• Happy Ghosts and Goblins season to you!

    I am a terrible “bah humbug!” when it comes to “trick or treat” but I do take a keen interest in Ghosts.

    The Ghosts I mean, to clarify, are clients who don’t ever complain but just disappear. We may have just have started doing business with them and they suddenly fly away to a competitor, even back to their old supplier. Or worse, they are stalwart clients who have been quietly using our products or services for ages and now they don’t. If we ever think to challenge them they tell us things like their priorities have changed or they have “outgrown us”.  In all honesty, we know for the most part those excuses are in the same category as “the cheque’s in the post”; a form of words that we cannot sensibly refute but everybody knows is a “business lie”.

    So why have they gone? First of all, do you care? What is the cost to you if they go? Well, let’s do the calculation. How many have you had leave you over the last 12 months? And how much does it cost to replace a new client? Now most businesses cannot answer that question, so let’s change that to how much would you be prepared to pay if someone could just give you a decent client? Chances are the real cost of acquiring a client is way above that, but let’s use that if we need to for our calculation. How much, therefore, would it cost to replace all your ghosts over 12 months? That could be a large number.

    Now the big number. How much profit would you have gained from each of those ghosts had they not left you?

    What, therefore, is the total cost of Ghosts to you over the past twelve months? Bear in mind, this is a real number. This is money that should have been in your bank and now is not.  This is a cost to the business just to stay still. Whatever growth figure you had in mind for the year, you have to add this figure to it in order to stay on track.

    If you knew you had that large cost in say, operations due to wastage, or in accounting due to excessive bank charges, would you be keen to reduce, minimise, even eradicate it? No doubt this a number big enough to care about. Particularly when you think that the competition has got your money instead; the client is still buying, just not from you!

    So how did the Ghost come about? What department or function was responsible for scaring them to death, driving them away, making them feel they were not valued? Your organisation did it to them. But who and how? Anybody who speaks with your brand, verbally or in writing, could easily create a ghost.  Inadequate communication, bad customer service, poor customer experience, lack of good up-sellling or cross-selling, all could be the root cause of your quietly growing, and increasingly expensive, graveyard.

    Time to stop the plague of Ghosts?  Time to investigate with your Sandler trainer what can be done? It would cost some money, time and change throughout your organisation to fix the issues, but would it be worth it?

    Paul Glynn

    Paul Glynn

    Paul’s experience spans over twenty years of selling, sales management and training. He has worked in the financial services sector including accountancy and has been responsible for the commercial success of sales departments at director level in advertising. His clients report up to 300% increase in turnover by working with him. He is dedicated to helping businesses grow through assessments, training, coaching and mentoring. Tel: 01784 390623 Mobile: 07866 518848

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  • 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.

  • More freedom, not more prospects!

    Having sat through hours of counter-intuitive training, practised tools, techniques and processes time and again, one might expect someone newly-trained in Sandler to fly out of the blocks, closing everything in sight.

    Sometimes that happens. One client of mine was moving from account management to sales, worked with me for just a few weeks and was almost instantly lauded as their top salesperson. She is, however, more of the exception than the rule.

    So, what typically, is the effect of all that investment?

    Time and again it is the same message. Those that grasp the point of “Pain then Budget and Decision”  learn to disqualify prospects that could never hope to be a real client.  That means the effect is not an increase in the value of their pipeline, rather a significant decrease.

    The relief I hear from so many businesses that they can stop chasing after prospects!  We only want to be spending our time with clients, customers who want to and will pay us for what we offer. Why do we want to spend an extra minute with a prospect who does not want to or will not pay us for our product or service?

    Our role is to help both sides figure out, as quickly as possible, if they are not going to be right for us or not. That’s it. It’s obvious when put like that. But all our salesmanship is going in another direction; persuading through features and benefits. We think we should be building “pipeline”. In fact, we should only be talking to those who are going to buy.

    So the immediate effects of training with Sandler is increased freedom; feedom to choose our customers, freedom to spend more time with people who value what we have to offer, freedom from endless technical proposals. Does all that “freedom” end up in more clients and more profit? Most definitely.

    If you want more freedom from the tyranny of trying to close sales, maybe it would make sense to look at Sandler in a bit more detail!

    Paul Glynn

    Paul Glynn

    Paul’s experience spans over twenty years of selling, sales management and training. He has worked in the financial services sector including accountancy and has been responsible for the commercial success of sales departments at director level in advertising. His clients report up to 300% increase in turnover by working with him. He is dedicated to helping businesses grow through assessments, training, coaching and mentoring. Tel: 01784 390623 Mobile: 07866 518848

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  • Traits of killer sales people

    It’s better not to hire, than to take on the costs and time required to bring someone on who can’t hunt & close the business you need. So, what are the traits of success of a salesperson with a real ‘hunter’ mentality?

    1. Strong “fire in their belly.”

    Successful hunters wake up each day rekindled with an innate natural drive to succeed. They are consistently driven by their ambition to be the best. They usually set high personal goals, have confidence in their abilities, and have a high level of energy in their daily work.

    1. Creating value and demand.

    A-player sales people understand that they are not order takers simply fulfilling demand but must create a demand for a particular product or service. They have the skills to communicate the value of their products or services and deliver solutions that will sort out the unique pain or problem of each prospect.

    1. Taking control of the sales process.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the prospect’s process and not take control of the buyer/seller dance. Taking control requires confidence, assertiveness, and an ability to influence others. Strong and effective sales people set appropriate expectations. They make sure they and the prospects agree on each step so are on the same page throughout the sales process.

    1. Taking action.This one is obvious. Do they act without needing direction? Some salespeople with apparently good track records were order takers, not business hunters. They will sit on their hands waiting for someone else to make a move or that call back.

    Successful hunters do not suffer from “analysis paralysis” or have many reasonable explanations why they don’t have enough on-target appointments, aren’t picking up the phone or going on sales calls. They set their goals and intend to achieve them. They take regular, effective, and consistent action.

    1. Taking responsibility for their results.

    Too often people make excuses like, “I was given the worst territory” or “This economy is just too tough.” But not the hunters; they attack their goal no matter the obstacles. They take responsibility for the things they can take action on.

    1. Adjusting their own behaviour & style.

    Great hunters adapt their style and understand the impact on others. They don’t just force through sales. They figure out what will grow their prospects’ trust in them, and build confidence and rapport. They never blow out deals by coming on too strong, and know how to make sure prospects don’t go quiet and hide behind voicemail.

    Self-motivated driven determined salespeople love to find new business day in and day out.

    When you interview, dig deep so you are certain they’ll be the hunters you need. Hire them and pay them properly. Manage them well.

    Apply these criteria to your existing team. How do they shape up? If you need help in assessing them, call your local Sandler Trainer who can show you an easy way to evaluate the team.

    Do not allow star players to break the rules, ignore your sales process or fail to record progress on the CRM. Reward them well – and invest in their development.

    If you need people on your sales team who truly love the hunt for new clients, it’s essential to structure your team and your recruitment process to discard the order takers or move them into an order taking job, and find and nurture the killer traits for sales success. Look for these 6 traits, and you have the basis for creating a successful sales team.

    Ermine Amies

    Ermine Amies

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

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  • Prospecting: Don’t have time for it, not my job…hate it!

    Most of my clients hate the idea of prospecting. In any form. They either expect clients to find them as the industry experts or they have a team, internal or external, to do the prospecting for them.

    You might expect little sympathy from Sandler trainers. That is true; you won’t find much patience for little prospecting effort. However, here is a secret: Sandler trainers have to prospect too and we have exactly the same challenges as our clients and their people. We don’t ask our clients to do what we are not prepared to do ourselves.

    So what do we find works for ourselves and our best-performing clients? You might expect the answer to be “Cold Calling.” Well, it works, when it is done right and professionally. However, is that the most efficient way of getting business? Probably not.  Effective nonetheless.

    The younger generation seems to have a pathological fear of the telephone and want to do everything by social media and email. Does that work? Well, yes, when done right and consistently, although it can take much, much longer to get the same result. Networking? As in talking to strangers in a place and environment you really would rather not be in? This can be powerful. Free talks? Unnerving and time-consuming, perhaps, but wonderfully efficient in weeding out prospects. Asking for referrals? This is often the best way into ideal new business. However, we are then trading on the good name of our clients and contacts and they don’t usually come fast and thick enough.

    The list goes on. “Walk-ins”, attending conferences, calling old proposals or clients, webinars, LinkedIn, email shot, mailshot and more. Some work better than others at different times in different sectors. In fact, I have an odd, personal, mantra. “No prospecting method works…until it does.” In other words, don’t write off any prospecting activity. Just do plenty. Stick to 3 or 4 main ways of getting business that you are at least prepared to do consistently (preferably “active” rather than “passive” methods). But just do it.

    The Sandler rule #7 is so true. “You never have to like prospecting. You just have to do it.”

    Unfortunately, that includes you. Not just your people. Good prospecting!

    If you want help getting you and your people more comfortable and better at prospecting, why not check with your local Sandler trainer?

    Paul Glynn

    Paul Glynn

    Paul’s experience spans over twenty years of selling, sales management and training. He has worked in the financial services sector including accountancy and has been responsible for the commercial success of sales departments at director level in advertising. His clients report up to 300% increase in turnover by working with him. He is dedicated to helping businesses grow through assessments, training, coaching and mentoring. Tel: 01784 390623 Mobile: 07866 518848

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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.”

    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 Much Time Should You Put into Prospecting?

    Time prospectingThe question is a bit of a puzzle. Ideally, there would be a reference book that lists, by industry, how much time you should invest in prospecting activities. Unfortunately, there’s no reference book.

    Why?

    How much time you invest will depend on the number of prospecting activities you plan, the nature of the activities, and the intended results of the activities.

    More importantly, different salespeople have different goals, and these goals will necessitate different amounts of time prospecting. Introducing a new product or opening a new territory may take more time than continuing to cultivate an existing market where you already have exposure.

    If your efforts are primarily passive, where you have little if any control of the outcome—direct mail or e-mail for example—you will likely have to do more and it will take longer to see results. If your efforts are more proactive, where you have considerable control—cold prospecting or generating and then calling on referrals for instance—you can invest less time.

    Since there is no simple formula, you must consider your prospecting objectives and then carefully track your activities and results. Then, you can decide how much time you want to invest and choose the activities that will allow you to achieve your objectives in that time period.

     

    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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  • Use your 30 second commercial in your LinkedIn Profile

    30 sec commercial linkedInThe main thing to remember about LinkedIn is this: It is a huge, never-ending, virtual networking event, and you have to be ready with the right response to “What do you do?” Your 30–second commercial is the answer to that question, as told from the point of view of a PROSPECT IN PAIN who eventually turned into your happy customer.

    Why not include it on your LinkedIn profile page?

    So for instance: “We specialize in custom-designed inventory management systems for manufacturing and distribution operations. We’ve been particularly successful with companies in the X, Y, and Z industries that are concerned about the costs associated with inaccurate inventory counts, unhappy with frequent paperwork bottlenecks that slow down the fulfilment process, or disappointed by the amount of time it takes to reconcile purchasing, invoicing, and shipping records. We’ve been able to create hand-in-glove inventory management systems that help our customers save time, attention, and money.”

    If something like this isn’t on your LinkedIn profile, you’re at a competitive disadvantage.
    For the complete list of WAYS YOU CAN USE LINKEDIN TO PROSPECT MORE EFFECTIVELY, click here.

    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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  • Do your clients see your sales people as
 Trusted Advisors?

    trustWant to get you or your people more effective at selling?  Check how consistently you/they are following steps 1-3. Even small improvements in any of these can help establish you as Trusted Advisor early on in sales conversations

    1 Gather more information than you give

    Or listen more than you talk. Ideally your prospective client should be talking 70% of the time and you 30%. How can we do that?   By asking questions, really listening to the answers and probing the answers in more detail.

    I profile a lot of people who sell (sales people, business owners, professional services) and one of the behaviours I look at is how effective they are at listening. On a scale of 1-9 (1 being low, 9 being high) the vast majority of people score between 2-4.  Even if we think we are listening, are we really?  Or are we listening some of the time, sometimes getting distracted by our own thoughts and mentally preparing the things we want to say?

    There are a lot of very smart questions we could be asking, but often the simpler ones are just, if not more, effective.

    Can you be more specific?  Could you give me an example?  Which means…? And what impact does that have?

    The advantage of asking lots of questions, not talking much and listening well is that it stops us talking too much (too soon) about us, how wonderful we are and how we can solve their problem. Instead it means we can gather information on pains, their budget and decision-making process to work out how real an opportunity this is before talking about us.

    2 Be challenging

    This is not about being awkward, or challenging just for the sake of it. I see our role as a Trusted Advisor to get to the crux of the clients issues and sometimes we need to help our prospective clients work that out too, which ties back to tip 1.

    Trusted Advisors ask tough questions that make their prospects think differently about their situation.  Equally they are prepared to have tough conversations if necessary – if you don’t think what the prospective client is asking for is in their best interests I believe its better to tell them rather than avoiding it.

    3 Be prepared to say no

    Honesty and selling don’t often appear in the same sentence, but if we want to be seen as a Trusted Advisor then that means we have to give our prospective clients the truth, rather than what they want to hear.

    If you are not best placed to help them for whatever reason I think it’s far more powerful to say that and refer them to someone else if you can. In my experience they will really respect you for that and as a result are more likely to come back to you further down the line.

    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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  • Selling the legal profession

    Are lawyers also salespeople? Selling the legal

    If you asked one of them directly, they’d likely scrunch up their face as if they’d just heard an awful verdict from the bench.

    But the truth is in this day and age the legal profession is as competitive as any other (if not more so) for new business. Why do you think that every non-profit board contains, at least, one lawyer? It’s likely just not out of the goodness of their collective hearts.

    So why do many lawyers and firms resist the idea of sales training to get an advantage over their competition? Especially when their industry and its marketing is so tightly regulated and scrutinized?

    Maybe it’s the word “sales” itself? In many cases, law firms and their partners just can’t get past the “head trash” of thinking of themselves as salespeople using “sales techniques” to get new business. Perhaps, they think to themselves “after all the hard work in law school and as an associate, now I’m just a salesperson?”

    The truth is the future of their firms and their livelihood is based on their ability to acquire and form lasting relationships. While they might not want to view it as “selling” it does include basic sales and Sandler principles including referrals, networking and yes even direct prospecting.

    We need to help lawyers reframe the way they think so they can get comfortable with the idea. Instead of sales they might be more comfortable with the idea of developing relationships.

    In either case, the Sandler Rules apply.

    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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