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6 Ways Sales Leaders Increase Their Salespeople’s Credibility in Front of a Prospect – Sandler Training

Sandler Training



Written by Hamish Knox; President of Sandler in Calgary, Canada

Creating accountable, sales focused organizations in Calgary



Successful salespeople differentiate on how they sell not what they sell; however, to earn the right to differentiate by how they sell your salespeople must have credibility with their prospect.

Successful sales leaders don’t steal those opportunities from their team, they increase them by doing the following with their as a group and as individuals:

  1. Pre-call planning – specifically the types of questions your salesperson expects your prospect to ask and the question or story your salesperson will use to uncover the real, underlying question that their prospect wants to ask. By loading responses prior to engaging with their prospect when your salesperson is asked a question by their prospect they can respond instead of reacting.
  2. Playbooks – your playbook can go as deep and wide as you like. Typically your playbook will include your sales process, common objections, questions to ask, stories to tell, pre-call planners and post-call debrief formats and your average sales cycle from “hello” to “looking forward to working with you” for your ideal prospects. Like an athlete studying a playbook before a game holding your salespeople accountable to reading, adding to and revising your playbook will give them confidence in front of their prospects. A confident salesperson is a credible salesperson.
  3. Role Play – at the 2017 Sandler Summit my colleague, Bill Bartlett talked about having a wealth of knowledge about climbing Mount Everest, but no practical experience. Role play gives your salespeople practical experience when it won’t cost them any money, which makes them more at ease in front of their prospects. Like meeting with a medical specialist who appears at ease even when they are in a literal life or death situation, salespeople who appear at ease in front of their prospects increase their credibility.
  4. Debrief – our best growth comes from debrief; however, the tense of your debrief influences your salesperson’s credibility in future interactions with prospects. Specifically using upward or additive counterfactuals (e.g. next time I’ll ask 2-3 more questions than feels comfortable) instead of downward or subtractive counterfactuals (e.g. I’m glad I didn’t dig deeper on their budget. I would have ruined the relationship) rewires your salesperson’s brain with a new course of action the next time they encounter a situation similar to the one you’re debriefing. A quick, effective method to debrief with your salesperson, or have them debrief themselves, is tactical debriefing. The tactical debriefing process is 1) what did they (the prospect) say or do? 2) what did I (your salesperson) say or do? 3) what will I say or do different next time?
  5. Let them fail – this suggestion will make some sales leaders wildly uncomfortable – let your salesperson fail with a prospect when you’re in the meeting. Sales leaders tend to rescue salespeople when they sense the slightest struggle, which teaches them nothing other than learned helplessness and tells their prospect that your salesperson has no credibility. Letting your salesperson fail is a situational judgement call that you make with your salesperson prior to your meeting during pre-call planning. Set the ground rules with them and their prospect that you are merely an observer, albeit one who will engage in rapport building, for this meeting. On the other hand, if you and your salesperson agree that this is a joint sales call with both of you acting in a sales role monitor yourself so you speak less than your salesperson, which enhances their role in your meeting.
  6. Accountability to prospect – by holding your salespeople accountable to reaching their prospecting targets (hunters and farmers both prospect, but in different ways) monthly their sales funnel should look like a funnel instead of a pencil. A full funnel gives your salespeople confidence to focus on qualifying instead of presenting. By focusing on qualifying your salespeople will appear to their prospects as more interested in understanding the prospect’s issues and opportunities, which makes your salespeople appear more credible than their competitors who show up and throw up.

You won’t increase your salespeople’s credibility by filling them full of product knowledge and encouraging them to spew it at anyone unfortunate enough to invite them into their office. In that case they’ll be like every other salesperson and the only differentiator your prospect will have is price.

Until next time… go lead.


Upcoming Workshop:

Revised & Updated Cold Call Bootcamp

An interactive sales workshop designed to produce results, learn effective cold calling techniques, and overcome call reluctance.

Thursday March 1, 2018 from 8.30AM-3.00PM

Click to register online or register by phone on 403-457-1507.

Most sales people hate making cold calls for one of two reasons: They don’t have a system, or the system they have doesn’t work. If this sounds like you or your team, this boot camp may be for you.

Are you…

  • Anxious about making Cold Calls?
  • Tired of not getting past the Gate Keeper?
  • Sick of hearing “Email me some info”?
  • Struggling to hit your numbers?
  • Frustrated because you don’t have enough appointments in your calendar?
  • Irritated because you keep getting stuck in voice mail?

You’ll leave with the tools to…

  • Make a no-pressure prospecting call
  • Ensure you maintain control during the call
  • Develop a customized approach, geared to your business
  • Know when and how to leave voice mails
  • Understand how to eliminate stalls and objections

Click to register online or call (403) 457-1507 to register by phone.

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