Archive for August, 2010

Sales Training and Golf: A Lesson in Repetition

August 31st, 2010

So what does a professional golfer-someone who gets paid to play the game every day-really get out of coaches and practice sessions?


As Dave Mattson outlines in the video above, golf greats like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer made winning second-nature. Sure, there was something to be said for natural ability, but any all-star in any sport or profession would only be a skilled novice or weekend warrior without constant training, reinforcement and daily practice.

There is no way to know what your competition is doing every second of the day. But do you really want to play the game where you take the risk of staying put while they are sharpening their skills? Practice is a no-lose situation. Once your prospecting marathon results in a good fit, you’ll have an unparalleled level of practice and preparation to take into battle.

Make sure you practice every single facet of your sales process. While closing a deal may be fun to think about, it doesn’t do you any good to simply practice that final step if you other skills fail to get you there. Like golf, it may be fun to think about getting a hole in one, but practicing your overall game will get you the best score at the end of the round. Get a coach, take an active role in developing your skillset and prepare to have bragging rights when it is all said and done.

Sales Training for the Prospecting Marathon

August 30th, 2010

What 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.

Illustration by Rob Green

Salespeople Who Decide Are Salespeople Who Survive

August 26th, 2010

The late, great Arthur Ashe, for whom the Stadium Court at Flushing Meadows Tennis Complex in New York City is named, was not only a great pioneer in the sport, but was also known for his intellect and ability to teach in both words and examples.

I attended a tennis clinic one time where he was a guest speaker and remember him saying, “The single most important difference between the professional money players and the really good amateur players is “speed to execution”-the professionals are one critical second faster in their decision-making than the best amateurs. The best amateur players are one second faster than the averageplayers and so on and so forth. A mere one second in decision-making makes all the differencebetween a world-class player and a good club player. He gave example after example of this in teaching how to set up strategy for hitting baseline shots, volleys or overheads. When you think about this “speed to execution,” it seems to apply in other places as well.

I was driving down the street recently on a beautiful clear, cool day and observed all the squirrels jumping from tree limb to tree limb; many were scampering across the street and up into trees. Occasionally I noticed along the road an indecisive, uncommitted, slow squirrel, which can be best described as a “Flat Squirrel!” What could have happened had that squirrel been faster in its speed to execution, a little quicker in reaction time or more committed to its plan? There is a good chance he would not be flat.

The sales world has “flat squirrels,” salespeople who are uncommitted, unwilling to strategize, slow in reacting and indecisive. You may be familiar with some of them; they may work around you in your company. “Flat Squirrel” salespeople show signs of the following:

  • Not willing to commit 65-70% of their time each week to prospecting, presenting, and engaging in sales activities.
  • Spend more time dreaming about their next career, than strategizing on making their current career a success.
  • Blame lack of results on outside influences or luck of their competitors.
  • Self-destruct their own product and income by using price as their selling point instead of creating their real competitive advantages.
  • Tend to wait on others to initiate the motivation for them to achieve, rather than implement a self-initiated and self-administered plan.

Pay close attention to the world around you-avoid the self-limiting habits that lead to the “Flat Squirrel Syndrome” for salespeople. Remember: all the worrying, scripting and planning in the world will be worth absolutely nothing without any decisive action behind it. Be that one-second quicker in making your decisions and taking action, and you’ll find that your competitors will be flattened in your rear-view mirror.

Illustration by Rob Green

Video: Sandler Rule #26: People Buy in Spite of the Hard Sell, Not Because of It

August 25th, 2010

Countless people go through sales training seminars every year only to emerge with slick tricks, a few doses of confidence and a belief that they’ll be able to bully any prospect they meet into signing on the dotted line. While this may do just fine for the quick, lucky payday, it is not a system that builds long-term, profitable relationships.

The hard sell isn’t just about your demeanor, either. No matter how gentle you are with your words and interactions, you are still hard selling when you build your sales strategy around your needs-and not the prospect’s. Take the time to remember that the prospect buys for their reasons and not yours, and you’ll then be able to move toward deciding whether or not the transaction or relationship would be beneficial for all parties.

Video: Sandler Rule #38: The Problem the Prospect Brings You Is Never the Real Problem

August 23rd, 2010

Wouldn’t it be wonderful for a prospect to accurately and honestly lay out all of their issues for you in your first meeting? This means no more seemingly-perfect deals to disappear, no more “perfect matches” to end with unreciprocated phone calls, and best of all, no more “What went wrong?”

The first part of any sales training program should teach you that your questions never end when the prospect first tells you what they believe to be their “problem.” When you refuse to take a prospect’s “diagnosis” at face-value, you’ve begun the process of accurately diagnosing their real problems.

That diagnosis, as outlined in Sandler Rule #38, is precisely why salespeople are paid for their services. A good sales professional listens to the prospect, probes further into their immediate symptoms and uncovers the prospect’s true pain-oftentimes revealing the actual problem to a prospect who couldn’t diagnose it on their own. When you treat their first symptoms with some skepticism, you’ll find that the real problem will later reveal itself-but only to those who know that the diagnosis doesn’t begin and end with “What seems to be the problem?”

Sales Training: A Do-It-Yourself Guide

August 18th, 2010

Over the last eight years I have done hundreds of one-on-one performance coaching sessions with salespeople, and the single most frequent question I hear is, “How do I get better?” It’s a meaningful question and almost always asked with a genuineness that signifies the person speaking really wants help.

I usually respond to that question with a question of my own that goes like this, “Do you really want to know?” You see, at these moments I’m always reminded of a statement by Dr. Lee Thayer, “Most people prefer the problem they have to a solution they don’t like.”

Step one is to be sure they can get specific on what “get better” actually means-and usually they can. I have spent many hours working on my own personal growth and development plan, as well as learning to coach others about how to effectively answer that question. And while I don’t propose that in one short writing I can give a complete overview, what I’ve attempted to do in the following paragraphs is provide a focal point for those who would truly like to know more. This is an outline of how to get better, so before you read further, pause for another moment and give even more consideration to Dr. Thayer’s comment.

Still ready to go forward?

Let me give a definition of the phrase “getting better” using two important areas of your life:

  1. Getting Better Financially: Growth in your sales volume, annual income or personal net worth. I consider the standard for growth, or getting better, in financial terms to be measured as an increase of 15% per year for your personal net worth, personal income or your sales volume. If you are not accomplishing this for five consecutive years, then you have not experienced real growth and are not getting better financially.
  2. Getting Better Mentally:
    – Setting clear, achievable, exciting and meaningful goals.
    – Aligning what you say, what you do and what you think so they all agree.
    – Maintaining focus, purpose and intent toward that which you most desire with a minimum amount of stress, worry, anxiety, fear and anger.


Video: Sandler Rule #31: Close the Sale or Close the File

August 17th, 2010

Through any sales training seminar you may have attended or any job training you’ve experienced, people seem to put a lot of energy into teaching you how to avoid or resist one word: “No.”The fear of rejection alone is enough to drive the timid and easily-bruised away from sales altogether.

So what happens when you spend months chasing after a “no” when you know it’s probably not going to be a good fit? The true “yes” that’s out there may have done business with your competitor. Sure, you’ve technically avoided a “no” for a while, but keep in mind that your job isn’t to run away from failure. Your objective is to chase after success. Avoid the slowdowns involved in spending countless hours trying to force a poor fit to do business with you.

Close the sale or close the file.

Video: Sandler Rule #35: If Your Competition Is Doing It, Stop Doing It Right Away

August 12th, 2010

If you simply differentiate yourself as saying you’re “the best” sales professional out there, then you can look forward to clients and prospects who will wander around to see if one of the millions of other “bests” out there are cheaper. This rule is simple. See what your competition does, and then make sure that what you do is incomparable. Having a unique game plan will help set you on the path to one-of-a-kind success.