• 4 Habits of Successful Professionals

    successful professionalsWhat do successful professionals do that amateurs don’t?

    Certainly there are many that could fall into this category, but right now we’ll focus on four habits that could make the greatest impact on your career.

    1. Study– Professionals are not born, they are made. Some may have a natural gift, but most maximize that talent by studying history, best practices and innovative techniques. There are plenty of talented individuals who never accomplish anything. Professionals often spend hours to years studying before engaging in their profession to ensure their success.
    2. Practice– like David Sandler taught, in his book “You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar,” you can’t learn how to do anything by merely studying. You have to practice. Doctors, athletes and other types of distinguished professionals spend countless hours practicing before they are called upon to perform. How do you get to Carnegie Hall, the Masters, the Olympics or whatever is the top of your profession? Practice, practice, practice.
    3. Invest in themselves–True professionals bet on and invest in themselves. They don’t wait for their parents, employer or anyone else to invest in them. Professionals continue their education beyond the classroom and invest in workshops, seminars, books, coaches and other resources that will advance their learning. They take responsibility for their own education and personal growth.
    4. Follow a system– Finally, professionals don’t just show up and wing it. They have a system that’s repeatable and reproducible – and leads to predictable success. To outsiders, if sometimes looks like superstition or obsessive compulsive disorder, but professionals know that only by following the proven system can they expect consistent success. Amateurs sometimes think it is luck when they win or lose. Successful professionals make their own luck, and they know that fortune favours the prepared.

    Successful professionals know that there is no magic bullet or shortcut to get to the top. They don’t waste their time with such things. They are too busy learning, practicing, refining their system and investing in their own success.
    What do you think are some additional habits of successful people?

    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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  • Call Higher or Die Slowly

    In today’s environment, we have to stop acting and looking like beggars with briefcases and begin to recognise that the name of the game is taking business away from our competitors. Let the others wrestle it out at the procurement department and with the low-level influencers.

    In today’s environment, the best salespeople call on the decision makers-presidents and CEOs. Why? Because presidents and CEOs don’t have budgets. They make budgets. To connect a president or CEO of a company, you need to present yourself as having equal business stature. You need to learn to sell the way a CEO sells. You need to read their books and use their techniques. The only way to blot out your competition for good is to be in the ear of the CEO or president and become one of their trusted advisors.

    Now stop and count. Of all of your prospects, how many are you calling on at the highest level possible? If zero, expect to fail or have an excessively long sale process.

    The two most dominating thoughts for a salesperson are:

    • I am the CEO of my business.
      • I absolutely believe my product or service, along with my expertise, can make a difference in your business.
    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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  • Becoming a Trusted Adviser (Not Just a Vendor)

    As a sales trainer with Sandler Training, I spend a lot of time talking to my clients and I get paid to work with them in four areas of their business: Strategy, Structure, Staff and Skills. Because I spend hours talking to them, I learn quite a bit. And despite that fact, they still manage to surprise me with the questions they ask me.

    Recently a client of mine asked me to come out and speak to his customer service team, a group of people I had never met and he had rarely spoken about. At the end of my two-hour presentation, as he was walking me to the door of his facility, he suddenly looked over at me and said “Thanks for coming out. It will be great for the Customer Service Reps to use the same language as the Sales Team–by the way, do you know a plumber?”

    I answered his question and gave him the name of a client who just happened to be a plumber. Then I asked him a question. “Why ask me for a plumber?” “Simple,” he said. “Every time I get something from you I end up with more value than I bargained for. More importantly, if you do not know an answer, you tell me that. That leads me to believe that if you recommend a plumber to me, that plumber is going to be a good one.”

    Take a look at your business card and ask yourself what it is that you sell. If you are a car salesman, you probably spend quite a bit of time talking about cars; if you sell web services, you probably spend hours discussing SEO, SEM or whatever your niche is. Here is the challenge: the goal of sales is not to be a vendor of a product or service. The goal is to become a trusted advisor to the clients you serve.

    “Fine,” you say. “Everybody knows that, but what does it mean?” Well, the definition is pretty simple. A trusted advisor is a person relied upon by their clients to have expertise in not one, but in many areas of a business. A trusted advisor is the person who gets a phone call about a question clearly outside of his specific area of responsibility, simply because the decision maker values his judgment and perspective.

    Here is a quick test. Over the next 14 days, keep track of the number of questions your clients ask you about products, services and issues that they are facing–ones that your company does not provide a solution for. If you are a web services professional, you count the questions that do not involve the internet. The higher number of questions, the better job you have done making yourself a highly trusted advisor. The lower the number the closer you are moving to vendor-ville.

    Times are tough, and the economy is giving buyers an excuse to be even more selective about who they work with. But one thing has always and will always be true in sales: trusted advisors keep their accounts while vendors get replaced.

    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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  • Courtship. Marriage. Divorce.

    Typically I hear from Business Owners that their problems are either ‘process’ or ‘people’ related. But a lot of time it’s their ‘process of attracting people’ that’s the real problem.

    What do I mean? Well, think of this. You want a business full of A-players. The people who get things done. Quickly, efficiently and effectively. These A-players excel and take responsibility for recruiting more staff into your business. But an A-player will only accept other A-players into the business. They won’t recruit B or C-players because their performance wouldn’t be up to scratch. But if your processes are wrong (or non-existent!) you might miss an A-player and recruit a B-player, but that’s OK right? Wrong. The B-player will never recruit an A-player into the business, because they’ll feel threatened. So B-players recruit C-players and the downward cycle continues.

    The cost of getting it wrong when recruiting isn’t just a few months’ wages to the person that didn’t work out. It’s the wages, recruitment fee’s, on-boarding, lost sales opportunities and so on.  So wouldn’t it be better to invest some time into getting the next hire right?

    So what to do? Well we all go on training courses – sales training, management training, tech training, communication training, presentation training etc etc – but we never go on ‘HIRING’ training!

    Traditional recruitment follows an all too familiar path; resignation of key member of staff, panic, quick job advert, interview applicants and take someone on because we can’t be without someone! Well firstly we need to consider attracting the A-players to our business even when we’re not recruiting. And so your management team needs to coach to a common process, giving you tangible results to evaluate current staff performance levels. This also allows you to see if you are happy (or not) with the performance of the team – most likely highlighting some skills-gaps that need addressing. If we see an A-player who we know can complement what we’ve already got and bring these skills – do we really need a vacancy to justify bringing them in?

    Before you hire anyone though you need to be clear about the behaviours you will measure and the tools to measure them. Utilising platforms such as Extended DISC and Devine allows you to take an objective view of a potential employee, not just throw caution to the wind because you liked them at interview!

    Talking about interviews … make sure you have a clear up-front contract with the interviewee about the agenda for the meeting; setting clearly defined objectives and outcomes at the start helps you to both decide if you want to pursue things at the end, and helps to eradicate the time-wasters. Use a mixture of direct, assumptive, situational and competency based questions to evaluate suitability and know exactly what behaviours and attitudes you’re looking for. Remember, no mind-reading and do not accept wishy-washy answers.

    If you were going to spend £100,000 on new capital equipment you’d be pretty sure to do your due diligence. Hiring a new employee is no different, take references! Hire slowly but fire quickly.

    But if it is going to end in divorce don’t forget the Exit Interview. This is the time to learn what went wrong so you can avoid the mistakes next time.

    So ask yourself this: “Are you and your management team following a process to attract A-players, or are you winging it and hoping for the best?”

    Andrew Pickersgill

    Andrew Pickersgill

    Andrew is Managing Director for Sandler Training North East. A business development and sales coach with over 20 year’s practical experience giving advice to ambitious companies and individuals. Primarily Andrew has operated with owner-managed businesses who want to accelerate the growth of their business, or simply improve the results of their sales team. After a career selling everything from technology, financial services, logistics, recruitment and coaching Andrew is perfectly placed to help with your sales needs. Andrew is passionate about changing your attitudes to selling, allowing you to understand that a ‘no’ can be a good thing. He also plays an active role in increasing the employability of 16-24 year olds, attending a reception dinner at the House of Lords as recognition of his on-going work in this area.

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  • Networking is a prospecting activity.

    At its heart it is all about finding new clients, and growing our business.  Do not get me wrong, this does not meant that we should be pushy and salesy when we network.  Nor should be anticipate or behave as if we anticipate direct selling to the room.

    Let’s first define prospecting in the context of networking.  A prospect is a potential customer, client or purchaser or sales lead which has been qualified as fitting certain criteria.  Prospecting is therefore the search for and qualification of potential customers, clients and purchasers.  Prospecting is the act of finding prospects.

    We talk about cold, cool, warm and hot prospects.  At its simplest this defines both their degree of qualification and also the degree to which you have moved along the continuum from untrusted stranger to trusted adviser.

    The goal of networking is to increase our leads and convert them to prospects and ultimately to sales.  One of the reasons networking is such a preferred form of prospecting is that for the majority of participants it does not feel salesy.  It feels much ‘warmer’.  First we get to know people and build trust, then we share our contacts.  By definition and introduction to a prospect via a networking contact has already begun the journey along the continuum of untrusted stranger to known and trusted adviser.

    The problems people have when using networking as a prospecting vehicle lies in its very attraction, namely that it can be a social activity and not a sales activity.  This can be for a number of reasons but they divide into conceptual and technical.  Technical is that people do not know how to effectively network; conceptual is that they are uncomfortable with selling so avoid it and over play the social side of networking.

    The result is that networking does not deliver the anticipated benefits.  Additionally people can have overly high expectations of results from networking, especially in terms of the timescales and when they do not appear they blame the network or networking organisation rather than look at how realistic the expectations were or what they could be doing to improve results. The challenge – and strength – of networking is that it is the way we network that impacts on its effectiveness and this is pretty much within our control.

    At Sandler we use the idea of passive and active prospecting.  When applied to belonging to a regular networking group here are the results:

    Passive networking looks like this:

    • You attend most of the meetings but if something comes up you are not too worried
    • If you need a “sub” you are happy (potentially even expect) someone to find them for you
    • You do your 60 seconds or 2 minute introduction but do not speak to people at the beginning or the meeting
    • You are polite and if asked to do a to one to one you accept; you are not diligent in timekeeping so are sometimes a bit late for them
    • You do not actively follow up with people
    • If someone helps you, you thank them at the meeting but you do not spend time in advance of each meeting thinking about how you can help people

    Active networking looks something like:

    • Attending every meeting unless totally impossible
    • If you have to send a “sub”, ensuring you find one yourself (perhaps using someone within the network who has used your services or knows you well and can therefore combine your minute with a bit of a personal testimonial).  Even putting together a short list (2-3) of people who you have talked to in advance who would be willing to step in for you at short notice
    • Taking the time to talk to your “sub” before and after the meeting – they are your ambassador, after all
    • Preparing in advance of each meeting (your introduction, your testimonials, your referrals)
    • Researching other attendees and working out things that you can say to each of them which will demonstrate your credibility and position you as someone worth knowing
    • Setting and following a schedule of one to ones (or group one to ones)
    • Working hard on making introductions and nurturing them through to business and tracking this
    • Bringing visitors and starting to get known for someone who is well connected
    • Tracking your time and results from your networking activities

    You cannot control whether or not someone needs your services or product but you can absolutely control whether or not you are someone that people want to do business with.

    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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  • Why Training Doesn’t Work

    Many business owners and leaders believe that “training doesn’t work.”  They’re right: a one off, ‘quick fix’ 2 day or two week training session doesn’t work.

    Take tennis, for example.  I played in my teens, but nothing since.  Recently, I found a tennis coach and I’ve committed to two visits a week to the tennis court.

    I’ve made some advances. My coach showed me how to hold a racket so that I can hit the ball with the right timing. She developed my forehand swing so I am able to find the right position for maximum strength in the wrist.

    After six weeks of hard work, a light goes on. The various elements of the game begin to come together.  I don’t have to think about every little thing.

    I ask my coach, “Will I be ready to join the county team soon?”

    Her reply: “Well for someone who starts tennis as an adult, practicing for an hour twice a week, it will take about three years.”

    I was stunned but I realised that she was right.  To reach a semi-pro level was going to take work.  I wish I could fix my game by just attending a two day tennis boot camp, but I can’t.

    Today, we are influenced by the ‘quick fix’ society.  Neuroscience research confirms that our brain needs repetition over time to learn. Brain imaging studies show we do more unconscious practicing of what we are learning when it is spaced out and reinforced over time.

    This is true for whatever new skill we want develop, whether it’s to become a doctor, lawyer, and engineer or upgrade sales or leadership skills.

    It takes time to develop game changing skills.  A coach will put you on the right path and your determination and commitment will take your skills to a professional level.

    Neil Liddell

    Neil Liddell

    Neil enjoys premium recognition with leading decision-makers, he embraces the lifeblood of the Sandler™ methodology. As Managing Director of Sandler Training Central-England, he brings drive, passion and decades of goal-breaking experience to what he and Sandler™ do best; create world-class sales professionals and help CEOs drive lasting growth through training, counsel and ongoing support. Tel: 0845 0573563 Mobile: 07547 227442

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  • Growing your team, why is it so hard?

    One of the biggest leaps a business owner takes is hiring that first employee.  When is the right time? What role should they do? Can I afford it? How do I know they are the right person? All big questions need to be overcome.

    The problem is that for a lot of businesses recruiting subsequent employees doesn’t get much easier either. It may be less of a quantum leap adding more employees but some of the same questions remain in particular how do I know they are the right person?

    Research suggests that hiring the wrong person can cost businesses at least 5 times their salary, which is a hefty price to pay whatever the size of your business. But why is it so hard to find the right candidates?  According to recent research interviewing is only a good predictor of a candidates fit for a role 50 per cent of the time. I was pretty shocked when I read that, that feels a lot like guessing to me. Especially as most of us are interviewing on a pretty infrequent basis, we are not honing that skill. And remember that if you are hiring for a sales role, sales people are good at interviewing but that doesn’t mean they are a good salesperson. Too often I see companies hiring candidates first and foremost because they like them rather than because they are right for the job. Try doing some anti-bonding and rapport with sales candidates and then see how they work to build that rapport when they are out of their comfort zone. After all that’s what prospects will do to them every day.

    So what’s the alternative to interviewing?  Behavioural profiling such as the Devine Inventory provide a more evidence based check from which to screen out candidates or interview more effectively. Good tools like these enable you to highlight flags in the candidate’s profile which can then be probed more robustly in interviews. I don’t know about you but I don’t have time to be hiring people who either can’t do the job, or can do the job but won’t. I only want to be investing my time in those that can and will and 50 per cent isn’t a high enough ratio for me to want to trust my gut through interviewing alone.

    Induction is another equally important part of hiring. Too often I see new hires start in companies, get introduced to everyone, taken for lunch, given a high level overview and to all intents and purposes left to get on with it. Hideous for the new starter and risks the employer waiting too long to know if their new employee is going to make it and what additional support they need to be more self reliant.

    Companies that do this part really well have a very comprehensive induction programme running for at least 90 days, supporting the new hire in all aspects of the role, but crucially making it very clear what the new hire has to do on a weekly/monthly basis to be successful and ensuing that progress checks happen.  If it’s so hard to find the right candidates in the first place let’s make sure that we set them up to succeed, or work out sooner rather than later if we’ve made a mistake and deal with it accordingly.

     

    Caroline Robinson

    Caroline Robinson

    Caroline Robinson is Director of Sandler Training based in Cambridge, working with fast-growing companies who are ambitious about taking their business to the next level. Tel: 01223 882581 Mobile: 07739 344 751

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