Welcome to The Pipeline.

Customer Information – Why Protection is So Important2

CC Jan 14

The Pipeline Guest Post - Megan Totka

In the sales business, we hold the key to tons of information from customers. While it may be something as simple as their name, address, and phone number, it’s amazing what can be done with that information if it gets in the wrong hands. Sales companies also often store all kinds of other information – credit or debit card numbers, social security numbers, and so much more.

By now, surely we’ve all heard about Target’s information compromise issue. If you tuned out of the news for the holidays, anyone who used a debit or credit card at Target from Black Friday until just before Christmas likely had their information gathered by hackers. Banks are cancelling and re-issuing cards by the millions, and Target is trying to do damage control by offering free credit monitoring for a year to anyone who was affected.

Now, could Target have done anything more to prevent this major breach from happening? Maybe. But there are some valuable lessons to be learned about keeping your customers’ data safe. If nothing else, the Target issue is helping us to see how exactly consumers are affected when their data is misused. It can cause problems in nearly every aspect of their lives.

Here are a few tips, courtesy of InformationWeek.com, that we can do better in the future when it comes to keeping our customers’ data safe:

  1. Data encryption – while I don’t purport to be an expert on data encryption, it does make sense that companies (particularly those who are selling) should be constantly re-evaluating their encryption process and see if it’s working. This is the best way to beat the hacker game. They also suggest using a whole-disk encryption method rather than file-level encryption.
  2. Make sure that outside vendors know how important it is to keep your customers’ info safe – most, if not all companies outsource some of their file storage or data encryption to another company or service. Places that hold information to consider are cloud storage services or CRM software. Making sure that these companies have your customers’ best interest in mind before agreeing to use them is pretty important.
  3. BYOD – lots of companies are moving toward letting employees bring their own devices to work. While this is convenient and can be cost-effective, consider that your employees’ devices are absolutely not as secure as they could be.

Protecting your customers’ information is just one of the things required to maintain a positive customer relationship. It certainly doesn’t have to be difficult or very costly – but it is definitely a part of the business process that needs constant evaluation in order to be successful.

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Emotion + Risk in Getting Buyers to React and Act! (#video)0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

roller coaster

Today I feature the third excerpt from my discussion with Ago Cluytens, for one his Coaching Masters Series interviews.  Today we look at the roles played risk and emotion in getting buyers to not only react, but act.

In Monday’s clip, I talked about the fact that you don’t need to waste time in waiting for an event to engage with a potential buyer, what you are looking for is the reaction, not the event.  Two things that get reactions every time are risk and emotion.

But while it is true that buyers buy on emotion and the rationalize that decision, it is also true that there are other factors such as risk, stories, sounds, and other factors a seller can leverage to get a buyer to react and more importantly to act.  It is easy to get a ready buyer to react and act, but you need to use many things to get a complacent buyer to engage, react and act.

Take a look:

If you would like to see the entire discussion you can either visit my You Tube channel, or go the Ago’ site by clicking here.  Always open to comments and views.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Shock Treatment – Sales eXchange 1922

by Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca
 
Jump Start

Last Monday I posted about the overlooked opportunity in that segment of buyers know as Status Quo, pundits and sellers alike commiserating each other about the difficulty of selling to a ready group of buyers, vs. taking orders from self-declared buyers.

I’ll be the first to admit change is hard, especially for business buyers who have their handful, trying to make headway in a competitive market.  Change is time consuming, a drain on resources, creates upheaval, usually expensive, and fraught with risk, for the organization and the individual at the centre of the decision.  Moving the dial with these types of buyers requires more than a bit of effort, which is why change is also hard for sellers; it is much easier and safer to rationalize, and wait for a referral.

This is why there is a healthy and growing industry of sages ready to sell indisposed sellers every mean of just waiting at the edge of the forest, encouraging them to wait for something to come out to them, rather than entering the fray and winning business most sellers seem reluctant to peruse.

How much effort does it take? Well take a minute, step back and look around you and study what it takes for people to make critical changes in key their lives. Frighteningly, you discover that people don’t often make big changes, right changes, preferring to avoid and live with the consequences of the Status Quo.  Even when they know that the new state is preferable to their existing one.  The naive notion which many buy into that people will move to a better mouse trap has cost both sellers and buyers much time and money.  You can build the better mouse trap, Trap 2.0, and people will rodent infestation will maybe look your way, then rationalize why they shouldn’t beat a path to your door.

Don’t believe me, how many people do you know who continue to smoke, even after their father expired due to lung cancer; how many people do you know who continue to biggie size it, despite the fact that they have to buy a new wardrobe every six months?  People can change these with a effort if they wanted to, but it takes effort.  How many times have you watched companies go to the brink or beyond because the devil they knew was a better alternative to the one they didn’t know?

The answer is not offering the “right” or “better” solution, or in becoming their friend.  It is about penetrating the barriers the buyers have erected to protect their current state.  Your only choice is to shock them, shock your way past their fortress of hope.  Hope it will work out, hope it will last, and hope no one will notice.  For the “be found crowd”, this is not an issue, the buyer has dismantled the barriers, and are ready to change, but for the Status Quo, intervention time.

Now I am not talking about clamping a couple of electrodes to your buyer’s temples (or elsewhere); but I am talking about asking hard and very direct questions, which at best could be called provocative, at worst a punch below their reality belt.  One does not have to be rude, but one does have to shake things up, which means the ultimate relationship you have starts out a bit rough, but ends up being a solid one, built on being a reliable resource, not a cuddly friend.

There is plenty of writing and thinking out there about how to succeed with the Status Quo, mine, others who provide means and questions you can use.  But the first step is for you as a seller to recognize and decide how you want to deliver value to your buyer.  Once you decide that you can do more than just take orders from ready buyers, and win more business who may not think they need you or your offering, there are plenty of resources to help you, but as with other changes, you need to first admit that you are a card carrying member of the Status Quo.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto  

Not Only Is Talk Cheap But Misleading32

Effective communication is crucial to sales success, understanding what the client wants, how they prefer those wants addressed, and understanding what they mean, can tilt things for you or against you.  But communication is way more than the words exchanged between buyer and seller, as we all have been told communication is 60% body language, 30% intonation and tone, and only 10% verbal or words.  Yet many sales people rely too much on strictly words, both in conveying their message, and taking input from potential buyers, almost completely ignoring the other aspects of communication.

This has obvious repercussions when it comes to effective selling, and ensuring you are getting the right message to the listener in the right way.  Borrowing from the work relating to how people learn, because getting someone to change and buy from us is an exercise in educating the buyer; there are three types of learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic (or tactile).   Buyers tend to fall into one of three groups when they take in, understand and absorb your message.  If you do not take steps to ensure you are incorporating all three types, you risk not fully communicating to many buyers even as you speak to them. 

Read On…

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

School Is In53

A reminder that there is a class this afternoon, 4:00 pm Eastern
 
GAP Selling – Leveraging Process and Execution

GAP Selling – Looks at how to deliver value to buyers across the entire sales cycle.
Almost every sales conversation starts or ends with the concept of value; at the same time there are as many different understandings and definitions of value as there are sellers and buyers.
 
This course delivers clear and actionable definition of value. Starting with that definition of value, participants will learn the five step platform to leveraging that value right through the sale, from the initial engagement to winning the client. The overarching goal of the platform is to focus on the buyer’s objectives, and delivering specific means of helping them achieve those objectives.
 
These include:

  1. Identifying and validating buyer’s objectives
  2. Understanding why buyers really buy 
  3. Why Buyers buy and don’t buy from you and your company 
  4. Converting the above to impact questions and quality conversation 
  5. A structured follow-through approach to maximize impact and progress Participants will learn how to use the above to create alignment with the buyer, their objectives and buying process

Join us at 4:00 pm Eastern today
 
Prerequisite – An open mind to learning and selling better
 
Test – Your weekly Pipeline Review

Bid It Up – Sales eXchange 15657

We all know the challenge price presents in today’s B2B selling environment. We all love to talk ‘value’, but often fail to define to ourselves before we engage with a buyer; then fail to define it with/for our buyers, and leave them wanting once “we’ve delivered our value proposition”.  Our job as sales people is not to propose value, but to deliver it, and ensure that we and our companies are fully compensated for that value, which once again takes us back price.

While we would all prefer not to deal with price, it seems almost unavoidable, almost a cultural must when it comes to buying/selling, and hey we do it when we are spending the cash.  This leaves you only with the option of how to mitigate or minimize the negotiation dance; and you have a couple of choices as to how to do that best. 

The first, and most popular, is a method I call Build Up and Defend.  This is where you pack your offering, pitch, and proposal with “tons of value”, and throw it at the client with everything you got, and then defend that “value”.  We’ve seen this in different formats, but the goal is to wow the buyer, and persuade them that they are getting everything they had defined as being required, and more.  While this works, and there is nothing wrong or dishonest about it, it just seems like so much redundant overkill, which draws on unnecessary resources on the part of the seller, and usually overwhelms the buyer, thus introducing risk to the sale.  This usually ends with the buyer looking for the “real value” in the form of price concessions, and the seller either conceding because they need to make quota, or better sellers taking things out of the mix in order to balance to make concessions equitable. 

An alternative to the above is to be more methodical, and leverage the Discovery stage, and the information exchange to build value with the buyer.  You do this by a) Building Better Questions, focusing in on only the most important and relevant factors for the buyer, rather than every “potential” irrelevant data point, whether it has value or not.  With the base value points identified, you then use that foundation to drill down, and further establishing where the buyer will find value in our deliverable based on their specific requirements, a process called GAP Selling.

From a pricing standpoint, this allows you to build from that base and bid the price up with every element of value you and the buyer mutually establish and agree on.  There is no rule that states price discussion has to start at a point and then be ratcheted down.  Done right, you can build value with the buyer, on their terms, and at the same time bid up the price, not down.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Ride That Risk – Sales eXchange 15477

If you are in sales you know that risk, and the avoidance of risk is a great motivator for buyers.  No surprise, as buyers are after all people, and 70% of people are risk averse, which means 70% of potential buyers you meet will take steps to avoid risk.  Good odds, which s why most people leverage risk in their selling.

While this is a good thing, it can be even better if sellers took time to examine and leverage two specific risks they currently overlook.

First, is their understanding how they themselves view of risk, and how it shapes their selling.  Most sellers are focused on building relationships; they want those relationships to be based on mutual trust.  This leads sellers to focus on eliminating risk for the buyer, generally in the form of how their product will mitigate risk moving forward.  This drives them to not focus on a more powerful risk, the risk of staying with things as they are.

Lets face it, we have all see situations where what the buyer is doing now makes no sense, for any number of reasons.  They may not be efficient in their production, not maximizing their financial power, what have you.  I like many of you have seen companies that at best are 60% -65% efficient, yet they are not prepared to change.  And why, they see it consuming time and resources, and they don’t see the gains off-setting the perceived risk in taking action.  They stay with what they have, and we lose the sales, even though it made sense in every way.  We have all walked away from situations we thought were good, shaking our head not understanding why the deal didn’t go, even though the buyer said it is not worth the time and risk involved.

This takes us to the second more important risk, and this one lies with the buyer, but most sellers are TOO RISK AVERSE to leverage it to mutual advantage.  This risk is the risk the buyer faces if he stays with things as they are and continues down the same path.  Many sellers are afraid to explore and exploit this avenue because they fear that the buyer may get offended, or take it the wrong way, and there by spoil the relationship.  No doubt that could be a factor, but I believe that most business people will take less offence at you poking and their current circumstance, if you are able to demonstrate that the risk can be overcome.  The beauty of it is that the way to overcome it is with your solution.

The opportunity is to focus on the buyer’s real risk, rather than spending time defending against perceived risk, which in many people’s minds is bigger than the real thing.

Further, if you truly want a relationship based on you being a valuable resource to the buyer, it is your job to surface the risk they are living with, rather than worrying about phantom risk, especially since you know your solutions can address it.  None of that however will happen until the buyer is willing to get off the mark and act; and I would argue to do that, you have to demonstrate in tangible terms the real risk they are in with their current scenario.

How do you do this, much like other things in sales.  A bit of research, understanding the buyer’s real objectives, and then developing a line of questions that will lead to a real discussion about the facts, not perception.

First step, shake your own aversions, then help the buyers face theirs; in the process you become genuine, another key element of trust and relationship, as you will be doing exactly what you preach.  Often sellers fail to do and demonstrate their willingness to do it, which adds to the buyers perception of risk, one of a disingenuous seller.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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