• 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?

  • 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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  • Prospecting: Don’t have time for it, not my job…hate it!

    Most of my clients hate the idea of prospecting. In any form. They either expect clients to find them as the industry experts or they have a team, internal or external, to do the prospecting for them.

    You might expect little sympathy from Sandler trainers. That is true; you won’t find much patience for little prospecting effort. However, here is a secret: Sandler trainers have to prospect too and we have exactly the same challenges as our clients and their people. We don’t ask our clients to do what we are not prepared to do ourselves.

    So what do we find works for ourselves and our best-performing clients? You might expect the answer to be “Cold Calling.” Well, it works, when it is done right and professionally. However, is that the most efficient way of getting business? Probably not.  Effective nonetheless.

    The younger generation seems to have a pathological fear of the telephone and want to do everything by social media and email. Does that work? Well, yes, when done right and consistently, although it can take much, much longer to get the same result. Networking? As in talking to strangers in a place and environment you really would rather not be in? This can be powerful. Free talks? Unnerving and time-consuming, perhaps, but wonderfully efficient in weeding out prospects. Asking for referrals? This is often the best way into ideal new business. However, we are then trading on the good name of our clients and contacts and they don’t usually come fast and thick enough.

    The list goes on. “Walk-ins”, attending conferences, calling old proposals or clients, webinars, LinkedIn, email shot, mailshot and more. Some work better than others at different times in different sectors. In fact, I have an odd, personal, mantra. “No prospecting method works…until it does.” In other words, don’t write off any prospecting activity. Just do plenty. Stick to 3 or 4 main ways of getting business that you are at least prepared to do consistently (preferably “active” rather than “passive” methods). But just do it.

    The Sandler rule #7 is so true. “You never have to like prospecting. You just have to do it.”

    Unfortunately, that includes you. Not just your people. Good prospecting!

    If you want help getting you and your people more comfortable and better at prospecting, why not check with your local Sandler trainer?

    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Old Clients New Business

    Old Clients new businessA mistake too many salespeople make is not keeping in touch with former clients. It’s not uncommon for past clients to come to a point where they need your product or service again but don’t remember how to get in touch with you. They are more likely to have your competitors’ information handy.

    (Your competitors are still calling on your client even though you are not).

    The odds of obtaining business from a former client are typically better than the odds of obtaining business from cold prospecting. So, keeping in touch with former clients is not only the professional thing to do, it also makes good business sense to ensure you are always a call away from old clients if they need your service again

    “Keeping in touch” doesn’t mean pestering them – pushing for a sale. It simply means letting them know that you are still there, ready to provide service when necessary. This can be accomplished in various ways: a regularly scheduled phone call – just to say “hello;” a monthly or quarterly newsletter about industry events and trends; or a monthly e-mail regarding new products or services. Don’t try to overwhelm your client; just make it easy for them to find you.

    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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  • Active prospecting? You are joking!

    Now this might sound outrageous, particularly from Sandler Training, but let’s be honest…active prospecting does not work. Or at least it is highly inefficient. The worst culprit is “cold calling”. I mean, it is so much better to have qualified incoming leads just ready to buy than wasting inordinate amounts of time pestering people who then hide behind voicemail.

    Let’s work this out. How many dials do you need (real world) to get to speak to anybody? And then, how often are you getting the runaround? Even if you get an appointment they are unlikely to be ready to buy. Cold calling! Soul destroying stuff! And sales time can be so much more efficiently used.

    What about networking, asking for referrals, attending seminars, giving free talks, exhibiting? Well, actually they are pretty much nearly the same waste of effort. Huge amounts of effort required for almost no leads.

    So all active prospecting in effect does not work…until it does.

    Think of your largest income producing client. Not that one, the one that actually did come from active prospecting. Now, if you knew and knew for absolute certain you would get that client from doing that kind of prospecting, how much effort would you have been prepared to put in? My guess the answer is way more than the effort you actually did put in. So suddenly that time-consuming agony was worth it.

    But how can you be sure that doing more of that same activity will produce another fabulous client like that? Well obviously you cannot be sure. In the same way you cannot be sure of any prospecting activity. Until it works.

    Could you have got that client we are thinking of through incoming lead generation? Perhaps. Probably not.

    So the only way to be at least partly in control of our destiny in business is to do prospecting. Loads of it. As many different kinds of activity as makes sense (usually 3-5 different prospecting activity types is manageable). It is only with a long enough timescale that we can be sure that a certain prospecting activity is a waste of time. And even then we could have stopped just a couple of dials short of our ideal, dream prospect. Commit yourself to some hard work, doing stuff you would rather not do. After all, they say that if you claim to like cold calling you are either lying or never done it.

    Sandler has a rule

    “You never have to like prospecting; you just have to do 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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  • There’s no summer slumber people will still spend money

    Summer SlumberWe are right in the middle of summer, and I love the summer. And in the midst of this nice warm weather, it may be strange to say that I also love the winter but I do.

    That’s when the business world almost uniformly decides to go into a slumber because they believe buying slows down. That’s called a self-limiting belief. That’s when I’m at my best because this is what I have found people actually still have money and are willing to spend it if you’re good enough to find their pain.

    You see, businesses today are not spending money on pleasure and fluff. They are, however, willing to spend money at any time of the year on things they need or that are going to save them money, avoid a cost or help them increase their revenue. You have to get really good, really fast at learning how to find pain, and you need to work on having patience so you do not pull the trigger too soon, but learn how to develop the pain and find the emotional connections that will make your prospects spend their money.

    Owners, quit taking excuses that people don’t have money because they do for the things they want and the things they need to solve problems.

    Good salespeople don’t even know there is a recession because they are good at finding the pain.

    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 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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