Skip to main content
Mercury Professional Development, Inc. | Phoenix, AZ
 

This website uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience.
You can learn more by clicking here.

Prospecting & Qualifying

People buy from people they like and trust. As a professional sales person, it's our role to establish that trust quickly and effectively. We use our Bonding and Rapport tool set to establish trust, find the prospect's motivations and drivers, and help the prospect decide if it makes sense to work together.

Prospects don't always share the full picture with you.  Sometimes, they even use you for "free consulting".  Ensure your prospects are qualified before investing the time to provide a quote.  <Go to the Video>

Do A Reality Check
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.....

Our goal in prospecting with our 30 second commercial is to uncover a need or challenge from our prospect that we can help solve. When we surface the need, we build conviction, and then set up a meeting.

Matt Pletzer, Sandler trainer, shows you how to succeed with the attitudes, behaviors, and techniques needed to be more successful at dealing with too much business. It's a good problem to have, but it can prevent you from selling more and growing. Get the best practices collected from around the world.

25 Minutes

Gerry Weinberg, a Sandler trainer from Detriot, shows you how to succeed with the attitudes, behaviors, and techniques needed to be more successful in connecting with your clients through advanced bonding and rapport tactics. Get the best practices collected from around the world.

Listen Time: 28 Minutes

If you are competing on price, you're in a losing proposition. Avoid the price game by...

Common wisdom is that buyers lie. The reality is... buyers don't lie, prospects lie... 

Brian Sullivan, VP of Enterprise Selling, and Mike Montague, VP of Online Learning discuss the challenges of selling into large organizations and how to overcome them in this Facebook Live session.

David Mattson, Sandler's President and CEO, shares his thoughts about gauging the prospect's motivation and interest. Learn the attitudes, behaviors, and techniques of top performers, who can uncover and qualify the prospect's reasons for doing business.

Learn the best practices for prospecting with Mike Montague and Sean Coyle.

Successful prospecting is the combination of sales behaviors, attitude and techniques. We lead with behavior. And then we ensure our prospecting techniques are effective. Prospecting behaviors include....

Do you know how to hold your prospect accountable for a decision and avoid a think it over?
How do you qualify the prospect before giving a proposal or presentation?

Using our bonding and rapport tools effectively is vital to developing our prospect's pain points. Thus we need to develop the trust that enables the prospect to reveal their true emotional pains, and then nurture them as we explore the pain. Revealing this pain not only builds the prospect's conviction to do business with us, but also creates an intimate bond between us and our prospect. This is a bond that is sustainable and the basis for a trusted advisor relationship.

Summertime can be a difficult time for salespeople. Vacations, seasonal businesses, and other distractions can make it more challenging to get in touch with decision-makers. LinkedIn is a smart way to be more productive during these months. Of course, every great business deal requires a conversation. Using LinkedIn, you can make sure you have more of those conversations, have them with the right people, and have the best conversation possible.

Sandler Rule #30. Don't count a prospect as a sale, until the sale is closed. When you're in the sales process, you don't have the sale yet. 

All things being equal, people tend to buy from people they like and trust.  All things being unequal, the same principal applies. 

Prospecting is the lifeblood of a successful sales career... but many salespeople overlook the basic behaviors that support a consistent prospecting routine. Here are the five necessary behaviors professional salespeople need in order to become successful at prospecting.

Learning how to communicate more effectively with people who have different communication styles than you do will lead you to more prospects, more productive discussions, and more sales.

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...

Learn how to measure and properly quantify your prospecting efforts with Sean Coyle, one of Sandler's top prospecting experts. Sean makes thousands of outbound dials each week with the help of ConnectandSell and he knows how to make each one count. Listen in as he discusses prospecting best practices with Dave Mattson, President and CEO of Sandler Training.

Learn how to uncover and understand the prospect's buying motivations. What could be more important in sales than understanding why people buy? Mike Crandall, Sandler trainer and author, talks about the key factors for motivation. 

There are numerous components which determining a seller’s success. Near the top of this contributing-factor totem pole, is behavior. If an individual cannot execute proper behavior, they will struggle to find high levels of achievement. Behavior, the action we take towards our goals, is the blueprint for success in the sales world. Following through on these plans, however, is easier said than done. A large contingent of the salespeople routinely makes the three mistakes listed below. 

Learn how to empower your employees to take ownership and learn how to solve problems on their own. Mike Jones talks about how to know which things to take off your plate and put them onto someone else's. You can't be great at everything, but you can build a team that is.

Chip Doyle, Sandler trainer from the UK, talks about the importance of having a prospecting list with Dave Mattson, President and CEO of Sandler Training. Successfully creating a qualified prospecting list does many wonderful things for your sales career. Learn how in this Selling the Sandler Way podcast.

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.

If your goal is to find more prospects, get more and better referrals, and make more commission dollars in 2018 than you did in 2017, consider upping your social selling game. Here are four quick tips that will help you to avoid some common mistakes online.

In sales, you want to get the "yes" or “no” as soon as possible so you can move forward. Otherwise, your prospect might drag you along for weeks on end without giving a definitive answer. To be an effective salesperson, you must be an effective communicator. This is where Negative Reverse can help

This article discusses concepts and strategies from our No Guts, No Gain assertiveness program. This self-study program was designed from David Sandler’s teachings on goal-setting, getting tough, and avoiding game and powerplays.

When prospects ask you a question (or use wishy-washy words, or try to mislead you, or use smokescreen tactics), wouldn’t it be nice if you knew for sure what their true intention was? David Sandler developed a tool to help the salesperson accomplish exactly this. It’s called reversing.

Guest host, Lindsey Demetris, interviews Mike Montague, VP of Online Learning at Sandler Training and the creator of our new Social Selling Success course. Mike shares the best practices of today's top social sellers and attitudes, behaviors, and techniques for social prospecting in 2018.

Myra, a sales manager, scheduled a meeting with George, a salesperson who reported to her, to discuss his closing ratios. She was concerned about the high number of presentations George was making that were resulting in a “let’s think it over” response.

Welcome to Selling the Sandler Way, with your host Dave Mattson, the president and CEO of Sandler Training. He is a five-time bestselling author, speaker, trainer, and consultant to hundreds of international organizations. In this show, he talks to other Sandler trainers about the Sandler selling system.

Are "selling" ... or "telling?" Highlight a potential problem. Get the prospect talking about it ... then shut up! Here's a reliable selling principle: during any given sales meeting, the prospect should be mostly talking and the salesperson mostly listening. David Sandler suggested that the prospect should be talking about 70 percent of the time. Typically, however, the opposite occurs. The salesperson feels compelled to talk about as many features, benefits, and unique selling points of his product or service as time permits ... in an attempt to "capture the prospect's interest." "Selling" is not about "telling." It's about...

Have you ever answered a prospect's question about a product or service only to wish later that you hadn't? In professional selling answering questions too quickly can hurt us.

Welcome to Selling the Sandler Way, with your host Dave Mattson, the president and CEO of Sandler Training. He is a five-time bestselling author, speaker, trainer, and consultant to hundreds of international organizations. In this show, he talks to other Sandler trainers about the Sandler selling system.

This blog will illustrate several techniques to nurture those prospects in your funnel and how to effectively turn them into clients. The ability to do this is what separates good salespeople from just good networkers. Below are four keys to developing a successful nurture funnel and how to convert your prospects into clients. 

Welcome to Selling the Sandler Way, with your host Dave Mattson, the president and CEO of Sandler Training. He is a five-time bestselling author, speaker, trainer, and consultant to hundreds of international organizations. In this show, he talks to other Sandler trainers about the Sandler selling system.

Welcome to Selling the Sandler Way, with your host Dave Mattson, the president and CEO of Sandler Training. He is a five-time bestselling author, speaker, trainer, and consultant to hundreds of international organizations. In this show, he talks to other Sandler trainers about the Sandler selling system.

Welcome to the How To Succeed Podcast. The show that helps you get to the top and stay there. This is How to Succeed at Cold Prospecting. The show is brought to you by Sandler Training, the worldwide leader in sales management and customer service training.

Welcome to Selling the Sandler Way with your host, Dave Mattson, the President and CEO of Sandler Training. He is a five-time bestselling author, speaker, trainer, and consultant to hundreds of international organizations. In this show, he talks to other Sandler trainers about the Sandler Selling System. For more information on Sandler Training, visit sandler.com. Now, it's time to learn how to succeed by Selling The Sandler Way with your host, Dave Mattson.

Antonio Garrido, Sandler trainer, and new author of Asking Questions the Sandler Way joins us to talk about the best sales questions. You will learn his favorite questions, the right attitude for asking questions, and why you should be asking more and better questions in the first place.

Will, a new salesperson, had just begun a face-to-face meeting with Maria, the CEO of a big company that Will’s manager would have dearly loved Will to close. Right after the two sat down in Maria’s conference room, Maria asked:

“So, Will – how much do you know about our firm?”

No sooner did Will hear those words than he embarked on a long monologue about all the research he did to prepare for this meeting. It’s quite a speech. In fact, it takes him about ten minutes to cover everything. If he’d been watching Maria a little more closely, he’d have noticed her eyes beginning to glaze over at about the fourth minute.

Find out how Tim Lambros, of Wealth Smart Trust Advisors, used Sandler Training to double his close rate in less than 3 months. 

While sales folklore says buyers are liars, this is not the case. Prospects lie.... all the time. When prospects become buyers, they stop lying.

How can you close more sales? First priority... ASK BETTER QUESTIONS. But how? 

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.

DISC behavior profiles allow us to identify our prospects behaviors and adapt our style to them. This allows us to communicate and influence more effectively and build deeper relationships. We can also understand the prospects triggers and decision process to increase our sales.

The first rule of stalls and objections is avoid them. You avoid them by using a solid sales system that the prospect is fully qualified. If you do get objections, understand there are 4 types. Knowing which type of objections you have helps you navigate through them and close the sale.

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.”

Fear may be the most powerful motivator affecting your buyers’ decisions. However, in their effort to maintain an image of power and control, buyers will be reluctant to share their true anxieties and concerns with you. You’ll increase your sales production when you help buyers discover and overcome their fears, show that you are sensitive to those issues, and then lead those buyers to the conclusion that your product will replace their fear with peace of mind.

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?” 

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?”

Prospecting is not about selling. When we're prospecting, we're qualifying or disqualifying a prospect, and if they are qualified, setting up a meeting. The meeting gives us enough time to understand their challenges and whether we can help them.

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

Prospecting starts with an initial discussion between you and your potential client. We use a "pattern interrupt" to avoid looking like a stereotypical pushy sales person. Then we proceed with questions to determine if the person we're talking to has a challenge that fits what we do.

People buy emotionally; we’ve all heard that. But what does it mean? It means that people make buying decisions emotionally; they justify these decisions intellectually. To further understand this concept, it helps to know who is making the decisions and who is justifying the decisions. 

Prospecting starts with three key elements: Behavior, Attitude and technique. We develop consistent prospecting behaviors that will help us achieve our new business goals. Combine these behaviors with the right attitude. This means keeping our role separate from our identity, being fearless, and having fun. 

It can be tempting for companies and salespeople to coast through the slower-paced summer months. The seasonal slowdown will cause many organizations to just give up on the season, and save their goals for the months ahead when the pace picks up. Taking the time to lay the groundwork and planning now, however, can help you set up to have a fantastic fall, and lead to strong year-end results.

After we've done all the steps to ensure the prospect is not disqualified, then we're ready to provide a proposal or presentation; we call this fulfillment.
We start with an up front contract, we understand their pain, budget and decision process. Now we simply fulfill what they need.

Sign Up for the Blog

A salesperson striving toward success and prospecting for new clients may think that he or she must do something grandiose to draw customers away from the competition. Occasionally, something spectacular may be just what's needed, but it's not practical to do on a regular basis. Incorporate the following four simple gestures into your interactions with potential clients to experience greater conversion success.

Have you ever got to the end of a sales call only to find out about the hidden decision maker? One of the key qualifications that we need to establish with our prospects is how the decision will be made. We must determine the "who", "what", "where" , "why", "when", "how" of the decision process. And how we'll handle it if we're not talking to the decision maker.

Many sales organizations get caught up in the details of educating or convincing their prospect to buy. Some sellers might even ask “What do we need to do to earn your business?” and worry about what they can do to facilitate the buying process. “What do you see as next steps?” is another common question that salespeople ask. These sellers lose sight of the fact that it’s the prospect that needs to do something for a sale to happen.

Actions speak louder than words
Many sales organizations get caught up in the details of educating or convincing their prospect to buy. Some sellers might even ask “What do we need to do to earn your business?” and worry about what they can do to facilitate the buying process. “What do you see as next steps?” is another common question that salespeople ask. These sellers lose sight of the fact that it’s the prospect that needs to do something for a sale to happen.

Juan’s sales numbers for the quarter were sharply down; lately, he felt he was struggling with his prospecting. He asked his manager Anita for help.

Referrals and introductions should be central to building a quality pipeline for our business. In my research, most of us are leaving up to 75% of the available referrals and introductions on the table. Most of us get referrals and introductions even if we do not ask! However, having a well-thought process and goals for pursuing them can dramatically increase our referral business.

Juanita, three months into her first sales job, was having problems with her closing numbers. Her ratio was the lowest on the team, and she was far behind her quota for the month. She asked her boss Cliff for help.

At about the forty-minute mark of a productive coaching discussion – a session in which Juanita had addressed many tough questions – she found herself face to face with what Cliff called “the last difficult question of the day.” Here’s what it sounded like.

Referrals and introductions should be central to building a quality pipeline for our business. However, in my research, most of us are leaving up to 75% of the available referrals and introductions on the table..... 

Prospects have their own system for managing a sales call. And, as a sales professional, if you don't have a system you're probably falling victim to the prospect's system. The four-step prospect's system:

The middle of a selling situation is not the right time to think about what questions to ask. We need to prepare our questions in advance. Start by developing pain indicator questions that help your prospect reveal their challenges.

Rosita had been behind quota before, but never by this much and never for this long. When her manager, Sam, offered to take her out to lunch, she figured she was either looking at very good news ... or very bad news.
“There’s no easy way to say this first part,” Sam said quietly once they were seated at their table, “so I’ll just say it. You’re on probation. You’ve got sixty days to turn things around or we’re letting you go.”

You don't have to be a tech wizard to grow your business through social selling. You can use your network of business contacts, to take a proactive, client-centered view of prospecting on social media. This special bonus podcast cuts through all the noise, tech-speak, and misconceptions about LinkedIn and social selling.

Use Sandler's negative reverse technique to draw your prospects in, and test their conviction.

 

Have you ever waited for the end of your proposal or presentation to reveal your price to a prospect? Did you surprise your prospect? There is a better way.

Most of us are on a never ending quest to refine our 30 second commercial. Here's a few tips to consider for yours...

Do you have a clear and explicit agreement with your prospect about what's going to happen next? Did you hear 'smoke screen' comments in your exchange and avoided asking for clarity? This is mutual mystification.

People buy emotionally, and justify their decision logically. Use the Sandler Pain Funnel to get beyond surface-level problems down to the emotional reasons for your prospect to buy.

Sandler's "Dummy Curve" is when you act confused or uncertain to help your prospect draw their own conclusions.

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.

How many times have you engaged a prospect, had what you though was a good meeting, maybe even sent a proposal...and then your prospect goes into hiding?

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.

Ask salespeople to list their least favorite selling activities, and you can count on “prospecting” being at the top of the list. And, the least favorite of all prospecting activities is unquestionably making cold calls.

Price becomes a roadblock when you present a product or service with a price tag that is misaligned with the prospect’s expectation. Either you didn’t uncover the prospect’s price expectations prior to your presentation, or if yo did, you ignored it and presented something higher than the prospect's expectations. Either way, price was not the real problem, you are!

Each prospect has a different level of discomfort or desire for your good solution. Let’s call that motivation whether positive or negative--“pain.”

A major frustration for salespeople is dealing with prospects that can't seem to make a decision.  Perhaps the biggest of those frustrations is struggling with prospects who indicate the desire to make a decision (and to do so by a certain date), but when the date rolls around, they invariably need more time. How many times have prospects told you, "I need more time to make a decision"?  Too many? In those situations, it's easy to blame the prospect for being indecisive, uncommitted, and a procrastinator. But, does the prospect deserve all of the blame?  Shouldn't some of it fall on your shoulders?  Perhaps, the major share? 

Prospects lie. Not because their bad people, but because they're defensive against overly aggressive sales people. Don't take it personally. Just learn how to help your prospect feel at ease and build trust and rapport.

When someone hands you a business card and says, "you should call this person", it's not really a referral. Without more information, it is more like they're sending you on a cold call. Cold calling is way down the list of favorite prospecting activities for most salespeople, and sometimes that frustration can spill over to referrals.

Sometimes we find a problem that won’t make your prospect or customer happy. It could be a missed deadline, an error, a price increase...anything. Too often we don’t want to come clean. ....

The first thing you need to remember in your sales process is that your questions just begin when the prospect first tells you what they believe to be their "problem." When you treat their first symptoms with some skepticism, and follow up with carefully selected questions, you'll find that the real problem will later reveal itself.

Too often you may hear “let’s see what you’ve got” or "send me a proposal", which turns into a premature presentation (aka, free consulting). Maybe it matches your prospect’s desires—maybe not. It can be a wild shot in the dark. Try a better way. Get some answers first…

Ask salespeople to list their least favorite selling activities, and “cold calling” is at the top of the list. Why? Because prospects hate getting cold calls, and most sales people do them 100% wrong. Cold calling is not a selling activity, it’s a marketing activity...

As a pro in your business, you need to be skeptical (in a kind way) and diagnose the symptoms the prospect brings you. Play doctor—by asking the questions to reveal the underlying causes.

Isn’t it curious how we as prospects have been trained by our sales culture? Even most of us who value honesty lie to salespeople. It’s become part of the sales game…to act really interested…don’t give up real information…maybe to lie about how much I have to spend or how I’m already wowed by your product. We forget, prospects lie.

Your prospect should be the one talking.

We often think we have to overcome a prospect's objections. Instead, we need to ask better questions, get clarity and lead the prospect to overcome their own objections.

When you go on a sales call, you bring your "box of candy." Your box of candy is your knowledge and expertise. Many salespeople are eager to show how smart they are, and they're excited about how great their product or service is. As soon as the prospect expresses a need that can be addressed by the salesperson's product or service, the salesperson moves into presentation mode, highlighting features and benefits. They spill their "Candy,". There's a time for all that "candy,": during a formal presentation, demonstration, or proposal review. But not before you've fully qualified your prospect and identified their true emotional reasons for buying. -Video-

Have you ever had a prospect tell you, "I need to think it over?" What does "let me think about it" mean? It usually means a "slow no". Here's how to avoid the dreaded think it over. Give people permission to say "No."

You’ve had a series of great discussions with a prospect, taken lots of great notes, and you’ve developed the proverbial “killer presentation.” You’ve started to deliver that presentation, and you’ve gotten all kinds of positive signals from the prospect: encouraging body language, words of approval, that kind of thing. Things seemed promising. Then you got to the final slide, the slide everything else was supposed to justify: the price. And all the positive signals stopped cold.

Two four letter words that make both sales people and prospects shiver. No one likes to make them and those who say they do probably haven’t made any.

When was the last time you bought something because a salesperson told you to? Not often. Great salespeople help prospects to discover, explore and dream of their wants.

Have you ever had a potential customer suddenly go dark, after weeks or months of engagement? You’ve been building a relationship. The prospect has demonstrated interest in your product. They even asked for a presentation and then a proposal. All of the sudden…. Nothing. Calls go to voice mail. Emails go unanswered. What happened? ...

When you’ve tried all the things you know how to do, and your prospect won’t move forward. There’s still an option. Take on the role of a “consultant.”

Have you ever answered a prospects question only to find out that your answer actually stalled the sales process? Some questions you are better off getting clarification on before responding. At Sandler Training, we use the REVERSING technique to achieve this.

How many times have you left a sales call thinking something was going to happen only to find out later that your prospect pulled a vanishing act? Did you have "happy ears"? As a group, salespeople have a common flaw: They tend to only hear things they want to hear, and seem to struggle with just coming right out and asking a prospect exactly what they want to know. -Video-

You have a prospect who has “applied the brakes” in the sales process. Maybe your phone calls don’t get returned. Maybe you get stalls. “Think it overs.” Maybe you realize that you’re chasing your prospect.....

Are you are ready to expand your online presence and start building your LinkedIn network strategically? If so, you should know that there are two ways you can approach your connections. You can either take the marketing approach, and build as many connections as possible, and expand your reach to as many people as possible … or you can take the sales approach, and limit your network connections to people you actually know and can build relationships with.

Have you ever been in the middle of delivering a presentation to a prospect ... when you noticed that he or she seemed to have completely tuned out of whatever it was you were saying? What did you do? Did you “sell harder”? Did you give up?

Have you ever put off prospecting and faced an income crisis as a result? The salesperson that claims to “like” prospecting hasn’t prospected. Often, when salespeople say the like prospecting what they mean is: “I don’t mind paying the price of prospecting to reach my objectives.” However, prospecting doesn't have to be as painful as many people make it.....

Most successful business owners are pretty sharp. When you offer them an idea or service that will save them money, they will immediately consider a couple decisions: First, the business owner may decide if you're "speaking the truth". This is easy.  If you can demonstrate cost savings and/or revenue growth, it will make sense for them to purchase your product and/or service. Second, they may come up with their own ROI calculation to answer this age-old question..

No matter your age or experience level, LinkedIn is the platform for social networking when it comes to business. Today, there are more than 300 million registered LinkedIn users with 100 million of those users residing in the United States. And while that statistic makes it seem like everyone is already on LinkedIn, that's not entirely true. More people are joining every day.

Think about the last time someone asked you to tell them a little about yourself. Did you stumble? Did you regret how you answered? Did you miss an opportunity to fit in something important? Sandler Training advises that all professionals – especially salespeople – take time to craft their "thirty-second commercial." Thirty-second commercials can be used for prospecting and to introduce yourself at networking events. A great thirty-second commercial does two things, lets a prospect know what you do and answers the question "why is this person and their business relevant to me?"e

If you've heard the any of the following statements from prospects, then keep reading to learn more about how to determine when to walk away and when to continue investing time and energy. "I need to confer with other managers here." "I need more time to decide." "Call me in about a month."

Have you ever talked yourself out of a sale? Selling is not about telling. It's about helping the prospect relate to your product or service to the satisfaction of their wants and needs. It's also about helping them discover needs of which they were previously unaware. How do you accomplish this? By asking thought-provoking questions and then listening, really listening!

If you are unaware of the relationship between ambiguity, anxiety and fear, then you are probably lengthening your sales cycle and reducing your close rate. When you sit across from a prospect, no matter how long or personal your relationship, you are still a salesperson who your prospect fears will sell them something instead of allowing them to buy

Today I asked a group of salespeople to share something that they wished they'd said to a prospect when they had the chance. I explained they were in a 'safe environment' so it was okay to be honest. The comments were interesting. And when I say interesting, I mean somewhat reserved, restrained and polite.

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

The CEO of an IT services company recently shared his belief with me that every two years for one hour, his prospects are so angry with their existing supplier that his company had a chance to take the business away from his competitor. This is not an unusual belief. He was talking about demand fulfillment, which is safe and easy

I want to take you back about 10,000 years ago to the savannah in Africa. There are only about 1,500 human beings on the planet, and life is a scary existence. As far as predators go, we don't stand much of a chance. We don't have claws, or razor sharp teeth with fangs. We aren't very strong or fast, and we don't have any cool defense mechanisms like shells, venom, stingers, or even camouflage. Needless to say, it paid to be fearful on the savannah. Fear, vigilance, and worry kept us alive. Luckily for us, we got smart fast.

The question is a bit of a puzzle. Ideally, there would be a reference book that lists, by industry, how much time you should invest in prospecting activities. Unfortunately, there's no reference book. Why? How much time you invest will depend on the number of prospecting activities you plan, the nature of the activities, and the intended results of the activities

How often have you been sitting in the car after a sales call, and you thought of something you should have done that would have been more appropriate than what you just did? "I shoulda said...," "I shoulda asked...," "I shoulda...," "I shoulda...," "I shoulda..." You make a mental note of the shouldas...and then what? Nothing! With everything else that goes on during the day, your shouldas become a distant memory—lessons that could have been learned, but were lost instead.

When is the toughest prospect to sell the easiest prospect to sell? Give up? The answer is simple: when you call on him. Some buyers acquire a reputation for being tough, overbearing, demanding—just plain impossible to deal with. And guess what? Salespeople stop calling on them. Why put themselves through the abuse? Why endure the indignity? Why indeed, you may be thinking

Prepare a digital version of your 30-Second Commercial...and include that text in your LinkedIn profile. (tweet this!)

How does a screenwriter create one movie that's a box office blockbuster and another that's a flop? How does a playwright write one play that runs continuously for years and another that opens and closes in the same night? How does an author write one novel that's a number one best seller for 26 weeks straight and another that never makes the best-seller list? How

Hot off the presses...the Fall Edition of The Sandler Advisor. Click here to read. Please enjoy this newsletter excerpt, highlighting when and how to talk about money with a prospect. The Two-Minute Coach By Howard Goldstein, Sandler Corporate Today's question comes from Tracy, the owner of a graphics design company for which she does most of the selling. This is how she explains her problem

All too frequently, salespeople schedule appointments...and then forget about them until the day before the scheduled dates. Do you? Is preparation a last-minute activity often consisting of nothing more than a quick review of the notes from the original phone conversations when the appointments were scheduled...and perhaps a review of the prospects' web sites, advertising, or marketing materials? Can you answer the following questions about your next prospect appointment

I just returned from Las Vegas where I spoke to business owners in the construction industry. I admit, I do get excited about wagering, especially in Las Vegas, but I realized how I was getting suckered in when a slot machine caught my eye. It said "99% payout guaranteed," which sounded like a good thing. You essentially put in $100 and over time, you will get $99 back. When you aren't emotionally involved, it's easy to see the futility of gambling in Las Vegas. But the lights and the bells and the buzz of excitement reels you in and sure enough, in an hour, I handed over $60 to the resort.

Everyone knows someone. Actually, everyone knows several someones. Your customers - as well as the prospects you call on - have some contact with, or at the very least know of, people who can benefit from your product or service. Unfortunately, they are not programmed to automatically disclose the names of those people to you. That doesn't mean that they won't; you must initiate the action.

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

Companies have a systematic approach to complete almost every task; from the production line to accounting and payroll. Companies rely on clearly defined ways to get the job done effectively and efficiently. There are some areas of organizations that are commonly left to play by their own rules; like the sales and business development departments. Management exclaims, "go get 'em; bring in some new business! We believe in you!" In the current competitive and entitled market, the fly by the seat of your pants sales team almost never achieve the results they are looking for.

Many salespeople believe that they should respond to all proposal requests that come across their desk where the scope of work falls within the capabilities of their companies. It's easy to see the allure. Working on an opportunity that "fell out of the sky" is far more desirable than "beating the bushes" to turn up an opportunity. Desirable, yes. But, is it smart? Responding to a request for a proposal (RFP) carries with it associated costs. What are they

I read an article recently that slammed sales people for using the "hard sell" tactic of asking for a decision at the end of a presentation. To paraphrase David Sandler, don't make presentations without a prior commitment to make a "no" or "yes" at the end of the presentation. Two valuables a sales person possesses are information and time. Making presentations without a commitment by a prospect to make a choice between "no" and "yes" at the end is a waste of both. Now, there are two instances when asking for a decision at the end of a presentation is a hard sell tactic

A lot of sales people and business owners are struggling with how to add social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter into their prospecting or marketing plan. Social networking is the #1 online activity, used by 1.2 billion people worldwide. Nearly one in five minutes online is spent on social media websites, and 75% of that is on Facebook. But how does that help you sell anything? Attitude First, you have to have the right attitude to make social networking work for you

At Sandler Training, we develop professionals in sales, management and customer service. Professionals have a commitment to be the best they can be. They do things a little differently than the average performers. What do the most successful professionals in any industry have in common? They study. They invest in themselves. They practice. They have systems and processes and they use them. Finally, they are driven by passion and purpose

Always going. Yes, I am. My thoughts spin as fast as my tires when I'm driving to my Sandler Training center every morning. Of course, often these thoughts are on Sandler as I mentally prepare for my Foundations or President's Club sessions.

Salespeople could significantly increase their earnings if they stopped saying and believing "I know why."

The most common complaint we hear from the heads of professional services firms (lawyers, accountants, engineers, marketing or PR agencies) is that their people are technically brilliant, but have a serious aversion to business development. Totally understandable considering the training the majority of professionals receive relates directly to delivering services they provide (e.g. how to conduct a better audit or how to create a crisis communications plan)

David Sandler said, sales is no place to get your needs met, but too often salespeople get their needs met by eagerly jumping through the hoops their prospect puts down, not for the chance at getting an order, but because they want their prospect to like them. Salespeople mistake their prospect liking them for success because they have "I/R confusion." What this means, in simple terms, is they mistake their self-worth or identity (I-Side) with the role (R-Side) they play, like salesperson. When someone confuses their I-Side and their R-Side they exhibit two primary behaviors

My Mom was a funny lady and during my youth, she was constantly throwing riddles at me. Some of herriddles came in pairs and the pairs typically had a point. One such pair of riddles has been a huge lesson forme as I have gone through life. Here they are. Riddle 1: What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephantscoming down the road? "Here come the elephants." Riddle 2: What did the elephants say when theysaw Tarzan coming down the road? Nothing, elephants don't talk

Two weekends ago, I got to take my youngest daughter to a 4 year-old's birthday party. I'd forgotten how elaborate some of these parties get, and this was a nice reminder. The parents of this little boy had hired an animal trainer to bring some critters and let the kids see them.

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.

Ask most salespeople to describe the purpose of each interaction with a prospect and they'll probably say something like: "close 'em" "build the relationship" "educate them" "solve their problems" All good answers, but the real purpose of every interaction with a prospect is to get to the truth. What's uncomfortable about getting the truth in an interaction with a prospect? Ask any salesperson this question and most of the time their answer will be something like "I might not get their business!"e

When you get an email from a prospect with one of the following requests, what do you do? Send me a quote for.. Provide us with more information about.. We'd like a proposal.. Forward us a brochure on.. If you thought, "reply by email," you just put your prospect firmly in control of the sales process. How? The reason is found in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)

Before you choose to answer your prospect's "how much" question, consider if you are unintentionally helping your prospect lower your prices. While a common trick of the amateur salesperson is offering increasing discounts to win business, I haven't met a professional salesperson who uses this tactic. Unfortunately, the professional salesperson can still be guilty of helping their prospect lower their prices by "anchoring" their prospect

The bottom line of selling is going to the bank; however, prospects are more likely to offer hope instead of an order when meeting a salesperson. "Hope is the only thing stronger than fear,"---President Snow, the Hunger Games. "A little hope is effective; a lot of hope is dangerous." Because hope is stronger than fear, a salesperson is comfortable taking their prospect's hope ("we're giving you top consideration") instead of overcoming their fear of losing a deal and gently asking what does "top consideration" really means

The two words that are guaranteed to trip up most sales people are "better" and "value." The latter we'll talk about in another post. Typically the "better" trap is set by a prospect at the beginning of a meeting. After introductions and polite conversation your prospect says, "so tell me how you are better than my current supplier." If your instinct is to jump to a features-and-benefits presentation, STOP! There is no way for you to answer that question and have any chance of closing the sale. There are three reasons why your prospects set the "better" trap

A common death trap salespeople fall into is having "happy ears," meaning, they tend to hear what they want to hear. In actuality, what they (salespeople) heard does not reflect the real intent of what the prospect said. Sales Tip

I am a "serial goal setter"! I have used goals all my life to chart my path and measure my progress. Perhaps it's my need to be in control that has driven me to do this or my desire to anticipate what may be looming over the next horizon. Be that as it may, I do know that far too many sales people allow others to chart their course.

Clients and prospects tell on a regular basis about how they spend 5 - 20 hours a week preparing proposals for business they are "hoping to get;" however, most of the time their efforts are unsuccessful. Why are we compelled to provide proposals when our 'gut' tells us we are wasting our time? Let's explore some of the reasons we feel inclined to provide proposals: The prospect asked for it. 'If I don't provide the proposal I definitely won't have a chance at getting the business.

Albert Einstein's definition of insanity was, "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." That's also the literal meaning of Sandler Rule #9, "every unsuccessful prospecting call earns compound interest." In sales, we take for granted that we will fail more often than we succeed. So on the surface David Sandler's rule about unsuccessful prospecting should give us hope that the more times we fail the closer we get to a sale. As Sandler-trained salespeople will tell you, hope is a terrible thing

If you're like most salespeople, you don't know how to network effectively. Usually you'll wing it, improvise, or spend time with colleagues or clients you know really well instead of engaging prospects. When I ask, "why you don't approach prospects at networking events?", I'd get a lot of "I don't knows." What you don't know, or don't even realize, is your problem is mom. Specifically in influence the messages mom drilled into your head in your first six years like

Last time we discussed the tension of wanting to rescue a prospect sales process. Now let's look at the situation between the buyer and seller as objectively as possible:

How do you convince someone to buy your product or service? Think about how you buy a product or service. Even the richest people in the world with "money to burn" do not buy for the sake of buying. Yes they can buy whenever or whatever they choose, however there is a reason that they buy. People love to buy, they just don't like to be sold.

Make sure your customers know when you put forth extra effort. Sandler Trainer Randy Hnatko explains Sandler Rule #32.

Make a mutual decision with your prospect. Sandler trainer Danny Wood discusses Rule #16: Never ask for the order, make your prospect give up.

Let's admit it. No salesperson likes making cold calls. Prospecting is perhaps the most stressful and anxiety ridden aspect to sales. 

I was sitting in a coffee shop reading a book in early November when I overheard two salespeople talking about the current state of their business. One was explaining to the other that he looked forward to this time of year because all his customers were out of money and all of his prospects were going to wait until next year to purchase.

Why should we buy from you? What makes you different than my current _______? Why should I invite you in to see me? We are already doing business with you so why should we look at this new product /service? Sound familiar? A bit tired of hearing this? Get used to it. This is simply what customers and prospects say to sales people. And we can't fault the prospect/ customer for asking the question. They don't have time to waste, and they need a good reason to spend time with salespeople who know how to sell value-whether through a meeting or to view a new product or service

"How and when you discuss money during your sales process has a greater impact on selling success than your price"

As a salesperson, your job is to go to the bank. Go to the bank as often as possible, repeat the steps that have gotten you there in the past, and lose the habits that ever slowed your progress there.

Not everybody learns the same way, and there is no singular solution to every challenge. Dave Mattson, Sandler Training's CEO, touches on the variety of options offered with Sandler Training.

What really goes on with a doctor's visit? Ideally, you realize that you have some symptoms that are preventing you from functioning at 100%. You then get an appointment with the doctor, they ask you a fair amount of questions about your symptoms and lifestyle, and then they make some recommendations-usually involving a prescription of some sort. So how would you feel if you just went into the doctor and they gave you some pills without investigating the problems

So much has been written in various sales training blogs about time management that you hardly have the time to read about it. There are numerous time management programs, processes and tools, and even with all this help, you still can't manage time no matter how hard you try.

The best definition of a heated political climate is the constant "clarification" of what was said yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. When what you said is not what is heard - or if what you heard was not what was said - that is "mutual mystification." Actress Lily Tomlin said it best, "Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?"e

Sandler's CEO, Dave Mattson, explains how someone comes to figure out their recipe for success. After countless trials and experimentation, you have to take the time to sit down and analyze what strategies have worked for you, and what strategies could use some more work. 

What do you really learn by getting a "yes"? Job well done. Keep doing what you're doing. Get comfortable. Right? That's all fine, but realize that while your "yes" may make you happy, it doesn't necessarily make you a better salesperson.

As a salesperson, your objective is to get your prospect to make a decision. Obviously, a "yes, I will work with you" is better than a "no, thanks." But even getting to that decision can be a chore for some. 

After any amount of time in dealing with salespeople, you're bound to come across some overzealous characters — those people who treat a prospect more like a rabid predator than a professional. Nobody wants to deal with a salesperson who is obviously waiting to pounce, so you do the only thing you can do to shake them off the scent of a sale — you lie.

Acronyms, industry buzz-words, technical jargon — we've all used them at one point or another in our jobs. But if you've been using them when you're first getting to know your prospect, you may have made a big mistake.

The change in the economic climate in the last two years has affected everyone, and one of the more dramatic effects is the cultural impact it's had on organizations. Employees no longer feel safe, and they don't like it. They are feeling left out, they are angry to see their friends laid off and their pay cut, and all they hear as a reason is that sales have dropped 30, 40 or 50% - and they now demand to know more! They want to know why the results are so poor.

The following summarizes what many salespeople have been saying as I've spoken with them this week, "Wow, it was hard to find buyers before all this financial mess and now it's impossible ... it's killing me!" I get a sense that fear is strangling a major portion of the sales world.

In sales, there's a big difference between knowing what to say and knowing what to think. Sandler Training CEO Dave Mattson explains the seven deadly sales sins to avoid now and forever. 

"Can you get me an estimate?"

"Why don't you write up a proposal for me?"

"Well, just get me an outline of your plans for us and we'll get back to you."

Do these sound familiar? Possibly a "free consulting" nightmare that sales professionals see way too often?

It may be in the salesperson's best interest to stop talking from time to time. Share your product expertise after you've qualified the prospect. 

What does a marathon runner know about making prospecting calls? Probably very little. Maybe nothing! However, the strategy the marathon runner uses to prepare for a race can help you become a better prospector. No runner started out as a marathon runner. They trained over time to build their strength and endurance to go the distance. The first day they couldn't run 100 yards before gasping for breath. The first week was torture. The second week was a little better. The third week better yet, and so on. With continual practice, desire and effort, they became a marathon runner

The late, great Arthur Ashe, for whom the Stadium Court at Flushing Meadows Tennis Complex in New York City is named, was not only a great pioneer in the sport, but was also known for his intellect and ability to teach in both words and examples.

Wouldn't it be wonderful for a prospect to accurately and honestly lay out all of their issues for you in your first meeting? This means no more seemingly-perfect deals to disappear, no more "perfect matches" to end with unreciprocated phone calls, and best of all, no more "What went wrong?"

Through any sales training seminar you may have attended or any job training you've experienced, people seem to put a lot of energy into teaching you how to avoid or resist one word: "No." The fear of rejection alone is enough to drive the timid and easily — bruised away from sales altogether.

Sure, it's easy to externalize your problems if things aren't going well. Remember: as a salesperson, it's your job to sweep those excuses aside. You'll never grow as a sales professional if you leave every call thinking you're just unlucky to run into the world's pickiest prospects.

Watch a Sandler trainer Kevin Hallenbeck explains why it is absolutely necessary to always keep your options open. 

We are right in the middle of summer, and I love the summer. And in the midst of this nice warm weather, it may be strange to say that I also love the winter-but I do. That's when the business world almost uniformly decides to go into a slumber because they believe buying slows down. That's called a self-limiting belief. That's when I'm at my best because this is what I have found-people actually still have money and are willing to spend it if you're good enough to find their pain

I propose a ban on proposals! I find them to be an enormous waste of time as no one has ever in the history of sales purchased anything solely based on the proposal. We unwittingly taught all prospects that they simply have to ask and we will provide them with all the information they need in order to deal with their problem

Q: What's the one thing a salesperson must avoid if they are to be successful? A: I study salespeople for a living. The majority of them don't lose because of product inferiority, pricing excesses or poor sales technique. They lose because of low self-esteem! We all start out with perfect self-esteem. Ever met any three-year-olds with self-esteem problems? Didn't think so

How's your memory? Do you fall into the category as described the old adage, "I'd forget my head if it wasn't connected to my body"? Are you constantly setting traps for yourself to be on time for meetings or where your car keys are placed or what's supposed to be happening on your schedule from hour to hour?

If I asked you casually in passing, which would you consider analogous to your sales style -beinga greyhound or a thoroughbred- you might pause and consider the characteristics and traits of both, and after pondering, see value in both. It might be a difficult choice on the surface, however, if you look more closely, you would reconsider. I was listening to a minister recently break it down in an interesting way, so let's consider his analysis.

Why do people buy milk or bread or cereal or soda at the gas station convenience store when those items are far less expensive at a grocery store? Obviously, they have a need for the items. More importantly, buying at the convenience store is quick, and you guessed it, convenient. And "quick" and "convenient" represent value. They fill up with gas, run in and pick up the items they need, and they're on their way. No hunting for a parking space. No grocery carts to dodge. No long checkout lines.

Growing up, I was raised by an optimist and a pessimist. My mom was probably the happiest, funniest, friendliest person you could ever meet. She made sure that I was raised with an altruistic mindset, wishing nothing but good for everybody and doing my best to help people out. As I started to learn and mature, I asked her about why she was helping some people she really did not like. Her response was simple. "Matt, everybody can be better off and helping them helps the community.

Last week, I found myself trapped in a fast food restaurant. This restaurant boasts that they have served more than six billion. Still, the people in front of me seemed to be having a new experience; they simply could not decide between meal one and meal two. To call them indecisive would be an insult to equivocators all over the planet.

"Dump the jute, man, on the burning ground." Van Morrison serves that to us in a song called "The Burning Ground." I'm rarely sure what he's singing but you can count on whatever it is to be unique. I dig that. All hip cats dig that. "The Burning Ground" is arguably one of Van Morrison's most intense forays into personal and spiritual allegory. More importantly, it's just a dang good tune. Within it, though, is a message that makes me think of the plight of so many unknowing salespeople: the challenge of head trash

Salespeople are not wise to the ways of great sorcerers and for that we can all be thankful. Sorcerers are known for exotic blends, flash powder, potent broths and a willingness to pluck the eyes out of living things. Sorcerers spend an inordinate amount of time consulting the bones, looking to see what the future holds - which usually ends up about half-right. There's every reason to believe that consulting those dried up old bones might be about as successful as the "winging it" strategy employed by many sales amateurs.

"Equal business stature, that's all I want--to be treated as an equal. I have earned that right. Yet to a gatekeeper or prospect, I am the lowest form of humanity." So lamented a friend of mine over a recent lunch of burgers, fries and a heaping plate of frustrated sales efforts

There are a lot of good reasons to pick up the phone and reach out to new prospective customers. When it comes to finding new business opportunities, the phone offers a high level of efficiency, is relatively inexpensive, and is a great way to gather valuable information that can help us find business.

While some salespeople might see voicemail as a dead end or a link in a long game of phone tag, opportunists see it as a chance to learn even more about the prospect before interacting with them. If you listen closely to a prospect's outbound voicemail message, you can pick up clues to help you adjust your style to be more like theirs

We don't ordinarily think of sales as one of the "helping professions," but maybe we should. People tell their problems to psychologists and clergymen. They pour out their hearts to their neighborhood bartender. But they tell their troubles to sales professionals, too, so we should develop our "helping profession" skills. I have often noticed, when a sales pitch is going well, how the conversation resembles what I understand a therapeutic session to be like. That is the way it should be, if the salesperson knows what he or she is doing

Planning on an economic rebound, companies in the U.S. and Canada are beginning to up their investments in new product and service introductions, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey released in August. Businesses are also investing more in information technology and in marketing and sales promotion.

That's encouraging, especially since it should mean more purchases of the kinds of good and services high-level sales professionals represent.

The end of summer's gloomy retail sales figures, coming after two months of modest gains, are giving rise to considerable pessimism among sales professionals. While understandable, this pessimism is also, I believe, completely unwarranted but not for the reasons you might think.
 Yes, back-to-school sales at the big chain stores are rotten. The housing market in many areas is lousy. Consumer confidence is weak and may be even weaker by the time you read this. I don't disagree with any of that. Facts are facts

When the economy took a nosedive, most sales professionals quickly responded in one of two ways. There were those who lost confidence and basically hunkered down, hoping to wait out the recession. They adopted a "base camp" mentality, wanting only to hold onto what business they had until the weather cleared, and they could start their ascent again

I'm going to let you in on a secret. There are hundreds of consultants out there that will tell you they fully understand Twitter and other trendy "social media" tools. They will also tell you exactly how they can help you use these tools-at a steep price, of course. Well, most of them are blowing smoke. The fact is, we live in a time of rapid technological change and a great deal of confusion. Nobody knows what tomorrow may bring, in terms of technological change, but also in terms of the economy and foreign affairs