• 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.”

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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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  • 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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  • Why Do We Accept Lies From Prospect?

    Why do we accept lies from prospectA prospect has agreed to meet with you and indicated they are genuinely interested in your product or service. You arrive at the meeting and spend 40 minutes with the prospect sharing how your product can solve their problems, which they’ve just shared with you. They are very impressed with you and all the features and benefits that you’ve shared…

    They’re happy with the delivery timelines, the after sales service that will be provided and once you send the proposal with the price they’re sure they can get the rest of the committee to agree to move forward.

    After all, you are the number one provider of the product and you are definitely on the top of their list and when they buy, you absolutely stand the best chance of getting the business.What do you think the prospect has actually told you? Let’s break the above scenario down.

    1. They’re impressed with the product’s features and benefits, but they aren’t committing to buy.
    2. Delivery timelines meet their requirements, but they won’t give you an order.
    3. After sales service is a great add-on that pleases them, but that’s not enough for them to give you the cheque.
    4. You’re on the top of their list when they’re ready to buy, they have to check with the committee, their manager or any number of others and you’re not getting the sale.
    5. You stand the best chance of getting the business, but not today.

    If the prospect says all these great things about you, your company and your product or service, why are they unwilling to take that next step and buy from you? This may be a little harsh and you may not like it – prospects are liars. I know you’re saying, “this isn’t so”, however, put yourself in the shoes of the prospect and ask yourself if you’d do the same thing.

    Now as a great salesperson, you’re going to tell me that prospects just don’t have all the information they need to make the decision or they aren’t the final decision maker so you can understand why they’d tell a “little white lie”. Also, they don’t want you to know that they can’t make the decision.

    We would rather accept one of these “little white lies” than hear the prospect tell us the truth. If the prospect likes our company and our product as much as they’ve indicated, they will eventually buy from us. Count the number of proposals or quotes that you had outstanding in 2010 versus the number that you actually closed. Some of you might be surprised as to the results.

    How can we get around these challenges? The following are a few suggestions to solve the problem:

    1. Start by qualifying better prior to the meeting.
    2. Dig deeper to find that compelling reason why the prospect would need your product or service.
    3. Find out how it’s impacting the prospect, their department and their company.
    4. Have the two of you discovered there is a fit between the prospect’s issues and your solutions?
    5. Ask some questions about how decisions get made at the company.
    6. Use a scenario of “let’s pretend we decide it makes sense to do business; how would that happen, are there others involved in the decision, is there money available and where would it come from?”
    7. Setting an agenda for what you want to accomplish in the time you’ve allocated to meet and most importantly – committing to an outcome at the end of this time.

    Planting your feet and setting the ground rules about what is going to happen when you are face-to-face with a prospect will eliminate the opportunity for prospect’s to lie to us. Are you ready to take the challenge and “plant your feet” or are you content hearing the lies your prospects tell you?

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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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  • Why I don’t like you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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  • 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.

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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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  • Posturing Language

    SB_salesposture_23Over time, every successful salesperson comes to the conclusion that having the proper selling posture during the sales interview is critical. Many sales people are still struggling to understand this concept.

    When we talk about posture, we are talking about the attitude reflected in the communication of the salesperson. We know that the message we send in our communication is made up of our body language, our tonality, and our words. However, how we mix those three elements creates a particular attitude that is palpable to our receiver.

    There are three primary language postures.

    Superior: In this style, the salesperson takes the position of being superior to the prospect. The manner in which they communicate would suggest they are better than the prospect and are talking down to them. The superior posture is overly “I” focused and typically sends the message of aggressiveness. Superior posture has a low tolerance for anyone else’s opinion. Often times, they speak with a loud and overbearing in tone.

    Equal: The posture of equality is the most desirable posture for a salesperson. This style communicates confidence to the prospect. The equal posture requires the sales person to adopt an attitude of equal business stature with the prospect. The equal posture creates a respectful, yet highly assertive environment where the salesperson is in control of the selling process. The equal posture speaks clearly with authority and places a high priority on having his rights respected. All issues are addressed with confidence, including those that may be difficult and uncomfortable for the prospect.

    Inferior: Unfortunately, this is where many salespeople communicate. In this posture, the seller quickly complies control of the sales dialogue with the prospect. They send the message that the prospect has the power and the salesperson is honoured to be in their presence. Inferior posturing too easily provides the prospect a way out without addressing the difficult questions. The inferior salesperson allows themselves to be manipulated in order to avoid conflict. They take a literal interpretation of “the customer is always right.”

    Salespeople who understand their job is to go to the bank while meeting the needs of the prospect, always work from a posture of equality. This is an essential attitude to bring to our communications with prospects.

    We all develop a pattern of communication that is comfortable and becomes a habit for us. A Sandler trained salesperson understands this and recognizes how to adjust communication in the selling process to create lasting customer relationships built on an equal stature business relationship.

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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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  • 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?”


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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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  • 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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  • Before you approach a prospect, consider the lifetime value of the relationship

    If your sales objective is to make the sale regardless, get the biggest order possible and structure the best deal for your company, then your entire focus is really on you.

    Many salespeople will say and do almost anything to make the sale. Too few will take the time to fully understand the prospect’s real needs and desired outcomes, and show the concerns (or courage) to present the best fit solution that perhaps doesn’t always represent a big win for them. They trade a potential long-term relationship, repeat sales and referrals for a quick and often one-time sale and then wonder why customer loyalty is so hard to come by.

    However, when your objective is to help your prospect get their needs met and put their most important needs first-congratulations. You now see the prospect as a real client with long-term relationship potential. When you put your prospect’s needs ahead of your own, it makes them more open to do business with you. Also, you gain a new perspective on what prospects want and why they act the way they do.

    Top salespeople consider the lifetime value (LTV) of their prospects, not just the next pay period or the next commission check. When you place the LTV of a prospect first, your entire approach and attitude toward them automatically puts their needs and interests ahead of your own. It will also change your strategic approach to how you work with them.

    Begin the approach to your prospect by considering their LTV, including potential referral business, and you’ll find your “trusted advisor” role becomes much easier to achieve.

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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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  • Becoming a Trusted Adviser (Not Just a Vendor)

    As a sales trainer with Sandler Training, I spend a lot of time talking to my clients and I get paid to work with them in four areas of their business: Strategy, Structure, Staff and Skills. Because I spend hours talking to them, I learn quite a bit. And despite that fact, they still manage to surprise me with the questions they ask me.

    Recently a client of mine asked me to come out and speak to his customer service team, a group of people I had never met and he had rarely spoken about. At the end of my two-hour presentation, as he was walking me to the door of his facility, he suddenly looked over at me and said “Thanks for coming out. It will be great for the Customer Service Reps to use the same language as the Sales Team–by the way, do you know a plumber?”

    I answered his question and gave him the name of a client who just happened to be a plumber. Then I asked him a question. “Why ask me for a plumber?” “Simple,” he said. “Every time I get something from you I end up with more value than I bargained for. More importantly, if you do not know an answer, you tell me that. That leads me to believe that if you recommend a plumber to me, that plumber is going to be a good one.”

    Take a look at your business card and ask yourself what it is that you sell. If you are a car salesman, you probably spend quite a bit of time talking about cars; if you sell web services, you probably spend hours discussing SEO, SEM or whatever your niche is. Here is the challenge: the goal of sales is not to be a vendor of a product or service. The goal is to become a trusted advisor to the clients you serve.

    “Fine,” you say. “Everybody knows that, but what does it mean?” Well, the definition is pretty simple. A trusted advisor is a person relied upon by their clients to have expertise in not one, but in many areas of a business. A trusted advisor is the person who gets a phone call about a question clearly outside of his specific area of responsibility, simply because the decision maker values his judgment and perspective.

    Here is a quick test. Over the next 14 days, keep track of the number of questions your clients ask you about products, services and issues that they are facing–ones that your company does not provide a solution for. If you are a web services professional, you count the questions that do not involve the internet. The higher number of questions, the better job you have done making yourself a highly trusted advisor. The lower the number the closer you are moving to vendor-ville.

    Times are tough, and the economy is giving buyers an excuse to be even more selective about who they work with. But one thing has always and will always be true in sales: trusted advisors keep their accounts while vendors get replaced.

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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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