• Sales: How to hire a killer

    I bet you haven’t ever hired a sales person who seemed perfect at interview and didn’t work out. Someone who had all the right answers, was excited by your vision of the future and assured you they were a self-starter. Someone with a brilliant track record, who came highly recommended and yet …..when they started, seemed “off the boil”. Someone who didn’t deliver in the first month, and despite your hope that they would get “up to speed” has been a mediocre performer or has already left you. Mishires are bad for the person you employed and are expensive mistakes for you in time, money and morale.

    There’s a joke amongst recruiters that the best sales meeting many salespeople have is the one that gets them their next job. So how do you tell the difference between someone who will perform for you and someone who never could, or can’t right now?

    The hiring company gets really excited and feels they’ve found a hunter. The sales person is hopeful and excited too. Maybe they also get a shiny new car, phone and all the gadgets.

    The new hire asks all the right questions at induction and the managers feel they’ve hired right. The sales person starts with enthusiasm to prospect or go out to meetings.

    But then tumbleweed.

    Or some sales but way behind the management projections.

    Or forecasts slip into the next reporting period.

    Management say “Give it time. S/he’ll find her/his feet”. Two months. Three months. Eight months. How long?

    Mishire?

    Maybe they are a salesperson who can take complicated orders but doesn’t have that killer instinct needed to drive sales.

    Maybe you have hired a sales rep who is naturally good at developing relationships with an existing client base and finding opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell. They just aren’t that driven to go in cold and win new business.

    Maybe you hired someone better suited for long sales cycles that require patience, focus and structure. These people are careful not to let any details fall through the cracks. They can extend the timeframe to closing business so slow your numbers.

    Good salespeople – but not a fit.

    They just don’t have the traits they need to be successful with you.

    To be successful, get clarity on what will make a sales person successful with you. Here are 6 criteria for hiring a hunter, someone who is keen and driven to make sales for you – look for someone who:

    1. has strong fire in their belly
    2. creates value and demand
    3. takes control of the sales process
    4. takes action without requiring direction
    5. takes responsibility for their results
    6. adjusts how they deal with people

    You can train skills – but forcing someone with account management or long sales cycle mentality to hunt for business to close this month or quarter is an endless and thankless task for the sales manager. Read next week’s blog for more on how to identify those killer traits in your new hires.

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies

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

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  • Worrying Trends

    Are you out of business and you just don’t know it yet?

    Managers are the bottlenecks for growth. How many businesses do you see hit a glass ceiling or their sales start going down hill?

    In a recent report by among sales managers in sales intelligence software supplier sales-i, 34% say that their main problem is acquiring timely information to use whilst selling, whilst 17% say that visibility into activities of the sale team is their biggest daily challenge.

    So what should you be looking for? Have a look at you team and ask yourself:

    • Do your people have desire and commitment?
You may ask, what’s the difference?  “Boss I need more money, you need to give me more money/bigger territory” (That’s Desire). Someone with desire and commitment will come to you saying,  “Boss I need to make more money, how do I do that? What do I have to do different to make that possible?”
    • When you have your weekly 1 on 1’s with your sales manager and he/she debriefs you about his daily 1 on 1’s with the team, what are the biggest conceptual and technical problems and what are their plans to overcome them?
    • What is your managers plan for training and coaching your people? You did hire him/her to train, coach and develop your people didn’t you?
    • When you have your weekly pipeline meetings with your sales manager, are they at least 80% accurate in what’s going to close in the next 30 days so you can plan sufficiently?
    • When your managers have their monthly meetings with his/her people to talk about their personal goals, especially the ones not hitting their numbers, do their goals tie into their monthly company goals?
    • How many hires does the manager have in his/her funnel? Knowing 1 in 200 are A players.
    • When you harvest your data from your CRM to look at the ratio between your lag indicators and your leading indicators to activities, what is the difference between your top salespeople and your bottom ones?
    • When your lag indicators aren’t where they should be, what do you change first, the leading indicators or the activities?

    On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being high, how would you rate the culture of your business?

    For a business to continually be successful it needs a sales driven culture built around a framework for success. This includes hiring and keeping the right people. Having a growth strategy that’s stress tested and one you know the team can achieve. Clearly defined systems and processes (a road map) that everyone in the company and new to the company can follow and self-measure. And a management team that can coach, train, mentor and support their people with new skills.

    Peter Jones

    Peter Jones

    Peter Jones is Managing Director of Sandler Training in the East Midlands. Peter works with business owners and MD’s who want to increase their return on investment made in their sales team and business owners who need to improve their business development skills.

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  • The Real ABC of Sales

    Who remembers Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross? No, not “Coffee is for closers” but “ABC – Always Be Closing!” That stuff works in films and boiler rooms but in the real world, people sometimes buy, but in spite of you pulling those stunts, not because of it.

    In Sandler we teach that you close at the beginning. We call it an Up Front Contract. It’s the single most important part of the sales process. It’s where you agree at the beginning what will happen at the end.

    Why do you always want to establish an up front contract at the start and end of every conversation or call?

    1. The contract IS the CLOSE. Close at the start when they are not expecting it or resisting it.
    2. The contract ensures you and your prospect start and end every interaction in an Adult to Adult. Without it, only about 15% of interactions start in Adult to Adult ego states.
    3. The contract protects both sides.
    4. The contract creates the right conditions for parity since you are never less than your prospect’s equal, even on your worst day.
    5. You never suffer from mutual mystification, so neither side is ever confused nor are expectations ever carelessly mismatched.

    For an upfront contract to be effective the following conditions must exist.

    1. No wishy washy up front contract terms ever.
    2. Up front contract terms MUST BE:
    • Clear
    • Specific
    • Certain
    1. The contract must be MUTUALLY:
    • Agreed
    • Accepted
    • Understood
    1. YOU must be willing to enforce the contract terms to achieve a Win-Win or No Deal.

    Without you making the effort to fulfil all 8 of these conditions, your contract will not hold water. Doing this requires you to be tough enough to plant your feet, to be ready to walk if you can’t reach an agreement that serves you both. Failing to meet these conditions means the prospect can drive a coach and horses through your contract and wriggle out, leaving you grasping at straws.

    A simple up front contract follows the ANOT model.

    • Actually
    • Naturally
    • Obviously
    • Typically

    “Actually Helen, can we agree some ground rules and and agenda before we get into the detail to make sure that we are working towards an outcome we are both happy and means our time together is well spent?”

    “OK. That makes sense.”

    “Naturally, you will have a lot of questions for me about who we are, what we do, what we are good at and not so good at, how much we charge, how we work, who we’ve worked for and our results? Is that a fair assumption?”

    “Yes.”

    “And I have a few questions for you so that I can see your business through my eyes and we can both decide if it makes any sense to continue our conversation based on the answers we both give. Are you OK with that Helen?”

    “Yes, that seems reasonable.”

    “Obviously we aren’t for everyone, and not everyone is right for us, so can we agree that if either side isn’t comfortable or the answers we give to one another’s questions suggest there isn’t a good fit, that we can both walk away form this without any hard feelings and no pressure to continue? Are you comfortable telling me “no thanks” if you don’t see a fit?”

    “Yes, I’d prefer we were direct.”

    “Good, that’s a relief. Me too. And you’d be OK if I told you “Helen, I don’t think we can help you” or “Helen, we aren’t the right company to do what you are asking”? You wouldn’t be upset if I told you that?”

    “No. Of course not. I’d rather you were up front about whether you can help so we don’t waste our time.”

    “Excellent. I agree. I hate wasting other people’s time or having my time wasted too. Typically if you haven’t said “no thanks” to us and we haven’t said “we aren’t right” to you, it makes sense to agree a clear next step at the end to make sure we keep moving the conversation forwards and don’t end up wasting each other’s. Have you ever met someone, hit it off, seen a fit and because you haven’t put a clear next step in place you realise that 6 months have gone by and you did nothing so the time you had together was completely wasted?”

    “Sadly yes.”

    “Can we agree we won’t ever do that to each other Helen? We won’t waste each other’s time and we’ll put 10 minutes aside at the end to map out who does what by when to keep the dialogue moving forwards, or we agree to part as friends and end the relationship cleanly without any wated time?”

    “That makes perfect sense to me. Let’s do that.”

    Take a moment to dissect this conversation. Both sides have reached mutual agreement, acceptance and understanding. The terms are clear, specific and certain. And the salesperson is in a position to enforce the contract at the end in the event that Helen suggests she wants to “think it over”.

    “I’m sorry Helen. I don’t understand. Has something changed?”

    “Huh? What do you mean?”

    “Do you remember at the start of our conversation ….?”

    Alec Baldwin got it wrong. ABC means always be contracting.

  • 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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  • THE BATTLE BETWEEN YOUR ROLE & IDENTITY

    Sandler’s I/R Theory (Identity/Role) represents the dual nature of our lives. Each of us has an “I” and an “R.” Our “I” represents our values, beliefs, principles, desires and emotions–our inner selves. Our “R” is made up of the many roles we play in our lives, or our outer selves. These roles include son, daughter, friend, student, salesperson, etc.

    The I/R model was developed to define the relationship between those two parts of our whole and to help distinguish between them. Although they are separate, they affect each other.

    If we confuse our role performances with our values as a human being, our self-image will go up and down with each performance. Regardless of the level of our self-image, we constantly work to bring our performance into line with that self-image. Therefore, if we translate our “I” perception as a rating between 1 and 10, without a 10 rating for our self-image, our role performance will be limited.

    How do you rate your “I”?

    If you rate your “I” between 8 and 10, you are a winner: you have a healthy self-image. You feel good about yourself most of the time, no matter how you are performing in your roles.

    If you rate yourself between 4 and 7, you are an at-leaster: if things go fairly well on your “R” side, you feel pretty good about yourself. If your role performance goes badly, you work to get back to average. People in this position tell themselves, “I may not be a winner, but at least I’m not a loser”.

    If you rate your “I” between 0 and 3, you’re in the category of non-winner: you allow your role performance to affect how you feel about yourself. That poor self-image affects your performance, putting you in a cycle of self-defeating attitudes and behaviours.

    The I/R Theory demonstrates the importance of separating “who you “I'” from “what you ‘R.'”.  Essentially, if you want to fix your performance, your earnings etc (your R), you need to first focus on and fix your self-image, view of yourself (your I).

    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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  • How to differentiate your business

    As businesses continue through uncertain times, I thought I would look at how differentiation could be the key to your success.

    Has the word “differentiation” started to sound a little tired? If so, this is because it is both misused and over used.

    We need to pause and think about what differentiation actually means to businesses. In business, when we talk about differentiation we are talking about separating ourselves from our competitors. Ideally, we want to achieve two things by doing this. Firstly, to attract customers to buy from us, and secondly, to have them buy at our price. Working with businesses from a number of sectors, I find that they don’t always realise that a key purpose for striving for differentiation is to maintain their price point; as a result they often end up selling themselves short. This doesn’t look like real success to me.

    Differentiation should therefore not be seen as an end in itself but a means to an end, namely to sell on terms that make sense. Additionally we need to adapt our attempt to differentiate our businesses to today’s tough and increasingly cluttered marketplace.

    In a series of 2 blogs I have looked at the 5 things you need to consider when striving for that all important differentiation.

    1. Know your competitors

    Understanding your competitors is at the crux of differentiation – it’s only by doing this, that you can carve out your own market segment. However, this again requires a new way of thinking.

    Your competitor isn’t necessarily the shop next door. You need to think wider than this.  There are obvious competitors here such as similar products/services, geographies or employee pools. There are also the less obvious ones such as people who provide a very different solution but one that fixes the same problem, meets the same need as yours.  There is also the frequently overlooked ‘competitor’ which is the option to do nothing or to do it in-house.

    It is therefore important to think carefully about your competitors, know what they offer and know what you have to do differently to deliver a more attractive proposition for your customers.

    1. Authentic differentiation

    We hear a great deal about developing our unique selling proposition.  However, your USP, like differentiation, is a concept that can come across as trite and pedestrian in customer engagement as we all work so hard to prove how different we are from competitors and as a business. As brand-savvy consumers, expectation of differentiation had grown.

    There are a couple of things to consider when it comes to crystallising your USP or point of differentiation. I quote Steve Jobs here when I say, quite simply, “Brands are themselves”. You need to know – beyond making a profit – what the purpose of your business is and what you believe in it. There has to be that authentic core at the centre of what you do, rather than merely focusing on “What will sell more?” Customers today are sophisticated and discerning – they will see through the empty promise. Working with CEOs and business owners, I constantly encourage them to go back to the seed of their business.  To identify your business essence, get back in touch with yourself and your business to create that consistent and genuine proposition.

    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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  • Ever thought of how “Change” effects selling?

    Change

    This blog looks at change from the context of buying – and selling.

    Buying and selling can defined be in its broadest terms – selling a product or service or an idea. So it applies to a non-sales selling situation such as being persuaded to do something, support something and persuading someone to do something, support something etc.  It can also be applied to more traditionally defined sales situation – exchanging a product or service for money.

    Looking at buying.  Any purchase of any kind – thing, service or idea – requires a change.  Looking at some examples:

    • Buying new clothes or new shoes – they will feel different (and make you feel different) and thus are a change
    • Commissioning a new website – this requires a change in the look and feel of your online brand, new processes (if it includes different functionality), new opportunities
    • Investing in sales training – this requires you to let go of some of the things you do, change what you do and take some risks
    • Agreeing to do something different at work, or adopt a new work practice – this changes your actions or your beliefs

    It follows therefore that when we are selling we are actually facilitating a change.

    Looking at our change equation, change is a function of:

    • dissatisfaction with the present
    • a vision of the future
    • some first practical steps

    And to be personally motivated to make the change the sum of these needs to be equal to or greater to the cost or pain or effort of making the change

    Therefore before we can sell something to someone they need:

    • to be dissatisfied with what they have at the moment
    • a clear vision of the future – of where they could be, what could be happening
    • an idea of how to get there and confidence that it is possible – and then in turn, the actual route map
    • for the above to be equal to or great to the cost or pain or effort of making the change.

    If any of these elements are missing you will not make a sale.

    Taking an example of investing in sales training.  If I am happy enough with my client acquisition processes, even if I know at one level that I ‘should’ be bringing on more clients, unless something more compelling drives me (and creates dissatisfaction) I am not going to make a change.  Equally if I cannot imagine a future where I have more clients and enjoy some real benefits from this, I will not make the investment (in time, money and personal upheaval).  And finally if I do not think that you are the person to take me there I will not buy from you (i.e. I need to see my ‘first practical steps’).  And even if those things are in place, if I am not convinced that the cost – in terms of my time, my money or the demands placed on me – will be met or exceeded through the investment in training I will not buy.

    To sell effectively we need to facilitate our buyer in exploring the change equation for themselves and making a decision to change or not to change.

    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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  • Have you realised you’re in Sales ?

    Take a moment and think back over the last few days. Did you find yourself putting a business related case across to your colleagues? In a negotiation with an investor or supplier? Or possibly convincing your kids to eat their meals?

    The chances are that you have been involved in some or all of these situations, so if I was to suggest that this means you’re effectively a salesperson you would probably reject the idea.

    Hold on though, could it be that you do so because your ideas about what it means to be a salesperson are constructed from assumptions and perceptions that really no longer exist? Certainly, I meet a number of people in business who say something like “Of course, I don’t really need to sell.” Perhaps their idea is that to qualify as a salesperson you need to be a slick talking, deal making individual who leaves behind a win/lose experience.

    Daniel Pink in his 2013 book ‘To Sell is Human’ puts forward the idea that in the modern world, with its abundance of information and choice, we are all in sales. However most people are stuck with outdated view of what that means.

    Being successful in sales in today’s world is built around establishing greater levels of trust and mutually beneficial ‘business partner’ relationships, requiring skills in emotional intelligence, insightful questioning, attitude development and behavioural discipline to name but a few.

    Think again, could your ideas on selling be a bit out dated? If you haven’t read Pink’s book I’d recommend you put it on your list, if you have, let us know what you thought.
    Gary McKinney runs Sandler Training in Yorkshire, based in Leeds, helping business owners regain control of sales and achieve significantly improved sales results.

    Gary McKinney

    Gary McKinney

    Gary McKinney runs Sandler Training in Yorkshire, based in Leeds, helping business owners regain control of sales and achieve significantly improved sales results.

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  • In Sales, When Do You Become Superman and Superwoman?

    Many times sales people have what the prospect is looking for… Information that will help them solve their problems. Some sales people want to show their expertise. They feel good letting the prospect know from the start that they are the experts in their industry and they, their company and their products and services can take care of the prospect’s problems.

    They are Superman and Superwoman from the start. What might be the downside of that approach?

    If that attitude stops the salesperson from asking questions, getting details, and qualifying the prospect as a possible client, he/she may be giving away too much information. We call it unpaid consulting. Another possible downside may be that the prospect feels intimidated if the salesperson has an attitude that the prospect perceives as arrogant or way above their knowledge level.

    The worst possible scenario is the salesperson does a presentation or gives away the solution that the prospect now uses to either fix the problem themselves or they take your information and shop it around for a better price. This has probably never happened in your business, has it?

    Clark Kent, was the mild mannered reporter who was secretly Superman. No one thought he was threatening and his job was to ask questions, gather information, plan how to use the information and then go into action as Superman. Would that strategy work in business development?

    Through the initial stages of the selling system when you are developing the relationship, setting agreements and agendas, gathering information about the problems, the budget and the decision process you may want to be more like Clark Kent. At the point of presentation and close is where Superman should appear.

    Being an expert in sales can be a problem. If Superman/Superwoman comes out too early, the result may be the exact opposite of what you would like. Keep your super powers hidden until the prospect tells you he/she wants them.

    Anneli Thomson

    Anneli Thomson

    Anneli is an expert in sales culture and talent management. She is a keen champagne drinker and triathlon enthusiast. The UK Franchisee of the Year 2014.

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