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5 Proven Ways To Blow A Sales Meeting – Part 20

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

In part one, we looked at how to encourage the prospect to share more meaningful information that leads to a mutually beneficial outcome. In this post we’ll look at two common, usually unintended mistakes sales people make. Today we’ll look at two other things to avoid.

Stop asking the obvious – While most sales people have bought into the idea that you catch more sales with questions than pitches, there is more to it than just “asking questions”. Buyers, influencers and executives are looking for different ideas and answers than the same old, we’ve all heard that they have more access than ever to information, what they are seeking is knowledge. The questions you ask, very much set the expectation of your worth and that of your potential offering. It is true that less sellers than ever are asking people what keeps them up at night, but many questions they hear over and over again, signal to them that they are speaking to someone no different than the last 10 sellers, even if the swag is better.

Many of the questions used by sellers, and encouraged by pundits, are very transparent in their nature and intent. All seem to be geared to get the prospect to yell “uncle”, and allow the rep to roll out their “solution”. Abetter course, is to formulate a set of questions aimed at identifying, understanding and addressing the buyer’s objectives. This however takes work, and is more difficult for many sellers and pundits, to leave your product or solution out of the entire discussion; to leave your product in the car, especially early when the buyer is evaluating you more than your solution.

The difference buyers look for is not in the product, but in how it is sold. If you are truly different, you can show it in your sales approach, but when you ask the same questions every other seller asks, what’s the difference?

Don’t focus only on the Grand Poohbah – Sales people are always told to focus on the decision maker, unfortunately that title does not appear on many business cards, directories or LinkedIn. As a result, many default to equate the executive ‘C Suite’ to decision maker. This of course drive behaviour. Sellers go hunting for executives, and when in a group or committee selling setting they focus a disproportionate amount of focus strictly on the executive, the senior person in the room, the Grand Poohbah, mistake.

There is no doubt you need to get their buy in and support, but there is a difference in approving a decision and making one, and with few exceptions, the Grand Poohbah is more likely to approve than make. They look to their teams to make the recommendation, in essence the decision, and often those people have teams doing the leg work and who have the understanding of what the product does and how. Senior people, being focused on objectives, are more likely focused on the outcomes, generally from an implementation that encompasses many products, most of which they are unaware of.

When presenting to a group, or working multiple conversations in a company, do over bet the executive, while they may like you and what you offer, they will look to their people to make a decision, and will rarely over rule them just because they like you or the colour of your widget vs. the next. Helping them understand that you can deliver outcomes that drive their objectives is great, but if the implementation team shows them they can deliver the same using something they prefer for whatever reason, you could be beat.

Think team coverage, think of selling to the organization’s objectives, and while you do what to acknowledge the Grand Poohbah and their importance, don’t forget the people who make the magic happen.

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In half Done

Cut Your Training Budget In Half – Double Your ROI0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Training is an interesting concept, at least in sales, as much as most sales leaders or sales ops people bring their own bias and flavour to it. But the one common view and practice the majority share is a “democratic” outlook or bias. Don’t get me wrong, I love democracy, and live in the greatest democracy on earth, Canada, but the reality is that democracy is not for everyone and often does not work, just ask Egyptians.

By democracy in sales training specifically, I am referring to the practice of parading all your sales people in to the same training, the same day. While I get it, I don’t think this is necessarily leads to the best results or return on training investment.

Consciously or not, most leaders rank or tier their teams, usually Top, Mid, and Bottom tier. Clearly indicating that the leader has specific opinions about their team members. No doubt some of this is influenced by what they think of the individual in a subjective way, the key determinant is usually their success record and a measure of their ability. Rather than going with the ole 80/20, for the sake of discussion let’s say that the top tier, top 20% of your team, drives a good chunk of your revenue. The Mid-tier, you know the “good but…” reps, 50% – 55% of the team, contribute. Bringing up the rear, the Bottom tier, that 25% – 30% of the team that really should be managed out.

From a training standpoint, I always tell people that the Top tier will pay for the training, they will come with an open mind, take things on and then put things into practice and drive sales and ROI on the training. Movement in the Mid-tier, will represent the more gains and further return on the training. Leaving the Bottom tier, who mostly show up for the pizza lunch, adding to the cost of your day, but I guess you are already used to carrying them.

So right away, the question needs to be asked “Why are you spending money on the Bottom group? There is only one reason, the democratic approach taken by many organizations, “we need to have everybody go through the training”. No you don’t, if you had other underperforming assets, and you knew the repair would not work or work minimally for a short duration, you would not invest good dollars, you would probably replace the asset.

While some will argue that having the Top and Mid groups together creates cross-pollination, as if skills are transferable by osmosis. But I see it more like putting an average driver in the fast-lane on the Autobahn, sure the average driver may learn something from the aces passing them, but mostly they slow down those who can make the most of the fast lane.

There is enough of a range in the Mid-tier that the top end sellers will have a positive influence on the others, while at same time learning disciplines that will help them move into the top tier. Even when you want to introduce the same skills and concepts to both Top and Mid, it makes sense to deliver them separately.

Starting with the points above, you’ll reduce costs, reduce drag in delivery, and accelerate the behavior change you are looking for. At the same time, you will respect your best people and show in real terms that you not only appreciate them, but recognize and support the difference.

Now for real cost savings, manage the Bottom Tier out, and reinvest in Mid-tier players you can evolve to Top tier. Save on the acquisition cost, and mold them to be where you and them maximize opportunity. BTW, just do it, don’t take it to a vote.

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success

Give It Up!0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

One piece of advice many pundits, especially motivational types, offer up to sales people, noticeably more this time of year than towards the end, when they change their tune, is “Don’t give up”, or the right wing version, “Never give up.” Often giving example of people who persevered against all odds and finally delivered an invention that now stands the test of time. I recently watched one of bubbly bundles of energy preach at a sales kick off, wax poetic about winners never give up, and find a way to “get it done”. The unsaid implication I guess being that if you do move on before “it is done”, you are not a winner, but a loser.

To accentuate his point, he trudged out old Thomas Edison and his lightbulb. “Edison experimented with over 100 different creations before finally inventing what we know as the light bulb, we’d may still be in the dark if not for Edison not giving up.” Well not quite, Edison did not invent the lightbulb, that event preceded his by some 50 years. Further, Edison did not have quota tied to the end of the year. When was the last time you had an open ended sales quota? “Just go out there and sell, and if it takes you three years to hit that number, don’t worry, just keep going, don’t give up.” Exactly!

What makes some sales people better than others is their ability to disqualify and focus their time and other resources on not just delivering results, but delivering in a given time frame, and on a consistent level. While we all know about Edison’s accomplishments, consistency may not have been one of them.

Start by understanding your quota, and what it will take to get there. Continuously study why you are winning deals, why some are lost, and why some don’t go to decision, (in the current cycle, they may when things change). Our clients leverage our 360 Degree Deal View. This will help you quantify your efforts, and focus on those opportunities that will help you get to quota. Qualifying is great, but at times it ignores those things that can slow down or kill a deal, because we look only for things that make it a fit. The reality is that if your close ratio is 4:1, the quicker you disqualify the three that will not close, the more time you have to focus on the one that will, and time to prospect for the next set of four. Yes, you will need to replace all four if you are going to get your next deal.

The reality is many of today’s losses or abandoned deals turn out to be your best deals next year, especially the no decision ones. There are many factors that delay or prevent a deal from closing now, just read The Challenger Customer, none of which will be easily overcome by “not giving up”.

As with many things, it is a question of perspective, “giving up” or disqualifying just sounds negative, fair enough. How about we look at it as staying focused and being distracted from delivering quota this year and every year, not whenever.

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Process over Calendar – Sales eXecution 3230

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

gear 2

As we work through the haze of celebrating the new year, sales people we can count on two things; first our new goals or quotas; second a barrage of posts and articles telling us how 2016 will be different, or trends that will impact us this year. I was always confused by this notion, are there smart people who come up with something good or new in September, then say, “Hang on, I am not gonna share this till after January 1.” Or do some people just blessed with a burst of creativity between Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King, Jr.? Of course not, it is more the fact that New Year is the start of cycle, a universally accepted cycle, but most importantly a calendar cycle. But a calendar cycle is very different than a sales or buying cycle, and if you are in sales you need to manage your buy/sale cycle, not a general calendars cycle.

There is no denying the importance of the calendar in sales success, but the importance is in the form of setting and achieving certain milestones. Month end, quarter end, campaign start and end, and more. New Year not only brings new quotas and targets, but also budgets are replenished, and the system is fueled for action. Having said that, let’s remember that not everyone’s fiscal cycle aligns to the calendar cycle.

But success in sales is about activity, consistent execution of high-value activities executed at the right points across the buy/sales cycle, not according not secular milestones or calendar. This is why successful sellers focus on their process, not the calendar as their roadmap for success.

Process: Sequence of interdependent and linked procedures which, at every stage, consume one or more resources (employee time, energy, machines, money) to convert inputs (data, material, parts, etc.) into outputs (Read sales). These outputs then serve as inputs for the next stage until a known goal or end result is reached. businessdictionary.com
You are much more likely to succeed if you focus on what activities you need to do today in order to succeed at a given point in the future, and that point is not tied to a calendar, it is much more tied to your process and cycle. If you do what you need to do every day, based on the stages of your process and activities required to close off the stage with each prospect, you will deliver sales on a consistent and fairly predictable fashion. Conversely, if you don’t do what you have to do across the cycle, you won’t. There is no ifs ands or buts, just excuses as to why not. As a mentor of mine once impressed on me, “Today is the last day you can influence your sales cycle.” Let’s say I have a 120-day cycle, If I don’t put an opportunity in my pipeline today, I the only thing I can be certain of is that 120 days from today, I will not be closing that deal. It doesn’t matter if it’s Tuesday, Columbus Day, Lag B’Omer or any other day on any calendar.

What you can do now:

Nail down the average length of a sales, it is often different than many think, check your CRM, and nail the number. If you sell multiple products to different buyers, you may need to do this for each.

Inventory those high value activities you have to do throughout the cycle. Prospecting, selling, managing existing accounts, research, planning, etc., then allocate the percentage of time you need to allocate to each activity across the cycle. This will allow you to manage your activities, easy to do, rather than trying to manage time, not doable, therefore stupid. Use this to block time to execute these high-value activities.
Make sure your team is adhering to your process, not interpreting it to suit their results, or cherry picking things the like. This where metrics come in real handy.

If you currently don’t have a process or it is not documented, create one, or hire a professional to do it for you. Map your process, including specific stages, objectives within those stages, (good to focus on the buyer’s objectives, as you need to help them complete the journey), activities and tools required, and desired outcomes. Make sure there is a clear exit for each stage, and clear next steps. Take advantage of your CRM to action this in a way that takes the subjectivity out of execution.

Tibor Shanto

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How You Describe A Task Says A Lot About Your Results – Sales eXecution 3220

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Megaphone

It’s funny what you can learn from not just listening to someone, but actually hearing what they say. According to experts, you can tell a lot about a person by the words they choose. At a recent conference, two separate speakers, explained how the way people express themselves can tell you a lot about how to best communicate with them for maximum impact. For instance, if they say “here is the way I see it”, vs. “It sounds to me like”, it is better speak to the first in visual terms. This means your message will be better understood if you use visual references and use visual examples. Whereas with the latter are more auditory, as a result your communication geared to the spoken word, yours and theirs, leveraging sounds and noises to emphasize or accentuate things.

So what happens when we explore the concept a bit further and with respect to sales people, hiring and managing them, as well as to sales leaders. Not so much visual or auditory, but what telltale sign can their words or expression give? What can you observe from how they talk about their craft and work? What could we learn about their skills, how they execute, and as a result whether you should keep them (or hire them), and if so how to coach them to improve.

Again, this applies to sales leaders as well. Having spoken to my share, I find it interesting when they tell me “we’re doing OK.” Now this is not a cold call, there I expect that, and know how to deal with it too, but in conversation. Is that really the goal of a sales leader, to get his troops to OK? How do you present OK at a board meeting or leadership team gathering? When you ask what OK means, some redeem themselves with data and specifics, and can articulate what has to be done to move past OK. But when the response is ambiguous, almost surrendering in nature, surrendering to the reality of another missed month or quarter, OK, is not good enough or a plan.

Further, if you as a leader are good with OK, what will that say to your team?

The front line is often no different. Listen to a great sales person describe the role, vs. a veteran of 15 years, what I call one of the 80 Percenters. Not based on the 80/20 Pareto principle, one of those reps who may have met goal once or twice, but usually delivers 80% or so of quota. The former will tell you a key element of their role is to exceed quota, the latter will tell you “do what you can to try and hit goal”. Leading one to ask, is that 15 years in the business, 15 years of growth and improvement, or the same year 15 times over?

The former group can tell you exactly what they need to achieve their goal, right down to the number of prospects, and the effort it takes to secure those prospects. Ask the latter, and you get “depends”; on what? “You know”. I guess someone has to, but it is usually best if it is the person who has been tasked.

Words are a great window to the thinking behind the word, that thinking drives attitude, which in turn drives execution. Change how you describe your sales, and change the outcome.

Tibor Shanto

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Predictions to Results1

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Magical Fortune Teller

“I may make you feel but I can’t make you think” (Gerald Bostock IA)

This post was originally prepared for a site catering to sales professionals that I occasionally contribute to. They were looking for pieces on predictions for big things in sales in 2016. I thought it would be a big thing if sales people started executing and selling, and having real forecasts rather than just predications. They decided not to run the piece, and to quote: “The premise being that predictions aren’t a super useful exercise would cast a bad light on the rest of the posts on our blog that are predictions”. Well far be it for me to cloud the issue with facts, contrast the other pundits. But having written the piece, and being convinced that there is still room for realism in predicting, I will share it here, and wait for your verdict.

Have at it, and enjoy!

This time of year brings a unique blend of traditions and rituals, mixed with a sense of urgency for ending the year right, and wide eyed anticipation for the possibilities the new year brings. Wild ass unrealistic, and never to be validated or reviewed predictions is one silly and repeated ritual; after all the pundits get busy and caught up in the season, and what’s easier when you’re behind deadline for a post or article, than to make predictions for the coming year. After all, no one ever checks to see how they turned out 12 months from now, especially if you make them “feel good” predictions with just a hint of sugar-plums scent. The challenge with predictions in sales is they lack accountability, and as a result are usually more aspirational than material.

On the other hand, predictions can be used to drive sales results by taking the aspirational, and using them to create concrete goals and action plans. Many already partially do this in the form of stretch goals. Stretch goals are used and defined in a number of ways. Here are two to help focus the discussion:

Business Dictionary: Goals “That cannot be achieved by incremental or small improvements but require extending oneself to the limit to be actualized. Expressed in the saying, “You cannot cross a chasm in two steps.””

From THE PARADOX OF STRETCH GOALS: ORGANIZATIONS IN PURSUIT OF THE SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE: “An organizational goal with an objective probability of attainment that may be unknown but is seemingly impossible given current capabilities (i.e., current practices, skills, and knowledge).”

As the authors of the above suggest “stretch goals could influence organizational learning and performance”, and while they go on to explore potential paradoxes, done right, predictions can lead to positive sales results.

Predictions by nature tend to reach beyond what most would accept as normal or easily accomplished. In the sales context, they also can be used as targets, which in turn require an action plan. The fact that they may be a bit outlandish, will force reps to develop equally eccentric action plans. If what we are doing today is allowing us to get to X, then what will we need to change to achieve X plus? This will impact reps’ individual plans for their territories and accounts, as well as their execution.

Having reps reexamine their current plans against “predictions” you make as their leader, will force them to explore how they need to extend their thinking (and activities), often forcing them to develop completely new plans, or even who they may target as prospects or upsell opportunities, to maximize their selling time in order to hit the prediction.

This also serves as a great coaching opportunity. As they revise or develop new plans, it will require them to do things differently than before, to do that they will need input, guidance, and encouragement, giving you the chance to establish a culture of learning and growing through planning and execution.

So while I predict that next year will bring a slew of predictable predictions, how you action them can also bring more sales and means of selling better.

Tibor Shanto

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Are Sales People Masochists?4

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

No Pain

Sales people are always looking for “the pain” or “pain point”. One reason I am told they are looking for the pain is that they can then offer up the cure along with an invoice, and have a happy client. Given that a relatively small part of the market will admit to pain, I am not sure this is the most prudent approach to starting a lasting relationship, but it is what it is.

Many tell me, backed by a string of pundits, that people will do more to avoid pain, than the steps or actions they will take to achieve pleasure. Theory being I am told, is if one can touch a raw nerve, a painful nerve, the buyer is more likely to act, and therefore potentially buy the “fix” for that pain from the seller. Given the choice, they believe that focusing on pain yields better results than focusing on pleasure.

I had one consultant, a successful one according to him, tell me that his role as a sales person is “to find the soft underbelly of the beast, stab it, and offer up the cure.” Nice, feel free to take a minute and wash.

This piece is not meant to debate that, but rather explore how this concept plays out when applied to sales people themselves, and their success.

I work with a lot of sales people, and have seen how willing or unwilling they are to take on new or alternate sales views, skills and practices. I know that when I carried a quota, the biggest pain I was trying to avoid, was the pain of not making quota. Not only because of the stigma associated with failing at your chosen craft, but because I had three kids to feed. Exceeding quota always struck me as a better alternative, especially not having to tell the kids they can’t eat this quarter. But let’s make like a pundit and pander to the masses and go to the pain side for a minute.

The Puzzle

Given that over the past few years the number of B2B reps to hit quota has hovered at around 60%, you have to wonder why those suffering the reality of not making quota don’t do much if anything to avoid that pain. If they saw their prospects “suffering” in this way, they would be advising them to change, and change now, relieve themselves of this unnecessary pain. Just the incongruity of that must be a challenge, imagine suppressing your pain as you look your prospect in the eye telling them to take action (buy your product) and address that pain.

I am not even going to get into the financial reality, but there is the tribal reality of being a burden rather than a contributor. Many of the sources that show that only about 60% make quota also show that a higher percentage of sales organizations are hitting their collective number. This means that these people are carrying those who fall short, more than carrying, making up for.

The Answer

The answer is not jumping on every selling band wagon that comes through town, but to refocus on the fundamentals. As Michael Jordan said: “You have to monitor your fundamentals constantly, because the only thing that changes will be your attention to them”. There is no arguing that Jordan can razzle dazzle with the best of them, deliver consistently, all by building on the fundamentals, not by avoiding them. There is no doubt that the coach had a lot to do with it, as did the process or system executed. But it was the discipline and focus on execution on the part of Jordan, and the others on the team that made the difference. There did not seem to be anyone carrying a team mate.

While some might argue, it starts with process. A clear road map of the buy/sale journey, including objectives for each stage, tools, measurements, contingency plans, and more. Think of it as your sales TripTik®.  But in the end, there is no escaping the fact that it does come down to execution. The willingness to put the system into practice. The ability to try, fail, try again and improve.

As we go into a new sales year, the question to answer is the following: Which pain are you willing to suffer, the short term pain of effort practice and refinement, leading to ongoing success. Or the pain of missing quota “one more again”, letting the side down and burdening your team mates?

Tibor Shanto

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Are You Selling or Visiting – Sales eXecution 3212

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Last week I wrote about the importance of words in the context of a sale, while in that case I highlighted the importance of words we select in communicating the right thing to the buyer. But the words we use also impact our attitudes, and our attitudes have a direct impact on our actions, their impact on the customer and sale, and ultimately our company’s and our own success. Yes, what you call something will drive how you prepare, how you prioritize, the actions you take, and the overall intent it communicates to the buyer and therefore their reaction and the progress, or often lack of progress, we make in the sale.

Here is a typical, often overlooked, but clear example. One of the common topics I speak about here is the importance and role of next steps. Part of whether you get that next step or not is how you view the appointment, your role in the appointment and how you approach that appointment. And while it may not seem big it starts with what you call that appointment, which in turn reflects how you are thinking and preparing.

This is why I find it amusing (and at time sad), when sales professionals call an appointment a “visit”; as is “I have a visit scheduled with Harry at XYZ Inc.” (And let’s accept that this is a rep in Toronto, not someone selling sweet tea in Chatom Alabama). A visit? Really, think about that. You are going to go and “visit” a prospect.

vis·it
ˈvizit/
verb
1. go to see and spend time with (someone) socially.
“I came to visit my grandmother” synonyms: call on, pay a visit to, go to see, look in on;
2. inflict (something harmful or unpleasant) on someone.
“the mockery visited upon him by his schoolmates”

So which of the above do sales people mean when they speak about a visit?

I know some will say it is only semantics, and I say they are right, but semantics count, as stated above, in a number of ways. Some say they are visiting because they don’t want to appear “salesy”, why not, is that not what you are there to do? Before you leap to answer that think about it, are your sales people always going in with a clear intent, focused on a specific set of possible outcomes?

Intent counts as much as words. Buyers can read your intent, and if you’re intent signals something other than what you are saying AND, how you are saying it, you’re beat. Buyers can tune in and pick up on that incongruity every time. So you may think you are selling, but if your intent, body language and words are saying “Visit”, that is what you’ll have a visit, not a sales call. As the authors of The Hard Truth About Soft-selling: Restoring Pride & Purpose to the Sales Profession, we have created a class of professional visitors, hoping that the order comes up as they “visitin’”.

Reps are not alone in letting this phenomenon to happen. Managers or organizations fixated on a specific number of calls regardless of the facts on the ground, very much drive sales people to have visits. After all, if I need 10 calls a week, and that number is not directly tied to my goals and conversion rates, but are high on my manager’s personal KPI’s, then I am going to hit that 10 with sales calls and visits.

So go and visit if you must, but for continuous sales success, you will also need to go on first appointment and sales calls.

Tibor Shanto

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The Difference Between Sales Pros and Amateurs – Is The Silence2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Thinking man

Everyone knows that the prospect should be doing most of the talking during a sales call. Knowing it and doing it, well you know. That is one of the big challenges in sales, everyone knows what they have to do, but do they do it?

So ya, active listening, always in style, ever the fashion, but it means so many things to many different sellers, but there is more to the whole thing. It’s not just the listening, it’s what you do with it.

Buyers are practiced too, they can see when it is real, and when it’s shtick, even when it’s good pundit shtick. Sales person makes eye contact, does not interrupt, nods almost on cue, and takes copious notes to preserve every word the prospects utters. Then as soon as the prospects stops, bam, jump on the next thing.

That’s where pros differ from the pack. Watch effective sales people conduct a sales interview, and what you’ll see is that they not only talk less, but revel in the silence. Specifically the silence between when the prospect stops speaking, and when they start their next sentence. They take the time to not only take in what the prospect was saying, but more importantly time to digest and reflect.

If you jump right on the prospects sentence, you may convince them that you were listening, but do little to make them believe you took in what they said, considered it, and incorporated it into the rest of the interview. That’s where the silence comes in. Those precious seconds where you actually think about what they said, not just wrote it down for later, when you need fodder for the CRM.

I know that seconds seem like hours, especially in the heat of the sale, but if the buyer does not buy that you are understanding them and incorporating it into to you flow, the confidence and trust will diminish. After all, if you do not take the time to fully digest what you just heard, it is valid for them to ask if you are focused on them and their direction, or just pitching; one takes time, the other does not.

Part of the challenge is we tend to think faster than we listen or people speak, making it easy to race along, and instead of fully listening and digesting, just consuming things they say. So every time they say something that fits your script you jump in, or move to confirm a data point rather than taking in the whole point, said or implied. Remember, an agenda is not a script, you can change up the sequence and direction of things based on what the buyer is saying. And what they are saying is not always right, which give you the opportunity to explore why they see it that way, take in their explanation and use it as an opportunity to educate the buyer, and have them change direction. And the will, if they see that you are taking into consideration what they present, something you can do during the silence. One method I was taught is to base a question on what they just said that also introduces new elements you feel need to be part of the discussion. Stop, think, one steamboat, two steamboat….., and as the silence fills the room, ask away.

Tibor Shanto

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Give Your Buyers The Gift of Time – Sales eXecution 3190

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

collo papillon  camicia

I have written several times about the importance of time in sales, how time really is the currency of sales; while everything else in sales may be variable, success will be determined by a number of unique and individual factors. Time is the only standard element we all share, what we do with it is the differentiator.

Download our “Sales Happen In Time” e-book

Time is also the only non-renewable resource that sales people deal with, everything else can be replayed, retried or redone, not time, once spent, it’s gone. And while this is a fact that sales people have to deal with every day, we often forget that our buyers have to deal with the exact same limitation every 24 hour day.

In prior posts I have presented our Actionable Definition of value:

Those services and/or products that remove barriers, obstacles, or help bridge GAPS between where the buyer is now – and – their OBJECTIVES!

In breaking down the elements or underpinnings of Objectives, we learn that shifting time, extending the life of an asset, shortening the time to revenue, etc., are common objectives for buyers. Therefore one of the best value adds you can deliver is bending time in favour of your buyers.

Recent Research released by CEB, show that buying cycles are often twice as long as the buyers themselves anticipated. This insight can help sellers a couple of ways. First, just understanding that things will not happen as fast as you “forecasted”, will help you in better managing your pipeline and delivering quota. I have seen many sales people give up because the buy did not take place in a timeframe that suited the seller.

Given that sales people are usually over optimistic about how long a sale should take, they often give up on a sale way too early. This requires them to prospect more and harder, and completely throws off the pipeline and success. Seems to me that whatever the answer is when you ask a buyer about their timeline, it is good to validate and add time to those expectations.

This reinforces the need to implement a sales process that is aligned to the buyer’s buying process. But again, this is one step, given that many buyers aren’t truly sure how long their buying cycle is.

EDGE - New Web

The other opportunity is to understand why buyers are so bad at estimating their timelines around a buy. The more you understand this, the more you can help buyers go through the full buying journey, but introduce some short cuts along the way, reducing the cycle time in the process.

The hard part for many sales people, is that much of this will have little or anything to do with their product or them, and almost entirely with the buyer. This leads to another piece of advice we have given before, and that is “leave your product in the car”, and make it about the buyer. Not how the buyer uses your product, but how the buyer buys.

By thoroughly reviews your successful cycles, and looking at it from the buyer’s view. Not what it took for you to get the sales, but what the buyer had to do to make the buy. These will vary from product to product, but with a disciplined approach to reviewing all opportunities, won – lost – no decision, will allow you to see where buyers linger, or get detoured, and where they make clear strides towards a decision.

Sharing these findings, not the features of your product or ROI, will give them the gift of time, and you more and better customers.

Tibor Shanto

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