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Behavior

Given the upheavals and uncertainty of 2020, many leaders and salespeople have been asking us what we see on the horizon as the next year approaches. What skills and adaptations will be necessary not just to survive, but to thrive in 2021?

As a sales leader, there’s a simple way to help the salesperson check their beliefs when they are potentially getting in the way (head trash).

Mike Montague interviews Mike Crandall about how to succeed at prospecting during the pandemic.

 

Mike Montague interviews Tony Altham, Executive Director at BNI in the UK, on How to Succeed at Business Networking.

Often, we’re frightened when we come to terms with a problem that has grown out of proportion and seems dangerous. As these problems manifest, we become more and more aware of the intricacies that have created it. The hardest truth to face when it comes to challenges that build up overtime is that they are typically products of our own creation. Often, built out of a lack of perspective to our own coded responses that come from the autopilot of repeated behavior.

 

This year, on Fridays, Dave talks about the attitude, behavior, and techniques of successful sales managers as he shares his thoughts on the 49 Sandler Rules for Sales Leaders.

Listen Time: 8 Minutes

What is the ideal mix of daily and weekly activities – the mix that best supports our income goals? We should know. If we have a personalized daily “recipe” for daily and weekly progress toward key activity benchmarks, also known as cookbook or a behavioral plan, we can identify exactly how many dials we need to make, how many conversations we need to have, how many referrals we need to ask for, and so on… every single working day.

Jim Barnoski, Sandler trainer, talks about how to manage the prospect's emotional reactions to the sales process. Often, talking about things like budget, the prospect's problems, or even the people involved in the buying decision will trigger negative emotions in your prospect. If you can't prevent or get rid of them, the prospect might get rid of you instead.

One surefire way to increase your selling success—close more sales, more quickly, and more consistently—is to call on the right people for the right reason with the right product or service. That makes sense. But, for the product or service you want to sell, who are the right prospects and what are the right reasons?

Traditionally performance evaluations (or reviews) are a “check the box” exercise designed to appease HR. These evaluations typically come down to a “good kid” (you made your number / performed to expectations) or “bad kid” (you didn’t make your number) comment from a manager. 

The Who, one of my favorite classic rock bands but funny enough that exact question comes up a lot in my role as a Sandler trainer. Who are you? One of the first things that we do with new clients at Sandler is an online behavioral assessment. There are a few reasons for this, but in short, it tells you and us more about who you are.

A while back I attended a one-day Prospecting Boot Camp for salespeople in the heart of downtown London. After nine days of visiting attractions abroad, I decided to let my wife do the final day by herself, so I could endeavor to learn the differences (if any) in the mindset of British salespeople from their American counterparts.

In this episode of Selling the Sandler Way, Dave Mattson, the President and CEO of Sandler Training explores the Sandler Selling Philosophies behind the Sandler Selling System with Rich Isaac, a Sandler Trainer.

I made this statement about the fact that it's not what we sell that makes us different, it's how we sell it. Although he had heard that Sandler rule before, he was taken back and asked me to repeat it several times. What he began to understand was that to differentiate ourselves in selling situations we often look at the features and benefits of what we're selling. 

Rule #11: Mange behavior, not results. Create a cookbook or a recipe for success. You know, many sales leaders and sales managers, they manage numbers, not behavior. Think about that for a second. How many of us are knee deep into spreadsheets every single day?   

Rule #8: See People through Their Lens. Use DISC to understand how you and your people see the world so that you can lead more effectively. You know the DISC behavioral model will help you understand how to communicate more effectively with your team and anywhere else. You've got to understand and acknowledge how they interpret the world: how they communicate, how they want to be motivated, how they see the world, and where you then can adapt your style to match theirs.  

In his recent book, Change or Die, author Alan Deutschman claims that although we have the ability to change our behavior, we rarely do.  In fact, the odds are nine-to-one that when faced with a dire need to change, we won’t.  Most smokers who are presented with a wealth of scientific data on the dangers of tobacco do not quit smoking.  Our beliefs are what we feel in our gut and those beliefs are hard to change; we spent a lifetime developing and defending them.  This explains why providing information rarely changes how people think or act.

You have an inventory to take, a phone call to make, and a report to write. But instead of diving in and getting the tasks completed, you put them off. “I’ll get to them soon,” you tell yourself. But your definition of “soon” and Webster’s definition have little in common. Can you relate to these situations…or perhaps other recurring situations of similar thought and behavior?

Have you ever been frustrated by a friend or a colleague who was limited in life by the things they heard when they were young? Or you know someone who thinks they can do no wrong no matter what they do?

The customer's always right… Right? That's great in theory, but it's not always feasible in practice. Promises made and unkept are worse than promises not made. But not making the unreasonable promises of an angry client or prospect can seem like the makings of a fight!

If you're familiar with transactional analysis, you probably know that most people don't put conscious effort into the transactional analysis they experience. You should, though. Transactional analysis affects too much of the way you interact with the world for you to ignore it.

When you introduce yourself and what you do for a living, do you often see other people tense up? You're not alone. And it's probably not you they're reacting to. Experiences lead to expectations—and you can see it so quickly in a conversation.

In Sandler, one of the things we talk about is disqualifying prospects. If you go into an interaction with a prospect looking for red flags, you're likely to save a lot of headache later. However, as with all concepts, you can definitely overdo it. We call that literal versus reality. If you're too literal in applying the concepts we teach, and don't adjust them to fit your reality, you can shoot yourself in the foot. A client of ours who is in online marketing has been with us a number of years, and realized this not too long ago...

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...

One thing that David Sandler always taught was how powerful it was when you combine guts and humor. An experience a client of mine had a while back demonstrates that. A client of mine had been calling on a potential referral partner...

Instead of repeating the same customer service behaviors over and over with customers who have their unique characteristics and preferences, every employee must learn how to adjust their customer service style from one customer to the next. If we do not do this, some customers are left disappointed, even when the customer service standards have been met.

If you don't ask questions and uncover information, you're missing sales opportunities. A friend of mine saw this first-hand years ago when he was looking for a condo. My friend and his wife were looking for a condo in a ski resort town in Colorado. They began working with a real estate agent who was supposedly one of the highest producers in the area. The guy spent several weekends driving my friend and his wife around, showing them condos.

Sandler Training released a new public and free podcast last week called, “How to Succeed.” It is an inside look at the attitudes, behavior, and techniques necessary to succeed at anything. Host, Mike Montague interviews Sandler trainers, authors, and experts about how to succeed at absolutely anything. You will learn how to get to the top and stay there!

Most people have one thing in common: the desire to “do better.” Of course, “doing better” means different things to different people. For some salespeople, it means closing more sales. For others, it means closing bigger sales. And there are salespeople for whom it means working less hard…or simply working less. What does it mean for you?

If you're really honest with yourself, you probably don't always take ownership like you should. You probably have an opportunity to improve there. We all occasionally get caught up in the things we can't control, and don't spend the time and energy looking at the things we can control.

One of the things we talk about a lot in Sandler is an abundance mindset versus a scarcity mindset. Typically organizations and individuals operate either from a mindset of scarcity or a mindset of abundance. That can really steer an entire organization. However, it can also allow an individual salesperson to have more freedom.

Success is great. Maybe you recently made your best sale ever. Maybe you had your biggest year ever. Whatever the case, congratulations! But have you really dissected that?

In every sales interaction, you should get a yes, get a no, or get a clear next step. But regardless of which of those happen, you need to learn a lesson. Can you think of a time where you made the same mistake over and over again before you learned your lesson? Or maybe you still haven't learned that lesson yet.

Unless someone is in a lot of pain, they often don't seek out a solution to a problem they're having. As someone that has a solution, it's your job to find those people by asking the right questions. That's what prospecting is all about, and why it can always work, if you ask the right questions.

Do you think it would be possible to actually sell more and sell more easily? Could you actually spend less time, money and energy on business development and enjoy more revenue and profit? When you stop trying to sell to everyone, you can actually invest time and effort to build real ideal client relationships with qualified prospects. You can work smarter instead of harder.

Often, prospects you talk with will have an expectation about what doing business with you will be like. If the reality turns out to be different, that can be a challenge. Their expectations are formed by past experiences. And if you're not careful, your prospects may have those expectations and you don't even know about it!

As a buyer, what comes to mind when you think of the word, "Salesperson"? Usually what comes to mind are things like… used cars, polyester suits, briefcases, and flip charts or PowerPoint presentations. Many people dislike dealing with salespeople, and some even shudder at the thought of being one. Few, if any, children grow up dreaming of being salespeople, yet it is the most common profession in the world. Why is that?

How many commercials, advertisements, and even salespeople have you heard share how great their product or services are? Often times, it's way over the top! If you're not careful, you end up sounding just like everyone else.

Many sales managers attempt to manage their salespeople by “managing” their numbers. You can track numbers, but you can’t actually “manage” them any more than you can manage the weather. But, it is from the observation and analysis of the numbers that you can identify pathways for improved performance.

Chances are, whether you knew it or not, you've been tested at some point by a prospect, or even by a client. Sometimes it's conscious on their part, sometimes it's just ingrained in their subconscious. How you react is huge!

While traditional sales typically tries to get an appointment at all costs, in Sandler we talk about a different viewpoint: Disqualifying people rather than qualifying them. That way, you don't waste their time or yours if you can quickly uncover that you're not a good fit for each other. However, that can be taken too far. In fact, it's hard to disqualify accurately without exchanging two way information first.

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.

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.

Trade shows can be one of the greatest uses of an organization's resources. Or it can be one of the biggest wastes. It all depends on having an actual trade show strategy. At most trade shows, people are...

Everyone is steered by expectations. Sometimes they may not even be able to verbalize those expectations. And other times, they may actually result in you thinking the wrong thing is important to your prospect. Think about when you first talk to a prospect on the phone...

When you're selling, how much attention are you paying to the expectations of your prospects? If your behavior is too disconnected from their expectations, you can blow it in the most unexpected areas.

A client of mine recently turned a wrong phone number into a great opportunity. Let's take a look at what happened, and a few lessons we can learn from the situation. The phone rang at my client's office...

When people call you, if you're not careful, it's really easy to get sucked into wasting time. If people don't value their own time, they're never going to value yours. The quicker you can figure that out, the better it is for all parties involved. A client of mine...

Everyone brings two things to any interaction: Behavior and Expectations. It's your job to observe the behavior and uncover their expectations. A client of mine shared an interesting story with me a while back about his 17 month old that really demonstrated this.

I'm fortunate to get feedback all the time from people that I work with. A while back, I received an email from a client we work with that blew me away. Since he started working with us, he had quadrupled his income, so I was curious what he had to say.

David Sandler knew that salespeople needed to feel okay about themselves in order to truly be effective at sales. And one of the ways that comes into play is with your goals. If you rarely hit your goals, it's going to lower your self-esteem!

In Sandler, we have the concept of pattern interrupts. Pattern interrupts are doing something unexpected to stand apart from your competition. A lot of times it's something simple. If someone asks, Why should I do business with you? you might answer, I don't know that you should. Sometimes it can take on other forms as well, like it did a while back with one of my clients.

Regardless of what your goals are, you have to break it down into digestible bites. You have probably heard the elephant analogy: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It doesn't matter what it is...

It's funny how some people don't realize they're confusing people by using industry lingo. Of course, if you're the one losing sales because you don't even know you're doing it, it might not be as funny to you. I met with someone last year who was in the digital marketing space. Talk about an industry with a lot of industry lingo and acronyms!

When talking to prospects or leads, have you ever heard someone say something like, "Oh, my brother-in-law does what you do"? If that's something you hear on a fairly regular basis, especially during sales meetings, it's time to start disarming that bomb before it goes off, not after. So how do you do that?

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.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there in sales that promise the world to their prospect, then either under-deliver, or charge more than they claimed they would. It's amazing how you can set yourself apart simply by doing what you say you'll do, and not over-promising. One of my clients was recently...

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?

In Sandler, we recommend a somewhat different approach to talking to new prospects. If your approach is to try to get as many meetings as you can and sign as many clients as you can, you end up with a lot of bad fits, and that can result in bad situations. Instead, we recommend making every attempt to disqualify new prospects.

Perhaps you've experienced this. You're booked up so far in advance, that you end up losing sales opportunities. Some of those can't be avoided, but in some cases they can. Recently, I had a client come to me with a problem.

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.

Imagine a sales person that sells only one product. On a sales call, they discover that what they sell doesn't help the prospect in any way. They now have a choice: To honestly say, I'm sorry, what we sell would not be a good fit for you. Or they can attempt to force a fit. Which do you think happens most often?

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...

There's danger in letting your prospect end a sales call or sales meeting. Often times, they do it for the wrong reasons. You need to pay close attention to their behaviors, because those are signs of underlying expectations they have. And they may not be based in reality!

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.

I've written a number of sales articles, but also many articles on the topic of management. This should be no great surprise, since management is one of the areas I coach and train in. Let's take a look at the top five management articles over the last few years.

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!

I get asked all the time which of our 49 Sandler Rules is the most powerful one. Obviously, at different points of time, each rule can be very powerful. From a general business growth standpoint, here is the most powerful one...

If you're like most people, you've been in a situation where you had to deal with someone, and could actually feel your frustration rising. It's a common occurrence in customer service, and can end up with both parties ready to fight! As soon as you start to feel your frustration rise...

In many industries, there's a common problem. Phone calls aren't returned in a timely manner, and so-called "professionals" may not even show up for appointments. One of my clients was recently able to take advantage of that issue.

In sales interactions, if you ask enough questions, and you ask the right questions, you'll end up uncovering pain that your prospect has. At Sandler, we call that putting someone through the pain funnel. It's extremely powerful! And if we do the pain funnel right...

There's probably been a point where you thought a deal was a sure thing. You came back to the office, and when someone asked you how your meeting went, you told them you had a sure winner. Then you found out later they went in a different direction. How can you keep that from happening?

Have you ever had a sales meeting, only to lose the deal later to a competitor? It's fairly common. But what's even worse is when you thought it was a sure deal, and didn't even know your competitor existed. So how do you find out?

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?

A key to a successful organization is establishing what a good prospect looks like (and doesn't look like), then training all of your team to keep their eyes and ears open for that person. It's not just the job of your salespeople. It should be everyone's job!

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.

Have you ever been frustrated because doing business with a certain company was harder than you thought it should be? Have you thought about your own organization the same way? It may be difficult to do business with you, and you may not even realize it.

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...

Disqualification is completely up to us. Just because somebody comes in, wants what we have to sell, and has their checkbook ready, doesn't mean we have to sell it to them. For those that really like to help people, that can be a challenge. You can see your prospect is in pain, so it's hard for you to disqualify them, because you know you can help them.

Most salespeople operate on a scarcity mindset. They believe that there's not enough business out there for everyone. So the tendency is also there for your competition to bad-mouth you, whether it's really true or not, and whether you're really even their competition or not. The key is ...

One of the greatest things you can do as a salesperson is to disqualify prospects. Because if are unable to disqualify them, then by default you've qualified them. I've been through dozens of huge sales programs where that was never taught! Until, of course, I got involved in Sandler. It reminds me of one of my jobs before I got into sales.

Recently I spoke with a CEO over the phone, and he shared that his former vice president of sales had spoken with me a couple years before. When their former vice president of sales had called me, he was...

How often have you set a goal, but never did anything to reach that goal? Or maybe you had a great new idea to drum up sales, but never did it. Or helped put together a strategic plan that you never did anything with? You need to block out time!

There are two things everybody brings to every communication situation: Behavior and expectations. Understanding those can lead to sales, and not understanding them can lead to missed opportunities. You almost have to be a detective!

Happy ears is a concept we have at Sandler. It's all about hearing something, and making more out of it than you actually heard. If you're in sales, your even more likely to suffer from this than other people. And it can hurt you!

Have you ever gone to a meeting, come out of it, and said to yourself, "Well, that was a waste of time"? And do you think others have done that when they've met with you? Whose fault do you think that is? If you're being really honest with yourself, it's your fault!

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...

In sports they teach to be on friendly terms with your competition. We call that good sportsmanship. But in business, many go into it with a dog-eat-dog attitude. From their standpoint, there's only so much business to go around. In other words, they have a scarcity attitude. Others do business with an abundance mentality. They know there's plenty of business for everyone, and treat others accordingly. They tend to stay on friendly terms with their competition, and sometimes that can lead to business.

LinkedIn can be a great tool for prospecting, but only if you invest time and resources in knowing what it's really capable of, then actually taking time to utilize it on a regular basis. A client was recently on LinkedIn, and saw someone had looked at his LinkedIn profile. He then took five seconds to...

Typically when we think of professions that are universally respected, we don't think of salespeople. We may think of policemen, firemen, doctors, or even professional athletes. One of the things all those professions have in common is that they're always ready.

 

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...

There is huge power in taking the time to slow down and be intentional about your actions. All too often, we rush around so much that we don't actually get anything done. But when we take that time and are purposeful with our actions, there can be huge impact.

One of my clients recently changed that very thing in her organization. She began to implement what sounds like a fairly simple step, and was able to uncover something that made a huge difference.

We've been publishing helpful sales, leadership, and management articles on a regular basis for the last two years. One of the things we're able to track is which of those articles is the most popular. Since you may not have been a reader of ours for the entire two years, I thought it would be beneficial to share the 5 most popular sales articles.

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...

Having the guts to ask the important questions can really pay off. In the case of one of my clients, it recently dramatically increased his importance to a referral partner.

Some of you probably struggle to actually ask for someone's business. I was recently working with a client who lost a major opportunity because of that very issue. I was in a meeting with about twenty salespeople. They were all talking about...

Often, others ask me to help them pre-brief before a sales call, and debrief after a sales call. When I was recently asked to do so, I discovered a huge waste of time, energy, money, and resources. Fortunately, I also knew how to avoid that waste.

Equal business stature is a concept we've talked about applying to interactions with doctors. But it can also apply to interactions the other way around as well. Let's see how one of my fellow Sandler offices saw this first-hand.

 

In Sandler, we have a concept we call equal business stature. When you're talking with a prospect, you really have to believe and get them to believe that your stature, from a business level, is equal to theirs.

Here's one situation where we can see that play out.

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.

It's very common for executives, CEOs, and VPs of Sales to come to me and say, "Our people need to get better at closing." And nine times out of ten, it's not a closing problem, but another specific problem.

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.

You never know who around you is a potential prospect and who isn't. Because you can never know without having a conversation, it's important to engage in conversation with those around you. And in order to make it memorable for the other person, you have to make it much more about the other person than yourself.

If you get nervous about cold calling on prospects, you're not alone. It doesn't matter whether it's in person or over the phone, plenty of people don't like cold calling, and it makes them nervous. In Sandler, we have a rule about prospecting in general:

Sandler Rule #7: You Don't Have to Like Prospecting, You Just Have to Do It.

One of my clients helps his clients with their online marketing. He recently shared with me a story about how a blogger greatly affected a prospect of his. Let's look at that story and the three valuable lessons it can teach us.

I was at an event recently, sitting at a table with other professionals of varying ages. We were discussing the differences in the current generation from previous generations. One of the executives there responded, somewhat tongue in cheek, "This is all because soccer moms." Of course...

It's not what you say, it's how you say it. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about sales, management, or even your personal life. Tonality and body language plays a huge role! And even then, you need to make sure you respond, not react. I had a client recently...

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.

My wife and I were recently watching the television show Bar Rescue together. I enjoy watching that show because there are phenomenal business lessons there. My wife turned to me and said, "I can't believe there are people that clueless running businesses." Sadly, there are far more clueless people running businesses than she even realizes!

When someone tells you repeatedly that they're fine, and don't need your services, then changes their tune, do you jump at the opportunity? If so, you're setting yourself up for failure. It's not uncommon...

Do you want more out of 2014 than you got out of 2013? More money, more free time, more respect, more friends, more whatever? If you are like over 90% of the population there is something you said you would achieve in 2013 that you fell short on - why do you think only 10% did not fall short? It is because they have desire, commitment and follow the 6 simple steps we outline in this column.

Getting involved in organizations can be hugely beneficial. Whether it's a nonprofit, an association, or a local chamber. But you've got to be more than just a member! Let's look at a couple ways that might benefit you.

If I'm talking with someone, especially someone who is very direct and analytical like I am, I'll often start out the meeting with reasons we won't work well together. In other words, why they won't want to work with me. Rather than waste time, I want to get all that stuff out of the way! And it's amazing what it does to the conversation.

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?

Have you found yourself making assumptions when it comes to how your prospects make decisions? Recognizing and stopping that are huge, and the key is in asking questions. A client of mine was having trouble connecting with a lead for about a month. His general philosophy was, If I haven't followed up with someone within a week or so, why would they want to do business with me? Thankfully, this time he...

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.

When you think about different activities you do where you interact with others, are you thinking of how to maximize those interactions? What's the key to getting the most out of any interaction with any person?

Taking time out and debriefing how things are going is extremely important! Think about sports. How many sports have some type of a break in them? Almost all of them. What happens during the breaks? Adjustments.

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.

Success is created by changing your habits. Of course, that doesn't come instantly. It takes time to change habits. So how can we change our habits in sales? As it turns out, we can actually look towards doctors as an example of how to change our habits.

Have you ever been taped giving some sort of a presentation, then listened to your audio later? Or, even worse, watched yourself on video later? Was it what you wanted to see? For many of us, the answer is no! Our response is, "That's not what I'm like!" Did you know the same thing happens on sales calls?

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.

There's a characteristic that very few people track about their prospects, that really every salesperson should be tracking. If you're not tracking it, you aren't alone. But if you start, it can make a huge difference in understanding past interactions, making the most of future interactions, and ultimately your sales.

Have you ever been in a sales situation where someone was trying to beat you up over price? There's a technique you can use that, in my experience, is the absolute best thing you can do. You've got to be ready to walk away from the sale, but it's a phenomenal tool to use in situations like that.

Whose fault is it when things don't work out in sales? Is it the prospect's fault? Or is it yours? If you're answering honestly, it's always your own fault! So what should you do when you screw up a sales call?

Setting goals is an important part of sales, management, and leadership. But frequently we try to accomplish them by ourselves. We don’t live in a vacuum! But when we run into obstacles, we make the mistake of acting like we’re alone.

When something gets in the way of your goals, it doesn’t always work to ask, “What do I do?” Sometimes, you need to ask...

In sales, planning is huge, especially when it comes to prospecting. Without a prospecting plan in place that you're actively working, you're really just relying on luck. And why rely on luck when you can rely on a plan instead?

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.

Talking about price too early in the conversation is dangerous! If you concentrate on giving a better price during the sales cycle, you can fall into the trap of discounting and becoming a commodity. But how often is price the first thing a prospect wants to talk with you about?

Dress can play a huge role in sales and customer service. If you're not dressed right, it can make or break whatever piece of business you're working on. So how do you make sure how you dress contributes to what you're doing, rather than detracting from it?

In sales and in customer service, it's frequently the little things that matter. There may be sales you've made where something very small tipped the scales your way. Or possibly you've lost a long-term client over something you didn't even know had happened.

What do you look at as great customer service? Most likely it's not something huge, but some set of little things. Or it may even be just one little thing. Why are those little things so important?

People who enjoy socializing can fall into a trap. They can spend time on the golf course with their buddies, or maybe chatting at networking events. When they come home and their spouse asks what they did all day, they reply, "I was working." But if that's you, is that really was you were doing?

In my years in business, I kept seeing a common denominator in people I considered successful. I ran into it again and again. Yet for some reason I fought it and resisted doing it myself for a long time. What is it?

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.

Robert was at the doctor's office to get a shot. The only problem was, Robert was not entirely comfortable with needles. Robert was called back into the exam room. As they were getting everything ready, he thought he was pretty calm and relaxed. But he know that any moment, that needle was going to come out.

Finding out and using your customer's preferred method of communication is huge. I've seen it make or break a deal more times than I can count. Just recently, I had a client share a story about how it nearly ruined a relationship.

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.

It doesn't matter whether we're meeting with a prospect or talking to an existing client. When we meet with someone, we need to get enough information from them to know whether we can help them or not. It should be all about asking them questions.

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.

Have you ever had a prospect bring you a problem that you knew you could solve, you decided to business together, and it all fell apart? Often that's because the prospect brought you what they thought the problem was, but it turns out that the real problem was completely different. Is that really their fault? Or should you have taken steps to discover that ahead of time?

If we don't ask questions, we can waste time, energy, and even money. It leads to unpaid consulting and making assumptions. Some people are much more comfortable than others at asking questions.

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 Sandler, we have the concept of pay time versus no-pay time. It can be very powerful in managing the activities you have to perform and make better use of your time. Of course, the awareness really comes into play when you modify your behavior to fit the reality of your situation. So what is pay time versus no-pay time?

Can you really manage time? I frequently get the question, "Do you guys do training on time management?" It's always a struggle for me to answer. There's the little kid inside of me that wants to say, "You can't manage time!"

Too often, we lose the opportunity to make a sale because we become emotionally involved in a sale. While it's important that we show emotions, actually getting emotionally involved can have many negative consequences. We've all done it at some point or another. So how can that impact us, and how can we avoid it?

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.

How you view money is something we at Sandler refer to as your money concept. When looking at your own weaknesses in sales, it's a key issue to be aware of. Your money concept can really screw you up!

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.

It's very common to get used to the way things work in your world. For example, in your world, you may do a lot of free consulting. But this can hurt you, sometimes in a very immediate and drastic way.

The old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. The parallel in the sales world is that you can show a prospect the solution for their problem, but you can't make them take it. Instead, you've got to do something much more powerful.

When clients and customers come to you for your help, you're probably the expert. Like a skilled doctor, you can look at their symptoms, find out what the underlying problem is, and prescribe the best solution.

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?

How many of you would like to double your sales? If you are like most people you answered a quick yes to this question - let's look at the 3 ways we can do that?

We often get asked by clients (or prospective clients) how do you help our people get ready to be more successful in sales, business development, or client relations. Although it may sound like this could be a huge mystery - it is not quite that elusive. It can be broken down like this; to live your life as a champion salesperson, you have to go through the same training process as other top professionals whether they are athletes or astronauts, fire fighters or fighter pilots. Training conditions you to act and react in certain ways. This conditioning becomes a way of life based on rules, principles, and systems developed to ensure your success.

If only I would have asked … (fill in the blank)...? This is one of the most costly questions professionals have. It is also an extremely common thought that sales professionals, managers, leaders, and business owners share. How often have you left a meeting and thought to yourself I wish I would have asked………... or wish I would have said………....? If you are like most people these thoughts cross your mind on a regular basis. We find that many people know what they should ask or say – they just do not do it, or they are not comfortable doing it. This is a frequent issue that holds most people back – it keeps them from achieving the goals they have and the growth they seek. The big question is why does this happen? You might be surprised to know...

 

How often have you listened as someone rationalized his or her mishandling of a problem by externalizing its source: I can't meet my projections because . . ., My territory isn't large enough, or Our prices are too high? Closer scrutiny almost always reveals the source of the problem to be internal, stemming from the salesperson's concept of self specifically, a state of mind that prevents him or her from trying to break through his/her success barrier. This state of mind is their comfort zone.

Do you want more out of 2013 than you got out of 2012? More money, more free time, more respect, more friends, more whatever? If you are like over 90% of the population there is something you said you would achieve in 2012 that you fell short on why do you think only 10% did not fall short? It is because they have desire, commitment and follow the 6 simple steps we outline in this column.

The ABA Journal published a wonderful article about the legendary Texas lawyer "Racehorse" Haynes. In his very first jury trial, he accidentally stepped on a spittoon and fell to the floor in front of the judge and jury. After his client was later acquitted, he reasoned that it may have been because the jury felt sorry for the defendant being represented by such an inept attorney.

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.

It is very easy for us as sales professional, business owners and professionals to look at certain prospecting activities and say to ourselves, “Oh, that would never work for me!”

Really?

You can’t say that without putting effort into it and really see if it would work. You can’t say that without actually trying it first.

 

Our view on money is shaped by what we learned growing up. Whether we’re open about money, or learned not to discuss it with anyone, it’s become so ingrained as a part of us that it’s difficult to get past any issues that might cause.

Let’s take a look at three concepts you can use to change how you think about money when working with prospects and clients.

 

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?

 

What’s the best way to change your sales results? Change your sales habits. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Whether you’re trying to make more cold calls, work networking events better or even make use of your personal network of contacts, the key is changing your habits.

Changing your sales habits, and therefore your sales results, is a five step process. To make it easy to remember the five steps, we’ll use the acronym AKASH.

 

Your time is valuable. So when prospecting, you obviously want to make the best use of that time. If you’re mostly using passive prospecting techniques and don’t like wasting time, you’re making a huge mistake. Instead, the prospecting activities you invest time in should be active. What qualifies as an active prospecting activity?

 

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.

 

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...

 

I've spent a lot of time considering why the occupation of selling has been given such a low approval rating over the past 40 years. It wasn't always that way. Here's a story that got me thinking about this again. A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote mountainous pasture in California when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him