• Do your clients see your sales people as
 Trusted Advisors?

    trustWant to get you or your people more effective at selling?  Check how consistently you/they are following steps 1-3. Even small improvements in any of these can help establish you as Trusted Advisor early on in sales conversations

    1 Gather more information than you give

    Or listen more than you talk. Ideally your prospective client should be talking 70% of the time and you 30%. How can we do that?   By asking questions, really listening to the answers and probing the answers in more detail.

    I profile a lot of people who sell (sales people, business owners, professional services) and one of the behaviours I look at is how effective they are at listening. On a scale of 1-9 (1 being low, 9 being high) the vast majority of people score between 2-4.  Even if we think we are listening, are we really?  Or are we listening some of the time, sometimes getting distracted by our own thoughts and mentally preparing the things we want to say?

    There are a lot of very smart questions we could be asking, but often the simpler ones are just, if not more, effective.

    Can you be more specific?  Could you give me an example?  Which means…? And what impact does that have?

    The advantage of asking lots of questions, not talking much and listening well is that it stops us talking too much (too soon) about us, how wonderful we are and how we can solve their problem. Instead it means we can gather information on pains, their budget and decision-making process to work out how real an opportunity this is before talking about us.

    2 Be challenging

    This is not about being awkward, or challenging just for the sake of it. I see our role as a Trusted Advisor to get to the crux of the clients issues and sometimes we need to help our prospective clients work that out too, which ties back to tip 1.

    Trusted Advisors ask tough questions that make their prospects think differently about their situation.  Equally they are prepared to have tough conversations if necessary – if you don’t think what the prospective client is asking for is in their best interests I believe its better to tell them rather than avoiding it.

    3 Be prepared to say no

    Honesty and selling don’t often appear in the same sentence, but if we want to be seen as a Trusted Advisor then that means we have to give our prospective clients the truth, rather than what they want to hear.

    If you are not best placed to help them for whatever reason I think it’s far more powerful to say that and refer them to someone else if you can. In my experience they will really respect you for that and as a result are more likely to come back to you further down the line.

    Caroline Robinson

    Caroline Robinson

    Caroline Robinson is Director of Sandler Training based in Cambridge, working with fast-growing companies who are ambitious about taking their business to the next level. Tel: 01223 882581 Mobile: 07739 344 751

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  • No Mind Reading

    No Mind readingDoes this sound familiar to you?

    Prospect A says, “This looks very good. I think there’s an excellent chance we’ll do business.” The salesperson thinks, “I’ve got one.”

    Prospect B comments, “Your price is higher than we expected.” The salesperson thinks, “I’ll have to cut the price to close the deal.”

    Prospect C reveals, “We were hoping for a shorter delivery time.” The salesperson thinks, “I’ll have to push this through as a rush order to get the sale.”

    The salesperson’s thinking may appear to be appropriate, but is it? Or, is the salesperson guilty of “mind reading” – assuming facts not in evidence and misreading between the lines.

    In the case of prospect A, what is an excellent chance? And, when will the prospect stop thinking about it and take action?

    Was prospect B’s comment a request for a price reduction or was it merely out-loud thinking about the need to increase the budget projections? Was prospect C’s hope for a shorter delivery time actually a demand? There is no way to tell without asking for clarification.

    When a prospect uses words or phrases that are vague, ask for an explanation. It would be appropriate for the salesperson to ask prospect A what “excellent chance” means. A suitable response to prospect B’s “price is higher…” comment would be, “And, you’re telling me that because…?”

    Don’t jump to conclusions. Get the facts.

    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 victim of FUTON failure?

    Here’s a question for you: have you ever met someone at a networking event who had something you were interested in but they failed to follow you up?

    

My guess is probably yes.



    It’s what’s referred to as FUTON failure – or failure to follow up thoroughly on networking.

    There’s a big lesson here for all of us.

    As business owners, we can never be good enough at following up with our prospects.
 – we can’t afford to make the huge, costly mistake of not following up, because one way or another we pay good money to generate leads and if we let them disappear without them becoming customers, then it’s money we’ve wasted.

    And just in case you have any doubts about how important this is, here are some frightening statistics:

    • 47% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
    • 23% of sales people make a second contact and stop
    • 
16% of sales people only make three contacts and stop

    It’s staggering, but only 14% of businesses make more than three contacts – and ultimately they’re losing a fortune.

    Because…

    • 2% of sales are made on the first contact
    • 
3% of sales are made on the second contact
    • 5% of sales are made on the third contact
    • 12% of sales are made on the fourth contact
    • 
78% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

    So if you’re like almost half of all businesses and make no more than one follow-up to your prospects… you’re leaving 98% of your income on the table for someone else to come along and suck up.

    By following up thoroughly on networking  – and indeed all your prospecting activity – you’ll drive more sales on a more consistent basis.

  • TARZAN & THE ELEPHANTS

    tarzan  & the elephants23My Mum was a funny lady and during my youth, she was constantly throwing riddles at me.

    Some of her riddles came in pairs and the pairs typically had a point.

    One such pair of riddles has been a huge lesson for me as I have gone through life. Here they are.

    Riddle 1: What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming down the road? “Here come the elephants.”

    Riddle 2: What did the elephants say when they saw Tarzan coming down the road? Nothing, elephants don’t talk.

    Most people fail to get either answer correct. And despite missing the first question, most people are too proud of their intelligence to say “I don’t know” in answer to the second question. My Mom was making two points. First, she wanted me to realize that some questions are simple, I needed to not over-think things. After all what else would Tarzan have said?

    She also wanted me to understand that answering a question with words I just heard can take me way off track. Just because the question asks about talking elephants does not mean elephants can talk.

    As a sales trainer, I spend my days trying to help salespeople and business owners realize that questions you are asked by prospects are rarely straightforward. The questions that prospects ask come from their world and are based around their current situation, and how your sales team handles these questions is the key to selling success.

    Does your sales team know when to say “I don’t know” and when to say “why do you ask?” These are the keys to keeping sales people out of trouble.

    Typically, our clients tell us that learning to handle their prospects questions is the primary driver of their new found sales success. Handling these prospect questions correctly leads professional sales people to bigger, more focus and, best of all, more qualified chances to make sales.

    Are you ready to help your sales team learn the best way to handle the questions your prospects 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Frickin’ Elephants Help Effective Communication

    When it comes to good communication it’s not so much about sending the right message as it is getting the right response. The right message assumes you and the other person will respond in the same way. A person’s understanding shows up before you do, and that is the reality of the message you send. It’s not what you say; it’s what people hear. And, while you might not be able to control what people see or hear, you can do a better job trying to anticipate it.

    I heard a story about a grandpa helping his four-year-old grandson learn to read. The boy pointed to a picture in a zoo book and said, “Look, Grandpa! It’s a frickin’ elephant.” The grandpa took a deep breath and asked, “What did you call it?”

    His grandson repeated himself.

    “It’s a frickin’ elephant, Grandpa! It says so on the picture!”

    And, so it did. When the grandpa looked down at the picture, it read,

    “A F R I C A N Elephant.”

    It’s not what you say; It’s what people hear

    When looking at your marketing materials it’s important to ask serious questions about the message that’s being portrayed to those that will see  them.  Here’s 4 quick pointer questions for you to consider.

    • Does this support or compete with the intended experience for your audience?
    • Does this marketing material help accomplish the desired objective or not?
    • Does it have potential to attract or repel?
    • Does it add to or take away credibility?

    When it comes to your website or marketing material you only have 3 seconds to communicate that right message to your visitors, that’s less time than  it takes to read this sentence.

    What’s your message and how is it being heard?

    Do you think about what you might say will be taken by others and how it might affect them or do you just think about what you have to say and go and do it?

    I wonder what open and candid feedback you might get if you were to show your communications (whether it be your website, newsletters to clients or internal messages) to others before sending them? Would the feedback you get back match that of the desired goal of the communication?

    Is the communication you’re sending actually opening doors rather than closing them?

  • 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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  • Finding That Compelling Reason – Part One

    Find that compelling reason 1How do you convince someone to buy your product or service? Think about how you buy a product or service. Even the richest people in the world with “money to burn” do not buy for the sake of buying. Yes they can buy whenever or whatever they choose, however there is a reason that they buy. People love to buy, they just don’t like to be sold.

    Have you ever sat in front of a prospect and tried desperately hard to sell them something? You’ve asked lots of questions and you just know that your product or service will solve their problem but for some reason they just haven’t given you the purchase order, the credit card or even the go ahead to get started.

    If you’re like most business development people, account executives or salespeople, sometimes you just can’t figure out why a prospect doesn’t want to buy. In your eyes, they are very much in need of what you have to offer and you know that you can help them, if they’d only let you. If you haven’t stepped back from the situation and analysed why they aren’t ready to buy, then perhaps now would be a good time to do it.

    Some people like to help or I like to use the term, ‘rescue’ people when we see them struggling. Have you ever stepped back and asked yourself whether the prospect needs or wants to be rescued?

    Sometimes we try so hard to fix a problem that in the prospect’s eyes isn’t big enough, or causing them enough pain so they don’t see the need to spend the money to fix it. Only when a problem has a personal impact on the prospect will they have that compelling reason to buy, not before.

    Step back and debrief your past few sales calls and determine if you were trying to rescue or were you helping the prospect discover that compelling reason. Learn the questions that will help your prospect discover that compelling reason in Part 2.

    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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