• More freedom, not more prospects!

    Having sat through hours of counter-intuitive training, practised tools, techniques and processes time and again, one might expect someone newly-trained in Sandler to fly out of the blocks, closing everything in sight.

    Sometimes that happens. One client of mine was moving from account management to sales, worked with me for just a few weeks and was almost instantly lauded as their top salesperson. She is, however, more of the exception than the rule.

    So, what typically, is the effect of all that investment?

    Time and again it is the same message. Those that grasp the point of “Pain then Budget and Decision”  learn to disqualify prospects that could never hope to be a real client.  That means the effect is not an increase in the value of their pipeline, rather a significant decrease.

    The relief I hear from so many businesses that they can stop chasing after prospects!  We only want to be spending our time with clients, customers who want to and will pay us for what we offer. Why do we want to spend an extra minute with a prospect who does not want to or will not pay us for our product or service?

    Our role is to help both sides figure out, as quickly as possible, if they are not going to be right for us or not. That’s it. It’s obvious when put like that. But all our salesmanship is going in another direction; persuading through features and benefits. We think we should be building “pipeline”. In fact, we should only be talking to those who are going to buy.

    So the immediate effects of training with Sandler is increased freedom; feedom to choose our customers, freedom to spend more time with people who value what we have to offer, freedom from endless technical proposals. Does all that “freedom” end up in more clients and more profit? Most definitely.

    If you want more freedom from the tyranny of trying to close sales, maybe it would make sense to look at Sandler in a bit more detail!

    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’s The Rush?

    Many salespeople are too eager to make presentations – are you?

    They view them as opportunities to establish the value of their products or services by demonstrating their unique aspects. You can’t establish value, however, until you have determined which aspects, if any, are relevant to the prospects’ situations.

    The real purpose of presentations is to confirm your ability to deliver the solutions prospects are predisposed to buy. How do you know what prospects are predisposed to buy? You determine it by thoroughly qualifying the opportunities.

    Until you have learned the specific reasons prospects would buy your product or service (rather than a competitor’s), uncovered the resources they have available to make the purchases, discovered the criteria by which they will make their decisions, and (assuming you are willing and able to meet their decision criteria) obtained their commitments to make those decisions, you should refrain from making presentations.

    Making presentations before thoroughly qualifying opportunities will almost surely guarantee that you leave those presentations, not with decisions, but only prospects’ promises to “think it over.”

    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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  • Active prospecting? You are joking!

    Now this might sound outrageous, particularly from Sandler Training, but let’s be honest…active prospecting does not work. Or at least it is highly inefficient. The worst culprit is “cold calling”. I mean, it is so much better to have qualified incoming leads just ready to buy than wasting inordinate amounts of time pestering people who then hide behind voicemail.

    Let’s work this out. How many dials do you need (real world) to get to speak to anybody? And then, how often are you getting the runaround? Even if you get an appointment they are unlikely to be ready to buy. Cold calling! Soul destroying stuff! And sales time can be so much more efficiently used.

    What about networking, asking for referrals, attending seminars, giving free talks, exhibiting? Well, actually they are pretty much nearly the same waste of effort. Huge amounts of effort required for almost no leads.

    So all active prospecting in effect does not work…until it does.

    Think of your largest income producing client. Not that one, the one that actually did come from active prospecting. Now, if you knew and knew for absolute certain you would get that client from doing that kind of prospecting, how much effort would you have been prepared to put in? My guess the answer is way more than the effort you actually did put in. So suddenly that time-consuming agony was worth it.

    But how can you be sure that doing more of that same activity will produce another fabulous client like that? Well obviously you cannot be sure. In the same way you cannot be sure of any prospecting activity. Until it works.

    Could you have got that client we are thinking of through incoming lead generation? Perhaps. Probably not.

    So the only way to be at least partly in control of our destiny in business is to do prospecting. Loads of it. As many different kinds of activity as makes sense (usually 3-5 different prospecting activity types is manageable). It is only with a long enough timescale that we can be sure that a certain prospecting activity is a waste of time. And even then we could have stopped just a couple of dials short of our ideal, dream prospect. Commit yourself to some hard work, doing stuff you would rather not do. After all, they say that if you claim to like cold calling you are either lying or never done it.

    Sandler has a rule

    “You never have to like prospecting; you just have to do 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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  • Refine Your Sales Process with a Sales Template

    Refine your sales processA sales template is defined as the step by step set of interactions you want your prospect to go through because it will give you a clear competitive advantage or otherwise increase the chances of you winning the business. An efficient sale system enables you to consistently achieve a desired outcome or set of outcomes without wasting time, energy, money etc. The most effective sales templates are basic enough to accommodate for change (focused on each stage of the sales meeting). Having critical reviews of each step is important because it takes out the guess work and decreases the time of reinventing the process.

    Ways to develop your sales template:

    1. Develop a flow chart of your sales process (make the chart dynamic with options).
    2. Get specific – develop the script and questions to ask your prospect during each phase. Use the Sandler Submarine as a guide.
    3. Establish an internal and external sales template. Internal: used only within the organisation and external: detailing your process to the prospect. By doing so, it keeps all parties involved on the same page during the process.

    Still think it’s painful to sit down and establish a sales template for your business? Remember the Sandler Philosophy:

    1. Professional Selling is a noble profession. Do not let the prospect treat you with disrespect.
    2. Be sure to understand the prospect’s issue, budget and decision process before you try to convince them of anything.
    3. Help the prospect discover the real Pain and that you are the solution.

    Armed with the reasons to establish a sales template, the ways to go about doing so along with the reasons behind the why, are we at Sandler Training charge you to take action! Start and complete your sales template. Go as far as implementing and adapting your sales template until you establish a sales process that works well for you and your organization.

    You can follow the prospect’s plan and feed your ego. Or, you can follow your own plans and feed your family, but you can’t do both. The choice is yours.”

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    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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  • Finding That Compelling Reason – Part Two

    Last time we discussed the tension of wanting to rescue a prospect sales process. Now let’s look at the situation between the buyer and seller as objectively as possible:

    What happened in this scenario? According to the salesperson, they recognized a need and felt they could provide a product or service to solve the problem. The challenge is, the prospect doesn’t recognise the need as being great enough to have to fix. Until the prospect realises and admits there is a problem there won’t be any need for your product or service, no matter how much you say or do.

    There isn’t a compelling reason for the prospect to buy.

    How do we help the prospect discover the compelling reason? Following are a few questions that will help you help the prospect discover their compelling reason:

    1. Tell me more about that problem.
    2. Can you be more specific? Give me an example?
    3. How long has that been a problem?
    4. What have you tried to do about that?
    5. How much do you think that has cost you?
    6. How do you feel about that?
    7. Have you given up trying to deal with the problem?

    The easiest way to put this into perspective is to put you into the situation.

    What makes you buy a product or service? Is it the features and benefits that the salesperson so convincingly shares with you or do you have a compelling reason to buy?

    Ask yourself these two questions the next time you’re in front of a prospect to determine if there is a compelling reason for them to buy.

    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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  • 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

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    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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  • Sales Training for the Prospecting Marathon

    Prospecting MarathonWhat does a marathon runner know about making prospecting calls?

    Probably very little. Maybe nothing! However, the strategy the marathon runner uses to prepare for a race can help you become a better prospector. No runner started out as a marathon runner. They trained over time to build their strength and endurance to go the distance. The first day they couldn’t run 100 yards before gasping for breath. The first week was torture. The second week was a little better. The third week better yet, and so on. With continual practice, desire and effort, they became a marathon runner.

    Take a lesson from the marathon runner. If you are struggling with 10 or 15 prospecting calls a day, how will you ever make 30, 40 or whatever number your prospecting plan calls for? If the novice marathon runner is gasping for breath after 100 yards, how can he eventually last for two miles, eight miles, 12 miles or 26 miles? He must condition himself.

    While marathon runners may have their own trainers, you’ve got me and the rest of the folks at Sandler Training to give you a little sales training advice:

    Pace yourself, and you’ll get there.

    You may not get past six calls the first day without gasping for breath, but the next day you can do seven, the next day eight, the next day nine or 10 and continue that practice until you can go the distance.

    An average sales cycle to move a new prospect beginning from your initial introductory call to closing a sale takes an average of 12 quality touches (and that is not 12 irritating voicemail messages) over an 18 month period. That’s at least, one meaningful connection every 45 days. Remember, it’s 12 touches over 18 months on average. You can be better than average if you get better at your technique and better at your strategy. You don’t have to be a marathon prospector right away, but you better start your training program, rest up and get ready for the long road ahead. As long as you have a contact schedule and strategy in mind, you’ll see that finish line

    Blog Editor

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    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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  • 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

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    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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  • Want Change? Put a Shark in the Tank!

    Bear with me on this as I have to explain…

    People hire me to create change, create sales growth, so I’m known as a sales turnaround specialist…

    Many people will know I’m hired when a company’s Sales Operating Model is stale and failing to deliver growth. Or when the cost of acquiring new business exceeds 10% ROI. You do measure this don’t you…?

    I typically work locally with small to medium sized businesses and occasionally enterprise sales organisations in the East Midlands.

    So why am I telling you this? Well, when I walk into an organisation, I won’t be rude but I’m not hired to make friends or pander to your sales people, I’m hired to make a difference and turn your sales opportunities into profitable business and I’m looking for a feeling, those gut feelings that help me identify what’s really going on.

    So what are the signs of a poor Sales Operating Model? There can be (not all the time) a huge amount of activity at the top of the sales pipeline, working on projects that may never close, spraying valuable information, giving away free consultancy in the hope that someone will buy from you, but in reality very little actually turns into new business.

    I see lot of unsold stock on the shelves. Often the marketing and sales department (the growth department) are under resourced and treated as a necessary evil, under funded, money is tight and the people are stretched. Other signs can be cash flow concerns and infighting between sales people and departments.

    This happens when you haven’t got a Shark in the tank!

    Here’s and example: back in the 70’s someone came up with the bright idea of catching live fish in the Pacific, putting them into a tanks and flying them across America so they could sell fresh fish to the fancy east coast restaurants and get 5-10 times the price.

    They converted planes into flying fish tanks for this purpose. However upon arrival lots of fish were found dead, floating upside down by the time they landed.

    The loss was killing the business so they consulted a marine biologist. The biologist looked at the problem and quickly said,  “That’s easy! Put a Shark in the tank. Nothing so large that it will do them harm, but large enough to put some tension in the tank.” And it worked!

    If you’re managing a Growth Department (Sales and Marketing team) you need a Shark…

    What do Sharks do?

    I believe Marketing and Sales should be as one. Marketing ideal clients but driven by a sales focus, not the typical fluffy stuff you see out there…

    Sharks have a Sales Operating Model (SOM) the rules of engagement are clearly set out, a common sales language is in place so everyone knows and understands. Sharks should make the internal sell twice as hard as the external sell, the salesperson has to demonstrate the project is profitable and feasible before the company takes on the new business. They can only do this by having a ‘cookie cutter’ – a systematic way of identifying and qualifying opportunities.

    You can’t and don’t want to do everything offered. A good sales team may present 20 projects all with varying degrees of profitability, resource and time requirements. However the organisation may only be able to resource 4 to 6 projects at a time. The organisation has to have a system to be able to weight the opportunity and one that free’s up the team to move quickly as time kills sales opportunities. The team needs to quickly identify unprofitable projects and pass these onto the competition instead.

    Good SOM’s enable the sales leaders to measure the cost of the sale at each stage of the selling process, especially when pursuing costly bid requests and adapting to changes in the market.

    Without a common language the organisation is exposed to ‘woolly’ information and undermines the whole system.

    As a sales leader your job is to make the best salespeople work on the best opportunities. If you fail to do this you will fail to generate the desired results.

    Shark’s bring clearly defined accountability that includes rewards and consequences, as salespeople easily lapse into bad habits.

    Blog written on this topic taken from this video by my mentor Marcus Cauchi and Nick Ayton.

    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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  • Why Negative Prospects Are Your Best Prospects and Positive Prospects Are Your Worst

    “Look for buying signals” I was told by most of my bosses in my early sales career. “Look for signs that they’re positive”.  Based on that advice I should have retied in my early 20’s instead of being up to my eyeballs in debt, afraid I was going to get fired every Monday morning as we relayed our forecast to the assembled team and our manager.

    I was a very hard worker, usually first in and last out. I researched my prospects’ companies, their markets, the competition and did a pretty good presentation. I regularly received compliments for the thoroughness of my research, commendations for my insights and ideas, and positive, reassuring statements like, “I’m impressed Marcus. You’ve clearly thought a lot about this. Thank you. You’ve given me some great ideas which I really like. Can you do me a favour and put it all into a proposal?”

    I was chuffed to bits when I heard things like that. I dashed back to the office, reported in to my boss that we’d had a really good meeting and spent the next day or so knocking up a work of genius in the form of a proposal that was tantamount to a blueprint on how they could address their issues using our services. I’d print it off, often multiple copies, bind it up, produce a snazzy cover (very important) and put a protective plastic cover over the top and post it first class. Then I’d wait a couple of days to make sure it had time to get there. I’d follow up with a call to make sure they’d got it. “It looks great. Marcus, give me a few days to read it through and talk it over with my boss” were words that sent me into elation. I hung up, reported to my boss what had just been said, s/he was happy and Monday came, I forecast it as 50% or higher depending on how positive the prospect had been … then I followed up.

    At this point they were usually involved in some kind of kinky act (tied up) or had been abducted by aliens since every effort I made to get feedback was met with a gatekeeper telling me the medium cheese I was chasing was not available. Six, 12, even 20 chaser calls went in until eventually Mr Abductee picked up when i called after Betty had gone home. “Marcus, there was nothing wrong with your proposal. The timing just isn’t right / my boss said no / our current supplier said they could do it cheaper etc” and all my hard work went up in smoke in my mind. I said some pretty rum things about them once I hung up (for which I am truly sorry), I worried I’d be for the axe as I needed that sale to make my target.

    What I find most galling is it took me 17 years to work out that my need for the approval of strangers and my belief that I should do whatever the customer asked me to, to make them happy was utter nonsense and misguided in the extreme.

    Every now and again, I came across a truly terrifying prospect. Usually the MD or CEO. He took no nonsense. He wasn’t interested in my presentation. He gave me a hard time, questioned everything, asked really tough questions and made decisions on the spot without needing a proposal, just an invoice. Many told me “no”, but they did so quickly and without hesitation or prevarication. I was in and out of their office fast with a qualified decision.

    What did it take me 17 years to learn?

    Beware the positive prospect. They usually have no money, no authority and want to know what I know but don’t want to pay me for it. Welcome the negative prospect. They’re negative because they’re busy, don’t want to make a bad decision, have money to spend and make decisions quickly and without playing games or trying to steal what I know.

    Are you a slow learner too?