Sandler Training - December/January 2020





Every time you introduce yourself, whether during a networking event, on a phone call, or while shaking hands at a family barbecue, is an opportunity to start a business relationship. While I don’t advise monopolizing the conversation or giving everyone you meet a 15-minute rundown on your company’s products and services, a quick, 30-second commercial can be invaluable for building your network and hooking potential clients. This isn’t a new concept — for decades, business gurus have called this “The Elevator Pitch” — but here at Sandler Training, we have a 3-step strategy that makes our pitches uniquely effective. When you sit down to craft your own commercial (which you should do as soon as possible), take these simple steps:

Right away, you want to create an emotional bond with your listeners. To do this, we recommend describing your clients using emotional trigger words they’ll identify with. For example, “I help people who are disappointed with their current [insert your field here] service.” You can keep track of these with the acronym “ “A CONFIDENT RESPONSE TO WHAT DO YOU DO VALIDATES HOW WELL YOU DO IT.” FUDWACA, which stands for Frustrated, Uncertain, Disappointed/ Discouraged, Worried, Angry, Concerned, and Afraid. From there, describe two of your top products or services, and highlight how they solve problems for your customers. These problem


When introducing yourself, don’t emphasize your name or position. In fact, I’d advise you to use only your first name, and skip your title all together! The goal is to move past the information that highlights you and into a story your listeners can connect with.


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descriptions are called “pain scenarios” and should invite the listener to step into the shoes of the client you describe. The format for this section can be as simple as “We solve [problem x] for [emotional trigger] [client type], which causes [symptom of problem], by [solution],” repeated several times with slight variations.


To guarantee a response to your pitch, it’s smart to finish off with a question, or hook. This will keep your listener engaged, and using soft words like “could,” “suppose,” and “maybe” can reinvite them into your pain scenarios. Some examples are “I don’t suppose any of those have ever been issues for you?” “Have you ever encountered any of these issues at your work?” “These probably are situations you haven’t experienced, have you?” and “Are any of these areas particularly painful for you to deal with?”

their area isn’t management, and they’re looking for strategies to bolster their effectiveness and help build a team that will meet their growth vision and company goals. I don’t suppose any of these three issues are worth us having a conversation?” Can you see how all three steps of our process are represented in my pitch? How does yours compare? As you’re tweaking your commercial, remember, the more comfortable you are talking about your role, the more likely the listener is to believe you’re an expert in your field. A confident response to what do you do validates how well you do it.

Here’s my basic pitch, which I tweak a bit depending on whom I’m talking to:

“I’m Jim with Sandler Training, and I help successful business owners who are frustrated by their sales force’s prospecting, which often seems more reactive than proactive. I also help people worried that their sales team wastes a majority of their time on unpaid consulting, which drives down the overall industry value and commoditizes their offerings. Sometimes, my clients are just experts in their field realizing If you’re struggling to create your 30-second commercial or have questions about the process, I’d love to have a conversation. Reach out to me today at –Jim Stephens IS YOUR TURNOVER RATE OUT OF CONTROL? OUR TEAM CAN HELP!

In November of 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. unemployment rate was just 3.5% — a 50-year low. Though this was great news for those looking for jobs, it

for your company, and 2) putting time and effort into retaining those people once you have them.

created a frustrating situation for some employers, who were faced with two issues at once: hiring and retention. In short, companies across the country now have a turnover problem. When the unemployment rate is low, it makes it difficult to find good help, and sometimes even more difficult to keep the employees you have from jumping ship for more competitive salaries. All too often, employers become so focused on finding new hires that they forget to prioritize retention and end up losing great workers because of it. When that happens, it’s necessary to hire even more people to fill those gaps. It’s a vicious cycle, and you can only solve it by 1) hiring people who are great fits

Luckily, establishing an onboarding and offboarding process can help solve your turnover problem. In

fact, streamlining those processes is essential for any established business to thrive, regardless of the economic conditions. With both systems in place, you’ll set everyone who joins our organization up for a successful venture. If you currently have issues with hiring, letting go, or retaining employees, Sandler Training can help. Our website, Sandler. com, is full of helpful tips and resources, including articles, podcasts, and more for employers like you. Visit today to dive into topics like, “Compensation Plans That Keep Top Sales Talent” and “How to Succeed at Onboarding New Salespeople.”


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When it comes to collaboration between entrepreneurs, the line between client and partner is often finely drawn. Here at Sandler Training we work closely with so many brilliant business owners that we often step over that line, and after going through our training, our clients transform into partners, friends, and colleagues. We’ve built many such referral relationships over the years, but as we head into 2020, we’re feeling particularly appreciative of one of the longest standing ones: our partnership with Business Networks and its owner, Les Cunningham. Les’ business has been entwined with Sandler Training and its employees for more than 30 years. It’s been a mutually beneficial relationship. We’ve helped Les, his team, and his clients (all entrepreneurs) with leadership development and sales training, giving them the tools they need to push their growth to the next level. At the same time, Les has empowered us through his company, Business Networks, a peer mentorship group that brings business owners together and encourages them to be transparent with each other about their successes and struggles in order to achieve mutual growth. With our complementary focuses, our two companies have helped hundreds of businesses thrive over the decades.

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Oddly enough, Les didn’t originally come from a business background. Instead, he worked for 28 years as an airline pilot, spending eight years in the U.S. Air Force and another 20 flying commercial planes for Eastern Airlines. After getting out of the piloting business, he started a remodeling company, and while he was working in that industry, the spark that would soon become Business Networks ignited. recalls. “... One day I was reading a magazine called Pro Remodeler, which was the first magazine in the remodeling industry. I saw some names in there [of other remodeling companies I admired], so I called them up and said, ‘Look, I’d like you to come to my place of business in Miami. I’ll show you my finances, you can meet my people and interview my people, and I want you to tell me how to get better.’ They said, ‘That’s great; what’s it going to cost?’ and I said, ‘What it’s going to cost you is giving me the same opportunity at your companies.’” Making those calls and asking another company to take a leap of faith and offer full transparency was daring. But even more surprising than Les’ bold move was the response he got from those whom some might have considered his competitors. “They came down, they gave me the list of things that needed to be done, and they said, ‘Okay, we expect this done and we’re going to hold you accountable. And we’re going to hold you accountable to the point that if you agree to these things and then don’t do them, we’ll throw you out of the group,’” Les recalls. “That has become the mantra for Business Networks.” Today, Business Networks brings together groups of 10–12 business owners who share an industry but operate in different “Within five years, I took my remodeling company from zero to $5 million,” Les

markets and asks them to open up their books, facilities, and stores of knowledge and experience to each other. This practice has proven both enlightening and motivating — not only does Business Networks encourage entrepreneurs to share best practices, but it also ignites their competitive sides by revealing each business’s key indicators to the group, going so far as to rank the companies from best performing to worst. “There has to be no competition geographically between the businesses, and we sign a very rigorous noncompete and nondisclosure, so what’s said in the room stays in the room,” Les says. “Nothing goes outside of that network. For example, you can give away your numbers to anyone you want, but you can’t give the numbers of other participants out without their specific written permission.” These numbers are produced by Business Networks’ proprietary system, which is tailor-made to run business-to-business comparisons of key data. After businesses

submit their data to the group database, the Business Networks system gets to work “slicing and dicing” the numbers to produce clear-cut metrics. Les has found that laying things out in black and white this way circumvents the bravado and chest-pounding that often dominates when entrepreneurs get together. It also provides a level of accountability that’s hard for entrepreneurs to find elsewhere, even in a spouse or partner. With the truth out there for everyone to see, it’s easier for participants to get down to the nitty-gritty details of improving their businesses, whether that’s proving additional sales and leadership training to their staff (which is where Sandler comes in), getting a better understanding of the impact of taxes on their bottom line, or reevaluating their pricing model. In the end, Les says it all comes down to numbers. “They say you can run but you can’t hide,” he says. “Not only will these numbers rank you by who’s the best, but they’ll show


when you try to run a perfect checklist in the cockpit, you always miss an item. The good news is the other pilot is going to catch that error. Both of you are looking out for each other because if things take a fatal turn, both of your million-dollar fannies are going to be at risk.” It’s the same for a business. Business Networks teaches that checklists, goals, and constant reevaluation are necessary to keep an entrepreneur on track, and transparency with a network of peers and employees is essential to minimize risk. Drawing another parallel, Les recalled his first time trying what pilots call a “zero/ zero landing” — a blind landing where it’s impossible to see the runway — in a flight simulator as a young pilot. “You can’t see the runway, so you’re relying totally on instruments,” he remembers. “The first time they put me in the simulator to do that, I cut the controls off and started landing the plane myself. The instructor said, ‘What are you doing?’ and I said, ‘I’m landing the airplane.’ When they said, ‘No, no, no, electronically it will do that itself,” I replied, ‘Well, I need to stay in the loop because if I don’t do that, I won’t know what is going on.’” Entrepreneurs face this same struggle when it comes to stepping back and giving up a portion of control in their businesses. What they need to do, Les implies, is find the kind of happy medium he eventually did with the simulator, which entailed keeping a close eye on the automatic controls so he could jump in if something went wrong. “You need to closely monitor [your team] without micromanaging, which I have to admit is difficult. But that way, no one can put you in a bad spot,” Les says. To take a step toward solving that particular problem, Business Networks started holding special meetings for

entrepreneurs where they could bring staff members along. For example, one session might be just for business owners and their bookkeepers, or business owners and their account managers. This model lets the staff get direct role-to-role feedback just like the entrepreneurs, set goals, and identify areas where they need to improve. In Les’ view, this is particularly vital because he advocates for transparency within companies as well as between noncompeting industry partners. If everyone in the company is aware of the company’s numbers, metrics, and goals, they can work toward them together. As an added benefit, an employee who is able to monitor their company’s numbers will know if they’re pulling their weight or if they need to step up their efforts. “The most important thing they need are structures, systems, and software so that entrepreneurs can monitor what’s going on at any time. Not only can they monitor it, but the other employees in the company can monitor it, too,” Les says. The leadership and sales strategies Sandler Training teaches work hand- in-glove with Business Networks’ approach. For the last 30 years, Les has

you where your weaknesses are and where your strengths are. Then if you’re weak in a certain area, you can look at somebody else in the group who’s strong in that area and figure out what you have to do. Indeed, they’ll help you because you’re not a competitor!” his years as a pilot. He sees dozens of parallels between a pilot’s duties and procedures in the cockpit, and an entrepreneur’s best-practices on the ground. A large part of that is his passion for checklists, which he advocates for entrepreneurs. “When you’re flying a commercial jet, you’re always going through a checklist,” Les says. “For example, there’s a Before Starting Engine checklist, a Starting Engine checklist, an After Starting Engine checklist, a Before Taxi checklist, a Taxi checklist, a Before Takeoff checklist, and a Takeoff checklist — and that’s all before you’re even off the ground! The thing is, Much of what Business Networks teaches is based on lessons Les learned during

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time,” he says. Today, it’s well-regarded as a guide for entrepreneurs, revealing the processes necessary to take a business from an unsatisfactory Point A to a highly successful Point B that will soon have buyers and investors knocking. “You won’t even have to put it up for sale. You’ll be approached by people who will want to buy your company,” Les promises. In addition to snagging a copy of his book, Les offers this nugget of advice to business owners ready to make 2020 their best year yet: “Make sure that your team is on board with you, that you’re all out to make a profit, and that you know what that profit is. Check your numbers regularly — I like to check mine weekly — to find out if you’re on task and on course. If you’re not, ask, ‘What’s the fix?’” As the business owner, it’s up to you to find that fix. However, that’s much easier said than done — which is why both Business Networks and our team here at Sandler Training are here to help hone your leadership skills. To learn more about Business Networks, email Les directly at les@ or call 800- 525-1009. And to get in touch with our team and revolutionize your approach to leadership, head to today. We have a host of resources and programs waiting to help you grow.

recommended our courses to his clients, putting particular emphasis on our sales training, which he believes can make or break a business. “Sales training is a definite need for every business on a constant basis, and Sandler is the answer,” Les says. “I’ve been seeing it work for 30-plus years.” Here, he sees another parallel with his time in the cockpit. In both sales and flying, he says, standardization is the key to success. “In a commercial jet, we have a very specific structure in the cockpit. There are things you do and things you don’t do, and most of the time the two pilots flying the aircraft probably won’t fly together again until months later, so they both have to be trained, they have to follow the rules, and they have to have checklists,” Les says. “You need standardization, and it’s the same in sales.” Thanks to our training and the metrics it provides, Les quickly identifies underperforming salespeople and offers them help in the form of additional education or even “the opportunity to seek fame and fortune at somebody else’s company.” He recommends checking these staff numbers weekly and meeting with employees a minimum of twice a year, once in August or September for a performance review, and again in February or March for a pay adjustment. When it comes to his staff, Les isn’t afraid of tough love — sometimes, if they aren’t performing well, he’ll adjust an employee’s salary down rather than up.

Sandler’s assessment processes have also proved key for Les when it comes to hiring, developing, onboarding, and training employees, and he highly recommends them to his clients. In addition to checklists, he’s a big fan of tests that reveal whether new hires are up to snuff. “What these tests are designed to do is tell you whether, based on what you said you want the person to do, they’re going to be a good fit for the job or not,” Les says. “There are things this test sees that we eschew and usually don’t see unless we’ve been trained to pick up on them. So, I think the tests should be mandatory for at least your top two applicants for any leadership job in your company.” Transparency,” a complete guide for entrepreneurs aspiring to build their companies through peer review. The book is unique because it wasn’t the idea of its author. Instead, a group of dedicated, passionate clients Business Networks called The Eagles convinced Les to write the book so they’d have it as a resource. Passing the metaphorical hat, the group raised $60,000 to fund the publication process. “I wasn’t interested in doing it because I knew it was going to take some work!” Les says. Les covers all of these tactics and more in his 2013 book, “Accountability Through

However, after the funds were raised, he couldn’t say no.

“I had to write most of that book on airplanes because I just had to find the




In a world saturated with information, it can be hard to find the insights you need amid the irrelevant rubble.

There are plenty of tools for this purpose, but until you purchase them, you don’t always know how useful they will be. But, have no fear! Resource of the Month is here! Sharpr is an easy-to-use insights data base, as well as an information organization and sharing tool. Employees are knowledge assets, so if they move to new ventures in their lives, all the information and data they contributed to your company could potentially be lost. This would result in the company having to relearn the information they once had on hand. Sharpr provides a means to store all relevant pieces of data and information, ensuring your company never has to relearn how to ride a bike (or the general rules of GDPR). This Pinterest-like platform enables you to organize data, social media content, analytics, and general documents into a story format and share it with your company in just a few clicks. This way, it can be presented to the people who need it quickly and in a professional manner. While you can search and find information, you can also categorize and make your own primary research more manageable. Sharpr also enables you to share this information on a variety of other platforms like Slack, Sharepoint, Dropbox, and more. Want to showcase your findings to your industry and add value to your clients? No problem. With Sharpr’s email tool, you can publish your content to clients through options like Salesforce. The primary goal of this feature is to make content easily accessible to your audience with the resources they already have. In addition to enabling you to find, compile, and manage information, Sharpr helps answer the question, “Why is this data important?” The platform’s analysis AI generates tags so you can see trends in your data, such as your open rates, click through rates, and so much more.

We have 20 complimentary copies of this new book to send out. If you’d like one, email or call 208-429-9275 to request your free copy!

With Sharpr, you won’t get lost in the sea of information. Compartmentalizing and sharing your own internal data just got so much easier.

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3 Steps to Crafting an Effective Elevator Pitch


How to Keep Your Turnover Rate in Check


Case Study: Transform Your Business With Transparency


The Means to Gain the Insights You Need


How Project Kids Idaho Helps Students Achieve Their Dreams


Between figuring out the perfect lunch spot, navigating the social hierarchy, and balancing homework and extracurriculars, it’s already tough to be a kid. Add in financial troubles, and those typical childhood stresses can be compounded, making it hard for students to achieve their full potential and follow their dreams. Here at Sandler, where we work every day to help entrepreneurs and leaders realize their dreams, we think that’s a tragedy. Thankfully, people like our friends over at Project Kids Idaho are there to lend a helping hand! Since 2000, Project Kids Idaho has been offering Idaho students the tools and resources they need to succeed. In that

time, what started as a church project to provide students at Meridian Elementary School with new socks, underwear, and laundry detergent has grown into a thriving nonprofit, supplying kids across the West Ada School District with whatever they need to succeed in the classroom and at after-school activities. Project Kids Idaho is staffed entirely by volunteers, who cover a school district that spans 382 square miles and includes 32 elementary schools, 10 middle schools, and 11 high schools. Between them, those schools host more than 37,000 students, many of whom need financial help. This holiday season, Project Kids Idaho has been raising funds for three initiatives:

Providing for the basic needs of homeless students and their families

• Covering fees and offering equipment support to help kids participate in the sports and extracurriculars they love Donating the cost of kids’ transportation to and from Operation School Bell, a program that gives children in need the chance to “shop” for new school clothes We feel truly blessed to have such a life- changing organization in our community, and encourage you to support Project Kids Idaho this holiday season. Visit to learn more and donate to the cause! •


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