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NorthStar Performance Partners, LLC | Minneapolis, MN
 

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Qualifying

What do you do when a buyer or a prospective buyer says something aggressive or confrontational? Forget about right and wrong. Forget about whose fault it is or isn’t. That’s not an effective way to communicate with the buyer. Fall back! Find something you can take ownership of and own it!

You Don’t Have to Like Prospecting… You Just Have to Do It. Prospecting is about separating prospects from suspects, nothing more and nothing less.

Salespeople often provide proposals before they have qualified the prospect. Stop wasting time; not every prospect is meant to be a customer.

Your job is to set yourself apart from the competition. If you’re selling in the traditional way, by emphasizing features and benefits, the only thing setting you apart is the company name on your business card – and maybe your winning smile. Let’s face it though, you need more than that!

Many of us in sales use the presentation phase for educating the buyer about what we do and what we offer. Does that really make sense strategically?

Buyers don’t necessarily tell salespeople the whole truth about their reason to purchase. They either haven’t established trust with the seller, they don’t know what their real issue is, or the issue is just the symptom and not the real problem. Slow down the meeting and ask questions that will uncover the root of their problem.

Have you ever been on a sales call and get the sense that the other person has checked out of the discussion? We’ve all been there. Don’t fail into the prospect’s trap and help them end the meeting! Now is the time to follow the Sandler Rule, “If you feel it, say it.” Here’s how to uncover their issues.

Salespeople often believe that ABC (Always Be Closing) is the first rule of sales. Not so. Sales Professionals know that constantly asking for the order makes them a pushy salesperson. Instead, pros ask the right questions at the right time to guide the prospect in establishing the next steps in the sales process. Prospects will either move toward closing themselves … or disclose their hesitancy, issues, or where problems still lie.

Mike Montague interviews Brian Jackson on How to Succeed at Your 30 Second Commercial. Brian is an award-winning Sandler Trainer in San Diego, CA.

 

Carlos was in a great mood. Forty minutes in, the meeting with his top prospect’s senior staff was going great. He was getting nothing but engagement, smiles, and positive body language from everyone around the table, including the CEO of the company.

One of Sandler’s critical selling rules – “Don’t spill your candy in the lobby” – can sound a little confusing to someone who is unfamiliar with the Sandler Selling System® methodology. What does a spilled box of candy have to do with a sales call? Everything.

Think about your last purchase. Why did you make the purchase? Perhaps the first ideas that come to mind are, "It was on sale, so I saved money," "It will allow me to get things done faster," or possibly "It will improve my health.” These are logical reasons. 

Vincent’s closing numbers were not what he had been hoping for. He asked his manager, Lynnette, what she thought the problem might be. After a little role-playing, Lynnette suggested that Vincent was spending too much time selling “from inside a box.”

Stan was frustrated. He kept getting “shot down on price” during discussions with prospective buyers. He knew he was supposed to talk directly about money issues before making a presentation… but somehow, he never seemed to iron out the details in a way that gave him a clear sense of whether the buyer felt his pricing was acceptable. 

Troy Elmore, Sandler trainer, shows you how to succeed with the attitudes, behaviors, and techniques needed to be more successful at dealing with the competition and selling a crowded marketplace. Get the best practices collected from around the world.

Listen Time: 21 Minutes

Have you ever lost a sale because of a problem you could have and probably should have dealt with earlier in the sales process? Have you ever lost a customer because you waited too long to tell them about a delay or defect? If you know a problem is going to blow up in your face, defuse it now.

Eliza, a new sales hire, had posted an abysmally low closing ratio in her first 60 days on the job. She was spending most of her time with prospects who ended up picking her brain for advice and information... and then disappearing. Frank, her manager, asked her during a coaching session why she thought that was happening.

Brian, an inside sales rep, spent too much of his time chasing deals that ended up going nowhere. He knew it; his sales manager Francine knew it. Late one Friday afternoon, Francine asked him to give some thought to the matter, and to come up with some ideas about why this was a problem for him.

As sales managers, we’re all familiar with the conversation. One of your sales reps is making the case to pursue an opportunity and you question why. “It’s a big deal” is the response, “It’s right in our power swing”. Or perhaps, with candor entering the room, “I really need to win this”.

Tom, a recent sales hire, was struggling. He knew his closing ratios were not what they could be. He asked his manager, Victor, for some help in figuring out why. Victor agreed to sit in on some of Tom’s initial phone discussions with prospective buyers and to accompany Tom on a couple of his sales meetings. 

Bert’s major frustration was dealing with prospects who couldn’t seem to make a decision. During a weekly coaching session, he told his manager, Elaine, that one of his biggest difficulties was dealing with prospects who indicated the desire to make a decision, and who pledged to do so by a certain date. When the date rolls around, though, they invariably needed more time.

Betty’s quarterly numbers were low. Her manager, Milt, asked her to do some role-plays so they could identify potential areas for improvement. They spent about 20 minutes roleplaying through various scenarios – at which point Milt called a time-out and asked, “Betty, do you realize you’re positioning us in exactly the same way with every person to whom you speak?”

Jim had been working on a big deal for four months. Before he gave his presentation, his sales manager asked, “Is this prospect qualified?” Jim answered “Yes” with total confidence. The next day, however, he learned that a competitor had gotten the deal – because of a very recent change in his contact’s buying priorities. Jim hadn’t picked up on this change.

I believe that every prospect eventually buys because of the credibility of the salesperson. In the traditional world, salespeople believe they develop credibility by ‘telling.’ They ‘show up and throw up.’ It’s all about their product, their features, and benefits.

Sales is a high-rejection business, so we generally tend to be overly optimistic. When a customer says things like, “I like this a lot”, “This is what I’ve been looking for”, or “I love this stuff”, we automatically believe we’re on the way to a sale. Time for a reality check.

At the point in the selling process where you hope to get a decision, the buyer may tell you that while your presentation was impressive, he or she is considering another offer. This may be a statement of fact, or it may be a ploy to get you to come down in price.

When making a personal purchase have you ever thought, “That’s a lot of money?” How about in a selling situation, have you mentally suggested that the prospect is spending way more than you would on a product or service?

Mark’s sales manager, Irene, asked him to forecast the number of sales he would close over the coming month. Mark came up with his best guess. Unfortunately, Irene didn’t find his best guess very helpful. As it happened, the new monthly forecast was identical to Mark’s previous month’s “best guess” – a figure he had failed to come close to reaching.

Developing new business has many avenues, and given that many sales people are reluctant to cold call, getting introductions through referrals from existing customers, friends, and business associates is a far more pleasant way of starting the selling process. 

Ken’s closing ratio had been the lowest on the team for four months running. Juanita, his manager, asked him to meet with her privately so they could figure out, together, what the possible obstacles to better performance might be.

When making a personal purchase, have you ever thought, “That’s a lot of money?” Buyers can suffer from sticker shock if they are presented with the price before understanding the value of their purchase.

Having a big pipeline of “prospects” is typically seen as desirable. The more prospects you put into the pipeline, the more will eventually emerge as customers. At least that’s the theory. And the theory is partially true. Some of the people you put in the pipeline will become customers. The question is, “How many will be customers and how long will it take for them to materialize from the other end of the pipe?”

Learning to ask compelling questions is better than learning to say great things. This statement can be true in a lot of circumstances. The foundation of effective communication is impeccable listening and questioning skills. Never is this truer than in business development.

Jane was struggling. Most of her deals weren’t moving forward, and her quarterly income target seemed well out of reach.

At Sandler Training, we believe in not solely talking about features and benefits during your sales call, but rather focusing on the prospect’s needs. However, there is a time for presenting, once you have qualified the opportunity. Once a prospect is fully qualified in Pain, Budget, and Decision, then it is time for you to make the presentation, and you want to make that presentation as persuasive as possible.

If your goal is to find more prospects, get more and better referrals, and make more commission dollars in 2016 than you did in 2015, consider upping your social selling game. Here are four quick tips that will help you to avoid some common mistakes online.

Creating an effective sales pipeline can be a massive headache for sales leaders because reps have been known to stuff the pipeline with opportunities that have zero chance of closing. In a previous life, I took over a product specialist role selling a web-based media monitoring and crisis communications program. My first six weeks in that role was spent culling a $3 million pipeline down to $160,000 of real, qualified opportunities

Does this sound familiar to you? Prospect A says, "This looks very good. I think there's an excellent chance we'll do business." The salesperson thinks, "I've got one." Prospect B comments, "Your price is higher than we expected." The salesperson thinks, "I'll have to cut the price to close the deal." Prospect C reveals, "We were hoping for a shorter delivery time." The salesperson thinks, "I'll have to push this through as a rush order to get the sale."e