Welcome to The Pipeline.

The Objective Seller #webinar0

Yesterday on this blog, I wrote about sellers who drive commerce for their buyers have greater success than those who just drive sales. This led to a number of questions about how you specifically do that, beyond the things I spoke to in the post.

As it happens, rather than having to do a post about that, this coming Thursday, July 17th, I will be delivering a webinar along with the good folks at DiscoverOrg, addressing that specific process.

The Objective Seller Webinar

Date: July 17, 2014 at 1:00 PM Eastern

The webinar will discuss how all businesses have objectives relating to their market, their commerce, and their opportunities. Focusing on those objectives, and how they impact and are impacted by the commerce environment our clients compete and live in will drive more and better sales for all.

Objectives and the buyer’s desired return on those objectives, are the most effective way to engage and align with buyers, and help them win in a their commerce environment. With changes in the buying and selling dynamic, B2B buyers who are ready to buy are much better informed and more empowered than ever, you need to shift the conversation from your product to their objectives.

The webinar will cover how to take advantage of current realities and present specific ways sellers can successfully approach and engage prospects, and create selling opportunities where others may not see any, and in the process build credibility, expert status, and loyalty with existing and new buyers. You will be presented a process based, value driven approach 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

“I attended your presentation on Objective Selling, It was the most useful sales presentation I’ve viewed in a long time and I wanted to thank you for the insight you shared.” – Aous Shakra

Register

Driving Commerce Not Sales is Key To Success0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Sales people are always looking for the secret to sales success, more revenue and glory. One path is to look beyond sales and see how they can drive commerce. At first glance one may be inclined to dismiss this as just semantics, but in as much as attitudes drive actions, and actions lead to results, the distinction is so much more.

Commerce is the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural and technological systems that are in operation in any country. Thus, commerce is a system or an environment that affects the business prospects of an economy or a nation-state. It can also be defined as a component of business which includes all activities, functions and institutions involved in transferring goods from producers to consumers.”

Substitute “nation-state” in the above to vertical or market segment, and you can see why successful sales people focus on commerce over sales. For us to sell more, we require customers who need to and can buy more; and new prospects who see merit in buying from us. As sellers, there are steps we can execute that will help and benefit both groups in the same way, and other steps that will pertain to one of the above.

While all good sales people want to help their customers/buyers, and work diligently to do that, for the most part it is usually centered around our offering. Not taking anything away from many “solution focused” organizations, the fact remains that when I ask sales people or even many managers:

How can you directly support their goals?

The majority respond in a way that reflects what their product does in a very-specific way related to the nature of the product, for example: hardware specs, or the “User Experience” they deliver.

sellers

But few go into the clients’ world. Even many case studies focus on how their product helped the client achieve things, a more secure environment, faster speeds, etc. But little if anything about how and why the buyer interacts with their world. It is as though the buyer has nothing other than the product or process in question to worry about.

A seller focused on commerce, understands that his success is tied to the buyer’s success, and that happens beyond the product, on a bigger playing field. How do they help the buyer increase market share, extend return on assets, expand time, mitigate risk, manage reputations, exceed customer expectations, reduce to cost of doing business – not buying your product, or how to add value to the buyer’s customers.

commerce

The good news is that with a nudge in the right direction, and managerial support, most sellers can be given the broader vision of Commerce. Focus on commerce, and sales follow.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

The Best Time To Cold Call? – Sales eXecution 2581

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

TV Head

Buyer beware!

It seems over the last few months there is more and more advice coming from many sources on the merits of cold calling, (ya I know), and some so called “Rules and Best Practices”. But consider the source of expertise before you jump in. As with many things in sales, especially cold calling, for lasting success, you’re better off looking to your buyers than people jumping on bandwagons.

Here is an example why:

Hey, if you liked what you saw here, invite me to speak at your next meeting!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

It’s Your Job To Lead – Sales eXecution 2530

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Leading

No, I am not speaking to sales managers, directors or VP’s, but directly and specifically to front line sales professionals. It is your job to lead the customer to the right decision for their business based on their objectives. So why are you not stepping up, why are abdicating the only thing that justifies the job, why aren’t you doing your job?

Your job is to deliver the best solution or product to address the buyer’s requirements, which are driven by their objectives, often both business and personal objectives. While the buyer most often best knows their objectives, I say most often, because there are times where your input or influence can help fine tune or redefine those objectives based on elements you introduce into the dialog. The whole thing pivots on your ability and credibility as a subject matter expert.

I have argued on this blog the best sales people are those who are real subject matter experts, not product experts as many strive to be. As a subject matter expert you bring a number of value points that the buyer will make use of, and benefit from, that “product experts” will lack. This is why I encourage sales leaders to abandon their habit of hiring only sellers with product knowledge over candidates that may not have direct product experience but are truly qualified sellers, one qualification being the willingness to look beyond product, and embrace being an expert. One of the things the expert seller doe swell, and product sellers don’t, is become conduits of best practices.

What these sellers understand is that buyers want a perspective of what is happening in the market. What is working, what is not, what is new, and what is fading, what are others doing? I am not suggesting sharing details of what their direct competitor is doing, what is setting the winners apart from the also-rans. They also understand that often buyers are set in their ways and will need to be lead to new ways of looking at things, which sometimes means taking a stance that contradicts buyers’ premises and ways of thinking; to out and out change buyers’ views and ways of achieving their objectives. To do this you have to lead, you have to be someone they are a willing to have contradict them, someone they are willing to follow to places they have not been willing to go in the past.

When I present to sales people, many respond with a sad and often sickening response, “Oh, I don’t want to be pushy”. Pushy? There is a world of a difference between pushy and conviction. The conviction of an expert willing to share and make sure that the buyer truly achieves what they set out to do, even they do it in a different way than they set out or had ever considered.

Getting to the point where this conviction is justified is not that difficult, as with other elements of sales success, it is about the willingness to go there, and execution. Start by focusing on the buyers’ objectives, understand all the ways that can be achieved, not just those your product can do. Then leave your product in the car, and go and have a peer to peer discussion among experts, the buyer an expert in his/her business, you the expert in best practices around that.

Hey, if you liked what you, have invite me to speak at your next meeting!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Who Exactly Are You Selling To?1

May 14

The Pipeline Guest Post –  Megan Totka

We talk quite often about sales tactics and marketing ideas in a general sense. But who exactly is your company trying to sell to?

People can be classified in so many different ways. But one of the most common classifications is by generation. Most recently, the generation we’ve talked about the most has been the baby boomers. Born in the post-World War II era, from the years 1946-1964, baby boomers have made up a huge consumer base for many, many years. Many people consider baby boomers to be the first real consumer generation, raised after the Great Depression and in a time of pretty impressive technological advances.

In the no-so-distant past, the baby boomers have arguably been the most important group to market to, as they did (and still do) make up such a huge portion of the population.

But there’s a new group on the scene – the Millennials. This generation, made up of people born from 1980-2000, is estimated to encompass 80 million people. That’s more than the baby boomers.

The biggest thing that sets the millennial generation apart is their familiarity with the Internet. The Internet and related technology are not new and exciting to this generation; it’s been around since they were small children. While it might still be possible to impress other generations with technology, Millennial have come to expect it.

So how do we cater to this new generation of buyers? One thing is for sure – give them what they expect. This Forbes article likens hotels that don’t have free Wi-Fi to the same hotel charging to use a toilet. At this point, we’ve all come to expect free Internet, just about everywhere we go, millennials in particular. Millennials also respond to an “omnichannel” concept. This means that people should be able to contact you or your company in whatever way they want to, without having to do it the same way that they did the last time. For example, if a customer contacts your company once via Facebook, they should be able to expect the same information and level of service from any other avenue, such as phone, Twitter, email, etc.

Does your company have any lessons to share concerning marketing and sales that is geared towards a particular generation?

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

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.

3 B’s Of Pipeline Success0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

3Bs

How you manage and stage your pipeline can be the difference between an OK year or career, or a consistently great one. To use a sport analogy, your pipeline is your core, no matter what sport you are in hockey, tennis, or running, a strong core, a well exercised and maintained core adds to athletic performance and lifts one competitor to victory over a comparably talented athlete with a less conditioned core.

Below are three things every seller should consider and do, no matter which methodology they use to sell, to lift their execution and results.

Bold – This speaks to who or which opportunities you choose to peruse, there is the element of pursuing ALL REAL potential prospects that others either ignore, or completely miss due to personal or corporate blinders. There are many potential buyers that are overlooked by a large number of sales people. Some don’t see the dots and as a result can’t connect them; others see the dot’s but fail to or are afraid to connect them. There is a lack of imagination and boldness in their approach.

Some will overlook things that fall beyond conventional qualification measures, an over reliance on BANT if you will. The key here is that they be REAL, meaning given the right circumstances they would buy your offering, and qualifying comes down to how you view your market, and choose to align your offering. Are you limiting your sights and pursuits to those people that have the pains or other mundane signals, those your product has traditionally addressed? If so, you’ll likely miss many REAL prospects or opportunities.

But if instead you look to see how you may help someone achieve their business objectives, your universe of REAL potential expands considerably. This is huge from a pipeline perspective, the more REAL potential prospect you’ll be able to identify, the more REAL opportunities you can fill your pipeline with. Since sales is to a degree a numbers game from a conversion ratio perspectives, more opportunities translate to more and or better sales, and at the minimum more options for you as a seller.

Binary – Leveraging the above, being binary becomes easier and more productive. Let’s explain what I mean by binary. Your pipeline should contain only active opportunities, those prospects you are engaged with now, and in turn they are engaged with you and the sales process; it should not contain anything else. All those potential “prospects” you are not currently engaged with, as great as they may be, are leads, and should be managed in your leads funnel, not your active opportunities funnel or pipeline. But many sales people, and by extension their sales organizations, hold all kinds of inactive opportunities in their active pipeline, distracting time and resources. There are some common examples of this: former prospects who you met once or twice, who smiled, told you they were “really” interested but have not met with you or returned your call in weeks. Sure, they send you e-mails, saying they are still interested, they are just tied up, or on another project, or are waiting for some event, or maybe just waiting for Godot.

These are not engaged prospects and need to be moved out of your pipeline. This is not to say that they are not worth pursuing at some point in the future, but in popular vernacular, they are in the nurturing phase, not active selling phase of a pipeline. Alongside these are those “prospects” who are talking to you, but are doing less than nothing to move the process forward, move them out, they are just filler, and you can’t have that. The only opportunities that should be in your pipeline are those where the buyer is taking reciprocal action, executing their buying process as you are executing your selling process, and together you move to a mutual agreement. Binary – active – not active; taking action – avoiding action; on or off; keep the on’s and get rid of the off’s. Don’t clog up your pipeline with crap, not a place for a heart attack.

Many fool themselves by looking at their pipeline and thinking, “wow, look at all the stuff I have in there”. Exactly, stuff not opportunities. This false sense of doing, just messes you up, and most importantly sucks up your time for a number of reasons, and most deadly, prevents you from prospecting. When we are stuffed we don’t eat, when the pipeline feels stuffed, you don’t prospect.

If you want to see this clearly, just look at any pipeline using the 90 – 60 – 30 method and watch how it piles up, what happens in the last 30 days; for validation just look at how many times opportunities are recast in the 30 day segment.

Blended & Balanced – I remember learning this lesson the hard way, I fancied myself an elephant hunter, and ignore many smaller and shorter cycle opportunities. Till one year the elephants went to a different field, and I was left short on my target. My friend on the other hand, she focused on the small and easy, didn’t over extend. Interestingly enough we both came in behind someone who had a nice blend in their pipeline, big, small, short, long, and everything in between. Seems obvious, but not always easy to execute. There are a lot of distractions, things to entice you, being a home run hitter has its appeal. But with planning and discipline, you can map out a prospecting regimen that helps you balance the pipeline just so. I now use a Plan P approach, P being for pursuit, this allows me to continuously balance things, think of it like balancing and rebalancing a portfolio actively to maintain the optimal mix for you requirements. This allows you to be Bold in you pursuits, forces you to remove the inactive opportunities clogging up your revenue artery, and maintain a productive and profitable pipeline.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

 

It’s Really Not This vs. That – Sales eXecution 2510

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

A few weeks back I asked in a post What’s Your Favourite Hyphenated Selling, and many missed the point, and actually told me why one “type” of selling is better than the other. Many pundits and so called experts will tell you that this “type selling does not work anymore, only that type (their type) does.” Good sellers understand that it is not vs. the other, but how do I combine and expand to make the best of all possible techniques and tools to deliver value for the buyer.

Have a look, and tell me what you think:

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

 

 

The Objective Seller #webinar0

Webinar cover

Join me for this special webinar looking at:
The Objective Seller – presented by salesforce.com
May 12, 1:00 pm Eastern – register here

All businesses have objectives, focusing on objectives and the buyer’s desired return on those objectives, are the most effective way to engage and align with buyers. With changes in the buying and selling dynamic, B2B buyers who are ready to buy are much better informed and more empowered than ever, you need to shift the conversation from your product to their objectives. Those buyers not in the market, the so called Status Quo, are more likely to respond to a conversation about their objectives and how to reach them than 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, but they all have Objectives.

The presentation will cover how to take advantage of current realities and present specific ways sellers can successfully approach and engage prospects, and create selling opportunities where others may not see any, and in the process build credibility, expert status, and loyalty with existing and new buyers. You will be presented a process based, value driven approach 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
Register

Add Salesformics – Stir and Sell0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Confident

One of the opportunities offered by the web 2.0 world, or as many around sales like to call it social selling, is to leverage a number of tools to improve and accelerate the quality of interactions, especially at the early part of the sales cycle. The challenge is how to leverage the various tools, integrate them into your daily sales-flow and work-flow, without adding, or being forced to alter your work-flow in order to get benefit.

In the process of lead-gen, lead gathering, evolving and lead conversion, some sales people and organizations are often faced with a choice, find an all in one tool that has key features and elements offered by other tools and apps built in, in effect a Jack-of-all-trade approach. Alternatively, use the best of breed tools, but be left on your own to integrate them on a work-flow level. Add to this the challenges around functionality, and something that should be fun and productive ends up being work.

One tool I have discovered allows me to keep using my favourite tools and apps, integrate them into a work-flow that matches my approach, and reflects my style of lead-gen and prospecting, is Salesformics. Here a couple of examples that will illustrate what I mean. Twitter is great gleaning and mining all kinds of executable information and insight about prospects, issues, and more. While there are some great tools for slicing and dicing twitter feeds, there is often the issue of shuffling that with other information, and creating action. With Salesformics, I am alerted to specific key words or phrases by potential leads, current prospects or clients. I can then initiate a sales-flow, either constructed or in response to the way things are unfolding.

As someone who delivers events, I am a user of Eventbrite, great tool. Eventbrite helps me grow your network and email lists by promoting my live or web events, and even allows me to do a great initial follow up. Salesformics takes that a step further by integrating with Eventbrite, one can enhance the follow-up, and ensure that I don’t miss a chance to follow up with a contact well after the event.

I also use Constant Contact, and have had to deal with some of the manual realities of using both Eventbrite and Constant Contact, given the overlap. With Salesformics, I can get the best of both, and keep my hair, more importantly, automate, use the work-flow, and gain back my most valuable resources, time, and all while gaining effectiveness as well as efficiencies.

A lot of people struggle with segmenting their social media followers and then adding them to email marketing services like Constant Contact, but Salesformics has a marketing automation platform that allows you to build workflow that bridge across third-party solutions, including the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, Buffer, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, Dropbox and more.

In the end, we only have two hands and 24 hours with which to win sales, any tool that helps with that is a bonus, a tool that helps me get more out of and across all my tools and apps, like Salesformics, is a triple bonus.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Knowledge: A Seller’s Equalizer – Sales eXecution 2490

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

target

Every day you read something about how today’s buyers are 60-70 percent through their buying process before they will reach out to a salesperson. You also know that I believe that if that is the segment of the market you are pursuing, you are an order taker, not a seller, a seller’s job is to go out there and engage with those potential buyers not in the market, who do not have a self-serve mentality. Nothing wrong with capturing that revenue, we all should, but that is not selling, and more importantly in most instances, not enough to get you to quota.

While there is no denying that buyers are out there scouring the web, including your company site, social site, not just for peer input, but to get a view of you as a seller; there is also no denying that much of that information is contradictory, confusing, bland beige, and often unusable. For every piece you read about buyers using the web to bypass sellers, there is an equal number that speak to how executives are often left confused, overwhelmed, and less able to move forward than when they started. They end up seeking clarity and someone who can cut down the noise, someone who is not flinging information, but someone with knowledge, knowledge they can leverage to achieve their objective.

The reality is that they do not go to the web to get informed about a line of products, rather they set out to address a business objective, be that rooted in something negative, or positive; things like the ability to increase market share, leapfrog the competitor with product innovation, etc. To do that they seek knowledge, and while the web may have a lot of information, some better than the rest, knowledge is where you can make the difference. The same knowledge that will help you sell to not only those in the market, but to identify, approach and engage the much larger pool of buyers that is not in the market, nor would they be if you did not knock on their door. The area where knowledge trumps other elements, including relationship. While we all want that relationship, building it on helping the buyer leverage your knowledge will help facilitate it. Relationships, real ones, not just following each other on LinkedIn or Twitter, take time, you can use knowledge now to start, facilitate and accelerate.

Sure, information will help you be found, but knowledge will differentiate you when found. Especially in an environment where not only is there an 80% overlap in features and functions of leading competing products, but in the stream of words and stock photos on their website, Facebook pages, etc. This extends to the information available on the web. For every point, there is a counter point; there is less and less that a buyer can discern on social media, one web site looks like the next.

Using knowledge as the equalizer and differentiator, takes a bit more work than waiting for that buyer who calls you at the end of their process or journey. But even with those buyers, knowledge allows you to take a leadership role, with knowledge you can challenge common misconceptions, and poor decision that result. There is a pundit out there who always asks “do you want to be right or do you want to be rich?” The implication is that you have to make a choice, usually at the expense of the buyer. But I am here to tell you that you can be both, you can be right, and you can be rich, by applying your knowledge to help the buyer also make the right choice for them, making you both rich.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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