• Happy Ghosts and Goblins season to you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Paul Glynn

    Paul Glynn

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

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  • What is your highest value behaviour?

    “Priority” entered the English language in the 14th century. It comes from a Latin. “A priori” means “first”. In the hustle and bustle of the 19th century and the Industrial Revolution, the drive to do more and multitask encouraged its pluralisation from priority, to priorities.

    Consider for a moment, is it possible to have many “first”?

    The bastardisation of the word can explain why we are often busy going nowhere with our sales.

    We exist the enable our clients to focus on their highest contribution so they can do less but better and get paid more. Isn’t this exactly what distinguishes the greatest salespeople from the average?

    I coached a client last year who was tracking at 23% of target. He was afraid he was going to lose his job and had a quarter to turn things around. He funded the coaching himself and over 6 months he went from a pipeline for the year of £600,000 to hitting just shy of £4,000,000. He ended the year at £9,000,000 on a £3m target.  He went from the lowest performing salesperson in his region to the highest. His margin was the highest in the company. He got so busy he gave away 81% of his accounts to other salespeople because his pipeline is already 300% over what he needs to achieve quota in 2017.

    We focused on the highest contribution behaviour of filling the pipeline with 3-5x the number and value of prospects he needed to hit his number. This required he plan how he would approach his territory around his Keep, Attain, Recapture and a Expand accounts. He built account plans, touch plans, pursuit plans to make hitting his target a predictable certainty instead of a wish.

    He focused on disqualifying the non-prospects early so he could focus all his time on those who can and will buy, rather than being distracted by those who might but won’t.

    Each day he focused on his highest contribution behaviour. In each account he focused only on advancing the opportunity or the relationship, be that moving ahead to a next step or developing a referral or another sponsor.

    He works less than any of his peers.  He works better than his peers. His pipeline has 21 times more value than the next highest performing salesperson in his region.  I don’t suppose less but better for more is the kind of outcome you dream of in your business, is it?

  • Prospecting: Don’t have time for it, not my job…hate it!

    Most of my clients hate the idea of prospecting. In any form. They either expect clients to find them as the industry experts or they have a team, internal or external, to do the prospecting for them.

    You might expect little sympathy from Sandler trainers. That is true; you won’t find much patience for little prospecting effort. However, here is a secret: Sandler trainers have to prospect too and we have exactly the same challenges as our clients and their people. We don’t ask our clients to do what we are not prepared to do ourselves.

    So what do we find works for ourselves and our best-performing clients? You might expect the answer to be “Cold Calling.” Well, it works, when it is done right and professionally. However, is that the most efficient way of getting business? Probably not.  Effective nonetheless.

    The younger generation seems to have a pathological fear of the telephone and want to do everything by social media and email. Does that work? Well, yes, when done right and consistently, although it can take much, much longer to get the same result. Networking? As in talking to strangers in a place and environment you really would rather not be in? This can be powerful. Free talks? Unnerving and time-consuming, perhaps, but wonderfully efficient in weeding out prospects. Asking for referrals? This is often the best way into ideal new business. However, we are then trading on the good name of our clients and contacts and they don’t usually come fast and thick enough.

    The list goes on. “Walk-ins”, attending conferences, calling old proposals or clients, webinars, LinkedIn, email shot, mailshot and more. Some work better than others at different times in different sectors. In fact, I have an odd, personal, mantra. “No prospecting method works…until it does.” In other words, don’t write off any prospecting activity. Just do plenty. Stick to 3 or 4 main ways of getting business that you are at least prepared to do consistently (preferably “active” rather than “passive” methods). But just do it.

    The Sandler rule #7 is so true. “You never have to like prospecting. You just have to do it.”

    Unfortunately, that includes you. Not just your people. Good prospecting!

    If you want help getting you and your people more comfortable and better at prospecting, why not check with your local Sandler trainer?

    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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  • How Much Time Should You Put into Prospecting?

    Time prospectingThe question is a bit of a puzzle. Ideally, there would be a reference book that lists, by industry, how much time you should invest in prospecting activities. Unfortunately, there’s no reference book.

    Why?

    How much time you invest will depend on the number of prospecting activities you plan, the nature of the activities, and the intended results of the activities.

    More importantly, different salespeople have different goals, and these goals will necessitate different amounts of time prospecting. Introducing a new product or opening a new territory may take more time than continuing to cultivate an existing market where you already have exposure.

    If your efforts are primarily passive, where you have little if any control of the outcome—direct mail or e-mail for example—you will likely have to do more and it will take longer to see results. If your efforts are more proactive, where you have considerable control—cold prospecting or generating and then calling on referrals for instance—you can invest less time.

    Since there is no simple formula, you must consider your prospecting objectives and then carefully track your activities and results. Then, you can decide how much time you want to invest and choose the activities that will allow you to achieve your objectives in that time period.

     

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

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

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  • The Toughest Prospect To Sell

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

    Give up?

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

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

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

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

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

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

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  • A story of 2 sales calls

    shutterstock_358001996The phone has been ringing with incoming sales calls. I always love being on the receiving end of a cold call.

    Fascinating how people with the courage to pick up the phone often have been failed by their management who haven’t trained their staff to effectively sell on the phone.

    Call One a few weeks ago was from a new sales person at a company specialising in high end coaching. Her hook was that a coach I know was working for them.

    The problem was she didn’t check if I rated his coaching.

    It’s true that past clients are often great prospects. Often companies don’t have a systematic keeping in touch programme. It works brilliantly if the client you are calling valued the services they received.

    The problem was I didn’t think the coach added enough value so the payback on my time and money invested wasn’t worthwhile.

    She asked some open ended questions. She was comfortable asking follow-on questions. I let the call run because I am interested in hearing sales people working. Her tonality was good – it didn’t feel like she was reading her questions from a script.

    However, she made an assumption. I’d worked with that coach in the past so she assumed I’d want to work with him again. “Wrong. When I said no thanks, she failed to find out why I was saying no. so I didn’t feel she had listened to the intent behind my answers. She was determined and kept going – so I’d give her extra marks for that. Then take off the marks for failing to clarify and discover what I meant by my answers. She didn’t get any info from me into why I said no. It felt like she’d been told not to take  “no” for an answer and didn’t want to explore my “no” as it could mean she had to end the call.

    So I’m pretty certain they’ll be wasting their time and will call me again in 3 months so.  Marks out of 10 – 3!

    We at Sandler are not a prospect for a local authority directory. Councils don’t tend to sell stuff – that’s usually spun out into stand-alone companies. So call two was never going to end in a sale.

    The directory sales woman who called me was certain we are a prospect – because they have a category for training in their publication. I got the feeling that whatever category I said we were in, she’d have a category for that! She listed every other training category. She simply wasn’t listening to my answers to her questions. She’d stuck to her script – which didn’t deal with my objection that we don’t want to proactively sell to local authorities. Her main convincer is that it was really cheap and thousands would be going to county and district council officers.  Not worth the time it would take for Marketing to get the copy ready. No really did mean no.

    She had urgency – the publication deadline was the next day. How convenient. Really? Hmmm – maybe or maybe not.

    The finish was as weak as the start. She read out the web address so I could go and check it out. Did I want the address? Hell no! But it was on her script and she’s started so she was going to finish.

    I was sad after that call – they have a member of staff who is willing to talk to strangers but she was only skilled to keep going with her script, and didn’t take charge of the conversation. The process she’d been taught did not enable her to quickly qualify or disqualify me.

    Again I think our contact details will remain in the database and someone else will waste their time calling us next time.  What a waste of her time and the company’s investment in a sales person.

    Marks out of 10 for Directory Lady? 1 – for picking up that phone and dialling. Marks out of 10 for her employer? Zero.  Zero for wasting her time, the company’s resources and my time!

    If you want to work out how to help your guys or yourself be more effective at prospecting by phone or following up those people you’ve met at networking, then contact your local Sandler office. We’ll figure out if we can help you or not.

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies

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

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  • Use your 30 second commercial in your LinkedIn Profile

    30 sec commercial linkedInThe main thing to remember about LinkedIn is this: It is a huge, never-ending, virtual networking event, and you have to be ready with the right response to “What do you do?” Your 30–second commercial is the answer to that question, as told from the point of view of a PROSPECT IN PAIN who eventually turned into your happy customer.

    Why not include it on your LinkedIn profile page?

    So for instance: “We specialize in custom-designed inventory management systems for manufacturing and distribution operations. We’ve been particularly successful with companies in the X, Y, and Z industries that are concerned about the costs associated with inaccurate inventory counts, unhappy with frequent paperwork bottlenecks that slow down the fulfilment process, or disappointed by the amount of time it takes to reconcile purchasing, invoicing, and shipping records. We’ve been able to create hand-in-glove inventory management systems that help our customers save time, attention, and money.”

    If something like this isn’t on your LinkedIn profile, you’re at a competitive disadvantage.
    For the complete list of WAYS YOU CAN USE LINKEDIN TO PROSPECT MORE EFFECTIVELY, click here.

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

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

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  • Add a little drama

    You’re meeting with a prospect. You’ve asked all the appropriate questions to uncover the prospect’s problem, concerns, desires, goals, and expectations. After fully analysing the situation, you announce with no hesitation whatsoever, “No problem. I have exactly what you need.”Add a little drama

    Does the prospect gasp a sigh of relief, utter under his breath, “Thank goodness,” and pull a purchase order from the drawer? Perhaps in Grimm’s version of the story, but not in the real world.

    Why?

    Prospects are sceptical of salespeople whose products or services are “exactly” what they need, especially if the salespeople are too quick to make the proclamation.

    At some level, prospects want to believe that their problems, concerns, and goals are not run of the mill, but rather, somewhat unique requiring solutions that are also somewhat unique.

    So, even if your product or service is exactly what the prospect needs, don’t be so quick to make the announcement. Tell the prospect that you have addressed similar situations and with the proper focus, and fine-tuning (perhaps with his help), you can provide him with a competent solution. You still get your point across—that you have a solution. And, you acknowledge the uniqueness of his situation which will require more than a cookie-cutter solution.

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

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

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  • Are you prepared?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

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

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  • Earn Compound Interest on Every Call

    Earn compound interest on every callEveryone knows someone. Actually, everyone knows several someone’s. Your customers – as well as the prospects you call on – have some contact with, or at the very least know of, people who can benefit from your product or service. Unfortunately, they are not programmed to automatically disclose the names of those people to you. That doesn’t mean that they won’t; you must initiate the action.

    Salespeople typically “forget” to ask for referrals. Why? Some reasons are technical: it’s not part of their selling process. There is not a logical connection from one element of the process to the act of asking for referrals. And, they don’t have a strategy for asking. Other reasons are more conceptual in nature: they don’t want to appear “needy.” They relate the request to begging. Whatever the reason, they are missing out on potential business and making their jobs more difficult.

    So, to make sure you don’t “forget” to ask for referrals, make it the last step of any sales call with a prospect or customer. Imagine your sales manager standing nearby ready to ask, “Did you ask for a referral?”

    Your referral requests should be simple and to the point. To a prospect, regardless of the outcome of your meeting: “Now that you know more about what we do for our clients, I suspect that you know of a business colleague or contact who could benefit from our service. Who might that be?”

    To a customer with whom you have a good track record: “George, you’ve always been pleased with the level of service we’ve provided. I’m wondering which one of your business colleagues or contacts would also appreciate the same level of service.”

    When customers or prospects provide you with a referral, call them after you’ve made contact with the referred person to again thank them and let them know what happened. Not only is this polite, but it’s an opportunity to obtain another name.

     

    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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