• Top Traits of Successful Salespeople

    TraitsHigh-performing sales teams are led by strong sales managers who embody leadership skills that motivate and empower the team. Exceptional sales professionals display certain traits that allow them to stand out from the rest and achieve great sales success.

    Since 1967, Sandler Training has trained sales professionals to be mindful of their behaviours, attitudes and techniques when prospecting and negotiating. While Sandler witnessed many professionals transform, there were always certain characteristics that “the greats” possessed in addition to the skills learned through continuous training and reinforcement.

    Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether or not you have what it takes to be great.

    • Do I build good rapport?This might go without saying but the best salespeople are people that can relate to other people. They come across as genuine, they’re natural and they put people at ease. As Sandler teaches, people want to do business with people that are like themselves.
    • Am I goal focused?Long-term goals are important, but what really drives salespeople is the focus on daily activities that are in direct relationship to the results in which they are in pursuit. They understand that it is the daily “behaviours” that are critical to delivering the results.
    • Am I curious?Sandler devotees know – a salesperson’s job is to find the compelling, emotional reason for the problem and match that “pain” to a solution. We discover the pain by asking questions and listening because sometimes the prospect hasn’t accurately identified their pain or are not yet comfortable sharing it.
    • Do I listen?A keystone to the Sandler Training methodology is listening. The Prospect should be doing 70% of the talking while the salesperson is actively listening and searching for the pain.
    • How motivated am I?Being self-motivated is essential to finding success as a sales professional. Since a salesperson’s income is largely based on their ability to find and close new business, success usually comes to those who are diligent and focused.
    • Do I seek out challenges?Sometimes in sales, it’s about being fearless and going after challenges. Whether it’s going after a prospect that’s been on your radar or taking on a vertical that’s completely new to you, having the ability to put yourself in new situations and enter unchartered waters will serve a salesperson well throughout their career. As Sandler teaches, no guts, no gain!

    Can you name more characteristics of successful salespeople that set them apart from mediocre salespeople? What are some traits of top salespeople that you wish you had to complement your sales approach?

     

    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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  • 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.

    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • New Light through Old Windows: a new approach to selling…that works!

    Selling has been going on since the beginning of mankind. The challenge remains the same: how do we cost effectively and efficiently find people to buy from us and not from our competitors.

    Thus the “window” is unchanged, and to be frank it is now slightly grubby.

    The image most of us have of a sales person is someone who is pushy, does not listen, interrupts what you are doing, does not understand your business, tells you what they can do for you and so on.

    The literature does not help us either.  I put ‘Define Sales’ into Google and found this:

    “Selling focuses on the needs of the seller and the need to convert product to cash….To put it another way, it’s sales’ job to influence the customer to buy what the company has produced.”

    Whilst I can’t say I agree with this definition it does support the idea that a salesperson is selfishly motivated, potentially manipulative and only interested in money.  Furthermore, they talk a lot, mostly about themselves, or their products or services and why people should buy; they rarely listen.

    Understanding the reasons for the generally negative perception of sales is critical to understanding how to fix the problem – selling and buying has been going on for hundreds of years and both sides have long established behaviour patterns and expectations.  At Sandler we have found that these do not serve the best interests of either the buyer or the seller.  Thus the need to shine “new light” through the old window of sales; to adopt a different approach where the expectations of both sides are openly shared thus allowing a genuine exploration of whether or not the buyer has a need and the seller can best meet that need.

    STOP START
    Doing what sales people do Doing the opposite
    Selling features and benefits.  People don’t buy them. Establishing rapport and continue to build rapport and trust throughout the entire selling relationship, not just during the first five minutes
    Acting like a salesperson Behaving as an equal and being authentic
    Playing games and withholding information Adopting a direct, no-nonsense approach to selling that frames the sales meeting as a business meeting between equals, where the sales person facilitates an honest, non-manipulative exchange of information
    Relying on your presentation skills to seal the deal; you can devote a lot of time and energy to a sales meeting only to discover that the necessary interest level was never there Focusing on qualifying the prospect; do they have a compelling reason to buy which is personal to them?  Are they willing and able to spend the necessary money, time and resources to fix the problem? What is their decision making process and is it acceptable to you?
    Focusing on handling objections.  By doing so you perpetuate a system of “positive selling” in which the sales person pitches and the prospect assumes a negative role. Accepting that only the prospect can handle their own objections.  Your role is to facilitate their doing this for themselves, not trying to do it for them.

    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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  • Are Your Employees Motivated To Help Achieve Your Business Growth?

    In Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, he concludes that intrinsic motivation rather than rewards based motivation is a stronger factor to influence our employees’ production. This resonates with what David Sandler wrote over 20 year ago that the carrot and stick approach only produces short-term results.

    Pink says that there are three key areas of intrinsic motivation;

    • Autonomy – The urge to direct our own lives
    • Mastery – The desire to get better and better at something that matters
    • Purpose – Doing what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

    He goes on to say that “the use of rewards and punishments to control our employees’ production is an antiquated way of managing people.  To maximise their enjoyment and productivity for 21st-century work, we need to upgrade our thinking to include autonomy, mastery and purpose. Goals that people set for themselves and that are devoted to attaining mastery are usually healthy, for example, deepening learning, delighting customers and doing one’s best”.

    When we link this to business growth, can this insightful research help leaders discuss and agree goals with employees?

    We know that the company’s vision should be built from the top down and supported from the bottom up. The vision should be cascaded down to departmental goals and objectives and then down to individuals goals and motivations. Activities at every level should move the organisation towards that future goal. For that to happen, everyone’s activities must be in sync with the vision. If they are not, people may be working diligently, but not necessarily in alignment with the company’s goals. Their personal performance may be effective, but not in relation to the corporate goal. They may be highly motivated, but about the wrong priorities.

    Engagement surveys provide organisational leaders with valuable insight about employees’ feelings and attitudes by giving employees the chance to anonymously offer their opinions about their workplace environment. So ask yourself a question, if your annual engagement survey results were down this year, are employees goals linked enough to intrinsic desires?  If not, maybe now is the time to re-evaluate performance management in your organisation.

    Paul Sandford

    Paul Sandford

    Paul has over 30 years experience in business. He has a proven, track record with international technology companies, SAP SuccessFactors, Basware and Open Text, achieving significant growth revenue in competitive marketplaces. His last corporate role was at SAP SuccessFactors where he built a new market for them with Cloud HR Solutions into the risk adverse UK Public Sector growing the business from zero to £4M (over the customer lifespan) within two and half years. He now works with Business Owners, CEO’s, Managing Directors, VP’s of Sales and Senior Partners who are committed to growing their businesses and recognise that they need to be more effective in sales, customer care and performance management. Paul Sandford runs Sandler Training in North Hampshire based in Basingstoke

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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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  • 4 Habits of Successful Professionals

    What is a “professional” exactly?

    I decided to look into it a little more because the word seems to have a wide range of definitions. Obviously, it comes from the word “profess” meaning to declare publicly, but these days it seems like anyone with a social media account can declare publicly they are a professional or expert at one thing or another. It made me think that there must be more to it, and I stumbled upon this definition: a person who engages for his livelihood in some activity also pursued by amateurs. That makes sense and is probably the most common definition today. However, I want to share with you some habits of people with a little higher standard, skilled practitioners, experts, or the extremely competent.

    What do successful professionals do that amateurs don’t?

    I am sure there are lots of things that fall into this category, but right now I would like to share four of them with you.

    1. Study – Professionals are not born. They are made. Sure, they might have a natural gift, but they maximize that talent by studying history, best practices, and innovative techniques. There are plenty of talented individuals who never accomplish anything. Professionals often spend hours to years studying before engaging in their profession to ensure their success.
    2. Practice – This one parallels study. David Sandler wrote a book “You can’t teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar. The fact is you can’t learn how to do anything by studying alone. You have to practice. Doctors, athletes, and every other type of highly paid professionals spend countless hours practicing before they are called upon to perform. How do you get to play at the master’s, compete at the Olympics, or whatever is the top of your profession? Practice, practice, practice.
    3. Invest in themselves – Most people get that you are going to need to become good at what you do to be a professional, and some are even willing to put in the practice, but a few chosen professionals are willing to invest that time on their dime. True professionals bet on and invest in themselves. They don’t wait for their parents, employer, or anyone else to invest in them. Professionals continue their education way past the classroom and invest in workshops, seminars, books, coaches, and any resource they can find to keep learning. They take responsibility for their own education and personal growth.
    4. Follow a system – Finally, professionals don’t just show up and wing it. They have a system, a repeatable and reproducible process that leads to predictable success. To outsiders, it sometimes looks like superstition or obsessive compulsive disorder, but professionals know that only by following the proven system can they expect consistent success. Amateurs sometimes think it is luck or god given talent when they win or lose. Successful professionals make their own luck, and they know that fortune favors the prepared.

    These four habits: studying, practicing, investing in yourself, and following a system are fairly easy to do. Anyone can do them, so why do 90% of people fail to realize the level of success they want in their life? The answer most often lies in their attitude. While amateurs look for shortcuts, get rich quick schemes, and the easy way out, professionals have the desire and commitment to do whatever it takes. Successful professionals know that there is no magic bullet and no shortcut to the top. They don’t waste their time with such things. They are too busy learning, practicing, refining their system and investing in their own success.

    Martin Hall

    Martin Hall

    Martin Hall owns Sandler Training in the West Midlands based in Walsall. Tel: 01922 458 403 Mobile: 07741 312 567

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  • HIRE SLOW, FIRE FAST

    Harvard Business Review recently quoted “At most companies, people spend 2 percent of their time recruiting and 75 percent managing their recruiting mistakes” Harvard Business School article.

    It’s certainly an easy trap to fall into…

    Here are some excuses from those who have fallen into the Hire Fast, Fire Slow trap.

    “But I needed to hire someone right away”
“But they came with great referrals/industry knowledge/product expertise”
“But I didn’t realise the cost of a bad hire before it was too late”
“But they interviewed so well, and my gut told me they would work out fine”
“But I thought I’d hired a Superman. I didn’t know he was a David Brent”

    MYTHS VS FACTS

    MYTH - We hire when we need someone.

    FACT - An interview with two needy people, one who needs to fill a vacancy, and another who needs a job, results in a bad hire.

    MYTH - My gut will tell me. I know a good sales person when I see one.

    FACT - All sales people, good and bad, have great CVs and interview well.

    MYTH - I need to be good at identifying people who can sell

    FACT – There is a huge difference between those who can sell themselves once in an interview and those that WILL. Charm and being personable are not indicators of being able to behave consistently on a daily, weekly monthly basis as a sales machine.

    MYTH - We have a long sales cycle, so it will take a long time for us to determine if they are working out.

    FACT - With an appropriate on-boarding process, hiring mistakes can be identified in 1-3 months, no matter how long the sales cycle.

    Just as top sales people recognise prospecting is key to sales success, top performing companies, recognise that searching for talent and creating the appropriate systems and processes, is key to business success.

    Ask your local business advisor for help with building your own “Hire Slow, Fire Fast” process before you spend 75% of your time in 2015 managing your mistakes.

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

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

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