Hamish Knox kept us on our toes during this episode. Hamish is a host the Full Funnel Freedom podcast, a two-time author (Accountability the Sandler Way: Developing a Leadership Mindset in 20 minutes a Week and Change The Sandler Way: Understanding the Human Dynamics That Cause New Initiatives to Succeed) and President of Sales4 Training and Consulting Inc, as a veteran award bearing Sandler certified instructor.
Take the time to listen to this podcast for strategic wisdom on how to shift your perspective, and others, to prioritize authentic relationships resulting in short but more importantly long term successful business partnerships. You can and should tune in wherever you listen to podcasts including Spotify, Apple, or here. You may want to listen twice!
Feeling impatient? Here are some highlights just for you.
What are Sandler’s main objectives?
Hamish is a proud to be a member of the Sandler network, which is the largest company when it comes to sales development leadership in the world.
Sandler focuses on two areas:
- Strategic: How do you create a consistent, sustainably safe, scalable sales engine or revenue engine for the business? How do you attract and retain the very best? How do you get in front of the right prospects?
- Relationships: How do you have more effective human to human interactions both professionally and personally?
Knox employs the Sandler communication system which “strips away all the nonsense that often comes in between buyers and sellers, supervisors, and direct reports, etc. It’s about creating clarity. Even if the conversation doesn’t go well. As leaders, we sometimes have to have awkward conversations. It used to be that shape up or ship out conversation.” Sandler tools help all parties walk away from difficult conversations differently in today’s workplace. “Each person leaves that conversation going, ‘okay I am glad we had that I didn’t necessarily like how it started because I had to hear that I am not necessarily being my best self, but I feel supported instead of slapped.”
Thoughts on the shift from cutthroat sales to collaborative sales? How does your work play into it?
One of David Sandler’s rules was “People buy in spite of the hard sell not because of it.” “When we go out as sellers, and we are just focused on getting our next commission check, our buyers can sense that. And then they get us to do things that are not in our best interest like offer discounts, or free services or extended terms that normally we would’ve gotten paid for, but we are just giving it away because we want to get that commission check. Whereas if we go and be buyer centered and focus on supporting the buyer with:
- Where are they now?
- Where do they want to be?
- What’s the gap?
- Do they want to close it with us?
- That’s when we create more successful mutually profitable long-term relationships.”
When he was on the ground, before he was consulting with Sandler, he was a sales hunter. He would open conversations with major enterprise prospects with lines like, “I don’t want your business today.” Obviously, this provoked an interesting conversation and threw off buyers. He would explain, “I would love to earn your business today. But what I would love is to be sitting with you ten years from now going, ‘hasn’t this been an awesome ten-year relationship? How do we make it another X number of years and make it even more awesome?” Even before joining Sandler, he was focused on the long game.
Difference between rapport and relationships?
People buy because of trust not relationships. You need to build rapport which feeds into cultivating and growing a relationship. The relationship is important long term. A lot of sellers will claim that they have a great relationship but they define their relationships with metrics such as getting responses to emails and phone calls. The buyer may not even remember who the seller is. That’s not a relationship.
“A relationship is when we are trying to support each other back and forth. The quick acid test is: does your buyer ask you for support for services that don’t put money in your own pocket. That’s when we have a relationship. When they ask us for advice on things that we don’t sell.” Hamish gave the example of a buyer asking advice for a copier when you are in SaaS.
Are you still a salesperson?
“Absolutely. Every human-to-human interaction is selling. Every time we are trying in some way to influence somebody.” Whether it is kids’ bedtime, what movie to see, etc. “We are all selling.” Sandler teaches no matter one’s position, particularly entrepreneurs, should always consider themselves to be the Chief Sales Officer. You need to take control of your own destiny and sales is key. Entrepreneurs didn’t train for this, but they need it in order to be successful. You can’t or shouldn’t totally outsource it. Own it.
What hurdles do you face in training resistant sales teams?
“If you don’t have a common language for a sales team, you may think that you have a hot lead and input that as a 90% likely to close opportunity, while another colleague would define it as 50% likely. You need to measure and predict in a unified manner, or you can’t plan, budget, etc. It won’t work. We provide tools so that the entire team doesn’t use a standard script, but to “sing from the same songbook.”
Why doesn’t Hamish care much about the state of the economy?
When asked by friends, he will respond, “You’re asking the wrong guy. Because I work with highly ambitious, driven, motivated, goal-oriented individuals. In March 2020, we had sellers who had their best years of sales ever or best months of sale ever, April, May, June, and July of 2020. When we were all in the depths. These are sellers with 10-20-30 years of sales. They kept going out and doing the things that keep their funnels full, when everyone else was hiding under their desks hoping that covid was a three-week thing.”
What are some advantages to group coaching?
They are all about peer learning. All salespeople share common challenges, problems and opportunities and can learn a lot from each other. Clients call these group spaces with colleagues the “safest” professional space they have ever been in. They have the freedom to flesh out problems without being worried about what their bosses will think. “We all think are problems are our own.” The group environment sheds light on how untrue that is.
Whether you are being coached individually or collectively, you need to walk away with objectives tasks and you NEED to be held accountable.
What do you need for sales teams to be successful and work collaboratively?
Clarity. Leaders number one job is to create clarity. Clarity for group goals and individual responsibilities and consequences if you don’t do that. (Check out his book on consequences!)
Consistent Regular touch points. (5 minutes on Monday, 15 minutes on Friday).
What doesn’t work?
Focusing on lighting indicators, numbers and not people.
Clarity leads to collaboration. Clarity makes people feel safe and comfortable speaking up. It allows people to see the end goal and offer suggestions to colleagues so that individuals and the group can reach that final destination together. “Clarity and safety create collaboration.”
When does the sales cycle end?
“When the client gets what they thought they were buying.” Until the value is there. It is not when the contract is signed. That is not how you grow a long-term relationship.
How can someone get better at sales?
Listen to Customer Café and Hamish’s podcast: Full Funnel Freedom which celebrates sales leaders and the success they have achieved through others and supports sales leaders in keeping their sales funnels consistently and reliably full.
Study psychology. “Read about how human beings interact. Because that is what we are doing with sellers. We are supporting an individual who really does not trust us in making a choice. That’s all we’re doing.” People don’t invite or agree to a conversation with a salesperson unless they have a reason. Salespeople are tasked with finding that reason. You need to learn psychology to properly identify their needs.
Role play: “Sales is improv. We can acquire a whole ton of knowledge, but if it doesn’t change how we communicate or how we behave with our buyers, it doesn’t matter. Find a role-playing buddy and practice it over and over.” (Read Peak by by Eriks Anderson which contains the 10,000-hour rule which Malcolm Gladwell popularized.) Build skills over time. Role playing twice a week for 20 minutes will drastically improve your practice.
Pick up the phone! Keep calling. Hamish explains how quickly learned by making 5k sales in his first 6 months, he improved because he was just doing it. “I got better because I was in the game playing as opposed to sitting on the sidelines prepping.”
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Looking for more to listen to? Join Menachem Pritzker and Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, hard core Collabrians, as we drink coffee and learn from collaborative leaders in sales, customer success and account management.
Ready to get started? Customer Café by Collabria: Sales Collaboration Tips for Pros is available wherever you listen to podcasts.