• Happy Ghosts and Goblins season to you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Paul Glynn

    Paul Glynn

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

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  • What’s The Rush?

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

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

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

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

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

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • The Toughest Prospect To Sell

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

    Give up?

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

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

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

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

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • 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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  • Are you prepared?

    All too frequently, salespeople schedule appointments…and then forget about them until the day before the scheduled dates. Do you? Is preparation a last-minute activity often consisting of nothing more than a quick review of the notes from the original phone conversations when the appointments were scheduled…and perhaps a review of the prospects’ websites, advertising, or marketing materials?

    Can you answer the following questions about your next prospect appointment?

    – What are the first three questions you’ll ask the prospect after you say, “Hello”?

    – What questions will you ask to create rapport and get to know the prospect?

    – What questions will you ask to explore the prospect’s need and hone in on the underlying reasons for or events that precipitated the need?

    – What commitment(s) will you ask for if there is a fit between what the prospect needs and what you can provide?

    If you haven’t identified and rehearsed the questions you’ll need to ask to start the meeting, explore the prospect’s requirements, qualify the opportunity, and systematically move the meeting to an appropriate conclusion, then you’re NOT prepared.

    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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