Welcome to The Pipeline.

The Present Has Been Delegated0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

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Earlier in the week I wrote about the need for sales people to be “multilingual” in order to better understand and communicate with the types of buyers they may not have prospected or sold to in the past. A common example of this is when sales people accustomed to selling to users or front line managers, are instructed by their leadership to go ‘upstream’, and sell to senior decision makers, executives or the ‘C’ suite.

It is important to remember that language and meaning are not the only thing that differentiates these two groups. While I am sure that many understood that “language” was a metaphor for a number of differences that need to be balanced and managed by sales people throughout the cycle. But there is one that is worth expanding on, specifically, time and the perception of time by some buyers.

Based on their role, different buyers will have, or more accurately, live in, different time frames. Front line folks, sales people, factory workers, database analysts, etc. tend to be in the here and now. Their targets and measures tend to be near term, which in turn drives their planning and execution. Their decision to execution to result cycle, is generally short in nature, using sales as an example, a sales person is more likely to focus on their current cycle, and partially into the next. So when we sell to these folks, we need to align our time frame and “language” accordingly.

Executives, those tasked with the strategic success of the enterprise, are operating way in the future, minimum 12 – 18 month into the future. This is why they built the layers below them, the front line discussed above. The front line is tasked with executing the strategic plan the executive developed last year. The reality is that the executives have delegated the present to the front line, because they are too busy dealing with the future, making sense of the uncharted. So if you hope to engage with these, you need to get past the how, and deal with the why; you have to speak their language, and you have to be in synch and aligned with their time line, the future.

If you go in there and talk about the here and now you’re more than dead, you’re history, because today, is part of their history, again, they have delegated it.

It is for this reason that one my favourite questions is “If we were sitting here 18 months from, and you were telling me you had hit a grand slam, what would that look like?” Now you’re where they are, someone they can talk to. Let them tell you, make sure you take it all in, and then ask “so why aren’t we there now?”, That’s when they tell you what they need to make that future happen, and what you can sell them.

So if you want too sell higher up, you need to stop living in the past!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

 

An Inclusive Approach to Prospecting – Sales eXecution 2600

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

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You know sales is a lot like politics, some are isolationists, others realize we live in a big world with plenty of room for all to thrive, and not always at the expense of others, I guess these would be the inclusionary camp.

The way it plays out in sales is you have those zealots who will proclaim things dead, “never cold call again”, telling their unsuspecting followers that there is only one way to Nirvana, their’s, and no other, “all other roads will lead you to hell and financial ruin”. Sort of like the “Referral Über Alles” approach. For me, combining many approaches in a way that leads to maximum results is way better than betting the farm on one, and then hoping. I say take the inclusionary approach, that is, include as many viable methods, rather than the risk singular approach; if for no other reason than the fact that buyers come in many shapes and sizes and from many corners, some of which may not be known to us at the outset, and missed if you go down one street only.

I like to leverage cold calls to get referrals. Despite the scary things some will tell you about the responses to cold calls, most people you call are human and will behave that way even when they turn down your offer. They may not be interested in what you have to say or sell, (now), but most respect the fact that you are doing your job. Experience has shown that few hang up, and few swear at you, most tell you in a civil way why they are not interested at that moment in time. Managing those initial objections is part of the job.

Grab your Proactive Prospecting Call-Flow Chart

But once you see that you cannot take away their objections, you still have the opportunity to say:

“Based on what we spoke about, is there anyone you know I should call who may see merit in the conversation?” A vast majority will say no, and the call ends. But a number will say, “You know you may want to call….” At that point I thank them, and follow up with, “May I say you suggested the call, or am I cold calling them?” Some say “Sure, tell’em I sent you.” Others will say cold call. Either way is good by me, and I have direction.

Not only that, but in all instances, you have demonstrated yourself to be a professional who completed the “Prospecting Exercise”, and will be remembered for being that pro. (Believe me you’ll call them again).

Using both cold calling and the referral approach is all upside, an inclusive approach both in terms of methodologies, and people. Using this technique I get to speak to more qualified prospects while setting up future wins, than those relying strictly on one methodology.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

FU Is For Follow Up2

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Follow up

If you follow this blog, you may have seen that several times I have suggested that those people who are not cut out for a career in sales, should seriously consider transitioning to a career in hospitality. Based on recent experiences I’ve had as a prospect, and seeing how some sales people execute their sale, I am beginning to firmly believe that there is an expert on clairvoyance, who on his blog, is recommending to his readers that those who can’t cut it as clairvoyants, strongly consider a career in sales.

The reason I say this is the number of instances I have seen where people, who have a sales title of some sort on their business card, seem to be selling by using the ESP sales methodology. That’s right, you’ve heard of SPIN, The Challenger Sale, The Objective Seller, and other sales methodologies; but all of those combined, don’t come close to the number of sellers who use the Extra Sensory Perception approach to sales and prospecting.

Here are but two examples. I was recently in the market for something that I can either buy some apps and do myself, or hire a service to do it for me. I pursued the latter, and met with a couple of providers in and around Toronto. One I met with did a good job qualifying the opportunity, there was good alignment between their offering and my objectives. For me it was a low energy day, so I was not jumping up and down every time we identified a fit, nor did I high-five them as I was leaving. We agreed that based on the exchange they would forward a proposal by the following Monday, and “follow up with in a few days of sending.” (First mistake, they should have confirmed a time, especially with people not tied to their desk.)

Here we are more than month later, no proposal – no follow up. The only conclusion I can come to is that A) they didn’t like me and didn’t want to help me, not the first time, but it was a nice slice of revenue. B) They are useless. C) They are clairvoyant, they were able to use the ESP method to know that I will not buy their service, so why waste time, effort, or router capacity to send the proposal. Although I have to believe that if they did possess this skill (power) they would have known this the minute I walked in, or even before, and not wasted any time on me.

Myself, I think they are useless, not following up is just not acceptable. Even when I have meetings where I know we will not do business now, or ever, I still send a follow up note, if for no other reason than to keep up my reputation, not being clairvoyant, I don’t know what will happen in the future, where they may end up working next year. If I have any inkling of possible business, I follow up for the obvious (may be not to some) reasons.

Another example is when sales people are tasked with calling either people who stopped by their booth at a trade show, or sales people who spend part of their day collecting cards to use for potential appointments. Time after time, I see people just look at the name on a list, or hold the business card, at a certain angle at given distance from their eyes, and the miraculously divine not only whether the person will give them an appointment, but whether they will buy.

Not possessing that skill, I find that following up by making the call often leads to the same results, no appointment – no sale; but sometimes these people invite me in, and then buy, who would’ve known?

I know it takes effort, not just the actual act of follow up, but the planning, the flow, the means, and more. Start with a plan, map out the various potential outcomes to each stage of the sale, including next steps, (plans A, B, and C). Once you have that flow, just execute, complete the plan; it won’t make non-buyers buyers, but those people on the fence, will more likely fall your way, especially when the competitors don’t follow up.
Seems to me that if you are going to start something, following up, and bringing it to whatever closure, regardless of final outcome, is just more professional and profitable than letting things hang.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

The Objective Seller #webinar0

Yesterday on this blog, I wrote about sellers who drive commerce for their buyers have greater success than those who just drive sales. This led to a number of questions about how you specifically do that, beyond the things I spoke to in the post.

As it happens, rather than having to do a post about that, this coming Thursday, July 17th, I will be delivering a webinar along with the good folks at DiscoverOrg, addressing that specific process.

The Objective Seller Webinar

Date: July 17, 2014 at 1:00 PM Eastern

The webinar will discuss how all businesses have objectives relating to their market, their commerce, and their opportunities. Focusing on those objectives, and how they impact and are impacted by the commerce environment our clients compete and live in will drive more and better sales for all.

Objectives and the buyer’s desired return on those objectives, are the most effective way to engage and align with buyers, and help them win in a their commerce environment. With changes in the buying and selling dynamic, B2B buyers who are ready to buy are much better informed and more empowered than ever, you need to shift the conversation from your product to their objectives.

The webinar will cover how to take advantage of current realities and present specific ways sellers can successfully approach and engage prospects, and create selling opportunities where others may not see any, and in the process build credibility, expert status, and loyalty with existing and new buyers. You will be presented a process based, value driven approach for success in selling to Status Quo buyers, the most overlooked segment of the market.

  • Breaking down “Value” to core components and why people buy
  • Leveraging past experiences – Won, Lost and No Decision deals – 360 Degree Deal View
  • Building a better question
  • Proactive exploration

“I attended your presentation on Objective Selling, It was the most useful sales presentation I’ve viewed in a long time and I wanted to thank you for the insight you shared.” – Aous Shakra

Register

Driving Commerce Not Sales is Key To Success0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Sales people are always looking for the secret to sales success, more revenue and glory. One path is to look beyond sales and see how they can drive commerce. At first glance one may be inclined to dismiss this as just semantics, but in as much as attitudes drive actions, and actions lead to results, the distinction is so much more.

Commerce is the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural and technological systems that are in operation in any country. Thus, commerce is a system or an environment that affects the business prospects of an economy or a nation-state. It can also be defined as a component of business which includes all activities, functions and institutions involved in transferring goods from producers to consumers.”

Substitute “nation-state” in the above to vertical or market segment, and you can see why successful sales people focus on commerce over sales. For us to sell more, we require customers who need to and can buy more; and new prospects who see merit in buying from us. As sellers, there are steps we can execute that will help and benefit both groups in the same way, and other steps that will pertain to one of the above.

While all good sales people want to help their customers/buyers, and work diligently to do that, for the most part it is usually centered around our offering. Not taking anything away from many “solution focused” organizations, the fact remains that when I ask sales people or even many managers:

How can you directly support their goals?

The majority respond in a way that reflects what their product does in a very-specific way related to the nature of the product, for example: hardware specs, or the “User Experience” they deliver.

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But few go into the clients’ world. Even many case studies focus on how their product helped the client achieve things, a more secure environment, faster speeds, etc. But little if anything about how and why the buyer interacts with their world. It is as though the buyer has nothing other than the product or process in question to worry about.

A seller focused on commerce, understands that his success is tied to the buyer’s success, and that happens beyond the product, on a bigger playing field. How do they help the buyer increase market share, extend return on assets, expand time, mitigate risk, manage reputations, exceed customer expectations, reduce to cost of doing business – not buying your product, or how to add value to the buyer’s customers.

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The good news is that with a nudge in the right direction, and managerial support, most sellers can be given the broader vision of Commerce. Focus on commerce, and sales follow.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

The Best Time To Cold Call? – Sales eXecution 2581

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

TV Head

Buyer beware!

It seems over the last few months there is more and more advice coming from many sources on the merits of cold calling, (ya I know), and some so called “Rules and Best Practices”. But consider the source of expertise before you jump in. As with many things in sales, especially cold calling, for lasting success, you’re better off looking to your buyers than people jumping on bandwagons.

Here is an example why:

Hey, if you liked what you saw here, invite me to speak at your next meeting!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Trade Deadline Sales Style0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

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Most major sports have significant dates through the year when it comes to proactively developing the team, building a roster that will help you win now and into the future. We just had free agents day in the NHL, and the NBA and the NHL both had their entry draft in June; and all leagues have trade deadline, their last chance to make adjustments as they go into the final stretch of the season. With sales being a team experience at most companies, it is not all that different in this respect, save a couple of key areas.

First, there are no formal dates. While everyone knew well in advance that the NHL’s trade deadline was March 5th, companies do not formally announce such intentions, nor do they set self-imposed time limits for adding or shedding talent. But let there be no doubt sales leaders do review their rosters at critical times in the year. It is common knowledge that January is a time where there is “movement” once people have collected their annual bonuses, but summer is another time of year when you find movement, but this time it is predominantly driven by leaders.

While to many summer represents a lull, real leaders are looking forward, and calculating how they will not only close the year strong, coming out of Labour Day, and how to set things up right for next year. Summer is a good time to conduct a skills inventory and assess where there may be some shortcomings. This goes beyond the typical performance management process that also unfolds mid-year, and goes more to A) who is contributing, B) who is trying and needs to evolve (at times with additional help), and C) who is doing neither.

While some “leaders” feel hampered by their targeted headcount, feeling that if they are at full count there is little they can do other than train. The more enlightened leaders know that it is only a question of time before the C’s have to go (on their own, or with a wee push). Rather than worrying about headcount numbers, they hire the right talent when it presents itself, rather than when they have “cap room”, knowing that the talent may not be when it suits you. Rather than settling for a B or another C, due to timing and being afraid of having a vacant territory for more than week, smart sales leaders pick up the talent when it is available. Which means it is a great time for “the right talent” to go out and market themselves, demonstrate how they can fit in now and into future growth plans. A great opportunity to improve your lot as a seller while contributing to a smart leader’s success, a combination that pays dividends for both.

A key difference between sport GM’s and sales leaders, is the fact that VP’s of Sales cannot trade players for other talent or future considerations. Personally I think there would be merit if done right. I have seen people flourish and struggle based on leadership, product comp plans and other factors. But I think I may be the lone voice on that idea, or maybe not, what do you think?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Thank You For #CASL Mr. Harper0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Cold calling Harper 3

Tomorrow July 1, is Canada Day, a day where Canadians in our own way celebrate the difference that is Canada. But tomorrow will not be a happy day for many businesses, sales people and sales organizations. July 1, 2014 is the day the new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation goes into effect. Known by its acronym: CASL, which makes it sound safe. Canadians can now feel protected from those African “nasties” who want to share their princely fortunes, or those Asian companies offering to share their collectibles if you act as their agent, and of course all those voodoo doctors who want to help reshape key parts of your anatomy, up top and below.

Learn about the CASL Relief Special

But the reality is that those Nigerian princes will still be hitting your inbox, of course given that it is 2014 most now end up directly in the junk box. And despite the bravado from the Canadian Government that they will pursue these spammers to the four corners of the world (I thought earth was round), I doubt they will be able to stop or even slow the usual abusers. Meaning that most will experience the downside of CASL.

CASL will impact small and medium businesses, the very group Harper’s Conservatives claim to champion, legitimate Canadian businesses and their sales organizations. While many larger companies, with resources, money and time will adopt various forms of marketing automation, many SMB’s lack the ability to take advantage of the alternative. Even if they did, the fuel of these automated alternative is content, and that will be a challenge. Of course they could outsource it, but for many an effective strategy will be too cost prohibitive.

While no one will argue the good idea and intent behind the legislation, the outcome is anything but. While some apologists have put off the severe negative effects of CASL on small and medium businesses to the law of unintended consequences, I am not sure it fits here. The consequences could and should have been predicted and more importantly with a bit of forethought and consideration easily minimized or avoided. Forethought? Sorry, what am I thinking, we’re talking about governments; BTW, guess who is exempt from some of the business killing effects of the law, yup, governments and Members of Parliament, nice.

One beneficiary of this debacle is Canada Post, direct mail marketing should see an uptick based on what many are planning to fill the gap. Let’s look at some of the unintended consequences here. More paper wasted, and I am not a tree hugger, but I do pay taxes. Everyday loads of useless paper is delivered in my mail box, I have to take that to my blue box, and pay the municipality to recycle it, and start the charade all over again, and they make the money, you and I pay the cost. Seems like a lot more bother than hitting the delete button, or better yet given that it is 2014, just have it go straight to junk. Maybe Canada Post should get into recycling the junk they deliver, charge it to the advertisers, and make up for some of their losses.

But for the most part I can’t complain here, because the other big winner here is: COLD CALLING!

Ya baby, you have fewer choices now. While social selling, inbound marketing, and various forms of automation are great, they are not all that effective in engaging with those people lopped off by CASL. No getting around the whole “electronic business communication” thing. But you can pick up the phone, say something worthwhile, and directly engage, and sell. Talk about great unintended consequences!

So here is my give to Canadian and American SMB’s alike. The Renbor CASL RELIEF SPECIAL. That’s right, book Renbor to deliver our world famous, road tested and proven Proactive Prospecting Program for your company, during July 2014, (to be delivered before September 15, 2014), and will give you a 20% Harper/CASL discount. Click here to learn more about our CASL Relief Special.

Thank You Mr. Harper!

casl button

Goodwill And Selling Now – – Sales eXecution 2570

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Road to success

Goodwill: “a kindly feeling of approval and support: benevolent interest or concern”

I sales there is always talk of trust, easy to see why. But trust is not an instantaneous thing, nor can it be acquired by the pound, it has to be earned, demonstrated through actions, it needs to be reciprocal, and to the chagrin of some marketing folks, it is much more than an italicized bullet point in a brochure. Further, in sales, talk of trust brings with it an ever expanding range of opinions and advice from a number of “knowledgeable experts”.

As you would expect, the wider the range of opinions, the less likely it is that any one single source has the right, or even the “righter” answer. With trust, it is better to master a given element, learn, and build a base of success from which you can move to the next set of elements. This then becomes the iterative road should define your sales career. Unless you can definitively prove that you have figured trust, and you don’t need to evolve it further. (Hint number one, if someone claims to have the definitive answer, be suspect).

What I disagree with is the view held by some that people will not buy until a seller has established trust, or more important for sellers, that they cannot sell until they have developed trust. But since it takes time and action to establish trust, and buyers often have objectives with shorter timeframes, what do you do, especially in a quota driven reality?

The answer is Goodwill. As there is no ”Express to Trust”, think of Goodwill as the stations along the way; and great thing for you and your buyer, is that you can get sales as a result of building goodwill, avoiding the “what comes first the trust or the sale?” puzzle. We have all heard the sales expression “they don’t care how much you know until they see how much you care”; goodwill allows you to do just that.

There are myriad of ways of building goodwill with a buyer, much of it will be dictated by what you sell and your buyers objectives, another reason to implement a disciplined opportunity post-mortem routine.

As with other aspects of sales you can build goodwill if you stop doing certain things. For example, there is a leading expert, whose stuff I used to like. I say used to because every time they send out useful information, it is merely a teaser, the meaningful part is always “locked” behind a form, with a lot more detail than most forms request. While I utilize forms, there is a bunch downloads I provide to prospects that don’t require one. There are times I send prospects info and direct them right to the download, bypassing the required form. If the information is of use, I get an opportunity to engage, some goodwill, and a brick in building trust. Every time this this person writes me, I remember what a pain they are, and I score one against them.

Giving prospect access to something you normally save for clients; introducing prospects to some of your clients who could be their buyers; one company I knew had their product development folks available for a monthly Q&A for prospects the sales people selected, no selling just discussion. The choice is yours, both in terms of what and why, and the best why is it builds revenue now, and trust along the way.

Hey, if you liked what you saw here, invite me to speak at your next meeting!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

That’s My Name Don’t Ware I Out – Sales eXecution 2560

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

High wire

Over the last couple of weeks, I found myself as the prospect at two sales meetings I attended. I always find it hard to concentrate in these meetings, because of what I do, I tend be distracted from the topic at hand, and focusing more on form and format of the execution, and the meeting is unfolding.

For me a sales meeting is like a present, what’s inside the box is important, but the box itself, the wrapping, the ribbon, the bow, and finally how it is presented and unwrapped are integral to the experience. Done right it can enhance the experience, and as a result lead to faster cycles, firmer prices, and a series of knock-on benefits. Needless to say, do it wrong, and you get the opposite and detrimental effect. And while you can still get the sale in the end, why make things hard on yourself and the buyer.

This is why some may see some the “mechanics” of sales as being pedestrian, in some ways secondary to the “the technique” or “methodology”, the mechanics and dynamics of execution are still more important than many want to acknowledge.

Both were good products, both were good sales people, but in both cases their style of execution got in the way, and in one instance will likely cost her the sale. I want to be clear, it was not that I did not like the individuals, it was the way they executed, the unnecessary distractions, to the point where I lost interest in dealing with them. Just as a times buyers lose interest in us, despite the fact that we did everything by the book.

Let’s look at the salvageable sale first. She kept using my name. There are time that I recommend using the buyer’s name, probably for all the reasons you’ve heard, but not be very sentence. It was Tibor this, and Tibor that, Tibor everything. I love my name, and unlike many, she was pronouncing it correctly, but I was getting sick of hearing it. Instead of listening to her, I started counting how many times she used it in the hour, (21). (At one point I almost responded “yes Mom”.)

The other rep, he is unsalvageable, just pissed me off. Every question he asked me was prefaced by telling me how great he and his company were, as though I should apply to buy from them, and I’d be more than silly if I didn’t, even when there are a dozen more vendors like him in a stone’s throw, or certainly a click of a mouse. The questions were less about what I was out to achieve, but each was an assumptive close. What’s worse is he probably has the right product, top three potential fits, but I just can’t picture spending time with him, his ego, his company’s ego without eventually expressing my feelings in a very direct way.
When it comes to making the sale a great experience for a buyer, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Challenger, a SPINner, or any affiliation, pay attention to the “wrapping” too, it counts. Playing it by the book is good, but some things are not in the book, just in the room.

Hey, if you liked what you saw here, invite me to speak at your next meeting!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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