• The Key To Success In a Sale: The Agenda

    the agendaYour meeting date and time has been established.  You’re confident your product or service is superior to your competitors.  Your goal for the meeting is to convince the prospect. You’ve planned to be there for 45 minutes.

    The prospect checks their calendar and realizes a few minutes before that, they’ve scheduled a meeting with some salesperson and they’re not sure of the relevance today.  They’re wondering why they agreed to the meeting and plan to make it short.  They’ll ask a few questions, get a brochure or sample and usher the salesperson out the door saying “they’ll get back” to them. Fifteen minutes maximum and they’ll be able to get back to what’s important in their day.

    It’s apparent from the two scenarios that the salesperson and the prospect each have a different agenda.  Can you imagine what the outcome of the meeting will be?  Have you ever found yourself wondering why there are two different agendas for the same meeting?  Did you both agree to the same thing?

    Let’s diagnose where things may have gone wrong.

    1. The appointment was scheduled without a clear intention of what each side was hoping to accomplish.
    2. The amount of time allocated to meet was not established or may have been, however has now changed on the prospect’s side.
    3. The real purpose of the meeting was unclear.
    4. An agreed upon outcome was not discussed prior to the meeting.

    In other words, it’s like showing up at the dentist for a cleaning and he’s ready to perform a root canal.

    The Sandler Selling System refers to the concept of establishing an agenda for every interaction with a prospect as an Up-Front Contract.  It means prior to the meeting knowing what both parties are planning to accomplish in the time they are together.  A mutually agreed outcome is established.

    Following are the components of an agenda:

    1. Establish a mutually agreed purpose for the call or meeting.
    2. Find out what’s important for the prospect.  What are they hoping to achieve in the time you’re together.
    3. Share with the prospect what you as a salesperson would like to accomplish on the phone or in the meeting.
    4. Agree to a specific time you’ll spend together and reconfirm when you arrive at the meeting.
    5. Determine at the beginning of the meeting or telephone conversation what you both mutually agree will happen at the conclusion of your time together.

    Establish on the phone what will happen at the meeting and once at the meeting, reiterate what you both agreed to.  This gives the prospect the opportunity to share any changes that may have to be made such as now only having 30 minutes vs the originally planned 45 minutes.  You can adjust your meeting accordingly or reschedule if desired.

    Just like being in the dentist’s chair, you don’t want any surprises when you are face-to-face with a prospect.  Being disarmingly honest with the prospect and letting them know up-front what is going to happen in the time you’re together will save time, eliminate the prospect from giving you a vague response as to what happens next and it will move the selling process forward or conclude there isn’t a fit for your product or services.  And set another up-front contract at the meeting as to what happens next.

    What will you do prior to your next call or meeting?

    Mutually agreeing to what happens every step of the way ensures that you aren’t surprised at the outcome.

    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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    tarzan  & the elephants23My Mum was a funny lady and during my youth, she was constantly throwing riddles at me.

    Some of her riddles came in pairs and the pairs typically had a point.

    One such pair of riddles has been a huge lesson for me as I have gone through life. Here they are.

    Riddle 1: What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming down the road? “Here come the elephants.”

    Riddle 2: What did the elephants say when they saw Tarzan coming down the road? Nothing, elephants don’t talk.

    Most people fail to get either answer correct. And despite missing the first question, most people are too proud of their intelligence to say “I don’t know” in answer to the second question. My Mom was making two points. First, she wanted me to realize that some questions are simple, I needed to not over-think things. After all what else would Tarzan have said?

    She also wanted me to understand that answering a question with words I just heard can take me way off track. Just because the question asks about talking elephants does not mean elephants can talk.

    As a sales trainer, I spend my days trying to help salespeople and business owners realize that questions you are asked by prospects are rarely straightforward. The questions that prospects ask come from their world and are based around their current situation, and how your sales team handles these questions is the key to selling success.

    Does your sales team know when to say “I don’t know” and when to say “why do you ask?” These are the keys to keeping sales people out of trouble.

    Typically, our clients tell us that learning to handle their prospects questions is the primary driver of their new found sales success. Handling these prospect questions correctly leads professional sales people to bigger, more focus and, best of all, more qualified chances to make sales.

    Are you ready to help your sales team learn the best way to handle the questions your prospects have?

    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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  • Your Knowledge is Worthless… Until Someone Pays You For It.

    In regards to your business, the expertise you have gained over the years is completely worthless… until someone gives you money for it. If you have a medical doctorate, all you really have is a bunch of student loans until you have patients, and get paid for your knowledge.

    From your potential client’s perspective, John C. Maxwell said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” They don’t care how great you are until they know you understand the situation and the problem they are experiencing. Your opinion here is worthless to the prospect, mostly because you are just another person trying to sell them.

    What does this mean for you and your business?

    The most common problem associated with this concept is called “Un-Paid Consulting.” This happens when you tell the potential customer everything about how you are going to solve their problem, and they return the favour by shopping out your solution to all your competitors looking for the best price.

    They don’t trust you, yet. You have no commitment from them, so they are free to look around and compare prices on exactly what you offered. Also, they know they have a solution to the problem, so all of their stress is gone and the immediate pain fades away. If all else fails, they can call you back.

    Another common problem is called “Spilling Your Candy.” You could also call it: boring the pants off your prospect. When you share your knowledge before it is needed, you are spilling the candy before anyone can enjoy it.

    What do people love to talk about more than anything else? Themselves. If you are talking about yourself, then the prospect is not getting a chance to do what they love best. If your mouth is moving, you are in trouble already.

    Also, product knowledge can be very intimidating. If you use industry buzz words, you make the prospect feel dumb, bored, or at the very least uninterested, triggering them to leave the conversation.

    What is the solution?

    Wait until you get paid to solve the problem. The goal of business is to go to the bank, not to prove how much you know. You might be asking yourself, how am I supposed to get anyone interested enough to buy without telling them how great or credible we are?

    The answer takes us back to our doctor example. Does a doctor tell you everything he knows about medicine and the types of viruses you might have, and then let you decide which medicine you think will make you better? Or does he ask you some very smart, intuitive questions to narrow down the diagnosis first and then prescribe you the solution?

    Your job as a professional salesperson or business owner is to find people with the type of problems you solve, build trust with expert questions while you diagnose the problem, get a commitment, and then prescribe the solution.

    What problems do people experience when they need your product or service? What kinds of questions could you ask to uncover those problems and their consequences? Create an environment that allows your prospect to discover they need your help, instead of telling them.

    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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  • What’s holding you back from success?

    mike montaguee 1Here is the problem: 99% of people out there are already doing what they think is in their best interest. Of course, there’s the 1% who hate themselves and are self-sabotaging, but for the most part, you are probably doing right now, what you think is best. But why is that a problem?

    Well, if you want to achieve a higher level of success or happiness, no matter your current level, you are going to run into a problem.


    David Sandler found three areas where people get stuck in their growth and development:

    • Attitude
    • Behaviour
    • Technique

    If you have plateaued in some area of your life, chances are you have a negative attitude about taking the next step, you don’t know what to do, or you don’t know how to do it.

    And on top of that, most of us don’t know what we don’t know, so we can even find these problems, obstacles or opportunities in our own lives. We have a saying here at Sandler Training: “You can’t read the label from inside the bottle.”

    The first step in reaching higher levels of success is realizing that you are the only thing holding yourself back.

    So the answer for, “What’s holding you back?” It’s YOU!

    • Has the economy or your market taken a down turn?
    • Are your company’s offerings not really unique?
    • Are your customers uneducated & cheap?
    • Are you too comfortable or afraid to fail?

    Guess what? You are the only one responsible for your ultimate success and happiness. Other people are succeeding in this economy. You can always get another job if the company is not right for you. You choose who you call on and how valuable they see you.

    You even choose how you respond to real outside obstacles and challenges. Do you get competitive and motivated when someone is challenging you, or do you give up because it’s too hard? That choice is also yours.

    The second step is to find someone on the outside who can see the real issues.

    This might sound self-serving because it’s what we do, but only a great coach, mentor or trainer from the outside can help you accurately assess yourself and the problems you run into.

    It’s the reason professional athletes have coaches. It is very difficult to assess our own performance, because we already believe we tried our best. It is even more difficult to assess a problem inside our own heads! That is usually where the problem lies in the first place. If we have the right attitude, we will generally figure out what to do or ask someone else. We are also willing to try different techniques until we find something that works.

    Coaches can also help you with those behaviours and techniques, but fixing our head first is really what allows for huge leaps in performance and ultimate success and happiness.

    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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  • Listen to me!

    After collecting my car from the garage after another very expensive repair I thought it may be about time I bought a car that I could trust would end the journey without the help of a low loader.

    So I went to a local dealer of quality second hand vehicles very excited about the prospect of a new toy.

    The second hand car dealer came up to me he was, smiling (great teeth), had a firm hand shake, and a hint of snake oil fragrance.

    In order to shorten the sales cycle I carefully (I thought) explained that my needs are simple, and in priority order: Automatic, Bluetooth hands free and cruise control ( I can’t afford another speeding fine). Everything else was negotiable.

    He was clearly unshaken by my simple requirements and took me over to the latest (and most expensive) car he had for sale.

    Apparently, it was a thing of beauty, shiny, a head turner, it would look great with me in it and on my drive. I suspected some of that may be correct.

    It was also manual gear change, didn’t have Bluetooth or cruise control.

    I re-explained my needs but clearly my needs didn’t match what he had, so he suggested we go out on a test drive, then I would realise ‘we should be together’ (me and the car, not snake oil boy). So I clambered into the car which exactly addressed all the needs I didn’t have.

    After an hour driving around the country side, feeling the handling, hearing the exhaust and all the other stuff the (sic) salesman thought was important, we arrived back at his premises. I’d missed a call from my wife (no Bluetooth), my dodgy hip was aching from crushing the clutch and I might have broken a speed limit or two (again).

    I didn’t buy the car (see needs above), the salesman was annoyed I’d wasted a quarter of his top selling day. But I got to have fun in a great sports car for an hour which would normally cost a lot of money.

    What happened?

    The car dealer didn’t carefully listen to the prospect, he didn’t question the prospect to confirm the impact of not having their needs met (although not being contactable by my wife did appeal to me) and he gave free consultancy on things that wasn’t needed in addition to wasting a lot of time.

    That’s a lot of bad habits. In the end he thought it was my fault. Stupid prospect.

    There were many basic Sandler rules broken here which culminated in an expensive, non-productive time for the dealer. From the prospects point of view, I learned lots of stuff I didn’t know, had some fun and a great story to tell.

    I guess you haven’t ever wasted time, chasing someone who was never a real prospect and got annoyed about not getting an order for your efforts. But, if you recognise some of this, talk to your local Sandler trainer. They’ll listen and teach you some good habits.

    I’m now going to call the garage as my car is sitting by the side of a road near here quietly steaming, just like our heroic car dealer.

    Roy Johnson

    Roy Johnson

    For twenty seven years Roy Johnson worked globally where he held leadership positions in market leading industrial automation and communications companies. Having left corporate life in 2014 he started his own sales training and management consultancy. Typically, his clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners. These are often people who went into business to follow their passion with a requirement to build a client base to make it successful. They are either looking to put a sales system with coherence and clarity in place and/or take the business to the next level. Roy helps them to develop a successful sales culture so that they can make tough sales decisions based on real data rather than instinct. Mob +44 (0)7867525868 Tel +44 (0)1782 518040

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  • Finding That Compelling Reason – Part One

    Find that compelling reason 1How do you convince someone to buy your product or service? Think about how you buy a product or service. Even the richest people in the world with “money to burn” do not buy for the sake of buying. Yes they can buy whenever or whatever they choose, however there is a reason that they buy. People love to buy, they just don’t like to be sold.

    Have you ever sat in front of a prospect and tried desperately hard to sell them something? You’ve asked lots of questions and you just know that your product or service will solve their problem but for some reason they just haven’t given you the purchase order, the credit card or even the go ahead to get started.

    If you’re like most business development people, account executives or salespeople, sometimes you just can’t figure out why a prospect doesn’t want to buy. In your eyes, they are very much in need of what you have to offer and you know that you can help them, if they’d only let you. If you haven’t stepped back from the situation and analysed why they aren’t ready to buy, then perhaps now would be a good time to do it.

    Some people like to help or I like to use the term, ‘rescue’ people when we see them struggling. Have you ever stepped back and asked yourself whether the prospect needs or wants to be rescued?

    Sometimes we try so hard to fix a problem that in the prospect’s eyes isn’t big enough, or causing them enough pain so they don’t see the need to spend the money to fix it. Only when a problem has a personal impact on the prospect will they have that compelling reason to buy, not before.

    Step back and debrief your past few sales calls and determine if you were trying to rescue or were you helping the prospect discover that compelling reason. Learn the questions that will help your prospect discover that compelling reason in Part 2.

    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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  • There’s no summer slumber people will still spend money

    Summer SlumberWe are right in the middle of summer, and I love the summer. And in the midst of this nice warm weather, it may be strange to say that I also love the winter but I do.

    That’s when the business world almost uniformly decides to go into a slumber because they believe buying slows down. That’s called a self-limiting belief. That’s when I’m at my best because this is what I have found people actually still have money and are willing to spend it if you’re good enough to find their pain.

    You see, businesses today are not spending money on pleasure and fluff. They are, however, willing to spend money at any time of the year on things they need or that are going to save them money, avoid a cost or help them increase their revenue. You have to get really good, really fast at learning how to find pain, and you need to work on having patience so you do not pull the trigger too soon, but learn how to develop the pain and find the emotional connections that will make your prospects spend their money.

    Owners, quit taking excuses that people don’t have money because they do for the things they want and the things they need to solve problems.

    Good salespeople don’t even know there is a recession because they are good at finding the pain.

    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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  • Out in the Open: Avoiding Misunderstandings with a Prospect

    Out in the Open Avoiding Misunderstandings with a ProspectThe best definition of a heated political climate is the constant “clarification” of what was said yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. When what you said is not what is heard – or if what you heard was not what was said – that is “mutual mystification.”

    Actress Lily Tomlin said it best, “Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?”

    If a prospect utters something even remotely positive, do you immediately presume the sale? When you lose the sale – you even are mad at the prospect for sending the wrong signals. This is a condition termed “happy ears” and it is always fatal.

    The cure is to be sceptical, yet nurturing. Your prospect says “I like what you are saying and your product is a good fit!” You respond “I appreciate your kind words – when you say ‘good fit’ what exactly do you mean?” This is a reversing technique that will show you the difference between nice platitudes and an actual sale. Never presume that the signals are positive – always verify.

    When you find yourself lost in a sale where the prospect is saying all the right things, yet it is either too soon or too positive, you must say something.

    David Sandler said “when you feel it, say it-nurturingly!” You might say to your prospect “I get the feeling that you view my service positively, but I’m still not sure if I can help. Can we talk for a few minutes about that?” or “I’m feeling a lot of pressure right now – are you too? Can we talk about it?”


    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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  • Trade Shows & Exhibitions: 8 more steps to closing more business

    ICSC dealmakingIt’s easy to attend exhibitions and trade shows and be uncertain if it was worth the investment. It can take a while to know if you have a long sales cycle.

    To ensure your time is well invested, make a plan to work smart in prep, on site and afterwards.

    Here are some steps you can take in advance which will make your investment in time travel, exhibit fees and other costs worthwhile.

    1) Prep your route.
    At major events, it’s worth planning where to start so you can get round the maximum number of your target companies by your priority and proximity of stand location. There’s usually a show plan on the exhibitors’ pages of the show website.

    It also makes it easier if you have a team on site to work the whole event. You won’t duplicate and will cover all your hottest prospects and priority clients.

    2) Contact your prime targets – existing clients and prospects in advance.

    Use the event organisers’ platform which will have contact info and maybe a messaging facility. Supplement it with direct mail, emails and LinkedIn messages.

    Call and get meetings in the diary for everyone on your hot list.

    Where you don’t get a meeting, plan a walk round and go onto their stand. You may get lucky. If not, then put them into your nurture campaign.

    3) Research your hot list and others you are meeting

    Prepare. If you haven’t researched your hot list, check them out properly. Are they creditworthy?

    Select the news tab on the Google search to get the latest news stories about them.

    Check them out on LinkedIn. Who can introduce you? Download a copy of our book written with LinkedIn if you don’t know how to prospect effectively using LinkedIn.

    4) Get a speaking slot.

    Most tradeshows have conferences on site. Make friends with the person responsible for filling the speaking slots and panels. It makes you an authority and will differentiate you from the competition.

    Write some blog posts before the event. Email your contact list to tell them you are speaking. Talk to the trade media and get quoted.

    Do a good job and your prospects will be standing in line to talk to you after you’ve spoken.

    5) Plan to launch your new product or service.

    Have an event to launch a new product or service. Send out invitation cards in the mail – not just email invites.

    Make an announcement. Get it covered in the show media and trade journals.

    6) Prepare your follow up before you go.

    Don’t wait to write your follow up emails and nurture campaigns. Do it before you go.

    Then you’ll be able to pop your new contacts into your system without delay.

    7) Use tech to help you

    If there’s an event app, download it before you go. You may be able to fill any time that becomes free by contacting someone on site using it.

    Transcribe the business cards you collect. Scan your business cards using your phone or tablet. Use an app like FullContact which uses humans to transcribe the cards. Check out what your CRM providers recommends as there may be an automatic sync of data.You’ll need to check them afterwards but it’s better than digital transcriotion.

    You can also get a software widget such as a zap from Zapier so they are fed directly into your CRM without you having to upload them. You can set up your follow up emails will go automatically.

    8) Never eat alone

    Make arrangements for breakfast, lunch & dinner before the event.

    Don’t waste breakfast on a team meeting. Or if you need to meet your stand team first thing, have a second breakfast – a quiet start to the day with an important contact in the dining room  of the best hotel. You can sometime have some of the best chance encounters with CEOs of major prospects as you go into breakfast.

    Use other meals for hot pre-qualified prospects, valued clients and referrals.  Can you introduce people you know who could do business?

    Can you make the referral, and connect one of your clients to another company or person they want to do business with?

    Would one of your clients introduce you to over lunch or dinner to someone they know well who you want to do business with?

    Drinks reception are also useful for making new connections. They need a different strategy.

    Find out if the VIPs attend or not and plan your strategy accordingly. Either way, never get drunk. It looks bad and affects your performance the following day.

    Arrange to connect with people on your warm list at drinks receptions. You may not meet them all – but you will have been in contact before the event and can follow up afterwards if you miss them.

    If you want more tips on trade shows & exhibitions, read the earlier blog on 9 steps to closing more business .

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies

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

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  • Having Poor Memory is Essential to Sales Success

    Poor Memory

    How’s your memory? Do you fall into the category as described the old adage, “I’d forget my head if it wasn’t connected to my body”? Are you constantly setting traps for yourself to be on time for meetings or where your car keys are placed or what’s supposed to be happening on your schedule from hour to hour?

    Based on the title of this blog post, you might think I would congratulate you and say there’s research or evidence that great salespeople fall into this category, but actually those issues are more about being forgetful, even in some cases being disrespectful. You need to fix that, and you need to be more organized, consistent and focused. There is no place in the upper echelon of sales professionals for being forgetful, being disrespectful, or being inconsiderate in your scheduling.

    However — and this is a big however — there is a huge difference between being forgetful and something I find essential for salespeople: having a ‘poor sales memory’.

    Sound contradictory? Let me explain.

    Sales memory is about how well you recall recent and historical events in your work. Salespeople live in a world of rejection. They live in a world of constant pushback, accountability and public comparison, and while that doesn’t sound like a great advertisement for a career, I’ve never seen a top level salesperson who doesn’t have the ability to erase those memories-and I mean totally remove from their memory all events that could impact their desire, self-esteem or results.

    Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Your past is not your past if it still affects your future!” Or maybe the one by Mark Twain that goes, “Your inability to forget is infinitely more destructive than your inability to remember.” As a sales professional, if you remember rejection and negative comparisons and comments from prospects, they will build a spider web in your mind that will absolutely paralyze your ability to function. Sales pros erase from their memory comments like:

    • “Your price is too high. That’s why we can’t do business.”
    • “Your product is just like everyone else’s.”
    • “We’ve got a great relationship with our current vendor. We don’t need you.”
    • “We’re not interested.”
    • “How did you get my name and why did you call me?”
    • “Oh, you’re a salesperson.”
    • “We’re going to need three bids for this product or service.”
    • “We are delaying the start of our project, therefore, we are going to need to delay the purchase of your product or service.”
    • “We like you, but we are going with another suppler.”
    • “Can you send us a proposal?”

    How many of these comments stick in your memory? How many times when you hear these comments does your mind say to you, “Oh no, here we go again”? How many times do you enter a sales conversation with a good prospect when you have low emotional energy or believability in your offering because you are sapped by recent bad memories?

    The mind is a powerful piece of equipment, and if it’s not kept clean and sharp, it will operate at much lower efficiencies, even to some point of being a total barrier to your success. Your ability to erase negative events from memory is the equivalent to a professional golfer erasing a bad round of golf and moving forward, or a striker aiming to score at a critical part of the game and yet coming back on the second half of the game and scoring a goal. You will never be effective if you don’t learn to eliminate negative events from memory.

    Good salespeople do mental exercises. They learn ways to maintain a positive psychology. Salespeople understandably work so much on technique and behaviour to install systems and processes to ensure that they are prospecting effectively, but often when I ask a salesperson what are you doing to keep yourself mentally sharp and keep the spider webs out, I hear very little that’s meaningful.

    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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