Written by Hamish Knox; President of Sandler in Calgary, Canada
Creating accountable, sales focused organizations in Calgary
Never get between your prospect and where you want them to go – David Sandler
Sandler was talking about “closed,” but salespeople who rush forward with solutions end up knocking their prospects farther away or running right past them.
To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction – Isaac Newton
Professional salespeople get their prospect to pull them forward instead, which takes more time up front preparing for an interaction, but results in fewer calories burned in front of a prospect because they are doing the work that they usual expect of a salesperson.
The sales physics lesson for Sandler clients comes early in our work together when they are introduced to “pendulum theory” or the “negative reverse clock.”
Picture a pendulum clock with marks from 3 on the right side to 9 on the left side. At 3 a prospect is closed and becomes a client. At 9 the prospect says, “it’s over” and they go somewhere else. At 6 the prospect is “neutral” and says things like, “we’re always interested to know more about <fill in salesperson’s product>. How about you come in for a lunch-and-learn and if we see what we like we’ll buy.”
Salespeople get excited when a prospect shows up at 4 or 3 (usually sounds like “I’ve heard great things about you! Here’s my credit card!”), but they often forget to slow down to speed up the sale and end up having an awkward conversation with their client later because what their client thought they were buying and what was delivered were different. Pulling back on an excited prospect (e.g. “thanks for calling. Happy to help you. May I ask you a few questions to make sure we’re on the same page?”) reduces the potential for awkward conversations in the future.
Salespeople get uncomfortable when speaking to a prospect at 8 or 9 (e.g. on a prospecting call, “yeah, I’ve heard of you. You guys really screwed me six years ago!” CLICK), but those prospects have nowhere to go but towards three so doing the opposite of what the prospect expects (defend) by saying something like, “appreciate you saying that. I wasn’t around back then, but sounds like you never want to work with us again, fair?” gets the prospect moving. If the answer is “yes” that’s great because that salesperson doesn’t have to burn anymore calories on that prospect again.
Salespeople love neutral prospects because they think “got one,” when what they’ve really got is an opportunity to do free consulting.
An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion… – part of Newton’s First Law
Neutral prospects are at rest. Attempting to get them moving by using a third party story or 30 second commercial (e.g. “happy to do a lunch-and-learn. Typically, I get invited in when companies are…) gives a salesperson a sense of if they should invest their only valuables, time and information, in someone who may be kicking their tires.
Sales is a slight edge science. Make the physics of sales work for you and you’ll have more time, energy and opportunities in your funnel.
Until next time… go sell something.
Sales Process Workshop
What if you spent more time coaching your salespeople instead of remembering what each salesperson’s definition of 25%, 50%, or 90% “closed” meant?
What is a “Sales Process Workshop”?
- Purpose – design and document the “Your Company Name Way,” which is all the steps and check boxes your salespeople need to address to take a prospect from “hello” to “here’s a purchase order” to “this has been a great X year relationship. Look forward to working with you for many more.”
- Who attends – Senior leaders of functional units in your organization including CEO or Owners only.
- Where – our place or yours. Most of our clients appreciate the opportunity to disconnect from distractions at their place and hold this session at ours.
- Time – three hours.
- You leave with – a clearly documented common language and the tools to implement internally and hold your people accountable to following your Way. We may address CRM integration if applicable, but we aren’t CRM experts.
Organizations with a common language and process around their prospecting, selling and client development activities scale faster, grow consistently and can realize a higher exit multiple.