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Rob Howard | Tampa, St. Petersburg & Clearwater, FL
 

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Sandler Brief

The salesperson who claims to “like” prospecting hasn’t ever done it. How can anyone “like” a process that produces such an arena for rejection? When salespeople say they like prospecting, what they might mean is this: “I don’t mind paying the price of prospecting to reach my objectives.”

  • Have you ever noticed that some people jump to quick conclusions, don’t like to get bogged down with details, and like to take the 30,000-foot view of issues?
  • Or that others prioritize making and keeping friends?
  • Or that still others just don’t like change and conflict, and want to avoid making decisions?
  • Have you ever noticed that there are some people who want all the details before they act? That they may even suffer from “paralysis of analysis”?

Have you ever granted a price concession – or made any other compromise to a buyer – because you didn’t want the buyer to think less of you or disapprove of you?

Here’s an interesting exercise: On a piece of paper (or in a word processing document) draw a vertical line down the center of the page. At the top left side, write your company’s name. Across the page, on the top right side, write the name of your most important competitor. Down the left side of the page, write the numbers 1, 2 and 3. Do the same thing on the right side of the page.

Have you ever sat in front of a prospect and thought you should say something – but didn't?

Sometimes salespeople are a little surprised when we share a simple, time-tested selling principle: a prospect who is listening isn’t really a prospect. What on earth does this mean? Isn’t it a good thing when someone listens to what we have to say during a sales call?

The powerful learning model David Sandler called the Success Triangle is a proven formula for sales success – and a proven formula for every other kind of success. Sales leaders, and all leaders, can benefit from learning about it and implementing it with their teams. You have probably heard about the Success Triangle. So, what is it?

In order to have clearer communication with our sales team, we need to implement, and consistently use, a common process.

What if you treated “no decision” like what it really is: a decision not to move forward, at least not right now?

It’s time for a 21st-century reality check: We all live (and sell) in a ridiculously fast-paced environment.

Do you have to learn to fail to win? This intriguing idea shows up at Number One on the classic list of selling rules developed by David Sandler more than half a century ago. Yet even today, it still throws a lot of people.

One of the classic selling rules David Sandler developed and shared with salespeople sounds harsh . . . but it’s true. Sandler warned us that “All prospects lie all the time.”

Have you ever had a selling opportunity that seemed to be headed toward a win -- and then lost the deal when you found out that you and the buyer had different ideas of what was really under discussion?

One of David Sandler’s famous selling rules reads as follows: “Never ask for the order -- make the prospect give up."

At first, that instruction might sound confrontational . . . and perhaps even impossible. If you don’t ask for the order, how are you supposed to make the prospect give up? About what? And anyway, isn’t the first rule of selling supposedly “ABC -- Always Be Closing?"

One of David Sandler's classic selling rules sounds like a bit of a riddle when you first hear it: Don’t buy back tomorrow the product or service you sold today. Why would you ever do that? Who would want to? And under what circumstances would it possibly happen?

Here’s an interesting question for sales professionals: What counts as a “big opportunity” in your world? Think of a specific prospect.

Believe it or not, your parents were wrong. Money actually does grow on trees.

Skeptical? Don’t be. Just be willing to ask yourself: what kind of tree? And the answer is: a referral tree.

Elaine’s sales manager, Tom, had an unexpected question for her during their weekly one-on-one coaching session. It sounded like this: “What are you going to do to cut down on your TIOs?”

You may have heard of the popular Sandler selling rule known as “reversing” and wondered what it was all about. No, it has nothing to do with backing your car up. Reversing simply means you answer every question from a prospective buyer with a question of your own.

Most of David Sandler’s famous rules for selling are fairly easy to get your head around, once you understand the basic idea they are built on. But there is one Sandler Selling Rule that makes a lot of salespeople uncomfortable. It may be the hardest selling rule of all for sales professionals to accept and implement . . . for the simple reason that it is designed to shake us up a little. It reads as follows: There are no bad prospects, only bad salespeople.

Gabe got a text message from his sales manager, who had recently sat in on one of his sales calls. The text read: “People buy in spite of the hard sell, not because of it.”

That text surprised Gabe because he had never thought of himself as someone who subjected prospective buyers to a hard sell.

What’s the least comfortable you’ve ever been during a discussion with a prospect?

Think about the last time a complete stranger called you on the telephone or walked into your place of business and started selling their product or service.

How did that make you feel?

Have you ever gone out shopping for something and run into a salesperson who was a little too eager to show you exactly what you were looking for?

Jack, a new sales hire, was having lots of problems in initial meetings with his prospective buyers. Vera, his manager, sat in on a sales call with him to determine why Jack was closing so few of his prospects in what was supposed to be a one-call close, and why he was discounting so heavily whenever he did close a deal. The answer, she saw, lay in the way Jack conducted his sales interviews.

Carlos was in a great mood. Forty minutes in, the meeting with his top prospect’s senior staff was going great. He was getting nothing but engagement, smiles, and positive body language from everyone around the table, including the CEO of the company. He knew what that meant. He was about to close his first big deal! The timing couldn’t have been better. Because this was a potentially major account, Carlos' manager Charlene was in attendance. Today, she would get to see him work his magic first hand.

Once upon a time, there was a young kid who graduated from high school, took a look at the help wanted ads, went out on a couple of interviews, and, within just a few days, landed his very first job. He was hired as a salesperson by one of those big box stores.

One of Sandler’s critical selling rules – “Don’t spill your candy in the lobby” – can sound a little confusing to someone who is unfamiliar with the Sandler Selling System® methodology. What does a spilled box of candy have to do with a sales call? Everything.

Tom’s best customer, Meg, called and asked for a favor: “Can you talk to my new assistant Karen about getting up to speed with your software? She’s got a couple of questions that I don’t have time to answer.”

One of the distinguishing characteristics of top performers in sales is the ability to avoid two common, self-imposed mental handicaps: reachback and afterburn.

Jack, a salesperson, was having some challenges. Feedback from multiple sources -- his own clients, prospects, customers, and colleagues -- suggested that his communication skills needed some work.

If you lose a big sale, have a bad month, or don’t make quota, what is your typical first response?

Vincent’s closing numbers were not what he had been hoping for. He asked his manager, Lynnette, what she thought the problem might be. After a little role-playing, Lynnette suggested that Vincent was spending too much time selling “from inside a box.”

Stan was frustrated. He kept getting “shot down on price” during discussions with prospective buyers. He knew he was supposed to talk directly about money issues before making a presentation . . . but somehow he never seemed to iron out the details in a way that gave him a clear sense of whether the buyer felt his pricing was acceptable.

Marina was having some problems with the opening phases of her sales process. Her early discussions with prospects were rarely productive. She sat down with Fred, her manager, and did some role-playing in the hope of improving her interviewing technique. During the role-play session, Fred shared a strategy Marina hadn't heard of. He called it “stripping line.”

Diane, a recent sales hire, got an email from her manager, Luis, suggesting that he accompany her on an initial sales call with a prospect – and then debrief with her on what he’d observed. Diane replied that she thought that was a great idea.

Eliza, a new sales hire, had posted an abysmally low closing ratio in her first 60 days on the job. She was spending most of her time with prospects who ended up picking her brain for advice and information . . . and then disappearing. Frank, her manager, asked her during a coaching session why she thought that was happening.

Ryan, a salesperson in his mid-fifties, had hit a performance plateau. His commissions had been flat for the past six months, and he had narrowly missed quota in each of those months. He scheduled a meeting with his manager, Jeannine, to see if, working together, they could identify any steps that would turn this pattern around.

During one of their coaching sessions, Jason asked his manager Ellen if she could think of one area he could work on over the next 30 days that would result in a dramatic and rapid improvement of his closing numbers. He was surprised at how quickly she answered.

Brian, an inside sales rep, spent too much of his time chasing deals that ended up going nowhere. He knew it; his sales manager Francine knew it. Late one Friday afternoon, Francine asked him to give some thought to the matter, and to come up with some ideas about why this was a problem for him.

Gwen’s closing rate wasn’t looking good; she had missed quota for three consecutive quarters. She asked her manager Eileen for a little help in figuring out what she could do to improve. Among the questions Eileen asked during their one-on-one meeting was this one: “Can I take a look at your proposals?”

Mike’s list of “active” prospects was always long and detailed, and he was sure everyone knew this during his team’s sales meetings. But when his manager Jacqueline did a little digging, she was surprised to learn how few of Mike’s “active” prospects matched up with the ideal sales cycle. Some were taking twice two or three times as long to reach a decision as the prospects of other salespeople on the team.

Leo, a new sales hire, was having a hard time making quota. He asked his colleague Sam for some help.

Sam asked, “Can I sit in on your next presentation?”

Tom, a recent sales hire, was struggling. He knew his closing ratios were not what they could be. He asked his manager, Victor, for some help in figuring out why.

Bert’s major frustration was dealing with prospects who couldn’t seem to make a decision.

During a weekly coaching session, he told his manager, Elaine, that one of his biggest difficulties was dealing with prospects who indicated the desire to make a decision, and who pledged to do so by a certain date. When the date rolls around, though, they invariably needed more time.“They’re driving me crazy,” Bert said.

 

When you first meet with a new prospect, how do you position your product or service? How do you characterize its various features, functions, and advantages? Which elements do you emphasize as having the strongest potential appeal to the prospect?

Jim had been working on a big deal for four months. Before he gave his presentation, his sales manager asked, “Is this prospect qualified?”

Jack lost a huge deal because of a sudden, ill-conceived emotional response.

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve finally obtained the appointment. You’re looking forward to meeting with the prospect and asking the questions you carefully prepared in order to qualify the opportunity.

Tricia was having problems uncovering accurate information during her discussions with prospects. Her conversations during sales calls tended to be unfocused, and she spent a lot of time pursuing options that her prospects ended up rejecting. Her manager suggested she try something called Negative Reversing.

Anita asked her manager to take part in a “ride-along” on her first sales call of the New Year so he could offer her some constructive criticism on the best ways to improve her selling technique.

Eileen, a brand-new sales hire, found herself struggling during her first week on the job. At her initial coaching session with Juan, her supervisor, she asked for some guidance on identifying promising lead sources. Instead of making suggestions about that, though, Juan decided to begin the process by asking a few basic questions.

Myra, a sales manager, scheduled a meeting with George, a salesperson who reported to her, to discuss his closing ratios. She was concerned about the high number of presentations George was making that were resulting in a “let’s think it over” response.

Once you’ve identified a goal that really matters to you, you’ll be more likely to attain it if you put the power of visualization to work on your behalf.

Tim, a new sales hire, was having trouble setting appointments. Miguel, his sales manager, wanted to know why.

Marco’s sales manager, Irene, asked him to forecast the number of sales he would close over the coming month. Marco came up with his best guess. Unfortunately, Irene didn’t find his best guess very helpful. As it happened, the new monthly forecast was identical to Marco’s previous month’s “best guess” – a figure he had failed to come close to reaching.

June is Effective Communications Month. With that fact in mind, consider the following cautionary tale for salespeople.

You just received an email from the chain hotel where you stayed last night. Along with offering its gratitude, the hotel is seeking your feedback through a survey–offered in the interest of continuous improvement. You’re asked to provide satisfaction ratings for some very important categories the hotel has chosen.