Author Archive

How to speak up and be assertive with a sales prospect

March 19th, 2014

Today I asked a group of salespeople to share something that they wished they’d said to a prospect when they had the chance. I explained they were in a ‘safe environment’ so it was okay to be honest. The comments were interesting. And when I say interesting, I mean somewhat reserved, restrained and polite.

Some salespeople told the group that on a regular basis they accept a prospect’s “call me next week” but when they call ‘next week’ the prospect is never there. Other salespeople told us their ‘gut instinct’ told them the prospect wasn’t interested or wasn’t planning to do business with them but they accepted the “looks good, I want to think it over” comment. Deep down the salespeople knew the prospects were lying to them but they just couldn’t bring themselves to speak up and challenge the prospect for fear of appearing rude or pushy.

They shared their frustration with not being able to get the truth from a prospect and were determined not to get ‘caught again’, but they do and continue to. Do you sometimes feel the same way? Have you heard Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity? – “Doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.” So, why do we continue this behavior and hope for different results?

Let’s start with this example, you call a prospect and they take your call. When it comes time to talk about next steps, in your mind you’re clear about what you want to happen, but what you hear is not what you expected or what you were hoping to hear. It doesn’t matter whether the next step is to schedule another call, a face-to-face meeting or to buy your product or service, the answer is vague. Does it occur to you that perhaps it’s an excuse to get rid of you?

If you’re new to sales you may accept the excuse because you don’t think a prospect would lie to you and quite frankly, you believe them. After all, you’ve never lied to a salesperson! On the other hand, if you’ve been in sales for a number of years your gut should tell you it’s an excuse to get you off the phone. But, for whatever reason you let them off the hook and you accept their lame excuses about running off to a meeting, checking with management or any number of other excuses you’re given. When you hang up the phone you’re frustrated with yourself because you know the prospect lied and you really wished you had said something but you didn’t. And yes prospects lie to salespeople.

Here’s another example: you’re face to face with a prospect and you’ve discovered their pain and you know your product or service can solve their problem. You’ve already discussed the budget and now you’re ready to move onto the decision step. They’ve indicated all along that they’re able to make the decision and write the check, and suddenly they tell you about discussing it with management or their spouse. You agree that it makes sense and reluctantly leave the meeting without a commitment, but you really wished you’d said something to get a more definitive answer. Afterwards, you rehash the conversation and you realize that you’re frustrated with yourself for not being more assertive when you had the chance. Ever wonder what it would take for you to say THAT, when you have the chance?

Saying ‘that’ when you want starts with believing in yourself and being gutsy. Here are a few tips to help you get gutsy and say THAT when your gut tells you the prospect is giving you an excuse:

1. Listen to and believe your gut instinct!
2. Take a deep breath.
3. Slowly formulate your response.
4. Use a softening statement before addressing the issue.
5. Ask for their permission to say what you believe is true.

If you’re serious about learning how to stop accepting the prospect’s lame excuses, contact your local Sandler Training centre and discover how.
“Being gutsy starts from belief in yourself.”

Can a daily schedule help me achieve my goals in 2014?

January 27th, 2014

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

You’ve set lofty goals for 2014 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’.

I often have clients tell me they want to earn a certain amount of money this year. The first questions I 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?” I always get the most interesting responses because most people don’t know what they’d do with the money. When I ask how they came up with the number, they shrug and tell me they’ve just pulled it out of the air. Is that your way of deciding how much money you want to earn in 2014 or do you really know why you want to earn a particular dollar amount?

The first step in the process is to determine what your personal goals are and why they are important to you. I encourage you to 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, 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:

a. Specific
b. Measurable
c. Attainable
d. Realistic
e. Time-bound

3. Break down the plan. Take that plan and organize 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 2014? Then 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.

What motivates you to be the best salesperson?

July 1st, 2013

I often get asked by prospects and clients to give them the secret ingredient that will help them get motivated or how to motivate their sales teams. I hear comments like, “Most of us know what we need to do, why don’t we just do it?” I chuckle when I hear this because we all know that the only person who can motivate us to do something is ourselves. It’s like going to the gym: friends and family can encourage and suggest that we go, however the ultimate decision lies with the individual.

So what is it that gets people motivated to do the behaviors required to have success in sales? Many people believe that money is the biggest motivator. I challenge that belief because there are many other motivators that people have told me over the years. Things such as:

-A family vacation, a new car, a renovation to their home, private school for their children, new skis and the list goes on and on.
-Maybe the salesperson is genuinely interested in helping prospects find the solution to a problem and the fact they get paid for doing it is their motivation.
-Perhaps the person’s passion lies in philanthropy and they work hard to share their earnings.

One may say that the above all takes money and I would agree, however, I would also agree the reason the person does what they do is because of their love or commitment to something other than money. The money is the means by which they can accomplish their goals.

On the other hand there are the people who believe that money is their only motivator. Sometimes these people believe they have to prove to people they can be successful in sales and their way of proving it is to be the top achiever in their organization. It’s great to have sales people like this is an organization however I always challenge these people on why being the top achiever is important to them. You might be surprised at what they tell you. Sure, the accolade for being at the top is great and the financial reward is the best – however, what they do with the money is the more interesting question. That’s what is important to them.

Do you know what motivates your salespeople or yourself? Have you given any thought to it? Understanding their beliefs about what is important may help you recognize what really motivates the person to do what it takes to close sales. Why do you do what you do? What motivates you?

Here are some suggestions on how to motivate yourself and your salespeople:
-Determine what motivates you to do the things you do.
-Figure out what your personal goals are and what the personal goals of your sales team are. You’re more likely to be motivated to do whatever it takes daily to ensure you can achieve your personal goals.
-Establish daily behaviors and follow them.
-Develop a prospecting plan and implement it.
-Track your daily behaviors.
-Reward yourself for achieving what you set out to do.
-Follow a tried and true selling system to get you where you want to go.

I love comparing success in sales to success at the gym. Most of us, at one time in our lives have joined a gym because we wanted to get fit. The real question is why do you want to get fit and why did you decide to join a gym to help you get fit? What was the motivation? Was it because you had a burning desire to lose weight and feel healthier so you could play hockey, soccer, badminton or swim with your children or run that marathon that you’ve always wanted to? On the other hand, were you advised by your doctor? What’s the reason behind it?

Did taking out the membership get you the results you wanted? Of course the answer is NO. Mentally you had to decide it was what you wanted to do then you had to physically go to the gym, change into the gear and do the exercises. You may also have invested in a personal trainer to help you achieve your desired results. It’s your determination, will and consistency of the exercises that gets you your results. In essence, you’re changing your behavior. And what has motivated you to change your behavior?

The reason for getting fit and the motivation to do the sales behavior required has to come from within. Working with a sales coach to help you change your behavior to achieve your goals is just like hiring a personal trainer to get fit.

Are you ready to commit to the change that will make you the best salesperson?

The key to success in sales: an agenda

February 25th, 2013

Your 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.

Just give me the project: I’m technically brilliant!

February 5th, 2013

People from all walks of life can be technically brilliant and do a great job if someone would “just give them the project.” Many consultants become consultants because they believe they can provide a better product or service and make more money than if they stayed working for a company.  It’s great to dream big and recognize your aspirations however I run into more and more of these “technically brilliant” people who look me in the face and tell me they do not sell, so why would they need sales training? This leads to an interesting discussion as to where they get their business from.

Many of these people leave the corporate world with a contract in hand to continue doing what they did best when they worked full-time.  They’re so proud to say they are self-employed or they are the president of a company.  Fast forward six months – that initial contract has ended and they’re wondering what’s next. Some have been lucky enough to secure another project, from the same company so they are happy.  Others were told “thanks for the great job but the project is complete therefor your contract is over.”  Reality strikes and the excitement of being a technically brilliant consultant starts to wane because they don’t know how to go about finding a company that might need their services.  And remember, these people will never admit to being in sales because the sales profession is only for those who are absolutely desperate.

The concept of being your own boss is a great one and being technically brilliant at your craft is a good thing.  However, not recognizing you’re in sales is a struggle for many people who decide to become consultants.

If you’re interested in understanding why you struggle as a consultant, take 30 seconds to answer the following questions:

  1. Are you “technically brilliant?”
  2. Has your current contract expired and you wonder what’s next?
  3. Are you afraid of calling companies to find out if they need your technical expertise?
  4. Do you rely on word-of-mouth for your next project?
  5. Is your family wondering when you’re going back to a full-time job?
  6. Do you still think that being your own boss is where you want to be?
  7. Have you realized that you’re in sales?

If you answered yes to any of the questions, then here are a few suggestions:

  1. Acknowledge that you’re a salesperson first.
  2. Establish and set goals.
  3. Build a plan for achieving those goals.
  4. Implement that plan daily, weekly and monthly.
  5. Check your behavior to ensure that you’re holding yourself accountable for achieving your goals.
  6. Work on your attitude.
  7. Refine your techniques.
  8. Seek the help of a certified sales trainer.

The most successful people in the world, whether that be in business, in sports, the arts or in sales engage professionals, coaches or sales trainers to assist them to achieve their goals.  What’s stopping you?

Sometimes acknowledging and accepting the truth about oneself is the first step in achieving your goals.

Why Do Prospects and Salespeople Play Games?

November 1st, 2012

Have you ever given thought to how people decide to buy a product or service? Consider yourself in this analogy – do you employ any of these strategies? We believe we have a need or we determine that we have a need for a product or service. With the Internet at our fingertips we immediately do some research on whatever we are in the market for. This process may take minutes or it may take hours depending on whether you are a detail person or just want a quick overview. In addition to our Internet search, we may also ask family and friends for their recommendations. (more…)

A Proposal: To Send Or Not To Send

August 8th, 2011

Clients and prospects tell on a regular basis about how they spend 5 – 20 hours a week preparing proposals for business they are “hoping to get;” however, most of the time their efforts are unsuccessful. Why are we compelled to provide proposals when our ‘gut’ tells us we are wasting our time?

Let’s explore some of the reasons we feel inclined to provide proposals:

  1. The prospect asked for it.
  2. ‘If I don’t provide the proposal I definitely won’t have a chance at getting the business.’
  3. ‘I can show the prospect all the other things that I or my company can do for them.’
  4. My proposal will give all the details of how I would solve their problems.
  5. ‘I’m not great at asking questions – the proposal will cover the things that I’ve missed.’ (more…)

Finding That Compelling Reason – Part Two

May 9th, 2011

Last time we discussed the tension of wanting to rescue a prospect sales process. Now let’s look at the situation between the buyer and seller as objectively as possible: (more…)