Welcome to The Pipeline.

Why Great Time Management is Important to Small Businesses116

Guest Post – Megan Totka

Time management is a concept that many people and businesses struggle with. With that said, great time management skills are probably one of the most important skills to have when it comes to running a successful small business. While larger companies may have more of a luxury of time when it comes to selling products or closing on accounts, a small business that is just getting started can be broken by bad time management. One late delivery, and a client may decide to go with another company. While a more established company can take a loss in stride, a small business may not be able to.

Here are some ways to establish good time management practices for your small business:

  • Prioritizing – classify your day (and your employees’ day) by level of importance. Make sure you organize your day in such a way that the most critical tasks are accomplished first. While this may seem like an obvious thing to do, sometimes it is easier said than done.
  • Scheduling – schedule yourself and your employees so that there is ample coverage throughout the day. Whether your company has a physical office or just maintains phone and web coverage, be sure to have people available at all of the hours your business hopes to cover. I would even go so far as to suggest extra coverage, in case an employee is out sick, or gets tied up with another project. This way, no time goes to waste.
  • Setting Goals – having clear cut goals for your employees is critical to great time management. If your employee knows exactly what they are working towards and what the end result should be, you are setting them up for success. If your goals and timetable are unclear, time can be wasted trying to pinpoint what exactly they should be doing.
  • Motivation – encouraging your employees to be self-motivated is an important step to successful time management. It is a waste of time for management to have to keep a careful eye on each and every employee and ensure that their work is being accomplished. A self-motivated work force is much more efficient than one that needs babysitting.
  • Multi-tasking – multi-tasking can be a curse or a blessing. Employees and managers who are able to multi-task are invaluable. However, you have to be careful. If you ask too much of someone who is not a good multi-tasker, they can quickly become overwhelmed. It is great to gauge the ability of your employees and see which are able to handle several responsibilities at once, and which work better while focusing on just one task at a time.

Cultivating a culture of “no time wasted” in your small or fledgling business is extremely important. It is a necessity to get management, employees, and anyone else involved with your business on board with using your time to its fullest. Great time management coupled with a useful product or service can lead to a successful business.

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. She has spent time working for major media news outlets in Seattle and Portland

Houston, We Have The Solution!74

On Thursday October 18, The Proactive Prospecting Workshop is coming to Houston, specifically to Four Points by Sheraton Houston Southwest, at 2828 Southwest Freeway, Houston.

If you are in B2B sales, and need to engage with more new prospects, mark this date on your calendar, then sign up for this full day interactive prospecting program.

Whether you are with a small company or large,  veteran or just launching your career, this workshop will give you the fundamentals needed to connect and engage with more qualified buyers.

We leave dogma at the door, this is not about old school vs. new school, this is about executing a proven methodology for prospecting more effectively and filling your pipeline with the quality prospects in the right  quantities.  This is the same program that has helps thousands of sale professionals improve their skills and increase prospects and sales.  Sales professional in dozens of companies are using the methods and process delivered in the Proactive Prospecting Workshop to deliver consistent results.

What you’ll learn…

  • Overcome the fear of cold calling
  • Develop techniques for making successful cold calls
  • Take a proactive role in filling your sales pipeline
  • Write effective e-mails – Leave voice mail messages that get returned
  • Handle Objections – win more  appointments

To learn more about the results sellers have realised just click here to read success studies, or watch what they said after attending the Proactive Prospecting Workshop.

Every New Customer begins as a Prospect!

Start filling your pipeline with Real Prospects!

Learn more at www.proactiveprospecting.com
Sign up today, seating is limited to 100 people!

Early Bird Specials Available – Multi-Attendee offers
ADDED BONUS – 500 FREE leads from LeadFerret.com
The Proactive Prospector’s Guide to Objection Handling Booklet

www.proactiveprospecting.com
Call – (855) 25-SALES

Sign Up Today! And always be confident when asked:

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Are You A Sales Hoarder?114

A few weeks back I posted about how good sales people are prone to Attention deficit disorder (ADD), well it turns there is another popular condition that many sales professionals suffer in silence, namely hoarding.  While not a new, hoarding has come to the fore as a result of recent coverage on TV, and while sales people may look and see themselves as different, many are indeed hoarders.  You can see evidence of this in two important areas.

First, their pipelines; don’t get me wrong having a full pipeline is a good thing, but it needs to be full of the right things, opportunities, not clutter.  But some sales people are reluctant to get rid of any opportunities once in the pipeline, not matter how old, unreal, or how much mold it has on it.  It is almost like they are living a role in a Monty Python movie, every prospect is sacred, not to be removed.

Every sales person should have a mechanisms for cleaning (or in some cases flushing) out their pipelines, getting rid of deals that are not going to happen.  Specifically not going to happen now, meaning in the current cycle, or next.   Yes, many will happen in the future, six months, a year from now, but they don’t belong in the pipeline now.  You should nurture them somewhere other than where you are dealing with active, engaged buyers.

There two things you can use to gauge when it’s time to pull an opportunity from your pipe, first is the buyer’s engagement, are they actively engaged in the sales cycle, or dispassionate observers.  Are you able to consistently secure the “next step” you need; specific time bound actions they need to take to move matters forward.  Regardless of what they may say, are their actions supporting the lip service, because if they are not, than it just leaves the service part; no action = no interest = out of the pipe.  Time is the second factor, if something is taking longer than it should, it is likely not taking at all.  That applies to the sub-stages of the cycle as well, if it is taking you too long to gather the information you need to move the sale forward, take it out of the pipeline, and revisit it down the road.  Of course the challenge is that if you take an opportunity out, you have to prospect to replace it; I guess it is easier to live with the clutter than to prospect for new opportunities.

Set up guidelines for removing stale opportunities, leaving you to deal with only those that are viable.  Yes they may be fewer, but at least they are real and closable.  You may feel better with a fuller pipeline, but the clutter is just keeping you from seeing and realizing the real good stuff hidden by your hoarding.  One company I worked had relatively short cycle, 45 days, they had a rule that if an opportunity did not have a real next step for more than 14 days, it was removed from the pipeline.  This kept things focused, opportunities were qualified or disqualified, closing the former, revisiting the latter.

The second area where you see strong evidence of hoarding is in their approach to territories.  Sales people want to hold on to every account they can, and add as many as their eyes can see.  Even though the reality is that they can only cover so many effectively.  Time after time we see scenarios where the top 10 accounts in a rep’s territory accounts for up to 60% – 80% of their revenue base, if you look at the top 20, that number is even bigger.  Reps we survey often never get around to directly touching accounts beyond their top 30, leaving accounts 31 and above, lonely, abandoned, and ignored.  Well not quite alone, your competitor is likely calling on them when you are not.  So why not let someone else in your company cover them properly, and you focus on growing your top 30, OK stop sniffling, top 40.

But no, the hoarding class just wants to add more accounts and geography, as though it represents some form of wealth.  Company after company that take the smarter course, and shrink territories to create focus and growth, succeed; where as those who give in to the hoarders, don’t grow as well, have client satisfaction issues, and reps whom despite the size of their empire do not meet revenue or coverage targets.

Just like the hoarders on TV, sales hoarders are victims of their own actions, not wealthy collectors, just lost in a clutter of their own making.  Once their houses are de-cluttered, and they get the help they need, they live quite well with not so much less, but the right amount of belongings; or in the case of sales, the right pipeline.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Sales Time Termites75

As a reader of this blog you know the importance I place on time and its allocation to consistent sales success.  You know that I believe the concept of “time management” is an empty promise that has caused many a sales people to miss quota; just watch this video or better yet grab our e-book Sales Happen In Time.

While these will give you clear executable strategies and tactics for better utilizing your time, they tend to focus on bigger things, important things that have to be committed to and mastered before you can go to the next level.

As with most things, the bigger the change required, the longer it will take.  Now don’t take this as permission to not embark on that journey of change, but more as the need to be realistic in the effort and time involved, and the need to also deal with smaller things that add up in increments over time, the time it takes to change bigger elements. This requires that you adopt a “balanced” approach to rethinking how you allocate and utilize time, much like the concept of a “balanced pipeline”, a pipeline that includes small and big prospects, those that will close soon, and some will take longer.

One immediate step you can take is eradicate “Sales Time Termites”, yes termites.  Termites are often called the “silent destroyer” in the home repair circles, and are economically significant as they can cause serious structural damage to buildings, crops or plantation forests.  In sales Time termites are the little almost unnoticed activities that can be easily avoided, but left unaddressed can erode the quality of your sales time, activities and results.

Here are a few examples:

Friends and Colleagues – A few minutes here, a quick conversation there, a “come with me to grab a coffee”, a whole list of unnecessary things we do with colleagues that over the course of a week or month add up to a significant chunk of time that can be used more profitably and productively.  While I am not suggesting an anti-social stance, if you work to eliminate these time munchers, you will gain advantage.

Clients and Bosses – Yes, I said clients and bosses, they are important, they need to be heeded, but in the right time context.  For the right reasons, sales people feel the need to respond to these two groups immediately, no doubt a form of survival instinct.  But not do you not have to jump and say how high, you are also probably not doing either a favour by providing an unthought-out response, while abandoning whatever you were doing when the call comes in.  Yes it is important to respond to both these groups, but do it in a timeframe that makes sense to all, not just one party.  In cases of real emergencies, certainly drop what you are doing and deal with it, but make sure it is a REAL emergency, not a convenient excuse to stop prospecting, because that will cost you more than time.

Lack of To-Do List – A simple list, hand written or on your smartphone takes little effort or time to do, but it can make a significant difference.  Not only will you have captured all the things you feel you need to get done, but you are in a much better position to prioritize based on what you need to accomplish in a day.  More importantly, you will be able to move from task to task based on your objectives, rather than trying to figure out what you need to do next before the end of the day or before your are forced to multitask.

Again, not big things, but key things that will help you avoid losing precious time, even if it is a little at a time.  Remember, most sales people who miss quota do not run out of skills, but rather, run out of time.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Time – The Currency of Sales75

Some things I have all the time in the world for, others are not worth a second.  But sales is all about time, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  The most talented sales people have been heard to say they just ran out of time, while someone with average selling skills who uses their time wisely will always prosper.

The beauty of time is that you can only do two things with time, waste it or profit from it, which one will you choose?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

3 Ways to Steal Time58

There a host of things you can focus on to master to improve your sales execution and results, but none more than the need to master time.  We all start with 24 hours at the start of the day, and how we use it will determine our success more than anything else.  I have never heard a sales person, no matter how good, tell me they have run out skills, but at one point they have all run out of time.

There are however a few simple things you can do to tilt things your way.  The key is keeping it simple, which is not easy, especially for people in ‘complex sales’; oddly and often, what makes the sale complex is inefficient  time allocation.  The other is actually taking specific planned steps, rather than putting things off forcing people to multi-task, a really stupid concept.

Chunk It – It is safe to say that most people’s attention is challenged throughout the day, but sales people, well we seem to have a special form of ADHD, jumping from thing to another, then multi-tasking (what a stupid concept), to try to catch up and get things done. It is a lot more practical chunk your time and focus on one specific task at a time.  Rather than making a call, then sending that same person an e-mail; then “researching” before the next call, then checking voice and e-mail.  Make your calls, then do all the e-mails you committed to send, do your research for all your calls at once, and so on.  If your memory is failing, then make notes and do them all at once.  Simple, but you need to do it, and bank the time you save.

Shift your tasks – There are certain things need to get done at a specific time, while other things can float, meaning they have to get done, but as long as they are done by deadline, doesn’t matter when it gets done.  Simple but to the point, you need to make your calls when the buyers are around, but I can write a proposal any time before I need to present it.  A proposal written at 2:00 pm is not better than one created at 6:00, but chances are better that a prospect will be open to meeting at 2:00 more so than 6:00.  This is also true for research, list preparation, product updates, and Starbucks.  Simple, but you need to do it, and bank the time you save.

Protect – Speaking of Starbucks, you don’t have to go when ever your buddies go, especially buddies who haven’t made goal the last few years.  People do not see time in a tangible way, as a result, they don’t always value it the same way as say food, or money.  We are social creatures, and therefore susceptible to group thinking, and if you believe the 80/20 rule, the unproductive 80%, seems to have a lot of time, and a lot of pull.  Just because they want to discuss every call in last nights game does not mean you have to.  Stick to your agenda, you can talk about the game at a time that suits you, not the 80%.  Ask yourself why they always seem to have time for that, but not for making quota.  Simple, but you need to do it, and bank the time you save.

Next Step

  • Know what you have to complete to be successful
  • Allocate your time to those success factors
  • Do it

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Time, Sales Cycles and Prospecting18

In this last of the series of Grab-N-Go content, we look at time, sales cycle and the importance of consistent prospecting in order to ensue that you have a sales cycle, and that you have the luxury of discarding prospect that lose lustre or promise.  Knowing the length of you cycle is key to managing your pipeline and know when to give up on something that is not going to happen, at least for know.  So download the snippet, take it with you to shop, you’ll have plenty of time to watch, review and plan as you wait at the check out counter.  Tomorrow, we’ll have a video of a different sort.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XU4QAFwlZg

Don’t forget you can watch the whole interview (while still in line) on our youtube.com Sellbetter channel.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Hey, if you liked this post, please subscribe so you don’t miss another post…Subscribe Here to receive posts in your in-box automatically. Go ahead, do it, click here now!

Don't Beat Yourself Up – Deal with it!17

Today’s Grab-N-Go slice of time looks at how to deal with missing a plan or the pressures of time.  Some who do practice time in a disciplined way, at times miss, or do not get the plan/desired results.  The key is to examine and understand what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how to incorporate it in to your actions moving forward.  As mentioned in Monday’s snippet, it is important that we don’t let time manage us, by understanding if this is a recurring factor, an anomaly, or something we should have known in advance, it allows us to deal with it confidently and properly in the future.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4HU3Lepa_w&feature=related

Again, if you want to see the whole interview, you can see it here on youtube.com.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Hey, if you liked this post, please subscribe so you don’t miss another post…Subscribe Here to receive posts in your in-box automatically. Go ahead, do it, click here now!

Multi-Tasking?!?21

Continuing our Grab-N-Go content for the holidays, today we look at the follies of multi-tasking.  While computers seem to benefit from continuous improvements in multi-tasking capabilities, does the same ring true for sales people?  Can sales professionals be more productive in terms of driving revenues; can they do a better job of answering clients’ needs; or does it just merley increase the speed of the treadmill they are on?

Take a look at my response during a recent interview about time and the impact on sales professionals.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcuTg54xZoE

You can see the entire interview on youtube.com.

What’s in Your Pipeline?

Tibor Shanto

Hey, if you liked this post, please subscribe so you don’t miss another post…Subscribe Here to receive posts in your in-box automatically. Go ahead, do it, click here now!

A Random Walk Up Sales Street – 1912

sales exchange

Your Timing Is Great

There is a lot of talk in sales about timing, some write about how to improve it, some talk about how you can be a victim of it, others will tell you how to manage it.  If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that we too believe that time is one of the key elements of success in sales. What we don’t believe in is the notion of “time management”.  In many ways it is a hollow and worn out concept that at best distracts sales professional, and at worst frustrates them. After all isn’t time already managed for us, nicely organized across borders and languages is units of 60, assembled in cartons of 24, stacked in piles of 7, those then placed in crates of 52, loaded into 12 trailers. Sound pretty organized and well managed to me, a German logistics company couldn’t improve on it, so don’t waste time on time management.

With time, the focus needs to be on usage;  if you want to manage something, manage your activities, manage the urge to multi task, and instead focus on managing to get something done, multi tasking will only help you not get a number of things done at the same time. Now that’s not to say that you can’t use systems, processes and tools (applications) to help you get things done even as you are doing something else, or to keep you on track when you need to do that “one thing” at the right time.

Case in point is the time allocated and spent on managing your leads funnels.  Next to active prospects, leads in your leads funnel are probably the most important thing for many sales people. I’d much rather spend energy managing my leads than trying to manage time, and to do that I use Renbor’s Contact Strategy: Touch > Contact > Engage . A simple process for Touching, Tracking, Contacting leads and converting them to prospects on a consistent basis.  Doing this consistently and properly will not only help you reduce the need to constantly cold call by having a funnel full of people brewing to become prospects, but as they move down the lead funnel, you will have an easier time converting them.

As an example, I have been pursuing a company for some time, I first called the VP of Sales back in April of 2007, and after a good conversation it was clear to both of us that it was not the right time to engage.  We have stayed in touch regularly, met at industry events, and he has always been open and forthright about their situation.  Needless to say he has been reading our monthly newsletter.  Their industry has been hit severely by the economy and the rising Canadian dollar, and we have had a few discussions specifically about that impact.  When we spoke in September he indicated that there was an initiative looking at training across the company and suggested I get in touch with the person spearheading the initiative.

When I called that person the conversation went something like this:

TS: Hi John, Max Sales suggested we speak, as he is aware of the work, we do with B2B sales forces in helping them attain their goals.

John: Well Tibor, I must say your timing is great,….

TS: Actually John, timing had little to do with it…

Indeed it didn’t, it had much more to do with the process, the execution, and allocating time to getting it done.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

wordpress stat