This month, we interviewed Susan Sykes, owner of Sandler Training by Sales Matters, Inc in Raleigh, NC. Sales Matters is a training company that educates salespeople and sales leaders on proven, systematic methods for creating customer relationships and empowering business development professionals to keep control of the sales process.
Brios Media: How have you used the video that we produced for you?
Susan Sykes: We've used the videos in a number of different ways and a number of specific marketing campaigns. For instance, we included the video in an email campaign promoting a class on sales prospecting. We have also shared the videos on our company LinkedIn page. That has been useful not only because it helps to show how our thinking is different, but it also helps to engage people who are more apt to watch a video than read printed text. We share a lot of written content, and we realize that not everyone integrates information that way. Lastly, the videos help us to emphasize the diversity of our offerings. People think of us as a sales training company, which they should! While sales training is a core component of what we offer, we also emphasize leadership training as well.
BM: How did you get into this field?
SS: I was a Sandler clientbefore I became a Sandler franchise owner. I owned and operated a company that sold technology into the architecture, engineering & construction (AEC) space. Our offices were located all throughout the Southeast. We wanted our sales team to use a consistent methodology, and we couldn't bring people together every week for training, so we hired Sandler Training. In that business, my clients were engineers, architects and other professional service providers. When the economy collapsed in 2008, many of them started asking for my help with business development. They were smart, successful people, but they were not trained in sales. They viewed it as a big mystery. When times were good, they were fine, but when the phone didn't ring, they didn't know what to do. I saw an opportunity to build a business out of my selling experience, and I ultimately decided to do this full-time.
BM: What do you find that businesses often don't understand about sales training?
SS: One of our videos best answers that question: the video titled "Why Sales Training Doesn't Work." Seminars are great for learning new techniques, but they don't change behavior. Sales training is often ineffective because people think of it as a quick fix. People might go to a sales training seminar and learn some useful methods, but without continuous reinforcement over time, they won't continue to apply what they learn. As we often point out, you can't teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar. Sales is no different in that regard.
BM: Do you encounter clients who don't recognize the root of the issues they are facing?
SS: Yes, that often happens. Business leaders often perceive leadership issues as sales issues. Sales management is one of the hardest jobs in any company and sales managers are often the least trained. They usually start out as great salespeople and are promoted based on their proven ability to sell, but there is much more to being a great sales manager than being a great salesperson. This is one of the most common scenarios where a leadership challenge can disguise itself as a sales problem.
BM: Who is your ideal client?
SS: We work with the small and medium size business, as well as large enterprises. Typically, they’ve built a great business but seek me out when they are struggling to get in front of new prospects. Others are getting in front of a lot of prospects and generating lots of proposals, but they just take too long to close or the prospect just disappears. Some are tired of being treated like a commodity when they know they add value and service to their offerings. Lately, I’ve been working with a lot of leaders are frustrated by trying to build a culture of accountability without feeling like a micro-manager.
BM: Do you find language barriers to be an issue for technical salespeople who sell to a non-technical buyer?
SS: If by “language barriers” you mean, do salespeople talk too much? Absolutely! The sales cycle and decision process may vary, but we approach the sales process in the same manner for technical professionals as anyone else. In terms of language and communication, we focus on helping them to ask better questions and listen more effectively.
BM: Do you help your clients work on self-confidence issues?
SS: All sales problems are either technical or conceptual. A technical problem stems from not knowing what to do in a given situation. A person who is experiencing a conceptual problem, on the other hand, might say, "I know what I should do, but I cannot make myself do it." Our training model addresses problems of both types. In order to address self-confidence issues, it is important to first understand whether the underlying problem is technical or conceptual.
This article was written by Dave Baldwin, DaveBaldwin is a business strategist with Baldwin Management Consultants. He helps businesses alleviate growing pains by implementing systems in the areas of sales, marketing and operations. He has a passion for helping introverts accomplish their professional goals. Contact Dave at email@example.com