Several months ago, a client of mine who runs a small, profitable business serving other businesses shared with me that she was receiving powerful sales training from Sandler Training, and my ears perked up. Many entrepreneurial women I coach find the sales process extremely challenging and perplexing, and fewer still have had the courage to walk directly into their challenges by signing up for sales training.
I was intrigued by what she shared, so I purchased the book The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them, written by David Mattson, CEO of Sandler Training. I found it to be chock full of integrity-aligned sales principles and strategies that move sales away from a “sleazy” endeavor of trying to pull a fast one over on your would-be client, to a more empowering, empathetic, curious and open sharing of your talents and services in a way that creates a win/win relationship for all involved.
I reached out to Dave Mattson to learn more about what Sandler teaches that makes them so effective. Founded in 1967, Sandler Training has helped thousands of companies become more profitable by training sales professionals with a unique selling system of techniques and guiding principles that focuses on asking questions, talking less, educating more, and knowing when to walk away. In many ways, these ideals are fundamentally different from traditional sales techniques, but Sandler is obviously doing something right. Sandler Training is the world’s leader in sales development training programs for salespeople at small, medium and Fortune-sized businesses as well for as solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and independent consultants, delivering an estimated 92,000 training hours per year.
Dave shared that despite Sandler Training’s growing popularity, sales people the world over still continue to commit sales suicide through common blunders and mistakes. While many learn from those mistakes, others fall into the same selling traps continuously.
Below are Dave’s 10 Essential Selling Principles That Most Salespeople Get Wrong. These 10 blunders are addressed through the Sandler Rules, and the solutions to these errors are reinforced regularly at the 225 Sandler Training centers located throughout the world.
1.) Assuming the problem that the prospect communicates is the real problem. It’s normal and natural to assume this; however, it’s important to look deeper into each scenario. Like a physician, we must ask ourselves “is this the prospect’s real problem or is it just a symptom?” Before diagnosing and offering how we can address their challenges, we have to ask more questions to make sure we’ll be getting at the root of their problem, and bringing value to the prospect by supporting their true goals. (Sandler Rule #38)
2.) Thinking that your sales “presentation” will seal the deal. You should always be helping the prospect discover the best reasons to buy from you – not telling them why they should. The prospect should know that they’ll be buying from you long before you present your final pitch or proposal. (Sandler Rule #15)
3.) Talking too much. One of the oldest Sandler philosophies is the 70/30 rule. So often and especially in the beginning of a relationship, salespeople think they need to be doing all the talking, when they should be listening and asking questions. Keep in mind, if a prospect wanted a rundown of your products or services, he or she could just visit your website. The sales process is a conversation, and an honest and open one at that. (Sandler Rule #14)
4.) Believing that you can sell anybody anything. People don’t buy simply on your say-so. A prospect must go through a period of self-discovery before making the decision that your product or service is the right solution. Resistance is pre-programmed and people don’t like to be told what to do (or buy). A better approach than “selling by telling” is to ask key questions or relate third-party stories that allow the prospect todiscover the benefits and advantages of your product or services. When you ask questions that lead to a discovery, the prospect then “owns” the discovery and the resistance disappears. After all, people don’t tend to argue with their own data. (Sandler Rule #27)
5.) Over-educating the prospect when you should be selling. The initial goal in selling is to find out why, and under what circumstances, the prospect will buy from you. Asking questions is first, and sharing your materials and specifics comes next. Sell today, educate tomorrow. (Sandler Rule #21)
6.) Failing to remember that salespeople are decision makers, too. Every step of the way through the sales cycle, a salesperson must make critical decision as to whether to continue investing time in the relationship with the prospect. If you as the salesperson are a poor decision-maker, your lack of clarity and decisive action will be mirrored in your prospect’s behavior. Remember, the shorter your selling cycle, the more leads you close over time. (Sandler Rule #36)
7.) Reading minds. Always get the facts from your prospect about what they need and why. When your prospect is vague, politely ask for clarity. Veteran sales people are often the culprits of “reading minds” because they think they’ve seen it all. But when they jump to conclusions, they make erroneous assumptions that lead to wasted time at best, lost opportunities at worst. As the old adage goes, “to assume is to make an ass out of you and me.” (Sandler Rule #13)
8.) Working as an “unpaid consultant” in an attempt to close a deal. Sandler advises salespeople to play “Let’s Pretend” when a prospect asks for additional work and information before making a buying decision. Ask your prospect to picture a scenario where you complete the additional groundwork and provide a solution that fits everything the prospect needs – then what happens, will they buy from you? If they can’t envision pulling the trigger even after you’ve done the additional work, or if they’d still need another step in the process, it may be time to walk away or you may ask to move directly to this second step. When you want to know the future, bring it back to the present. (Sandler Rule #25)
9.) Being your own worst enemy. Never blame the prospect for stalling the process. Instead, look inward. It’s the job of the salespeople to assure the prospect and address detours. The only way to streamline the process is to continue to refine your own sales approach and technique. (Sandler Rule #44)
10.) Keeping your fingers crossed that a prospect doesn’t notice a problem. Sandler teaches that the only way to avoid a potential disaster is to address it before it erupts. Always come clean and be open and transparent if something problematic comes up along the selling cycle. The prospect will respect that you “came clean” and shared it, and together you can problem-solve, building a solidifying team approach to the issue. (Sandler Rule #23)
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From my view as one who is involved in sales and business development every day, the Sandler principles teach that an effective sales process is about sharing your company’s great talents and strengths, and connecting powerfully with those who are a strong fit to your work in terms of values, approach, style and outcomes. Being open, honest, and transparent about who you are and what you deliver, along with serving as an effective listener, decision-maker and team-builder, will help you achieve the sales you need and want, but also do something much bigger – help you find new ways to be of true service to others and the world around you.
For more about Sandler Training, visit www.sandler.com and check out The Sandler Rules: 49 Timeless Selling Principles and How to Apply Them.
Article originally published on Forbes
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