All posts by Sean McPheat

Hi! I'm the founder and Managing Director of MTD Sales Training - we offer sales training solutions for companies both large and small. I'm blessed to work with 25 of the most talented trainers in the UK....well, I did recruit them! ;-) Today, we've delivered training in over 23 countries to over 3,500 different organisations and 100,000 staff. Our clients include Xerox, Friends Provident, Starbucks, Taylor Wimpey, CISCO, Allianz and Lloyds TSB to name but a few.

10 Questions ALL Sales People Must Ask Themselves At The End Of The Month

I love the expression “Questions are the answer”.

It reminds us all that the quality of the answers we get in life are determined by the quality of the questions we ask.

Much of what we experience in life goes over our heads, created by things that are out of our control.

What we focus on will get us our results.

And that focus is very often derived by the questions we ask.

Tony Robbins has gone so far as to assert that all of our thinking is simply us asking questions of ourselves.

Is he right?

Could thinking simply be a series of questions we are trying to answer?

If so, could the quality of our questions dictate the quality of our answers?

What have I just done?

Asked myself a series of questions!

So, are there certain questions you could ask of yourself on a regular basis that would help design your life better?

Of course there are, and I’ve listed a few that I ask of myself at the end of every month that might help you start your own questioning process:

1. What have I done really well this month that contributed to getting me closer to my goals?

2. Do my short-term goals help me on the journey to achieving my long-term objectives?

3. Who could I talk to or read about that would help me learn more about my chosen fields?

4. How can I make more time in the next month or so for things that are really important?

5. To whom could I add value in the next few weeks, and how?

6. Who needs my help today, tomorrow or next week?

7. What could I do now that would make my next month easier to deal with?

8. What have I learned last month that will stop next month from being a repeat of the same stuff?

9. What specific information can I share with colleagues, prospects or clients that would make their jobs easier?

10. What book could I read, DVD could I watch, podcast could I download or webpage could I visit that would provide me with a nugget of gold to make a real difference in what I am doing?

There’s one thing that connects all these questions; they all are created to make us think about getting better, improving, growing and contributing.

It’s a sorry life if we only consider ourselves.

Life teaches us many lessons and one great one is that the quality of our results are directly associated with the contributions we make in life.

If we are able to determine the answers to the above questions, we concentrate and focus on making not just our own but also others’ lives better.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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Use These 2 Examples To Uncover Prospect Needs

You’ve probably been on courses where you’ve discussed the different types of questions that are available to you.

You’ll have heard of open questions and closed questions.

You’ll be familiar with probing questions and possibly leading questions, too.

But the truth is that this can bog you down into thinking you’ve got to vary your questioning type and it can lead to confusion and a lack of flow in the conversation.

Instead, we recommend you think of your questioning session as one where you talk benefits every time.

This negates the need to be thinking “Have I asked enough open questions? Have I probed enough? Should I be asking more closed questions now?”

You just get bogged down in structure and forget why you are there in the first place!

Instead, think about how you can get the prospect to think of what you have in terms of how it will benefit them.

One way is to present a beneficial situation from another customer’s viewpoint and then ask the decision-maker if that appeals to them. It may sound something like this:

“Tom, many businesses in the construction industry have been able to save over 15% in their long-term buying cycles by using our preferred supplier status discounts. Is that something you’d benefit from too?” 

“Rich, we’ve partnered with many large companies like yours here in (city) as a printer service who can provide quick turnaround options when their in-house services can’t achieve their objectives. Would you ever require a service like that?”

Both these examples use ‘benefit-statements” and a quick-fire question to follow up.

You offer a solution that other companies who use you have enjoyed in the past and then identify if that’s something they would be interested in.

This helps you see what is most important to the prospect.

Imagine setting out your proposal or presentation and after going through loads of information and then finding out the prospect has other needs and you’ve just wasted yours and their time!

A quick benefit statement, followed up with a specific question relating to that benefit may save you and them a lot of time.

These questions now allow you to open up the conversation to deeper questioning and a further examination of the prospect’s specific needs.

So, don’t waste your time thinking about the types of question you should ask….instead, think about the results you’ve achieved and see if those results would be of benefit to this particular prospect.

It creates a closer link between your products and their overall needs and speeds up the whole buying process too.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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Here Are 2 Different Ways To Influence Your Prospects…

A book that holds pride of place in my library is Robert Cialdini’s “Influence”, where he talks about the principle of social proof.

Cialdini states that “95% of people of imitators and 5% of people are initiators.”

He means by this that most people are influenced by the actions of others, rather than furrowing their own trough and taking the risks of being a tail-blazer.

If we see someone we’ve never seen before on TV, and their title comes up as ‘expert in XXX’ we tend to believe what they say because, of course, they are an expert in their subject.

People these days tend to be interested in the lives of others, hence the rise in popularity of the ‘fly-on-the-wall’ programmes where we see a group of people living in a house together.

You could use this interest in others’ opinions as an example for influencing people to believe in your products that they haven’t tried before.

These two principles (social proof and interest in others) can work in many presentation situations.

Do you have references and testimonials on your websites?

Why?

Because you know people will be interested in others’ opinions.

Do you have references and endorsements on your LinkedIn profile?

Why?

So viewers of your profile can see what others think about you, rather than just reading your own words.

So, how does this sound in reality and what impact could it have on your prospects?

Here are some examples:

“I was talking to another small business owner like yourself about some similar challenges he was facing, and this is what we were able to do to help him….”

“We’ve worked with 7 similar-sized businesses within 10 miles of here and we’ve been able to reduce their overheads by between 8 and 20%. Let me tell you what we did…”

“I see you’re connected to Joe Smith at ABC Ltd. He’s been using our services for the last two years and this is what he said about us….”

“You’re not the only business facing those challenges at the moment. Personally, I’ve dealt with three companies in the last two months who said exactly what you said today. We’ve been able to help them stop losing money and start increasing revenue again. Let me tell you what they said….”

In these examples, you’ll see the two principles in action.

There is no boasting about your product details or your service initiatives; instead, there are only references to what people have said who have benefited from your solutions.

Remember to use precise facts and figures when you discuss this proof.

Don’t say ‘We’ve worked with dozens of companies like yours’.

Referring to the fact that ‘Twenty seven companies are using our solution in this area’ is more believable, factual and impressive.

It also makes you sound more plausible.

So, offer more social proof and comments from satisfied users in your promotions, and it will mitigate risk in using your services with those who are new to you.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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Use This Wording When Revealing The Price To Your Prospect

Have you ever been on the phone or in front of someone who is trying to sell you something, and then when the issue of price comes up, they say something like, “Are you sitting down?” or “I hope you’re prepared for this”?

When we are thinking about price, we automatically feel negative before we know the facts because we feel that we want a bargain and we seldom, if ever, get it.

Hearing something like those comments above creates a negative feeling and induces a negative state in us, because it’s now obvious that we are not going to be happy with the price.

It’s as if someone has said to us “Brace yourself for bad news!”

People evaluate information based on the state they are in when they hear it, so we have to be careful when talking about price that we aren’t in the habit of negatively pre-conditioning the prospect.

It’s called ‘conditional phrasing’.

When we pre-empt what we are going to say with something negative or apologetic, the obvious state of mind of the other person is going to be negative.

Instead, think about what you can say to get the person into a state of curiosity.

It may be the price of your services is much higher than your competitors, so it would be silly to presume that they are going to be ecstatic about your pricing structure.

However, you can still make them anticipative of the value that you are offering by what you say before you reveal the price.

Don’t, though, try the old market-stall trick of counting down from a higher number, as it sounds tacky and patronising.

Saying something like, “You might expect to pay £xxx for something like this, but no….!” will make you look like an amateur and will only undo any good work you may have carried out.

What you can do instead is refer back to the value you have already built up and then show how the product will benefit them in the long run. It would sound something like…

“So, we’ve seen how this will help you save up to 15% in running costs over the next two years, which you said equates to over £1000. You said earlier that the competitive model is £x.

This model is £x + £500, so it means that you will get a return on your investment in just one year. After that, you will be seeing the value increase, and you’ll get all the extra benefits this product will bring.”

What you’re doing here is pre-conditioning the prospect to remember all the benefits they will receive in the long term.

Especially if saving money is a prerequisite for them making a choice, this will sound really positive before the price is revealed.

Also, you will see that the actual price you quote is buried in among the statements of ‘value increase’, ‘help you save’ and ‘extra benefits’.

You have creating a feeling of anticipation as you say he price, so prospects are able to justify the purchase decision in their own mind before the actual price is revealed.

Try to condition the prospect in a positive way before mentioning the price and you’ll see the acceptance of the value increase in their mind.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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The One Small Mindset Change That Rockets Sales Success…

I’ve always admired Jim Rohn. His insights into the deep philosophies of life always touch a nerve and his laid-back delivery is one that I admire.

His untimely death has left a big gap in the motivational speaker’s circuit, but you can always catch his great talks on YouTube, or similar.

One of his great quotes that resonates with me is this one:

“Your philosophy drives your attitude. Your attitude drives your actions. Your actions drive your results. Your results drive your lifestyle. 

If you don’t like your lifestyle, look at your results. If you don’t like your results, look at your actions. If you don’t like your actions, look at your attitude. If you don’t like your attitude, look at your philosophy.”

I just love that!

What is philosophy?

A learned scholar once said “The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things”.

The big questions are seldom given the depth of thought that is required for them to become part of our psyche.

Our philosophies (how we think and the values we live by) drive our attitudes in life.

How many times have you blamed your attitude on some external factor; that dumb prospect, my idiot sales manager, the political situation, the economy, my rubbish products, etc.?

If we allow external factors to determine our philosophy and attitude towards our jobs, it will affect everything related to it.

Some people are struck hard by just one rejection; it can ruin their day, their week, even their whole outlook.

We need to find a way where such setbacks don’t affect us negatively.

Our outlook and attitude then determine our actions. Will we make that one more call?

Will we fill in that CRM system with the right information?

Will we decide to positively approach that difficult situation?

The actions we take naturally produce the results we achieve.

We can’t get the results we crave if the actions we take are not commensurate with the desired consequences we are seeking.

We, and only we, are in charge of the results we achieve.

No-one will have any sympathy with you if you just come up with the same old excuses time and time again.

If the results aren’t what you want, change your actions!

Those results will drive the lifestyle you enjoy.

If you are not living up to the standards you want, something, someone, somewhere has to change to produce it.

Take control of what you can control and the rest will follow.

By thinking through your chosen philosophies, creating an attitude that corresponds with it, taking the actions that build on that attitude and achieving the results that create a great lifestyle, you can honestly say you have succeeded in your sales career.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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“We’re Happy With Our Current Supplier”…What Now?

This is an interesting and, for some salespeople, a ‘killer’ response from a prospect when you are presenting your solutions.

Your product may be the best in the market…you may have all the gizmos that impress other clients….you may have recommendations spilling out of your top pocket…..your value may be better than your competitors…..

But the prospect is happy with what they already have.

“We’re satisfied with our current supplier, thanks” is often the biggest stumbling block to many presentations, as it often comes up before you’ve even started the conversation.

The prospect knows you’re trying to muscle in on what they are currently using, and doesn’t want to change.

They’re satisfied with the status quo.

They’ve been with their current supplier for some time now, and they’re comfortable.

Why go through the hassle of change?

Here’s something you can say that will identify if there still might be an opportunity:

“That’s fine, Mr Prospect, and I can appreciate your most likely satisfied at this time. We are always on the look out for clients who are ‘satisfied’ with their current situation, as we try to make our clients ‘delighted’ with our services. Could you tell me, please, what would it take for you to be more than satisfied?”

Here, you are planting those seeds of doubt in the prospect’s mind.

Notice that you picked up on the word that the prospect used.

“Satisfied”.

The problem with a person being ‘satisfied’ is that it lulls us into a state of homeostasis.

One definition of this is “the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.”

Notice the words there?

Stable equilibrium and maintaining.

When something is just maintained and stable, does it get better?

Does it improve?

Does it progress in any way?

No. It just stays the same, and as we know, if something stays still it will atrophy and gradually get weaker.

So this aspect of being ‘satisfied’ needs to be investigated.

I sometimes ask my clients how they feel about our services.

If they say they are satisfied, I get nervous. I don’t want satisfaction; I want ‘impressed, grateful, excited, inspired, amazed, influenced, impacted’.

If the prospect is satisfied, take a few moments to check in with them on what would make them more than satisfied.

This creates dissonance in their mind.

They now have to think about what they are NOT happy with, or how something could be made better.

Previously, their satisfied state was good enough for them; now, you’re making them think that it isn’t.

Their answer could be just the chink in the armour they had been protecting themselves with.

Many prospects will say they’re satisfied with the status quo because they don’t want to sit through a presentation.

Then don’t make them do so.

Ask them questions.

Find out what could be improved. Identify the pains they are experiencing.

Get them out of their bland thinking that today’s solutions will also be here tomorrow.

When you get them to acknowledge just one thing that could be better, it opens up the door for you to find out what results would come from the changes you could offer.

That’s when you will get a hearing ears from the prospect.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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How To Deal With The Foul & Abusive Prospect

Have you ever had that time when a prospect has been really horrible to you?

I mean aggressively horrible, even resorting to swearing or downright nasty comments?

It does happen, and unfortunately for many salespeople, it can have a profound affect.

Imagine you’re making a sales call and the prospect starts ranting and raving.

They use abusive language that is uncalled for and tell you never to call again, or worse.

The effect can be devastating.

“Is it my approach? Is it my personality? Is it my product or services? Is it….is it…is it?”

The list goes on. We find ourselves blaming ourselves for what might have been totally out of our control.

Think about it.

Do you know the type of day the prospect has had up until your call?

No, you don’t. It could be that you simply called at an inappropriate moment, when the prospect is stressed out with a crisis.

And you are simply an interruption to his day.

No wonder they might be rude or short with you and say things that are very personal.

That could be the reason, or it maybe they are just miserable sons of you-know-what!

When you get treated that way, many people have a tendency to dwell on it.

You tell everyone else in the office what just happened.

You keep in front of mind, playing the conversation over and over in your mind.

You feel angry, resentful. You categorise the person as a jerk and vow never to call them again.

You project your feelings onto the prospect and use the expletives back on them or you have ago at them for having an affect on your emotional well-being.

Meanwhile, back in their office, they don’t even remember you.

That little interruption is lost in the millions of other things going on in their world.

You were a blip. A momentary fleeting interruption.

In effect, they don’t care about how you feel. It’s then difficult to refocus and carry on with your job. It hurts.

You fantasise about calling them back and telling them to take a long run off a short pier (or words to that effect!).

Effectively, you’re wasting precious time, energy and emotions here. You’re living in the past, unable to focus on moving on.

There must be a better way.

Yes, there is. Remember that anger, stress or negativity is simply energy needing to be expressed.

Energy exists in many forms, and it’s possible for that negative energy to be harnessed and redistributed into making things work for you.

Some of the most successful people around have had to turn disappointments, defeat, rejection and anger into irrepressible determination in order to make themselves successful.

When someone hurts you or makes you angry, take that energy and utilise it. Fill your mind with adrenaline for revenge.

Take advantage of that energy to get better, because achievement is the ultimate revenge. 

When you take that energy you’ve produced from the previous bad call, you say, in effect, “Right…thanks for that response Mr Idiot; I’m now going to spend some time finding people who really need my services. There are people out there needing me. It obviously isn’t you, and you’re the one who is missing out. I’m just one call away from finding the person who needs me. NEXT!”

This isn’t pollyanna-ish, positive thinking. This is taking real energy and transferring it to make a real difference in the actions you take and hence the results you achieve.

So, next time someone has a real go at you, in person or one the phone, take that energy and pout it to good use.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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Is Your Prospect Negative From The Outset? Try This…

You may have heard the saying that there is no such thing as reality, only people’s perception of that reality.

Without getting too Einsteinian today, there is absolute truth in that statement.

I’m sure you’ve come across statements by others that they see as real, when your ideas are diametrically opposite or, at the best, very different.

Creating a perception in another person’s mind is often the result of what you say or what you do, and it’s clear that you will want to create a positive impression in the buyer’s mind before you start building on the reasons why you are there and what you are going to present.

So, how do you ensure that the perception (an immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation) of the buyer is positive, especially at the beginning of the sales meeting?

Here are four things that can certainly sway any mind-set towards the positive:

  • Explain what the purpose of the meeting is (to ensure their needs are met)
  • Determine the way the meeting will go, that you will not be selling them anything but helping them to run their business more effectively, more profitably or with greater productivity
  • Ensure they understand that you’ll be asking questions to make sure you get enough correct information to direct the conversation in the right way
  • Confirm that the prospect has the same agenda and they are in agreement with the way the discussions will go

What this opening session does is create a firm foundation in the prospect’s mind that the conversation will go in a way that puts no pressure on them and will allow them to share the progress rather than just sit there and be presented to.

This allows them to have full input to that progress and they will perceive it as a two-way journey, rather than a one-way monologue.

It’s so important to get this mind-set clear in the meeting.

Without it, they may feel less than positive about the meeting, because no one likes to feel they are being placed under pressure to make a decision.

This non-pressured environment allows the prospect to relax and he can be assured he will be feeling positive about the meeting.

Only then can he feel that the decisions he will be making are for the good of his company, and that is what eliminates objections and buyer’s remorse.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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Use This Example To Nip Early Objections In The Bud

We are all used to the prospect coming up with some kind of doubt about your claims on the validity of your product, or looking for discounts on your services when you have spent a lot of time discussing them.

Maybe the value hasn’t been built up yet, or they simply can’t believe your product is that good.

These are situations we are well aware of and we have learned how to work with the prospect to build that value or offer further proof about our claims.

But what if the objection comes up very early in the discussion, before you’ve had a chance to present or prove anything?

Should you work with them to overcome the objection immediately? Or should you try to do something else?

Here’s an example of what might happen in a normal discussion:

Prospect: I’ve done some research on your products and I’ve seen they are about 10-15% higher in price than what I am currently using, so unless you can offer that kind of discount and more, there’s no point in continuing?

Salesperson: Are you talking about our premium range?

Prospect: Yes, I have research your whole range and you’ve got to beat those prices before I even start thinking about your products.

Salesperson: OK, I’m sure we can sort something out with you. Let me check how many you wish to order and then I can see what kind of discount we can offer

Did you see how the salesperson got suckered into the discount question very early in the conversation, and allowed the objection to become the focal point of the discussion?

The challenge with this is that the buyer immediately holds all the aces and has full control of the direction the discussions will be going.

You don’t know if the customer’s claim is valid and yet you’ve acted as if the figures are genuine and matter the most to them.

Instead, you might try something like this:

Prospect: I’ve done some research on your products and I’ve seen they are about 10-15% higher in price than what I am currently using, so unless you can offer that kind of discount and more, there’s no point in continuing?

Salesperson: So, am I right in saying that price is the main criteria against which you will be making a decision, or are there other benchmarks you may be gauging your decision against?

Prospect: Well, price is one of them, but I must be sure your products are up to the job as well.

Salesperson: OK, Let’s see what we can do. Let’s discuss your needs first and highlight what products would be best for you. I’m pleased you’ve done your research, because that means you are serious about what you want. I’ll make sure we discuss the prices and make them competitive, but I want to know that I’m presenting options that are right for your business first. So is it OK for us to go through your needs first?

Here, you notice that the salesperson has clarified what is most important to the buyer before discussing anything.

When he saw that there were more criteria that was in the melting pot, the salesperson said that he would cover those and check against what the needs were of the customer before progressing.

Here’s a quick checklist to help you deal with objections that come up too early:

  • Resist the temptation to deal with an objection when you haven’t had chance to build up your value
  • Find out if the objection covers the most important areas for the prospect
  • Tell the prospect that it’s obviously important that his concerns are covered during the discussion, and that you will do that
  • Don’t let the objection stop you in your tracks. Start by finding out what the prospect’s needs are and then build on them, remembering to bring up the objection later on when you’ve covered that subject
  • Remember that every objection is a sign that value hasn’t been built up in the solution, so ensure you cover the value of every benefit your products and services offer.

Don’t try to deal with every objection as soon as it comes up.

You may find that part of your discussions will cover what the concern is anyway, so wait for that opportunity and make sure you help the prospect see your answers covers the objection.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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2 Key Components In Building Unbreakable Customer Loyalty

When we ask clients why they buy services, we naturally get a wealth of information that allows us to pinpoint the very things we need to do to gain their business.

Not only that, it creates touchpoints for us to follow for when we want to maintain loyalty.

Yes, we might get business from clients when we offer great value and offer the cheapest services and products that we can.

We also, though, want to maintain their business, because we have found it’s much easier to get future business from an existing client than try to convert a prospect using a competitive supplier.

So, what are the main components that make someone not only remain loyal, but also WANT to continue giving loyalty to a supplier?

Research has shown that these components are pretty consistent, and I’m sure you are in agreement with them when you read them below.

Firstly, most clients say they will remain loyal if their suppliers provide exceptional customer service in a safe, timely and professional manner and at competitive rates.

This means more than just being good or great at servicing their needs.

Anyone can just go through the motions when they are providing products.

What we need to do to convince buyers to continue buying is be exceptional in all we so for them.

This means building relationships with the people who matter within their company, analysing how your services improve their business opportunities, creating further market opportunities for them through contact with your company and showing them how much more successful they are with your partnership than without it.

As we state above, you need to provide this exceptional service safely, quickly, professionally and competitively.

This entails close contact with the stakeholders so you can prove your worth to them

Secondly, you need to provide personalised and customised service for each customer, based on your understanding of what he or she values in the customer-relationship, therefore converting repeat customers to loyal customers.

Personalised and customised means getting under the skin of the customer, identifying what makes them tick and not being generic in your approach.

What can you do for this one customer to make them feel special and identified as someone who is getting distinct and differentiated service? How can you build customised offering that actually make this one customer want to be your partner for life?

And what’s the third component?

Well, there are many companies that can do both the above on a one-off or even a regular basis.

The key to maintaining loyalty with your clients is this:

Offer the personalised, customised and exceptional service on a consistent basis.

I’m sure that you’ve enjoyed brilliant service when you’ve been to a retail outlet or restaurant or car dealership, or something like that, on a one-off time and been impressed.

Then, did you find the level of service different, worse or inconsistent next time you went?

Well, what impact did that have on you?

It may have affected your overall viewpoint of the whole company, franchise or brand.

It’s only when we are consistently offering something of real value to a client on a consistent basis that they are likely to find reasons to be loyal to us.

So when you are dealing with clients on a regular basis, see what you specifically can do to maintain the relationship by offering all of your services at a high level, and do it consistently.

You then offer many reasons why your client should become your long-term partner.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
http://www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto)

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