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Custom Growth Solutions, LLC | Sandler Training | Oklahoma City, OK
 

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Sales Process

If you're like many owners, CEOs, VPs of sales, and salespeople, you'd love to land more large accounts. However, large accounts typically have multiple decision makers involved in the process, and that can be a challenge.

If we're not careful, we can get in our own way. We make assumptions about how our prospects will react to something and can really foul things up. It happens all the time! You have to take care of those things early on in the process.

It's amazing how often prospects talk about price being the issue. But when you dig a little deeper, it's almost never the real issue.

One of our clients was talking with a prospect that was referred to him and lived out of town. The client was going to do some work as a result of an insurance claim, and the prospect wanted to get a bid from him before she gave him the insurance paperwork. When he asked why, she said, "I want to see what you're going to give me first."

One of my roofing clients met with an insurance adjuster a while back. My client does a great job at making the interaction all about the other person, so he let the adjuster take the lead in looking at the roof. In this interaction, that meant letting the adjuster go up the ladder first to look around for damage. The adjuster seemed a little surprised, but he examined the roof with my client.

If you're in sales, you need to be aware of the perception other people have. Not only are they mentally comparing you to others in your industry, but really they're comparing you to all the other salespeople they've interacted with and even stories they've heard from others!

Finding out your prospect's budget is a huge part of being able to make the interactions all about them, therefore making yourself look different than every other salesperson. It's not a matter of maxing out their budget, but a matter of helping them prioritize rather than trying to squeeze every last cent out of them.

Have you been in this situation? You've been in a sales interaction with someone, and you normally have a one-call close, but they don't seem to want to make a decision. Or maybe you're going over some details, and they look bored. Or maybe they're talking about their weekend, and you want to move on to business!

People buy for their reasons, not ours. Sometimes we write a prospect off, then they unexpectedly buy from us. If we had some magic way to get into their minds to understand why they do and don't buy, it would help. But since we don't, using Sandler techniques is the next best thing.

When talking to prospects, it's easy to suffer from something we in Sandler call happy ears. In sales, that means we hear something a prospect says and in our mind translate that to the sale being a sure thing. The problem is...

Have you ever screwed up a sales call? If you have good bonding and rapport and a good Up Front Contract, it's amazing what you can recover from. If you're familiar with Sandler, you may already know...

Upselling can feel sleazy. If not done the right way, you can come off as a pushy salesperson. On the other hand, some clients can get angry with you if they find out you offer a service they need but never told them about it.

 

One of my clients made an inquiry to a promotional products company via email for a price quote about a certain product. They responded with the quote, and then they proceeded to contact him no less than 15 times in a month. That's every other day including weekends!

 

One of the things often overlooked in a traditional sales approach is the fact that people buy for their own reasons. So many salespeople get wrapped up in features and benefits and why you should buy their product that they don't even think about what matters to the buyer.

It's amazing how when we make an interaction about the other person and help them discover things rather than tell them, it can make all the difference. We have to communicate to understand, not to be understood!

 

Pattern interrupts are about changing the momentum and direction of an interaction. Sometimes they happen right at the beginning of an interaction, and sometimes they happen somewhere in the middle.

It's the little things that make salespeople and sales interactions successful. And sometimes it's the little things that can lose a sale, as almost happened to a client of mine in the roofing industry.

We've all heard the saying that curiosity killed the cat, but curiosity doesn't kill sales. In fact, it's a valuable tool in the sales process, especially when it comes to prospecting.

When we talk about being consistent in sales, it can mean two things. Most of the time, we're talking about consistency in behaviors and prospecting activities. Are you consistently meeting new people and qualifying prospects? Are you following up when you say you will follow up?

How many times have you heard the phrase, "You have to hear no nine times in order to get one yes"? Phrases like that are pretty common in the sales world, but the most effective salespeople don't settle for those numbers. They create a mindset of continuous improvement and try to change that number.

One of the steps in your sales process should be the uncovering of your prospect's decision making process. In the Sandler Submarine, that comes right after uncovering the budget and right before you do any presentation.

Most salespeople have a deal stall out in their pipeline at one point or another. In Sandler, we have a technique we like to use when that happens. It's Sandler Rule #31: Close the Sale or Close the File.

 

In Sandler, we talk about the concept of a clear up-front contract, which is all about clearly communicating expectations at the beginning of an interaction, as well as throughout various stages and transitions. We also talk about the concept of making it all about the other person. Keeping their viewpoint, mindset, and needs in mind can be extremely helpful.

I have a long time client in the roofing industry. A while back, he was meeting with a potential customer, and she shared a story with him that demonstrates the fallout that can occur when you're overly emotional on a sales call.

She had hired a roofing company a couple different times...

Now, I'm sure this never happens to you, but I often speak with clients who have met someone who seems like a promising prospect or strategic partner, but aren't ever able to connect with that person again because the other person is "too busy." Are there times during the year or during the month where your schedule or someone else's schedule might be more full? Certainly.

A key concept in sales is not to make decisions for other people. That's especially true when it comes to qualifying and disqualifying prospects. It's true, you do want to disqualify bad fits as early as possible to avoid wasted time and resources for both parties involved. But you don't want to do that by making decisions for other people.

Making small changes to the way you interact with prospects can sometimes have a huge effect on your bottom line. There's one question that not everyone asks—but it can make a huge difference in your closing ratio and how you interact with potential clients. A while back...

It's all too common for salespeople to have a clogged pipeline. They're theoretically working on a lot of deals. But in reality, they need to clean out their list of prospects. In fact, doing just that can lead to closing more business!

In Sandler, we talk a lot about strategic partners and specifically referral partners. It can (and should) become natural to look for people who might become referral partners even if they won't end up directly doing business with us.

You've probably spent a lot of time learning about your product, what problems it solves, and who should buy it. That's good, but it can lead to a rookie mistake that I see all too often: information overload.

Sales doesn't have a great reputation for honesty, as an industry. That's a shame, for a lot of reasons, and one of those reasons is that honesty can actually be very beneficial in a sales conversation. Here's a situation where really unexpected honesty often leads to a sale.

When people get a hang of the concept of not spilling candy in the lobby, they sometimes take things a bit too far and want to give out as little information as humanly possible. I know I did.

Sandler rule #2, "Don't spill your candy in the lobby," is a hard one to learn because it goes against what most sales people are trained to do. You were probably trained at some point to share your expertise and get your presentation in front of a prospect as quickly as you could.

You've probably encountered prospects that responded strangely to things you've said or done that seemed perfectly normal to you. Or you've received negative reactions in group settings when you introduce yourself as a sales person.

A while back, I held a bootcamp for a large company at their headquarters. I spent Thursday and Friday with sales representatives who sell all across the country, and on Thursday night I heard a story that is a great example of sales gone wrong. When I speak in front of large groups...

In Sandler, we have the concept of an up front contract. That’s not a signed document. Rather, it’s a clear agreement regarding how the meeting will go. It’s really about expectations.

In Sandler, one of the things we talk about frequently is that your competition is every other salesperson your prospect has ever run into. In other words, they have assumptions on how you'll act based on everyone else in sales they've ever run into. Here are a couple of stories that illustrate the power of that...

When answering questions in a sales interaction, it's extremely easy to get boxed in. You can't box yourself in asking questions, but you can certainly box yourself in by answering questions. Instead, apply Sandler Rule #12: Answer Every Question with a Question.

Mobile devices have transformed everything, including marketing and sales. And it's crazy how many people and businesses still haven't caught on! I was working with a client a while back, and they asked me to...

A really good meal takes a lot of preparation. That's true when you have any good meal, but it is especially apparent around the holidays. Most people put hours of preparation into a good meal for just a few minutes of enjoyment. Are you applying that concept in your sales?

It may seem counter-intuitive, and its definitely counter to traditional sales. One of the concepts we have in Sandler is that of the pain funnel. While traditional sales asks questions to get more yes's, Sandler asks questions to get more pain.

Generating interest is not that difficult in most industries. It's easy! It's much more of a challenge to actually tap into emotion. But entire industries like marketing and advertising are built around helping you generate interest. The three ways to generate more sales are...

One of the pieces of advice we give at Sandler is to always have something a good prospect can buy. Too often, we get in the buyer's way by not ever offering anything as a starting point. If we have something they can potentially buy, it gives us a starting point for the conversation. But what do you do if that doesn't fit your world?

In Sandler, we talk a little about what traditional sales methodology and systems look like. We've found that when we explain it really clearly, people understand why it doesn't work, and can see how Sandler is different. Recently, I had a conversation with a business owner that floored me.

One of the frequent issues people raise during any sales interaction is price. The price is higher than they expect, or they can't afford the price. But by using some disarming honesty, you can strip away the "price excuse" and either make it irrelevant, or uncover what the real issue is.

In many roles, including sales, it's important to be available and open to communication. That often includes taking unexpected phone calls. But what do you do when you're on a phone call, and you really need to get off the phone? It can be awkward! There are two key things to keep in mind that can help in that situation.

We've all heard of a new technique or habit that sounded great, but we couldn't implement it. It's not that we didn't start. We did it once, but it felt so terrible that we didn't want to do it again. It didn't matter if the future benefit was going to be great. It was so painful the first time or the first few times, that we never did it again.

We've all felt pressure, like we're under a spotlight. Maybe our prospect asks a difficult question, or one where we don't think they'll like our answer. Do you stick to your system at that point, or abandon it in the hope we can get better results from winging it?

I was recently speaking with another Sandler Trainer. He shared with me a story of selling to a couple car lot owners that demonstrated the power of a concept we in Sandler call negative reversing. It can really change who is doing the selling in a sales interaction.

Frequently people ask me how do I get better? How do I grow? How do I improve? Those are all good questions. In fact, if you don't ask yourself these questions, you should! The first step is...

I've been working with a nonprofit that relies on members. Specifically, the local "chapter" of that group. They shared with me last year that they'd made a change in how they talk to people about prospective memberships.

Have you stopped to think just how much the word "IF" is worth? Judging by the way so many salespeople talk, it must be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example: "If I had only gotten there sooner... ," "If our prices were only more competitive...," "If the economy wasn't so volatile... ," "If the competition wasn't so stiff... ," "If the timing was better... ," "If I only had a bigger territory... ," "If only they would return my calls... ." The list is endless.

As a salesperson, you've probably been taught that if you want to sell more, you have to have more sales meetings. Nothing could be a bigger waste of your time!

Negative reversing is a core concept we teach at Sandler Training. We compare it to fishing. When a prospect nibbles, you should let out more line. It can actually result in your prospect telling you all the reasons they should buy from you. However, it goes counter to what traditional sales is all about.

For people and organizations with big ticket items, the sales cycle is more complex. And the more complex the sales cycle, the longer it typically takes. So how do you prospect differently for those complex sales cycles?

There are five steps to growth: Awareness, Knowledge, Application, Skill, Habit. The challenge is, knowledge is where most of us stop. You've probably said, "That's a great idea!" but never did anything with newfound knowledge. Getting through all of the steps can be a challenge. There is one key element required to make the jump past knowledge, through all the steps until it's a habit.

In Sandler, we have a rule: No pain, no sale. It means that unless you can find an actual pain a prospect is experiencing that you can solve, you shouldn't sell them anything. Pain is the reason someone does business with you. If someone has pain, you have to figure out...

Because traditional selling is so bad, prospects often have their defenses up before they even meet with you. I like to use the analogy of a castle. They may have the drawbridge drawn, they may have the moat filled, they may even have alligators in that moat. The trick is to be aware of that, and to work through it.

If your role has anything to do with sales, you likely spend a lot of time networking, and maybe even prospecting. It's not unusual to meet someone who may leave you feeling a little intimidated. If you're not careful, that can lead to lost opportunities. A client of mine...

Traditional sales is not the same as the methods we teach at Sandler. And often times, the way we teach is not easy. It's hard work! Someone that has been exposed to Sandler often comes to a moment where they can implement what they've been taught, or they can retreat into the traditional methods that they're more comfortable with. We call that wimp junction. As an example...

The one constant in the world is change. If we're not careful, we can lose opportunities because we try to rush things and do them on our timeline, not the timeline of our prospect. One of my clients recently modified their sales process. They adjusted...

Often, the difference between you and your competitor can be obvious to your prospects. The key lies in asking a lot of questions, and not confusing surface pain indicators, or symptoms, with the actual cause of the pain.

Any time you try a new sales technique, it's not going to feel natural or comfortable. It doesn't matter whether it's the three-foot rule, answering a question with a question, or using an up front contract, it's probably not going to go super smoothly, and if you're not prepared, you won't feel okay about that.

It's sort of like scuba diving.

Have you ever wasted your time with a game of phone tag? Not only does it waste your time, but the other individual's time as well. Having a clear next step at the end of every communication interaction is huge! And it's all too common for it to not be there. But if you don't have it, you can lose out on a lot of opportunities.

Pain is an extremely powerful emotion, one that if we tap into, can make a huge difference. But it's not easy! At Sandler we typically talk about the effect it has in the sales arena, but it's also useful in marketing and advertising. But it turns out it's not easy there either!

In Sandler, one of the things we teach is why failure is a good thing. In fact, that's rule number one of our 49 rules. Sandler Rule #1 - You Have To Learn To Fail, To Win. But more than just learning to fail, you also have to learn how to succeed. Both should benefit you far beyond the actual event. So how can you do that?

There is phenomenal power in taking time and energy to really analyze your sales process, and determine where you're losing business. And frequently, it boils down to one key difference in what you believe. For one company, that meant a minor change resulted in a 100% close rate.

Why do you think so many of your buyers and prospects like to haggle on price? Because salespeople give in! But when you give in on price, you're really letting people know you're nothing more than a commodity, and all of a sudden they'll be going to whoever can get them the best deal. Do you really want to be the cheapest option?

Have you ever had someone really excited to buy from you, then it derailed quickly after that when they went to talk to someone else? It could have been their business partner, spouse, boss, or someone else entirely. How can you avoid that?

A salesperson's value is more about what information they discover from prospects, as opposed to what information they share with prospects. And nowhere is that more apparent than in budget. Recently a client shared a story with me about how discovering a client's budget made all the difference.

A lot of conventional sales knowledge is just plain wrong. Before I was involved in Sandler, I was just as guilty of buying into it as the next salesperson! One thing many salespeople do that they shouldn't is buying food, snacks, or entire meals for prospects.

Technology has changed the way sales works. At the very least, it introduces new tools that your prospects may prefer for communicating. And if your prospects are comfortable with that technology, you'd better get comfortable with that technology.

In Sandler we have a concept called the three foot rule. Put simply, if someone is within three feet of you, talk to them, because they're a potential client. It's a habit that when practiced, can lead to a lot more opportunities, without the need for presentations. In fact, I recently experienced this myself while on vacation.

Regret is, unfortunately, all too common in the sales world. Sales professionals, managers, leaders and business owners often wish they had asked a certain question during a meeting, and wonder how it would have turned out differently if they had. Fortunately, we have a philosophy or tactic in Sandler that can make it much less uncomfortable.

There's a technique you can use to help discover what remaining concerns your prospect has. It's called the thermometer technique, and it is really powerful. If you're not familiar with the thermometer technique, here's a story to explain how it works.

If you're like many salespeople out there, you may have been guilty of winging it during a sales call. Maybe you just did it once, maybe you do it more often. You may even do it every time you make a sales call. If that sounds like you, you're in trouble!

People will buy how you sell long before they buy what you sell. How you treat people speaks volumes. People will remember if you treat them better than your competition treats them. In one case, practicing this technique led to a customer of mine raising their annual purchase order from half a million annually to nearly four million dollars a year.

How often have you asked a prospect about their budget, and they tell you they don't really have money for your service or product? Do you give up then? Plenty of salespeople do. But there's no reason to throw in the towel!

In every communication situation, somebody's buying and somebody's selling. Inside of us, subconsciously, we think that they're always the same. If you look at yourself and how you buy, you're going to sell the same way. You put yourself in your prospect's shoes, even when they don't think the same way you do. And that can be dangerous.

We all know that sales is no place to get your needs met. But some of us are wired where we want to be liked more than we want the sale. That can really goof you up! It's a major, major weakness.

First impressions are huge. If you mess up in the first few minutes you're in a meeting with a new prospect, you may set yourself up for hours of unpaid consulting. So how do we avoid that type of situation?

The single biggest difference between an amateur and a professional in any field is practice. There will be times that we run into something that we haven't been exposed to before. Naturally, we're all going to...

Thank you very much to all of you who came out to support the expansion and our growing business. Having you attend and celebrate with us means a lot. Knowing how much the business community supports us is wonderful. Also thank you to the Chamber ambassadors and staff for helping promote and support the event.

We had several hundred people come through the doors to share in the festivities – hopefully you made some great new business and / or personal connections.

 

You’re getting to the end of the meeting with a prospect, and you ask that question, “What kind of budget are we looking at?”

Your prospect sits back, brow furrowed slightly.

“I have no clue, I’ve never bought one of these before. What does it usually cost?”

 

For many, sales are cyclical. Have you historically had lower sales in the last three months of the year? It amazes me how frequently I talk to people about their views on sales during the fourth quarter, and how they’re okay with less sales.

Why do sales people, business owners and leaders feel this way?

 

In Sandler, we have a list of guidelines we like to call the Sandler Rules. Simply put, the Sandler Rules are what separates the truly successful salespeople from those who worked hard and never seem to hit their stride.

David Sandler reasoned that if he could guide salespeople to do the appropriate behaviors, the success would almost be effortless. And from that reasoning, the Sandler Rules came about.

 

A client of mine recently told me a story. He was starting to work with someone who he had worked with in the past, and it hadn’t turned out so well last time. In the initial conversations, he felt like the past incident was hanging over his head. Fortunately, he was able to take care of the elephant in the room with a straight-forward solution.

He gathered up his guts, and brought it to the prospect’s attention.

It went something like this...

 

Most of us have clients that we really love to do business with. It’s probably not all of them, but there are ones that we would like to get more of. Ones that we would love to duplicate, and for all of our clients to be very similar to.

There’s a fairly straight-forward method for seeing how to replicate those clients that we love doing business with.

 

In traditional sales, a prospect asks a salesperson a question. Then the salesperson starts dumping out all of their reasons they should buy from them. The salesperson’s reasons, not the prospect’s reasons.

Why play the guessing game?

Instead, uncover their reasons by trying to talk them out of it. At Sandler, we call that negative reverse selling.

 

One of the benefits of the Sandler selling system is that you always know how your meeting is going to end. You’ll understand the four ways to end a meeting the right way.

 

Do you ever have prospects refuse to make decisions? Do they ever fight you on the price of your product or service? Do you ever find yourself doing free consulting? Do your prospects ever stall with excuses?

Using a good sales system keeps you, the salesperson, in control, eliminating those sort of issues. While traditional sales systems play right into the ability of a prospect to maintain control, using the Sandler system keeps you in control.

 

Do you worry about wasting time at networking events? Or maybe you enjoy going, but all you’re doing while you’re there is socializing. You might even be someone that knows you need to network more, but then stand by yourself and talk to almost no one.

If any of those fit you, then you’re not really networking at those events, you’re just not working. So what’s the secret to making sure you’re really utilizing those networking events like the master networkers do?

 

Everyone loves referrals. Hands down, they’re the most efficient way of prospecting. Money does grow on trees. They’re called referral trees. Referrals have several distinct advantages when compared to other prospecting activities.

 

Likely you have heard some version of the phrase “if you want what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done.” By countless measurements in most aspects of life, no truer statement has ever been spoken. Let’s take a few minutes to explore the true meaning of this phrase from a professional standpoint. Most people work for a living and the vast majority of them want more out of their working life. This could mean...

 

If you are like many people you are asking yourself what the heck does my posture have to do with success in sales (or anything for that matter). This all depends on how you are defining posture. We are not specially talking about how you stand or sit in a chair; however this may contribute to what we are talking about. What posture in sales means is...