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

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Communication

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!

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...

One of the more powerful techniques we help people learn is how to uncover expectations. We call it the "magic wand" technique. A client shared a great story a while back that helps demonstrate how it works...

One of the things I often see in salespeople is nervousness about asking people for their contact information. Too often, they accept, "I'll get back in touch with you," from their prospects, when they should really take more ownership for the next step. I've got a simple method I use that gets me the right contact information every time. In fact, with CEOs, it's gotten me their cell number every time but one!

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.

It's probably very common for someone to tell you, "Hey, you should give this guy a call. He really needs your help." And if you're not careful, you can waste a lot of time and energy in situations like that! Let's look at how you can best deal with referrals and avoid wasting time and energy.

Misunderstandings can lead to lost sales. Often, just asking one or two more questions can clear up roadblocks and lead directly to a sale.

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!

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!

If you're interacting with someone who has experience in your industry, it can be a landmine! Maybe they have a relative that works in the industry, or maybe they used to work in the industry themselves. Regardless, if you're not careful, you can end up blowing yourself up.

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.

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...

Discovering the communication style of your prospects and customers is extremely important. It can often help you cut through the noise and communicate effectively, making a real conversation possible. One of my clients recently discovered...

One of our rules in Sandler is Sandler Rule #47 - Selling is a Broadway Play Performed by a Psychiatrist. In a play, people play different parts. In your role as a salesperson, how do you know which part to play?

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.

If you're like most people in sales, there have been times that you didn't make a sale, and didn't know why. Other times, you may have been brave enough to ask why someone didn't buy. But the truly dedicated find that out during the sales process, even if it's a really unusual reason. As a salesperson...

Think for a moment about the most respected professions. What comes to mind? Chances are that a profession like doctors came to mind. On the other hand, it's very unlikely that salespeople came to mind, much less insurance salespeople. One of our clients defies that stereotype with just one major difference...

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...

Prospects come in with different behaviors, and different expectations. Sometimes, prospects make up their mind before you ever interact directly with them. It may be that they want to do business with you, or it may be that they don't. Or they may not know yet. Regardless, the earlier you can figure it out, the better.

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.

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?

I was recently speaking with someone about doing some training. They shared the story of how one of the people they wanted me to train had blown a half a million dollar deal in just thirty seconds.

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.

The question most buyers default to is How much? That's especially true when they don't buy what you sell very often, if ever. So if you set yourself apart by having high quality, it's entirely possible they'll balk at the price. There are three things you can...

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...

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.

There's huge power in finding out more information when you get a referral. Not just if the person was referred and who referred them, but actually WHY the person referred them to you. Recently a client of mine got a referral from...

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.

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!

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 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...

When it comes down to it, most people really view negotiations as a lose-lose situation. Or, at best, they view it as a win-lose scenario. But if you really strip away what good negotiations are, they're a conversation that results in a win for both parties. So how do we, as salespeople, get to that point?

Prospects get defensive. They fortify their castle, and don't want to let any salespeople inside. Something causes them to raise their drawbridge, and retreat inside. And it's always because of a past experience!

You can't be more committed to fixing a prospect's problem than they are themselves. If you are, you'll end up in a bad situation at some point. A client of mine...

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!

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!

Asking the right questions is extremely important. But once you know what questions to ask, actually asking them in the right order is hugely important! It definitely happens in customer service, but it can do even more damage in sales. It's amazing how often I see salespeople ask the right questions, but in the wrong order. Let's look at uncovering the decision maker as an example.

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.

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.

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!

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...

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.

Even though they may not be clearly defined, you likely have some long term objectives for yourself, your family, your career, your business, etc. Recently I heard some advice about being insincere that bothered me greatly and has since I heard it.

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 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...

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 met with someone and then felt like you just didn't click? It may have been a sales situation, a management situation, or even a personal relationship. Whatever the case, you just didn't feel like you connected? Or maybe the opposite has happened to you. So what's the key to that emotional engagement?

Who really likes to be told what they're doing wrong? If you're like most people, you don't like to be "told". So how do you think your prospects feel when you "tell" them something? It feels like you're a critical parent! And how likely do you think people are to buy from a critical parent? Instead, we should...

Sometimes we can see pains our prospects have that they can't see themselves. We know the problem is there, and know we can fix it, but they just don't see it. For all intents and purposes, the pain isn't visible to them. So how do we get them to acknowledge the pain?

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.

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!

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

 

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...