Welcome to The Pipeline.

An Inclusive Approach to Prospecting – Sales eXecution 2600

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

circle group small

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 

Using a Top Ten List to Grow Your Sales (#guestpost)0

ButchNewHeadshot1

The Pipeline Guest Post - Butch Bellah

How would you like to be able to easily (almost effortlessly) track your ten hottest prospect and keep them moving toward a sale? Well, you’re in luck! By using a Top Ten List, you can do just that. David Letterman has made a lot of money with a Top Ten list and now you can, too.
First, what is a Top Ten List? In my world it is simply the ten hottest prospects you are currently working, ranked in order of their ability to be closed. It is not a Wish List, it’s not an “I’d love to have that business” list, it is made up of the Ten best prospects you’ve made presentations to and are working through the sales cycle.

NOTE: If you don’t have ten today, that’s OK. But, if you don’t have ten a month from now there’s only one person to blame.

The Top Ten List depends on the old adage, “You can manage what you can measure”. Think about that, what we measure we have the ability to manage. In this case, if you leave your list of top prospects rattling around in your head or just as part of a massive database, they’ll get lost, forgotten and probably never become a customer.

The Top Ten List allows you to see at a glance who they are and allows you to ask yourself the most important question in sales: “What can I do to move this relationship forward?”

Assume your Top Ten List is completely fully. Position 1 is the person who should become your next new customer, Position 2 is the next most likely and so on. Every day—yes, every day you should look at this document and ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move them closer to a sale?”

How do you get number 6 into position 5? How do you get the prospect in position 4 into position 3? This is a fluid, living document and will change weekly. Just because someone is your hottest prospect this week (Position 1) doesn’t mean they’ll hold that spot next week. If something happens in the process with the prospect in position four that moves them to the top of the list, GREAT!

The key is to understand each of these ten is at a different stage of the sales process and they have to be handled as such. However, each should be moving forward. If they aren’t, why aren’t they?

Your Top Ten List is a perfect tool for sales managers to use to work with their team and is the single most important piece of data you own. If you use it effectively and truly concentrate on developing it as a tool, you will see your sales and closing percentage increase.
Why? Because you are spending your time with the people most likely to do business with you. Keep pushing the prospect in position eight up the ladder and that will, in effect, keep pushing the prospects ahead of them toward becoming a customer.
The key is to be honest with yourself. Where do these prospective customers rank and are they really deserving of being on the Top Ten List. If they do, then by all means work daily to move them toward a sale.

Question: How can you use the Top Ten list to impact YOUR sales?

About Butch Bellah

Butch Bellah is a Sales Coach & Trainer, speaker and author. He operates B2 Training & Development and www.butchbellah.com. You can order his new book, “The 10 Essential Habits of Sales Superstars: Plugging into The Power of Ten” here and follow him on twitter @salespowertips. He can be reached at butch@butchbellah.com or at 337-384-9204

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 

What’s Your Favourite Hyphenated Selling – Sales eXecution 2460

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

un hy selling

Several pundits have presented the argument that we are all sellers and we are always selling, no surprise, selling is part of life and the human experience, right from the guy selling fragments of the big bang, or the serpent selling Eve the apple. As a result, just like people, sales comes in different ways, shapes, approaches, techniques, etc.

This brings with it a host of labels and subsets of sales selling. What I call the hyphenated sale. You’ve seen this and will continue to see it throughout sales. Different labels/qualifiers placed on sales, some times to better frame the technique, sometimes because it pertains to a very specific part of the sale, other times the name of the person who “created” (ya right) that type of selling, other times just to be catchy.

There are times when it is nothing more than a marketing label. Let’s face it, we are a target for someone’s product, someone trying to sell a product to us, a course, an app, an assessment, so slap a label on it and start sell it. Other times there are movements that want to adopt a particular sticky tag as a means of finding a readymade audience, or as a means of siphoning off their competitors. If there are a group of people who are terrified and terrible at old calling, what better way to attract them than to adopt the label of no more cold calling, whether it works or not is secondary, what great branding. Sometimes the branding evolves, Sales 2.0 was the rage a while back, till all the various flavours realised there was more to be sold by going Social Selling.

So what I am asking for today, is your list of hyphenated sales, you don’t have to follow the methods, or be a proponent, or you could in fact be it’s biggest groupie, not the point here, all I am asking for is a list of hyphenated or branded sales you are aware of. Here I’ll get you started:

Solution Selling
Impact selling
Sugar-free Selling
Kosher Selling
Consultative Selling
Trigger Event Selling
Interactive Selling
Social Selling

Go for it, have some fun with it, let’s see what we come up with.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Mistakes Are Better Than Regrets – Sales eXecution 2431

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Crossed Fingers

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a sales person say “I should have …”, I could start working a three day week. And for all the coulda shmoudas, the risk for not acting was not that much greater than not acting, but the rewards always measurably bigger. I have never understood how some can live better with the regret of not having gotten a sale because they did not act, versus worrying about not getting an account because of a mistake they made attempting.

We worry about making mistakes when it comes to accounts, or meetings, usually unnecessarily so, and usually due to a lack of a proper pursuit plan, or process. Process here refers to a set of necessary and common-sense activities required to move the sale to close, executed in a logical and sequential stages, not something overly complex just for the sake of being complex, or more expensive. But the ‘process’ is not the end all and be all, as many mistakenly believe, it is the jumping point, the platform that allows you to act and measure progress and recalibrate when needed, but none of that matters till you act. It is when you act and make mistakes that you can correct, vary, and act again. Mistakes can be corrected, regrets you just carry around like so much luggage.

This unfolds with meetings as well, I often hear sales people say after the fact “I should have asked…” So why don’t they? One simple reason, they didn’t write their questions down in advance, and simply forgot, they didn’t want to look amateurish, but many buyers tell me they just see that as being prepared. More often sellers tell me they didn’t want to sound foolish asking such a simple question. What’s the old question: “do you want to be rich or look cool?”

Many sales people tell me that they don’t want to act “until they have it right”. They practice and rehearse – a good thing – till they feel they have it “perfect” – not a good thing, because no one is ever perfect. Selling is not like figure skating at the Olympics where you get a score for “artistic merit”, more like speed skating, successive qualifying rounds, semi-finals, and finally the big race. Perfect is not as pretty as success, and success is not always pretty.

While the intent of doing your best is a good one, and I have always said that intents go a long way, buyers are very much in tune with your intent, and are very forgiving when they know your intent was good, despite questionable execution. But without action on your part, there is no way for the buyer to see or gauge your intent. It’s a lot like not leaving a voice mail because “no one ever calls back”, how could they if you don’t leave a message or number?

If you’re going to err, err on the side of acting and dealing with the outcome, not on the side of staying on the sidelines and rationalizing the might-have-beens. In sales, it is about execution – everything else is just talk!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Join me - Return On Objectives #Webinar

After and Before2

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Note pad

In a business that emphasizes relationship as much as sales does, it is sometimes interesting to see the degree to which sales people, and buyers, tend to ignore, overlook and at times avoid some basic components of human interactions, and way to enhance those interactions and the impact of that on business and sales outcomes.

Michael Jordan once said:

“…You have to monitor your fundamentals constantly, because the only thing that changes will be your attention to them”

This statement is as true in sales as it is in basketball. Sometime those fundamentals seem simple and inconsequential, but in the end it is often those little things that make the difference. Remember that your product is often indistinguishable from those of your competitor’s, so the way YOU sell may often be the differentiator that clinches the deal. So let’s focus on two seemingly small things, that when executed consistently and well, after and before meetings with buyers, will win you deals, no matter other factors. And while these may seem small, do them and then judge the results.

After:

After every meeting you should send a note, what most will call a thank you note, but done right it can be so much more.

Few send thank you notes anymore, I know that when I am the prospect, if I get a thank you note, it is so rare, I take notice, and mentally give the sender bonus points, points that may take them ahead of the other vendors. A hand written note, will just blow their mind. But more than a thank you note, it is an opportunity for you to recap what you took away from the meeting, action items everyone agreed to, and most important, what you propose the Next Step to be.

If you and the buyer synch on all of these points, then the note will just cement things in their mind, along with you being the vendor who helped them do that. If you took away different understandings, it is to your advantage to find that out now, and make any course adjustments you need to make. Better to correct things now than go into the next meeting with different ideas; if you can’t correct them, better to find out now than after investing more time and resources.

As well by introducing what you think the next step should be, you get them thinking about it, and again, if they don’t disagree, you are on the right path, but if not, you can deal with it now, not later.

Before:

About a business day ahead of the next meeting, send in a n agenda, nothing deep or heavy, three or five points (odd numbered lists are better), AND, what you would propose as the Next Step, if things unfold according to the agenda. As above, if things are on track, you can go in with some sense of confidence that you are on the right path. If not, better to know well in advance of the meeting than at the end when it may be too late to do anything about it. Same goes for the Next Step, if they can’t live with your suggestion they’ll speak up, and while it may not be what you had planned, better again to know early than after the fact.

While neither may appear to be all that and more, when you first read them, execute them consistently and it won’t be long before you attribute deals directly to executing these steps.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto  

It's time to get Bricked!

3 Upcoming #Sales #Webinars you Need to Attend!0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Learn

Over the next couple of weeks I will be presenting three different webinars on 3 related topics that you should register for and attend.

October 23 - Time – Prospecting – And Getting the Jump On Both

On Wednesday October 23rd, at 2:00 pm Eastern time, along with the good folks at eGrabber, I will present on: “Time – Prospecting – And Getting the Jump On Both”, looking at the combination of cutting edge tools for sourcing the right contacts and related info, and best practices, to improve your rate of connecting with the right decision makers and start selling.
Click here for more detail and registration

 

October 24 – Cold Calling: How to Handle the Objection

On the following day Thursday October 24, at 2:00 pm Eastern time, working again with the DiscoverOrg team, I will be presenting the follow up to the highly successful webinar last month on the fundamentals of effective Cold Calling, this time “Cold Calling: How to Handle the Objection”, looking at how to effectively handle the most common objections faced by intrepid cold callers, and move to selling.
Click here for more detail and registration

 

October 29 – GAP Selling, Successful Selling in Changing Times

Finally on Tuesday October 29, you guessed it, at 2:00 pm Eastern time, I will be delivering the “GAP Selling, Successful Selling in Changing Times”. Working with LeadLifter, I’ll be presenting on a framework that allows you and your sales process to evolve with your buyers and markets, allowing you to execute your sale in a way that is not limited or impacted by market conditions.
Click here for more detail and registration

Set the time aside now, and learn how the three combine will help you sell better now, and into 2014!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto  

Seasonal Sales Tactics: Fall1

CoC Sep 13

The Pipeline Guest Post - Megan Totka

The fall season brings to mind lots of different imagery – changing leaves, beautiful colors, pumpkins, Halloween, and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas on the proverbial horizon. Fall and the subsequent holiday season are a huge time of year for sales. People are buying all kinds of things, from school supplies to gifts to housewares to new services, you name it, and people are likely to buy it.

So how do you tailor your sales tactics to the season of buying? Here’s a few ideas about ways to increase your online presence and subsequently your revenue during the fall season:

  • Run social media campaigns that are seasonally-themed. For fall, you could run giveaways that are tailored to the season. You could even do something as simple as change your cover or profile photo on Facebook or Twitter to something that is fall-themed.
  • Think ahead to the looming holiday season. Consider starting your holiday sales strategies early. Let your followers and customers know what you will be up to during the holiday season. Letting them know ahead of time can give them time to plan and incorporate holiday spending at your company into their budget.
  • Take the opportunity to work on some philanthropic efforts for the year. The fall and the holiday season are prime time for giving back to your community. Consider sending employees to do volunteer work. You can also make a monetary contribution to a charity if your company is in the position to do so.
  • Take the time to see what is trending this fall. Whether it is fashion or technology trends, you can research what exactly people are being predicted to purchase this season. This gives you the opportunity to cater to exactly what people are going to be looking for during the season. For example, if a fashion trend watch says that people are looking for things that are jewel-toned this year, consider using these types of colors in your marketing collateral or your products.
  • Track what your customers like. When you run a seasonally-themed marketing campaign, try your best to keep track of where your sales leads are coming from. You’ll be able to work to hone your campaigns from year to year to make sure that you are maximizing your marketing abilities.

Take the opportunity to use seasonal sales and marketing tactics to your advantage. Doing a little bit of research as to what is trending in sales for each season will help you to make even more sales.

(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.

Why Are You In Sales? – Sales eXchange 20020

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

200A

At the end of this post I will ask you a specific question that I would love you to answer, and I thank you here in advance.

Two things happened this past week or 10 days that led to this week’s Sales eXchange  being a bit different than the usual, and isn’t that what we always strive to be in sales.  First is the fact that this is the 200th Sales eXchange post, and while I had given it much thought, someone asked if I will be marking the fact in any way.  The person that asked me was a young person at an event I participated in recently. The event was organized to present young people with different options for their life after school.

One of the questions going into the event was “What do you want to be?”  Some had very clear ideas, knowing exactly where they want to go.  One young lady was determined to become a speech pathologist due to a friend she had in grade school.   She structured her high school curriculum to set her up for a path of success in post-secondary school, and to her dream career.  Others stated a number of different career plans, some very specific, marketing, finance, construction, software design, and more.  Others were a bit more general, the young man who asked about the 200th post simply stated business.  As an aside, it seems he had been spying my blog (and others) to glean ideas for his high school business class, at least someone is getting value at an early age. But in the end no one said they wanted to go into sales, not one.

Consider that according to the United States Department of Labor, there just under 14 million people employed in sales as of May 2012 in the USA.  The same department pegs the number of lawyers at under 1 million, and software developers (systems and applications) also under 1 million.  Yet fewer than a handful of institutions offer a degree in selling or sales.

There were a number of kids who talked about becoming lawyers, software developers, doctors, even golf pros, but not one said sales.  Which begs the question that if no one sets out to become a sales professional, where the hell did we all come from?  Are we progressing as a profession, or just a modern day version of post war refugee camps full of people making due while they find their next destination?  Are we a repository of other professions outcasts, with the occasional diamond in the rough?  After all, almost 50% of sellers do not make quota, this would not be tolerated in any other department.

So here is my ask – take a minute and think about where you are in sales as a career, how you got here, how you’re doing.  Then take a minute and in the comment box below, tell me:

Why Are You In Sales?

Tibor Shanto

 

Did You Get My Voice Mail?7

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Voice mail

Yesterday I got a call about a piece I wrote for Radius titled: Get More Call Backs: How To Increase Returned Voicemails By 50%.   Seems it has stirred up a discussion in one the LinkedIn groups, one I did not belong to, (since joined).

Whenever I do a piece on effective voice mail techniques, three things happen:

  1. It get a lot more hits than most other posts – telling me that this continues to be a challenge and hot button for sales people.
  2. In the first 24 hours a slew of feedback telling why the technique won’t work, it is gimmicky, unchristian and a range of other labels.  These comments come predominantly from people who do not like to cold call, don’t know how to cold call, never leave voice mail when given the opportunity, and are pissed that they are not getting return calls, when I, and those using my techniques do.  These are folks who have not studied the dynamics at play in effective voice mail, generally have a less than sufficient prospects in their pipeline, and BTW, have not tried the technique they are commenting on.
  3. Within about 48 hours, I get a bunch of e-mails from people who tried the technique, got a calls back, got an appointment with someone they have been trying to connect with for sometime without success, and they now have one or more new prospects in their pipeline.

The real difference between the two is the latter is committed to continues improvement, willing to invest time, effort and practice to integrating new techniques to their selling tool kit.  They understand it takes work to fill the pipeline, and if the state of their pipeline is going to change, it requires change in their approach and habits.

The first group, the doubters, fail to take into account and understand the dynamics involved in leaving effective voice mails.  Let’s look at one specific factor.

Most people these days are jammed, need to pack 16 hours into a ten hour day, they don’t have time to listen to your rambling voice mail, telling them about how great your something is when they already have that something.  Since at any given time, about 5% – 10% of your market is actively looking for your something, that’s the total potential of people who may have an interest in calling you back.  By leaving a conventional voice mail, chances are less than 5% – 10% may call you back, unless they already have a vendor in mind, in which case no call back.

Let’s face it, the reason most people want you to “leave a detailed message”, is so they can know exactly why not to call you back, and they don’t.  So no matter how polished your message is, the more content it has the less your chances of getting a call back.  So despite what one of my most recent critics suggested in the LinkedIn discussion, saying I “should spend some time doing research on the buyer so they can leave a message that’s in line with their expectations.”  There is an idea, waste time researching to not talk to anyone, hmm?  The most effective voice mails are those that are counter intuitive.

The mistake many make is trying to sell or get an appointment via voice mail, WRONG! Good luck if you have never spoken to them in the past.

The only purpose to leaving a voice mail is to get a call back – again to get a call back.  When that call comes, you can then proceed to getting the appointment or engagement if you are in inside sales.  GET THE CALL BACK! THAT’S IT!

I would argue that the only way to do that is to create a bit of curiosity, one that would create an environment where with little effort, the person you are calling can make a call to resolve their curiosity, THE CALL BACK, once you have them on the line, then you bring your sales or appointment setting skills to play.

The technique in question results in me getting 50% of voice mails returned.  That may piss off some people not willing to try, but really what’s the issue, the method is there, you don’t want to use it, don’t knock those who do, just because they have a healthy pipeline, and fat babies.

Read the article
Watch the video

Try it, and then talk!  

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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