Welcome to The Pipeline.

Development vs. Budget Cycles0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

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I, like many in my profession have a unique perch when it comes to looking at sales. We are actively selling, and as a result face many of the challenges and opportunities our customers do. But we have two added bonuses that many don’t. First is that we get to see how a host of sales organizations deal with specific aspects of sales, while any one of my customers may know more about how they sell, and why they are good, and what they want to develop, I have the benefit of seeing a range of best practices. I can see what works, what doesn’t, and what almost does and would with a bit of focus and development. Second, I can take the above and continuously synthesise into better methods, better execution and better development.

With that I, and I am sure many of my peers, have come to learn that is that budget cycles and development cycles are rarely in synch. How organizations deal with this is often the difference between great sales companies, and a bunch of also-rans.

Certain habits and changes take more than 12 moths to evolve, sales culture, processes and habits are one, but most companies spend silly time tying one to the other. This time of year, budget and planning time, really highlights that. One company I have been engaged with for some time is an example of how not to do it. They have decided that based on current numbers, they will need to cut budget for 2015, and her words, not mine, “training is on top of the cutting list”. I’m game, I asked, and “what forced you to cut?” You know what they said, lack of sales, “and the pipeline is weak going into Q4.” But she did ask me to call at the end of Q1, “maybe the numbers will improve”. Now I know what you are thinking, but I have been through this before, with them, they tie development to budget, not making the link to the possibilities of going the opposite way, budgeting the development.

By contrast, I have clients who do not want to hear about anything less than a 24 to 36 month plan. Their growth plan is to go form the current revenue $350 million to $1.8 billion, three years. Not unusual to have a three year plan, but they also tie the development plan to three years, along with targets, incentive and what I and my peers bring to the table. Their cost is not greater, it is just amortized, differently. Their development is not governed by budgets, but their budgets are driven by development.

It is funny how the same people look at other assets and are able to spread the cost and return expectations over the life of the asset, but when it comes to training they get hung up. Not training due to budget issues, is like not fueling up the truck due to the same budgetary reasons.

I know some are thinking “it’s different” (isn’t always when it comes to rationalizing) “other assets can’t get up and leave, what happens if I train them and the leave”, and many of you have heard y answer to that before: WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T TRAIN THEM AND THEY STAY?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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Changing The Cycle Of Sales Abuse – Sales eXchange 2252

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

sales abuse

Many sales managers are in the wrong job, and for the wrong reasons, the intentions may have right, even noble, but outcome serves neither in individuals in question, the companies and customers. It is a familiar cycle, they were truly excellent reps, and consistently exceeding the most challenging quotas, liked by their peers, management and clients, and their reward was an invitation to management. Some resist the temptation, understanding that their passion is in selling and they follow that passion to their greater success for all, customers and employers. Others go into it with their eyes open, realising it will take work on their part to reinvent themselves in their new role, working at becoming as good a manager as they were a sales person. With the help and support of their companies, they grow into to their new role, and again there is broader win for everyone. But these are in the minority, a large number end up differently.

This group were good, not always great reps, they’ve around long enough, and when an opening presents itself, they are promoted to manager. Partly as a reward and recognition of their tenure, partly because senior management is impatient when there is a vacancy in the ranks, but usually not because they were best suited for sale management.

Worse, often they are not prepared or trained for sales management. In many companies they are offered “general” management training, how to administer performance reviews, sensitivity and harassment related training, etc. All important skills and knowledge for all managers, but managing a sales team, which by implication means managing a sales process, is a different and unique capability, and without that, they are only half ready.

Left alone to their own devices, the individual in question resorts to the obvious but incorrect conclusion: “They made me a manager because I was good, and they want more people like me, and so I will set out to make my newly adopted team in my image”. And that’s where the “Cycle of sales abuse” begins; or maybe continues depending on who their manager was.

I don’t mean to imply that these managers abuse their teams physically, but they do try to instill the habits they are familiar with rather than developing their team members. While changing behaviour is at the heart of changing and improving sales habits, skills and results, the most efficient way to do that is to manage the process rather than the individual. Behaviours and habits are very personal and subjective, and approached the wrong way, as often is the case with inexperienced managers. “That’s the way I did it”, makes for good stories, not good sales leadership, especially when many of these managers can’t always articulate why they succeeded, they just did.

Some organizations do invest time and resources into developing future managers with some form of high performance program, but those don’t always work as much as they hype would suggest, (imagine that), so while it’s an OK feel good exercise, it does not produce all its hyped up to be.

One overlooked opportunity is hiring professional managers, usually because of the misguided belief that you need to have product expertise to be successful. While product knowledge is important, it is easier learned than how to lead, transform and manage a sales team based on a process.

So now is the time to stop the cycle of managers trying to create mini-me’s, and embrace a better plan.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

The “M” Word – Sales eXchange 2140

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

M

I’ve spoken before about how sales people seem to have a better grasp on the stats of their favourite athlete than their own numbers, just sit back watch them pick their football pool. When you speak to them in the context of coaching or training, they all recite the familiar quotes: “What gets measured gets done”, or “if it’s not measured it’s not managed”. Yet as soon as you introduce any form of metrics, and a means to manage the data/outcome, many sales people resort to the M word. Micromanagement!

One tool that our clients like is our Activity Calculator, not tracker, calculator (e-mail me if you would like the tool). It allows reps and managers to plan their activities based on their individual key conversion rates. It helps them use their time more effectively, and create an improvement plan based on the individual reps capabilities and specific metrics tied to sales cycle, their goals and process. It has helped managers coach better, and sales people improve specific attribute of their selling. But as with any calculator, you need data, or more specifically accurate data, without that it is just an empty tool, and no change or improvement.

While I am not for adding to reps’ work load, it is them that have to provide the data for the calculator. Just for clarity, we are talking a few data points a day, the tool calculates everything else, and the only other time commitment is to review (and benefit), in the first month this may be 10 minutes a week, after that once a month. Not a lot of time, certainly no more than that required for the pool, not a big investment to change the way you sell and the outcome, hey if nothing else, more commissions.

Some reps see the tool and embrace the opportunity, the ability to diagnose their performance, decide on what to change and how, they not only run with it, but take complete ownership of the process and outcome.

Others default to the M word, right away whinging not only about “all the extra work” they’re going to have to, it’s “gonna slow me down”, and “you know, I don’t need to be micromanaged.”  Please, being provided with a tool, any tool, or process that helps you sell better and make more money is not micromanaging. Especially given the fact that many of the very people complaining are the ones that should focus on changing most.
Micromanagement is having everything you do be managed and controlled by your manager with every thing you do, not being provided with a tool, and be expected to use it. Nothing less than the expectations one would have of the football players they are betting on in the pool.

At the same time, many of the reps who complain about micromanagement, are the same reps who complain that their companies don’t invest enough in their development, their managers are not invested in their success, and refuse to be accountable for their actions and outcomes.

Next time these reps feel like leaning on the “M” word, they should replace Micromanagement with Mindset.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

You Don’t Need To Be Manager To Be A Leader2

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

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I hope we can all agree that in sales, manager are better leading from the front than behind the desk. Yet despite the rousing and collective yes we just heard, and the fact that less managers manage from behind the desk, the reality remains that all too many managers still do not lead, or lead effectively. The major cause continues to be that managers come from the ranks of the best sales people on the team. In an attempt to keep them, companies will promote them to being managers, and without a managed and planed transition, they instantly create two problems. First a person not ready to manage who cannot get buy in from the team, becomes disillusioned and either leaves or becomes the ass hole manager from hell. Second, is a territory that flourished under the rep in question, now sits vacant while the “new manager is replaced”, risking customer satisfaction and retention.

Fortunately leadership can come from different corners of the team, and often in a way that does not threaten the managers, allowing the manager and the organization to make adjustments and develop the manager to assume their leadership role. In fact, even as the manager does grow in to their role as “leader” these other leaders do not need to go away or be silenced, they could enhance the leadership of the manager and the performance of the team.

These are leaders are sales people who exemplify the best practices captured in you company’s sales process, and their willingness to share their experience with other willing and open minded members of the team. These are the sales people who have made the decision not to pursue management, and continue to get a thrill from continuously improve their sales skills, and the improved benefit of money is just a spin-off of their pursuit.

These individuals are easily recognized but do not necessarily conform to the profile of many company’s HYPO programs. The non-conformity is usually on the social or corporate politics side; their selling usually exemplifies the prototypical person to execute and win, they just have an aversion to puckering up, probably because they know they can make more money and have greater career satisfaction staying on their own course.

They don’t rock the boat, they just sell, and as a result are an asset to revenue and team development and leadership. One example would be reinforcement, not in the ra ra sort of way, but by actually doing it, someone you can point to exemplify what it takes to succeed beyond, a real live example for willing reps.

In essence these reps are good leaders precisely because they are great sales people. They are able to lead prospect through a range of choices, challenges, noise and alternatives, cheaper and easier solutions, and get them to arrive at choosing them. The same qualities that managers need to lead sales people and sales teams, selling them on an outcome that meets their needs and that of their company.

As in sports, it is a good thing to have great coaching leaders and great teammate leaders, they can coexist and serve the greater good. Companies should encourage this, first step would be to talk to these reps and understand their aspirations, and not assume that they want to be promoted, just because you did when the time came. You hear about leaders in the dressing room, there is room for leaders in the sales room.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Sales Apprenticeship – Sales eXchange 2122

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

apprentice

Sales like any other craft takes practice, evaluation, more practice, repeated coaching, and just when we think we have it down, we need to practice some more; and then things change, which means we get to practice some more.

I recently saw Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, and Mastery, discussing what it takes to become a master at something. One thing he pointed to was the effectiveness of the “apprenticeship” programs developed as far back as the middle ages. Specifically, that the years of apprenticing, the constant practice of the craft, led to the critical number of 10,000 hours of active practice and execution that led to mastering the craft. A concept later popularized by Malcolm Gladwell.  Of course those who truly mastered their craft kept practicing and improving throughout their career, building on the 10,000 hour base, not resting on it.

Consider that in North America, there is an average 1,760 hours of active sales time. Add to that many studies peg the amount of active selling time for B2B reps from a low of 15% to somewhere just under 50%. Going with the 50% range, it means that a committed sales person will take almost 12 years full time selling to hit that 10,000 hour mark.

Given that most sales people are only evaluated by the results, rather than the quality of the effort, it often clouds how effective their apprenticeship is. Often they make quota for reasons other than sales ability, market conditions, weak or easy quotas, and more. Many sales people are unleashed on the buying public well before they are ready to succeed for their clients, companies, and most importantly for themselves.

Add to that many are offered little training or leadership in their formidable years (which again could be their first 12 years on the job). Based on stats, only about half of B2B companies offer formal sales raining, and some that think they are delivering sales training, are in fact focused on product training, or order processing training. You can find other interesting stats by reading Why a Lack of Sales Training is Hurting Your Company–and What to Do About It.

Many sales leaders who don’t hesitate to cuss out the manager of their favourite sports team for being slack on training or practice, will regularly tell me that their people do not require training, “my people have five, ten, 12 years of experience”. When I ask if that is ten years of continuous growth and improvement, or the same year ten times over, I either get a silent look or the door. None of which changes the fact that only about 60% of reps made their quota based on the latest studies. Many of those are repeat achievers, and still employed by the same company. On an individual level, very few sales people will pick up and read a sales book a year, and then put into practice the things they read, next time you are interviewing the next superstar, ask them what the last book they read was.

The great thing about apprenticeship is it was a proactive approach to ensuring one was qualified based on practice and experience and supervised coaching, all leading to the perpetuation of the craft and a flow of qualified craftsman. Something available and mandatory for other mission critical roles in most enterprises in the form of Continuing Education, often tied to licences and keeping their job. A standard that would not be bad for sales either.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

 

 

The Two EX’s of Success0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

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Most people, and contrary to rumors, sales people are people, when faced with completing a task, especially a difficult task or one they don’t like, will do one of two things. I call this the Two EX’s of Success. They will either EXecute, or make EXcuses as to why they did not execute.

Now I know there are some reading this saying that’s not entirely so, there could be reasons, extenuating circumstances, etc., sure there could be, but that doesn’t change the fact that they didn’t make the effort to execute.

Some tell me they weren’t quite ready, they needed to make some adjustments, get ready, needed to have things just so or in place, the cosmos aligned, or whatever.  None of that matters, they didn’t execute.  Maybe I can help you relate differently, you know when your flight is delayed, and you face getting to an important meeting late, doesn’t matter what the airline says, it doesn’t change the fact that it was late.

No matter how badly one executes, it is better than the best excuse.  We can fix things done badly, but you can’t help those that don’t do it, we can’t even begin to evaluate what may need to be addressed.

I can understand the various reason for performance anxiety, poor performance is not a source of pride.  Or is it.  After all don’t we have respect for those who try and fail, then try again, until they make progress, and then start it all again to take things to the next level.  The bonus in sales is you make money as a result and get to keep your job.  The downside is that even make you make excuses you all too often get to keep your job.  This often leads to a culture of excuses.

Let me be clear, I don’t blame the reps, it is usually the managers’ or management’s fault.  If you have kids you know that you need to set the expectations and rules.  When I meet with front line managers and their seniors, and ask what their expectations are of reps, you get clear big picture stuff like results, but little clarity around the activities that lead to those results.  A lack of consistency on reviewing, training and reviewing the activity and the quality of execution.

Further, when those same managers are challenged about the results, their failure to execute their mandate, what do they do, offer up excuses, excuses excepted by senior managers.  I can tell my kids not to feed the dog off the table, but if I do it, what’s the take away?  Discipline is a hard thing to balance, and I am not advocating an intolerant culture, but excuses, no matter how creative, or how hard market conditions may be, will not lead to improvement or success, execution will.

One way to change excuses to execution is to utilize a clear process, a roadmap if you will with activities, objectives, and desired outcomes.  This allows you to take the subjectivity out of discussions, allowing reps to lower defences, and accept that they can do things badly, as long as they do things, rather than being frozen by fear of failing.  Central to success is a proper review regime, again the accountability for this is the manager’s not the reps, and rather than feeling pestered, it will show them you care and willing to help.  Add a solid long term coaching plan, and you have a platform for ongoing success and improvement.

May sound odd, but let’s encourage them to do things badly, rather than accepting brilliant excuses, that probably required more creativity and effort than the completing the task in question.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

Protecting New Recruits From The Mediocre Masses – Sales eXchange 2110

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

change

Many in sales buy into, or more accurately, settle for the 80/20 rule, one example would be 20% of a company’s reps generating 80% of sales.  This post is less about disputing or validating the accuracy of the rule, if you want that, download The Shanto Principle; but more about how to ensure that your new recruits develop to be the 20%.  AT the same time, you can you use the same tactics to move from the 80% group delivering just 20% of the revenues, to the 20% club, the group that makes a difference.

Let’s look at a new rep joining a company, being social critters they want to fit in, be part of the team (part of the crowd, easy to hide in a crowd), they look around the office and take in the atmosphere.  Part of the ritual, is talking to their colleagues, getting the lay of the land, “how are things done around here?”

So who is likely to be in the office, who is likely to have time to just “talk”, rather than being out at client/prospect meetings; who lacks the discipline to not stop what they had scheduled, and shoot the breeze with the new guy?  You guessed it, the members of the 80% club.  The 20% club is too busy being out and driving revenues.

This is not to say that the 20% club members are not willing to help a new person out, on the contrary, they do, but they are not in the office, hanging around, they are making things happen.  So for the new team member, they need to make the effort to find and engage with the 20% club members.  In fact this can be an early indicator as to what you hired, how well do they seek out, engage with and model the 20%.

This is why the onboarding process is crucial, managers and organizations must proactively guide and steer new recruits, even experienced sellers, sheltering them from the 80%.

Picture the new recruit in the office with the all-knowing non-producing masses, as he or she stands up to peak out over their cubical walls, and the see the 80% members at their desk, getting ready to prospect, getting ready to learn about the new product, getting ready to go and ask the manager for a further discount so they can win the deal – putting more effort into selling the need to discount than they did selling the prospect on the value, getting ready finish their picks for the pool; for the most part, getting ready.

What is the take away for the new recruit – “hey this is the way they do things around here, if I’m gonna fit it, I best do the same”.

Stepping out to do the things the 20% do requires guidance, or expectation from their manager, and the ability to against the crowd.

Inviting the 20% club members to mentor new recruits not only instills good habits in new team members, but develops future leader in the process.  This in turn can help you increase the quality of the team, and tilt the numbers in your favour, over time, you can move the dial from 80/20, to dare we say it, 70/30.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Author #Interview – Josiane Chriqui Feigon – Smart Sales Manager0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Smart Sales Manager

If you are not familiar with Josiane Feigon, you should be, and if her predictions come to be you will be soon enough.  As you’ll read below, she boldly predicts that by 2015 inside sales will overtake field sales, as that unfolds, she will be in greater demand.  Josiane heads up TeleSmart Communications, and is leading practice and thought leader in the area of inside sales and management.  A recognized consulting, she has designed and delivered coaching, and training solutions for world class companies such as companies, including Cisco, Autodesk, Citrix Systems, Adobe, and others.  She is also the author of two books on inside sales, Smart Selling on the Phone and Online: Inside Sales That Gets Results, and her most recent, and a complement to the first book: Smart Sales Manager: The Ultimate Playbook for Building and Running a High-Performance Inside Sales Team.

It was this book that was the focus of a recent conversation I had with Josiane, below are exerpts of that conversation.

TS:  You say that inside sales is going to overtake field sales by 2015. How can that be? And how does that affect how companies sell?

JF:  Today’s inside sales organizations are growing rapidly – for every 15 inside salespeople being hired, only one field person is being hired. The traditional sales organization structure is changing to meet the needs of today’s elusive and busy customer who is mobile, connected, independent, and wants everything NOW. Inside sales can build more – and often better – relationships virtually in much less time than it used to take face-to-face.  TS: In your book, you start out by saying customers these days are “mad as hell.” What are they mad about? What is going on with them these days that’s affecting their buying decisions?

JF:  Customers have become incredibly intelligent and assertive- they are putting their foot down and saying “they are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” They are tired of outdated sales techniques, hundreds of powerpoint slides to make a point, being stalked and chased by desperate salespeople. They are also very independent AKA “elusive” and like to self-educate.

TS:  Many of today’s inside sales managers were promoted out of the cubicle into management. How is managing in today’s digital world different than when they were selling?

JF:  Most of today’s managers were once individual contributors. Many of them manage with the old, brutal sales blueprint of success: aggressively chasing down customers and holding them in a headlock while they present and coerce them into buying. They keep doing it today, even though it no longer works, on the theory that it has to work sometime! But managing a high-performing inside sales team in the dynamics Sales 2.0 ecosystem is completely different. This new world is digital, diverse, and connected. Customers do their own research, and talent expects works to be F-U-N.

TS:  How do organizations identify great inside sales managers?  What are the primary attributes successful managers need?

JF:  I believe a good manager must first be a good coach and in my book, I outline Ten Qualities of a Compassionate Coach

  1. Be a good listener. Use the same active listening skills that make you a good salesperson. Give the rep your full attention, and listen without interrupting. Be empathetic and compassionate, and don’t get defensive.
  2. Be observant. You can learn so much about your team members just by paying attention to the way they present themselves, the objects they choose to have around them, the friends they hang out with, whether they speak up during meetings, how they listen when you talk, how they interact with others . . . the list goes on and on….
  3. Be patient. Some people are quick studies, but not everyone. Behaviors can change; everyone has his or her own unique rhythm. Give them time to develop.
  4. Be supportive. Make sure that even the least skilled know that you believe they have what it takes to improve and get ahead. Some team members may just be waiting for permission to be seen as the top dog on the team. Treat them as if they deserve to be in that spotlight.
  5. Be flexible. Change can be effected in a number of ways. If one approach fails, try something else. Be creative. Keep an open mind, and become sensitive to differences and different ways of doing things.
  6. Be interested and aware. Take time to get to know the salesperson you are coaching. What do they like? How do they live? This will give you insight into what motivates them.
  7. Be perceptive. When your intuition kicks in—and it will! —trust it.
  8. Be energetic. A good coach has energy that is contagious and persuasive. Model the kind of positive energy you want to see.
  9. Be focused. As a coach you must detach yourself from your own pressures and focus on the person you are coaching.
  10. Be trustworthy. Above all, coaching must take place in an atmosphere of safety and trust. Your team must trust that you are working in their best interests. Your team members are your potential superheroes. Treat them with respect and confidence.

TS:   Some people think cold calling is dead. But in your book, you introduce the concept of potent prospecting. Can you explain what that is?

JF:  New tools have eliminated the cold call and redefined prospecting: The days of robo-dialing and making cold calls without any information are gone – there’s no excuse for it. Potent prospecting works more holistically. It brings together the rest of the Sales 2.0 ecosystem – the customer, the talent, and the tools – and a working alignment with marketing. Prospecting efforts are strategic and sophisticated: they’re all about the best practices of engagement, collaboration, education, application, and social activity.

TS:  Why do so many inside sales managers insist on tracking dials & talk time as a primary metric of productivity? Is that lazy management, or just lack of knowing where else to look?

JF:  Metrics are definitely overdue for a metrics makeover because many metrics are outdated stereotypes of how to measure success. Managers must also redefine what productivity means so instead of saying “it’s awfully quiet out there, no one’s on the phone” they need to listen for the virtual, the digital and the social conversations and measure the new sounds of silence.

TS:  What are two takeaways from the book for finding and hiring new sales talent?

JF:  Every inside sales organization is unique. That’s because they each have different go-to-marketing strategies based on their individual provide/service, price points, sales cycle, direct/indirect purchase channels, target audience, sales locations, and talents. These are living, breathing micro businesses that are constantly in flux. But they all have one thing in common: the never-ending quest for good talent. Managers must develop an “always-be-recruiting” strategy that includes a referral network, and strong screening and interviewing techniques that help qualify and identify inside sales superheroes. Managers must also structure their inside sales organizations with the right roles and match them with people who fit those job functions. This is the first step in defining a “multicareer” ecosystem that attracts ambitious talent on a career trajectory.

That was just a bit of a great conversation. You can find more at TeleSmart Communications, and you get both books at Amazon, they make a good set.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

Interview – Nick Stein, Senior Director of Marketing and Communication at Salesforce.com (#video)2

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Last week I had the opportunity to interview Nick Stein, Senior Director of Marketing and Communication at Salesforce Work.com.  Nick shared a number of insights and best practices around driving success through peak sales performance, and creating a proactive sales culture, all in the same environment that reps and front line sales managers use to drive revenues and day to day sales activities.

We discussed alignment, the importance of consistent and constant sales performance management.  One interesting point Nick discuss was the power and financial pay-off of one on one coaching; with only 10 minutes of 1:1 coaching, reps increase results by 17%, usually the difference between making or missing goal.

Many organization understand the need for sale performance, but now they have a means of delivering in a way integrated with daily sales realities, rather than as a separate process.  The fact remains that knowing and planning don’t always translate to being done, with Salesforce Work.com companies can execute their sales performance management improvement plan, because as with other aspects of sales, it is all about execution – everything else is just talk!

Enjoy, and let us know your reactions and thought:

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

Things You Can’t Fix0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

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There is a lot of pressure on sales people, from customers, prospects, managers, and self-imposed pressure. The last thing sellers should do is add to that, but they do, every day, and in the most unnecessary ways. One way is focusing on things out of their control, spending resources, energy and time on things they can never fix; at times compounding the issue because they involve others in the discussion who are just as powerless to change things, and as result more time and resources down the drain.

Highlighting things that may not be working is not a bad thing, especially when the goal is to improve the client experience, add value, and or improve sales for you or the company.  An example would be being part of the feedback loop, where direct feedback from customers via front line sales is invaluable. What’s at question here are the things that sellers complain about, or choose to focus on that do not bring value or are likely to be different as a result of the exercise.

The best way to avoid this time and energy sucking is to organize and compartmentalize.  Start with a blank sheet of paper, or better yet a large dry erase board. Top centre, write down your key objective, it has to be concrete and quantifiable.  A specific revenue objective, landing a specific account, or just opening the door at a named account.  Then write down all perceived obstacles or barrios, perceived or real. Don’t think about it too much, write it down no matter how obvious or farfetched.

Once the list is up there, look at the list and eliminate the things that are not real, those  that may have been one way a year ago, they have changed but you have not.  Then eliminate those things that are real and an action plan has already been put in place. What you’ll have left is a short list of real things you can change, and list of things you cannot change or get someone to change on your behalf; and it really doesn’t matter if it is real or not, because the fact that you can’t change it trumps both.

The on the list that are real, things you change or impact, commit to changing or find someone willing to take ownership, but there has to be an owner, someone accountable for the outcome, and develop an action plan, including time lines, the start and end of the process.

As for the things you can’t change, don’t let them side track you.  You can either find alternative ways of addressing the issue or move on. I am not suggesting you give up, but you know what they say about I moveable objects.  You should always try to figure things out, consider alternative ways, but if they do not present themselves, then wasting time and resource will only put you behind. Complaining about them or letting them prevent you from succeeding should not be an option.  Maybe you need to find another prospect.  You’ll be surprised how creative you can get when you approach it like this; or how much sense it may make to move on and find a real, and winnable opportunity.

At times though, I can’t help but think that some sellers focus on things they can’t change as a means of avoiding things they can, and thing that do need to be done.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

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