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Stark and Associates, Inc. | St. Louis, MO

Customer Relationships

Welcome to Selling the Sandler Way, with your host Dave Mattson, the president and CEO of Sandler Training. He is a five-time bestselling author, speaker, trainer, and consultant to hundreds of international organizations. In this show, he talks to other Sandler trainers about the Sandler Selling System.

The How to Succeed Podcast is a public and free podcast from Sandler Training, the worldwide leader in sales, management, and customer service training for individuals all the way up to Fortune 500 companies with over 250 locations around the globe.

The sales industry is fast-paced now and isn’t showing signs of slowing down. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the clutter of new selling techniques, emerging technologies, and more specialized analytics. Although those components – and some others – can play a major role in your level of success. It would be a mistake to spend too much time on them and ignore the basics. Before you get carried away learning this or that, remember to take it back to your roots and ensure that you are providing optimum customer service. If you have strayed a bit or are just looking for a reminder, below are five imperative tactics to employ in your practice.

In this episode of Selling the Sandler Way, Dave Mattson, the President and CEO of Sandler Training explores the Sandler Selling Philosophies behind the Sandler Selling System with Michael Norton, EVP of Global Accounts at Sandler Trainer.

You’ve closed the deal – but your job isn’t done quite yet. Managing client expectations can help you make the most of your new relationship and ensure you are striking the right balance. By working together to outline goals, define success, and clearly communicating your progress and milestones, you can increase transparency to build the long lasting relationship with your new client.

1. Don’t say “buy.” Everyone likes to own, but nobody likes to buy. Buying means you are making a decision. You are spending money and making a commitment. The lizard brain doesn’t like to buy; it likes to own.
Instead, have your customer “invest.” Investments provide returns, they generate profits and earn money. We all like money and profits, right? So, don’t say, “When you buy,” say, “When you invest in our solution.”

 

According to Entrepreneur, we receive 193.3 billion emails every day. On average, that means each person's inbox is hit by about 120 emails a day – with some people receiving less and some receiving many more. Breaking through to your target audience when you're up against such odds can be tough. Even with all the inbox competition, email marketing can be quite lucrative when handled correctly. 

Just like all the other areas of a company—the warehouse, the accounting department, shipping—customer care is a process. In fact, it typically involves a number of processes, such as incoming order processing, returns and re-stocking, setting up new accounts and solving customer problems. If a customer-care candidate does not already have a process orientation, it will be an uphill battle to instill one. Consider the following true story.

Instead of repeating the same customer service behaviors over and over with customers who have their unique characteristics and preferences, every employee must learn how to adjust their customer service style from one customer to the next. If we do not do this, some customers are left disappointed, even when the customer service standards have been met.

When someone hands you a business card and says, "you should call this person", it's not really a referral. Without more information, it is more like they're sending you on a cold call. Cold calling is way down the list of favorite prospecting activities for most salespeople, and sometimes that frustration can spill over to referrals.

All salespeople with a small amount of experience have a 30-second commercial (a.k.a elevator pitch, popcorn introduction, etc.) down pat. And that's the problem.

I spend about 80% of my time working with sales professionals to perfect their ability to structure the questions that need to be asked. They all understand the importance of asking questions but need some assistance in creating their own tailored versions. Salesmen often enjoy the exercise of deciphering which questions uncover the compelling reasons the prospect should do business with them. 

You know good customer service when you experience it. It's hard to explain at times when it's not so great, but it's easy to recognize when a customer service agent has gone above and beyond to make sure you're satisfied. At some point, every day, everyone is a customer. A good customer service experience is something that everyone can relate to - so what is it that makes for an exquisite customer service touchpoint

There's something to be said about children who continue to ask "why" about everything. When they ask and you respond, and they ask "Why?" again, it means they don't have the complete answer to their question. They will continue to ask until they understand the entire concept or until the adult gets frustrated. In business, asking "Why?" five times can produce the same quality understanding to prepare for better results. Common complaints we hear often in business:

Nothing lasts forever, right? While it may seem pessimistic, having a plan for dealing with a client's departure is sound advice when it comes to maintaining business and clients. We spend so much time building solid, trusting relationships with clients that it can come as quite a blow when news hits that your client contact announces they're leaving their current position.

Like it or not, times have changed and the usefulness of a voicemail is up for debate. With email, text messages and Caller ID, some people find it irritating to see that they have a blinking red light or a notification alerting them to check their voicemail. And as sales professionals, the last thing we're trying to do is annoy a prospect or current client.

A mistake too many salespeople make is not keeping in touch with former clients. It's not uncommon for past clients to come to a point where they need your product or service again but don't remember how to get in touch with you. They are more likely to have your competitors' information handy. (Your competitors are still calling on your client even though you are not).

The good and bad of relationship-based sales. The Good Relationship-based sales methods are ideal. Most of the time those relationships are the only thing protecting you from competing solely on price. In sales training, we have a saying: "All things being equal, people buy from people they like. All things being unequal, people still buy from people they like."e

Attending a networking event? WHY?? That may seem like a strange question, but time is one of our most limited resources! Taking a few minutes to evaluate why you should attend THIS particular networking event may save you hours of unproductive time and energy.Often, sales professionals tell me that they make their decision to attend an event based on the location of the event and their calendar availability. Instead, base your decision to attend an event based on: Will your ideal target market likely be there? If not

Aberdeen's research shows that the best sales training companies, like Sandler Training, integrate sales training and customer relationship management.

A prospect has agreed to meet with you and indicated they are genuinely interested in your product or service. You arrive at the meeting and spend 40 minutes with the prospect sharing how your product can solve their problems, which they've just shared with you. They are very impressed with you and all the features and benefits that you've shared... They're happy with the delivery timelines, the after sales service that will be provided and once you send the proposal with the price they're sure they can get the rest of the committee to agree to move forward

I had an interesting conversation at a social event that made me recognize that I, along with people in general, seem to want to make decisions for other people. This is an interesting observation from a sales perspective and it's also applicable in our everyday lives. Let me share the story

Why do we think that by asking a question we'll hurt the prospect's feelings? What you need to remember is that that you are not responsible for how a prospect reacts to a question that you ask. Clients share with me daily the questions they've avoided asking for fear of upsetting the prospect. Sometimes they get frustrated with themselves because they feel they lost a sale or an opportunity of a sale because they lacked the guts to ask questions. They would rather bite their tongue than ask a question that they think might make the prospect uncomfortable

Spend some time in the psychology or self-help section in any bookstore and you'll find hundreds of books written on transforming troubled relationships. Whether husband/wife, parent/child, friend/friend or employer/employee, they dominate the shelves promising THE magical solution to resolving any issue imaginable. If you're in sales, what about the buyer/seller relationship? The same elements that make any relationship thrive also apply to developing and strengthening bonds with our prospects and customers

Sales isn't for the faint of heart. You don't just encounter negativity on a fairly frequent basis. In many cases, it is your job to sniff it out and address it immediately. Sandler Rule #3: "No Mutual Mystification," deals with an issue that often plagues sales professionals –  "happy ears."

You may not recall the first time you heard the word NO; however, that first time and the many times you heard it after all happened when you were a toddler. You continued to hear the word NO through your childhood years and eventually it became ingrained in your psyche.

Wednesday mornings are tough enough without our most annoying client calling in with the usual simple problem that he is over-reacting to. We sigh and answer the phone - all while making the facial gestures of a person eating oysters for the first time in their life. WHY does that client seem to be determined to drive you insane? It's your fault ... Every morning the manager from the operations department stops in to tell you how your team messed up his operations this weekend. She is soooo abrasive. You answer in abrupt sentences and quite rudely push her out the door

That's a headline straight out of sales training boot camp, but it's true. There is a question most people want answered when they go to a sales training program or read one of the many sales how-to books; that question sounds like this, "Is there really one secret weapon or magic formula to make me better and increase my sales?" Wouldn't it be wonderful to find one ... so would winning the lottery, but not many do it

Countless people go through sales training seminars every year only to emerge with slick tricks, a few doses of confidence and a belief that they'll be able to bully any prospect they meet into signing on the dotted line. While this may do just fine for the quick, lucky payday, it is not a system that builds long-term, profitable relationships.

No, we're not advocating neglect. Just understand that the salesperson should be looking for neither approval nor acceptance from his or her prospect. Learn how you can leave your emotions out of the equation.

I've spent a lot of time considering why the occupation of selling has been given such a low approval rating over the past 40 years. It wasn't always that way. Here's a story that got me thinking about this again. A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote mountainous pasture in California when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him

Recently I was working with a company's executive team in reviewing the progress we had made together in solving a longstanding, difficult problem that had stunted their growth for years and slowed their momentum. It was rewarding to see their excitement as we reviewed the results of our efforts together. It was a good team meeting and an encouraging feeling to share our successes. I should have left well enough alone, yet I recognized that the true learning and best growth had not gone far enough. I posed three follow-up questions:

I don't like emails! Thought I'd get that out on the front end so there's no mystery as to where I am heading. Now you're wondering what in the world has happened. What did he do wrong? What caused such a negative reaction to something as simple, routine and harmless as email

I have been doing a lot of traveling during the last two months. In spite of Chicago's brutal weather and some minor inconveniences, my flights and hotel reservations have gone remarkably smoothly and I have experienced a high level of customer service.

If your sales objective is to make the sale regardless, get the biggest order possible and structure the best deal for your company, then your entire focus is really on you.

The other day, people in the training center were discussing how they go about building trust. The group shared lots of ideas, and every idea they shared would probably do the trick. When all was said and done, we had a list of about twenty things people could do to build trust.

Today's business is focusing on something that champion athletes have always known: the right combination of training and coaching will help achieve greatness. It's not enough to have a superior product or service. You must have the skills to get that message across to your prospects. Training imparts the knowledge critical for success in today's competitive economy.

How would you answer this question: Why does someone or a firm engage you or decide to buy from you? Take a moment and write down the reasons you think people buy. From what I have seen in most professional schools, people compete to have the best grades, the most outstanding ideas and the most highly thought of papers. I have noticed that students who do well often get the most attention from teachers

As a salesperson, I seem to take quite a few lessons from movies and some of the best lessons are in some of the worst movies. Most people think Burt Reynolds played only tough guy roles and the occasional slapstick comedy role. But one of the best sales lessons I have ever learned was from the movie "The End." If you have not seen "The End," do not rush out to rent it. I am about to spoil the plot for you. This is kind of a cute movie starring Dom DeLuise and Burt Reynolds.

As a sales trainer with Sandler Training, I spend a lot of time talking to my clients and I get paid to work with them in four areas of their business: Strategy, Structure, Staff and Skills. Because I spend hours talking to them, I learn quite a bit. And despite that fact, they still manage to surprise me with the questions they ask me.

Twenty years ago, when I was a young salesperson just starting out, I was fortunate enough to get sent to quite a bit of sales training. All of the training programs seemed to center around the "Three Big Steps to Selling." The "Three Big Steps to Selling" are: 1) Prospecting 2) Presenting 3) Closin

Imagine walking into a prospect's office and having him or her say, "I have a problem. There is a monkey on my back and I want to make it yours." Any normal person would know better than to say, "Great, toss that over here and let me add that to the monkeys I am already working with." As a sales coach, I spend time with quite a few people who have big monkey collections. They have accepted that their prospects and clients' problems are actually theirs. Unfortunately, these monkey collections have some predictable consequences

Recently, I found myself absorbed with the notion of influence. I wondered aloud who the great influencers of our time are, then wondered further how each had reached their influential positions. A voice in the room, that of a top trusted advisor, shot back, "The number-one salesman in the world is a kid who wants ice cream!" We laughed.. Yet buried in that answer was delicious truth.

Whoever said talk is cheap didn't know much about sales. Talk-too much talk, that is-can cost a lot. This is a difficult lesson for many sales professionals to learn, and that's understandable. People in sales tend to have outgoing personalities. They enjoy good conversation, and the longer they are in sales, the better they get at making small talk, establishing an emotional connection with the prospect, and driving a conversation toward the specific end of closing a sale

I don't know about you, but I have never liked being told what to do. I don't think I've ever met anybody who did respond well to that kind of instruction, even when the person in charge-a coach at sports, for example-clearly knew what he was doing if the message is delivered wrong. It doesn't matter if what you are saying is true, if it's not delivered properly. You can be the authority, but no one cares if you can't deliver your message in a way that others can accept. The fact that you have good prudent knowledge, the fact that you're correct, doesn't matter if not delivered properly.

It's March Madness time, which I enjoy, but not always for the same reasons my friends do. Because I'm in sales, it's fun just to watch the teams execute their strategies and then try to figure out how these strategies apply to my own profession. And what stands out, season after season, is how predictable the plays have become and how easily they can be countered

If you're like most sales professionals, you work hard to learn as much as you can about your product or service. You take pride in how much you know about your business. When you can answer any technical question that might come up in a call with a prospect, you feel confident. That's only natural. But as important as it is to be knowledgeable, your eagerness to display that knowledge can damage a relationship and cost you sales. To avoid this problem, you need to remember that expertise can be intimidating. It can turn people off

Hidden in the uproar over Mark McGwire's admission that he used steroids was a lesson for sales professionals. You might remember the moment, which has been replayed over and over: When McGwire hit his record-breaking homerun, Sammy Sosa-one of the Cardinal slugger's opponents-raced in from the outfield to hug him. It "looked great on TV," one of Sosa's Cubs teammates said recently, but the other Chicago players "didn't appreciate it." Sosa forgot an important rule of sports, of sales and of business generally: Your meter's always running.