What is the Sandler Selling System and should I choose this method to train my sales reps?

Posted by:
the Attention team

If you love systems and processes like most sales reps do, one of the more popular sales methods out there is the Sandler Selling System. This system was developed in 1967 by David Sandler. This system is unique in the sense that it focuses on having sales reps acting as a consultant rather than a pushy salesperson. Having a system builds mutual trust between salespeople and prospects. The salesperson is able to have better conversations and become a trusted advisor. The techniques are very effective because they are based on psychological discipline and focus on how people truly communicate, which leads to long-term relationships between salespeople and their prospects. 

Sales reps can practice the Sandler Selling System using Attention. Attention gives sales reps instant feedback and tracks team growth using AI. Attention can help improve engagement while your sales reps are in action, which can lead to better retention rates and more sales. 

The Sandler Selling System teaches your sales reps how to:

  • Identify and engage new prospects in a timely manner
  • Reduce objections
  • Avoid last minute negotiations or demands for concessions
  • Lead the conversation and control the discovery process
  • Never make presentations to the wrong people

David Sandler, founder of the Sandler Selling System, liked to compare the sales cycle to a submarine. You have to secure each step before moving on to the next. 

Here are the 7 steps in the Sandler Selling System (Sandler Submarine):

1. Rapport building

During this first stage, you establish and build a relationship with your prospect. Having good communication skills is an important aspect in becoming a successful sales rep. Asking the right questions during your discovery call will help get a better understanding of your prospect and their needs. Check out the top 15 sales discovery questions. When talking to a prospect, sales reps should be able to connect with prospects on a deeper level and become a trusted source. Sales reps should be able to:

  1. Adapt to the communication style for each prospect. 
  2. Build a platform for the relationship. You are a professional who gets paid to qualify and disqualify leads. 
  3. Be candid. Let the prospect know if your product is not the right solution to their needs. 
  4. Don’t just reach out to a prospect when you want them to buy something. They won’t see you as a trusted source.

2. Upfront contract

During this second step, you establish the roles and begin to set expectations for the relationship. Before you engage with the prospect, set up an upfront contract about what everyone is looking to get out of this meeting. Be the expert with a plan and cover these details below:

  1. The purpose of the meeting
  2. Your prospect’s agenda and expectations
  3. Your agenda and expectations
  4. The amount of time scheduled for the meeting
  5. The intended outcome of the meeting

3. Pain 

This third step helps you dive and uncover the issues that your prospect is experiencing. Most people like to provide a list of reasons that they are experiencing a problem, such as money, efficiency, and time. In reality, emotions are the foundation on which purchasing decisions are made. 

Sandler understood these emotions and broke them down into “pain/fear” and “gain/pleasure”. These emotions can be in the present form, like current challenges or fears for the near term, or in the future, like potential wins and benefits of finding a solution. 

4. Budget

During the fourth step, you start talking about money. Talk directly to your prospect about costs and budgets before discussing demos or trials. Firstly, find out if any money is available for this project. Secondly, find out how much money is available for the project. Lastly, find out where the money is coming from at the buyer company. 

Give the prospect a ballpark estimation on costs for a solution like yours. Provide a typical range and ask if that is a reasonable amount for their budget.

5. The decision-making process

In the fifth stage of the process, you have to find out how your buyer will be making a purchasing decision. There is no deal until you’re able to confidently identify the process in which the buyer will be making the purchase. Ask questions such as:

  1. Who needs to be involved in this decision? Who ultimately approves the decision?
  2. What is your purchasing decision process; when do signers, finance, and legal come into the conversation?
  3. Which teams in your organization will be affected by this decision?
  4. Have you made a decision like this before? When do you think you’ll be able to make a decision? What is the start date for the project?
  5. Why are you looking outside of your current provider? What other vendors are you asking proposals from?

6. Fulfillment

We’re getting closer to closing the sale. The second to last step, fulfillment, has 4 sub-steps. Those 4 steps include:

  1. The Review: Review the pains you’ve uncovered, the budget, and the decision-making process with your prospect. 
  2. The Presentation: Present the prospect with your solution as a way to get a decision from them and not as a way to educate them. Only cover the features and benefits that the prospect has a direct correlation to and will consider when making their decision. 
  3. The Close: Either close the deal when the prospect says “Yes” to your solution or close your file if the prospect tells you “No”.
  4. The Confirmation: Confirm with your prospect that the sale is moving forward by asking for their decision and the next steps to proceed. 

7. Post-sale

This is the last step but the deal isn’t over quite yet. Ensure that the prospect gets a smooth handoff success and professional services team. Make sure the prospect avoids “buyer’s remorse”. After all, you wouldn’t like it if you got buyer’s remorse. 

This system may be old, over 50 years old to be exact, but it still works for lots of B2B organizations. At a minimum, the Sandler Selling System teaches sales reps to value their time and the time of the prospects, to approach buyers on an equal playing field, and to disqualify poor leads so they can focus on the good leads. And while the Sandler Selling System may look like a traditional selling system at first glance, the emphasis is given in the qualification stage to find a good lead. 

If you’re looking to effectively teach your sales reps the Sandler Selling System, try Attention. Attention is a software that helps sales reps identify problems in key areas and provides instant feedback using AI technology. Give us a try today!

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