Table of Contents
Overcoming the “If Only” Trap YouTube Corner
Case Study: Sure Systems
Seven Beliefs of Successful
Send In The Clowns
By Dave Mattson
President & CEO of Sandler Trainingthe “if-only” trap
continued on page 4
If you’ve been a sales manager for
any length of time, you’ve heard it all.
All of the excuses…all of the “if onlys”
that salespeople use to preface their
explanations for lack of performance.
If you’ve been a salesperson for any
length of time, you’ve likely used one
(or more) of those “if only” excuses.
They usually sound like, “If only this
or if only that, I could or I would do
such and such.”
Here’s an “if only” I heard recently: “If
only the economy was better, I could
get existing clients to buy more.”
Well guess what? The economy is
better. It’s better this month than it
was last month. And last month it
was better than the month before…
and the month before that.
The “if only” may have had some
validity at one point in time (emphasis
on “may have”), but you only get
to use an excuse once. Then, you
must do something. You must TAKE
And what action do you take? The
same action you’ve always taken.
You get in front of prospects and
customers, help them discover
reasons to buy your product or
service (or buy more of it), make your
case, and close the deal.
When salespeople make excuses, it’s
not because they don’t know what to
do. They know what to do; they just
don’t do it.
Why don’t they do it?
For some people, they don’t
take action because they feel
overwhelmed. (Click to Tweet!)
There are so many things they could
do, they don’t know where to start.
If you’ve been in that situation, here’s
a suggestion: start anywhere. You
don’t have to do everything…only one
thing to get started. It’s the “getting
started” that counts. If you can
identify one thing that will bring about
a bigger result, or it will bring about
a result more quickly, start with it. If
you want to tackle the “hardest” task
and get it out of the way, start there.
If you want to pick the easiest task
and “ease your way” into the process,
do that. Just do something!
Other people don’t take action
because they are afraid to fail. If
fear of failure has ever held you
back, here’s a dose of reality: you
will fail. (Click to Tweet!) No one
does everything perfectly every time.
Not you. Not me. No one.
3 Want to Lead? Learn to
Recognize Wishy-Washy Words
Selling is not only
about delivering quality
products and services.
“New” isn’t always
(Click to Tweet!)
The marketplace is
Intentions do not
By Howard Goldstein, Sandler Training
And, it’s not simply about solving
clients’ problems, or providing them with
pathways for accomplishments.
Successful salespeople view client
and customer interactions not as
“transactions,” but rather, as relationships
based on performance and reputation.
They recognize that delivering what
prospects expect is not enough. Sure,
the clients will be satisfied. But, merely
satisfying clients—giving them what they
paid for—is not the hallmark of exceptional
service. Successful salespeople make
it a point to deliver more than what is
And, the “tried, tested, and proven” isn’t
always the most appropriate.
Successful salespeople aren’t afraid to
“shake things up” now and then. They
are always on the lookout for ways to
improve effectiveness and efficiency—
for themselves and their clients. More
importantly, they put their clients first.
If they can provide the same service
for a lower fee, or provide a greater
service for the same fee, they do so…
without hesitation. They understand the
beneficial long-term impact of putting the
Competitors come and go. New products
and services are introduced. Customer
demands change. Economic, political,
and geopolitical conditions influence
Successful salespeople invest the
time and effort to keep abreast of
developments affecting their industry,
their marketplace, and the needs of their
customers and potential customers. And
then, they take action to preserve, protect,
and enhance existing relationships, and
capitalize on emerging opportunities.
Successful salespeople know that once
the deal is “sealed,” it’s time to perform.
And that means taking action—doing
whatever it takes to deliver that which was
promised. There may be hurdles to clear
and detours around which to navigate,
but there must never be excuses for lack
A scarcity mentality
breeds scarcity.5 ]
And, an attitude of abundance leads
to opportunities…even during times of
change and uncertainty.
Successful salespeople recognize
that there are plenty of opportunities
to go around. They don’t cling to an
opportunity of dubious value for fear
that there won’t be another to replace
it. Neither do they make unreasonable
compromises to close an opportunity
because of the same fear.
Rewards are the
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay
on the topic of “Compensation.” The
essence of his message is that the world
is essentially in balance. And, what you
receive is equal, measure for measure,
to what you contribute.
Successful salespeople understand that
to receive more, they must give more…
not only to their customers and their
colleagues, but to their family, friends,
and community. When they give more,
You cannot achieve
success in a vacuum.
(Click to Tweet!)
Successful salespeople realize that
achieving high levels of success requires
joining forces with other people who will
not only hold them accountable for their
intentions and actions, but also help them
identify and develop new opportunities.
it a point to deliver
more than what is
Want to Lead?Learn to Recognize Wishy-Washy Words
An effective leader has a very finely
tuned listening filter, one that detects
and tactfully establishes clarifications for
“wishy-washy words.” (Click to Tweet!)
Words like “probably” or “try” seldom
make it through that filter without the
leader asking, “When you say ‘probably,’
what does that mean?” or “Help me
understand: What do we want to see
finished on this project by this time
next week?” Such questions cause the
speaker to clarify what is actually meant.
What’s more, effective leaders know
how to send these messages without
making their conversational partners feel
threatened, judged, or intimidated.
In our sales training sessions, we Sandler
trainers speak of salespeople who have
“happy ears.” These are sellers who give
the most optimistic possible “spin” to the
wishy-washy words they encounter from
prospects, based on what they as sellers
From Sandler Training and Dave Arch
want to hear. Sales managers usually
nod their heads in recognition when I talk
about his, but the truth is, this happens
in just about all communications where
no effective filter exists.
It’s up to us to build and strengthen
that filter. The most effective leaders
are those who have learned that the
optimistic assumptions they make around
wishy-washy words never serve them
It takes time and practice and tact to build
up a wishy-washy words filter that leaves
people feeling okay about themselves.
I suggest a game to make learning this
skill more fun. The next time you have a
conversation with one of your followers,
just notice how many wishy-washy words
you hear. (Click to Tweet!) My record is
seven for one conversation!
The first step is simply learning to
recognize words and phrases that soften
commitments and assessments. These
are words like …
• I’ll/we’ll try to
• Something like
• In the neighborhood
Once you begin noticing these words …
start expressing gentle curiosity about
what your followers actually mean when
they use them!
Excerpted from the new book,
THE SANDLER WAY, from Sandler
Training and Dave Arch.
In every failure, there is a lesson about how to do that thing better the next time. Fail enough times and you will
succeed. If you take no action, you fail by default…and learn nothing. It’s that simple. You know it. You’ve heard it
before. Enough said.
Fear of ridicule from others prevents some people from taking action. If you’re worried about what others will
think about you if you abandon the “excuse du jour” and go out and accomplish what they said can’t be done, you’re
focusing on the wrong thing. Do what you know is right for you, not what the herd mentality dictates.
Finally, some people don’t take action because they don’t believe that there’s enough time. Well, here’s another
dose of reality: there’s always enough time. It’s not a “time” issue, it’s a priority issue. If you really want to accomplish
something, then give the activities necessary to accomplish it a higher priority than other activities. Get up earlier in
the morning. Watch less TV at night. Work through lunch. There’s always a way. What you’re willing to do and what
you’re willing to give up are opposite sides of the same coin.
Sales managers, don’t get too comfortable. You’re not off the hook.
I heard a sales manager for an insurance company proclaim that he could meet his territory expansion goals “If only I
could get my people out of the office to prospect.”
Well, Mr. Manager, what’s preventing you from “getting them out of the office”? (Click to Tweet!)
Have you developed and implemented a prospecting strategy? Have you identified specific activities that you’ll hold
your salespeople accountable for performing on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? Are you providing the coaching and
training to help your people skillfully perform those activities? Do you have a method for monitoring their activities and
results? In all likelihood, what your salespeople are not doing is directly related to what you’re not doing. You’ll get
action…when you take action.
So, here’s the bottom line: The only thing standing between you and what you want out of life is you and what you aren’t
willing to do. When you’re willing to do whatever it takes, you can accomplish anything.
Overcoming the “If Only” Trap - continued from page 1
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Every member of a circus has a specific job that matches
their talent. If the lion tamer quits, the circus doesn’t plug the open job position with
a fire-eater. It’s a safe bet that the lions would have ferocious objections to working
with an unskilled lion tamer. The circus management would not ask the existing juggler
to do the job of the trapeze artist until they hire someone else. Unqualified applicants
would not try to fake their way through the interviewing process for the open tightrope
walker position simply to fail on the job.
While it’s absurd to believe this type of employment practice would ever exist at a circus,
it is a very real practice in companies globally today. Unqualified candidates are hired
or an employee qualified for their current position is moved to one they are unqualified
to do. Unlike a circus where it is quickly and visibly apparent if a contortionist can
contort, it is not clear cut in a company if a leader can lead.
Job requirements have been merged, melded and multiplied to the degree that if a job
description exists it is no longer current. Effective job alignment is unlikely if neither
the supervisor nor worker understand the responsibilities of the position. Too often
performance is not reviewed unless it is horrific.
The first step in fixing job alignment issues is to define the position. (Click to Tweet!)
Spend time to answer the question, “What do we pay the person in that position to
do?” Ask each of your employees to answer the question, “What does the company
pay me to do?”
Next, express your answers in six to eight highly specific bullet points. Most, but not
all, will be measurable. For example, if you have a sales position, the bullet point of
“prospect for new business” is too general. The following are more specific:
• Set twelve new prospecting appointments with Vice Presidents
of Finance or CFOs
• Attain quarterly sales goal of $250,000 in new business
• Conduct three financial seminars per quarter
• Coordinate with the engineering team to customize software per the
Once you have clarity on the position requirements, answer this, “Does the person doing
this job have the right job competencies to be successful?” This is a more difficult
question to answer. Use objective and subjective data to assess the job alignment.
Behavioral assessments that include job specific competencies will give you objective
data. Awareness to moods, attitude, interactions and appearance will give you subjective
Be open to the possibility that you have top talent in your organization performing the
wrong job. Spend time discerning what the highest value activities of each employee
are and evaluate how they are being utilized in your organization. When you need a
clown, take a page from the Greatest Show on Earth and send in the clowns.
send in the
clownsBy Darby Fazekas, Vice President of Business Development, The Devine Group
Darby Fazekas is the Vice President
of Business Development for The
Devine Group. She secures new
client relationships and manages
our global reselling alliances. Her
leadership has grown the company’s
distribution from 4 countries to a full
global presence, with instruments
available in multiple languages.
Darby’s key focus is to ensure our
partners have the knowledge and
expertise to take The Devine Group’s
enterprise-wide solutions to market.
Her more than 20 years of experience
spans the entire employee life cycle
including recruitment, development,
and advancement. Darby earned her
Bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal
Communication and Marketing from
Ball State University. She is a member
of the Global Speakers Federation
and brings the Talent Management
topic to National and International
Be open to the
possibility that you
have top talent in
Sure Systems (http://www.suresystems.ca) is a local provider of information technology consulting and management services
located in Calgary, Alberta. The company specializes in providing IT services to small- and medium-sized organizations.
In late 2012, CEO and sole salesperson Alex McGillivray was at a crossroads.
“Our company was already committed to a principal-led selling model, where I was the only salesperson. The irony was that I, as the
principal, was uncomfortable with the whole idea of selling. I never even liked thinking of myself as a sales guy. I was an engineer.
Selling had always been kind of a dirty word to me. It was all about pressuring other people, and I didn’t really want to pressure
people. But I felt like that’s what I had to do to close deals. I was overwhelmed, overworked, behind my goal, and in a rut.”
McGillivray came to Sandler looking for help in the following areas:
• Increase sales performance
• Reduce personal stress
• Shorten sales cycles
• Reduce average working week hours
McGillivray participated in weekly coaching meetings.
As McGillivray recalls: “I was my own worst enemy. I was stressing myself and everyone else in the company out, spending too much
of my time chasing proposals that went nowhere, and basically doing whatever prospects told me to do. I was jumping through every
hoop they put up, and I was collecting a lot of ‘wait and see’ responses for my trouble. So that was all pretty stressful.”
“Very early on, my Sandler trainer shared some critical principles for dealing with this kind of problem, which is something a lot of
salespeople go through. One of the most important of those principles was the Up-Front Contract.
“Establishing an Up-Front Contract means setting up clear agreements ahead of time for what’s going to happen in the meeting.
(Click to Tweet!) I saw that part of the reason I wasn’t getting clear ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ answers was that I wasn’t setting any meaningful
ground rules in the relationship as it got started. So I started working on that.
Have a success story to share in the next issue of the Sandler Advisor? Submit your organization’s story at CaseStudy@sandler.com.
About the Company:
Sure Systems is a leading provider of
Information Technology (IT) consulting
and management services in Calgary,
It took a weekly commitment for me to reach a point where I was good at creating low-
pressure exchanges in which both sides could identify a positive outcome. I now get
to a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer much more quickly. That has made a huge difference in terms
of the length of our sales cycle, which is now considerably shorter. Our opportunity
size is now larger, too. That means the company’s income picture is a lot brighter than
it was a year ago!
A completely unexpected benefit has been reduced turnover at our company. The Up-
Front Contract and the other Sandler principles have made me a better manager, and
have led to some positive cultural changes at our company. I’ve shared the principles
with everyone on our staff.
“Everyone in the organization needs a little Sandler.”
• Overall gross quarterly margin increased from 16.6% to 49.7%
• Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization were 2.0% of sales
in 2012, and 9.5% of sales in the first 11 months of 2013
• CEO’s average work week went from 60+ hours to less than 40 hours
• Sales cycle shorter
• Average opportunity larger
• Annual company turnover down by 67%
From Sandler Training and John Rosso
LinkedIn is a great networking resource,
but most salespeople I meet haven’t
mastered the art of using it to generate
referrals. Here’s one technique that’s
worked for me.
Let’s assume you, Bill Jones, are one
of my first-degree LinkedIn contacts,
and I see that you’re directly connected
to John Smith, to whom I want to be
connected as well.
What do I do? I send you an email—
not a LinkedIn message, since those are
more likely to be ignored—but a regular
email message that says something like
Hey there, Bill, I happened to notice
on your LinkedIn profile that you’re
connected to David Smith over at Acme
Corporation. How well do you know him?
Would you be willing to introduce me?
Typically, you will reply with something
Sure. I know David very well. He and I
went to college together. I’d be happy
to introduce you.
My return email to your message will say:
Bill, I got your message. I really
appreciate that. My experience is that an
email introduction can work very well for
everybody involved. I have attached a
template for your review. Please feel free
to edit and change it in any way you want.
The template I attach will look like this:
David, this is John. I wanted to take
the opportunity to introduce the two of
you. David is a good friend of mine, and
John is a sales training specialist who
is engaged with a number of my clients
and who does top-notch work. John, I
would ask that you reach out to Dave and
set up a time to speak. If either of you
want me to be part of that conversation,
or have any questions, please reach out.
All the best,
Assuming you approve of my proposed
message, or something like it, you will
then send the message out to me and
to Dave. Then I will send an email in
Hey, Bill, thanks so much for the
introduction. Dave, I’m really looking
forward to speaking with you. I’m out
of the office on Monday, Tuesday, and
Wednesday of this week, but I will be
back in on Thursday. I will reach out
to you by phone then. What’s the best
number to use to reach you?
I’ve just set up a phone appointment!
Remember that the whole principle that
makes networking on LinkedIn work is
having some kind of actual person-to-
person communication with your first-
degree contacts! (Click to Tweet!) If
I’ve never had any interaction at all with
you before I reach out to you about
Dave Smith, the technique I’ve just
outlined probably won’t work. Don’t try
to extend this kind of appeal to someone
with whom you really have no contact or
Excerpted from the new book,
PROSPECT THE SANDLER WAY, from
Sandler Training and John Rosso.
Download 10 Ways You Can Use
Linkedin to Prospect More Effectively
now! Click Here.