• Add a little drama

    You’re meeting with a prospect. You’ve asked all the appropriate questions to uncover the prospect’s problem, concerns, desires, goals, and expectations. After fully analysing the situation, you announce with no hesitation whatsoever, “No problem. I have exactly what you need.”Add a little drama

    Does the prospect gasp a sigh of relief, utter under his breath, “Thank goodness,” and pull a purchase order from the drawer? Perhaps in Grimm’s version of the story, but not in the real world.

    Why?

    Prospects are sceptical of salespeople whose products or services are “exactly” what they need, especially if the salespeople are too quick to make the proclamation.

    At some level, prospects want to believe that their problems, concerns, and goals are not run of the mill, but rather, somewhat unique requiring solutions that are also somewhat unique.

    So, even if your product or service is exactly what the prospect needs, don’t be so quick to make the announcement. Tell the prospect that you have addressed similar situations and with the proper focus, and fine-tuning (perhaps with his help), you can provide him with a competent solution. You still get your point across—that you have a solution. And, you acknowledge the uniqueness of his situation which will require more than a cookie-cutter solution.

    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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  • Earn Compound Interest on Every Call

    Earn compound interest on every callEveryone knows someone. Actually, everyone knows several someone’s. Your customers – as well as the prospects you call on – have some contact with, or at the very least know of, people who can benefit from your product or service. Unfortunately, they are not programmed to automatically disclose the names of those people to you. That doesn’t mean that they won’t; you must initiate the action.

    Salespeople typically “forget” to ask for referrals. Why? Some reasons are technical: it’s not part of their selling process. There is not a logical connection from one element of the process to the act of asking for referrals. And, they don’t have a strategy for asking. Other reasons are more conceptual in nature: they don’t want to appear “needy.” They relate the request to begging. Whatever the reason, they are missing out on potential business and making their jobs more difficult.

    So, to make sure you don’t “forget” to ask for referrals, make it the last step of any sales call with a prospect or customer. Imagine your sales manager standing nearby ready to ask, “Did you ask for a referral?”

    Your referral requests should be simple and to the point. To a prospect, regardless of the outcome of your meeting: “Now that you know more about what we do for our clients, I suspect that you know of a business colleague or contact who could benefit from our service. Who might that be?”

    To a customer with whom you have a good track record: “George, you’ve always been pleased with the level of service we’ve provided. I’m wondering which one of your business colleagues or contacts would also appreciate the same level of service.”

    When customers or prospects provide you with a referral, call them after you’ve made contact with the referred person to again thank them and let them know what happened. Not only is this polite, but it’s an opportunity to obtain another name.

     

    Blog Editor

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    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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  • Your Knowledge is Worthless… Until Someone Pays You For It.

    In regards to your business, the expertise you have gained over the years is completely worthless… until someone gives you money for it. If you have a medical doctorate, all you really have is a bunch of student loans until you have patients, and get paid for your knowledge.

    From your potential client’s perspective, John C. Maxwell said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” They don’t care how great you are until they know you understand the situation and the problem they are experiencing. Your opinion here is worthless to the prospect, mostly because you are just another person trying to sell them.

    What does this mean for you and your business?

    The most common problem associated with this concept is called “Un-Paid Consulting.” This happens when you tell the potential customer everything about how you are going to solve their problem, and they return the favour by shopping out your solution to all your competitors looking for the best price.

    They don’t trust you, yet. You have no commitment from them, so they are free to look around and compare prices on exactly what you offered. Also, they know they have a solution to the problem, so all of their stress is gone and the immediate pain fades away. If all else fails, they can call you back.

    Another common problem is called “Spilling Your Candy.” You could also call it: boring the pants off your prospect. When you share your knowledge before it is needed, you are spilling the candy before anyone can enjoy it.

    What do people love to talk about more than anything else? Themselves. If you are talking about yourself, then the prospect is not getting a chance to do what they love best. If your mouth is moving, you are in trouble already.

    Also, product knowledge can be very intimidating. If you use industry buzz words, you make the prospect feel dumb, bored, or at the very least uninterested, triggering them to leave the conversation.

    What is the solution?

    Wait until you get paid to solve the problem. The goal of business is to go to the bank, not to prove how much you know. You might be asking yourself, how am I supposed to get anyone interested enough to buy without telling them how great or credible we are?

    The answer takes us back to our doctor example. Does a doctor tell you everything he knows about medicine and the types of viruses you might have, and then let you decide which medicine you think will make you better? Or does he ask you some very smart, intuitive questions to narrow down the diagnosis first and then prescribe you the solution?

    Your job as a professional salesperson or business owner is to find people with the type of problems you solve, build trust with expert questions while you diagnose the problem, get a commitment, and then prescribe the solution.

    What problems do people experience when they need your product or service? What kinds of questions could you ask to uncover those problems and their consequences? Create an environment that allows your prospect to discover they need your help, instead of telling them.

    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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  • Death Trap by Happy Ears

    A common death trap salespeople fall into is having “happy ears,” meaning, they tend to hear what they want to hear. In actuality, what they (salespeople) heard does not reflect the real intent of what the prospect said.

    Sales Tips

    The cure to “happy ears” is to be sceptical, yet nurturing. Your prospect says: “I like what you are saying, and your product is a good fit!” You respond: “I appreciate your kind words. When you say ‘good fit,’ what exactly do you mean?” This is a reversing technique that will show you the difference between nice platitudes and an actual sale. Never presume that the signals are positive—always verify.

    It is the salesperson’s responsibility to:

    • Determine the prospect’s intentions and expectations.
    • Help the prospect be more specific and define any ambiguous terms or phrase that may be misinterpreted.
    • Tie up any loose ends.
    • Make sure all parties to a conversation or meeting are in sync with what transpired and what is supposed to happen next.

    Make it a practice to recap the conversation after interactions with the prospect or clients: “Let me quickly recap what we discussed to make sure we’re all on the same page and we didn’t leave anything out.” Then, review the conversation and ask, “Does anyone have anything to add, or..did I miss anything?”

    Eliminating potential misunderstandings today reduces the opportunity for unfulfilled expectations tomorrow. Make it a habit to prevent yourself from experiencing “happy ears.” If you do and you become disappointed, just remember Sandler Rule #30: “You Can’t Lose Anything You Don’t Already Have.”

    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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  • Listen to me!

    After collecting my car from the garage after another very expensive repair I thought it may be about time I bought a car that I could trust would end the journey without the help of a low loader.

    So I went to a local dealer of quality second hand vehicles very excited about the prospect of a new toy.

    The second hand car dealer came up to me he was, smiling (great teeth), had a firm hand shake, and a hint of snake oil fragrance.

    In order to shorten the sales cycle I carefully (I thought) explained that my needs are simple, and in priority order: Automatic, Bluetooth hands free and cruise control ( I can’t afford another speeding fine). Everything else was negotiable.

    He was clearly unshaken by my simple requirements and took me over to the latest (and most expensive) car he had for sale.

    Apparently, it was a thing of beauty, shiny, a head turner, it would look great with me in it and on my drive. I suspected some of that may be correct.

    It was also manual gear change, didn’t have Bluetooth or cruise control.

    I re-explained my needs but clearly my needs didn’t match what he had, so he suggested we go out on a test drive, then I would realise ‘we should be together’ (me and the car, not snake oil boy). So I clambered into the car which exactly addressed all the needs I didn’t have.

    After an hour driving around the country side, feeling the handling, hearing the exhaust and all the other stuff the (sic) salesman thought was important, we arrived back at his premises. I’d missed a call from my wife (no Bluetooth), my dodgy hip was aching from crushing the clutch and I might have broken a speed limit or two (again).

    I didn’t buy the car (see needs above), the salesman was annoyed I’d wasted a quarter of his top selling day. But I got to have fun in a great sports car for an hour which would normally cost a lot of money.

    What happened?

    The car dealer didn’t carefully listen to the prospect, he didn’t question the prospect to confirm the impact of not having their needs met (although not being contactable by my wife did appeal to me) and he gave free consultancy on things that wasn’t needed in addition to wasting a lot of time.

    That’s a lot of bad habits. In the end he thought it was my fault. Stupid prospect.

    There were many basic Sandler rules broken here which culminated in an expensive, non-productive time for the dealer. From the prospects point of view, I learned lots of stuff I didn’t know, had some fun and a great story to tell.

    I guess you haven’t ever wasted time, chasing someone who was never a real prospect and got annoyed about not getting an order for your efforts. But, if you recognise some of this, talk to your local Sandler trainer. They’ll listen and teach you some good habits.

    I’m now going to call the garage as my car is sitting by the side of a road near here quietly steaming, just like our heroic car dealer.

    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

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  • Out in the Open: Avoiding Misunderstandings with a Prospect

    Out in the Open Avoiding Misunderstandings with a ProspectThe best definition of a heated political climate is the constant “clarification” of what was said yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. When what you said is not what is heard – or if what you heard was not what was said – that is “mutual mystification.”

    Actress Lily Tomlin said it best, “Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?”

    If a prospect utters something even remotely positive, do you immediately presume the sale? When you lose the sale – you even are mad at the prospect for sending the wrong signals. This is a condition termed “happy ears” and it is always fatal.

    The cure is to be sceptical, yet nurturing. Your prospect says “I like what you are saying and your product is a good fit!” You respond “I appreciate your kind words – when you say ‘good fit’ what exactly do you mean?” This is a reversing technique that will show you the difference between nice platitudes and an actual sale. Never presume that the signals are positive – always verify.

    When you find yourself lost in a sale where the prospect is saying all the right things, yet it is either too soon or too positive, you must say something.

    David Sandler said “when you feel it, say it-nurturingly!” You might say to your prospect “I get the feeling that you view my service positively, but I’m still not sure if I can help. Can we talk for a few minutes about that?” or “I’m feeling a lot of pressure right now – are you too? Can we talk about it?”

     

    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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  • Want Change? Put a Shark in the Tank!

    Bear with me on this as I have to explain…

    People hire me to create change, create sales growth, so I’m known as a sales turnaround specialist…

    Many people will know I’m hired when a company’s Sales Operating Model is stale and failing to deliver growth. Or when the cost of acquiring new business exceeds 10% ROI. You do measure this don’t you…?

    I typically work locally with small to medium sized businesses and occasionally enterprise sales organisations in the East Midlands.

    So why am I telling you this? Well, when I walk into an organisation, I won’t be rude but I’m not hired to make friends or pander to your sales people, I’m hired to make a difference and turn your sales opportunities into profitable business and I’m looking for a feeling, those gut feelings that help me identify what’s really going on.

    So what are the signs of a poor Sales Operating Model? There can be (not all the time) a huge amount of activity at the top of the sales pipeline, working on projects that may never close, spraying valuable information, giving away free consultancy in the hope that someone will buy from you, but in reality very little actually turns into new business.

    I see lot of unsold stock on the shelves. Often the marketing and sales department (the growth department) are under resourced and treated as a necessary evil, under funded, money is tight and the people are stretched. Other signs can be cash flow concerns and infighting between sales people and departments.

    This happens when you haven’t got a Shark in the tank!

    Here’s and example: back in the 70’s someone came up with the bright idea of catching live fish in the Pacific, putting them into a tanks and flying them across America so they could sell fresh fish to the fancy east coast restaurants and get 5-10 times the price.

    They converted planes into flying fish tanks for this purpose. However upon arrival lots of fish were found dead, floating upside down by the time they landed.

    The loss was killing the business so they consulted a marine biologist. The biologist looked at the problem and quickly said,  “That’s easy! Put a Shark in the tank. Nothing so large that it will do them harm, but large enough to put some tension in the tank.” And it worked!

    If you’re managing a Growth Department (Sales and Marketing team) you need a Shark…

    What do Sharks do?

    I believe Marketing and Sales should be as one. Marketing ideal clients but driven by a sales focus, not the typical fluffy stuff you see out there…

    Sharks have a Sales Operating Model (SOM) the rules of engagement are clearly set out, a common sales language is in place so everyone knows and understands. Sharks should make the internal sell twice as hard as the external sell, the salesperson has to demonstrate the project is profitable and feasible before the company takes on the new business. They can only do this by having a ‘cookie cutter’ – a systematic way of identifying and qualifying opportunities.

    You can’t and don’t want to do everything offered. A good sales team may present 20 projects all with varying degrees of profitability, resource and time requirements. However the organisation may only be able to resource 4 to 6 projects at a time. The organisation has to have a system to be able to weight the opportunity and one that free’s up the team to move quickly as time kills sales opportunities. The team needs to quickly identify unprofitable projects and pass these onto the competition instead.

    Good SOM’s enable the sales leaders to measure the cost of the sale at each stage of the selling process, especially when pursuing costly bid requests and adapting to changes in the market.

    Without a common language the organisation is exposed to ‘woolly’ information and undermines the whole system.

    As a sales leader your job is to make the best salespeople work on the best opportunities. If you fail to do this you will fail to generate the desired results.

    Shark’s bring clearly defined accountability that includes rewards and consequences, as salespeople easily lapse into bad habits.

    Blog written on this topic taken from this video by my mentor Marcus Cauchi and Nick Ayton.

    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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  • Too Much Product Knowledge can cost you

    If you’re like most sales professionals, you work hard to learn as much as you can about your product or service. You take pride in how much you know about your business. When you can answer any technical question that might come up in a call with a prospect, you feel confident. That’s only natural.

    But as important as it is to be knowledgeable, your eagerness to display that knowledge can damage a relationship and cost you sales.

    To avoid this problem, you need to remember that expertise can be intimidating. It can turn people off.

    Using technical terminology, for example, can leave one of two impressions. First, the use of buzzwords or industry-speak can make some prospects suspect you’re bluffing. They can think you are showing off and using language you don’t really understand yourself.

    Second, it can give the impression that you really do know what you’re talking about, which makes the prospect can feel at a disadvantage.

    In both cases, you’ve made your prospect feel uncomfortable, and someone who is uncomfortable is not likely to make the emotional investment necessary to build the relationship and buy the product.

    If prospects really don’t understand what you’re saying, they probably won’t ask questions. That’s because they don’t want to admit their ignorance, which your expertise has brought to light. (Who really likes to ask for directions?)

    Remember, too, that discomfort is a kind of pain. You’ve come to remove a prospect’s pain-the secret of all sales-but you’ve only created more of it.

    Prospects placed in a potentially embarrassing position are likely to remove that pain themselves by removing you. They’ll say they are impressed with your company and ask you to leave some printed information, and show you to the door. They’ll promise to review the material and get back to you, but the chances this will happen are slim.

    If you don’t protect the prospect’s fragile self-esteem, you will not make the sale.

    It’s never a bad thing to be the smartest person in a room. But if you want to make sales, you probably shouldn’t act like you are.

    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 Sales Professional are like Shrinks

    We don’t ordinarily think of sales as one of the “helping professions,” but maybe we should. People tell their problems to psychologists. They pour out their hearts to their local hairdresser/barber. But they tell their troubles to sales professionals, too, so we should develop our “helping profession” skills.

    I have often noticed, when a sales pitch is going well, how the conversation resembles what I understand a therapeutic session to be like. That is the way it should be, if the salesperson knows what he or she is doing.

    For one thing, there are times when-acting as a counsellor might-it is best to answer a question with a question. It’s even important to pause thoughtfully after a question has been asked, which isn’t easy for salespeople. Many are fast talkers, eager to make their sale as quickly as possible. That’s a mistake.

    It’s important, before answering a question, to know why it’s being asked. The only way to find out is to follow with a question of your own.

    Let’s say you’re selling an ad agency’s services to a restaurant chain, and the potential client asks how much experience you have with restaurants. Too many salespersons, without bothering to find out why the client wants to know, immediately answer by quoting the huge number of restaurant accounts the agency has handled.

    When they are done, the prospect says, “Well, I hope you aren’t planning to present me with recycled ideas.”

    Now the salesperson is cooked. If he had asked why the prospect was asking about his experience, he might have learned how important it is for the restaurant to be seen as unique.

    Answering questions with questions allows you to learn as much as possible about the prospect’s needs so that when you do respond with definitive answers, they are the right ones.

    There’s at least one other reason to take a therapeutic approach to sales calls. They create an atmosphere in which the prospect is likely to talk about the problems their business faces-that is, their pain.

    Once you understand their pain, you can explain how your product or service will remove it.

    Approach your sales calls this way, and you’ll make friends and sales.

    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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  • Are you a Buzz Lightyear Manager?

    Are you a Buzz Lightyear ManagerAs Leader and Manager in your organisations, you have the toughest job. You are expected to motivate, guide and help your team(s) as well as having a deep understanding of each member’s typical behaviours, attitudes and skill sets. That’s in addition to your day job!

    For some (many) leading from the front, that also means fighting the voice in your head that may sound something like “I hired you to do the job, just do it!”, the sure fire way to torpedo your own Balance Sheet below the waterline.

    So today as you hurtle through your business ‘fixing’ things, pause for a moment and ask yourself, what does the word “Leadership” actually mean? What would be your definition? Difficult isn’t it! How about this from Peter Drucker? – “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

    When I come across a dysfunctional team (and I’ve worked within some of the worst as well as in my career creating a few of my own!), often its when an otherwise successful head of the business hasn’t acquired the understanding how to Manage their people. Or perhaps have the profile where its of no interest. ‘Inspiring’ can come naturally for some but for the employee it gets tedious watching individuals get away with poor performance just because the ‘Leader’ fails to grasp the nettle and actually ‘Manage’ their team. We can kid ourselves that a ‘Buzz Lightyear’ approach to Leadership will build a great business but it probably won’t on its own. There has to be more effort put in to ensure the good staff stay and grow alongside you.

    Here’s a quick exercise: At a basic level, you may know the four hats we must wear to be effective leaders. Score yourself out of ’10’ against each one today:-

    • Coach ______ out of 10
    • Mentor ______ out of 10
    • Trainer ______ out of 10
    • Supervisor ______ out of 10

    How did you do? 10’s across the board? Its more usual to score well on one, maybe two points but get a slightly lower score against others. Hold on a second, though, how well did you do differentiating between Coach & Mentor? That’s a tricky one for many so here’s some help:

    • Mentoring is where a manager shares wisdom(?) from their past experience. The pitfall for some perhaps is thinking they are coaching but actually under pressure they end up telling / directing based on experience or what they think was the right thing to do. You’ll know if you are doing this as you will regularly be owning all the decisions on a daily basis and take the worries home whilst paying all your staff the same wage for them not to.
    • Coaching is the behaviour & technique that takes more time and patience, helps people discover for themselves the correct outcome and has a longer lasting effect. (ahem…..may take some longer to achieve than others).

    Considering this, does it change your scoring a little? Maybe not.

    All employees have choice, they can CHOOSE to be either Productive or Non-Productive. They can also choose whether they are productive all the time or just as a ‘One-off’. Coaching is the Leader’s opportunity to help their employee’s discover the best choices to make. A Coach operates as an ‘Adult’, is non critical and nurtures their employee’s so that they make the right choices and if they elect not to, are aware of the consequences.

    So coaching requires effort, skill, takes longer to effect and requires us to hold back with the answers. Undeniably, delivers the greatest results for longer effectiveness. Its easy to see then why ‘Buzz-Lightyear’ managers miss out.

     

    Chris Davies

    Chris Davies

    Chris Davies has spent over 35 years in both sales and leadership environments with companies such as Sony, Toshiba, IBM and others. Observing first-hand the declining effects of traditional, much copied selling methodologies. Typically, Chris works with business leaders, partners and top producers who are ready to work smarter and commit their time, money and energy to attract new clients, sell more products or services and generate more profits with integrity. Tel: 01525 280777 Mobile: 07891 055925

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