• 4 Interview Tips for the Interviewer: How to Build the Strongest Bench

    Strongest benchPlaying the role of the interviewer is no simple task. While you might not be the one in the hot seat, the words that come out of your mouth can be just as important. There are interview techniques that some of the best recruiters and HR professionals utilize when looking to fill positions with the most qualified candidates.

    Encourage the candidate to think differently and creatively when they’re interviewing. For many candidates going through the job search process, interviews become monotonous. Interviewers need to go against the grain to truly get to know a candidate.

    The following techniques will help the interviewer understand the mind and thought process of the candidate, which will ultimately determine whether the candidate will be a good cultural fit and if they’ll help propel the company forward.

    1. Start by asking the candidate how they prepared for the interview.Not every job seeker takes the time to do research before an interview, whether it was about the interviewer, the company or recent company news. If they did research, ask a couple of questions about their findings. If they didn’t, move on to the next question. Don’t ask why they didn’t, the goal shouldn’t be to embarrass them.

    2. Ask how they prioritize their time.This is a great question for recent college graduates because the interviewer can reference how busy college life can be (social events, projects, group work, jobs, internships, class and social media) and then ask the candidate how they get it all done. People don’t magically become organized and detail-oriented; those are behaviours that are often started in college.

    3. Role play during the interview.If the position in question will be part of a team, ask the candidate why people would want him or her on their team. Using this interview technique will force the candidate to adapt to a new role and look through a different lens. Answers that reveal promise will likely have to do with their dependability, responsibility, negotiation skills, subject matter expertise, leadership abilities, etc.

    4. Ask how a reference will describe the candidate.Every resume lists “references available upon request,” yet most interviewers don’t discuss references until later in the process. Ask for more information about the reference and then ask the candidate to describe what the reference would say about them. Usually, references are listed because the job seeker respects the person, the reference has a credible reputation or there is a strong relationship between the two. This telling technique helps because the candidate is less likely to lie or inflate the reference’s opinion of the candidate.

    When interviewing job candidates, what are some of your go-to interview questions? Be sure to include the answers you look for when asking those questions.


    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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  • 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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  • Success is Permission to Fail

    Failure is part of the human condition.

    Despite this, we understand from childhood and as we enter the world of work that it is only when we succeed at something that we are rewarded with praise or personal gain. Yet failure is something to be celebrated and should not be feared or frowned upon. I would even go as far as to say that if you’re not failing then you’re missing out.

    I was reminded of this recently when listening to the story of Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. In 2002, Brunel came second in a BBC public poll to determine the ‘100 Greatest Britons’.

    Amongst Brunel’s greatest accomplishments, (the Great Western Railway to name just one) were numerous and sometimes catastrophic disasters. With each of his designs, he sought audacious solutions to long-standing engineering issues and this is what made him one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution. Brunel had an unrelenting determination to step outside his comfort zone, push boundaries and conquer personal failures.

    Business owners (and sales people) can learn a lot from the likes of Brunel. Typically we live our lives in one of two ways; we are either risk adverse in the way we do business or operate within our roles (often because we worry too much about perceived consequences) or we do take risks but when the risks don’t pay off, we look to apportion blame to others or cite external factors as the cause.

    If we are not failing, we are repeating the same patterns of ‘safe’ behaviour. When you passionately champion something that stretches you, of course, mistakes are bound to happen. Accept these mistakes and take personal responsibility for them, otherwise golden opportunities are wasted.

    If we are ambitious and want to create growth or change, then we must learn to fail and accept our part in the consequences constructively, in a way that doesn’t make us risk adverse.

    Learn to see failure as a tool to improve performance. It is not our successes that help us grow and enrich our lives; it is the lessons we take from our mistakes.

    Give yourself permission to fail and you’ll feel better for it.

    Andy McCreadie

    Andy McCreadie

    Andy McCreadie is a critically-acclaimed coach and facilitator who excels at identifying core sales and management challenges and implementing transformative growth strategies. Before setting up Sandler Training in 2007 in the South West, Andy spent six years as a strategy consultant for Accenture, selling and delivering high profile consulting projects to blue chip companies. He then worked in direct sales – in London and Sydney, managing business development teams across a wide range of industry sectors.

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  • Marathon Blog

    This is worse than cold calling! Or 5 Lessons Learned from running my first marathon.

    A few weeks ago I ran a marathon.  26.2 miles was certainly a challenge.  It seemed completely do-able when I signed up on Christmas Day 2014 (after perhaps a glass of champagne too many).  Up to this point, I had never raced further than 10km and many people suggested a half marathon first but I decided I might as well set a big goal, so a marathon it was.  Now that a few weeks have gone past, and the legs have stopped hurting and I no longer need to wince when going down stairs, I can reflect on what I learned from completing this.

    1. You cannot be too clear with your goals.

    A question people have asked me is, “Did you think you wouldn’t finish?” To be truthful at no point did I feel I wouldn’t finish.  I felt I wanted it to end quicker than the 26.2 miles, I felt my muscles were sore and I felt it was a stupid thing to have signed up for, but never that I wouldn’t finish it.  I had set out with the goal that I would complete this before they closed the race down and the time to complete the marathon I wanted to be between 4 and a half hour and 5.  I also decided before I started that I would really enjoy the first half.  And I did.

    2. It’s OK to rely on a support team.

    For those of you who know me well, you will be aware I am a rather independent person. It is one of the things I value about myself so it was tricky for me to admit that I could not have done this without the help of my parents.  They were stationed at every 5 miles and this simple fact made the miles just tick past.  The most it would ever be on the mile counter until I saw them again was 4 miles. It made the 26.2 miles seems like merely 4 checkpoints and then the end.

    3. Preparation – not hitting wall

    As I have competed in triathlon for a number of years, I have consulted a professional sports nutritionist to help me with endurance races.  She has helped me with the calculation for race preparation and also for the nutrition needed whilst racing.  This meant that with the help of my amazing parents (see previous point), every time I saw them, they handed my next nutrition pack.  The beauty of this was I did not hit the wall (when your body runs out of fuel to keep going).

    4. Hills occur. Whether you want them to or not

    The marathon I completed was hilly.  I knew this before I started but still the sheer amount of hills surprised me.  Coming from Oxfordshire, we have a few hills but not like these ones on the outskirts of Bath.  One of these “hills” went up for over a mile and a half – surely, surely that counts as a mountain? It’s not dissimilar to when we set ourselves goals, we know there is likely to be something that makes it difficult but still we are surprised when it happens.  The main point is the hills didn’t last forever.  They certainly weren’t easy, but they finished.

    5. You are unremarkable.

    This comes down to some advice someone gave me the night before the race.  At the time, I didn’t think it was very helpful but it turned out to really help.  They said, “you’re not going to come first, you’re not going to come last.  You are just there as a grid filler, a body to make the race go ahead. They need lots of people like you.” From about mile 14 onwards, when the whole race became less enjoyable, I thought about this.  I thought about how hundreds of thousands of people complete marathons every year if not more and there was nothing special about me. This helped me to keep going as if all these other people could finish it, I was just like them, there was nothing special about me that would make me not finish, so I did.

    So that all important question…. Will I do it again?  Absolutely!  Not this year though and on a flat course by choice – I mean why make more obstacles than you have to!

    Anneli Thomson is MD of Sandler Training in Oxfordshire.  She ran the marathon to raise money for Myton Hospice as a family member had been helped by them last year.  If you would like to check her progress or sponsor her – the link is here (http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Annelismarathon).

    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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  • Why accurate sales forecasting is so difficult

    Two Sales Directors were talking to each other. “How’s it going?” asks the first. “Great” responds the second. “We are having a fantastic week. The trade show was a big success. We got loads of positive feedback on our new product. We have been nominated for an industry award. Our new website is getting double the traffic, and we have hired a super guy from one of our competitors”

    “Same here” says the first, “we didn’t sell anything either!”

    Imagine you asked your Production Director whether the company was going to achieve it’s production targets and she replied “Well, I have a pretty good feeling that we might” or the quality director said “things are looking pretty good so far, but this quality thing ……it’s really just a numbers game”

    So, why do we take this sort of response from our Sales Department?

    Typically, it’s for one of three reasons.

    1. It’s conceptual. We don’t believe that the job of the sales department is to focus on building systems and processes that give a reliable, predictable, boring outcome. Instead, we get sucked into conversations about the outcomes themselves, about “exciting opportunities”, and “hopefully this deal will close before the end of the month”.
    1. It’s technical. We fail to take the time to build an ideal “sales template” and break the sales process down into discrete events. Or we break it down into discrete events but we fail to develop the appropriate skillset to ensure that a binary decision is made at the end of every event. Is this opportunity staying in my pipeline and moving to the next stage in the process, or are they disqualified? Instead, we get emotionally attached to every opportunity treating each differently.
    1. It’s personal. We hire the wrong people for Sales roles! Sure they have great CV’s. And of course they interview well. They can even sell! But will they?  Will they build a reliable, repeatable sales process that will get consistent results over time? We fail to ask the right interview questions like “ What’s your process for ensuring accuracy of your sales forecasting? “What are the criteria you use for keeping an opportunity in your pipeline?” “Describe your current sales process”.

    Sales need not be different to manufacturing.  Build a process, commit to the actions, fine-tune, and you can forecast the outcome.

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand runs Sandler Training in the Midlands based at the Innovation Centre in Longbridge.

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  • Can a daily schedule help me achieve my goals in 2015?

    “A person’s burning desire to achieve something must come from within.”

    schedule 2015 blog

    You’ve set lofty goals for 2015 but have you also built the plan to achieve them?

    Often we fall into the trap of setting goals without ‘building a plan’ to achieve them. If you decide to make one change this year – ‘build the plan and then implement it’.

    We often have clients tell us they want to earn a certain amount of money this year. The first questions we always ask are, “what are you going to do with the money?” or “let’s pretend I’ve just handed you the amount of money you want to earn – what are you going to do with it?” What we find when we ask that question is that most people don’t know what they’d do with the money. When we ask how they came up with the number, they shrug and tell us they’ve just pulled it out of the air. Is that your way of deciding how much money you want to earn in 2015 or do you really know why you want to earn a particular amount?  If you have not thought through carefully the amount you need or want to make, and more importantly, what it will mean for you when you make that amount, your ambition will not have sufficient substance to drive your behaviour.  And if you do not do the behaviours required to make the amount, you won’t make it.

    Also if your goals for 2015 are too narrow they will not carry you forward.

    The first step in the process of building the plan to achieve your goals is to determine what your personal goals are and why they are important to you. Take the time to look at all aspects of your life and set goals in the following areas:

    1. Social
    2. Physical
    3. Spiritual
    4. Financial
    5. Mental (educational)
    6. Professional
    7. Familial
    8. Personal

    Sometimes we get so caught up in the financial goals or targets the company we work for has either set for us or asked us to achieve (or indeed the company we own and run), that we lose focus on how these targets impact our personal lives and dreams. Your incentive to achieve the ‘what may seem unrealistic’ goals will be put into perspective when your desire to achieve them is because of what you want to do personally. So when you’re not feeling motivated or when you’ve had one too many rejections during your prospecting calls, think about what goals you’re working towards for motivation.

    How to get started with this process:

    1. Decide what you want. Spend some time really thinking about what’s important to you and why you want a particular amount of money, vacation, new home, etc.
    2. Build a plan. How are you going to achieve it? What is required to have it come to fruition? The key in this process is establishing S.M.A.R.T. goals:
    • Specific (you need to know exactly what you will achieve)
    • Measurable (you need to know when you have achieved it)
    • Attainable (or Agreed if you are setting them for someone or being set them by someone)
    • Realistic (It need to stretch you but also be possible)
    • Time-bound (You must put a specific date by which you will reach it)
    • Energising (The thought of achieving it must fill you with excitement and energy)
    • Rewarded (You should identify the reward you will give yourself when you achieve it)
    1. Break down the plan. Take that plan and organise it into monthly, weekly and daily tasks so you’ll know what’s required at all times to achieve your goals.

    Just saying in January that you have 12 months to achieve what you set out to do isn’t going to get you where you want to go. The plan has to be built so that every day, every week and every month you know what is required. I can hear the groans from some of you reading this right now, however I ask you to look back over the years and review if you achieved your goals consistently without building a plan.

    What are you waiting for? Are you prepared to make a big change in 2015?  If so, decide what you want and build a plan. And the days you get discouraged, you’ll remember why you need to do what you’re doing.

    If you need help with getting started contact your local Sandler Training office and ask for some guidance.

    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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