WHEN MOST PEOPLE ARE about to slam the snooze button on their alarm, the room for Chris Jennings’ sales improvement seminar is rapidly filling up with various business professionals, including owners of companies, their managers and their employees, all of whom are interested in sharpening their sales and management skills.
It’s a little past 7:15 a.m. when the personable and charismatic Jennings strolls in and booms, “OK, so how did you do this week? How many deals did you close? How many prospects did you call? Is your pipeline full?”
One after another, the sales professionals tell Jennings about their week, what went right, what went wrong. Jennings listens intently and provides insightful and analytical comments sprinkled with motivational, encouraging statements.
One participant admits that he didn’t spend enough on “pay time,” a.k.a., calling prospects in order to keep the proverbial pipeline filled. He also admits he might have blown a deal.
“OK, so did you drill down far enough to get to the prospect’s pain?” Jennings asks. “No, I could have gone deeper,” the sales professional responds. “Good,” Jennings says. “Remember that the next time.”
When CEOs, Vice Presidents, Sales Managers and business professionals need to get reenergized, refocused and motivated, they go to Jennings, a nationally recognized speaker and owner of Sandler Training in Irvine, Calif.
“What we are is a health club for your business,” says Jennings, who trains and consults with CEOs, business owners, managers and sales people on a daily basis. Jennings, a UCLA grad who holds a degree in Political Science and who worked extensively in sales and marketing with Mobil Oil, uses the ideal analogy when he talks about the importance of sales professionals getting refocused and re-energized.
“If you ran two miles a day and stopped after a month, what kind of shape would you be in a year later?” he asks. “Well, same thing with your business: you have to be prospecting and asking for referrals. You have to have a plan.
“So what we do is develop your sales skills and techniques. People go and work out at a gym to get stronger and healthier. People come here to get their business and sales technique stronger and healthier.”
Jennings’ success is rooted in his experience, knowledge and the Sandler sales philosophy, which is based on professionals being transformed into a nontraditional sales person, someone who is disarming, someone who comforts prospects and strategically gets them to reveal their problems through a series of questions.
“We help sales and management professionals get prospects comfortable enough to them tell them what’s going on in their life and their business so the sales person can uncover enough information to help the prospect,” Jennings says.
The focus of the system is asking the prospect questions, and drilling as far down as possible to “uncover the prospect’s pain” and ultimately curing it.
“We hone sales professional’s skills and help them get better at asking questions in order to get more detail from prospects,” Jennings says. “The system is built on why a prospect should buy; we reverse the roles and let the prospect sell. The system winds up turning the prospect into a sales person and letting the prospect tell you all the reasons they desperately need your help and are willing to buy at any price.”
Jennings created a comprehensive checklist that every manager and owners needs to follow to maximize the sales performance, productivity and profitability of their company and sales team. Some of the items on the checklist include Custom Sales Training Workshops, Video Role Playing, Call Recording Reviews and Training, Field Ride Alongs (with instant feedback) and a Strategic Customer Care Program.
The system works. After a recent workshop, a sales associate took what he learned from the workshop and applied it in a 9 a.m. meeting. He nailed down the sale. When the owners of a mortgage company came to Jennings several years ago, they were a small firm with 10 employees. The company adopted the Sandler program, making it their company philosophy.
They wound up more than doubling their business every year for each of the last five years. Today, they’re generating $30 million in revenue.
The owner of a custom closet company came to Jennings with a problem: his company was growing, yet he found that his staff was doing too much free consulting. They were giving clients actual closet design drawings, but the prospect would frequently wind up taking those concepts and choosing a lower priced competitor.
“What I did was work with the owner and his sales people and help them eliminate free consulting and start to get paid for it,” Jennings says. “They also began charging for design work that resulted in better qualified prospects.”
When the closet company started charging fees, it increased its closing percentages to 90%. Before they went to Jennings, they were closing at a 30% ratio and they were investing over $1 million a year in people who never bought from them. Today, it is a thriving, multi-million dollar company.
No matter what kind of problem a business professional is confronted with, Jennings has the knowledge and experience to fix it.
“We give clients the opportunity to work out their sales issues, get stronger, and become better at finding new clients and generating more profits,” he says.
Focused and Motivated
CEOs, managers and their sales forces regularly come to Jennings’ workshops simply to stay focused and motivated.
“Some sales managers and their sales people fall into slumps,” he says. “So they come here to get back on track. Some people come here when they’ve hit a plateau and need help to get to another level because they know they can accomplish more. So my role is to help my clients implement a plan.
“Sales professionals, for instance, make promises all the time that they’ll prospect and ask for referrals, but they don’t follow through. So I’m like a guide, helping them focus on what needs to be done.”
Every time a client walks into Jennings’ workshop, he reminds them that they should be prospecting, that they need to be prospecting. He tells them that they have to be asking for referrals, and that they’re entitled to receive higher margins.
“Many managers and sales people,” Jennings says, “work without a plan on the things they should do in their work. Some have a plan, but they file it away where they never look at it. So I’m here to help them stay focused on what they need to do and how to do it more effectively and how to make the most of an opportunity.”
Copyright © 2019 California Business Journal. All Rights Reserved
Rick Weinberg is Editor-in-Chief at California Business Journal. He is a well-known journalist, writer, reporter and on-air talent who has worked for the New York Times, FOX and ESPN. He launched California Business Journal to focus on California businesses and business professionals as well as California business news and information. Contact: Rick@CalBizJournal.com / 949-648-3815
California Business Journal also offers network news magazine video interviews and feature stories on small businesses, start ups and business professionals. California Business Journal video interviews.
Chris Jennings’ Sales Process Improvement Checklist
• Custom Sales Training Workshops – These can be held weekly, bi-monthly or monthly, with a transparent look at an accurate pipeline and activities. Meeting subject matter of the workshops and sessions will be customized based on staff requirements, and must include intense practice situations to overcome biggest sales challenges.
• Video Role Plays – Recording customized role plays lead by your expert coach. The role plays will be hosted online for staff review and future hires.
• Call Recording Reviews and Training – Critically evaluate and audit live conversations, find out how they move through their calls. How are they starting the conversations, what scripting is being followed or not, how they close, follow up, and other areas for improvement.
• Field Ride Along with Instant Feedback – Making the most out of a field ride with your sales representative providing coaching on best questions to ask to uncover additional opportunities, overcoming price objections, and gaining referrals. Feedback to be used to create sales call templates for all new hires and existing staff.
• Auditing Sales Meetings and Management Meetings: Designed to improve the quality and implement customized training sessions to install and/or fine tune the sales process.
• National Sales Meeting – Customized one- or two-day National Sales Meeting at your location emphasizing your Sales Training and Sales Management systems that will improve productivity and success throughout your company, celebrating successes and clarifying opportunities.
• Mystery Shop – Conduct a mystery shop and create a detailed report for each mystery shop conducted. The report will detail all of the pluses and minuses of how you are treating your customers and opportunities for improvement in terms of improving the overall sales effectiveness, keeping an eye on never appearing too pushy or “hard sell” but appropriately helping the prospect make a good decision for themselves.
• Surveys – Each member of the staff involved in the sales and business development process will complete assessment surveys creating a detailed report. Participants receive an individual game plan, detailing and specifically laying out what they need to do to improve their sales processes and how to help them improve their behavioral and communication skills.
• Hiring Program – Your program must include a detailed description of the success factors, along with a clear game plan to create a group of recruits to fill your team with inners. This must be an on-going process implemented weekly.
• Strategic Customer Care Program – This program provides you with the best opportunity to drive your Sales Culture deeper throughout your organization. This program will help you if you are seeking help in dealing with your external customers or in need of help with internal customer communications and team building. Every conversation with a customer is a sales call.