Archive for the ‘Overcoming Obstacles’ Category

Don’t Fall For These Summer Business Myths

June 24th, 2014

By: Daryl Burgess, Director Global Accounts

There’s a popular, albeit unfounded, belief that summers are slow for business. Sandler Training disagrees, and dares to say that professionals create a self-fulfilling prophecy by telling themselves that despite great efforts, their summer will be tough.

Sandler trained professionals believe that outreach and other activity might need to be increased in the summer, there’s no need to succumb to the idea that you won’t find new business, close deals and meet new and promising business connections.

Below are five myths to dismiss this summer when it comes to your work productivity.

  1. Don’t cold call, no one’s there. Sandler experts agree that summer is the perfect time to make calls, because your competitors are conforming to this myth. They recommend you seize the opportunity when phones aren’t ringing as much. With less inbound calls, people will be more likely to take your call, listen and engage in a dialogue with you about why you’re calling.
  2. Fridays are a wash. While a lot of companies offer ‘Summer Fridays’ that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a way to combat everyone’s favorite day of the week. Sandler recommends that salespeople overcome ‘Summer Fridays’ by building in a little extra performance Monday through Thursday. Increase your daily goals earlier in the week and you can enjoy those Summer Fridays just as much as your clients and prospects.
  3. Decision makers ‘disappear’. Don’t let the assumption that everyone’s out of the office stunt your ability to sell. Get to know your clients and prospects and learn about their vacation and travel plans for the summer. This will allow you to navigate through the summer without the mystery of when your contacts will suddenly be MIA and you’ll be able to plan accordingly.
  4. It’s a slow time in the budget cycle. Before succumbing to this myth, remember that there’s no way of really knowing how a company is fairing financially. Furthermore, prospects may also be operating on a fiscal calendar and they could be more open to sales calls and new vendors come July 1.
  5. Prospects and clients don’t care about your vacation. Remember that we’re all people. Your vacation matters, too. Be upfront, communicate your schedule and do all that you can to make sure everyone has all that they might need while you’re away. While you’re at it, schedule a time to connect after your vacation before you leave.

In addition to summer, seasonal productivity myths exist throughout the year. What are some that you chose to debunk?

Four Sales Myths Debunked

May 28th, 2014

Every profession has its own lineup of myths that need busting. Those who have spent the majority of their career in a sales role have heard them all. The fact is that sales is an exciting, sometimes grueling and often rewarding profession. We’re the frontline of an organization and vital to its growth. However, like it or not, many myths exist about who the “ideal” salesperson is and what a career in sales is like.

The following four myths are among some of the most popular assumptions about the sales profession.
Can you think of any other myths that need busting?

  • Myth #1: Salespeople need to be extroverts.
    Reality: Contrary to popular belief, introverts excel at selling, too. While it’s not always the case introverts tend to be better listeners, more understanding and more focused on others. Sandler believe that sales professionals can be trained to overcome their inherent introverted tendencies through reinforcing behaviors, attitudes and techniques.
  • Myth #2: The gift of gab is all you need to be good at sales.
    Reality: The phrase “telling is not selling” is a classic among the Sandler community. That’s because successful salespeople know that the prospect should be doing at least 80% of the talking, while the salesperson fills in the remaining 20% with questions, restating what they’re hearing and finding their way to prospects pain.
  • Myth #3: If you do a good job, referrals come to you.
    Reality: While word-of-mouth referrals leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, they often are few and far between and can’t be counted on for a steady flow of business. When asking for referrals the key is to explain how you work with clients and describe your ideal prospect. Otherwise, it’s hard for your referral source to envision someone who could be right for you. All in all, you’ve done a good job and earned the right to ask for referrals. Asking for referrals is an essential part of growing your business and it’s your responsibility to take the opportunity to ask.
  • Myth #4: Selling is a one-person job.
    Reality: Sandler believes that selling is a team activity. A smart salesperson relies on several people throughout the sales process. Whether you’re working with marketing on a sales piece, bouncing a tactic of a peer, seeking counsel from a sales manager or consulting with a trainer, selling is far from a one-person job.

By: Brian Sullivan, Vice President of Global Implementation

Two options for overcoming roadblocks: exploit or elevate

May 5th, 2014

Companies look to thrive and grow. In preparation, leaders work with their teams to identify the bottlenecks, roadblocks, and/or weaknesses that will keep the company from exploding with success.

We start by asking “Why” five times to arrive at the root of the bottleneck. From there, it’s time to dedicate resources to put things back into motion and proper flow.

Option One: Exploit the weakness.

The more expensive option, when you exploit a weakness, you’re adding additional resources to strengthen the flow. This may mean adding more salespeople to the department, renting new office space for an overcrowded assembly line, or securing additional loans or funding to spend on marketing or advertising. The goal here is to grow the resources of the organization to only address the bottleneck.

Examples include adding an additional customer service representative to work a high call volume or adding an additional assembly line shift to keep production machines running 24 hours.

Option Two: Elevate the weakness.
When we elevate a weakness, we’re investing and improving the quality of existing resources. In most cases, this is the more affordable solution with long-lasting benefits. There’s no question. Creating additional productivity out of existing resources will always result in larger growth over time.

This can be accomplished through training and education, process re-engineering, and/or a shift in the company budget. Instead of adding new salespeople, you can educate and elevate the skill set of your existing team. By upgrading equipment, you can increase production without adding additional personnel and energy costs of a new 24-hour production shift.

The last resort is to eliminate resources and reduce the company footprint.

How To Overcome Ambiguity, Anxiety and Fear in Your Sales Calls

March 25th, 2014

If you are unaware of the relationship between ambiguity, anxiety and fear, then you are probably lengthening your sales cycle and reducing your close rate.

When you sit across from a prospect, no matter how long or personal your relationship, you are still a salesperson who your prospect fears will sell them something instead of allowing them to buy.

Your prospect’s fear of salespeople isn’t enough to dramatically affect a sales call; after all your prospect agreed to meet with you and will buy from someone. Your prospect’s biggest issue with you, and potentially every other salesperson they meet, is they have no idea what you will ask them to do at the end of this meeting.

Traditionally trained salespeople don’t share their sales process with their prospects, partly because they rarely have a sales process written down, but also because they think prospects “don’t need to know what’s next.”

Ambiguity turns to anxiety the longer ambiguity exists. If you have a 60-minute appointment with your prospect they will start to get anxious as soon as they sense you wrapping up your presentation or long list of “consultative” questions.

When a prospect gets anxious and fears the unknown, a salesperson usually hears “this looks good, how about you put together a proposal and we’ll get back to you.”

To erase ambiguity from your sales calls, reduce your prospect’s anxiety and eliminate their fear, share your sales process with them at the beginning of your first call. Be different than every other salesperson, right off the bat. Be disarmingly honest and they’ll realize you’re there to solve their pain.

Take it one step further and publish your sales process on your website for all to see. You’ll make potential clients feel more at ease about working with you, which should shorten your sales cycle and increase your close rate.

Hamish Knox is a Sandler Trainer in Calgary, Alberta.

Don’t Get Trapped in the Procrastination Triangle

February 20th, 2014

So when did you start saying, “I’ll get to that tomorrow” when it comes to your goals for 2014? January 2? January 10? Did you make it all the way to the Super Bowl before giving up?

If you’ve fallen short of a goal already or are on pace to fall short before the end of the year, you’re trapped in the procrastination triangle.

What is the procrastination triangle?

Draw an equal sided triangle. Label the top “no goals,” the bottom left “no plan” and the bottom right “no discipline.”

procrastination triangle

Give yourself a score of 1-10 on each; in this case a lower score is better. For example, a one for “no goals” means, “I have goals written down for my business and personal life,” while a 10 means, “I’ve heard that people have goals.”

A one for “no plan” means, “I have a clear plan written down to achieve each of my goals” and a 10 means, “I rely on hope and luck to reach my goals.”

A one for “no discipline” means, “I do what’s on my plan every week,” while a 10 means, “meh, I’ll get to it eventually.”

Next, total up your scores and use the key below to find out how likely you are to procrastinate your way out of success in 2014.

3-9 – You occasionally fall victim to task avoidance, but generally you stick to your plan and hit your goals.
10-21 – You probably have a problem with discipline, which is being compounded by a lack of clear goals or a specific plan to achieve them. Find an accountability partner and commit to a plan that will lower your score.
22-30 – Buff up your LinkedIn profile because unless you set goals, create a plan and get some discipline, you’ll be looking for a new job (and possibly a new place to live).

Without clear goals (business and personal), a specific plan to achieve each of your goals (broken down to weekly activities) and the discipline to complete your plan every week you won’t be successful.

Hamish Knox is a Sandler Training centre in Calgary, Alberta.

No guts, no gain

December 20th, 2013

I want to take you back about 10,000 years ago to the savannah in Africa. There are only about 1,500 human beings on the planet, and life is a scary existence. As far as predators go, we don’t stand much of a chance. We don’t have claws, or razor sharp teeth with fangs. We aren’t very strong or fast, and we don’t have any cool defense mechanisms like shells, venom, stingers, or even camouflage. Needless to say, it paid to be fearful on the savannah. Fear, vigilance, and worry kept us alive. Luckily for us, we got smart fast. We made weapons, formed teams, and used communication to pass along knowledge and defend ourselves. Five coordinated humans with spears stand a much better chance against a lion than one man in hand to hand combat.

What does that have to do with business and our lives today? Well, as we got smarter and more advanced, fear became less and less useful to us. Think about it; when was the last time you heard someone say, “I need to work on my fear. I just don’t think I am very good at being afraid,”?

Fear was valuable when failure was fatal, but in today’s business world, it doesn’t have much value. Today, we are concerned about happiness, success and living a life of purpose. We have evolved up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from survival up to self-esteem and self-actualization. The problem is that fear gets in the way of those things. Fear will hold you back from growing, stretching your comfort zones, and taking risks that can bring the rewards of success and self-esteem. Fear and failure is universal; it’s part of the human experience. Only by risking failure can we accomplish anything great. No guts, no gain. So I would like to challenge you with a decision-making model that might help you increase your risk tolerance and develop some guts to go after all your wildest dreams.

First, ask yourself if the risk fatal. If the worst case scenario is fatal to yourself or your organization, your fear is justified and you should not take that risk. Second, ask yourself if the best case scenario is desirable. If you believe the best case scenario is something good for you or your company, then take the risk. Now obviously there are options of some pretty severe levels discomfort before you get to fatal, some rewards will be minor and other great, and there are odds on each outcome but this basic model works. Let’s try it.

Say you are thinking about going skydiving. The worst case scenario, while not likely, could be fatal. The best case scenario is you have a great time, a once in lifetime experience, and great story to tell. The best case scenario is desirable, but the worst case scenario could be fatal. Under this model, I would say not to go skydiving. There are other ways to have a great time and good story than to risk your life.

Now let’s try one about business. You are thinking about calling that dream client, the elephant that could make your career. The worst case scenario is they say no and they still not your client, but you live to fight another day. The best case scenario is they had been meaning to call you or didn’t know your service existed, and they make your year or career with one call. Obviously, that scenario would be desirable, and the worst case scenario is a little disappointment, but basically where you are right now anyway. You have nothing to lose! They can’t get any more NOT your client than they already are..take that risk! Not risking in this scenario is the surest way of losing. No Guts, No Gain!

A life without risk is a life without growth. We have a Sandler Rule for this: You can’t get to second with one foot on first. In life and business there is no status quo! You are either growing or regressing. Success in 2014 and beyond sometimes depends more on the will to jump than on being concerned about what will happen if you fall. So, in the new year, I challenge you to get gutsy and pursue your dreams. Remember, No Guts, No Gain!

Managers Your People Need a MAP

June 11th, 2013

Here’s a quick acid test of your hiring-to-turnover ratio. How often are one of these phrases heard in your company?
- I’m not a micro-manager.
- I hired them to…
- They know what they’re supposed to do…

If our business world was homogenous then those phrases would be correct because every sales job would be exactly like every other sales job. Every expense filing procedure would be exactly the same at every company and every role would have exactly the same weekly behavior expectations.

What those phrases do in our real world is throw your new hire into the deep end of your pool with ankle weights on and expect them to keep their head above water with little direction or support from their manager.

Even if your company doesn’t have an onboarding plan, like the one described in this article, you can give your new hire a better chance at swimming if you start them off with a MAP.

A MAP, Minimum Acceptable Performance, is the 1-3 behaviors that you expect your new hire to do every week during their initial weeks with your company.

When creating your MAP, keep Sandler’s rule in mind “ never manage your numbers, manage your behavior.”

That means for a sales person, your MAP won’t include “closed sales” but it might include “number of cold
calls,” “number of first appointments with prospects” or “number of networking events.”

For a MAP to be successful, the behavior(s) must be observable. “Knowing our product” isn’t an observable behavior. “Number of presentations” made is, but making presentations isn’t the focus of professional sales.

The MAPs you create will be slightly different depending on your expectations for a specific role and the skills a new hire brings to that role.

A new hire being given a MAP provides two benefits:
1. They feel that you care about their success. Multiple surveys showed that the number one reason for employees leaving is they felt their employer/manager didn’t care about them
2. It gives them an opportunity to get quick wins. Quick wins reduce “ramp up time” for salespeople, which means they become a producer faster

For you, the manager, a MAP provides three benefits:
1. Both of you have a clear understanding, up front, of your performance expectations. No more wasted time with “I didn’t know I had to do that” conversations
2. Leading indicators of success or failure. If your new hire fails to stick to their MAP you know within weeks instead of months later when their sales report shows a negative number, allowing you to make faster decisions about termination or additional training
3. More productive one-on-one meetings. As a manager your only asset is your time. Instead of spending 45 minutes going through your new hire’s week you have a 5 minute conversation about their MAP, which can extend if you or they feel additional coaching or training is needed

You’ll probably find after implementing MAPs for all of your new hires that you have an excess of free time. Enjoy.

Hamish Knox is a Sandler Trainer in Calgary, Alberta.

Living Your Best Life

May 30th, 2013

At Sandler Training, we develop professionals in sales, management and customer service. Professionals have a commitment to be the best they can be. They do things a little differently than the average performers.

What do the most successful professionals in any industry have in common? They study. They invest in themselves. They practice. They have systems and processes, and they use them. And finally, they are driven by passion and purpose.

In my studies, I recently read the book “Off Balance” by Matthew Kelly, where he describes living a passion and purpose filled life, and I highly recommend it. He says passion and purpose come from personal clarity about how you live your life.

What is the best way to live? As human beings, we thrive when we seek happiness. Some people mistake this for pleasure or instant gratification. However, what people really desire is satisfaction. Pleasure lasts only as long as the activity producing it. Satisfaction is sustainable health, wealth, and happiness. Learning to make great choices is integral to leading a rich and fulfilling life.

Matthew Kelly describes Three Philosophies of our Age that stop us from achieve sustainable happiness and excellence in our lives and businesses:

1. Individualism – What is in it for me? This fosters greed, selfishness and exploitation.

2. Hedonism – A philosophy that emphasizes pleasure as the ultimate goal of life. The hedonist motto is: “If it feels good, do it.” What if everyone on your team only wanted to do what was enjoyable?

3. Minimalism – What is the least I can do? Minimal effort for maximum reward, Minimalism is the enemy of excellence and the father of mediocrity.

These philosophies are lazy attempts to answer the question: “What is the best way to live?”

A more strategic and fulfilling approach are 3 simple principles:

1. Live to become a better version of yourself, not a 2nd rate version. Be yourself, but a better you. Make good life choices that take you there. You have free will. You get to choose how you live your life.

2. Virtue defines the best way to live. Who would you rather spend time with…generous people or selfish people, courageous people or cowardly people, humble people or prideful people, patient or impatient people. The whole world prefers virtue. Virtue is the essence of excellence in life and business.

3. Self-control and delayed gratification are the keys to living for a better tomorrow, better health, and greater influence.

Individualism, Hedonism and Minimalism lead to decay of personal self-control and the demise of our ability to delay gratification. Leave pleasure seeking activities, and choose a better way to live.

Choosing happiness and satisfaction in life and business lead to an increase in our passion and purpose, and give us more energy. Your energy is directly related to your capacity for life. The more energy you have, the more you can accomplish.

Choose to take your life and your profession seriously. You control your income. You control your time. You decide how you will live your life. In what areas of your life are you seeking pleasure vs. satisfaction? What is the number one thing that would move you to being a better version of yourself?

I challenge you today to decide to study, invest in yourself, practice, and have a system that produces the results you desire. Decide to be the best you can be.

Steve Montague, Sandler Training Kansas City