A good rule for selling, and for life! When a prospect makes you feel not OK, it probably means you are following his or her system instead of the Sandler Selling System. Although, as a Sandler trained salesperson you can make yourself appear not-OK to help the prospect become OK, it is not OK to allow the prospect to challenge your self-esteem, or your “I.”
In your personal life, when your colleagues, friends, or even family members are undermining your self-esteem and positive attitude, it’s time to get those people out of your life. Seek nurturing, supportive people, who can give constructive criticism with respect and who help you cope positively with day-to-day challenges. Those are the people with whom you’ll want to share the good times.
Supporting Cast: Bit Players
In your prospect’s cast of characters there are Bit Players—people in the organization who will use your product or service. They may include administrative staff, warehouse and shipping department staff, salespeople, etc. They have little authority or influence in the decision process. However, they can provide a wealth of information about an existing product, service or vendor. They are more likely to be a valuable source of information, because they have little or nothing to protect. If possible, make a research call on them before scheduling an appointment with the person at the top (the Star).
Using Third-Party Stories
How many times have you been in front of a prospect and found yourself in a situation where you “felt” something, but were afraid to say it out loud? For example, suppose your prospect puts a lot of pressure on you because of the price of your product or service. Rather than defending your position, you could use the third-party approach to tell your prospect how you feel:
“George, I appreciate your problem. Just last week, when I was working with a client, I really felt uncomfortable. What had happened was that after agreeing to a price that I had to clear with my home office, he changed the rules on me. It really made me uncomfortable. If I go to my home office and get this price for you, that won’t happen with us, will it?”
Try it, and see if it doesn’t work!
Sales Management: Account Strategy
Before working out the details of a strategy for your accounts, you need to have a great deal of basic information about the account and the market. Here are just a few examples of the type of information your salespeople must uncover to reliably predict the potential and viability of an account:
- What is the sales potential for this size account for each of the products/services sold?
- What is our share of the business in each category?
- Why/how did we get the business?
- What factors influence how this account buys?
- What are the account’s short-term and long-term goals?
- How will these goals affect the account’s need for our products/services?
You Make the Call
Situation: You are having your third meeting with a prospect. You established an up-front contract for the meeting, and will work out the budget for your solution to his pain. Your solution is based upon the budget information you and the prospect had discussed at your last meeting. Your solution will require not only cash expenditure, but investment in additional staff and some overtime pay for current staff members.
The prospect accepts the cash cost, but balks at the human resource requirements. He believes that his company’s goals can be accomplished by current staffing, and wants you to present your solution reflecting only the cash investment to the executive staff. He assures you he is on board, is a key decision maker on this project, and will make sure that your contract is signed within the week.
Action: On the surface it appears as if you are ready to enter the Fulfillment Step, but in reality you haven’t completed the Budget Step. You have established only a portion of the budget, or commitment of resources that the prospect is willing to make. You know that based on the pain you have uncovered, as well as your knowledge of the company’s current staffing, that the addition of personnel is critical to a successful outcome for the prospect. If you can’t get agreement on the human resource issue, you will have to close the file. Otherwise, you may get a signature on a contract, but you’ll end up with an unhappy, and temporary, customer.