Category Archives for "Sales Management"

Jan 07

7 Simple Ways To Out-Perform, Out-Manoeuvre & Out-Sell Your Competitors in 2020

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains 7 simple ways that enable you to get (and stay) well ahead of your competitors this year….. and what you need to be doing to ensure customers are coming to you, rather than going to your competition…..

Whenever I’m talking to salespeople or business owners, a question I’m often asked is ‘Andy, how can I ensure I stay ahead of my competitors?’ So here are 7 things that you can implement to ensure that you stay ahead of your competition for the rest of this year and beyond!….

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 1 – ‘Ringfence’ All Your Existing Accounts

If you want to get ahead (and stay ahead) of your competitors this year, the very first thing you need to do is ‘ringfence’ all your existing customers.  More and more companies are looking to replace lost revenue and profitability through acquiring new business – and some of the ‘new business’ your competitors are targeting will include your existing accounts!

As a lot of salespeople (and a lot of companies) have got complacent, they’ve tended to neglect existing accounts – and those are now the ones that have been taken by their competitors, or the ones most at risk.

What are your relationships like with your existing accounts?  What about the ones you haven’t spoken to for a while?  The ones you don’t get on as well with?  Would they tell you if a competitor had been in?  And if they did, would you retain the business at the same price, or would you have to ‘price match’ to keep it?…..

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 2 – Focus Your Prospecting

The quality of your prospecting will be one of the biggest factors in how successful you are (or not) this year.  As the individual salesperson is asked to do more and more, it’s VITAL that the time you spend prospecting is time well-spent.

Saleswoman Juggling Upcoming Activities & TasksThat means you knowing who is a good prospect for you.  Most people THINK that they know.  But most times they don’t.  They’ll say things like ‘anyone who needs printing’, or ‘anyone who wants a new mobile phone’, or even worse – ‘any small business’.  That’s a BIG sign that they haven’t really got a clue!

There will be certain specific criteria that make certain prospects more ideal for you than others.  If you don’t know what they are, you need to find them out – and fast!  If you’re really not sure, take a look at your existing client base.  What was it that made them purchase at the moment they did?  What was it that made them buy from you and your company, rather than going to someone else – like your biggest competitor?

Then look for ‘commonalities’ or ‘patterns’ in why (and when) they bought. That will start to give you some ideas on what you need to look for in other prospects too!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 3 – Become A ‘Valued Resource’

Some of the best salespeople I know are a ‘valued resource’ for their clients.  They’re someone whose opinion their clients respect.  They’re someone their clients turn to first to get information about purchasing decisions – either now or in the future.  They’re someone that has a high level of credibility and clients trust their opinions and advice.

Not all salespeople get to this position however!  A lot of salespeople complain that their clients ignore their ‘advice’.  That they don’t listen.  That they don’t take their calls or see them when they ‘pop in’.  What bigger signs do you want that clients don’t see you as a valued resource?

In order to be seen as a valued resource, you have to earn it.  You have to give value first.  You have to get updated on industry trends, technological advancements and understand the impact that these could have on your client’s business.  You have to be able to hold a business conversation with the level of decision makers you’re meeting.  Invest the time to do things like this, and it will pay you back tenfold!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 4 – Have A Plan For Your ‘Attack’

Plan Your Sales StrategyOne of the best ways to get ahead of the competition this year is to get some of their customers off them!  This is a great way of distracting them from their own ‘new business’ efforts (so also helps you potentially ‘defend’ your own existing customers), plus it’s a great motivational factor for you and your team when you successfully win business at your competitor’s expense!

In order to have the best chance of success, if you’re in field sales why not ‘map out’ competitors accounts in your territory?  Who they’re working with and where they are? Then create a call plan for getting into see them, and focus on winning their business.

If you’re in internal sales, make notes on the prospects that are currently using your competition, then filter the data by competitors name.  Then you can create a phone campaign designed specifically to convert their customers to your customers instead!  Experience shows that dedicated and focused approaches like those above have a far better chance of success – and also put a big ‘dent’ in your competitor’s motivation at the same time!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 5 – Increase Your Activity

Now, once you’ve targeted your prospecting, the next thing you need to do is crank up the ‘volume’.  If you’ve seen me or worked with me before, you’ll know I’m a big fan of a high level of activity – as long as that activity is good quality and is done with the right mindset of course!

One of the biggest reasons for this is that the more deals you have in your ‘pipeline’, the more you can afford to lose!  If you only have just enough in your pipeline to hit your targets (or close to), then you’re always going to be struggling as you’ll be counting on every deal converting, and it’s devastating to you when any of them ‘drop out’.

Purely by increasing your activity, you increase your chances of success – and therefore increase the amount of money you can earn.  Who wouldn’t want to do that?!!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 6 – Develop CONSISTENT Motivation

We all know that motivation is important for a salesperson.  But it’s the salesperson’s ability to be CONSISTENTLY motivated that will help them stand out from the rest, and stay ahead of their competition this year.

This is something I talk about a lot when I’m working to improve motivation levels within sales teams all over the world.  In order to be motivated on a consistent basis, the salesperson has to take charge of their own motivation, rather than waiting for other people (or other things) to motivate or de-motivate them.

They need to have compelling reasons for doing what they do.  In particular the ‘tougher’ parts of their role – like cold calling, canvassing, or the things they like doing the least!  Without a compelling reason, they’re less likely to get the results!

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 7 – Sharpen Your Sales Skills

If you truly want to stay ahead of your competition this year, you’ll need to sharpen your sales skills.  This means getting up-to-date, relevant sales tips and advice from trusted sources.

If you get some internal training at your company, great!  If your company invests in bringing an external trainer or motivator to help you improve, even better!  If you’re one of those people that believes in investing in yourself (even if your company doesn’t) I take my hat off to you.

However, you don’t have to spend money to keep your sales skills updated – plenty of articles like this one are free of charge, there are various audios around that are free or low-cost, and there are plenty of seminars you can attend without spending a fortune – just make sure you put into practice what you learn, and I look forward to hearing how you’re staying ahead of your competition this year!

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2020. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Jan 03

Top 10 ‘New Year Resolutions’ For Your Sales Team

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains what the successful sales leaders and salespeople are implementing right now to make sure they have a great year this year!….

The New Year is always an interesting time for salespeople and sales teams. Plenty of people make New Years’ Resolutions at this time of year, and some people will have included within them ‘resolutions’ for their sales figures, their career or for their business.

I thought it would be useful therefore, to give you an idea what I’m working on with the sales leaders and salespeople I work with regularly, to help them make great sales this year – so that you can implement the same things to get great results as well!

Here are my suggestions for the Top Ten New Years’ Resolutions for your sales team……

(If you want the full article, then go to
 and request the ‘resolutions article’ – and I’ll send it to you with my compliments).

Sales Resolution No 10 – Increase Your Prospecting Activity

If your ‘goal’ or ‘outcome’ for this year is to increase your sales, or that of your team, one of the things to look at is to increase your prospecting activities.

Most salespeople tend not to have enough prospects, and therefore rely on most of their ‘deals’ coming off, in order to hit their targets. That’s a recipe for failure.

Take a look at whatever prospecting activities you’ve been doing (that have been working for you, of course) and look at how you can increase them. You might also want to increase the ‘range’ of activities as well.

Whether your prospecting activities include networking, cold calling, referrals, cold canvassing or anything else, simply upping the activity will generate better results. Once you’ve done this, it’s now time for the second step…..

Sales Resolution No 9 – ‘Filter’ Your Prospects Better

You can only do this step, when you have a lot of prospects (hence my recommendation in ‘Resolution 10’, above), so if you haven’t got enough prospects yet, go back to that step until you have!

One you have enough prospects, the next step is to ‘filter’ them. What I mean by that is to look at which prospects are better for you. So how on earth do you judge which are better than others?

If you’ve already ‘profiled’ your prospects, then you’ll already know what I mean. If you haven’t, here are some quick tips. From experience either you or your manager will have an idea which of your prospects are most likely to convert, which will do so faster than others, and which will be worth the most money.

This might be based on their industry, the level of decision maker you’re talking to (or not!), their buying motivation (you have found that out, haven’t you?) size of project, approval process and impending deadlines etc.

Based on the results of your ‘filtering’, you can now work out which prospects you need to focus on, and which ones require you to qualify them a little harder. Please note, if the thought of doing this makes you hesitant or concerned that you might ‘lose’ a prospect or two, then you probably haven’t got enough prospects in the first place – go back to Resolution 10!

Sales Resolution No 8 – Improve Your ‘Pipeline’ Control

Pretty much EVERY sales leader I speak to, wishes their salespeople were better at controlling their sales pipeline!

Most salespeople have deals in their pipeline that actually have no hope of coming off, yet they often don’t realise it! Also, when I ask salespeople to talk me though their pipeline, it quickly becomes apparent that they’re not ‘on top’ of it, they don’t know where they stand in relation to others in their deals, and often don’t have a concrete plan for bringing that piece of business in, rather than losing it to a competitor.

That needs addressing, right now! Every salesperson should be on top of their sales pipeline. They should know where they stand in relation to their competitors in every deal. They should know the buying motivation of the client, who they need to influence, and what timescales are at work as a minimum. They should also know what actions they need to take (and by when) in order to win the business, rather than lose it to a competitor.

If you’re not on top of your pipeline, it might be time to look at your qualification of prospects, or your ability to get the ‘deeper needs’ from the client earlier in the sales process. Or it could be down to your failure to ‘stand out’ from the competition right at the start of the process. Find out which one it is and do something about it, now!

Sales Resolution No 7 – Improve Your Online Prescence

For those of you that read my articles regularly, or have seen me speak at one of my events, you’ll know I’m a big fan of salespeople using online networking to win more business.

However, I say that only when it’s used in the right way! Social Media and Online Networking can be the biggest waste of time in the world when done badly, or a great contributor to your ‘new business’ activities when done well.

As you’ll know, the network I most recommend (and has proven so far to get the best return-on-effort for salespeople is LinkedIn. If you’re not on there yet, go to now! If you are, connect with me on there – and I can then give you some more tips on getting the best out of it.

As far as I’m concerned, the results I’ve seen from showing clients how to use it effectively as a sales tool have been nothing short of astounding! When I run courses on how to get the best sales results from it, delegates often see extra sales very quickly – so if you’re not on there yet, you can bet your competitors are already doing business from it.

If you’d like a copy of my article ‘The 10 Biggest Sales Mistakes Most People Make On LinkedIn’, then go to and request the ‘linkedin article’ – and I’ll send it to you with my compliments.

Sales Resolution No 6 – Develop ‘Consistent’ Focus

When I’m working with Sales Leaders all over the world, many ask me how they can keep their sales team focused on a more consistent basis. They’re often finding that their salespeople are distracted by other things, they lose their focus and they fall into ‘habit’, of doing the same things over and over again, and don’t generate the sales results that they should.

One of the things I work on with my clients is developing a ‘monthly’ focus. It can be difficult for anyone to maintain focus on a consistent basis over a long period. By making it a ‘monthly’ focus instead, it makes it much simpler, and by changing the focus every month, it’s kept ‘fresh’ and interesting for the team.

All you have to do is make the ‘focus’ for that month relevant to the goals of the Sales Leader, or the company – and looking at what behaviour you want to encourage from within the team itself.

One of the biggest barriers to improved sales results is changing the ‘everyday’ sales behaviour of the team. They’ve got results (at some level) so far by doing what they’ve done, so many doing see the point in changing it! Or even worse – they’re resistant to changing it because they haven’t got much else apart from it!

By implementing some simple things within their EXISTING sales behaviour you can see some small changes have an impact on their sales results almost immediately. Drop me a line if you’re struggling for some ideas….

(If you’d like the 2nd part of this article, then go to and request the ‘resolutions article’ – and I’ll send it to you with my compliments).

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..
This article is copyright Andy Preston 2011-2019. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.
Nov 05

Sales Failure 6!! Saracens Rugby Selling Fail!!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In the ‘Sales Failure!’ series, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston takes real-life examples of ineffective selling, and uses them as tools to learn how you can avoid the same mistakes, and what to do instead to improve your own sales results….

In this edition of ‘Sales Failure’ we take the example of Saracens Rugby Club when I was trying to buy tickets for a Premiership Rugby game recently. My ‘experience’ trying to buy the tickets serves as a usual example for us to ‘dissect’ and discover what we can learn from it to help increase our own sales figures!

Now, regular readers of my articles and people I’ve worked with in the past will know I’m a fan of Sale Sharks Rugby. In fact, more than a fan – I’ve been a sponsor for the past 10 years and attend most of the games and the corporate sponsors events (when I’m in the UK).

This particular ‘Sales Failure’ situation happened when I rang up to get tickets for the Sale Sharks away game at Saracens……

Phone Call Number 1 – I Call Saracens Rugby Ticket Line…

Me: I’d like to get 2 tickets for the Sale Sharks game please….
Them: Okay.
Me: Can I get them with the Sale Sharks fans please as I’m a Sale supporter…
Them: No, we can’t do that here.
Me: I’m sorry?!!
Them: We can’t sell tickets in the Sale section, we can only sell Saracens tickets.
Me: So how do I get tickets for the game and sit with the other Sale supporters?
Them: I don’t know. We don’t sell them here. Try Sale themselves.

Now this was pretty bad…. but wait…. it gets worse!!

Phone Call Number 2 – I Call Sale Sharks Ticket Line…

Me: Hi, I’d like to buy 2 tickets for the away game at Saracens please….
Them: We don’t sell those, you’d need to call Saracens.
Me: I’ve just called them, and they told me I’d need to ring you as they can’t sell tickets to Sale fans.
Them: Oh really? We don’t sell them here. Let me give you the number for the stadium….

Slightly confused by now, but determined to buy these tickets, I make my third call…

Phone Call Number 3 – I Call Salford City Stadium (Sale’s Home Ground)…

Me: Hi, I’d like to buy 2 tickets for the away game at Saracens…
Them: We don’t have any here.
Me: Oh, Saracens told me to call the Sale ticket line and they then sent me to you!
Them: Let me check for you….. we did have some, but the allocation was returned to Saracens a week ago – you’ll need to call them.

Now by this stage I’m getting a bit annoyed and more than a little frustrated… luckily for Saracens I’m a motivated buyer, so I’m still wanting to buy at this stage…. so I made my fourth phone call…

Phone Call Number 4 – I Call Saracens Ticket Line (AGAIN!)

Me: Hi, I’d like to buy 2 tickets for the Sale game please…
Them: Okay.
Me: I’m a Sale fan, so I want to sit with the other Sale fans. Your colleague said you couldn’t do that, and to call Sale. I’ve called the Sale ticket line, they sent me to the stadium, and they’ve sent me back to you as their allocation has been returned. Can I buy 2 of those tickets please?
Them: No we can’t do that. We can only sell tickets for Saracens allocation.
Me: ?!!! So how do I buy 2 tickets for the game?
Them: You can buy them from me, but I’ll have to sit you with Saracens fans.
Me: There must be another option surely?
Them: Nothing I can do. I can give you a number to call the ground?
Me: Okay, I’ll try that…..

Frankly at this point, it’s getting ridiculous. Is it this hard to buy tickets for the game?!! Luckily for them, I really want to go, so I’m motivated enough to make another phone call!

So, here I go with my FIFTH call!….surely I’ll be able to buy the tickets this time?!!

Phone Call Number 5 – I Call Saracens Ground

Me: Hi, I’d like to buy 2 tickets for the Sale game please…
Them: You’ll need to call our ticket line to do that.
Me: I’ve done that already. They said as I’m a Sale fan they couldn’t do that. They sent me to the Sale ticket line. Who sent me to Sale’s ground. Who sent me back to Saracens ticket line. Who have now sent me over to you. Any chance I can actually spend some money with you and buy 2 tickets with the Sale fans.. before one of us dies?!!! (Slightly frustrated and a good Fawlty Towers reference, for those of you that remember!)
Them: We don’t actually have a separate section for the Sale fans. We’re just mixing you up with Saracens fans, so a normal ticket will be fine.
Me: You’re kidding?!! Why doesn’t anyone else know that?!! That would have saved me a lot of time and effort if I’d have known that before!!!
Them: I’ll sort you 2 tickets out from here mate, save you calling the ticket line again.
Me: That would be great – thank you….

Now I’m sure you’ll agree – the situation was more than ridiculous! So what Sales Lessons can we learn from Saracens Sales Failure?

Sales Failure Lesson Number 1 – Make It Easy For People To Buy!

This is such a simple lesson, but one which a lot of companies fall foul of! It’s true in pretty much ANY sales situation, but even more so when your product or service has competitors, or other places people can go to purchase a similar offering!

In this case Saracens were lucky. They had a ‘unique’ offering at a time when I was already in London (this Saracens game was played at Watford), so I had already decided to purchase, and had strong motivation to do so. Had that not been the case, they more than likely would have lost this sale…. and probably many others too!

How easy is it to buy from your company? Have you ever rung your own company and tried to do so? Might be an interesting experience…..

Sales Failure Lesson Number 2 – Educate/Train/Get Rid Of Your ‘Sales Prevention Department’

The cause of many companies lost sales – the Sales Prevention Department! These people thrive on telling you why something ‘isn’t possible‘, ‘we don’t work that way‘, or ‘we can’t do that here‘.

These people are one of the biggest causes of lost sales. Think about where they might ‘live’ in your organisation… Accounts Department perhaps? Project Management? Or even worse – the people handling the incoming sales enquiries?!!

In most cases, it’s where ‘non-salespeople’ get involved in the sales process. Like office managers, sales support, accounts, IT, in fact – most departments really! They thrive on telling you policies, procedures and process – and love to say ‘no’. They’re almost like the Traffic Wardens of business! And they’re costing you sales right now!

It often astounds me how much money companies spend on generating incoming sales leads – advertising, marketing, web sites, social media, networking, SEO etc…. and then don’t focus on the people handling the incoming sales enquiries in particular!

Where are these people located in your company?…

Sales Failure Lesson Number 3 – The Longer It Takes To Buy From You…. The Less Likely People Are To Purchase

In reality, most people are busy people. And they can get irritated quickly, particularly if they perceive what they want to buy as a ‘simple task’ – and it turns out to be anything but!

Therefore your sales process needs to be as short as possible (combined with my ‘easy’ point in Sales Failure Lesson 1 above). The quicker that people can buy, the better – and the more likely they are to do so. This is even more true when it’s an ‘instant purchase’ item like tickets are in this example.

How short is your sales process right now? How many ‘hoops’ do people have to jump through to buy from you? And can you shorten the process?

So above are 3 of the lessons you can learn from Saracens Sales Failure in this situation. Put them into practice in your company, and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on…..

Nov 02

Sales Prospecting Mistakes – 5 Signs Your Sales Team Is Guilty Of ‘Poor Prospecting’

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading sales expert Andy Preston talks about the problem of Poor Prospecting, and how to spot if any of your team are guilty of it……

I’m often asked by business owners, sales managers and sales directors to help their sales team increase sales.

A large part of this is getting better results from their prospecting. Yet the more work I’ve done in this arena, the more I’ve come to believe that great Sales Prospecting is less common than it used to be!

Poor Prospecting is now more common than ever, and its affecting salespeople’s numbers and company budgets and profits massively right now. It’s really important that if your team are guilty of it (or starting to become guilty of it) that you ‘catch’ it as quickly as possible, so your own and your teams’ numbers aren’t dramatically affected going forward.

Here are some signs to look out for that may indicate your sales team are guilty of Poor Prospecting right now….

‘Poor Prospecting’ Sign Number 1 – They’re Avoiding Prospecting Activities!

One of the first signs that your any of your sales team are bad at prospecting is when you notice them avoiding it!

fearfulIf their role involves other things as well as prospecting – attending meetings, an amount of paperwork, or dealing with existing clients, they’ll try and use these as ‘excuses’ as ‘reasons’ why they can’t do more prospecting!

If you hear your team say things like ‘I don’t have enough time to prospect more’, ‘I’ve just got to finish this xyz thing first…’ or ‘cold calling doesn’t work for me….’, these would all be BIG signs that your sales team (or some members of it) are guilty!


‘Poor Prospecting’ Sign Number 2 – They Don’t Do Enough!

Another indication that your team are guilty of Poor Prospecting would be that you notice they aren’t doing enough of it!

As simple as this may seem, this is a great indicator! People don’t get better at prospecting by Act Now - Red Buttonresearching more. They don’t get better at prospecting by doing admin tasks or ringing an existing client. They get better at prospecting by DOING IT!

Therefore, the less your team are prospecting, the worse they’ll be at it! Therefore they won’t get the results they should. Therefore they do less of it!

And this problem then compounds itself going forward.


‘Poor Prospecting’ Sign Number 3 – Travelling Excessive Distances For Appointments

Another good indicator of Poor Prospecting is if any of your Field Sales team are travelling long distances for appointments. As business has become tougher the last few years, many salespeople are finding it harder to get qualified appointments with senior decision makers.

Therefore when they manage to get a meeting (or someone else in your organisation books one for them) they’re so glad of actually getting one, they’ll travel almost ANY distance for that single meeting! And if they don’t book many other meetings in that same area, there’s your ‘Poor Prospecting’ indicator!

Plan Your Digital Sales StrategyI’ve seen salespeople travel 2 hours or more to a meeting (and therefore 2 hours back) without booking other meetings in that area (or if they do, they’re probably with existing clients with no immediate need, not qualified ‘new business’ ones with prospects). That often means most of their day is ‘lost’ because of their own Poor Prospecting abilities.


‘Poor Prospecting’ Sign Number 4 – Over-Reliance On Web/Social Media

This particular ‘indicator’ has become more prominent over the past few years.  Now, I’m NOT saying that using the Web or social media is WRONG, I’m saying that over-reliance on it is a problem!

One of the challenges with the web/social media is that it’s an easy thing for salespeople to use as a way of getting out of other prospecting methods, pretending they’re doing something useful that will give them the ‘edge’ when they eventually contact the prospect…. The key word in that last sentence being ‘eventually’ of course 😉

A common trait in Poor Prospecting salespeople is to do HUGE amounts of research… only to find the decision maker isn’t in when they call, or they can’t get through to them anyway – waste of time!

Yet in their sales activity they can put down they did lots of ‘prospecting’… just poorly 😉

The key to successful prospecting is using a range of methods in order to spread the risk and rewards – so don’t just rely on the one!

‘Poor Prospecting’ Sign Number 5 – Complaining About Internal Issues

Salespeople guilty of Poor Prospecting just love deflecting the attention away from themselves and their prospecting abilities by ‘blaming’ internal issues or people for their poor performance.

My favourite one of these has to be ‘My sales figures are low this month because Telesales didn’t Poor Presentation Skillsmake me enough appointments!’ Classic! Closely followed by ‘Nobody’s heard of us because we don’t do enough Marketing!’ And backed up by ‘Our prices are too high so no one would be interested anyway…

These classic excuses are dragged out by salespeople all over the world as justification for poor prospecting results, therefore ‘reasons’ why they shouldn’t do it, or do less of it.

Don’t fall for it! They’re just guilty of Poor Prospecting!

If you want some help getting your team to get far better results from prospecting, call +44 (0) 161 401 0142 or contact Andy here……..

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2010-2019. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Oct 11

How To Convert More Inbound Leads Into Orders

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains how to take the incoming enquiries you get for your business….. and turn more of them into orders…..

Whenever I’m working with businesses and their individual salespeople, this topic keeps coming up!  It seems that whole many people can often convert enquiries from their existing customers into orders (although some even struggle with that), many are struggling to convert their new enquiries into orders and grow their customer base.  This article is designed to help you with that!

So whilst, I can’t cover everything you’d need to do to convert more enquiries into orders in this short article, here are some ideas on the major things you’d need to know, in order to convert more enquiries into business, right now!

Andy’s Sales Tip No 1 – Understand Their Interest In YOU!

you samThis is something most people don’t do.  Sometimes because they don’t think about it, and sometimes because they’re scared to ask!  Most people will ask ‘how did you hear about us?’, which is a marketing question, designed to help you understand what parts of your marketing are working, so that you spend more money in those areas!

Yet they don’t often ask about why the enquirer has come to them for a price or quotation!  What interest they have in your company specifically.  What prior knowledge or experience they have of you, and what has motivated them to approach you on this occasion?  Having the answers to those questions can completely change your sales process, and how you convert them into business.

Andy’s Sales Tip No 2 – Understand Their Readiness To Buy

Another critical area is to find out where they are in their buying process, and how ‘ready’ they are to buy.  Far too many salespeople waste time on people that are just ‘shopping around’, or getting an idea of price – when they aren’t ready to make a buying decision.

Showing Your PricesLet’s face it, if someone is just after an ‘idea’ of price, but has got some prices already, they already have an idea of price, don’t they?  Giving your price when they already have a number of prices from other potential suppliers usually results in you LOSING the business, unless you have done a number of critical things first!  Unless you are by far the cheapest price of course, but even that doesn’t guarantee you winning the business!

How quickly can they make a decision?  Are they ready to buy right now?  Or do you want to discuss other things first, before entering into a conversation about price?

Andy’s Sales Tip No 3 – Understand Their Other Options

finishing lineThis something I would CERTANLY want to do before giving a price (as mentioned in the last tip).  You need to know WHO and WHAT you are competing with, BEFORE you give your price!

There are 3 levels of competition to you winning this order, and potentially this customer.  You will always come across ONE of these competitors, and sometimes ALL of these competitors, in every single deal!  And you need to know what you’re up against, in order to sell effectively against them.

The three levels of competition are…..

1)    Direct Competitor (another company that provides a similar product or service to you)

2)    Indirect Competitor (usually a competitive process that they may choose instead of your solution)

3)    ‘No Change’ Competitor (the prospect decides to ‘stay as they are’ for now)

All of the above are ‘competitors’ to you winning the deal – and you need to know which are true in each sales situation, in order to sell against them effectively, and give yourself the best chance of winning the deal!

Andy’s Sales Tip No 4 – Understand Their Buying Process

If we’re going to give ourselves a good chance of converting this enquiry into an order, we need to understand the prospects buying process.  In other words, how they are planning to buy.

Plan Your Digital Sales StrategyFailing to understand their buying process (or who is involved in it) will often result in the deal being ‘taken away’ from you, often at the last minute.

One of the best ways to find this out, is to ask them what process they went through when they last made a purchase like this.  That will give you an idea of their usual process, and potentially who is involved as well!

If the person you’re talking to doesn’t know what their process is (last time and this time), that’s a clue how much involvement they have in the decision process!

You need to have a level of influence with everyone involved in the buying process (where possible) to have the best chance of converting your enquiries into orders!  Good luck!

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..

This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2017. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines.

Sep 20

Are You ‘Warming Up’ Prospects For Your Competition?

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why most salespeople and business owners struggle to convert their sales opportunities….. and often end up ‘warming’ up business for their competition…….……

So many salespeople and businesses fail to convert their sales opportunities properly. In my Sales Training sessions, we talk about this a lot!

Some are so bad at it, they may as well have the title ‘Business Development Manager – For The Competition’ as their job title!

Here are 6 sales mistakes that a lot of people make…..

Sales Mistake No 1 – Non-Sales Staff Handling Sales Opportunities

Non-Sales staff involved with the sales process (e.g. estimators, admin staff, operational staff, office managers etc) don’t think like salespeople.

They think ‘how can I do my job efficiently and give the customer all the information they require’. Not ‘how do I turn this sales opportunity into an order?’

Without proper training and a ‘sales mindset’ for all staff involved with the sales process, I can guarantee you that you’re losing business you should be winning.

Sales Mistake No 2 – Your ‘Opportunity Qualification’ Is Awful

I’m often very surprised just how poor most people are at qualifying their sales opportunities. Sales Qualification should happen on EVERY sales opportunity, and the bigger the deal, the more important it is!

Yet most companies (especially on incoming leads or sales pipeline) don’t ask the right questions and qualify the opportunities properly. They just give out information, be ‘nice’ to prospects, and ‘hope’ to win the deal.

Pathetic. That’s costing you money too.

[PS – If you don’t know what sales questions you should be asking, REQUEST YOUR FREE ‘7 AREAS OF QUESTIONING’ VIDEO HERE to find out the areas you should be asking questions BEFORE sending ANY proposal!]

Sales Mistake No 3 – Not Making Sales A Priority

I can never get my head around this. Why don’t companies make sales a priority? Sales should ALWAYS be a priority!

If you’re not closing sales you don’t have a business. Regardless of how good your product is. Regardless of how good your customer service is. Regardless of how nice your staff are.

Sales is THE most important thing to a business. If you don’t get the prospect to buy from you, they’ll likely buy from your competitor.

That’s costing you money! Why would you throw it away like that?

Sales Mistake No 4 – Emailing Instead Of Calling

This is one of my personal favourites! Far too many salespeople email instead of call!

I know. It’s hard to get through to that prospect.oops
I know. It’s more ‘time efficient’ to send an email.
I know. There’s less rejection if you send an email.

But sending emails instead of calling will cost you business.

One of my favourite sayings is ‘Emails Inform, Salespeople Persuade’.

If you’re just informing people of something (like confirming a verbally agreed meeting time and venue, or sending an agenda etc), then email is fine.

If you need to PERSUADE someone to do something, then voice or face-to-face is infinitely better!

Failure to do this is also costing you money. Got it?

Sales Mistake No 5 – Not Getting Back To People Fast Enough

One of the most important factors in influencing a prospect to your point of view, and even converting the business (if they are making a fast decision) is your speed of response to their enquiry.

If you’ve been to a sales training session or seminar of mine, or seen me online, you’ll have heard me mention this before. Probably several times. But are you doing it?!! And are you doing it every time!

Being first-to-respond gives you the advantage. Do you want the advantage? Or are you giving it to your competitors?

Sales Mistake No 6 – Failure To Train Your Team Properly

When was the last time you properly trained the people dealing with your sales opportunities?

And I don’t mean watching how someone else does it, or ‘learning on the job’. I mean getting some expertise from outside the business, who has specific expertise in this area, to help you and the team formulate a specific process for winning more sales opportunities?

Done properly this is the best investment you can make, and will provide pretty much immediate payback and ROI, and produce improved sales results for months and years to come.

Why wouldn’t you want to do that?

If you are interested in me working with you or your team to overcome some of their problems with sales pipeline,managing their sales opportunities, cold calling and prospecting, or converting incoming leads then contact me here, or call +44 161 401 0142 to see how I can help you!

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on…..

(This article is copyright Andy Preston 2004-2019. To copy or syndicate this or any part of this article contact Andy Preston for guidelines).

Sep 12

The Death Of Account Management

By Andy Preston | Sales Management

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston talks about the death of Account Management… and in particular, how many Sales Leaders failure to recognise this vital point – and how this then causes problems in their sales process, their recruitment process and how it negatively impacts on the activity, behaviour and ultimately the sales figures of their sales team!…..

Account Management is dead. For most companies it died a while back. But people have been pretending not to notice. Trying to keep the body warm. Keeping it on life-support, desperate to try and pretend it’s still alive.

But it isn’t. And it hasn’t been for a while.
You see, things have moved on. I’m not saying that Account Management belongs back in the 1980’s with luminous socks, ‘Relax’ t-shirts, and the Rubiks Cube . (Okay, so we will perhaps make an exception for the Rubiks Cube, it’s still kind of cool!). But Account Management certainly belongs in the past.

Account Management comes from the days where we labelled salespeople ‘Hunters’ and ‘Farmers’. It comes from the days when we were making enough profit out of an account to let a salesperson ‘sit’ there and deal with them without any concerns over what they were doing. It comes from the days when customers were loyal and kept their business with a particular supplier for years.

Those Days Are Gone…..

But those days are gone. Long gone. In these economic times, customers want more from their suppliers, but are prepared to pay less for it. Buyers are more ‘promiscuous’ with potential suppliers and play them off against each other. Prospects in some cases verge on ‘bullying’ suppliers to get the best deal for themselves.

Account Management wasn’t designed for these times. Therefore, in order for you and your Sales Team to be as successful as you COULD be… and make sure you aren’t missing business opportunities…. you need to re-evaluate the roles within your sales team, and see if ‘Account Management’ still fits in. I think you’ll find it doesn’t.

So if Account Management is truly dead, what should be the roles in your Sales Team right now?….

Re-Define The Roles In Your Sales Team

It’s my belief that there are now 3 roles in your Sales Team. Of course, depending on the size of your team then one individual may have to wear more than one ‘hat’, but it’s important in the first place to define these roles, as that may affect what actions you take next.

1) The first one is ‘New Business‘. This is where the individual brings in NEW, fresh business from prospects that don’t currently spend money with you. Using a variety of prospecting methods, the ‘warmest’ this role gets is trying to win back a lost (or lapsed) customer. Otherwise it’s all about bring it in from scratch!

2) The second role is ‘Account Development‘. The main function of this role is about bringing in MORE BUSINESS from existing accounts – i.e people who are ALREADY spending money with you. This role is about getting those clients to spend more – whether that’s increasing order value or order frequency, up-selling or cross-selling other products/services, taking business off your competition that may be active in those accounts, or finding new ‘buying points’ in those accounts (and getting them to spend with you), that’s the focus of the Account Development role.

In other words, it’s like having a ‘New Business’ focus within your existing accounts, and therefore requires a different skillset to the ‘new business’ role, and most definitely a different skill-set to the old ‘Account Management’ role!

3) The third role is what I refer to as ‘Account Servicing‘. If I was being harsh, I’d label this ‘Customer Service’ or ‘Project Management’ – in effect the focus of this role is to MAINTAIN the account, to keep the customer spending with you, deal with any complains, problems or queries, and ‘service’ the account.

Okay, so now we’ve defined these roles, what else do you need to do?

‘Separate’ These 3 Roles

So, now you know the roles involved, it’s about ensuring you separate these roles in your team to give yourself the best sales results!

The skillsets are different for new business, account development and account servicing. Yes there can be some ‘crossover’. Yes, in a smaller sales team, one person could undertake two roles (or even all 3). But it’s highly unlikely they’ll be good at all three, and therefore will be costing themselves, and the company, business. Definitely not advisable in a sales team when it can be avoided!

But What If I Have To Get People To ‘Cover’ Two Roles Of The Three?

It’s obviously not ideal, as ideally each salesperson should do the single role must suited to them, and their skills and abilities.

Sometimes however, in smaller businesses with smaller teams, people will need to cover two roles, rather than be able to separate everyone into separate roles, and solely focus on that one role.

For clarity…. there is no ‘best role’ or ‘best type’ of Salesperson – it’s what’s suited to their individual styles and skillsets.  Typically they can be great at one type of role, average-to-good at another role closest to their main role, and typically awful at the role furthest from their main role!

Someone who is best at NEW BUSINESS can cover Account Development but will be hopeless at Account Servicing.
They are typically great at bringing in “cold’ or ‘fresh’ business, and can be great at developing existing accounts (especially when they first get given to them!), but lose interest after a while.  And they get really frustrated at dealing with complaints and ‘hassle’, aren’t very good at it.  They get bored with dealing with existing accounts (especially once they’ve had them for a while and there’s no ‘new’ stuff to come from them!) and want to be out winning new stuff!  Ultimately that costs them business 

Someone who is best at ACCOUNT DEVELOPMENT can cover either New Business OR Account Servicing (but not usually both!).
Thinking BusinessmanThey are typically good at relationships.  At getting on with people.  And also good at generating more business from an account – whether that be more business from the same contact, finding new contacts within the client, or selling additional products/services into the account.  But not as ‘sharp’ at new business from fresh, or sorting out complaints for example.

Someone who is best at ACCOUNT SERVICING can cover Account Development, but will be hopeless at New Business.
They are typically great at sorting out logistical issues, designs, paperwork, problems, complaints, and organising things, but don’t often prioritise sales (or sales activities).  They also hate new business and picking up the phone to do any of the ‘colder’ type of activities.  You’ll see call avoidance, ‘phone fear’, and doing anything else, rather than pick up the phone to sell!  They don’t want to be calling people they don’t know, and expecting them to do this without being ‘pushed’ to do it is dreamland!

I have yet to meet (in training 130,000 Salespeople in 42 countries) anyone who is great at all 3 roles.  Of course people try and convince me, but no-one has succeeded – yet!

So you know that it isn’t IDEAL to have someone cover more than one role, but if it’s forced upon you, then make sure they are ‘covering’ the closest role to their main one!

But What If I’m FORCED To Have People Cover All Three Roles?

This is obviously a worst-case scenario, but likely if you have only one salesperson, or it’s a startup, so the only salesperson is you!

The key tip here is to know which ‘hat’ you are wearing at any one time.  Make sure your salesperson blocks out their time for new business, account development, and account servicing and (where possibly) only allow yourself to do the tasks that you are wearing the ‘hat’ for in that moment!

Then hire as quickly as you can to avoid this situation going on for too long!


Make Sure You Avoid Pushing Salespeople Into Account Servicing

One of the biggest problems is when either of the first two categories are pushed too much into ‘account servicing’ mode – even temporarily. The true ‘new business’ person hates this for example, and avoids it at all costs – leading to customer complaints, and lost contracts/business because the ‘new business’ person didn’t follow though or sort the issues quickly enough (which they don’t see as their job by the way).

This is where the distinction between the new role of ‘account development’ and the old role of ‘account management’ is even more critical. The true ‘account developer’ understands that customer service, complaints, queries etc are part of the ‘account servicing’ role. Whereas the old ‘account manager’ would get dragged into account servicing/customer service issues all the time.

Part of this would be because it’s their comfort zone – helping the customer is part of good account management, right? So they’d take that on board and spend all their time doing customer service or admin tasks, which is a great excuse for not picking up the phone and developing their existing accounts isn’t it? And partly because they often believed no-one else in the business would sort it out. The ‘account servicing’ role deals with that sort of nonsense immediately.

Spending too much time on customer service/admin tasks was a habit of the old ‘account managers’. They usually weren’t paid for that. Their managers didn’t want them doing that. But in some cases up to 75% of their could be spend in that area. That’s the role of ‘account servicing’, which is on a completely different pay-scale to what the old ‘account managers’ expected to be paid.

10 Signs That Your Company Is Still Trying To Keep ‘Account Management’ Alive…..

Here are 10 common signs that you or your team) are desperately trying to keep ‘Account Management’ alive in your company – and if you are guilty of one or more of these, we DEFINITELY need to talk!

1. You have/hire ‘Account Managers’ that seem reluctant to pick up the phone?
2. Your team spend too much time in ‘Account Servicing’ mode (admin/service tasks) rather than Selling?
3. Your Sales Team tell you they ‘don’t have time’ to Prospect or do New Business?
4. The team seem to focus on ‘developing relationships’ rather than closing sales?
5. Your sales team keep finding ways to justify why THEY personally (not colleagues) should solve an existing customer problem?
6. You have existing accounts that are also spending money with your competitors?
7. An existing client’s spend doesn’t increase year-on-year – in fact in some cases it goes down?
8. One (or more) of your sales team start telling you why an existing customer can’t spend more?
9. You get the feeling your sales team are complacent, or stuck in comfort zones?
10. You have low activity levels for new business (or lower than you’d like?)

If you’re experiencing ANY of the above symptoms right now, we DEFINITELY should have a conversation. If you or any of your team are still in the old ‘Account Management’ mindset right now, I GUARANTEE it’s costing you sales…..

You can contact Andy on +44 161 401 0142 or through the web here

May 07

Why You’re Not Converting Your Sales Leads Into Customers

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why you’re not currently converting enough enquiries into customers…..and what you can do about it to get the results you deserve……..

One of the things I’m noticing at the moment is that businesses aren’t converting enough of their sales leads into business. Let’s face it, if someone has taken the trouble to enquire with you, then you should be getting a high conversion rate from that, right? That isn’t always happening right now.

In addition, many companies right now have what I would call ‘non-salespeople’ doing activities that would be traditionally handled by a salesperson. This may be due to things bring ‘tight’, a new focus on ‘new business’, staff leaving (or being made redundant), so their activities now get passed to other people.

What Do I Mean By ‘Non-Salespeople?’

This means for example in some cases that marketing staff are making cold calls for appointments, customer service staff are making outbound sales calls and the worst thing ever – admin staff are taking incoming sales enquiries!!!

Think about it. You’ve paid all that money for advertising, networking, marketing, or whatever lead generation method you use to ‘earn’ that sales enquiry. Then the person taking it has little or no sales ability, little or no training in what’s needed to convert it into a sale, and has no idea how much business they could be losing through their lack of understanding!

How scary is that? Even people employed in a sales role don’t always handle sales enquiries as well as they could, so what chance has a ‘non salesperson’ got?

So, below are some reasons why you’re currently not converting as many sales enquiries as you could be – and what you can do to get them back on track!

Reason Number 1 – You Don’t Respond Quickly Enough

For any incoming sales enquiry right now, responding could mean the difference between you converting that enquiry into a customer, and missing out on the business to one of your competitors.

Right now, people have more choice than ever before, and more companies are desperate for their business than ever before – so are you prepared to let one of your competitors get business that could have been yours?

Ask yourself – how fast do you currently get back to your sales enquiries? And then, how could you speed that up?

Reason Number 2 – You Only Take The ‘Specification’

This is another example of poor handling of a sales call. This is where the person taking the incoming sales enquiry only asks questions that get the specification, or the details that they need in order to quote for the work.

Empty Notebook PageBizarrely, this is what most companies train the staff responsible for taking the sales enquiries to do! So those staff give a quotation without asking anything about buying motivation, current supplier, other quotes, buying timescales or other information that would help them secure the business.

It’s almost like the business equivalent of giving a quotation, crossing their fingers, clicking their heels together 3 times and ‘hoping’ that the person rings them back to place the order!! Is that really the way we want to treat those precious sales enquiries in the current business climate?

Reason Number 3 – You Fail To Qualify The Opportunity Properly

Another thing that seems to get missed when staff are handling sales enquiries is understanding the full cope of the potential opportunity. This has been made worse by the customer service people and poor sales trainers in the past that have banged on about ‘you must treat every customer the same’. What a load of old rubbish!!

Should a printing company treat differently a customer who buys £50 worth of business cards once a year, compared to a company that spends £25,000 on their annual print requirements? Of course they should! Now of course both customers should receive good service, but would you want to ask different questions of these 2 different enquiries? Would your sales process change based on their potential spend? Would you service the account differently? Of course you would!

The problem is, you need to qualify the potential opportunity first – so start doing it!

Reason Number 4 – You Don’t Take Control Of The Situation

Another mistake most people make is that they don’t control the situation properly. Once the potential customer has put the phone down (or walked out of the shop in a retail context) – if you haven’t defined or agreed the ‘next steps’, you’ve just lost control of the sales situation.

If you just give them your quotation, or hand/send them your literature and then leave them to Plan Your Sales Strategytheir own devices, they’re probably going to buy somewhere else, or not at all! If they’ve bothered to take the time to call you, send an enquiry over the internet, or arrive in your showroom then right now is the opportunity. Not tomorrow, not the day after, not next week – but right now.

So if you can’t take advantage of this opportunity, then you have to define the ‘next steps’, what will happen in what sequence and get them ‘locked in’ to you, rather than letting them go off ‘shopping’ and comparing prices with you and the competition – or against their existing supplier!

Reason Number 5 – You Don’t Follow Up

There is no excuse for this! ‘I was too busy’ doesn’t cut it. ‘I got caught up in other things’ doesn’t cut it. ‘Well they’d come back to me if they wanted it, wouldn’t they?’ is just plain stupid!

If you’ve bothered to take the enquiry in the first place, and weren’t able to convert them into a customer on that occasion, yet you know they’re interested enough in what you do to have enquired in the first place, why on earth wouldn’t you bother to follow it up?

If you’re guilty of this one, you might as well email over all your sales enquiries to your competition, because you’re giving them the business as it is! Follow up each enquiry quickly, and secure the business for you and your company, rather than giving it to someone else!

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on……..

Apr 14

Simple Sales Tips – From A Partner Sales Conference On The Vaal River

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

I was booked to speak at a client conference recently on the Vaal River, on the border of the Free State in South Africa. It was my first trip to the Vaal River, a very beautiful part of South Africa.

Vaal River
It’s always interesting when I work with clients that sell through Channel Partners, rather than selling direct to the end client themselves. Selling as a Channel Partner has some distinct differences than when you’re selling your own products and services.

So here are some tips on Selling as a Channel Partner.


(Note: These tips are based on you being the Channel Partner yourself – if you’re the Vendor interested in how I work with clients who ‘sell through the channel’, then please contact me here…)

Andy’s Sales Tip Number 1 – Don’t Be Afraid To Lean On The Vendor Where Possible!

This is the bit where most Channel Partners go wrong – right at the beginning! Don’t be afraid to lean on the Vendor if necessary! Most will be only too happy to help!

Most vendors will be only too happy to support their Channel Partners. Whether that’s with face-to-face joint visits, telephone or marketing support.

It’s often a good idea to ‘wheel in’ the vendor to face-to-face meetings, to add some ‘firepower’ and gravitas to your own organisation.It can also help when there are multiple people attending from the potential client, and there’s only one or two of you!

Plus, and documentation and marketing material is likely to be better produced by the vendor in most cases, and therefore gives a more favourable impression to the client, and increases your chance of winning the business! So don’t be afraid to lean on the vendor where you can!


Andy’s Sales Lesson Number 2 – Don’t Forget To Sell Yourself However!

Even though it’s a good idea to lean on the vendor when you can, that doesn’t mean you can forget about selling yourself!

You still need to get across to the prospect why they should work with YOU! Especially if you are pitching against other agents/channel partners for the same vendor as you! Or similar offerings from a different vendor/partner.

You need to establish YOUR credibility. Why they should choose you over the other people wanting the work. Your experience. Your expertise. Make yourself and what you’re offering irresistible (or as close as possible to!)

And the more potential suppliers the prospect is looking at, the more important this is!


Andy’s Sales Lesson Number 3 –Stay In Control

Staying in control isn’t easy in Sales. Especially when you’re a channel partner, and involving your vendor now has 3 parties involved in the sales situation!

You still need to take responsibility for taking control and guiding the sales process however. The vendor is there to assist you, not to replace you! They shouldn’t be taking over the sales process, you should still be leading and controlling it!
Vaal 2 - Andy speech

You need to control the sales process. Where you are at.
What the next step is. What you need to do to get there.
And gain commitment from the prospect to going there too.

Follow the tips above and start to sell like a Stand-Out Salesperson!



Sep 24

Video Sales Tips – Credibility – From The Vaal River, South Africa

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

Andy talks about Credibility (filmed ‘on the road’ next to the Vaal River, South Africa)

How important is credibility in Sales? Business credibility and also personal credibility? And how do we increase it?

Andy’s Global Sales Tips are filmed on Andy’s travels on whatever equipment is close to hand! Be that Phone, iPad, DSLR or whatever. We’ve gone for ‘quality of information’ over ‘quality of video’ in most cases.

More professional quality videos and clips are on other videos of Andy elsewhere. This is about quality of information and speed.

The video below is a YouTube video. If you are one of our clients that has YouTube blocked, there is a Vimeo version below that, that you should be able to see.
Contact us here if you have any problems accessing these. Enjoy!

For those of you that have YouTube blocked on your computers, there is a Vimeo version below too. Again, contact us here if you have any problems accessing these.

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