Sandler Training – Step Three of Professional Selling: It has got to hurt!

I bet right now you are carrying around a wallet or purse that contains your credit cards, debit cards, and/or cash.  I know why you carry that stuff around all the time…it is because you like to buy stuff.  Buying things can be very emotionally satisfying, unless a salesperson gets in the way and steals your emotional satisfaction.  That’s right, sometimes we, the sales professional, are the reason our prospects choose not to buy from us.

We who sell should understand what motivates people to buy in the first place so that we can avoid being the problem.  If prospects buy for emotional reasons then which emotions provide the greatest motivation?  Some people buy because it brings pleasure.  Clothes, food, drink, toys, and vacations might be some good examples.  Some people buy because it relieves or prevents pain.  Insurance, dentist, financial advice, and security systems might be some good examples.  It is important, however, to recognize that people’s desire to eliminate or prevent pain is significantly more powerful as a motivator when making buying decisions than people’s desire to have pleasure.  And most of us professional salespeople are in the pain removal/prevention business.  Therefore, your strategy when selling your product or service to the prospect should be to find out where it hurts.

Sometimes this is not easy.  It takes a good sales professional who is properly prepared with the right questions to uncover real pain.  Imagine going to visit the doctor to get a routine checkup.  The doctor begins to ask you a series of questions about how you feel.  The questions are good and very thorough.  You explain to the doctor about some minor cramping you have been experiencing recently in your side but it was no big deal.  In fact, you weren’t even going to bring it up if it weren’t for the thoroughness of the doctor’s questions.  The doctor orders some tests and a scan of your side.  A short time later, the doctor returns with the results and tells you that your appendix is on the verge of rupturing and it needs to be surgically removed immediately.  What would you, as the patient, do at this moment?  Would you tell the doctor to give you a price because you need three bids before you can decide who performs the surgery?  Would you say that you need some time to think about it first?  The pain that the doctor professionally uncovered would be so great that you would likely be motivated to authorize the surgery without even talking about price or anything else.

The sales professional should be prepared when in the sales call to thoroughly examine the prospect for pain which the product/service being sold can effectively remove/prevent.  The tools we use to execute this examination are questions.  Spend some time developing a list of diagnostic questions that are well written, thoughtful, clever, and unique.  If you hear the prospect say “That’s a good question,” you know you are on the right track.  Have at least ten questions prepared for the sales call because not all questions will find pain.  When you find pain indication, move the discussion from intellectual to emotional by asking the following follow-up questions:

1. Tell me more.
2. How long has this been a problem?
3. What have you done to fix it?
4. How did that work?
5. How much has this problem cost you?
6. How do you feel about it?
7. If I were to fix it, what would that mean to you?

It is extremely important that when you are doing your diagnosis, you keep your mouth shut as much as possible.  This is not the time to do a feature/benefit dump.  Let the prospect tell you everything about their problems and get emotional about it!  Your success at selling a deal at the price you deserve depends greatly on your ability to uncover the pain.  For the prospect to buy, it has got to hurt!


by Karl Schaphorst, President

402-403-4334

www.karlschaphorst.sandler.com


Sandler Training is a global training organization with over three decades of experience and proven results. Sandler provides sales and management training and consulting services for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies.  For more information, please contact Karl Schaphorst at (402) 403-4334 or by email at kschaphorst@sandler.com.  You can also follow his blog at karlschaphorst.sandler.com.

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Step Two of Professional Selling: No More Maybe’s!

The last words a salesperson wants to hear are “I need to think this over,” or “I think I will sleep on this,” or “Send me some references,” etc.  These stalls from prospects are all too common and are absolutely worthless to the sales professional.  In fact, they become a liability to the salesperson who takes them.  The salesperson develops a case of the hope-a-hope-a’s, believing there is still a chance to sell something, and chases the prospect who didn’t have the guts to tell the salesperson the truth that he/she is not interested.  Days, weeks, maybe even months are wasted by the salesperson chasing an opportunity that never was.  This sales behavior is real, because I used to waste my time chasing maybe’s over and over again.

The sales professional needs to make a decision right now to never accept another “Maybe” again.  I mean, getting a “No” from the prospect has more value since “No’s” contain clarity and allow the sales professional to divert energy and resources to more productive opportunities.

The Up-Front Contract

If you want to remove “Maybe” from the prospect’s vocabulary, then how you set up the sales call before it gets going becomes very important.  Establish an agreement with prospects on what you plan to do for them before you actually do it and give them the chance to agree to your plan.  This is a called an Up-Front Contract.  Here are the steps to follow to set a good contract with your next prospect:

1. Appreciation:  Thank the prospect for agreeing to meet with you.

2. Time: Get confirmation from the prospect on how much time they can spend with you and assure them that you will not go long.  This puts the prospect at ease knowing that there is a defined ending to the meeting.

3. Agenda:  What is the purpose of the sales call?  It is not to learn about the prospect and make a new friend.  You are there to sell so be very blunt when telling the prospect about your purpose.  This will actually put the prospect at ease.  The blunter you can be, the less the prospect has to worry about hidden agendas.

4. Permission for Questions: Don’t just start asking, get permission first.  Questions can be abrasive and you are going to ask a lot of them, so make sure you get permission for questions.  You can also give permission for the prospect to ask you questions.

5. Permission for “No”: The best way to remove “Maybe” as a potential outcome of your sales call is to give permission to the prospect to tell you “No” if they don’t want to buy. Tell the prospect that “No” will not hurt your feelings.  You can even add that “Maybe” is not an acceptable outcome to the call.  Another benefit is the prospect can further relax with you because you have given them an escape route to use if they decide they are not going to buy.

6. Define the Outcome:  On the other hand, if the prospect is still interested in you after the discussion, then ask for clarity in the outcome of the sales call.  Offer up an example of what a positive outcome could look like if the prospect is still interested.  Maybe it is another meeting a couple weeks out where you present a solution designed to address the issues you uncover.  What is important here is that if the answer is not “No,” you want clarity on what the next step in the sales process is before you leave the meeting.

Up-Front Contracts professionally posture the meeting, increase the productivity that comes out of the meeting, and nearly eliminate “Maybe” as a possible result.  Prospects will recognize the professionalism of the contract and this is also to your benefit.  I highly recommend that you script this portion of your sales call by writing out a good contract word for word to use in your next call.  This will require some assertiveness on your part, but a good Up-Front Contract will result in no more “Maybe’s”


by Karl Schaphorst, President

402-403-4334

www.karlschaphorst.sandler.com


Sandler Training is a global training organization with over three decades of experience and proven results. Sandler provides sales and management training and consulting services for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies. For more information, please contact Karl Schaphorst at (402) 403-4334 or by email at kschaphorst@sandler.com. You can also follow his blog at karlschaphorst.sandler.com

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Sandler Training – Step One of Professional Selling: Get Up Off Your Knees!

It is time to stop begging for business.  Stop running around doing everything the prospect asks you, giving them every ounce of knowledge you have, sending thank you cards and trinkets because you think all of that “extra-mile” activity will get you sales.  Stop sending out proposals and offering presentations to anybody and everybody who raises their hand and/or feigns interest in your product or service.  Stop cutting your price or increasing the offering at the same price in order to entice the prospect to say “Yes.”  You simply don’t have the time or the money to do all of that extra work for every prospect that winks at you. In other words, get up off your knees and start selling like the professional you are.

Establishing a Salesperson’s Bill of Rights will help you in sorting your prospects.  Come up with a list of rules that the prospect must follow or you will get up and walk out on the sale. You heard me right. Not everybody deserves to have the privilege of buying your product or service and it is better to identify the bad prospects early in the sales dance.

To help you with this, I will share with you my Salesperson’s Bill of Rights:

No Trust –This one is an easy one to understand. Prospects will never buy from a salesperson they don’t trust. It is not difficult to see that there is no trust in the call. The body language and tonality of the prospect will give him/her away. Therefore, if you sense that the prospect does not trust you or what you are saying, save yourself some time and start ending the sales call.

No Qualification – There are a lot of prospects out there that want to hear about the value you provide but at the same time have no intention of buying anything. Unless prospects can prove to me that they have a real need for what I sell, have money to pay for it and can make a decision about buying it, they stand in violation of my Bill of Rights and I start ending the call.

No Time – Sometimes I show up to meet with a prospect expecting to meet for one hour, because that was what we agreed to when the meeting was scheduled, and they tell me they can only spend 15 minutes with me. If the prospect won’t give me the time needed to rightfully assess the fit of my product, then what’s the point? I ask to reschedule or end it all together. Often times, right here, the prospect magically finds the hour we had originally agreed to.

No Chasing – Following up with prospects is a huge waste of time in my opinion. This activity is what I call chasing and I refuse to do it. Prospects need to give me clear next steps at the end of the sales call if they are going to remain in my pipeline. They will agree to schedule another meeting to continue the evaluation of my service; they will tell me they want to buy it or they will tell me they don’t want it, but they can’t tell me to “call in a week after I have thought about it.”  That puts me in the chase mode and my Bill of Rights says that is not allowed. At this point the prospect must give me a yes or no, or a clear description of the next step in the selling process, or I start to end the sales call.

I have other rules in my Bill of Rights, but hopefully what you have read so far will help you build your own Bill of Rights. If you set some good rules that prospects must follow in order to have your product or service and then are disciplined in adhering to the rules, you will have made a big step toward professional selling. No longer will you be selling from your knees; rather, you will be facing the prospect eye to eye, which is how professionals do business.


by Karl Schaphorst, President

Sandler Training

402-403-4334

www.karlschaphorst.sandler.com


Sandler Training is a global training organization with over three decades of experience and proven results. Sandler provides sales and management training and consulting services for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies.  For more information, please contact Karl Schaphorst at (402) 403-4334 or by email at kschaphorst@sandler.com.  You can also follow his blog at karlschaphorst.sandler.com.

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Sandler Training – Do You Have a Bachelor’s in Sales?

Multiple sources suggest that the number one need in business is finding good salespeople. This shouldn’t be a difficult task.  I mean, if you want an engineer, hire someone with an engineering degree. If you want a marketing person, hire someone with a marketing degree. So, if you want a salesperson, just hire someone with a sales degree…Oh wait, they don’t have those.  So, who trains the salespeople then?  Usually it is the company or business owner and it is heavily based on product features and benefits.  The training is short, informal, and usually on-the-job. This results in a very predictable selling behavior that is time consuming, cumbersome, and inefficient for the salesperson. To illustrate the ‘dance’ that ensues when buyer and seller come together, I charted the predictable behaviors that take place when I encounter a salesperson:

Photo_Sandler_Training_Lincoln_Nebraska

Maybe you can relate to the above selling experience.  It was painful for me when this was explained for the first time because I was the salesperson in the above table. Why would I allow this time and time again if it was more advantageous to the prospect than for me?  Because I didn’t have nor was I trained on a system for selling, so when I started dancing with the prospect, their system was the default system of engagement.  I still made sales; it just took a lot of time, effort, free-consulting, and energy before I got the deal.

There is a better way to sell and the first step is to recognize that you are a sales professional. Get your degree in sales!  You don’t have to be enrolled in a university to get one; rather, engage a sales training program that is as rigorous as a college course (1-2 day seminars won’t transform you into a high-performance salesperson overnight).  Lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, etc. go through rigorous training so they can provide value to their clients.  They study their trade, they practice, and they engage in continual personal development and improvement…so should the sales professional.  It is especially true for salespeople since many are paid based upon the sales they make–sales training investments in yourself or in your company’s sales team will pay big dividends every time.  So, it’s time for you to get your sales degree.


by Karl Schaphorst, President

Sandler Training

402-403-4334

www.karlschaphorst.sandler.com


Sandler Training is a global training organization with over three decades of experience and proven results. Sandler provides sales and management training and consulting services for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies.  For more information, please contact Karl Schaphorst at (402) 403-4334 or by email at kschaphorst@sandler.com.  You can also follow his blog at karlschaphorst.sandler.com

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Sandler Training – How Much Are You Worth?

We have been trained at a very young age not to ask this question to anyone because I guess it is rude. I do not want you to violate any rules that your mother gave you, but maybe we would be okay if we asked this question to ourselves. Nobody has to know you asked and nobody has to know what that answer is. I think we will be okay here. So, go ahead. Ask yourself “How much am I worth?” Yes of course in the scheme of Creation, you are priceless and there is no dollar value high enough that would equate to the value you bring to the world. I get that. What I am after with this question is what is your hourly rate, or dollars per hour, which you take home for each and every hour you work at your career. For sales people, this question is extremely important because our income is dependent on what we do to make sales. Starting right now, you should consider yourself an hourly employee rather than a commissioned salesperson except you control what your hourly rate is hour to hour by what you do every day.

If you were to look at a typical work day/week and write down all the activities and behaviors you did you should be able to categorize them as high payoff or low payoff tasks. (By the way, this is a great self-analysis activity for you to better understand what you do to earn the wage you earn. With this information, you can make better decisions on how to spend your work week.) Here is an example of tasks that a salesperson might do over the course of a week and how they might be categorized:

High Payoff     
Prospecting Calls
Networking
Getting Referrals
Sales Appointments
Giving Free Talks
Walk-In Cold Calls

Low Payoff
Email
Meetings
Entering Orders
Dealing with Operational Issues
Writing Proposals
Administrative Work

Maybe some of the items I put on the low-payoff list surprise you. Here are the rules I used to sort activities and behaviors: If I am selling, I am increasing my hourly rate. If I am not selling, I am decreasing my hourly rate. That’s it. I am not suggesting that the items in the right column are not important. They just pay less than those behaviors in the left column. I know there are a lot of sales people that will spend a good chunk of their day doing low-payoff stuff, and why not? It is easier work, with less opportunity for rejection, less risky, and usually well within the salesperson’s comfort zone. It’s the stuff on the left that is tough, hard work, full of risk and failure. Why would anyone want to spend their day doing those things?

There are also certain times of the day that pay more than other times of the day. We can call the hours from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM the Pay-Time hours because it is during this time that our customers are available to us. The hours before 8:00 AM and after 5:00 PM would then be called the Non-Pay-Time hours because our customers are not available to us.

If you are a commissioned salesperson and you want to make more money, then you need to plan your days and weeks out so that you are doing the things that are listed as high-payoff during the Pay-Time part of the day. The low-payoff items also need to get done but ideally you would delegate those tasks or work on them during the Non-Pay-Time hours of the day.

Therefore, if you are not satisfied with your current hourly rate, then simply modify your work activity so that you spend more time doing high-payoff tasks. Be disciplined and patient in this so that the low-payoff stuff doesn’t creep back in to your work schedule (because it will if you let it), and watch your hourly rate climb to new levels. At the end of the day, it is you that determines how much you are worth.


By Karl Schaphorst, President

402-403-4334

www.karlschaphorst.sandler.com


Sandler Training is a global training organization with over three decades of experience and proven results. Sandler provides sales and management training and consulting services for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies.  For more information, please contact Karl Schaphorst at (402) 403-4334 or by email at kschaphorst@sandler.com.  You can also follow his blog at karlschaphorst.sandler.com

 

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Sandler Training – Do You Fit the Description of a Typical Salesperson?

I find it interesting that when you ask people to describe a typical salesperson, the words we get are usually not very flattering. Pushy, dishonest, slick, arrogant are words likely to be found on the list. I mean, how many young kids when asked by their parents what they want to be when they grow up say they want to grow up to be a salesperson. Maybe it is all the amateur salespeople your prospect has been exposed to prior to you knocking on their door that has established this negative stereotype. So much hype, so much over promising, so much inauthenticity of past sales experiences have hardened your prospect to be highly defensive when you show up. Regardless, these prospects are the ones that you are trying to sell your products and/or services and you must call on them, but if they see you as the “typical” salesperson, your likelihood of having success will be much less. If only we could flip this stereotype on its head! If only we the sales professional could behave in a way that makes us look less like a salesperson. . .

Here are two different descriptions of a salesperson that might come knocking on your door:

Salesperson A : Confident, Confident, Smiley, Eager, Talkative    

Salesperson B: Uncertain, Humble, Sober-minded, Reluctant, Reserved/Quiet  

After reviewing the two lists of adjectives, which salesperson would you rather have call on you.? Which one would you be more comfortable with during a sales call. The correct answer is Salesperson B. Genuine humility is just more attractive to people than energetic overconfidence. But find me a sales training program out there that tries to raise up sales professionals that are reluctant, and humble, and at times uncertain when in the call. In fact, almost all training programs try to develop salespeople that are consistent with Salesperson A and as a result we continue to produce “typical” salespeople that for the most part, fit the stereotype.

Let’s examine Salesperson B. This salesperson is in complete contrast with what our prospects expect to see. This person is non-threatening and more authentic in how they handle themselves. Prospects can feel more relaxed around Salesperson B and thus be more forthcoming with the truth and less defensive during the call. Because of this posture, Salesperson B is able to be more effective in dialogue with the prospect and is able to establish high levels of rapport. This equates to competitive advantage!

Maybe you are old enough to remember the TV show “Columbo”. Peter Faulk flawlessly played the detective that always seemed like he didn’t really know what he was doing. His character was in stark contrast to all the other TV detectives. Since his suspects saw him as less than capable, they were less concerned and worried that Columbo could find them guilty of anything. Of course, Columbo knew exactly what he was doing. His outward behavior was designed to relax his suspects so they would be less defensive during the interrogation and thus offer up more of the truth than they should. But on the inside, Columbo was in the zone. He was brilliant and highly effective at solving the case and putting the criminal behind bars or, better said in sales language . . . closing the deal.

During your next sales call, instead of being outwardly fired up because you have a really great solution to offer the prospect, be somewhat in doubt if you can help the prospect at all. Instead of beaming with energy, be subdued with a genuine concern for the prospect’s challenges. When the prospect asks you “So, how can you help me?”, don’t launch into your awesome sound bite about your solution. Instead, respond with “I am not sure I can. Maybe you could tell me a little bit about the challenges you are facing.” Now you are starting to sound believable and authentic. And yes, you are now starting to break the stereotype of the typical salesperson.


by Karl Schaphorst, President
Sandler Training
402-403-4334
www.karlschaphorst.sandler.com


Sandler Training is a global training organization with over three decades of experience and proven results. Sandler provides sales and management training and consulting services for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies.  For more information about Sandler Training, please contact Karl Schaphorst at (402) 403-4334 or by email at kschaphorst@sandler.com.  You can also follow his blog at karlschaphorst.sandler.com.

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