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Peak Performance Management, Inc. | Pittsburgh, PA

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sales superstars have a high level of commitment. Commitment is doing the things we know we need to do regardless of how it makes us feel. Sales superstars are dedicated to becoming a great sales person.

Milt had missed his sales quota for three straight quarters. Maria, his new sales manager, had tried to get Milt’s previous manager, Bob, to share his thoughts on why Milt was consistently failing to hit his targets. Bob’s answer was direct: “The guy just flat-out doesn’t care about hitting quota. He’s not cut out for sales anymore. He used to be committed. Now he’s lost interest.Senior management is giving him one more shot. If he can’t cut it this quarter, with you, the plan is to let him go. This is Milt’s moment of truth.”

Sales superstars manage their head trash. Head trash is the negative beliefs we all have about our abilities, our marketplace, our products, and ourselves. Sales superstars realize that most head trash is untrue and don’t let these negative thoughts affect their behavior.

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

Sales superstars are emotionally detached from the sales call. Being emotionally detached allows the sales person to maintain control by taking a consistently rational approach to selling. Being emotionally detached allows a sales person to have control of the sales call and make reasonable decisions.

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.

Sales superstars are not afraid to talk about money. There is no room in the sales process to dance around the topic or worse yet avoid it completely.

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?”

Sales Superstars don’t need to be liked. This isn’t to say that they want to be disliked. It simply means they are not phased by an upset prospect.

Sales superstars make quick decisions. On the surface this might seem like a problem but a quick decision does not mean a rash decision.

You probably get reimbursed for mileage, but does anyone reimburse you for the time you spend driving?

After months of trying, Milt had finally obtained an appointment with Walt, the CEO of BigCorp. Milt was looking forward to meeting with Walt and asking all the questions he had carefully prepared in order to qualify this opportunity. He arrived at the appointment on time … but before he could even ask his first question, Walt barked: “OK, it’s a busy morning, and we’ve only got ten minutes. Show me whatcha got.”

Meetings are held to communicate and resolve issues vital to those attending. Why should anyone leave?

Attitude and behaviors are more important than technique. Help you sales team apply these three behaviors on a daily basis to increase their productivity and improve their outcomes.

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

Many salespeople, talk too much during sales calls. That’s right. The mouth is going 80 percent of the time. And the ears are working only 20 percent of the time. The way to sell more is by reversing this ratio. Try talking 20 percent of the time and listening 80 percent of the time.

Generating leads without introductions? If you are, nice work. Accept our compliments. But even if you are, you’re completing only half your sales mission. What about the other half—building leads sales through introductions?

In Part 1 of this two-part blog, we talked about getting past head trash that blocks you from generating more referrals and quantifying what successful and not-so-successful referrals could mean to you. Now, it’s time to offer a proven method to help you cull referrals that work. Here’s how:

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve just completed one of the biggest sales of your career and you’re reveling in it. The prospect has agreed to buy, and you’ve agreed on a date and time to get started. You shook hands and left, bursting with glee. Wow! What a coup. All’s right with the world.

When people were surveyed why they didn’t buy from a particular salesperson, 86% responded, “I felt they didn’t understand my business”. Listening is a major part of sales. Many salespeople have found success by learning to be good listeners. Active listening is a common term used for people that listen and understand what they are told, but how do we become an active listener?

Reversing, or asking a prospect’s questions with questions of your own, sounds like a lot to expect, doesn’t it? Especially if you’re not used to reversing. Just to clarify, to reverse is to respond to a prospect’s question with a question. The overall purpose is to get to the truth of a prospect’s situation.

Attitude determines results, more than anything else. If you want to change your life, the only way to do it is to change the perceptions your hold in your subconscious mind. Change these perceptions and the outcome might surprise you.

Have you ever let your emotions get the best of you in a selling situation? If we want to be more effective, we have to start leaving our emotions at the door.

On a scale of 0-10 rate your current referral plan. Zero means you just learned how to spell referral. Ten says you are proactively generating all of the referrals you could ever possibly need. If you have rated yourself lower than a seven, read on.

Never leave a meeting or conversation without a clearly defined next step in the calendar with a prospect. How often do we follow that rule? Frequently, next steps are up in the air.

Even the most effective selling strategies will have minimal impact when applied to opportunities that don’t deserve the time and effort.

If you want prospects to react to you in a more favorable manner, you must first examine your own behavior. And then, you need to ask a new set of questions.

Whether you’re building a house or a sale, you’ll need solid ground on which to build it. If the base is unstable, it’s only a matter of time before the structure collapses.

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

While “selling” is not technically an assembly line process, it has many of the same characteristics.

Generating leads without introductions? If you are, nice work. Accept our compliments. But even if you are, you’re completing only half your sales mission. What about the other half—building leads sales through introductions?

Look To Your Mind Set and Behaviors. Who doesn’t get bothered when sales are down? We’ve all been there at one time or another. The trick lies in what you do about it when it happens.

People in pain want relief; don’t get in their way of getting relief.

Anne is a partner in a small consulting firm. During a recent meeting with a key prospect, a senior decision maker at a Fortune 1000 firm, she handled the presentation. Juan, her mentor and coach (and the founder of the practice) watched and took notes. After the presentation – which ended inconclusively– Juan and Anne did a “parking lot debrief” about what went well and what could have been improved upon during the meeting.

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

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

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

Train yourself to listen to exactly what the prospect is saying. If you aren’t sure of what is being said, ask the prospect to clarify.

You are building the referral factory. Keep building, and always thank everyone for every sale.

You start. That’s about as complicated as it gets. Instead of you starting, the prospect starts. Or, if you already have a customer with whom you are meeting or calling, tell her to start.

Never be the rescuer in a group presentation, no matter how tempting. Delegate the role of rescuer to some other member of the group.

Absolutes tend to have more exceptions than Swiss cheese has holes. Don’t accept them.

If you decide to continue with a prospect, you are managing your time. If the prospect decides what to do, who is managing your time then?

Being “invited” to talk your piece puts you in control of the call. Forcing the prospect to listen puts him in control.

Some salespeople think of discipline as a burden. But smart salespeople see it as a tool that frees them from sabotaging their achievements.

Take your prospect all the way into the future, and put yourself in the future. Now find out your future.

Staying in your comfort zone means only one thing: you have decided to stop increasing your earnings. You may also find your earnings going down because you start getting sloppy and start cutting corners.

Referrals are easier to get than gold nuggets. Gold nuggets have to be searched for; referrals are free for the asking.

Don’t sell. Do this instead; listen, question, listen some more, question some more, go to the bank. That’s being successful.

Just because you sold your client something yesterday, doesn’t mean he’ll know you're still around today. Let him know you are.

Burning the midnight oil produces no light and no heat. Why do it?

If you don’t know where to start and where you are going to end, then all the work you do is pointless. Pointless work is always hard work.

Follow the plan and consistently make money.

Have you ever made a prospecting phone call whose central message sounded something like this?

Knowledgeable salespeople are increasingly turning to LinkedIn as a primary source for leads and connections. LinkedIn has been a proven factor and a critical tool that can make those connections smoother, faster and ultimately more profitable.

You do know where your time goes. You have to decide if you want your time to keep going there.

Beth is a new sales hire at TaskFlow, an enterprise software firm specializing in custom-designed project management applications. The company targets Fortune 1000 workspaces. She has been making prospecting calls for about two weeks, and her numbers so far are abysmal. So far, she hasn’t scheduled a single appointment.

Don’t waste time, effort, and good will trying to “turn around” an objection that may not be an objection at all. Instead, use more effective questioning to get clarity on what’s really being said.

Just because it rings doesn’t mean you have to answer it. Just because you answer it doesn’t mean you have to keep talking.

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

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

Have you ever given thought to how people decide to buy a product or service? Consider yourself in this analogy - do you employ any of these strategies? We believe we have a need or we determine that we have a need for a product or service. With the Internet at our fingertips we immediately do some research on whatever we are in the market for. This process may take minutes or it may take hours depending on whether you are a detail person or just want a quick overview. In addition to our Internet search, we may also ask family and friends for their recommendations.

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