• Why doesn’t your sales team perform?

    We hire salespeople who claim good past results and appear professional and competent at interview and then they fail to hit agreed targets. Why is that?

    Logically it must be one of or a combination of

    • We hired the wrong people
    • They don’t know what to do
    • They don’t know how to do it
    • They are not correctly supported
    • They are not correctly held accountable

    How can we make sure we hire the right people? There are no formal qualifications and past experience is no real guarantee of future results. Selling is a skill, not a step by step guaranteed process. When you first go into business and you decide who is going to bring in the revenue, you are very aware how that person is an entrepreneur with you, both of you trying to figure out how to make it all work. That does not change. Imagine how rigorous you would be with taking on a co-partner right now. That’s how careful you should be hiring your next salesperson.

    You would expect salespeople to know what to do. Unfortunately, a lot do not, and it is not helped by the fact that the company does not know what it wants them to do either; how much of what kind of business from what kind of client and by when? If you are unclear about what you really want, you will get whatever is easiest for your salesperson to sell.

    Salespeople are, in the main, untrained. They may have gone on the odd course for a day or so over their career but they have learnt “on-the-job” by experience and shadowing other salespeople. That often leads to the “blind leading the blind”. You cannot assume they know how to do the job, however good their results appear to be.

    Correctly supporting your team means Supervising, Training, Coaching and Mentoring.  You might not think you should do those things for your accountant, ops team, HR etc, but you need to do them for your sales team. In fact, if you want any team to perform well, it is down to their manager to give the right support.

    Accountability is scary. It looks like “micromanaging”. In fact, good salespeople will look for accountability partners as they know that distractions come along all too easily and they need the discipline of reporting behaviour activity, not just results. Managers do not like the idea sometimes because they do not want to hold their salesperson’s feet to the fire and they are not sure what behaviour they should be holding them accountable to or how best to do so.

    If you want your team to perform well it us up to you to make sure you have the right people doing the right thing the right way with the right support and the right accountability process.

    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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  • Traits of killer sales people

    It’s better not to hire, than to take on the costs and time required to bring someone on who can’t hunt & close the business you need. So, what are the traits of success of a salesperson with a real ‘hunter’ mentality?

    1. Strong “fire in their belly.”

    Successful hunters wake up each day rekindled with an innate natural drive to succeed. They are consistently driven by their ambition to be the best. They usually set high personal goals, have confidence in their abilities, and have a high level of energy in their daily work.

    1. Creating value and demand.

    A-player sales people understand that they are not order takers simply fulfilling demand but must create a demand for a particular product or service. They have the skills to communicate the value of their products or services and deliver solutions that will sort out the unique pain or problem of each prospect.

    1. Taking control of the sales process.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the prospect’s process and not take control of the buyer/seller dance. Taking control requires confidence, assertiveness, and an ability to influence others. Strong and effective sales people set appropriate expectations. They make sure they and the prospects agree on each step so are on the same page throughout the sales process.

    1. Taking action.This one is obvious. Do they act without needing direction? Some salespeople with apparently good track records were order takers, not business hunters. They will sit on their hands waiting for someone else to make a move or that call back.

    Successful hunters do not suffer from “analysis paralysis” or have many reasonable explanations why they don’t have enough on-target appointments, aren’t picking up the phone or going on sales calls. They set their goals and intend to achieve them. They take regular, effective, and consistent action.

    1. Taking responsibility for their results.

    Too often people make excuses like, “I was given the worst territory” or “This economy is just too tough.” But not the hunters; they attack their goal no matter the obstacles. They take responsibility for the things they can take action on.

    1. Adjusting their own behaviour & style.

    Great hunters adapt their style and understand the impact on others. They don’t just force through sales. They figure out what will grow their prospects’ trust in them, and build confidence and rapport. They never blow out deals by coming on too strong, and know how to make sure prospects don’t go quiet and hide behind voicemail.

    Self-motivated driven determined salespeople love to find new business day in and day out.

    When you interview, dig deep so you are certain they’ll be the hunters you need. Hire them and pay them properly. Manage them well.

    Apply these criteria to your existing team. How do they shape up? If you need help in assessing them, call your local Sandler Trainer who can show you an easy way to evaluate the team.

    Do not allow star players to break the rules, ignore your sales process or fail to record progress on the CRM. Reward them well – and invest in their development.

    If you need people on your sales team who truly love the hunt for new clients, it’s essential to structure your team and your recruitment process to discard the order takers or move them into an order taking job, and find and nurture the killer traits for sales success. Look for these 6 traits, and you have the basis for creating a successful sales team.

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies runs Sandler Training in East Anglia with monthly Master Classes in Norwich

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  • Sales: How to hire a killer

    I bet you haven’t ever hired a sales person who seemed perfect at interview and didn’t work out. Someone who had all the right answers, was excited by your vision of the future and assured you they were a self-starter. Someone with a brilliant track record, who came highly recommended and yet …..when they started, seemed “off the boil”. Someone who didn’t deliver in the first month, and despite your hope that they would get “up to speed” has been a mediocre performer or has already left you. Mishires are bad for the person you employed and are expensive mistakes for you in time, money and morale.

    There’s a joke amongst recruiters that the best sales meeting many salespeople have is the one that gets them their next job. So how do you tell the difference between someone who will perform for you and someone who never could, or can’t right now?

    The hiring company gets really excited and feels they’ve found a hunter. The sales person is hopeful and excited too. Maybe they also get a shiny new car, phone and all the gadgets.

    The new hire asks all the right questions at induction and the managers feel they’ve hired right. The sales person starts with enthusiasm to prospect or go out to meetings.

    But then tumbleweed.

    Or some sales but way behind the management projections.

    Or forecasts slip into the next reporting period.

    Management say “Give it time. S/he’ll find her/his feet”. Two months. Three months. Eight months. How long?

    Mishire?

    Maybe they are a salesperson who can take complicated orders but doesn’t have that killer instinct needed to drive sales.

    Maybe you have hired a sales rep who is naturally good at developing relationships with an existing client base and finding opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell. They just aren’t that driven to go in cold and win new business.

    Maybe you hired someone better suited for long sales cycles that require patience, focus and structure. These people are careful not to let any details fall through the cracks. They can extend the timeframe to closing business so slow your numbers.

    Good salespeople – but not a fit.

    They just don’t have the traits they need to be successful with you.

    To be successful, get clarity on what will make a sales person successful with you. Here are 6 criteria for hiring a hunter, someone who is keen and driven to make sales for you – look for someone who:

    1. has strong fire in their belly
    2. creates value and demand
    3. takes control of the sales process
    4. takes action without requiring direction
    5. takes responsibility for their results
    6. adjusts how they deal with people

    You can train skills – but forcing someone with account management or long sales cycle mentality to hunt for business to close this month or quarter is an endless and thankless task for the sales manager. Read next week’s blog for more on how to identify those killer traits in your new hires.

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies runs Sandler Training in East Anglia with monthly Master Classes in Norwich

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  • 4 Interview Tips for the Interviewer: How to Build the Strongest Bench

    Strongest benchPlaying the role of the interviewer is no simple task. While you might not be the one in the hot seat, the words that come out of your mouth can be just as important. There are interview techniques that some of the best recruiters and HR professionals utilize when looking to fill positions with the most qualified candidates.

    Encourage the candidate to think differently and creatively when they’re interviewing. For many candidates going through the job search process, interviews become monotonous. Interviewers need to go against the grain to truly get to know a candidate.

    The following techniques will help the interviewer understand the mind and thought process of the candidate, which will ultimately determine whether the candidate will be a good cultural fit and if they’ll help propel the company forward.

    1. Start by asking the candidate how they prepared for the interview.Not every job seeker takes the time to do research before an interview, whether it was about the interviewer, the company or recent company news. If they did research, ask a couple of questions about their findings. If they didn’t, move on to the next question. Don’t ask why they didn’t, the goal shouldn’t be to embarrass them.

    2. Ask how they prioritize their time.This is a great question for recent college graduates because the interviewer can reference how busy college life can be (social events, projects, group work, jobs, internships, class and social media) and then ask the candidate how they get it all done. People don’t magically become organized and detail-oriented; those are behaviours that are often started in college.

    3. Role play during the interview.If the position in question will be part of a team, ask the candidate why people would want him or her on their team. Using this interview technique will force the candidate to adapt to a new role and look through a different lens. Answers that reveal promise will likely have to do with their dependability, responsibility, negotiation skills, subject matter expertise, leadership abilities, etc.

    4. Ask how a reference will describe the candidate.Every resume lists “references available upon request,” yet most interviewers don’t discuss references until later in the process. Ask for more information about the reference and then ask the candidate to describe what the reference would say about them. Usually, references are listed because the job seeker respects the person, the reference has a credible reputation or there is a strong relationship between the two. This telling technique helps because the candidate is less likely to lie or inflate the reference’s opinion of the candidate.

    When interviewing job candidates, what are some of your go-to interview questions? Be sure to include the answers you look for when asking those questions.

     

    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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  • STOP thinking about hiring, until you’ve started thinking about firing!

    How long does the new-hire honeymoon period last for you? How long until you are starting to sweat? How long until such thoughts as ” Maybe with a little more coaching from me they will get there.”, “Perhaps some more training will help them.”, ” Would I have hired them back then if I’d known where we’d be right now?”, or “Why did I believe what they told me during the interview process?”

    Here are 5 steps to keep the pressure off of YOU, and place it back where it belongs, on the shoulders of the prospective new hire.

    1. Hire slow, fire fast. Define the “red flags” for new employee behaviours, results, and leading KPI’s for the duration of the on-boarding process.
    1. Accountability. Hold them accountable for these behavioural goals.
    1. Prior to hiring, share your specific expectations  with prospective hires, and get their agreement to the on-boarding plan and the accountability process.
    1. Always be in hiring mode. Create a prospecting plan for talent, and a company culture of always looking for talent for the “talent bank”, rather than relying on job boards and recruiters who will often send you someone else’s cast offs.
    1. Don’t hire when you “need” someone.  Think about it.  They need a job.  You need an employee. The interview consists of two needy people meeting each other. It’s a recipe for a hiring disaster.

    If you’re interested in finding out more about how Sandler can help you and your company avoid the usual employer-employee dance contact your local Sandler Training Centre 

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand runs Sandler Training in the Midlands based at the Innovation Centre in Longbridge.

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  • Worrying Trends

    Are you out of business and you just don’t know it yet?

    Managers are the bottlenecks for growth. How many businesses do you see hit a glass ceiling or their sales start going down hill?

    In a recent report by among sales managers in sales intelligence software supplier sales-i, 34% say that their main problem is acquiring timely information to use whilst selling, whilst 17% say that visibility into activities of the sale team is their biggest daily challenge.

    So what should you be looking for? Have a look at you team and ask yourself:

    • Do your people have desire and commitment?
You may ask, what’s the difference?  “Boss I need more money, you need to give me more money/bigger territory” (That’s Desire). Someone with desire and commitment will come to you saying,  “Boss I need to make more money, how do I do that? What do I have to do different to make that possible?”
    • When you have your weekly 1 on 1’s with your sales manager and he/she debriefs you about his daily 1 on 1’s with the team, what are the biggest conceptual and technical problems and what are their plans to overcome them?
    • What is your managers plan for training and coaching your people? You did hire him/her to train, coach and develop your people didn’t you?
    • When you have your weekly pipeline meetings with your sales manager, are they at least 80% accurate in what’s going to close in the next 30 days so you can plan sufficiently?
    • When your managers have their monthly meetings with his/her people to talk about their personal goals, especially the ones not hitting their numbers, do their goals tie into their monthly company goals?
    • How many hires does the manager have in his/her funnel? Knowing 1 in 200 are A players.
    • When you harvest your data from your CRM to look at the ratio between your lag indicators and your leading indicators to activities, what is the difference between your top salespeople and your bottom ones?
    • When your lag indicators aren’t where they should be, what do you change first, the leading indicators or the activities?

    On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being high, how would you rate the culture of your business?

    For a business to continually be successful it needs a sales driven culture built around a framework for success. This includes hiring and keeping the right people. Having a growth strategy that’s stress tested and one you know the team can achieve. Clearly defined systems and processes (a road map) that everyone in the company and new to the company can follow and self-measure. And a management team that can coach, train, mentor and support their people with new skills.

    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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  • I hired experienced Sales People, so my Job is done right?

    Small business owners tend to stay small because they do not install systems and processes into their business. Most owners want to hire “experienced” sales people. The mentality is to hire someone, teach them about their products and services, then expect the person to “go sell”. What’s the problem? If we hire experienced sales people, once they learn the product or service, they should be good to go, right?

    Wrong. Why do small business owners experience so many failed sales hires? Largely because there is too much left for interpretation between knowing the product and making sales. Owners hope “experience” will fill the gap. The truth is that a sales person’s experience in one company or industry most often does not transfer to another. The problem could be a different type of customer, a difference on the level of customer one should call upon, or a different set of competitive issues. There are countless reasons that explain why an “experienced” sales person will not succeed in a new company.

    What should a business owner do to overcome this issue? Creating a common set of expectations and defining the customer profile are great places to start. A customer profile may be defined in terms of geography, prospect type, industry focus, and appropriate level of contact within the client organisation. Clearly identifying the prospective customer base will keep your sales people focused in the right area. Holding sales people accountable to a common set of expectations ensures they will be completing activities that enable their success.

    Further, define your sales person’s role by clearly articulating how they should make contact with the new prospects. Teach them how to start a conversation with the target client. Help them understand the common problems your company solves for new customers. Challenge them to bring back quality information gathered in their sales calls. Make them qualify new prospects in terms of the customer’s ability to spend money and make decisions. The more detailed the activity, the more success your sales people will find.

    While hiring “experienced”, sales people is a decent first step, using specific selling systems and processes are the only way to put that “experience” to good use.

    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 3 Biggest Mistakes When Hiring Sales Talent

    steve bWe consistently have clients coming to us for help with fixing their underperforming sales people. Often we can help but sometimes we have to advise that the person concerned is wrong for the role and there is little that can be done to fix the problem. Better, by far, to hire the right people in the first place.

    Over the years we’ve learned some pretty important lessons around interviewing sales people. Here are three common interview pitfalls you should really try to avoid.

    Mistake 1: Interviewing the CV.

    Fast forward to your next interview. It is five minutes before the candidate will be on the phone or in front of you. You say to yourself, who is this guy? You then frantically print out the resume and skim it. You then proceed to interview the CV. “Tell me about the job you had? What was your success there? Why did you leave? Blah, Blah, Blah…”

    I’m sure your process isn’t as bad as this, however, here’s the mistake: you need to know what you are looking for. Define your needs beyond the CV and the clichés. Start with understanding what the key job functions actually are and rank the importance of each one.

    Mistake 2: Placing emphasis on the wrong selling skills.

    You only have a certain amount of time with your candidates. Make sure you know which skills are most important for success. For example, we sometimes hear clients say that they ask a candidate to “do a presentation” during the interview. Having them do a presentation is not a bad idea, however, what’s your process for understanding the candidate’s ability to prospect or question and qualify what the client actually needs? In your world, is that more important than the presentation?

    In the past have you hired people that love to present and then spend their days and nights “chasing” and “following up?” What are the top 10 skills they need to execute to be successful? We often see this list vary however presentation skills are rarely in the top 5.

    Mistake 3: Assuming that because they can do something, they actually will.

    “Will Do” is the hardest thing to judge during an interview. Attitude and motivation can sometimes be faked long enough to get a candidate through an interview. Sales people can have talent but can lose their drive and motivation. Ask yourself the question, especially of sales people in the latter stages of their career – why have they not succeeded in past roles and are now applying for a new job? Sometimes there is a good reason but beware of people with careers that have stalled or are in decline.

    We recommend you use hiring assessments to measure core competencies around:

    • Ambition and drive
    • Takes action
    • Resists stall and objections
    • Accepts responsibility

    Without these assessments, you are relying on likability and gut feel. Your odds of finding an effective candidate will suffer.

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool is Managing Director of Sandler Training in Cheltenham. He works with companies who wish to increase their return on the investment made in their sales team and with local business owners who need to improve their own business development skills. Prior to starting Sandler Cheltenham, Steve had a 25 year sales career including Sales Director positions with CapGemini and Capita. He also specialised in leading major deals in the IT, BPO and consulting markets. Tel: 01242 420750 Mobile: 0750 750 5996

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  • Have you accidentally killed your own team?

    chris davies blog picRemember those early days managing your first team? Perhaps supervising one or two people? Maybe winning a hard fought promotion over a department? A small percentage of us will have been provided with formal training, others gently eased into the role supported either by management or the outgoing leader. Sweet!

    For the rest of us mortals, introduction to the task at hand was delivered with the beauty, skill and grace similar to that seen in a Tom & Jerry cartoon when the Frying Pan makes its first entrance….and the hits kept coming!

    It was about ‘month 4’ for me when I thought “Why the hell did I fight to get this job??” A few years later and things tend to settle down for the majority moving from knowing to owning the role.

    In my Leadership workshop this week, the room was filled with experienced 1st line managers from a variety of functions and companies. Interestingly they had in common an element in their team who didn’t seem to take any initiative, reluctant (if at all) to accept accountability, people who seemed to have the term ‘dead cat bounce’ written just for them.

    In discussions, it was clear everything had been thrown at the cause to make change! However on this occasion we had the benefit of the analysis available from the latest iteration of the unique platform we use in Sandler. Using these results we could replay the words used by one manager (I will call him ‘Bob’ (it’s always a ‘Bob’ isn’t it!)) as heard by the employee.

    Behaviors ‘Bob’ used when making decisions sounded great to him, used the same for many years but the analysis showed the following was being perceived:

    “He’s very careful with his decisions. He does not want to plunge into the unknown; he usually makes good, very restrained and traditional decisions. In insecure surroundings, he is not a neither good nor brave decision maker.

    • Helps rather than makes decisions
    • Makes sure of all possible outcomes first
    • Delays as long as possible

    No need to call for ‘Sherlock’, rigor mortis had already set in! Have you heard the term “Analysis Paralysis?” Without analysis, Bob’s management style would continue for years. The report identified way too much focus in his decision-making style on:

    • Providing very detailed instructions
    • Correcting own decisions until they are perfect
    • Providing very detailed instructions on how to follow the existing processes

    And

    • ZERO on Inspiring others to overcome their fears and become excited

    In Bob’s case, here are just three initiatives to help bring out the best in his team:

    • Try to talk about opportunities without talking about threats at the same time
    • Don’t dwell on small problems if the larger goals will be achieved
    • Be careful not to interfere with every detail – otherwise you cannot control the big picture

    Our own leadership styles often create more work and problems within our reports. For example a fearless, gung-ho style can also create the same performance shortfalls but require a very different fix.

    Speak to your Sandler agent about the analysis available. not expensive, very quick to implement and might save years of hammering square pegs into round holes.

    Chris Davies

    Chris Davies

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

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  • How to differentiate your business

    As businesses continue through uncertain times, I thought I would look at how differentiation could be the key to your success.

    Has the word “differentiation” started to sound a little tired? If so, this is because it is both misused and over used.

    We need to pause and think about what differentiation actually means to businesses. In business, when we talk about differentiation we are talking about separating ourselves from our competitors. Ideally, we want to achieve two things by doing this. Firstly, to attract customers to buy from us, and secondly, to have them buy at our price. Working with businesses from a number of sectors, I find that they don’t always realise that a key purpose for striving for differentiation is to maintain their price point; as a result they often end up selling themselves short. This doesn’t look like real success to me.

    Differentiation should therefore not be seen as an end in itself but a means to an end, namely to sell on terms that make sense. Additionally we need to adapt our attempt to differentiate our businesses to today’s tough and increasingly cluttered marketplace.

    In a series of 2 blogs I have looked at the 5 things you need to consider when striving for that all important differentiation.

    1. Know your competitors

    Understanding your competitors is at the crux of differentiation – it’s only by doing this, that you can carve out your own market segment. However, this again requires a new way of thinking.

    Your competitor isn’t necessarily the shop next door. You need to think wider than this.  There are obvious competitors here such as similar products/services, geographies or employee pools. There are also the less obvious ones such as people who provide a very different solution but one that fixes the same problem, meets the same need as yours.  There is also the frequently overlooked ‘competitor’ which is the option to do nothing or to do it in-house.

    It is therefore important to think carefully about your competitors, know what they offer and know what you have to do differently to deliver a more attractive proposition for your customers.

    1. Authentic differentiation

    We hear a great deal about developing our unique selling proposition.  However, your USP, like differentiation, is a concept that can come across as trite and pedestrian in customer engagement as we all work so hard to prove how different we are from competitors and as a business. As brand-savvy consumers, expectation of differentiation had grown.

    There are a couple of things to consider when it comes to crystallising your USP or point of differentiation. I quote Steve Jobs here when I say, quite simply, “Brands are themselves”. You need to know – beyond making a profit – what the purpose of your business is and what you believe in it. There has to be that authentic core at the centre of what you do, rather than merely focusing on “What will sell more?” Customers today are sophisticated and discerning – they will see through the empty promise. Working with CEOs and business owners, I constantly encourage them to go back to the seed of their business.  To identify your business essence, get back in touch with yourself and your business to create that consistent and genuine proposition.

    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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