• Practice Makes Perfect

    Salespeople invest time developing their pitch, formulating questions, and preparing responses to expected questions and objections from the prospect. They rehearse, refine, and rehearse some more.

    Unfortunately, for some salespeople, the preparation becomes a roadblock to their success. How? The salesperson meets with the prospect and delivers his well-crafted well-rehearsed message. But, instead of paying attention to the prospect’s reactions, he is running through a mental checklist of important points to cover. He misses the look of puzzlement on the prospect’s face. He doesn’t notice the prospect casually glancing at phone messages.

    At a strategic point in the presentation, the salesperson asks one of the pre-planned “commitment” questions. Again, instead of focusing all his attention on the prospect’s answer, he is thinking about his response to an anticipated stall or objection. The meeting ends with the prospect promising to give the presentation some thought.

    The salesperson considers the meeting a waste of time and blames the prospect for not paying attention…and not recognizing the obvious value he presented. He was so concerned about delivering his message as he rehearsed it, he missed the expression of scepticism on the prospect’s face. He never recognized the point when the prospect lost interest. He never had a chance to recover.

    It’s OK to plan and rehearse your meeting. Practice, practice, practice until you have internalized the message you want to get across and the information you need to obtain – then let go. Sales meetings rarely go as imagined. After all, the prospect isn’t working from a script…and neither should you. If you’ve thoroughly internalized the information, you won’t have to worry about delivering it in a structured manner.

    You can direct your attention to your prospect and let the information flow based on the prospect’s interest and reactions.

     

    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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  • Selling the legal profession

    Are lawyers also salespeople? Selling the legal

    If you asked one of them directly, they’d likely scrunch up their face as if they’d just heard an awful verdict from the bench.

    But the truth is in this day and age the legal profession is as competitive as any other (if not more so) for new business. Why do you think that every non-profit board contains, at least, one lawyer? It’s likely just not out of the goodness of their collective hearts.

    So why do many lawyers and firms resist the idea of sales training to get an advantage over their competition? Especially when their industry and its marketing is so tightly regulated and scrutinized?

    Maybe it’s the word “sales” itself? In many cases, law firms and their partners just can’t get past the “head trash” of thinking of themselves as salespeople using “sales techniques” to get new business. Perhaps, they think to themselves “after all the hard work in law school and as an associate, now I’m just a salesperson?”

    The truth is the future of their firms and their livelihood is based on their ability to acquire and form lasting relationships. While they might not want to view it as “selling” it does include basic sales and Sandler principles including referrals, networking and yes even direct prospecting.

    We need to help lawyers reframe the way they think so they can get comfortable with the idea. Instead of sales they might be more comfortable with the idea of developing relationships.

    In either case, the Sandler Rules apply.

    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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  • Weasels

    Two weekends ago, I got to take my youngest daughter to a 4-year-old’s birthday party. I’d forgotten how elaborate some of these parties get, and this was a nice reminder. The parents of this little boy had hired an animal trainer to bring some rabbits and let the kids see them.

    The highlight of the show was a weasel that did tricks. I had never seen a trained weasel and so I asked the trainer how he did it. The story he shared was interesting: “I learned a long time ago that the key to weasel training is simply teaching them what they are not allowed to do first, then helping them figure out what they are supposed to do instead.”

    I asked the trainer about his process. Each weasel trick had two elements, a prop, and a sound. To get the weasel to do a trick, the animal simply has to react to the prop when it hears the sound.

    Too often in sales, our clients show up on our doorstep complaining about their prospects who’ve been weasels. They come in saying: they didn’t do what we expected, they misled us, they ignored us, and they lied to us. In other words, their clients have not reacted to a sales call in the way the salesperson wanted. Typically salespeople spend their time blaming the weasel when they should take some time and look at the trainer instead.

    In the sales world, prospects are tough to engage. They have plenty of distractions and, honestly, most sales pitches bore prospects.

    Your prospects have been trained to ignore most of the sounds you make and they are indifferent to the props. But for your sales team to succeed, prospects have to be a part of the show.

    We spend our time helping our clients understand what buyers are looking for, what sounds they react to, and what props have value. We teach our clients a simple rule: You can’t get mad at a prospect for doing something you didn’t tell them they couldn’t do. And we help our clients understand how to better train their prospects to respond right way.

    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 Negative Prospects Are Your Best Prospects and Positive Prospects Are Your Worst

    “Look for buying signals” I was told by most of my bosses in my early sales career. “Look for signs that they’re positive”.  Based on that advice I should have retied in my early 20’s instead of being up to my eyeballs in debt. I was afraid I was going to get fired every Monday morning as we relayed our forecast to the assembled team and our manager.

    I was a very hard worker, usually first in and last out. I researched my prospects’ companies, their markets, the competition and did a pretty good presentation. I regularly received compliments for the thoroughness of my research, commendations for my insights and ideas, and positive, reassuring statements like, “I’m impressed Marcus. You’ve clearly thought a lot about this. Thank you. You’ve given me some great ideas which I really like. Can you do me a favour and put it all into a proposal?”

    I was chuffed to bits when I heard things like that. I dashed back to the office, reported in to my boss that we’d had a really good meeting and spent the next day or so knocking up a work of genius in the form of a proposal that was tantamount to a blueprint on how they could address their issues using our services. I’d print it off, often multiple copies, bind it up, produce a snazzy cover (very important) and put a protective plastic cover over the top and post it first class. Then I’d wait a couple of days to make sure it had time to get there. I’d follow up with a call to make sure they’d got it. “It looks great. Marcus, give me a few days to read it through and talk it over with my boss” were words that sent me into elation. I hung up, reported to my boss what had just been said, s/he was happy and Monday came, I forecast it as 50% or higher depending on how positive the prospect had been … then I followed up.

    At this point they were usually involved in some kind of kinky act (tied up) or had been abducted by aliens since every effort I made to get feedback was met with a gatekeeper telling me the medium cheese I was chasing was not available. Six, 12, even 20 chaser calls went in until eventually Mr Abductee picked up when i called after Betty had gone home. “Marcus, there was nothing wrong with your proposal. The timing just isn’t right / my boss said no / our current supplier said they could do it cheaper etc” and all my hard work went up in smoke in my mind. I said some pretty rum things about them once I hung up (for which I am truly sorry), I worried I’d be for the axe as I needed that sale to make my target.

    What I find most galling is it took me 17 years to work out that my need for the approval of strangers and my belief that I should do whatever the customer asked me to, to make them happy was utter nonsense and misguided in the extreme.

    Every now and again, I came across a truly terrifying prospect. Usually the MD or CEO. He took no nonsense. He wasn’t interested in my presentation. He gave me a hard time, questioned everything, asked really tough questions and made decisions on the spot without needing a proposal, just an invoice. Many told me “no”, but they did so quickly and without hesitation or prevarication. I was in and out of their office fast with a qualified decision.

    What did it take me 17 years to learn?

    Beware the positive prospect. They usually have no money, no authority and want to know what I know but don’t want to pay me for it. Welcome the negative prospect. They’re negative because they’re busy, don’t want to make a bad decision, have money to spend and make decisions quickly and without playing games or trying to steal what I know.

    Are you a slow learner too? why not talk to your local Sandler trainer. They’ll listen and teach you some good habits.

  • 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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  • Are You Prospecting from a Feast or a Famine?

    We regularly hear from business owners and sales professionals “we haven’t got time for prospecting, we’re too busy delivering work to current clients” only to be followed a few months later with “we’re prospecting like mad at the minute because we’ve got nothing on right now”.

    Call it feast or famine … boom or bust … all or nothing. For some reason people attribute prospecting to the times when they’re desperately searching for business instead of doing it from a position of strength when they’re really busy.

    When you’re in need of the business you’re much more likely to visit a non-qualified prospect who’s shown a little interest or curiosity in your product/service. Only to find they haven’t got a budget. Or worse still, they just wanted to know your prices to beat down their current provider.

    As a direct result of prospecting when you’re not busy your diary fills up with appointments of non-qualified prospects who you wouldn’t normally even approach. You then end up ‘winning’ business that isn’t profitable. You then need to find even more business. Meaning you’re more desperate. Meaning you’ll see more non-qualified prospects with less money in their budget, resulting in … you guessed it … more non-profitable work you don’t really want!

    Imagine if you’d been prospecting when you were really busy. What’s your mind-set likely to be? Probably something like “I’m financially independent and don’t NEED this business”.

    When you’re not desperate you’re much more likely to question why your prospect is so keen to see you. Do they actually have a problem that needs solving? Have they got a budget to fix the problem? Are they able to make a decision based on what you show them?

    Buyers can smell desperation from a mile away.

    Successful sales professionals realise that the best time to do your prospecting is when you’re really busy delivering work.

    But most importantly they ask themselves “does this prospect DESERVE to be our client?”. And if they don’t, then they don’t. Shake hands and leave on good terms, instead of leaving with a deal you don’t even want!

    Andrew Pickersgill

    Andrew Pickersgill

    Andrew is Managing Director for Sandler Training North East. A business development and sales coach with over 20 year’s practical experience giving advice to ambitious companies and individuals. Primarily Andrew has operated with owner-managed businesses who want to accelerate the growth of their business, or simply improve the results of their sales team. After a career selling everything from technology, financial services, logistics, recruitment and coaching Andrew is perfectly placed to help with your sales needs. Andrew is passionate about changing your attitudes to selling, allowing you to understand that a ‘no’ can be a good thing. He also plays an active role in increasing the employability of 16-24 year olds, attending a reception dinner at the House of Lords as recognition of his on-going work in this area.

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  • Maintaining Sales Motivation: Why Do You Work?

    Why? Why do we get up every day and go to work?

    Because that’s what is expected: Really? In most companies, the last time you saw your job description was the day you interviewed and you don’t know what is really expected, do you?

    Because employees depend on us: Really? Management books say a great manager implements systems that will operate well when management is not there.

    Really it’s because Mum or Dad said so!

    Accountability is imprinted into our brains early in life. “Clean your room,” “Finish your homework,” and “Be home by 10″ are all part of our basic wiring. In secondary school, if you didn’t show up with your homework, you were publicly humiliated and punished with detention. Sounds bad, right? Actually, it works. We did the work because we run from pain before we run towards pleasure. Ever get that sickened feeling in your stomach before a big test? Well, that shouldn’t disappear entirely after school. What is that, exactly? Self-accountability.

    How are you accountable? You need to do 10 cold calls, get five referrals, and schedule two appointments daily. Who knows you didn’t do this? Only you and you can lie to yourself to justify your behaviours all day (the lawn really looked like it needed mowing and that two-hour lunch with a great client were to ensure the renewal next year!).

    Do the right things to be accountable:

    1. Have an accountability partner or coach- I call mine every day at 6 pm (yes). This person should not be your spouse or significant other.
    2. Keep a journal and do a debrief to yourself in writing every day.Rate everything with the standard “should you have been doing this activity at the time you were doing it?”
    3. Have clear behaviour goals in mind and know every day what you will accomplish!Who are your top 20 targets?
    4. Know why you are working- have a dream board near you during work hours. Want a Jeep? Have a picture nearby. Travel? Have a picture. Jewellery? Have a picture. House, wealth, etc? Have a picture. No college debt for your kids? School pictures work great. Make that dream or goal of yours ever-present and as tangible as possible, and you’ll have no problem staying on track.
    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 I don’t like you

    Have you ever wondered why some people you just click with and others, well, you simply don’t? Some folk appear warm and some just rub you up the wrong way?

    I was coming home from a networking meeting the other day and pondered on these very thoughts. It was the first meeting after the Christmas break and people were in high spirits and catching up with each other and so the buzz was good.

    Whilst I chatted to people, acquaintances, collaborators and those that wanted to speak to me undoubtedly there were some folk in the room that took an exception to me, judged me one way or another or had already formed an opinion about me previously or indeed me to them. But here’s the thing: In that room everyone was trying their best to make everyone like them… or were they?

    The unwritten rules of segregation (as I like to call them)  undoubtedly differ depending on the occasion and are unique to each person. Equally the rules of connection are not necessarily equal and opposite to the rules of segregation ( sorry Einstein).

    I find these rules fascinating. For instance Norwich football club supporters find unity and solidarity in there support for the team however they may not speak to each other because of a personal moral or political standpoint.

    Thinking about Networking, everybody is there to meet people and talk to them. To be able to do this they need to create a first impression and as a result of that  impression there’s 4 outcomes that may follow:

    1. I like you and I want to talk to you further
    2. I like you but I don’t want to talk further, not now at least
    3. I don’t like you but I need to talk to you
    4. I don’t like you and I neither want or need to talk to you.

    So how do you come to your conclusion? What are the rules that you apply to decide whether you put this person in bracket 1 0r 2, or 3 or 4?

    I bet it’s not what Football team they support and I bet in 9 times out of 10 cases you know nothing about their political or moral view points so why would some make it to #1 and some to #4?

    The thing is your Mr or Mrs #4 is someone else’s #1 for reasons only known to them because their rules are different to yours.

    So what about me? Some of the things I look for to open a possible connection (in a networking context) are self belief, honesty ( I can smell a rat), humbleness, someone who perhaps can make me laugh or laugh at themselves, a smiler are a few things. There’s 100′s I’m sure.

    Things I don’t like are cockiness, boastfulness – sharing achievements is one thing but boasting is another, self involvement, self righteousness are a few, arguably these and some of the above are character traits but I don’t believe that character traits are wholly what I’m talking about in this post.

    What about you ? What are your rules of segregation or connection? What makes you put someone into category 1 or category 4?

    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

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  • 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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  • Worrying Trends

    Are you out of business and you just don’t know it yet?

    Managers are the bottlenecks for growth. How many businesses do you see hit a glass ceiling or their sales start going down hill?

    In a recent report by among sales managers in sales intelligence software supplier sales-i, 34% say that their main problem is acquiring timely information to use whilst selling, whilst 17% say that visibility into activities of the sale team is their biggest daily challenge.

    So what should you be looking for? Have a look at you team and ask yourself:

    • Do your people have desire and commitment?
You may ask, what’s the difference?  “Boss I need more money, you need to give me more money/bigger territory” (That’s Desire). Someone with desire and commitment will come to you saying,  “Boss I need to make more money, how do I do that? What do I have to do different to make that possible?”
    • When you have your weekly 1 on 1’s with your sales manager and he/she debriefs you about his daily 1 on 1’s with the team, what are the biggest conceptual and technical problems and what are their plans to overcome them?
    • What is your managers plan for training and coaching your people? You did hire him/her to train, coach and develop your people didn’t you?
    • When you have your weekly pipeline meetings with your sales manager, are they at least 80% accurate in what’s going to close in the next 30 days so you can plan sufficiently?
    • When your managers have their monthly meetings with his/her people to talk about their personal goals, especially the ones not hitting their numbers, do their goals tie into their monthly company goals?
    • How many hires does the manager have in his/her funnel? Knowing 1 in 200 are A players.
    • When you harvest your data from your CRM to look at the ratio between your lag indicators and your leading indicators to activities, what is the difference between your top salespeople and your bottom ones?
    • When your lag indicators aren’t where they should be, what do you change first, the leading indicators or the activities?

    On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being high, how would you rate the culture of your business?

    For a business to continually be successful it needs a sales driven culture built around a framework for success. This includes hiring and keeping the right people. Having a growth strategy that’s stress tested and one you know the team can achieve. Clearly defined systems and processes (a road map) that everyone in the company and new to the company can follow and self-measure. And a management team that can coach, train, mentor and support their people with new skills.

    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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