Welcome to The Pipeline.

Can You Use A Sales Caddy?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca


While Labour Day may be behind us, it is still too early to put the golf clubs away, or to take in a tournament or two on the television. I am not much of a golfer, they have banned me from a number of courses on suspicion that I was there to set the world’s record for size of divot. What is interesting when you watch the pros is their reliance on their direct and extended team, while they may strike the ball alone, their caddy is right there on the battle field, intimately involved in key aspects of the game, and the outcome, be it a win or a loss.

While many sales professionals play golf, they don’t allow that kind of thinking to enter their day to day selling. While they are open to help, input and support on the links, they often turn away from or refuse help on the sales field. They are open to suggestions from their managers, or respected peers, but when the time to “play” comes, they tend to want to go it alone. No what you would expect, given that they carry the revenue responsibility for their companies. The best reason I can think of for this is ego, a necessary but not singular sales skill or trait.

I say this because I remember sitting with a VP of Sales some time ago, he understood he need outside help, felt that we could collaborate, but was reluctant to commit. When I asked why, he said:

VP: “If I bring you in, what does that say about me?”

He is not alone in thinking like this. On a regular basis I hear VP’s say, “Well that’s what they pay me for”, or something to that effect. The same lone wolf superman outlook many of his reps had, they didn’t need anyone telling them how to things, that would be a sign of weakness, not good for the ego; they can continue to bring in 95% of quota on their own, they don’t need help doing that, thank you.

As for the VP, I think that they are paid to drive performance, behaviour and success, I am not sure the intent is for them to do it all, strategy to tactical roll out and execution, hiring the right resources, internal and external, are like closer to the mark.

There is often a sense that if they hadn’t been able to drive a set of behaviours or to get the team to adhere to the sales process, it is a case of the people not getting it; rather than maybe the VP’s skills are vision, strategy, the ability to align that strategy with other internal departments, and buyers, gather a team who understands the strategy and has the means to execute the tactical steps needed to succeed, and make the VP look good, and stroke that ego.

Which is the realization the VP above had when I responded to him:

VP: “If I bring you in, what does that say about me?”

ME: “Well even Tiger Woods has a caddy”

He got it, his ego was able to deal with it, and more importantly the outcome, success, greed, recognition trumped, and in fact feed his ego.

Time you got a caddy!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

A Passion For Life1


For many, summer is a time to take it back a notch, relax, and enjoy a slower pace.  For others it is a time to bear down and focus on things they want accomplish, they spend time preparing their next adventure and conquests.

If you’re not ready to left the summer drift by, and see it as an opportunity to reignite your passion and take things to the next level, we have good news for you.

On July 24, Legacy Mastery, is presenting a fantastic event in Toronto: A PASSION FOR LIFE, is a full day event pack with today’s EXCEPTIONAL LEADERS who will transform your BUSINESS, PROFESSIONAL & PERSONAL PERFORMANCE.

I know it sounds like a big statement, but the day lives up to it, here is the roster:

  • Tony Robbins – Peak Peformance – Entrepreneur, Author & Peak Performance Strategist World Authority on Leadership Psychology
  • Robert Greene – Keys to Mastery – Best Selling Author , The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, and Mastery
  • Chip Heath – Creativity & Branding – Best Selling Author of Switch, Made to Stick and Decisive Loretta LaRoche – Work Life Balance – Acclaimed Stress Expert, Author, Humorist and Motivational Speaker
  • Joe Plumeri – Success Strategies – Chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings (2000-2012) CEO, Citibank North America (1999–2000); Chairman and CEO, Travelers Primerica Financial Services (1995-1999); President and Managing Partner, Shearson Lehman Brothers (1990-1993)
  • Desiree Rogers – Customer Relations – CEO, Johnson Publishing Company, LLC; White House Special Assistant to President Obama; 2009-2010, White House Social Secretary, 2009-2010

A great bill no matter what you have your eye set on, you’re bound to get the inspiration and practical steps you need to succeed.

And As you would expect, as a reader of The Pipeline, you can register now, use the code RENBOR, and receive $100.00 courtesy of Renbor Sales Solutions and the good folks at Legacy Mastery.

These events tend to fill up fast, act now to get your seat, and your $100  discount by using the code RENBOR.

Enjoy and profit!

Tibor Shanto

Trend Spotting – 201341

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

As we make our way back to work from time spent with family, friends and credit cards, we are about to besieged by a wave of articles, blog posts, tweets, and other sources touting the (new) trends for 2013.  I have been approached by a half dozen or so outlets asking for my input.  While I understand the purpose, I am not sure this type trend spotting adds much value to the discussion, or the ability of organizations or individuals to improve their execution.

For one thing, trends do not adhere to a calendar, they don’t bubble up around January 1, only to fade in time for the start of the next year.  Fashion does, this fall’s fashion trends have already been decided in Paris, and oohed and aahed on by Jeanne Beker; and while those wearing them this Thanksgiving will feel trendy, real sales trends evolve, form and take shape based on market conditions and voids, rather than being ushered in on a schedule.

Like fashion, some “trends” are manufactured, there to promote a cause, product, or other thing with an intended predetermined purpose, as with most manufactured goods, the end goal is profit.  Witness the social selling trend a few years ago aggressively promoted coincidentally by particular vendors with specific agendas.

While this type trend spotting has been around a while, it presents an added risk today when part of the daily practice and vernacular has people looking for “what’s trending?”.  Trends by definition are short term:

1. the general course or prevailing tendency; drift;
2. style or vogue;
3. to veer in a new direction:

In sales a short term focus often makes trends more of diversion than a benefit; long term success in sales evolve in response to real market conditions.  So before you jump on any January 2013 trends, take a minute and review the outcome and accuracy of some of the trends hyped last year at this time.  Give it the 72 day test, see which “trends” proved to be accurate and sustained, which delivered value to you helping you execute your sales better, and delivered consistent success;  and which were just “trending” the way of the #KimKardashianpregnant pregnancy.

Be sure that you differentiate between “trends”, and real evolution in sales and selling; the former are distractions, while the latter presents opportunity.

I suspect that some trends being presented are a blend of prediction, wishful thinking, or self-fulfilling in nature.  Take for example the one response I did provide to a request to share a brief prediction of a trend we in the industry see impacting sales in 2013.  I submitted:

“The trend I see is benchmarking.  As the economy improves, and sales improve along with them, some sales leaders will fall back into slumber riding the wave.  The smart ones will want to know how much of the gain is due to rising tides, and how much is due to specific performance by their team.  To that they will need solid sources to benchmark to, and avoid the temptation of using anecdotal sources.”

The above reflects my discussions with sales leaders who would like to have more to benchmark against than anecdotal – blind survey based – benchmarks as a means to improve the way their teams execute.

Will this become a trend, I hope so, but just in case, I do have a plan B.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Why Me? – Sales eXchange 15773

Last week I was working with a team getting ready for a frontal attack on the second half of the year.  One of the reps, Henry, a capable fellow, been plying his craft for a number of years, a type of rep I call the “Eighty Percenters”.  Some years he exceeded quota, some years he missed, when he missed it was not by much but still a miss, then he would refocus, and put together a few successful quarters.  Interestingly enough he had exceeded plan during 2010 and 2011, when others didn’t; but had run into a rough patch thus far this year.    

As we began our review he said something typical for reps in a slump or behind target, he asked out loud “Why me?”. As the sales equivalent of Zeus or some sales oracle and their council, high on Mount Revenue, had  decided that this was not the quarter Henry was going to make his number; they plotted and placed obstacles no mortal sales person could overcome thus assuring his failure. 

While I understand the frustration, and empathise with Henry, the reality is that the only answer to Henry’s question was Henry.

Rather than asking why me, it is a much better use of time to understand what Henry did, did not do, did well, and frankly what he messed up on.  Assuming there was a level playing field in each of the sales Henry was involved in, it is clear that someone else did a better job, or more accurately, took the right steps to understand and satisfy the needs of the buyers involved.

These could be factors directly related to how Henry executes his company’s sales process.  For instance, after looking at how a couple of deals he lost unfolded, it was clear that Henry had skipped a couple of critical steps here, and got ahead of the buyer at times, making assumptions where validation and next steps would have served him better.

It was also clear that he did not take the time to learn from each sale.  Henry was happy to celebrate deals he won, but did not take the time to see if the underlying factors were still valid, had changed, or why he was winning the deal.  I can relate, what’s the old saying about when it’s not broken why fix it.  But sales is about leading the process, not just responding/reacting to things, especially since wins were not as abundant as the plan called for.

While Henry did do the obligatory review of lost deals, much of what surfaced was not changing the way he approached his next deal.  Sure he could point to a few small steps here and there, but some bigger changes were still “gonna be next week”, before they became part of his routine. 

To be fair, his manager should have been more proactive, and accountable for some of the things Henry was or was not doing, but in the end it is Henry’s territory, income and professional success.  He needs to get involved in his success, not ask, “oh why me?”  The only answers is that is “who else should suffer the outcome of your execution, or lack thereof?”

So next time you are tempted to ask “why me?”, first ask, based on your actions, who else?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

How important Are You To Your Client?68

Ask any group of sales people what they want to achieve with their buyers, and a vast majority will tell you they want to build rapport and establish a “relationship” with buyers. It seems like the Politically Correct thing to say, sounds nice, sounds safe, and frankly sounds easy; all the ingredients that the 80% are looking for. Now don’t get me wrong, having a relationship with your buyers and customers is important, but when measured in results and revenue, not all it’s cracked up to be.

Myself, and I believe the 20%, would rather achieve being “important” to their buyers and clients. Because when they want to achieve important things, they turn to the people they believe and perceive to be important for the task, regardless of the relationship. How many times did you think you had a relationship, while the other company ended up with the order?

Read on…

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Guidance On Going “Over Their Head”62

We have all faced the situation where the person we have been working with on a sale turns out to be the wrong person, or more often an obstacle to moving the deal forward.  While it is OK to be frustrated, you also need to act, and when you step back the only logical thing to do is escalate things, go higher, or what sales people commonly call “going over their head”, for me the only smart way to get the deal.

But a lot of sellers have difficulty accepting this move.  There are all kinds of reasons (excuses), mostly boiling down to the fact that they have drank the relationship Kool Aid, and would rather make friends than sales.

So let’s look at your options if you want to make sales, friends and money.  First you should have gone high in the organization at the same time you prospected Mr. or Mrs. I Can’t Make Decisions, by contacting everyone involved in the decision instead of just the front man, you open the door to having options when faced with this dilemma.   Again, the point here is not to call one versus the other, but to plan in advance and putting yourself in a position to help them make a decision, and in some instances, facilitate a consensus, after all you are the expert.

But you know what they say about the place laid plans, and you find yourself in having to go over their head, how do you do that without insulting and setting them off; how do you do it without sounding like whiny loser, or a lost sheep.  Simple, call the senior person, no matter their title or role, they are people and have an interest in delivering success to their company.  When you talk to them, simply ask for their guidance.  Sounds simple, but it works, first you are giving them the respect they expect, they love to give guidance, especially since they ultimately benefit, and in the process of getting proper guidance, you have to lay out the situation.  This allows you to get them involved, without whining or bitching about someone in their organization.  Just tell them you need their guidance about a situation, you want to address/understand their strategies and priorities, so you can align with them.

Executed right, it is all about them; done right, they will get involved; done right it works, operative word here is done, as in doing, executing, not excusing.

Next Step

  • Resolve to know who is involved in the decision
  • Call them
  • When stuck, call them back, park you ego, and ask for guidance

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Vendors, Sellers & Resellers30

Earlier this year i had the opportunity to be the MC a number of events aimed at helping vendors and resellers better leverage the opportunities available to both through a consistent execution of their mutual strategy. The interview below looks at the resources available to both vendors and resellers to help them sell better, take advantage of the opportunities presented by the cloud and managed services. But as with any resource, you need to utilize it to benefit from it, your clients are turning to these new resources, the question is are they also turning to you?

Watch, enjoy, comment, put thing to use and profit, and if you like what you hear, give me a call and let’s discover how we can make it work for you, your team or company.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2011

Strategic or Tactical Sales Training?31

A lot of sales improvement programs start at the strategic level and go light on the execution, the tactical side –  the “how do I do this?”  While this may seem to be intuitively the right and noble way to go, in reality it yields less results than approaching things the other way around; that is leading with the tactical, the tactics of “how to…”  Unless you run your sales force as a military unit – with all the command lines, discipline, and rules – you will always face the challenge around the balance between strategy and execution or tactical aspects of sales success. This challenge is even more pronounced with sales training or education, do you build your training around your strategy; or do you deliver training focused on the tactical aspects of driving that strategy forward?

Read On…

Related articles:
CRM: Culture or Technology

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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