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 2,500 different organisations and 50,000 staff. Our clients include Xerox, Friends Provident, Starbucks, Taylor Wimpey, CISCO, Allianz and Lloyds TSB to name but a few.

The Exact Time To Drop The ‘F-Bomb’ With Your Prospects

During my career in the finance industry, I had many occasions to discuss opportunities with prospects that centred around their investments, pensions, banking circumstances and the like.

I would listen attentively as they told me what had happened in the past, how they had sometimes burned their fingers with investments and how they had made killings in other situations.

It would give me all the information I needed to discuss their past needs and their current or present positions.

We would commiserate with each other when the economy was going belly-up, and slap each other on the back when it was going swimmingly.

But there came a time in every conversation when the ‘F’ word would be appropriate.

We’d have maybe spoken a lot about how the prospect had got to this situation and detailed how he felt about the whole thing. I’d shared anecdotes about others who had suffered the same fate. And then I’d do it…

I’d drop the ‘F’ bomb!

Now you’re probably thinking ‘Sean, I can understand how you can get pretty frustrated and annoyed in situations like that, so don’t be too hard on yourself.’

Yes, you’re probably right, and I often did get exasperated by the prospect’s procrastinating and dallying about the situation he was in. But I had something better to offer, so why didn’t they listen to me? Why didn’t they see I had the answer to their concerns and problems?

That’s why I had to use the word that many people don’t know when to use in front of a prospect. I had to bring the prospect to their senses. I had to change their frame of reference. I had to wake them from their slumber and make them realise they were thinking incorrectly.

Personally, I enjoy using the ‘F’ word. It gives me pleasure to utter it. It changes the way I think. It drives my passion and gets me in the right mood.

The concept that drives my passion and gets me really going is the future. And that’s the ‘F’ word that you, too, should be using a lot with prospects.

Ah, gotcha. You thought the “F” word was something completely different didn’t you?!

Of course, I’m talking about putting the emphasis on future focus.

Many prospects enjoy griping and whining about the present or even the past, two concepts that can’t be changed. The only area I and my prospects have control over is the future.

What I have to do is paint of picture of a different reality, one that hasn’t been created yet. We both have the chance to focus on something better, change current and present thinking so we can attract a variety of options into our lives and businesses.

So, when is the best time to use the ‘F’ word with the prospect? When you have enough information to create that picture of a preferred future for both you and the prospect.

You can determine when that is by determining the point where the prospect is ready for change, prepared to accept a variation in the journey they are on and willing to accept ideas and possibilities that help them to believe that a change from their current situation is the best way forward.

Putting the focus on the future during your conversation can be quite invigorating because you’re discussing something that can be changed in a moment, a blank sheet on which a myriad of options can be designed, constructed, thought-through, revisited, tapped into to, bludgeoned, crafted, axed, reformulated and created. Oh, that’s why I love that ‘F’ word so much!

It’s where we are going to spend the rest of our lives and can be welcomed with open arms. The prospect will signal the best time to bring it up. It’s normally when they don’t want to experience any more of what they are going through. The pain has reached and exceeded its threshold and they desire, nay, demand a differing outcome to what they would get if they continued on the same path.

That’s the time when the ‘F’ word is greeted with glee rather than shock. Identify what the future will bring, make it so attractive the prospect wants to live there too, and you’ll both be looking forward to F-ing with all your prospects!

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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Free Stuff Concept

4 ‘Freebies’ For Your Prospect That Generates Future Business

Free Stuff ConceptWhen you hold a door open for someone to follow you, what do they naturally say to you?

When you offer someone a compliment or admiring comment, what do they normally say back?

You’ll probably answer those questions with something like ‘Thank you’ or ‘That’s kind of you. I appreciate it’

This follows a social law that we habitually follow and subscribe to.

It’s called the ‘law of reciprocity’, and means that when someone does something for us or to us, we tend to want to respond in the same way, or, as its definition suggests:

“Reciprocity in social psychology refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions. As a social construct, reciprocity means that in response to friendly actions, people are frequently much nicer and much more cooperative than predicted by the self-interest model; conversely, in response to hostile actions they are frequently much more nasty and even brutal”.

Yes, we often see the results of our generosity or otherwise in the payback we receive from others, and this is important to recognise as it helps us in a myriad of sales situations.

That’s why, if we are able to give something to our prospect first, we almost inevitably create the situation why they subconsciously feel they need to give something back. It could be described as a behaviour in which two people or groups of people give each other help and advantages that both benefit from.

So, what could you give as a sales consultant that would encourage a prospect to give back to you?

Here are some ideas that you could try when working to generate business from a prospect:

1 – Write an article on LinkedIn or similar that specifically focusses on a challenge or problem that is affecting your prospect(s). Send it to them, mentioning that you published it, and you thought they might be interested in it

2 – Get interviewed on a podcast talking about subjects that are valuable to your prospecting list. Don’t make it a sales pitch but a valuable piece of information that you can send on.

3 – Determine what problems your prospects are facing and research how you as a company or individual can help. If you’ve helped a similar company in similar circumstances and it got a result, send the prospect details of how you turned things around. Because they are so close to the problem, they may not have seen the correct journey they need to take, so your answer may be just what they are looking for.

4 – Build a value proposition for them by giving them resources or your time on things that really matter to them. Give some advice freely. Set up their blog for them, or write a guest article for them if they already have one. Do some market research for them, or anything that makes you a valuable asset for them and their company.

Of course, I’m not suggesting you’ll always get business from these suggestions, as there are lots of other areas for the buyer to consider. But it may well open the door to further opportunities, as the client realises you’ve given them something valuable and therefore has the desire to reciprocate in some way.

Talking of freebies, grab your complimentary copy of ‘450 Sales Questions – What To Ask In Any Situation’ here

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

5 Steps To Pick Yourself Up After A Lost Sale

Imagine the scenario – you’ve invested heavily in time and effort into something you wanted badly and were counting on succeeding, like closing a big deal.

In spite of all your great efforts, you’ve now been told you weren’t good enough.

You finish the conversation or reading the email and sit back and reflect.

What’s the best way to deal with this kind of setback?

Well, it happens to the best of us, and the first reaction might be to feel you’ve been duped or this is now a personal crisis.

However, you need to quickly get back on track and recognise that this might have happened now, but it doesn’t have to happen again in the future.

Here are five recommendations you can follow that will get you up-and-at-‘em again quickly and effectively.

Acknowledge it’s happened.

Don’t go into denial or start blaming others or building recriminations. It’s something that happens to everyone, so you’re not being picked on by some negative force-field. Accepting it’s happened is the first step in changing the mind-set appropriately.

Share what happened with someone else

This could be a colleague or a social friend. Simply sharing the response you got can often get rid of the feelings for you. Resist the temptation to slag off the prospect or blame other people or situations for the loss; instead, just concentrate on the facts. This happened, that happened, what can we learn from it, now move on. It sounds simple, but it’s the best and most cathartic way of leaving it behind and pressing on. You can’t change anything that’s happened, though you can control your response to it.

Identify learning points

If you are able to take lessons from what happened, you focus on what you could do better next time, rather than focussing on what went wrong. Here, you don’t wallow in the victim mode; you identify what happened, you analyse how you could change if the same thing happened again and you quickly move to the place where you make sure you don’t repeat repeatable mistakes.

Remember what it feels like to win

This is a better way of viewing your past than dwelling on the losses. You think of successes you’ve enjoyed, then ‘anchor’ them in your mind-set. You create a winning mentality so you can feel positive the next time you ppick up the phone or send off an email. Bringing up those positive feelings of winning and closing deals with over-ride any symptoms left from losing.

Keep everything in perspective

This may be a loss, a big one. But think of it as a dropped stitch in the woven tapestry of your career. You can pick up again and the next attempt could be successful. As long as you learn from the experience, you can identify what you may have to do to change things around. Remember that your true significance is not tied up with your results. Life is much bigger than that. If you keep everything in perspective, you won’t dwell on anything that happens and tie it in with your character or personality; instead, you’ll see it for what it is…a learning experience that can take you forward and help you achieve in the future.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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Should A Sales Person Always Trust Their Hunches?

John Adair tells a story about Conrad Hilton, the Hotel magnate, who was once trying to buy a Chicago Hotel.

The deadline was looming for the sealed bids to be placed and Hilton submitted a bid for $165,000.

He went to bed that night feeling vaguely uncomfortable with that bid, even though the maths seemed right. He woke the next morning with the feeling that the bid wasn’t really high enough.

His subconscious kept coming back to a figure of $180,000. Hilton said ‘The figure felt right, and satisfied me. It seemed fair and correct.

On that subconscious hunch, I changed my bid. When the envelopes were opened, the closest bid to mine was $179,000’.

Can you think of similar situations where your ‘subconscious hunch’ turned out to be correct?

It’s interesting that our subconscious plays such a role in our everyday lives. It seems that we are driven by hunches on many occasions. In sales, it may hit us when we wonder if the decision to say something in a meeting is correct or not. We go with our instinct and often find it’s the best decision.

Questions we can ask ourselves include:

  • Do I trust my hunches enough to lead me in the correct direction?
  • Do you often choose to ‘sleep on it’ before making decisions that may affect the outcome of a sale or something really important?
  • Have you woken up in the morning to find your subconscious has come up with an answer that you had been mulling over for some time?
  • Do you often see your mind like a computer, with garbage-in-garbage-out being the way you are programmed?
  • Do you often wish you had a pocket recorder to hand to capture those fleeting half-formed ideas?
  • Do you sometimes see or hear others’ opinions and identify they are making decisions based on hunches and they turn out to be correct?

The strange thing about our subconscious is that it works without our conscious knowledge, in the background, searching out answers for us without our asking it and without us trying.

It will seek answers to any question you ask it. If you ask ‘why can’t I close more sales?’ it will answer you honestly and truthfully, without you having to plan or think it through logically.

The problem is we sometimes don’t like the answers we get. If your subconscious answers the above question with ‘Because you don’t follow through enough and you allow other things to detract you!’ you often feel pretty blasé about that and try to put it to one side.

The unfortunate thing about this is that the subconscious will drive your motivation, your decision-making and your future planning, and if it makes you feel down about yourself, you won’t try as hard because you realise you won’t succeed anyway.

So, you need to work on this deep side of your mind so that it supports rather than detracts you. Knowing the power of your subconscious may well help you achieve the right results from your hunches, rather than think your goals can’t be achieved or keep you from even trying.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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6 Steps That Help Your Prospect Know They’ve Made The Right Decision

We’re often taught as salespeople that we have the best solution for prospect’s businesses and that we should be able to sell to everyone.

If they don’t buy, then our sales managers think you haven’t tried enough or you made some errors along the way.

While these ideas may be correct in some circumstances, we can only get so far with our products and services.

If we had the best products, then we as salespeople wouldn’t be necessary; prospects would just call in to a freephone number and order straight away, with no input from us.

So what’s the best way to approach a prospect and determine the best solution for their businesses?

Here’s a simple model to follow that succeeds more times than you will realise:

  • Define the prospect’s objectives for their business.

We have to be absolutely clear what they are trying to achieve before we think about how we can help them achieve it.

  • Collect relevant and pertinent information.

This means quality questions, surveying the relevant information and taking steps to request relevant information that will help you assess current circumstances.

  • Develop possible options to go forward.

These will depend on the resources that are available but they may open up a series of options that you hadn’t considered before with other prospects.

  • Evaluate the best options and decide on why they are best.

Here you identify the chosen success criteria. Will these options help the prospect achieve their objectives in step 1? Will the risks taken be overcome by the results? Identify the manifests and the possible latent consequences of the decision.

  • Implement and evaluate the decisions.

The cut-off point in the process is when thinking ends and implementation begins. You still evaluate decisions until the point is reached when the decision has been implemented.

  • Monitor the consequences of the decisions.

Have the results you’ve achieved met and exceeded the initial promises? Do the figures match up with the prospect’s hopes and desires for their business?

It’s been said that ‘a decision is the action a prospect makes when he or she has incomplete information so that the answer doesn’t suggest itself.’

What you’re doing as a sales consultant is allowing the prospect to get closer to the answer by helping them determine the consequences of such decisions, and by carrying out the six points above, you move them closer toward making the right decision for themselves and their businesses.

Struggle to come up with a response to “Why Should We Use You?” – if so, read this article

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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Are You Selling To Entrepreneurs Correctly?

Entrepreneurs are by their very nature independent and flexible in their approach to their company and the way it works.

Every decision they make could have a big effect on their future operations, so they want to make sure their processes help them achieve their goals.

This is often different to decision-makers in larger organisations, where the procedures they follow have to be a bit more stringent and possibly their decisions don’t have the ramifications of an entrepreneur’s business.

To gain the best chance of an entrepreneur believing and accepting your products and services, you should carefully position yourself before you describe what you have to offer.

Words that could work in these circumstances could include:

  • This is designed specifically for your situation
  • This won’t put any more demands on your time
  • You won’t need to strain your resources
  • This is very practical from every standpoint for you

By making the individual feel they are being singled out and made to feel special, it will appeal to their individuality and their precise company philosophy. Every entrepreneur believes their business is different and unique in some way, so if you are to succeed in making them interested in what you have to offer, you have to determine the right mindset that will appeal to this person.

Remember, the business and the owner are practically the same thing.

Three things that entrepreneurs want in my experience are:

  • Something that will reduce complexity from their lives
  • Something that won’t strain the business’s resources
  • Something that will free up their time to do more important things

This can be summed up in the statement “Don’t tell me the theory, just tell me the practicalities of how to use it.” Thinking gets in the way of doing. Take that challenge off their hands and become the kind of support that will make their business grow better with you than without you.

What they need from you are the following:

  • Flexibility
  • Responsiveness
  • Accommodating
  • Recognition of their uniqueness
  • Thoroughness
  • Covering all the details

Each entrepreneur will believe their situation is different, so they will want to deal with a provider who gives special treatment and demands of flexibility. If you can make them appreciate you’re set-up to provide for and accommodate these demands, you are more than likely to get their attention when you create buying opportunities.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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What To Say When The Customer Asks, “Why Should We Use You?”

So, you’ve got to the part of the conversation where the customer asks the £64,000 question, hence indicating they are interested but haven’t yet been persuaded to think seriously about your solution.

What do they really want and need when this question, ‘Why should we use you?’ is asked?

Well, they want confirmation and assurance that they are taking less risk going with your company than the solution they are using now.

Or they want to know how the benefits of your solution outweigh the competition.

Or they simply want assurance they are making the best decision.

Whatever the reason, you should go through five steps that will help you answer the question to the complete satisfaction of the customer.

Step 1: Think Like Your Customer Thinks

Why are they asking the question now? Look at what your offer provides from the standpoint of the buyer. Are you reducing their costs? Giving them more options? Increasing their profit opportunities? Giving them more reliability?

How does the buyer see the problem your product solves or the opportunity it opens up?

Then use that in your opening statement.

Step 2: What Sets You Apart?

You could say something like, ‘Our customers use the product to….”. This offers the differential that sets you apart from the competition. If it’s saving money that your product does best, then it sounds like ‘Our customers use the WX453 to save them, on average, over 10% on their annual running costs”.

Step 3: What’s Unique About This?

How does your offering make you stand out from other companies?

This leads you to a solution that will make the buyer think about your company and associate you with the results they will get.

Step 4: Add A Concrete Example That Will Give The Buyer Confidence

You could say ‘For example, we put this machine into a similar-sized business last year and the savings they are reporting are even greater than they had anticipated. I can give you the exact figures if you wish?’

Step 5: Bring All The Steps Together

Put this all together so it sounds like the buyer will lose out if they don’t go with you. You could say, ‘Because our company offers you the peace of mind that goes with a reliable product like this, most of our customers see the benefits straight away. Without this, you may lose profitability and productivity this solution brings.’

These five steps help you to show the buyer the overall benefits the product offers and how your company provides solutions that beat the competition in areas that are important to their business.

Remember to tweak your sales message often to keep up with specific changes in customer demands and ensure you are speaking the language that would persuade them your solution is the best for theirn business.

If you found this article useful, it is likely you’ll like this one too: check out ‘How To Respond To “Call Me Back In 6 Months”

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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450 Sales Questions

Here’s 450 Sales Questions That You Can Use

450 Sales QuestionsIf you want to be great at sales then you have to be great at asking questions.

Lots of questions!

To help you with this, I’ve gathered a list of the top 450 sales questions that I’ve come across over the years and I’ve put them together in a special report for you.


I’ve tried to cover all situations – therefore there will be questions for the following areas:

Building Rapport

Setting The Stage

Investigating Needs & Wants

How Much Money Have You Got

Decision Makers & Decision Making

Pleasure, Pain & Pay-Off

Key Performance Indicators

Establish Possible Issues & Barriers

Handling Objections

Closing & Moving The Sale Forward

Managing The Account

Clarifying Questions

Rhetorical Questions

Questions For Getting Referrals

So please click on the cover below and download your copy of the questions today.

450 Sales Questions Cover

Happy Questioning!


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New To Sales? Here Are 5 Ways To Make Yourself More Valuable…

We often see people who are new in sales on our programmes, some of whom having even started selling yet.

They ask my trainers how they can quickly get up to speed and get results.

We offer some suggestions and recommendations, but essentially it’s the individual themselves who are in charge of how they develop.

My top trainers have given me their advice on how new salespeople can increase their value to clients in double-quick time.

1. Become Insanely Curious About How Customers Measure Success

Too often, new salespeople put the emphasis on product knowledge and service deliverables. But most customers aren’t really interested in the products and services – they’re more concerned about the results you can provide for them.

So, becoming deeply curious about how companies measure success will encourage new salespeople to approach prospects with a suite of quality questions that will get them concentrating on what’s needed to improve results. That mindset will always deliver because customers want to talk about their business.

2. Develop Active Listening Skills

Two ears and one mouth, used in that ratio, will always support the building of knowledge. As the saying goes, ‘You never learn anything when you’re talking; you only learn when you’re actively listening.’

It’s true. By listening attentively and intently to what others are saying, you increase your awareness of what the client wants and needs. It stops you from jumping ahead and making assumptions about what is required.

3. Follow Quality Thought-Leaders

Learning from the masters will be something that keeps new salespeople in good stead for a long time. For example, LinkedIn Pulse has many leaders and captains of industry who offer excellent advice freely and openly. By reading how these well-respected leaders are changing businesses and making their presence felt in many areas, new salespeople get to see perspectives they wouldn’t be exposed to if they just rely on their own knowledge and experience.

4. Learn From Every Opportunity

The great salespeople always treat triumph and disaster in exactly the same way; as learning opportunities.

If things don’t go according to plan, new salespeople need to analyse what went right so it can be repeated, and what went wrong so it can be learned from.

By learning lessons, you realise what needs to change, how things need to be improved and where changes can assist in their learning and development. Having the mind open enough to accept learning opportunities will always create new viewpoints so improvements can be assimilated and enjoyed.

5. Organise For Results Not Activities

This is a good tip, as it helps new salespeople to concentrate on achievements so they can see what activities work effectively, rather than the other way round.

Organisation includes things like professional prospecting systems being in place, managing account activity in a way that drives results, and planning their field time in such a way that encourages efficiencies along with effectiveness.

By organising with results in mind, new salespeople will start to see what works and what doesn’t, allowing them to choose specifically what they should spend their valuable time on.

If you’re new to sales, click here to find out more about our open courses!

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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Mastering The Art Of Knowing Exactly What The Customer Wants

What do you consider to be the greatest skill that any salesperson should develop to the level of excellence?

Presentation skills?

The ability to negotiate effectively?

Prospecting skills?

Although all these are definitely important, the key skill that salespeople always need to develop is the art of active listening. It really does set the average apart from the excellent.

But many salespeople listen with the intent just to find out information so they can present the main benefits of their product to the buyer. This, though, may only take you on part of the journey. In order to go the full distance, you need to recognise and critique exactly what the customer is saying and meaning.

To critique means to analyse, assess or evaluate. After the customer has spoken, take a moment to review exactly the point they have just made. Most comments can come under three main headings; opinion, experience or facts.

Firstly, opinion. They may say something like “I believe that if we….” Or “I may be wrong, but I think….”

Identify if the idea or personal opinion is simply that; an opinion. If it is, you can enquire how that idea is supported or in what direction it will take you both.

Of course, opinions matter, and we need to create a safe environment for buyers to express them. But you can also add further ideas by asking “what if….?” or “what else….?”. What you’re trying to do is identify if their opinion is factual or just a personal viewpoint based on a possible misjudgement or hearsay. If they have followed others views to get that opinion, you might find out where it originated.

I find saying something like “That’s interesting…tell me more….” gets them to open up about the subject and helps you to clarify their viewpoint. Remember, their view may be based on misconceptions or things they have heard on the grapevine.

Secondly, what they say may come from experience, as in “when we tried…..we found that…..”

Past experiences can give you valuable learning that can help prevent future costly mistakes. You can get useful lessons from past experiences that prove helpful and constructive in making decisions. However, we have to make sure that we are comparing apples with apples here. Failing to realise that different contexts can lead to different results often leads us down a path to incorrect conclusions.

Experience only is useful if we gain wisdom from it. If the knowledge and understanding we gain cannot be replicated, then it may also copy the wrong directions. So, notice if the buyer is comparing the correct background with current situations, and identify if the ideas they gained actually fit into the current picture. If not, your critique could help you to show that their experience may be out-of-date or incorrectly applied.

Third, there’s facts. Usually attributable to market facts or product information, and come in comments like “We have sold 14% more this year than last” or “Our margins have dropped by 5% over the last 6 months.”

This information helps us to reduce uncertainty and decreases risk, as it helps us to build specific journeys on the path to solving problems. But if the data is incorrect, too generic or not comparable, then it can lead us down the wrong path and lead to poor decision-making. By analysing the figures the customer is giving you, you can re-assure yourself you are talking real facts and not just ideas that are based on incorrect knowledge.

By ascertaining if the customer is detailing opinions, experience or specific facts, you are able to critique the feedback much more effectively and identify the journey you can then take with the conversation. This proves you have been actively listening and not just taking what they say at face value.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

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