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Sales

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, 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.

I'm fortunate that Sandler is a worldwide organization, so from time to time I get to talk to people that have been involved in Sandler for a long time, but are not clients of mine. In fact, many of them have been involved in Sandler longer than I've been a part of Sandler!

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...

You've probably been asked before to discount your services. If you agree to the discount, you may gain that prospect as a client. If you say no, it may cost you in the short run-but could lead to better opportunities in the future...

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...

I don't see a ton of movies in the movie theaters. However, a while back, I saw the movie American Sniper. Now, I certainly don't want to get into a political conversation, but there is a huge business lesson in that movie about focus...

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...

Sometimes, prospects you're working with will feel uncomfortable. Maybe a question you asked made them feel that way. Perhaps it was someone else involved in the conversation. Or it might just be the situation itself. Of course, different people feel uncomfortable in different situations. But the more you can do to make them feel comfortable, the better! A client of mine...

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.

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.

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

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.

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!

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.

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?

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.

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.

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?

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...

Why are you in business? Many people are in business because they have a unique skill set or background, and want to use that to help others. Unfortunately, in some ways that can end up limiting them, and can ultimately hurt them. Sound familiar?

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 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.

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.

You may be losing sales if there is any point in your sales funnel that's a challenge for your prospects or clients. How can you make it easier for people to do business with you? Sadly, most businesses do not make it easy to do business with them. And if it's a challenge for people to buy from you, then they won't!

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.

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...

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.

Recently I saw the movie American Sniper. While watching it, I heard a quote I have used for some time. However, in the movie they put a different spin on it. In the movie, the sniper instructor told Chris Kyle, the main character, "Aim small, miss small. Aim big, miss big." As you can imagine...

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 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.

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.

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?

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?

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...

Too often, I talk with people that are working with clients they shouldn't have. It could be that their client doesn't pay on time, can't invest the time needed to solve the problem, or just plain isn't a good fit. If you're honest, it's happened to you at some point in the past! There are two reasons people take on business they shouldn't have.

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!

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.

It's fairly common knowledge that you should know what a good prospect for your organization looks like. But do you know what a bad prospect looks like?

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...

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...

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!

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.

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.

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.

Your prospects may think they know what's causing their pain, but they're often wrong. As a salesperson, it's your job to dig into the symptoms they share, and diagnose what is actually causing their pain. Not only that, but you also need to see if you're even the person that can help with the actual source of the pain! In other words, you need to be seen as a trusted advisor, not a salesperson. A client of mine recently shared a story that illustrated this well.

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.

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!

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...

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?

When a prospective client shares that your competition is way cheaper than you, how do you respond? Your response can make all the difference in the world. It's all about knowing your own value.

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.

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!

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?

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.

Recently I was on a business trip and during my travels I found myself fortunate enough to overhear one of the most amazing conversations I have ever heard. It was highlighted by an extremely successful business executive sharing his secret to success with a young business person only a few years into his career. The summation was four words he shared changed his career and ultimately his life.

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...

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...

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?

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?

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?

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.

When something seems to be self-evident, the truth is it may not be evident to everyone else. "Self" is the key word there. We can't make assumptions that everyone knows what we know. To assume is to lie to yourself.

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.

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.

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?

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...

 

Do you know what your ideal prospect looks like? When thinking about your ideal prospect, it's important that you be able to describe their observable attributes. There are a couple reasons for this.

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...

A group I’m a member was having a meeting the other week. A member of the group shared that he’d read one of the books we have at Sandler, You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar. He then shared what single piece of advice helped him close a six figure deal.

 

So many of us get in our own way with head trash. Our preconceived notions get in our own way, and they’re frequently not even accurate!

One piece of head trash many of us have is that we are intimidated by people we perceive to be extremely successful. So intimidated, that we frequently don’t even consider approaching them for sales opportunities.

 

In every communication situation that we’re in, there are two primary things at play. There’s their expectations, based on their experiences and the experiences of other people they’ve talked to. Then there’s our behavior.

Which part of that do we have control over? We have the ability to make good connections really quickly, or blow it really quickly.

Remaining flexible is why we need a lot of tools in our sales toolbox. Coming prepared with a variety of tools mean we can deal with a variety of situations. And some of those tools can, if uses properly, help us avoid unwanted surprises during sales calls.

 

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.

 

Recently I did some customer service training for a client. While we were talking about good service versus bad service, something happened that provided a great example of the impact bad service can cause.

Typically when I do customer service training, I will ask them what they think of good service, and who comes to mind. Then I’ll ask them what they think of bad service, and who comes to mind.

 

Bonding with a prospective client and establishing rapport early on are hugely important. If we aren’t careful, we can unintentionally cause someone to disconnect from us. A mistake in the first few seconds, and we can potentially be done for.

Those subconscious things that we connect or disconnect with are so far down deep inside us that we don’t even register them sometimes. In fact, several years back we had a dog that helps demonstrate this. 

Having worked for some large, large organizations, I’ve had the following conversation several times.

Co-worker who isn’t in sales: “I want to be in sales.”
Me: “Why do you want to be in sales?”
Them: “They’ve got the best life. They don’t work very hard!”

Really? When that co-worker of mine punches their clock out at five o’clock, they’re done.

 

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.

 

A prospecting plan is instrumental in making sure you actually reach your prospecting goals, and therefore your sales goals. After all, prospecting is the life-blood of sales.

Let’s take a look at five key components for your prospecting plan.

 

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?”

 

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?

 

Prospects generally don’t intend to lie. They’ve been conditioned that way by bad salespeople. In fact, many people wouldn’t like under any other circumstances. But when dealing with a salesperson, it’s a defense mechanism that pops up.

Let’s take a look at three lies prospects tell, and what we can do about it.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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?

 

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.

 

Every salesperson probably already knows that prospecting is the life-blood of sales. Yet how many of us prospect with no real plan? Either that, or we just procrastinate our prospecting totally. You need to make an actual, written prospecting plan, then execute on it. Don’t go into it without planning, but don’t plan so much that you never actually do the prospecting. Let’s look at how you can create a step-by-step prospecting plan.

 

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...