Welcome to The Pipeline.

Socializing Your Sales Success – Sales eXecution 2480

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

change

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to it down for a discussion with Heidi Schwende, Chief Digital Officer & Certified Internet Consultant WSI Digital Moxie, part of WSI Internet Consulting. The interview explored the importance of and the “how to’s” of SOCIALIZING YOUR SALES SUCCESS.

Today I am presenting a small taste specifically focused on the shift in buyer behaviour, expectation and the impact of social selling on sales people and the way we sell.

Click here to see the entire interview, and come back Thursday for another snippet.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Why Get Ahead Of The Buyer?0

 By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Rear view

I recently saw an ad for a sales program, and that big bold letters enticing me to buy read: “How To Get Ahead Of Your Buyer”. While I get where they were coming from, or more accurately who they were trying to appeal to, but there was just something wrong with the way it was phrased.

I think one of the biggest challenges sales people have is not to get ahead of the buyer, it seems to me that getting ahead of the buyer is the same as “leaving the buyer behind”, a dangerous notion and more dangerous practice.

One of the key things we help sales teams accomplish with the EDGE framework is alignment with the buyer. Executing the sale in a way that keeps you engaged and in step with the buyer, leads to a number of pluses, not to mention more sales.

Alignment is key, it helps you focus and cover objectives, which then allows you to offer practical means of helping the client achieve those objectives. The idea of getting ahead of the buyer has an old school ring of pain and needs based selling.

When you rush ahead of the buyer, because you are familiar with the scenario, you’ve seen and heard it before, you tend to want to “close” too early, usually relying on old school “closing techniques”. In some ways I thought we were past this, but this ad and a recent discussion in a LinkedIn group suggest that we are not. That discussion was based on the question “What’s the best, most effective question you’ve ever asked a client?” Apparently some sales people still ask what keeps the prospect awake at night. With thinking like that, and leaving the buyer behind, sellers move to close too early in the process, you may feel you are done your discovery, but the buyer is still defining and refining their requirements. Moving to close at this stage will at worst make the buyer feel pressured, scare them to compare to others, and at best, slow down the deal, requiring a longer sales cycle, the use of more resources, and less time to spend on other opportunities.

When this happens, and other companies enter the fray, price will not only become an issue, but a central issue. What was your deal to win, now becomes your deal to buy, and there is never money in that.

The flip-side of getting ahead, is falling behind, the relationship approach, “whatever makes you happy, I’ll be here when you’re ready.” The net effect of this again is that the buyer learns whet they require, after all you are there with all the facts and didees, and when they are ready to buy, they do so from the guy asking for the order, not the one waiting.

Work with the buyer, lead the buyer, based on their objectives, your expertise as a subject matter expert, but don’t get ahead, or fall behind, manage the alignment.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

EDGY Conversations: How Ordinary People Can Achieve Outrageous Results0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

EDGY Conversations

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while are more than familiar with Dan Waldschmidt, we have done webinars and other events, and his guest post a couple of years back Retarded Sales Behavior and The Reasons We Under-Perform, had one of the biggest responses I have had to a guest post. He never fails to deliver to his moniker of EDDY CONVERSATIONS.

Well fortunately for all of us, who enjoy edgy, or want to get the EDGE, Dan has written a book, EDGY Conversations: How Ordinary People Can Achieve Outrageous Success, an exceptional “how to manual” for ordinary people who are out to achieve truly extraordinary things. What makes it a great read and must have, is not just the content, but Dan’s innate and unique way of articulating things, to borrow from the usual book parlance “It’s a page turner!”

Dan spent four years looking at what high performers were doing in business, math, science, sports and politics. He put together 1,000 stories of ordinary people who achieved success against the odds. As a result of its breadth, this book delivers right from the start. Open a page and you’ll find everything you’ve never seen before in a traditional business book. In presentation alone the book is differentiates and engages, beautiful illustrations and vibrant colors jumping off the page just punctuate and brings the messages to life. After reading a host of books of this nature, it was pleasantly surprising to feel the lift after reading EDGY Conversations. I felt powerful and motivated and encouraged to do the hard things that lead to extraordinary success.

I had a chance to speak with Dan about the book, and what he took away from the experience. I asked him what common connections he found when he looked at high performers in business, math, sports, science and politics? He pointed to “four characteristics that we call EDGY: extreme behavior, disciplined activity, a giving mindset and a human strategy, were all prevalent in high performers, even across completely different verticals, like science and sports. The same radical beliefs that enable an Olympic competitor to push themselves beyond human capacity is the exact same belief system that enables a researcher to uncover a human biological breakthrough.

Some folks see edgy or extreme as being out there, but Dan presents a different more compelling view. When suggested that extreme, by definition, “too much” of a good thing, Dan offered up that “no, being extreme is not too much of a good thing. Extreme behaviour starts with a mindset change. It is really the core belief that you can achieve success regardless of the obstacles in your way simply through a relentless pursuit of answers. It’s a belief that by working hard enough and long enough, there isn’t anything that you can’t do. When you have that belief system, you look at problems as just another opportunity to be creative rather than bad luck or “everyone picking on you”. That mindset is important because it’s inevitable that each of us will face problems in our struggle to be successful. You can’t ever believe in yourself too much.”

Whether you are edgy in your approach to life, success or just being, or thinking about becoming successfully with an edge, this is a must read, so rather than keep you waiting, all you have to do is click here, grab your copy, and hold on.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Return On Objectives #Webinar0

Return On Objectives - Harnessing Objectives to Drive Better Sales Conversations

Learn how to change the sales conversation and who should be having that conversation with!

Presented by  

Join me on March 19, at 3:00 pm Eastern.  

Objective Based Selling looks at how to align the conversation with the buyer’s objectives, and leveraging those objectives to create a better conversation that drives mutual opportunities and success. With changes in the buying and selling dynamic, B2B buyers who are ready to buy are much better informed and more empowered than ever, and unless sellers are that much better prepared they risk being reduced to glorified order takers. Buyers who are not in the market, the so called Status Quo, are more time deprived than ever and are much less susceptible to traditional sales approaches and conversations. Impervious to pains, needs or solutions, a large segment of your market is better able to cocoon themselves from traditional sellers and sales conversations.

The presentation will cover how to take advantage of current realities and present specific ways sellers can successfully approach and engage prospects, but create selling opportunities where others may not see any, and in the process build credibility, expert status, and loyalty with existing and new buyers. Objective based selling is a process based, value driven four plank platform for success in selling to Status Quo buyers, the most overlooked segment of the market:

  • Breaking down “Value” to core components and why people buy
  • Leveraging past experiences – Won, Lost and No Decision deals – 360 Degree Deal View
  • Building a better question
  • Proactive exploration

D & R

Can You Sell Your Competitor’s Product?0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Compete

Given today’s buying climate, chances are your buyer is talking to a range of potential providers, usually after having carried out some “independent” research. I say “independent” because one is susceptible to the echo chamber group think risk presented in an information overload, knowledge under-load world. For many companies, this is only made worse by the “be found” silliness being peddled by many pundits their sales people are being enticed by. In the past I have written about the power of “Land Mine Questions”, but if you are looking to win more sales this year, you need to go further.

One way to ensure that you are covering all angels to help your buyer make the right choice – you, is to be able to not only view the world through the buyer’s eyes, but also through the eyes of your competitors. While many sales people are familiar with their competitor’s product, strengths and Achilles Heel, great sales people go further to the point where they could sell the competitor’s product, better than the competitor rep can.

I was talking to an IT rep last week who is big on visualizing. He, like many I know, use a practice I use and recommend, which to visualize a sales meeting the day before, go through how you will open, If you know the people, visualize them sitting in the board room. Go through all the questions they may have, and think about how you may answer; picture yourself asking what you want to know, and go through the various answers they may give. Do the same for objections, what will they be, hear how you would answer them; all this allows you to not hear most things the first time during the actual meeting.

I suggested to him that he can take things one step further, by running through a meeting as though he was selling his competitor’s product, how would it be different, where would he feel exposed vs. the other vendor, what are strengths he can exploit. He asked if we could practice that, which we did the next day, his task overnight was to get into the head of is competitor. He jumped on the phone, and called their call centre, he asked them all the questions he hated, to see how they would respond. He then went on to ask questions around where he felt his product was a clear leader, to see how they managed things, and did so around a number of areas.

When we meet the next day, he not only felt that he was in a better position to accentuate his offering’s strength, but felt that he was equipped well enough to sell the other product, which helped him set a flow that would continue to differentiate and elevate his product over the other. As we rehearsed, we also made sure that he aligned the talk track to the buyer’s objectives, giving him the further ability to ensure that the buyer would see his product in a better light given their own objectives, more so than just on the basis of the products.

We’ll know next week how well he did. He felt his meeting went well, and if he does close the deal, it will put him a head of goal for the quarter, now, and ahead of the competition for some time to come.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Choosing the Sales Start-Up Mentality!2

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Start Up

Every day entrepreneurs all over the country start with an idea, some resources, tons of energy and even more attitude, and jump into the deep end of starting a successful business. Those very same days there are business people in the same market segment who decide they can no longer make a go of it and go out of business. What differentiates the two?

Every day there are new sales people stepping into new jobs, often into underperforming territories, and they not only make a go of it, but thrive. In those same companies there are other, more experienced sales people (or at least sales people with more years at the company); these sales people who claim to be smarter and to know better, struggle to make a go of it. They resort to spending their time telling everyone who will listen as to how the world, their company and their customers have conspired against them, causing them to fall behind. And to prove their point, they remind everyone (who will listen), of those gone by years when they were a contributing performer. What changed, what makes them different than the rookie?

Given that both pairs have access to the same resources, information and markets, both are limited and buoyed by the same market realities, why do they end up on opposite side of the same reality? While attitude has a lot to do with it, it would be too easy, not to mention depressing, if that were the only factor. While attitude is important, and can be adopted and some say trained.

In talking to both sales people and those who have succeeded in starting competitive and thriving companies, (not necessarily serial entrepreneurs), they both seem to share a Start-Up Mentality. Rather than seeing all the reasons why they may fail, they are drawn to, focus on and act on those factors that will deliver success. This is not to say that they ignore obvious pitfalls they will need to figure out how to avoid, they just that know that they are factors in the outcome as opposed things that predetermine the outcome.

When I deliver programs for sellers, I share freely with them that there are a million reason I can point to to why the methodology I teach will not work, but there are specific reasons why when consistently executed they do lead to sales success. One group, focuses on the former (without ever trying to put it into practice). The smaller group, chooses to focus on those steps that lead them to success. When I work with the reps individually, there are those who just remind me of those who succeed in Start-Ups. It is not genetic or attitude, it is focus and the discipline of execution, but more importantly the ability and the willingness not to follow the crowd, but to follow their plan.

When they are first on-boarded, most new sales people are eager to earn, learn, and impress their manager, and the company; the best way to do that is to do that is to follow and execute the process they are given. Many companies do have proven formulas for success, all you have to do is adopt and work it. But after the on-boarding is complete, they are set loose with the herd, and with that comes the indoctrination by their peers, and with the 80/20 reality still in place, the people doing the indoctrination, are the ones who have time to do it, the 80% driving 20% of the revenue. The 20%, the consistently deliver because they know what won’t work, and rather than “wasting” their time on trying those “things that don’t work”, they have time to do something other than sell, like indoctrinate.

The top 20%, the ones with the StartUp Mentality, do care about the new guy, but they don’t have time for get involved in the indoctrination ritual, they are busy selling. They are just like the entrepreneur who is just “too stupid” to fail.

Those sales people who can start their week, their month, their quarter, with the Start-Up Mentality, approaching each week or period as greenfields. While not ignoring failures, what they take with them into the next week are the lessons learned, and they start again; their experience is not an albatross worn with pride as they go down with their ships, but as building blocks.

The one consistent lesson I learn from these StartUp sellers, is they look at every week as a start-up week. If they were starting their sales job today, if they were new to the company and or territory, how would they approach it? By approaching every week with this outlook, they can still benefit from experience, good or bad, but they benefit much more from the market view they get as a result of their StartUp Mentality, like it or not, it’s a choice, and your choice, no one else’s.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

Sales Leaders – You Get What You Ask For – Sales eXchange 2372

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Money on scale

Price is a ‘big’ subject for all in sales, right from those developing product, to marketing, all in the sales organisation, and as important as any, the customer. We all have an economic and emotional involvement in it, yet it often continues to be a challenge for all in the chain.

I think one reason is the message many sales leaders send their teams, and their peers in the revenue generation process. I think in some terms, it is the mixed messages they send that confuses and leads to undesired results.

One obvious factor and lever is incentive. I keep hearing, as I have heard throughout my sales career, that incentive drives behaviour, if so why do so many companies (senior sales executives), continue to reward sales people on the price they get, rather than the profit that sales person contributes? I used to work with someone who kept insisting that companies go out of business due to lack of sales. He would never accept that in fact businesses go under due to a lack of profits. Even when I showed him that many businesses had their best revenue days when the bankruptcy trustees were holding liquidation sales.

I have fund that companies who incent their sales people based on gross profits are consistently better aligned with their reps, and achieve mutually better results. But many continue to base incentives on top line gross revenues, others on some proxy for revenue or some model of potential residual revenue stream to materialize in the future, even when the incentive is paid out now.

Sellers who are paid on revenues only, are more likely to discount, and advocate for the buyer, rather than drive mutual value. As we all know, a $500 discount on a $10,000 piece of equipment, can have little impact on what the reps gets paid, but could be a huge part of the gross or net margin.

One has to wonder why in today’s economy anyone would pay out based on top line vs. GP. One company I worked with couldn’t really tell you what their margins were, as a result they went with paying on the top line, which only compounded the issue, as they didn’t know if commissions were wiping out the last bit of profit, or… At the end of the quarter they were either profitable or not, but either way not by design. This may be an extreme example, but I don’t think it is rare.

It is not just about the company’s profits, but many who pay on GP, are able to attract and develop better sales people. Sales people who want to and sell at full value, a true win-win-win situation. The same instincts that allow sales people to choose a discount when paid on top line, drive sale reps paid on margin to deliver value for all three key parties. No value for the client, no sale, no commission; no discounts offered, because those come as much out of the seller’s pocket as the company’s. Clients don’t get gouged, because there would be no sales, no commission.

There is no doubt that switching from top line to margin payouts cause reverberations, and push back from sellers. But I am willing to bet that only from those who can’t survive on the crumbs they leave in any given deal. Sometimes you need to shake things up, thin the herd to make room for those who want to feast along with the customers and their employers.

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

Please, New Is So Old Now – Sales eXchange 2361

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Future

I got a note from one of the pundits in my inbox telling me things I should do for sales success in the New Year. You may expect these type of things mid-way through December till maybe January 10th, but after that it is just an indicator that they don’t really understand B2B sales at all, and the customers they get as a result, they deserve.

As a sales person your really do need to live in the future, and fulfill in the present. You need to live in the future for two simple (probably more) reasons. First, if you are going to deliver real and lasting value to your customers you need to leave “ahead of them. If you are going to deliver to and drive their objectives, you have to be where those objectives will unfold, and that is almost always in the future. Especially with business leaders, be they leading small or large global companies. If you speak to these folks and you should, (as well as speaking to everyone else in the organization, it is not one über the others), you will notice that their horizon is in the future, based on who they are it could be six, twelve, eighteen months or more in the future. The have delegated the present to others in their organization, in the case of small business, they have relegated it to a different part of their thinking.

So if you are going to align and sell to them today, you need to be thinking and talking to things they thinking about, which means they have been in 2014 for some time, cranking up you preparation now, like the pundit suggest, nay, scream to the buyer, “This guy is no for you”, as my fellow Tull freaks will say he is “Living In The Past”. If you are going to step in to the roll of thought leader for these buyers, you need to recognize that you need to lead from the front.

The other reason you need to live in the future, is driven by the realities of calendars, fiscal years, invoicing and the payable cycles of your buyer. Let’s say you have a three month sales cycle (handshake to close), and you get paid when the first invoice is paid, 30 days is acceptable period for an invoice to be paid, you are going to need four months of run way for a deal to count towards your number this year. Which means anything you start after September 2, will be next year’s number. If it counts and you get paid, when the contract is signed, then that date moves to October 2nd. So if you were going to look at doing things a new way for 2014, you will have need to start that process last September or October, not January 26.

This is not to say that you should not always be adding new elements to your selling, just look at that as an ongoing part of your personal development, not an event tied to the New Year. Yes, I know the pundit needs to sell too, but you don’t have to buy if it will not help you now, or in the “now future”.

I am going to keep this mail as I am certain it is the exact same one she sent last January, with dates changed. I am not sure if I remember because it irritated me last year, or the fact that they used a stock photo used by a million other sites.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Sell Or Negotiate – What’s Your View?10

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Negotiate

Had the opportunity to listen in on an interesting discussion the other day between two sales practitioners, they were not aware of me, or what I do, I was just snooping. One, we’ll call him Fred, was telling the other, Joe, that he was looking forward to a negotiations program his company was sending him to, he felt this would help his sales. The other fellow, a bit more subdued and low key in his manner, smiled in a way that practically said “you silly sod”, suggested that the course may help his numbers occasionally, but will in no way help him sell better. And the battle was on.

Fred was saying that he often felt unprepared for the negotiations phase and having some solid training and a process to manage that part of the sale could only help. He insisted that knowing how to negotiate in a professional way would also allow him to arrive at a mutually acceptable, no one compromised, conclusion to deals. A win win, where both parties can walk away feeling they had accomplished a good thing for their respective organizations and cause.

Joe had a different view. He said he believed that the job of a sales professional was to build value for both parties throughout the sale, so by the time they arrived at the conclusion, both saw enough value in the deal that there was no need for what many call negotiations. If the sales person does what he/she is paid to do, they align their sales process with the buyer’s buying process, and communicate value in a way that there was no need to “add another act at the end of the play”, just to meet at a mutually acceptable point. That is why he felt that a negotiation process may help Fred’s numbers in some deals, but would not make him a better seller, in fact as Fred said, “you’ll become a lazy seller, looking for the negotiation phase to win the deal, instead of really and completely selling it from the start.”

Joe insisted that even when you execute the sale well, “there is always some need to negotiation, if not haggling, negotiations.” Joe, was resolved, “there will always be some discussion of some terms, some conditions, “things like delivery dates, small stuff, but if it is down to full blow negotiations that includes a piece on price, you did not sell the deal to begin with.” Joe said.

Since I could not see them directly, I am not sure if Fred read this next part from a brochure directly or just memorized it, but he said “you know Joe, every dollar you gain through negotiations goes straight to the bottom line.” I could hear Joe chuckle as he calmly replied, “every dollar of value you sell from the time you prospect them, take them through information gathering, through to proposal, also goes to the bottom line, but I don’t have to add an unnecessary stage to the sale, I’d rather sell it, then negotiate it.”

They kept on for a bit, I got off before it ended, I am sure they negotiated an amicable outcome.

But who do you think was right or closer to best practices, Joe who said sellers should sell, or Fred, who I am sure will get something out of his course? Let me know.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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