• Top Traits of Successful Salespeople

    TraitsHigh-performing sales teams are led by strong sales managers who embody leadership skills that motivate and empower the team. Exceptional sales professionals display certain traits that allow them to stand out from the rest and achieve great sales success.

    Since 1967, Sandler Training has trained sales professionals to be mindful of their behaviours, attitudes and techniques when prospecting and negotiating. While Sandler witnessed many professionals transform, there were always certain characteristics that “the greats” possessed in addition to the skills learned through continuous training and reinforcement.

    Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether or not you have what it takes to be great.

    • Do I build good rapport?This might go without saying but the best salespeople are people that can relate to other people. They come across as genuine, they’re natural and they put people at ease. As Sandler teaches, people want to do business with people that are like themselves.
    • Am I goal focused?Long-term goals are important, but what really drives salespeople is the focus on daily activities that are in direct relationship to the results in which they are in pursuit. They understand that it is the daily “behaviours” that are critical to delivering the results.
    • Am I curious?Sandler devotees know – a salesperson’s job is to find the compelling, emotional reason for the problem and match that “pain” to a solution. We discover the pain by asking questions and listening because sometimes the prospect hasn’t accurately identified their pain or are not yet comfortable sharing it.
    • Do I listen?A keystone to the Sandler Training methodology is listening. The Prospect should be doing 70% of the talking while the salesperson is actively listening and searching for the pain.
    • How motivated am I?Being self-motivated is essential to finding success as a sales professional. Since a salesperson’s income is largely based on their ability to find and close new business, success usually comes to those who are diligent and focused.
    • Do I seek out challenges?Sometimes in sales, it’s about being fearless and going after challenges. Whether it’s going after a prospect that’s been on your radar or taking on a vertical that’s completely new to you, having the ability to put yourself in new situations and enter unchartered waters will serve a salesperson well throughout their career. As Sandler teaches, no guts, no gain!

    Can you name more characteristics of successful salespeople that set them apart from mediocre salespeople? What are some traits of top salespeople that you wish you had to complement your sales approach?

     

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

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  • What’s The Rush?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • 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.

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

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  • The Key To Success In a Sale: The Agenda

    the agendaYour meeting date and time has been established.  You’re confident your product or service is superior to your competitors.  Your goal for the meeting is to convince the prospect. You’ve planned to be there for 45 minutes.

    The prospect checks their calendar and realizes a few minutes before that, they’ve scheduled a meeting with some salesperson and they’re not sure of the relevance today.  They’re wondering why they agreed to the meeting and plan to make it short.  They’ll ask a few questions, get a brochure or sample and usher the salesperson out the door saying “they’ll get back” to them. Fifteen minutes maximum and they’ll be able to get back to what’s important in their day.

    It’s apparent from the two scenarios that the salesperson and the prospect each have a different agenda.  Can you imagine what the outcome of the meeting will be?  Have you ever found yourself wondering why there are two different agendas for the same meeting?  Did you both agree to the same thing?

    Let’s diagnose where things may have gone wrong.

    1. The appointment was scheduled without a clear intention of what each side was hoping to accomplish.
    2. The amount of time allocated to meet was not established or may have been, however has now changed on the prospect’s side.
    3. The real purpose of the meeting was unclear.
    4. An agreed upon outcome was not discussed prior to the meeting.

    In other words, it’s like showing up at the dentist for a cleaning and he’s ready to perform a root canal.

    The Sandler Selling System refers to the concept of establishing an agenda for every interaction with a prospect as an Up-Front Contract.  It means prior to the meeting knowing what both parties are planning to accomplish in the time they are together.  A mutually agreed outcome is established.

    Following are the components of an agenda:

    1. Establish a mutually agreed purpose for the call or meeting.
    2. Find out what’s important for the prospect.  What are they hoping to achieve in the time you’re together.
    3. Share with the prospect what you as a salesperson would like to accomplish on the phone or in the meeting.
    4. Agree to a specific time you’ll spend together and reconfirm when you arrive at the meeting.
    5. Determine at the beginning of the meeting or telephone conversation what you both mutually agree will happen at the conclusion of your time together.

    Establish on the phone what will happen at the meeting and once at the meeting, reiterate what you both agreed to.  This gives the prospect the opportunity to share any changes that may have to be made such as now only having 30 minutes vs the originally planned 45 minutes.  You can adjust your meeting accordingly or reschedule if desired.

    Just like being in the dentist’s chair, you don’t want any surprises when you are face-to-face with a prospect.  Being disarmingly honest with the prospect and letting them know up-front what is going to happen in the time you’re together will save time, eliminate the prospect from giving you a vague response as to what happens next and it will move the selling process forward or conclude there isn’t a fit for your product or services.  And set another up-front contract at the meeting as to what happens next.

    What will you do prior to your next call or meeting?

    Mutually agreeing to what happens every step of the way ensures that you aren’t surprised at the outcome.

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

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  • Refine Your Sales Process with a Sales Template

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

    Ways to develop your sales template:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Finding That Compelling Reason – Part One

    Find that compelling reason 1How do you convince someone to buy your product or service? Think about how you buy a product or service. Even the richest people in the world with “money to burn” do not buy for the sake of buying. Yes they can buy whenever or whatever they choose, however there is a reason that they buy. People love to buy, they just don’t like to be sold.

    Have you ever sat in front of a prospect and tried desperately hard to sell them something? You’ve asked lots of questions and you just know that your product or service will solve their problem but for some reason they just haven’t given you the purchase order, the credit card or even the go ahead to get started.

    If you’re like most business development people, account executives or salespeople, sometimes you just can’t figure out why a prospect doesn’t want to buy. In your eyes, they are very much in need of what you have to offer and you know that you can help them, if they’d only let you. If you haven’t stepped back from the situation and analysed why they aren’t ready to buy, then perhaps now would be a good time to do it.

    Some people like to help or I like to use the term, ‘rescue’ people when we see them struggling. Have you ever stepped back and asked yourself whether the prospect needs or wants to be rescued?

    Sometimes we try so hard to fix a problem that in the prospect’s eyes isn’t big enough, or causing them enough pain so they don’t see the need to spend the money to fix it. Only when a problem has a personal impact on the prospect will they have that compelling reason to buy, not before.

    Step back and debrief your past few sales calls and determine if you were trying to rescue or were you helping the prospect discover that compelling reason. Learn the questions that will help your prospect discover that compelling reason in Part 2.

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

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

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  • Having Poor Memory is Essential to Sales Success

    Poor Memory

    How’s your memory? Do you fall into the category as described the old adage, “I’d forget my head if it wasn’t connected to my body”? Are you constantly setting traps for yourself to be on time for meetings or where your car keys are placed or what’s supposed to be happening on your schedule from hour to hour?

    Based on the title of this blog post, you might think I would congratulate you and say there’s research or evidence that great salespeople fall into this category, but actually those issues are more about being forgetful, even in some cases being disrespectful. You need to fix that, and you need to be more organized, consistent and focused. There is no place in the upper echelon of sales professionals for being forgetful, being disrespectful, or being inconsiderate in your scheduling.

    However — and this is a big however — there is a huge difference between being forgetful and something I find essential for salespeople: having a ‘poor sales memory’.

    Sound contradictory? Let me explain.

    Sales memory is about how well you recall recent and historical events in your work. Salespeople live in a world of rejection. They live in a world of constant pushback, accountability and public comparison, and while that doesn’t sound like a great advertisement for a career, I’ve never seen a top level salesperson who doesn’t have the ability to erase those memories-and I mean totally remove from their memory all events that could impact their desire, self-esteem or results.

    Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Your past is not your past if it still affects your future!” Or maybe the one by Mark Twain that goes, “Your inability to forget is infinitely more destructive than your inability to remember.” As a sales professional, if you remember rejection and negative comparisons and comments from prospects, they will build a spider web in your mind that will absolutely paralyze your ability to function. Sales pros erase from their memory comments like:

    • “Your price is too high. That’s why we can’t do business.”
    • “Your product is just like everyone else’s.”
    • “We’ve got a great relationship with our current vendor. We don’t need you.”
    • “We’re not interested.”
    • “How did you get my name and why did you call me?”
    • “Oh, you’re a salesperson.”
    • “We’re going to need three bids for this product or service.”
    • “We are delaying the start of our project, therefore, we are going to need to delay the purchase of your product or service.”
    • “We like you, but we are going with another suppler.”
    • “Can you send us a proposal?”

    How many of these comments stick in your memory? How many times when you hear these comments does your mind say to you, “Oh no, here we go again”? How many times do you enter a sales conversation with a good prospect when you have low emotional energy or believability in your offering because you are sapped by recent bad memories?

    The mind is a powerful piece of equipment, and if it’s not kept clean and sharp, it will operate at much lower efficiencies, even to some point of being a total barrier to your success. Your ability to erase negative events from memory is the equivalent to a professional golfer erasing a bad round of golf and moving forward, or a striker aiming to score at a critical part of the game and yet coming back on the second half of the game and scoring a goal. You will never be effective if you don’t learn to eliminate negative events from memory.

    Good salespeople do mental exercises. They learn ways to maintain a positive psychology. Salespeople understandably work so much on technique and behaviour to install systems and processes to ensure that they are prospecting effectively, but often when I ask a salesperson what are you doing to keep yourself mentally sharp and keep the spider webs out, I hear very little that’s meaningful.

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

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  • Slash the Sales Cycle!

    Are you:

    • Fed up chasing prospects, clients even?
    • Frustrated that your people tell you “It’s in the pipeline” and then that pipeline gets longer and longer?
    • Furious that deals slip from one period to the next?
    • Annoyed by the number of proposals it needs to get one decent client?
    • Worried that the longer it takes for the client to make a decision the more likely it is they won’t do business, and yet often there is too much invested to let go?

    Why do we business people allow the sales cycle to take so long? It is, after all, usually our fault whenever these challenges arise.

    If the client or prospect is taking too long to make a decision, then either they do not have the decision-making power we thought or they are holding us off to compare with alternatives (including doing nothing) or they were never really interested in the first place. If we allow that to happen then we must, at least, have the courtesy of helping them make a decision by offering to close their file.

    If we are not in direct control of the timings but we are dependent on people that we have hired to make it happen and the timing gets longer and longer, then either they have not been in control of the sale or they are not being honest. That lack of honesty could be as much about fooling themselves as it is about wanting to duck the difficult truth that the deal was not a good enough match to start with when they first reported it to us.

    Perhaps we encourage ourselves and our people to throw lots of quotes and proposals at the problem of long sales cycles. “Quote and hope” as we cynically call it. If we do enough presentations, somebody must surely sign up at some time, if only by accident. A formula, however, for huge amounts of wasted resources and time.

    When a deal is taking longer and longer to close and the prospective client wants more and more detail and tweaks, (the deal stopped being good for us some time ago) we cannot afford to back out, so we have to keep going just to recoup our losses. Much better to have worked out very early that there was not a profitable enough match. But that means being open to leaving the potential deal at any stage. Hard to do, particularly when the numbers look nice. But experience tells us those numbers can look a whole lot different once the juice has been extracted by the potential client.

    Some sales cycles, however, are just going to be long. So long as we know precisely where we are, what needs to happen next and then next, we have all the right decision makers all going the right way, we can weave our path through to a successful conclusion. For that, we need strategies, tools and techniques for complex selling or “enterprise selling”.  At Sandler, we have 13 tools to guide through 6 stages of a complex sale. They make sure we stay on track and invest the right amount of resources and credence, keeping the sales cycle as short as it can possibly be.

    So the sales cycle length is often largely down to us. Not the potential client. Or at least, it shouldn’t be.

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

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  • DIG DEEPER THAN MOST

    In Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich, R. U. Darby learned the secret of success. When all seemed hopeless in his search for gold, digging three more feet uncovered riches beyond Darby’s wildest dreams.

    People who want to give up on a goal because of some short-term discomfort or temporary circumstances are invariably discouraged. They are rarely involved fully in what they are doing or with whom they are doing it, and have no idea how to move forward. They are often resigned, passive people who suffer from profound inactivity. And continuous complaining changes nothing.

    People that want to escape uncomfortable territories often move away to imaginary places and the reality of real places often come up short in comparison. The problem is that they never make that imaginary place a reality so they end up nowhere, which is often dissatisfying and makes them feel empty and cheated their whole life.

    When fear, worry and self-doubt plague us, it’s going that three feet more that may uncover the riches and fulfilment you seek. It’s important to work through the grey areas, the set-backs along the way and get comfortable with the problems are often a set up for a comeback and are only ever temporary.

    Adversity is normal, it’s not something we can escape in life. When it messes with your goals and plans you have two choices. You can either complain till you can’t complain anymore which will not only make you feel worse about your situation but waste valuable time, or you can go back to the drawing board, readjust your goals and plans and take action. Disappointment should be our fuel, we all have to deal with it and some of the most successful actors, entrepreneurs and musicians have faced disappointment in some way or another.

    We always have a choice to make and the deeper you dig when life tries to throw you curve balls, the stronger your character and the closer you get to your success.

    And like famous actor Robin Williams says “Reality… what a concept, and it can be a barrier – if you let it.”

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

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