rough draft, have it critiqued to make sure we have identified their priorities and covered all the issues they consider most important?
    • Are they high enough in the company to be able to provide us with the answers we need or just the ones they are willing to give any vendor?
    • Should we involved our senior management?
    • Have we identified to whom the prospect’s decision-making committee already has allegiances by suing our personal networks, trawling through LinkedIn and the internet to see what connections they have to our competitors and the incumbent?
    • What is the likely cost of sale to participate in this bid, win or lose?
    • Is this even legitimate?
    • Can we win it?
    • Are there any conditions that we do not qualify against that will preclude us from winning this e.g not ISO9000 compliant, no sector experience and sector experience is a must have, we don’t have 3-years accounts, they want to use their T&Cs not ours, our non-negotiable payment terms are unacceptable to them?
    • Do we want to win it?
    • What opportunity cost will we incur if we plough time, money and resources into this bid and is there a better way to invest our scarce and valuable resources?
    • Is this RFP going to be profitable if we win it? By when?

    Once you have your questions clear in your mind, are you allowed to speak to someone, not in procurement or a technical buying capacity, at a high enough level to understand the business drivers behind this RFP invitation?

    Given that RFP responses are usually the second highest hidden cost in any selling organisation after wrong hires the killer question you need to answer for yourselves is:

    • What are our chances of winning it?
    • Should we participate in this RFP process?

    Take the emotion out of RFPs and never lift a finger until you have done your research and picked up the phone.

    A simple rule of thumb for management to eliminate wasted effort and falling into the free consulting trap is that selling the opportunity internally should be twice as hard as selling it to the prospect.

    Live by the principle that you should do less but better on purpose.

  • What is your highest value behaviour?

    “Priority” entered the English language in the 14th century. It comes from a Latin. “A priori” means “first”. In the hustle and bustle of the 19th century and the Industrial Revolution, the drive to do more and multitask encouraged its pluralisation from priority, to priorities.

    Consider for a moment, is it possible to have many “first”?

    The bastardisation of the word can explain why we are often busy going nowhere with our sales.

    We exist the enable our clients to focus on their highest contribution so they can do less but better and get paid more. Isn’t this exactly what distinguishes the greatest salespeople from the average?

    I coached a client last year who was tracking at 23% of target. He was afraid he was going to lose his job and had a quarter to turn things around. He funded the coaching himself and over 6 months he went from a pipeline for the year of £600,000 to hitting just shy of £4,000,000. He ended the year at £9,000,000 on a £3m target.  He went from the lowest performing salesperson in his region to the highest. His margin was the highest in the company. He got so busy he gave away 81% of his accounts to other salespeople because his pipeline is already 300% over what he needs to achieve quota in 2017.

    We focused on the highest contribution behaviour of filling the pipeline with 3-5x the number and value of prospects he needed to hit his number. This required he plan how he would approach his territory around his Keep, Attain, Recapture and a Expand accounts. He built account plans, touch plans, pursuit plans to make hitting his target a predictable certainty instead of a wish.

    He focused on disqualifying the non-prospects early so he could focus all his time on those who can and will buy, rather than being distracted by those who might but won’t.

    Each day he focused on his highest contribution behaviour. In each account he focused only on advancing the opportunity or the relationship, be that moving ahead to a next step or developing a referral or another sponsor.

    He works less than any of his peers.  He works better than his peers. His pipeline has 21 times more value than the next highest performing salesperson in his region.  I don’t suppose less but better for more is the kind of outcome you dream of in your business, is it?

  • 4 Habits of Successful Professionals

    successful professionalsWhat do successful professionals do that amateurs don’t?

    Certainly there are many that could fall into this category, but right now we’ll focus on four habits that could make the greatest impact on your career.

    1. Study– Professionals are not born, they are made. Some may have a natural gift, but most maximize that talent by studying history, best practices and innovative techniques. There are plenty of talented individuals who never accomplish anything. Professionals often spend hours to years studying before engaging in their profession to ensure their success.
    2. Practice– like David Sandler taught, in his book “You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar,” you can’t learn how to do anything by merely studying. You have to practice. Doctors, athletes and other types of distinguished professionals spend countless hours practicing before they are called upon to perform. How do you get to Carnegie Hall, the Masters, the Olympics or whatever is the top of your profession? Practice, practice, practice.
    3. Invest in themselves–True professionals bet on and invest in themselves. They don’t wait for their parents, employer or anyone else to invest in them. Professionals continue their education beyond the classroom and invest in workshops, seminars, books, coaches and other resources that will advance their learning. They take responsibility for their own education and personal growth.
    4. Follow a system– Finally, professionals don’t just show up and wing it. They have a system that’s repeatable and reproducible – and leads to predictable success. To outsiders, if sometimes looks like superstition or obsessive compulsive disorder, but professionals know that only by following the proven system can they expect consistent success. Amateurs sometimes think it is luck when they win or lose. Successful professionals make their own luck, and they know that fortune favours the prepared.

    Successful professionals know that there is no magic bullet or shortcut to get to the top. They don’t waste their time with such things. They are too busy learning, practicing, refining their system and investing in their own success.
    What do you think are some additional habits of successful people?

    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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  • Top Traits of Successful Salespeople

    TraitsHigh-performing sales teams are led by strong sales managers who embody leadership skills that motivate and empower the team. Exceptional sales professionals display certain traits that allow them to stand out from the rest and achieve great sales success.

    Since 1967, Sandler Training has trained sales professionals to be mindful of their behaviours, attitudes and techniques when prospecting and negotiating. While Sandler witnessed many professionals transform, there were always certain characteristics that “the greats” possessed in addition to the skills learned through continuous training and reinforcement.

    Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether or not you have what it takes to be great.

    • Do I build good rapport?This might go without saying but the best salespeople are people that can relate to other people. They come across as genuine, they’re natural and they put people at ease. As Sandler teaches, people want to do business with people that are like themselves.
    • Am I goal focused?Long-term goals are important, but what really drives salespeople is the focus on daily activities that are in direct relationship to the results in which they are in pursuit. They understand that it is the daily “behaviours” that are critical to delivering the results.
    • Am I curious?Sandler devotees know – a salesperson’s job is to find the compelling, emotional reason for the problem and match that “pain” to a solution. We discover the pain by asking questions and listening because sometimes the prospect hasn’t accurately identified their pain or are not yet comfortable sharing it.
    • Do I listen?A keystone to the Sandler Training methodology is listening. The Prospect should be doing 70% of the talking while the salesperson is actively listening and searching for the pain.
    • How motivated am I?Being self-motivated is essential to finding success as a sales professional. Since a salesperson’s income is largely based on their ability to find and close new business, success usually comes to those who are diligent and focused.
    • Do I seek out challenges?Sometimes in sales, it’s about being fearless and going after challenges. Whether it’s going after a prospect that’s been on your radar or taking on a vertical that’s completely new to you, having the ability to put yourself in new situations and enter unchartered waters will serve a salesperson well throughout their career. As Sandler teaches, no guts, no gain!

    Can you name more characteristics of successful salespeople that set them apart from mediocre salespeople? What are some traits of top salespeople that you wish you had to complement your sales approach?

     

    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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  • What’s The Rush?

    Many salespeople are too eager to make presentations – are you?

    They view them as opportunities to establish the value of their products or services by demonstrating their unique aspects. You can’t establish value, however, until you have determined which aspects, if any, are relevant to the prospects’ situations.

    The real purpose of presentations is to confirm your ability to deliver the solutions prospects are predisposed to buy. How do you know what prospects are predisposed to buy? You determine it by thoroughly qualifying the opportunities.

    Until you have learned the specific reasons prospects would buy your product or service (rather than a competitor’s), uncovered the resources they have available to make the purchases, discovered the criteria by which they will make their decisions, and (assuming you are willing and able to meet their decision criteria) obtained their commitments to make those decisions, you should refrain from making presentations.

    Making presentations before thoroughly qualifying opportunities will almost surely guarantee that you leave those presentations, not with decisions, but only prospects’ promises to “think it over.”

    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 Toughest Prospect To Sell

    The Toughest prospect to sellWhen is the toughest prospect to sell the easiest prospect to sell?

    Give up?

    The answer is simple: when you call on him or her.

    Some buyers acquire a reputation for being tough, overbearing, demanding—just plain impossible to deal with. And guess what? Salespeople stop calling on them. Why put themselves through the abuse? Why endure the indignity? Why indeed, you may be thinking.

    Why not? They have to buy products and services from someone. It might as well be you. A prospect may be demanding, discourteous, and disrespectful. However, beneath the gruff exterior, there is a human being capable of listening, evaluating, and making decisions—buying decisions.

    Remember, you too have an exterior—your salesperson persona. When you call on the impossible prospect and he “attacks” you, it’s only your persona he is attacking. So allow your persona to don an invisible suit of armour. When you call on Mr. Crotchety, you’re Sir Lancelot. Nothing he hurls at you can hurt you. You’re protected. Sure, you armour may get dented, but the order in hand will have made it worthwhile.

    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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  • How to Lower Stress in Sales

    The rotten economy, if you haven’t noticed, may be taking a toll on your health.

    Stress has been linked to a number of illnesses-such as heart disease, high blood pressure and increased risk for cancer. A lot of this stress is understandable-but also unnecessary. If you are in sales, a sales system can help you reduce that pressure you are under in a big way. You will be as productive as ever, which should mean less anxiety.

    A sales system will help you stop confusing your real self with what I call your “role self.” Most sales professionals take the inevitable rejection that comes with their work personally. They can’t make the necessary distinction between the role they play as a salesperson and who they really are.

    But those who can make that distinction-and it takes practice to do it-find that they worry a lot less. That makes them more effective. They are happier and healthier, and the confidence they show inspires others to have confidence in them. Sales increase.

    A sales system will also help you adjust the goals for each call you make in your prospecting efforts. Your only goal, besides establishing rapport, should be to determine if your prospect has any interest at all in your product or service and, if they do, to set up a meeting for a later date.

    You should make a point not to begin the selling process at this stage of your relationship. This is not the time to talk about features or benefits, price or delivery. That comes later.

    All you should try to do is schedule the meeting. The rest should wait.

    Try this, and like those with a selling system, you’ll see immediate benefits. “Going for the meeting” will take the pressure off you, and it will also take pressure off your prospect. You won’t have to second-guess which aspects of your product or service to bring up. And because he or she isn’t confronted with a premature “sales pitch,” your prospect won’t have to think about putting up a defensive wall of delaying tactics.

    When you get your prospect on the phone, be up front about what you want. Make sure they understand that all you are trying to do is to determine if they have any interest in what you are selling and, if they do, to set up a time to talk further. That’s it.

    Your prospect will appreciate the fact that you understand how busy they are, and that you are not jumping the gun, so to speak, in making your pitch.

    Your sales system will lighten your stress, and theirs too, helping you remain productive in challenging times.

    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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  • Who Is Wrecking Your Business Now?

    Who is wrecking your business now

    Recently, you probably invested a lot of time and energy putting together a presentation of your product or service. You crafted your presentation, dotted all the “i”s, crossed all the “t”s, covered all the bases, and answered all of the prospect’s questions. But, instead of a buying decision, you only received a stall, a put-off, or a request for some concession. At whom do you point the finger of blame?

    You could blame the prospect for being indecisive or dragging his or her feet. You could surmise that a competitor made an eleventh-hour concession that undercut your offering. You might even suspect that the prospect used you to gather current information to use as leverage with his or her existing supplier.

    Any one of those situations might have occurred. But, isn’t that what buyers are supposed to do…negotiate or hold out for what they believe to be the best deal?

    Rather than assigning blame, take responsibility for determining exactly what the prospect needs to see or hear to be comfortable to give you the business before you even begin to work on your presentation. Get the prospect to paint a picture of the “best” deal. Then get a commitment as to exactly what will happen when you come back with a presentation that exactly matches the picture. If the prospect is unwilling to commit to a buying decision, then it’s most likely not in your best interest to pursue the opportunity.

     

    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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  • 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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