• When Should We Respond to Request for Proposals (RFPs)?

    The RFP from a whale prospect lands in your in-box. What do you do next?

    Most salespeople get excited, tell their boss that all their hard work cosying up to this company’s middle management and procurement team has paid off. They’d spend a day or two reading through the tome that reminds them of War and Peace, written by an 8-year old lawyer. Then they’d get the team together to plan who was going to do what. Much resource would be thrown at meeting the unreasonable deadline set by the “prospect” … but not much actual thought.

    They wouldn’t ask some fundamentally important questions; questions to which answers are imperative to decide what we do next, because  NOT ALL RFPs ARE LEGITIMATE! In fact, most aren’t. Most are an attempt to get free consulting from vendors too scared, excited, lazy or stupid to check if the RFP is even real.

    Consider these questions…

    • How did we make the list for receiving this RFP?
    • How many RFPs were sent?
    • What do we know about the prospect’s history surrounding RFPs?
    • Do they have a preferred supplier list (PSL) and are we on it?
    • If not, do they always give the business to someone on the PSL?
    • If we decide to participate, what happens next?
    • What role, if any, will their incumbent supplier play?
    • Will the low bid be the one that wins?
    • What results is the prospect company hoping to achieve by implementing the contents of the RFP?
    • Why aren’t they doing it in-house?
    • Is the timescale realistic?
    • Do we understand what caused them to go to market with this RFP? DO we understand the different drivers and centres of dissatisfaction?
    • Do we have a sponsor, coach or advocate in the prospect company to whom we can submit a rough draft, have it critiqued to make sure we have identified their priorities and covered all the issues they consider most important?
    • Are they high enough in the company to be able to provide us with the answers we need or just the ones they are willing to give any vendor?
    • Should we involved our senior management?
    • Have we identified to whom the prospect’s decision-making committee already has allegiances by suing our personal networks, trawling through LinkedIn and the internet to see what connections they have to our competitors and the incumbent?
    • What is the likely cost of sale to participate in this bid, win or lose?
    • Is this even legitimate?
    • Can we win it?
    • Are there any conditions that we do not qualify against that will preclude us from winning this e.g not ISO9000 compliant, no sector experience and sector experience is a must have, we don’t have 3-years accounts, they want to use their T&Cs not ours, our non-negotiable payment terms are unacceptable to them?
    • Do we want to win it?
    • What opportunity cost will we incur if we plough time, money and resources into this bid and is there a better way to invest our scarce and valuable resources?
    • Is this RFP going to be profitable if we win it? By when?

    Once you have your questions clear in your mind, are you allowed to speak to someone, not in procurement or a technical buying capacity, at a high enough level to understand the business drivers behind this RFP invitation?

    Given that RFP responses are usually the second highest hidden cost in any selling organisation after wrong hires the killer question you need to answer for yourselves is:

    • What are our chances of winning it?
    • Should we participate in this RFP process?

    Take the emotion out of RFPs and never lift a finger until you have done your research and picked up the phone.

    A simple rule of thumb for management to eliminate wasted effort and falling into the free consulting trap is that selling the opportunity internally should be twice as hard as selling it to the prospect.

    Live by the principle that you should do less but better on purpose.

  • How to Lower Stress in Sales

    The rotten economy, if you haven’t noticed, may be taking a toll on your health.

    Stress has been linked to a number of illnesses-such as heart disease, high blood pressure and increased risk for cancer. A lot of this stress is understandable-but also unnecessary. If you are in sales, a sales system can help you reduce that pressure you are under in a big way. You will be as productive as ever, which should mean less anxiety.

    A sales system will help you stop confusing your real self with what I call your “role self.” Most sales professionals take the inevitable rejection that comes with their work personally. They can’t make the necessary distinction between the role they play as a salesperson and who they really are.

    But those who can make that distinction-and it takes practice to do it-find that they worry a lot less. That makes them more effective. They are happier and healthier, and the confidence they show inspires others to have confidence in them. Sales increase.

    A sales system will also help you adjust the goals for each call you make in your prospecting efforts. Your only goal, besides establishing rapport, should be to determine if your prospect has any interest at all in your product or service and, if they do, to set up a meeting for a later date.

    You should make a point not to begin the selling process at this stage of your relationship. This is not the time to talk about features or benefits, price or delivery. That comes later.

    All you should try to do is schedule the meeting. The rest should wait.

    Try this, and like those with a selling system, you’ll see immediate benefits. “Going for the meeting” will take the pressure off you, and it will also take pressure off your prospect. You won’t have to second-guess which aspects of your product or service to bring up. And because he or she isn’t confronted with a premature “sales pitch,” your prospect won’t have to think about putting up a defensive wall of delaying tactics.

    When you get your prospect on the phone, be up front about what you want. Make sure they understand that all you are trying to do is to determine if they have any interest in what you are selling and, if they do, to set up a time to talk further. That’s it.

    Your prospect will appreciate the fact that you understand how busy they are, and that you are not jumping the gun, so to speak, in making your pitch.

    Your sales system will lighten your stress, and theirs too, helping you remain productive in challenging times.

    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

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    TwitterFacebookLinkedIn

  • Who Is Wrecking Your Business Now?

    Who is wrecking your business now

    Recently, you probably invested a lot of time and energy putting together a presentation of your product or service. You crafted your presentation, dotted all the “i”s, crossed all the “t”s, covered all the bases, and answered all of the prospect’s questions. But, instead of a buying decision, you only received a stall, a put-off, or a request for some concession. At whom do you point the finger of blame?

    You could blame the prospect for being indecisive or dragging his or her feet. You could surmise that a competitor made an eleventh-hour concession that undercut your offering. You might even suspect that the prospect used you to gather current information to use as leverage with his or her existing supplier.

    Any one of those situations might have occurred. But, isn’t that what buyers are supposed to do…negotiate or hold out for what they believe to be the best deal?

    Rather than assigning blame, take responsibility for determining exactly what the prospect needs to see or hear to be comfortable to give you the business before you even begin to work on your presentation. Get the prospect to paint a picture of the “best” deal. Then get a commitment as to exactly what will happen when you come back with a presentation that exactly matches the picture. If the prospect is unwilling to commit to a buying decision, then it’s most likely not in your best interest to pursue the opportunity.

     

    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

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    TwitterFacebookLinkedIn

  • Practice Makes Perfect

    Salespeople invest time developing their pitch, formulating questions, and preparing responses to expected questions and objections from the prospect. They rehearse, refine, and rehearse some more.

    Unfortunately, for some salespeople, the preparation becomes a roadblock to their success. How? The salesperson meets with the prospect and delivers his well-crafted well-rehearsed message. But, instead of paying attention to the prospect’s reactions, he is running through a mental checklist of important points to cover. He misses the look of puzzlement on the prospect’s face. He doesn’t notice the prospect casually glancing at phone messages.

    At a strategic point in the presentation, the salesperson asks one of the pre-planned “commitment” questions. Again, instead of focusing all his attention on the prospect’s answer, he is thinking about his response to an anticipated stall or objection. The meeting ends with the prospect promising to give the presentation some thought.

    The salesperson considers the meeting a waste of time and blames the prospect for not paying attention…and not recognizing the obvious value he presented. He was so concerned about delivering his message as he rehearsed it, he missed the expression of scepticism on the prospect’s face. He never recognized the point when the prospect lost interest. He never had a chance to recover.

    It’s OK to plan and rehearse your meeting. Practice, practice, practice until you have internalized the message you want to get across and the information you need to obtain – then let go. Sales meetings rarely go as imagined. After all, the prospect isn’t working from a script…and neither should you. If you’ve thoroughly internalized the information, you won’t have to worry about delivering it in a structured manner.

    You can direct your attention to your prospect and let the information flow based on the prospect’s interest and reactions.

     

    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

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    TwitterFacebookLinkedIn

  • The power of Mind-set

    Your mind-set has more to do with your success than almost any other single element. There are plenty of salespeople who possess extensive product knowledge, have numerous influential business contacts, are well-spoken and have appealing personalities, yet their sale performances are average…sometimes, only marginally acceptable.

    Then, there are salespeople who have just enough product knowledge to get by, have a few business contacts, don’t always articulate their thoughts in the most artful manner and don’t have particularly sparkling personalities, yet their sales performances rank in the top ten percent.

    How can that be?

    Success in sales, or almost any endeavour, is not simply a product of one’s talent, education, personality, or contacts (although, those elements surely help), but rather the result of one’s attitude – the natural tendency to have a positive outlook and maintain positive expectations.

    But, it’s more than just being able to see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. It’s the ability to see possibilities…coupled with the resolve to take the required actions to turn those possibilities into realities.

    Some people will view a challenge, and after analysing the positive and negative aspects of it, choose to focus on the positive. They see possibilities and envision success. The more they focus on the positive aspects, the stronger their belief grows about their ability to successfully meet the challenge. And, the stronger their belief grows, the more resolute is their judgment to take the actions necessary to achieve their goals. They press on, regardless…and they succeed.

    Others will view the same challenge and focus on the negative aspects – all the reasons (real and imagined) that the challenge can’t be met successfully. They only see limitations and envision the only failure. The more they focus on the negative aspects, the stronger their beliefs grow about the improbability of successfully meeting the challenge and the futility of investing any effort in its pursuit. They give up, or at best, make a half-hearted effort…and they don’t succeed.

    Your success is nothing more (or less) than what you envision it to be, and your determination to act in a manner consistent with that picture. If success has eluded you thus far, perhaps it’s time to change your picture and then press on.

    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

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    TwitterFacebookLinkedIn

  • 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

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    TwitterFacebookLinkedIn

  • Death Trap by Happy Ears

    A common death trap salespeople fall into is having “happy ears,” meaning, they tend to hear what they want to hear. In actuality, what they (salespeople) heard does not reflect the real intent of what the prospect said.

    Sales Tips

    The cure to “happy ears” 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.

    It is the salesperson’s responsibility to:

    • Determine the prospect’s intentions and expectations.
    • Help the prospect be more specific and define any ambiguous terms or phrase that may be misinterpreted.
    • Tie up any loose ends.
    • Make sure all parties to a conversation or meeting are in sync with what transpired and what is supposed to happen next.

    Make it a practice to recap the conversation after interactions with the prospect or clients: “Let me quickly recap what we discussed to make sure we’re all on the same page and we didn’t leave anything out.” Then, review the conversation and ask, “Does anyone have anything to add, or..did I miss anything?”

    Eliminating potential misunderstandings today reduces the opportunity for unfulfilled expectations tomorrow. Make it a habit to prevent yourself from experiencing “happy ears.” If you do and you become disappointed, just remember Sandler Rule #30: “You Can’t Lose Anything You Don’t Already 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

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    TwitterFacebookLinkedIn

  • Maintaining Sales Motivation: Why Do You Work?

    Why? Why do we get up every day and go to work?

    Because that’s what is expected: Really? In most companies, the last time you saw your job description was the day you interviewed and you don’t know what is really expected, do you?

    Because employees depend on us: Really? Management books say a great manager implements systems that will operate well when management is not there.

    Really it’s because Mum or Dad said so!

    Accountability is imprinted into our brains early in life. “Clean your room,” “Finish your homework,” and “Be home by 10″ are all part of our basic wiring. In secondary school, if you didn’t show up with your homework, you were publicly humiliated and punished with detention. Sounds bad, right? Actually, it works. We did the work because we run from pain before we run towards pleasure. Ever get that sickened feeling in your stomach before a big test? Well, that shouldn’t disappear entirely after school. What is that, exactly? Self-accountability.

    How are you accountable? You need to do 10 cold calls, get five referrals, and schedule two appointments daily. Who knows you didn’t do this? Only you and you can lie to yourself to justify your behaviours all day (the lawn really looked like it needed mowing and that two-hour lunch with a great client were to ensure the renewal next year!).

    Do the right things to be accountable:

    1. Have an accountability partner or coach- I call mine every day at 6 pm (yes). This person should not be your spouse or significant other.
    2. Keep a journal and do a debrief to yourself in writing every day.Rate everything with the standard “should you have been doing this activity at the time you were doing it?”
    3. Have clear behaviour goals in mind and know every day what you will accomplish!Who are your top 20 targets?
    4. Know why you are working- have a dream board near you during work hours. Want a Jeep? Have a picture nearby. Travel? Have a picture. Jewellery? Have a picture. House, wealth, etc? Have a picture. No college debt for your kids? School pictures work great. Make that dream or goal of yours ever-present and as tangible as possible, and you’ll have no problem staying on track.
    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

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    TwitterFacebookLinkedIn

  • 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

    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

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    TwitterFacebookLinkedIn

  • 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

    More Posts - Website

    Follow Me:
    TwitterFacebookLinkedIn