Welcome to The Pipeline.

Which side of risk are you on? #BBSradio #podcast0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Radio Renbor the pipe

Risk is a big factor is sales success and sales failure.  Being that people most people are risk averse, the traditional approach in sales has been to try to minimize risk associated with one’s product, the risk of change, and risk of the unknown inherent in a new vendor or product.  But as with many things the internet and social media have brought some balance and greater ability for buyers to better gauge and measure risk of vendors, product and switching.

But for those reps willing to do a bit of work, you can leverage risk in a slightly different way that will lead to action, rather than the usual inaction.

Take a listen, then let me know you thoughts.

Check Out Marketing Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Breakthroughbusiness on BlogTalkRadio

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

“The Challenger Customer” – More Than A Sequel0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

challenger sale

A Review of The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results
by Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, Pat Spenner, Nick Toman

What often differentiates great sales people from the also-rans is their understanding that their success in delivering revenue and retiring quota, is the result of a dynamic alignment and balance between selling and buying. Any imbalance, leads to either no revenue, less or lesser quality revenue, longer time to revenue, or a toxic combination of all of these.

The great, focus more on the buy side, the Buyer and the purchasing process, leveraging that as a pull-through for sales. The pack is more likely to focus on selling and intentionally or unintentionally trying to impose their “sale” on the buyer. This difference may explain why nearly half of B2B reps do not make quota, and why many of their “sales” are in reality orders they were given, rather than being earned, or the proverbial nut blind squirrels tend to run in to.

A few years ago, in an effort to help differentiate and understand how sellers can better navigate through the buy/sell process, the folks at CEB, presented us with The Challenger Sale, which presented a number of insights, many of which are still being debated and digested. Among these was how sellers can drive and ensure that dynamic buy/sell balance leading to more success for all involved. But there is no denying that the perspective was very much that of the “sale”. Now the same team extends things, and presents a book looking more closely at the “Buyer” perspective in “The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results”.
While the book will resonate with sellers, front line to executive leaders, offering both perspectives and specific actions sellers can take to win more deals, it goes beyond and speaks directly to marketers, and buyers themselves.

The authors speak to the current state of the buying, starting with the acknowledgement that “buying” today is greatly dysfunctional, and the impact of that dysfunction on both buyers and sellers. Rather than starting from the common statement that “selling has changed”, the book explores more closely how buying has changed, and the opportunities and challenges that presents to sellers and suppliers.

With the growing trend of purchase decision being made by consensus, the book raises a couple of counter intuitive points. For instance how catering to the individuals in the consensus group will have diminishing if not negative returns for the seller. They highlight how understanding the dysfunction, and the key players in the drama, present an opportunity for sellers to facilitate consensus through by learning and focusing on the right people on the buy side.

The book goes beyond highlighting challenges, and lays out specific buyer personality types; which and how to harness, and which to avoid, including means of identifying, validating and helping them help build consensus and by extension the seller. In other words the book is full of specific and actionable steps not just broad concepts, providing sellers and marketers a playbook to build from.

While all sellers will tell you it is all about the buyer, “The Challenger Customer”, goes further, providing meaning and context by highlighting ho and why many sellers and marketers miss the mark. Most sellers and sales marketing teams focus time and effort on getting the buyer to see the supplier differently. But since change comes from within, the focus in the book is on how and why changing the buyers’ view of themselves and their process. You then go on to learn how to best leverage “Commercial Insights” as a means of changing the buyer’s view of themselves, why leading with that will lead to sales success.

Here again, the book not only highlights specifics, but reinforces the importance of Marketing and Sales working together in engaging buyers and succeeding in today’s buying environment.

Unlike many sales books that promote a methodology or viewpoint of a given aspect of sales, “The Challenger Customer” provides a clear framework supported by data, and more importantly, a means to implementing and integrating it into your sales organization. Unlike many sales books, there are no grandiose statements or claims, but instead you will find a reasoned discussion and means of putting the framework into practice. There is no claims of silver bullets, just the steps you need to take and work on to successfully implement, presenting concrete examples of companies that have done so. I have always said that success in sales is about execution, with everything else being just talk, well “The Challenger Customer”, delivers on the “What”, “Why” and “How” to execute and win in today’s buying climate. All that is left for you is to read and execute.

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

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 

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 Misleading33

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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