When Sandler Training founder, David Sandler, was developing his selling system, he chose the imagery of a submarine to communicate his vision. He was inspired by watching movies about World War II: when submarines were attacked to avoid flooding the crew moved through each compartment, closing the door of the previous compartment behind them. The Sandler Selling System requires the same procedure to avoid “disaster” on a sales call. Your goal is to move through each compartment, or step of the selling system, to arrive safely at a successful sale. All the while, you are sealing each compartment behind you so the prospect cannot go backward.
David Sandler chose a submarine because:
- Submarines run silent and run deep – they are stealthy and everything happens under the surface.
- Other battleships make their presence known – they advertise their intentions, they are noisy, and everyone sees what is happening.
As a salesperson, you are like a sailor on a submarine because:
- You must work a specific plan, consistently, with no deviations.
- You must secure each area of the sale before moving to the next. You cannot go back and risk sinking the sale.
- You must make decisions based on objective criteria – not emotion.
- It takes discipline, vitality, and guts to do what has to be done when it has to be done.
The Sandler Selling System for developing an opportunity is represented by the seven-compartments of the Sandler Submarine.
Establishing the Relationship
The first two compartments—Bonding & Rapport and Up-Front Contracts—represent foundational concepts on which the selling relationship is built and sustained. During this phase of the selling process, you will develop a rapport with your prospects and establish mutual ground rules for interaction—both of which continue throughout the selling process, creating a comfortable environment within which to do business.
Qualifying the Prospect
The Pain, Budget, and Decision compartments represent the qualifying activities of the selling process. In this phase of the process, you will determine what prospects want and need, how much they are willing and able to invest to obtain it, and how they will go about making their buying decisions. With this information, you will be able to determine if your product or service represents a best-fit solution that will provide your prospects with the outcomes they desire. If it does, then the selling process progresses to the closing stage. If it doesn’t, the process stops and the opportunities are disqualified from further consideration. Not all prospects will make it past Pain, Budget, and Decision. In fact, a prospect can be disqualified at any compartment of the submarine.
Closing the Sale
The final two compartments—Fulfillment and Post-Sell—represent the closing activities of the process. In fulfillment, you present to your prospects, in a manner consistent with their decision-making processes, the products/services that address their needs and are consistent with the resources they are willing and able to invest. At the conclusion of the presentation, you will obtain their buying decision. Then in the Post-Sell, you address any issues that would cause them to back out, and open the door for referrals and future business.
The details and nuances of Sandler Selling System, outlined in the submarine, provide the salesperson with the ability to facilitate an effective and efficient process for gathering the information needed to close the sale or close the file. David Sandler never guaranteed every submarine voyage would end in a sale, but it should never, ever, end in a “think-it-over.”