• 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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  • 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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  • Leadership Skills Shortfall is Holding Back the UK Economy

    A lack of leadership and management skills is hampering the growth potential of small businesses and acting as a brake on productivity, according to a new report published recently by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

    The report found that while three fifths of small business owners (59%) say they update their business knowledge and skills at least once a year, specific management training is often lacking.

    Only a quarter of small firms questioned (25%) had undertaken management training in the last 12 months. One in four (26%) had never undergone any form of management training at all. The FSB also found few smaller businesses seek external management training for staff, with just a fifth (19%) offering such training to their employees.

    Currently just under half of all new UK start-ups fail in their first three years. Studies suggest that a leading cause of failure is poor leadership and management skills. This skills shortfall partly explains the growing productivity gap, with the UK consistently trailing behind its competitors, falling a full 18 percent below the G7 average. This is the widest productivity gap with the G7 since comparable estimates began in 1991.

    Here at East Midlands Sandler we specialise in training and developing leaders and managers – this is our core business.  We do this through re-enforcement training, using proven methodology which is guaranteed to work.  We get results – great results – every time.

    A recent example is a client who came to us after been stuck at £3.5m turnover for the past 7 years.  Everything they tried failed. They joined Sandler and after 18 months being on the programme they had increased their turnover (and profits) to £7m.

    This is the type of success story we have all the time, for varying sizes and scales of businesses of course.

    Don’t be one of the 75% of businesses who are standing on their own foot and holding the business back.  Make your first positive step and come to a complimentary Sandler Masterclass.  Click here to find your local Sandler Trainer.

    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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  • Do you pay staff commission?

    Paying Commission

    Paying Commission
    Companies paying commission and overtime will need to review their holiday pay arrangements and possibly the way they pay commission.

    Following a European Court of Justice decision and subsequent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision in Lock vs British gas Trading, a case that was first heard in 2012, employers will have to pay commission as part of holiday pay. For more details of the case read on here: http://www.personneltoday.com/hr/holiday-pay-case-eat-confirms-employers-must-pay-commission/

    Commission, guaranteed overtime and overtime where an employee may be required to work will have to be included in holiday pay. It will affect staff who normally receive commission and overtime and are paid less when on annual leave. The details of how payments should be calculated have not been decided yet.

    British Gas have requested permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal so that there can be a definitive ruling on the issue so the case is likely to go to Appeal.

    So what should you do in the meantime?

    You can do nothing. You can get legal advice and change your commission and holiday pay structures. You can make financial provision for back pay.  Your lawyers are sure to be providing their clients with a briefing soon – so read it and then decide.

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies

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

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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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  • Courtship. Marriage. Divorce.

    Typically I hear from Business Owners that their problems are either ‘process’ or ‘people’ related. But a lot of time it’s their ‘process of attracting people’ that’s the real problem.

    What do I mean? Well, think of this. You want a business full of A-players. The people who get things done. Quickly, efficiently and effectively. These A-players excel and take responsibility for recruiting more staff into your business. But an A-player will only accept other A-players into the business. They won’t recruit B or C-players because their performance wouldn’t be up to scratch. But if your processes are wrong (or non-existent!) you might miss an A-player and recruit a B-player, but that’s OK right? Wrong. The B-player will never recruit an A-player into the business, because they’ll feel threatened. So B-players recruit C-players and the downward cycle continues.

    The cost of getting it wrong when recruiting isn’t just a few months’ wages to the person that didn’t work out. It’s the wages, recruitment fee’s, on-boarding, lost sales opportunities and so on.  So wouldn’t it be better to invest some time into getting the next hire right?

    So what to do? Well we all go on training courses – sales training, management training, tech training, communication training, presentation training etc etc – but we never go on ‘HIRING’ training!

    Traditional recruitment follows an all too familiar path; resignation of key member of staff, panic, quick job advert, interview applicants and take someone on because we can’t be without someone! Well firstly we need to consider attracting the A-players to our business even when we’re not recruiting. And so your management team needs to coach to a common process, giving you tangible results to evaluate current staff performance levels. This also allows you to see if you are happy (or not) with the performance of the team – most likely highlighting some skills-gaps that need addressing. If we see an A-player who we know can complement what we’ve already got and bring these skills – do we really need a vacancy to justify bringing them in?

    Before you hire anyone though you need to be clear about the behaviours you will measure and the tools to measure them. Utilising platforms such as Extended DISC and Devine allows you to take an objective view of a potential employee, not just throw caution to the wind because you liked them at interview!

    Talking about interviews … make sure you have a clear up-front contract with the interviewee about the agenda for the meeting; setting clearly defined objectives and outcomes at the start helps you to both decide if you want to pursue things at the end, and helps to eradicate the time-wasters. Use a mixture of direct, assumptive, situational and competency based questions to evaluate suitability and know exactly what behaviours and attitudes you’re looking for. Remember, no mind-reading and do not accept wishy-washy answers.

    If you were going to spend £100,000 on new capital equipment you’d be pretty sure to do your due diligence. Hiring a new employee is no different, take references! Hire slowly but fire quickly.

    But if it is going to end in divorce don’t forget the Exit Interview. This is the time to learn what went wrong so you can avoid the mistakes next time.

    So ask yourself this: “Are you and your management team following a process to attract A-players, or are you winging it and hoping for the best?”

    Andrew Pickersgill

    Andrew Pickersgill

    Andrew is Managing Director for Sandler Training North East. A business development and sales coach with over 20 year’s practical experience giving advice to ambitious companies and individuals. Primarily Andrew has operated with owner-managed businesses who want to accelerate the growth of their business, or simply improve the results of their sales team. After a career selling everything from technology, financial services, logistics, recruitment and coaching Andrew is perfectly placed to help with your sales needs. Andrew is passionate about changing your attitudes to selling, allowing you to understand that a ‘no’ can be a good thing. He also plays an active role in increasing the employability of 16-24 year olds, attending a reception dinner at the House of Lords as recognition of his on-going work in this area.

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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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