Welcome to The Pipeline.

Why Set Out For 2nd Prize?0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

2nd prize

Every day I work with sales people who start their day by setting their sights on winning second prize, and then celebrate when they achieve it. No really, watch any group of sales people on the phone trying to set appointments, and it is only a question of minutes before you see a few telling you how they convinced the potential prospect to let them have second place, or take their place among the also-rans.

Now I am not sure it is always accurate, but there is something to be said for the saying that in sales “second place, is as good as seventh place.” Meaning only the rep who wins the deal has any bragging rights, and the money, the rest are quickly forgotten.

But seriously, how else can you explain sales people doing the following.

They get on the phone, get their indented target on the phone, who tells them “we’re all set, we already have a provider (insert your stuff here), thanks for calling though”. To which the sales rep responds “Well, maybe I can send you some info, and if you ever need a backup…” Sometimes it is a variation on that theme, their whole approach is to get permission to send information to the potential prospect, and then ask for permission to call back to follow up. I mean I could find it interesting if they asked for an appointment to review the material they send, but to ask for permission to call back, don’t we all know what will happen when they call back:

A.   They end up in voice mail, they don’t leave a message, or leave the wrong message; no call back, couple more tries and then they give up
B.   Mysteriously, despite improvements in technology, the prospect did not receive what they sent
C.   The prospect hasn’t had a chance to read, but will, and asks you to call in a week
D.   All of the above

Notice what one of the options wasn’t, that’s right, an appointment, which what the objective is, first prize!

Knowing how to handle objections is one thing, and if you download our Objection Handling Handbook, you’ll know how to handle the two above, (all set, and send me stuff), as well as the most common you are likely to face on the phone. But where most fail is in their attitude, which is really just a symptom of their preparedness and commitment.

While the reality is that most people you speak to will not meet with you first try; it is also true that often that first call is a chance to introduce yourself and initiate a process that may involve a number of calls before you have built enough rapport to have them take a meeting. But it is also true that that should be what you settle for, not your intent going into the call.

Assuming, (not always safe I know), as a seller who values their time and is intent on exceeding quota, you have at least minimally qualified the person and the opportunity before you picked up the phone. The company meets your criteria, you done some background work on the company and the individual you are calling, checked out their social activity, and have prepared for the call. If so, then you objective for the call is to get the meeting to initiate the sale, anything short of that is not a win. And that needs to be the attitude when you are on the phone – you and I need to meet, we’ll both get value!

Not only will that attitude come across on the phone, but it will inform what and how you present things to the buyer. Everything you say driving the need to meet and talk further, that you can add immediate value to their ability to meet their objective. Not in an overt way, but very specifically challenging the prospect to meet, and remember challenge like provoke can be done in a very positive way, it need not be a negative. But most sellers are so scared of the phone, so scared of rejection, so unprepared, they see any permission to end the call as a good one. The difference between the winners and the rest, is that the winners see the meeting as the only good outcome, while the rest want to get off so fast that they see the right to send, second prize, as the best way to achieve their objective, which “How fast can I get off this call without hearing no? Send you some stuff, sure that works, thank you.”

“Hey Boss, I looks like they’re interested, I am putting it at 25%!”

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Join me - Return On Objectives #Webinar

 

3 Ways to Minimize or Marginalize Objections – Sales eXecution 2402

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

bad phone day

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I have pointed out that salespeople and sales organizations spend too much time and energy trying to avoid objections, when they should be spending time on learning to deal with them, redirect and leverage them to move the sale forward. Here are three things you can do at the outset of the call that will make objections more manageable.

1.  Framing The Conversation – How you frame a question will have a direct impact on the type of response you get. At times it is simple semantics, other time it is where you can get the recipient of a call to focus. When you ask me about a specific, I will answer that specific. This is where many get in trouble, often led astray by pundits who’ve told them to focus on pain, needs or solutions. If you ask me about a need I do not have or perceive at the time, you are inviting me say no, even when I could use your product had you asked me differently.

Ask me about specific objectives someone in my role and type of company have, and it would lead to conversation. Your product could in fact move me towards achieving the objective, even when my perception of needs are different. There are things all business people want to achieve in areas where they are not feeling pain.

While I may still object, it will be in context of something I am interested in discussing, not in context of a pain or need I do not have, or at best not acknowledge.

2.  Take It Away In The Introduction – I was working with a group of salespeople with a well know international band, they were targeting small local companies. A big sticking point was when the prospects said “oh we’re too small”. Conversations always went sideways, having to defend misconception around cost, complexity, and more. So I had them include the following in their introduction “I am the small company specialist”. This did not eliminate the usual objections, but it marginalized a big hurdle, and allowed the conversation to move past it easily, and allow it to unfold in more familiar ground.

3.  Lead With Positive Measurable – In point number one above, I asked you to align your talk track with their objectives, not perceived pains. If for whatever reason you are not sure what those may be, there is a plan B. Highlight, clearly and strongly, a specific and measurable outcome, making that the focus of your talk track, not a product or “solution”. “I have helped (provide example) increase margins by 6%, – or – increase turnover by 8%”, etc. No guarantee that you will get engagement, but it will focus the conversation on positives, and limit the objections you will face.

Again, objections while prospecting are inevitable, no matter what some pundits will peddle, but you have the power to set things up in a way that allow you to manage and move past them to a real sales conversation.

What to be better at handling objection, download our Objection Handling Handbook.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Webinar: Time – Prospecting And Getting the Jump on Both!0

d-orsay-clock_3

On Tuesday February 4, I will be presenting a webinar Along with the good folks at eGrabber – “Time – Prospecting – And Getting the Jump On Both” I’ll be talking to the importance of sourcing the right leads, information about the individual and their companies, and securing the right and accurate contact information so you can engage with the right person for the right conversation.

There are a lot of critical steps to engaging new B2B customers. Two of the most common challenges is finding the right target, and then engaging with them. Every day I meet sales people challenged by finding the right contact, their contact info and related information. Even if you use LinkedIn or other tools, you need to be able to connect directly.

This webinar we will introduce tools & techniques on how to find contact information for people you don’t yet know, and then how to engage with them:

1. Find missing Email & Phone# for any social profile.
2. Find Director, VP and C-Level, decision makers in any company.
3. Build a highly targeted B2B prospect list with business e-mail and phone#.
4. Do Pre-call Research, Get Insightful Prospect Information.

Click here to register

We’ll be looking at the combination of cutting edge tools available from eGrabber to help you make prospecting more time efficient and productive. Time is the only unrenewable resource you have, the better you use it the more success you will have. Improve your rate of connecting with the right decision makers, and you will increase prospects, sales and profits. We will be sharing best practices and everyday techniques for improved prospecting.

Click here to register

Prospects On The Revenue Express0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Detective

One reason I enjoy selling, and I mean selling not order taking, is it really is like a good mystery or thriller novel coming together. All the twists and turns, the intrigue in the form of competition, the unknown outcome, hidden decision makers and more. Not only do you get to participate, but when you participate well, you not only solve the situation, but make money for doing it, it makes selling great.

So I was a bit baffled last week when I met with a group of sales people who typified the 80% in the Pareto principle, they weren’t so much lazy or lethargic, more like completely uninspired and totally lacked the ability to have fun. They were with a top tier player in their field, and while they may not win every deal they were involved in they were in a position to win more than their share. Their product was more than competitive and they had managements backing to walk away from deals that were strictly price driven.

But it seems everything they had to do, which was no different than that expected from other B2B sales people, was a chore, and seemed to require a lot more effort from them than really necessary. It may be due to the fact that they had a good ride before the economy turned, but it was clear that they had forgotten some basics, specifically two critical musts in B2B sales, prospecting, and having fun.

To be clear they did prospect, but in such an uninspired way that it was painful to watch them, never mind listen to them. It was the typical “get me in front of the right guy, and I can close them”, well so could most trained monkeys. The money goes to those who can get in front of the right guy.

Thinking it may serve well to change their perspective, I suggested we approach prospecting as we would a mystery, not quite Agatha Christie, but then again. We had some clues, the company name, locations they can be found, even a couple of people on the inside willing to play. As usual we were lacking their direct numbers, e-mails; which is the first bit of fun, finding and navigating our way to finding those, to then contacting and engaging with our target.

The reality is that this may not always be easy, but rather than letting it frustrate you, get your Sherlock Holmes and discover. After all, when you solve this part of the mystery, we get the opportunity to get in front of that right guy. Further the work and effort invested in sleuthing at this stage of the sale will more than help us uncover important elements that help us close the sale later.

I know that none of this makes the work any easier, but at least approaching it like a grand mystery, a paperback classic, we can make it more fun, and more importantly doable, and more lucrative..

So pick your favourite sleuth, and let’s solve this sale.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto  

Red Light Calls – Sales eXchange 2191

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

redlight

No no no, I am not switching from the second oldest profession to the oldest, but rather speaking about how to make small efforts pay off big. A Red Light Call is simply a call you can make while stopped at a red light driving between appointments or wherever. While it can be thought of being in the same group as Coma Calls, they are different. Red Light Calls can be used in a number of ways to help with a few specific scenarios.

First is to get closer to engaging with potential buyers. Depending on who you read, it could take anywhere from 8 to 12 or more touch points to just connect or engage with a potential prospect. A recent article I read from a credible source, suggested that her recent findings show an average of 8.4 tough points are required in B2B sales. The assumption is that you are ready for the call, know the talk track, salient points you want to hit, and it is just down to getting that other person “on the line”. These touch points can be a combination of e-mail, telephone/voice mail, text messages, snail mail, whatever you can think of, they should vary in the time carried out.

In the majority of instances, I am just looking to set an appointment with the person I am call, understanding that it is unrealistic to complete a quality call on an initial cold call, but it is more than doable to set an appointment where they commit to set aside time to at least listen to you, this can be either face to face or phone. I don’t need to be at my desk to make this appointment call, in fact if I wait for that, it may be hard to vary the times of the call. So one place to be efficient in the use of time and improve you odds is to call when stuck at a red light.

PSA: please take advantage of hands free technology to dial the number, don’t want you to get a ticket or worse.

You’re less inclined to talk, and therefore will be more inclined to focus on getting the appointment and selling from a position of strength. Even if you don’t connect with the party, you can still leave a voice mail, and complete another touch point; but if you connect….

The other great Red Light Call, are those elusive prospects who you just can’t seem to get a hold off in the office, or prospects who have gone “radio silent” in the middle of a sale. There is a certain quality to random calls, not to mention the ability to be productive during “windshield time”.

There is also the benefit of not being trapped to routine. While I am a big fan of structure and planning, there is also a risk of being trapped by it. We get used to a set of behaviours that become habit, and habits can be good or limiting. Including an element of random activities, allows you to make the most of structure, but at the same time do things the schedule does not always allow for. While you can make the most of calling time in the office to focus on your primary targets, Red Light Calls, allow you to go for third tier or other long shots. There goes the light, good bye.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

#Webinar – Cold Calling: How to get from Interruption to Conversation0

Proactive Prospecting

Thursday, September 19, 2013
1:00 – 2:00 pm EST / 10:00-11:00am PST

Join me and DiscoverOrg for this no filler – just stuff you can sink your teeth into – webinar.

In a recent survey of 1,000 IT decision makers at Fortune ranked, small and medium-sized companies, DiscoverOrg found cold – sales calls and e-mails affect and “more importantly disrupt vendor selection.”

“Seventy-five per cent of IT executives have set an appointment or attended an event as a direct result of outbound email and call techniques.” Further, “nearly 600 said an outbound call or e-mail led to an IT vendor being evaluated.”

This webinar will focus on the critical elements of executing a Proactive Prospecting sales call. From voice mail to talk track to impact question to handling the most common objections. This is about how to do it, step by step, no academia here, nothing but a proven methodology for efficiently and effectively turn cold calls to conversations to prospects.

While it is true that nothing happens until there is a sale, it is also true that there is no sale without prospects. So if you need prospect to deliver sales against quota, this is the webinar for you.

Topics covered:

• Time Allocation
• Developing client/prospect objectives
• Mastering the language of sales
• Understanding the role of Conversion Rates and how to improve them
• Develop approach for engaging with prospects and setting appointments
• Create company and individual opening approach – Talk Track
• Review managing techniques for common and recurring objections
• Master voice mails that get return calls

FOR DETAILS and REGISTRATION CLICK HERE

 

 

 

Is it Ever The Right Time? – Sales eXchange 2083

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Clocks head

If you prospect regularly, a common push back you get from potential buyers is “it’s not a good time”, or “the timing is wrong”, or any variations on that theme.  In some instances it makes sense, calling an accounting firm in the March April timeframe, or a school supply company in August; these are times those companies are busy executing, having made purchase decisions much earlier in the cycle.

With only 15% or so of your market being in play, that is actively out there “buying”, and 70% being in what is commonly called Status Quo, ostensibly not looking, it is a safe bet that 70% of the “time” the timing is not right.  I say ostensibly, because there is a lot of opportunity and buyers to be found in that large group called Status Quo, the fact that they are satisfied with their current state, does not mean they won’t buy, no matter what some pundits tell you.  Satisfied is a long way away from ecstatic; there is a lot of room for improvement and your offering between those two points, don’t settle for satisfied.  The problem is that too many sales people allow the statement about timing to throw them off or give up on an opportunity, not just for themselves, but for the buyer, and by extension the buyer’s company and objectives.

“75% of customers who leave or switch vendors for a competitor, when asked, say they were ‘satisfied or completely satisfied’ with the vendor they left, at the time they switched.”  ‘Customer Loyalty Guaranteed’ Bell & Patterson

What the Status Quo prospect is saying is that they don’t have time to waste on another value proposition, or you history of accomplishments.  They want to know how to move past satisfied, which you could do if you could surface their objectives, and what they feel is in the way.

For those 70% of the time where by definition your timing is “not good”, you need to counter it in a way that acknowledges your understanding of their statement, but allows you to put the onus on them not to prevent that from them taking action.  Left to their own devices, it will never be the right time until it is too late, they go to market, and you are part of a crowd willing to drop their pants and sell at a discount.  Not for you, the time is now.

The simplest and most effective way to do that is to move the discussion off time and on to their objectives.  Understanding why people buy, why they have bought from you and/or your company is key, and one of the great benefits of reviewing all deals, wins, losses, and draws.

You can start and create a gateway by asking “is it ever a good time?  With all the things we have on the go, it is difficult to have time for everything.” Pause, and using the above, and specifics tied to your market and offering, “if you had to create time, and complete the number one item on your list, what would that be?  At the same time, what’s something that you could drop from that list without much impact on your business?”

By listening with an open mind and a blank canvas, you can begin to understand and discuss what their priorities and objectives are, and how you can impact those.  As with most prospecting calls, the goal is to secure an appointment, not to sell, this will put you in a position to assess the opportunity and secure an appointment.  You’ll have a sense as to objectives and current barriers, and how you may add value.

As with most things in sales it is not 100% full proof and is usually done hand in hand with other steps that need to be executed, but it will allow you take a common objection and turn it into a sales call.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Win Tickets to see Tony Robbins in Toronto – July 24!

How to and Why to Cold Mail – Sales eXchange 2032

by Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

e-mail

If you are a regular at this blog, you know that I am big proponent and supporter of cold calling.  I don’t fall into a camp.  I think clod calling is a necessary part of a multipronged approach for engaging with potential buyers you have not have not spoken to before, or have a means of generating a referral to.  While social media is a big plus, there are times when still the most direct, cost and time efficient to get “in front” of someone is to pick up the phone and make a cold call.

Unlike some others who will tell you to use only one method over another, I have more respect for your intelligence and time than to tell you to only cold call and ignore referral selling, I believe you need to leverage as many tools and resources as are available to you to get you message to the right person.  Furthermore, the reality is that in some markets, with some products, where the audience is not involved in social media, or is unreachable through referral, your choices are limited, especially if your goal is to engage and sell, not just to look cool and modern.

One key reason you want to use as many tools as possible, is that it could take many touch points to get someone to engage, not to buy, but just to engage, depends who you read it could take anywhere between 5 – 9 touch points for the nickel to drop with a potential buyer.  Consider:

  • 48% Of Sales People Never Follow Up with a Prospect
  • 25% Of Sales People Make a Second Contact and Stop
  • 12% Of Sales People Make a Second Contact and Stop
  • Only 10% Of Sales People Make More Than Three Contacts
  • 10% Of Sales Are Made On the Fourth Contact
  • 80% Of Sales Are Made On the Fifth to Twelfth Contact

To make the most of the touch points, you need to mix up the modes of approach.  As with most tools, it is important you use the right one for a desired outcome.  What follows assumes:

• You need to have a direct conversation with the prospect to sell successfully, either face to face or by telephone.  • The e-mail in question is your very first attempt to reach the prospect.

Given the above, especially the second point, you need to determine what your objective is.  If you have never spoken to the buyer, the objective is clear, to schedule a firm time for the first conversation.  It is not to sell, deliver your value prop, start a relationship, or anything other than getting their commitment to speak at a specified time.  You want a call back to confirm the call, or as you will see in a moment, to actually schedule a meeting.  If your goal is different than that, what follows may not be for you.  On the other hand if you have never spoken to them before, and you need to direct, then what other outcome could you hope for?

The Format

Keep it short, two or three lines – in a 140 character world, you need to focus.  Chances are your e-mail will be read on a mobile device, if you don’t capture them in that first screen, you won’t.  You may get one flick of the thumb, the second will be to delete.

The Subject Line – think of how you do things, first question do I know this person? If not, you look at the subject line, if it doesn’t grab you, delete.  If it does, you may open it, as a result the subject line is crucial, as the reader will not know you.  This is why your subject line should be your call to action with a question mark.

Example (from a few years back):

Subject:  Meeting June 30, 9:30 am?

Dear Mr. Prospect,

I am Tibor Shanto Principal with Renbor Sales Solutions, over the last three years we have helped The Business Development Bank of Canada set more appointments with Canada’s small business owners.  I read about The Scotia Bank RV, and am writing to set up a meeting to discuss how we may help you and Scotiabank reach your objective.

How is Monday June 30th at 9:30 am?

Thank you in advance, Tibor Shanto

Result, within 90 minutes, I had response saying the date did not work, but they suggested an alternative time for us to meet.

Doesn’t work every time, about 10% – 20% of the time it does, but it is just one of many tools.  Combined with voice mail, a presence in social media, and you have an effective means of engaging, or at the least, an effective touch point.

An interesting observation, while the perfect result is 10 – 20 percent, I do see a number of people visiting my site after getting the e-mail, and while many may not call back, when I follow up with my next touch point, they are more aware of who and why.  When they visit the site, check out the blog, see what I am up to on social media, I am willing to bet, that some of the appointments I get through other channels with these same people was helped by the initial short and direct e-mail.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Dude, You’re Gonna Need More Than 15 Minutes3

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Just 15 minutes

Sales people are constantly working at communicating value to their buyers, especially in the early stages of the cycle, lead gen to prospecting and engaging the buyer to where they could complete an effective Discovery process.   After sellers have done all the work involved in getting to the point where they can engage with a buyer, I am always surprised at how easily they are willing to undermine it, and risk their opportunity by saying something completely unnecessary, and serves only to sooth their nerves.

The expression that does this most is “I just need 15 minutes of your time” or “A quick 15 minutes”.  Both are stupid and useless, the second is one I never did get, how is a “quick 15 minutes” different than 15 minutes, don’t all minutes have 60 seconds, it is just the quality of the content that seems to make some minutes last a lifetime.

I know why it is used, generally comes down to two things, both can be dealt with more intelligently and effectively.  First is the popular notion that if you can get 15 minutes, and do well, they’ll give you an encore and you can stretch it out; I guess we all think we can do a good job.  On the other hand I used to work for a VP of Sales who managed his calendar down to the minute, busy guy.  He would ask you how long you needed, and would book you in for that time, if you said 15 minutes, he would end the meeting right at 15 minutes.  He wasn’t rude, he had to get to his next scheduled meeting, if you couldn’t live up to the expectation I set, it was your issue, not his, you had to deal with it, not him.

Which brings us to the first contradiction, most decision makers have more than what to do in a day, how realistic is that they don’t have other meetings behind your, or other things that require their time and attention.  Yes, no doubt we have all had instances where we were able to extend 15 minutes in to 45 or even 60 minutes, but an occasional anomaly does not make for a sound strategy.

The other issue with this approach is that you are in fact misleading the prospect before you have even met them.  Think about it, do you really want to start things off by lying to the prospective buyer?  Any way you rationalize it, that is exactly what you are doing, not a good foundation for a trust based relationship.

The second reason sales people do this is linked to the first, and just as weak.  Specifically they are trying to minimize the apparent impact on the buyer, trying to make it “easy” on them, “Your time will not be wasted”, is the implication.  But unless you are selling a coffee service or window cleaning, how much real or tangible value can you effectively communicate.  More so, when you are selling what you would call a “solution”, where information has to be exchanged, 15 minutes is not going to get you there, you can pretend all you want, you are going to pitch, worse, you are going to ‘speed pitch’.

Some will tell me, “I can at least get things started”, sure then comeback and continue, with a bit of recapping, you are costing you and the buyer more time.  By asking for 15 minutes you are undermining your  so called “value proposition”.  What the prospect hears is that this is so basic and unimportant, what they are asking themselves is as follows: “we’re going to make real progress in 15, can’t be that important or unique, maybe it can wait, or I can delegate it to someone who deals with unimportant things.”

Think about it, assuming things get started, small talk, while you assume they checked out your web site, you have to validate; if they did, you still need to create context, if they didn’t you have to do a bit more than that.  From here, you need to at least go through the motions of gather information or executing a Discovery of facts and objective. Ah, look at that time is up!  I remember someone trying to sell me an ad in local board of trade directory, they said they just need 15 minutes, I pointed out to him that he will need to ask me some questions, I will certainly have some for him, so let’s get real, how much time will we really need, he was honest enough to come across with a real time frame.

What’s worse, it is usually the seller who brings time in to the equation, not the prospect, again communicating a lack of confidence in their offering, or their ability to sell, or both.  Just stop this juvenile practice, and sell.

Now I know that there times when you will be asked by a prospect how much time you need; in my case I gear my first meetings to about an hour, I am the one that gets antsy after 50 minutes.  But rather than saying “one hour”, I pause, and ask, “how long can you give me?”  They usually come back and say “is an hour enough?”  Touch down!

But assuming they ask again, I just say “I usually need about 30 minutes for Discovery, I assume you’ll have some questions, so 40 minutes is safe.”  If I feel they have a sense of humor, I add “any longer than that I take as interest on your part.”

I do have people who say “I can give you 30 minutes.”  Great I can work with that; if they offer 15 minutes, I say no, I know what is going to happen, it is not a good use of my time, my most important resource.  Either we can find a mutually better time, or on to the next one.  If you have lots of prospects, this is not an issue, if you only have one or two, you may have to settle for the scraps that a quick 15 minutes represent.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Click here to complete the Voice Mail Survey!

 

Managing Prospecting Objections (#video)0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

This is the second in a series of video prepared for BizTV dealing with objections, the first was an overview of sales objections; this one specifically those you encounter while prospecting.

Ojections 2

http://bit.ly/BizTV-OHH

In the video it references a link to download the Objection Handling Handbook, just in case you missed it above, it is: http://bit.ly/BizTV-OHH

If you have questions about objection handling in the course of prospecting, or just telephone prospecting,  give me a call or schedule time by clicking here.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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