Welcome to The Pipeline.

Simple Strategies to Help Your Business Succeed0

Aug 2015

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

Whether you are an entrepreneur in the midst of launching your business, or a successful business owner who wants to continue to prosper, there are always strategies you can implement to maximize your success rate. Keep in mind, sometimes it is critical for both startups and mature businesses to say no – and doing so doesn’t mean your business won’t be successful.

Here are seven easy strategies that can generate additional revenue:

Implement professional development.
It doesn’t matter what industry you serve, one thing is certain – you need to make the commitment to continuously learn more about trends in your field. If you don’t, you simply cannot provide your customers the top value they need.

If you spend about an hour each day to learn more about your field, you can rise above your competition and build your confidence and add credibility. The hours spent on new exposures each day will add up and eventually place you in a different category than your competition. Make sure to pay attention to what your market wants and needs, and what your customers are saying and never underestimate the power of continuing professional development.

Serve above everything else.
Listen to your customers! A business may know that it is right — but in this industry, the customer is always right. If you have a customer who is unhappy, you need to always make sure to do whatever is in your power to make sure he or she is satisfied. Take the initiative to fix any issues, even if you know your customer was wrong. If you start each day by concentrating on ways to better serve your customers, you will increase your business and success rate. Think in terms of serving and remember that finding success is an addiction, not a lottery.

Offer high quality products and/or services.
If you can offer your customers products that are high quality and not like everyone else’s, you will quickly set your business apart from the competition. Quality is where it’s at when it comes to growing your business. Take the time to plan, implement and deliver high quality products and services each and every day.

Understand your risks and rewards.
One key to success is taking calculated risks to help your business grow. A good question to ask yourself is “What is the downside?” If you are able to answer this question, then you have identified the worst-case scenario and can prepare for it. Take this knowledge and use it to your advantage. There are some risks that can generate significant rewards for your business, and those risks are ones worth taking.

Stay focused.
When you open a business, you likely won’t start making money right off the bat. Remember the old saying that “Rome was not built in a day.” It will take some time to let people know about your business. Stay focused and keep your eyes on what you hope to achieve, both in the short and long term time frames.

Engage with your target market.
The most successful brands out there excel at building strong relationships with their audience. Focus on building those relationships before you jump in and start selling. Build authentic relationships with your market – they, in turn will want to buy from you. People like to buy things from people they know well and trust. Always remember that engagement takes time and doesn’t happen in a few days’ time.

Every business needs to continue to work hard in order to succeed. Keep your focus on delivering high quality products and customer service and always be eager to learn more and better serve your customers.

What are your secrets to business success?

About Megan Totka 

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. 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. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for ChamberofCommerce.com, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and contributing to a number of publications on the web. Megan can be reached at megan@chamberofcommerce.com

Website: www.chamberofcommerce.com
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3 Elements of a First prospecting E-Mail – Sales eXecution 3051

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

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While in Canada e-mail has been neutered by our supposed business friendly Prime Minister, in other parts of the free world, e-mail continues to be an effective way to initiate engagement with new potential buyers.  And while some may be shaking their head in disbelief, done right it contributes to prospecting success, but as usual, its down to what and how – the execution.

First thing is defining success. Many believe that success is the prospect calling you back and asking “where do I buy?” But remember “Prospects are Created – not Found”, e-mail plays a role in that creation. In an environment where it could take 8, 9, 10 or more attempts to get a response from a potential buyer, a good e-mail can be a good touch point, and lead to an initial contact, then engagement, purchase, relationship, kids, divorce, and all over again.

But let us approach as we would going for the Holy Grail, a cold e-mail that leads to engagement. What are the three crucial elements?

  1. Subject Line
  2. Body of Message
  3. The Close

Do all these well and you have a shot, miss the mark on one, and you’re beat.

In light of the fact that most e-mail these days will be viewed on a hand held, we’ll present things from that standpoint, the good news is that if you do the mobile e-mail right, it also translates to success for those reading it on a desktop or tablet.
1. Subject Line – if the party you are writing does not know you, the Subject Line becomes the first pint of triage. It will determine whether they open it, save it for later reading (ya, later, OK), or just delete it at the speed of light. As a result you have two choices, you can mix them up, see if you see a pattern based on role, industry or other factors.

First method, not mine but based on a study of some 30 million e-mails, suggests that having nothing in the Subject Line. Nothing or ‘RE:’ followed by nothing. In some ways it makes sense, human curiosity, drives people to bring down the thumb find out.

But my preferred method takes this further and drives the two elements that follow. I like to use the final call to action, The Close, element 3, as the Subject Line. So if at the end of your e-mail you propose a call Friday at 2:30 pm, then use that as the Subject Line, but add a question mark at the end.

Subject: Call Friday at 2:30?

The natural instinct is to see if you had in fact forgot a call, or scheduled one in error, or if your admin had put something in that you missed. The effect is the same “Did I miss something, let me check this out, let’s take a look.” Leading is to element 2.

2. Body of Massage – the body needs to have two must things, first brevity, second no fat.

I can’t emphasise the importance of being brief. Two lines at most. I want you to be guided by the “Two Flicks of the Thumb Rule.” The first flick is to scroll down once; the second is either Reply or Delete. Which is why we have no room for fat.

The best way to achieve that is to include and highlight only those things that speak to the prospect. Nothing about you, nothing about your company, just how you can help them deliver against their objectives. This is harder that it sounds, because as sales people are geared to talk about their value prop, and other irrelevant things.

Based on your research, previous experience, and those things you learn from 360 Degree Deal View,  Identify a specific impact or outcome you can deliver based on your assessment of their objectives, and speak to that.

I am writing to schedule a call to share with you how we helped Close Competitor Inc., add an additional service call for each of their trucks on a daily basis, leading to an 8% increase in revenue, 11% increase in margins, and a 12% improvement on return on assets…

Which brings us to the third element, The Close.

3. The Close – is your call to action, the ask from the call, and as we know from the Subject Line, it is a call Friday at 2:30 pm. So continuing from element 2:

“…leading to an 8% increased in revenue, 11% increase in margins, and a 12% improvement on return on assets. I will call you for an introductory call Friday at 2:30.

Thank you,
Alfred E. Neuman”

The important thing to remember is that this e-mail may be one of a number of touch points, and it is important that it is planned in context of a complete pursuit plan. If this e-mail is the first contact, what will follow, if you had phoned prior, how does this e-mail fit in? The specific version above is geared as a first e-mail, if you had called and sent a previous e-mail, you will need to vary it.

But for first mails, with a realistic expectation that there will need to be more touch points in the process of creating a prospect, this is a good start.

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

Mastering voice mail, e-mail, and other tools of Prospect Pursuit Success! #webinar0

data dot com logo

Thursday July 16, 1:00 pm Eastern – 10:00 am Pacific

content (2)Having great leads, being social, and ready are all important, but it takes a lot more to connect and engage these days.  Sometimes the biggest challenge is not the message but the ability to deliver it.  This webinar will look at the tools of trade, how you use and leverage will be the difference between connecting and selling or being left behind.

We will explore:

  • The Pursuit and Pursuit Cadence
  • Voice mail messages that get returned
  • E-mail and role in the pursuit
  • Referrals 2.0
  • Everything New is old again

The Best Sales People – Trust, But Verify – Sales eXecution 2992

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 


Some may remember one of Reagan’s more famous statement in 1987, while he was addressing folks gathered at a nuclear treaty signing, Trust but Verify, could also be part of every keynote at your everyday B2B sales Kick-off.

I use this expression not to suggest or imply a lack of trust between sellers and their potential buyers, but to ensure that sales people make the most out of their most precious resource – Time. The better you do things the first time, the more time you have to execute other important parts of the sales day, instead of having to repeat things you thought you had completed last week. Some ways to bring this to your selling will insular, specific to things you do, and some will face externally, and ensure that others are also part of your sales success.

One great place to apply this mantra is your pipeline. We often find that we have a lot of opportunities in our pipelines, and it feels good, but if we were verify the quality, or reality of those prospects, we may not have as many as we thought. Verifying is easy if you want to do it. Does it meet your minimum thresholds, i.e. is the prospect a good fit for you, or are they just a placeholders because your manager has a silly rule of having a pipeline three times the size of your quota. Are they really engaged, one easy way to validate is to not only get next steps, but give they homework that will verify that they are. For example, I always like to ask for the opportunity to interview a sample number of their reps after my initial meeting and going any further. If they do, it is a clear indicator that they are willing to invest in the process.

Another area where sellers benefit from a Trust but Verify approach is during the process of prospecting and qualifying. It is easy to sprinkle things with a little sugar, go on appointments we know are not likely qualified but are available. A little scepticism goes a long way, and while it may result in less appointments, they will all be of a better quality. When qualifying a prospect, that crucial phase between hand shake to proposal, how well you choose to verify will dictate whether it will be a solid proposal that will lead to a close, or a not so solid one leaving you to having to resell and negotiate your way to the finish line, or an “oh so close death”. It is easy to have a positive outlook, take everything a prospect says with a sprinkling of hope. It is more practical to verify and deal with the best opportunities, not any old opportunity.

It’s nice to have a full pipeline, but it also creates a false sense of confidence, one that releases strange endorphins in a seller’s mind, endorphins that prevent sales people from prospecting for new prospects. It is true that the fuller a rep believes their pipeline to be full, the greater the likelihood that they will not prospect for new opportunities. Verify the pipeline, and a more honest view will dictate their emotions and resulting activities.

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

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2 Reason To Always Leave Voice Mail – and Get Called Back – Sales eXecution 2852

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

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Given that we are sitting in sub-zero temps in the north east, -25 C in Toronto, any call you’re going to make today is going to be a cold call. But if you’re a complete B2B sales professional, you’re probably making cold calls even if it is nice warm and sunny, cause that’s what pros do, not like those cheap plastic replicas that are afraid of picking up the phone and talking to a buyer. And if you are picking up the phone, you’re hitting voice mail, no two ways about it; and if you hit voice mail, you need to leave a message, again no debate about that either. Here are three reasons why.

1.   Pursuit Cadence – It takes a lot more effort to get the attention of buyers these days. Seems one of the side effects of the efficiencies achieved through reduced sales forces, is those who are left have a lot more to do, imagine that. Our buyer are struggling to pack 16 or more hours in to a 10 hour day, and taking bad calls from bad sales people is not on the list. As a result it takes that many more touch point, of different sorts to get not only the attention of buyers, but to get them to act or respond. As a result voice mail becomes one of many opportunities to touch the buyer, and cultivate a response, a response you can capitalize on to secure an appointment (live or virtual).

There is a bookend element at work here, which is first man in – and – last man standing. There are studies out there that show that the first man (or woman) in is that much more likely to get the deal. All the more reason to cold call and get ahead of the curve, and not be one of the saps who waits for the buyer to find their seller. So if you leave a voice mail while others don’t, you mail well end up being that first man in just by virtue of leaving a message.

At the other end is the fact that if you pursue the right opportunities further than others are willing, and let’s face it there are many who give up the chase too soon, you will increase you odds of winning the deal. I have had more than one executive tell me that this is a fact. Add to that many ignore the first few calls just to separate the strong. How hard you work at getting the sale is a clear indicator as to how hard you will work to satisfy them as clients.

2.   Getting Call Backs – Done right, you do get calls back, notice I said done right. The technique I use, and was taught years ago gets me up to 50% of call returned in 72 hours, this not only reduces stress, but builds pipeline. You can learn the technique by watching these two videos.  Make sure to watch part I first, eh?

The reality is that once you are getting calls back, you don’t need any other reasons to leave voice mail.

Tibor Shanto

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A Real Sales Hack0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca


While there may be debate as to whether he said it or not, P.T. Barnum, is often credited with the statement: “There’s a sucker born every minute” And who said it really does not change the fact that it is true, and true across all spectrums of the population, including people who call themselves salespeople. Just look at the hoards who get sucked in (willingly) by shiny labels promising an alternate to the heavy lifting required at time to be a success in sales.

It is not lost on some spin-masters that if they offer up silver bullets, potions or “techniques of the day”, that they can cash in on people’s propensity to try the easy way out, rather than do the work it takes. Of course one way to resell the “same old”, is to rename it, repackage it, and slap some new promises on an old bum. A lesson no doubt learned from the infomercial industry, who seem to come up with a “new improved ab-machine” or “butt sculptors” every year, knowing full well that there will some disparate over weight person, who would rather pretend to take a short cut rather than do a proper work out and moderate their diet, because that would take work.

I say this because the other day I witnessed a discussion lead by another Tony Little of sales variety, trying to push the same old under a new label, and as in the past, they borrow the label from other practices, usually in an effort to make things look cool. Remember Sales 2.0, just when everyone was talking about Enterprise 2.0 and web 2.0? And when you asked what it was all about, all you got was some babble about sales people selling using the latest tools, like that was new, like successful sales people were never early adopters of technology, especially technology that made them more efficient and effective.

Well this discussion was based on the latest borrowed trend, Sales Hacks. While it was an interesting discussion, it sorely lacked substance, mostly because the topic it was based on lacks substance. When pushed for definitions and clarity, all this person, I am sure an otherwise fine fellow, could offer up is that hacks are the use of tools by sales people to make their work easier. OK, but how are these ‘hacks’? How are these different than the latest ab machine, and the similar promise that you will look like Charles Atlas in just 5 minutes a day? In the end, it really seemed to be just a fresh coat of paint on social selling. One recent sales hack I saw touted the virtues of direct mail, hmm. The whole thing smells more like marketing than sales.

Urban dictionary defines a hacker as: “A person skilled with the use of computers that uses his talents to gain knowledge.” And it defines a hack as: “A person who is a professional at doing some sort of service, but does crappy work.” I am fairly sure that the discussion was about the latter. There is no silver bullet in sales, there are just good practices, and bad practices; there are those who do it, and those that avoid doing it by chasing empty promises that lead to no result.

While I did not know P.T. Barnum, I did know a very wise and gentle soul who had a more appropriate saying that relates to the topic: “Where there is horse shit, you’ll find sparrows!”

Tibor Shanto

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So What If You’re Wrong – Sales eXecution 2842

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Wrong Lens

The other day I was on a call with a rep, she was well prepared, she met with her manager and I in advance, and started the call as planned. A few minutes in she asked a question laced with assumptions, and as luck would have it, all wrong assumption. It wasn’t a major point, but you could feel her discomfort. While I understood, I also know from experience that this could actually turn out to be a good thing.

As often happens, the prospect started correcting her, not to in a mean or demeaning way, just wanting to keep the facts accurate. But in the process of explaining, the prospect actually shared a lot of useful information which really helped our intrepid rep to better understanding the buyer’s biases, preferences, mode of thinking and purchase decisions.

Our friend the seller recovered quickly, and picked up on the fact and perpetuated the dialogue by asking more questions, presenting different scenarios, which got the buyer to open up even more, allowing our rep to gain insight better align her and her company’s vision and real value. By the end of the meeting she was a lot further than she had hoped to be, and the buyer was much more engaged and looking forward to the next meeting.

I see this a lot, human nature kicks in, the willingness to help others when they may have made a mistake, and nicely correcting them; only human right?

But most sales people are too hung up on being right, maintaining the facade that comes with that, they spend time trying to cover innocent mistakes, rather than leveraging them. There is nothing wrong with making an honest mistake at times – better yet there is nothing wrong with planning that mistake in advance.

If you know that there some area you need to uncover that may take some work, like a subject area that would be good to nail down earlier rather than later. A subject that you traditionally feel you have to wait till later in the sale to broach, think about making a mistake, specifically to be corrected, specifically to learn.

Reps tell me they are hesitant to go in certain directions in the discussion because they feel the prospect may not be ready. Well, rather than using the front door, why not go to the side door instead? Ask a question or make a statement that you know is based on a wrong premise, but is related to the topic you need to explore, and then wait to be corrected. Letting human nature kick in and accelerate the sale, or most often just break down barriers or log jams in the conversation.

I remember being with one of the best sales people I know, who was presenting at a well-known company. The meeting was very one sided, he couldn’t get them to engage or exchange information at all, they just sat stoned faced. Without their input and contribution, he was dead in the water. As a natural break came between subject areas, he asked if anyone had questions, a few shook their head to indicate no. Rather than continuing, he looked at the room, a dozen or so senior people, and asked “So, no one wants to play stump the sales person?”

A bit of a chuckle from some, quickly followed by a stream of questions. Some taking him up on the challenge, working hard to stump him, but most took the invitation lightly and asked some great questions. The ice melted, they were now fully engaged and he was learning more than had he continued with the presentation as many would have and do.

Don’t worry about being wrong, worry about moving the sale forward.

Tibor Shanto

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The Art of Sales Conference – Toronto on January 26th, 20150

Yes it is that time of year again, time for the Art Of Sales in Toronto, and while January may seem a bit away, it’s not, and now is the time to plan ahead.  Not only that but readers of The Pipeline can take advantage not only of promotional pricing, but the Early Bird pricing in effect until December 5th, 2014.  You will also want to check back to learn about a contest I will be running where some lucky readers can win tickets to this event, more on that as we get close to Christmas.

Now here is all you need to know.

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 The Art of Sales Conference – Toronto

Join us for Canada’s top sales event returning this January 26th, 2015.

The Art of Sales conference, sponsored by Microsoft, brings world-renowned sales leaders and bestselling authors for a full day of cutting edge thinking and real world experience on today’s most critical sales strategies.

Connect with over 1,300 of Toronto’s most notable sales professionals and gain insights from:

  • GREG MCKEOWN – New York Times Bestselling Author.
  • MARK BOWDEN – Communication Expert, Performance Trainer.
  • JOEY COLEMAN – World Renowned Expert on Customer Experience Design.
  • JACKIE HUBA – Customer Loyalty Expert & Bestselling Author.
  • JOHN JANTSCH – Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author.
  • SCOTT STRATTEN – Bestselling Author of UnSelling, UnMarketing.

Take advantage of the EARLY BIRD RATE, use promo-code “RENBOR32” and save $100 when registering!




When: January 26th, 2015 8:30AM – 5:00PM


Metro Toronto Convention Centre
John Bassett Theatre
255 Front Street West
Toronto, ON
M5V 2W6

The Value Deficit – Sales eXecution 2710

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Sales scale

Sales is very much a balancing exercise, somewhat like a scale, to keep balanced, you need to ensure that there is as much weight on one side as there is on the other. When there isn’t it could lead to problems for the parties involved. The most common example of this in B2B selling is price. More often than not, when a sales person finds themselves negotiating on price, or selling on price it is the result of not having created enough value to merit the price they are demanding.

It is easy to find one’s self with a value deficit just at the wrong time, and having to give unnecessary concessions to win the deal. A fundamental element is a lack of an understanding of value, after all, value is a subjective thing. Like beauty, value is in the eye of the beholder, some line up to pay for a high end performance auto, while others are loath to pay full price for even the most basic vehicle. Part of the problem is a lack of definition around value, just because it is subjective, does not mean it cannot be defined, especially in the context of a sale. This is especially so in a day when everyone is so keen to rest on their value proposition. As I have said in the past value propositions are useless, you can put lipstick on it but it is still a pitch.

So let’s define value, especially in a way that allows you to avoid a value deficit. This is an actionable definition we use with our clients:

“Buyers will see value in those offerings that remove barriers, obstacles, or helps bridge GAPS between where the buyer is now – and – their objectives!”

By helping clients move towards their objectives, or better yet achieve them, you can build value right from the start. Add to that the needed step of quantifying the outcomes you can deliver, you can in effect quantify the value you deliver, and expand that to the value your buyer will realize, which can be greater, especially if you sell it right. By that I mean that if you can help the client see how achieving specific steps or objectives will help open up opportunities beyond that, the payoff will seem and in fact be better than initially understood, and worth paying for.

As an example, let’s say you can demonstrate that you can help the client improve manufacturing process. A good enough objective and outcome on its own. But why stop there, why not explore further, further than your product goes, with the improvement in the process, can they reduce the cost of good, which can both reduce their requirement for operating funds and increased margins. With better margins, can they increase targeted market share, which in turn helps them negotiate better terms with suppliers, etc. Most sales people stop short of this because their product may not be directly delivering or involved in all steps taken, but all I need to be is the catalyst, not doing every bit of it. By extrapolating the value I bring to their objective, I can create a value surplus, or at the minimum, avoid a value deficit.  In other words, build value for the buyer, not value for your product.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

What Can Sales People Learn From Ebola?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 


Probably Absolutely Nothing At All!

I just wanted to be the first to jump on one of the silliest bandwagons among bloggers, sales blogs being no different; trying to squeeze a sales lesson or morals from every significant event to make headlines.

Just do a search and you’ll find titles of all sorts all linking sales to some insignificant angle in sales to some unrelated event in the headlines. “What Can Sales Learn from the World Cup?”. I don’t know, how to dive? Or “Sales Management Lessons can be had from the Swallows of Capistrano?”

So now that we have the first confirmed case on the continent, it’s time to start capturing lessons. Lesson One: People tell you what they think you want to hear – Thomas Eric Duncan, did exactly that, lying in answers to questions in order to get on his flight.

So what can sales learn from Ebola?

I haven’t a clue, do you?

I invite you share your ideas for lessons to learn, or actual lesson you learned from Ebola that helps you get more sales. Leave your comments, and maybe we’ll have a winner, or learn something.

Looking ahead to creative thinking and originality in new highs, or lows.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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