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A different fish 800

New Dogs – Old Tricks0

By Tibor Shanto

While politics may be dominating populism these days, it does not hold a monopoly on populism, it is part of, if not the driving force for any like-minded group.  While most tend to limit their exploration of populism to political and social movements, populism, with all it’s positive possibilities and ugly realities, permeates and exists in other tribal groups and movements, like sales.  While others may want to define in loftier ways, in the end, populism at its core, should be “support for the concerns of ordinary people”; unfortunately for those who want to exploit it, it is more a means of “profiting from the concerns (and hopes) of ordinary people, while ensuring that their status will not change in a way that diminishes their opportunity to profit from the concerns of the ordinary”.

A great example of this in sales is the never-ending cry from certain corners, proclaiming, announcing or predicting the death of Cold Calling.  The meanest of these are those who predict, and put that prediction just beyond people’s willingness to remember.

Speaking of which, isn’t it about time we dust off all the predictions from last December and see who wins – loses – draws and who cares.

Read on…

Hey – We’re moving

Yes, all the same great content and more!
Our new home: www.TiborShanto.com. We’ll still keep things here for a while, but this same great post is also available at

www.TiborShanto.com

A different fish 800
Hot and cold phones

What’s The Difference Between A Cold Call and Warm Call?2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

The simple answer is that one is scheduled, and the other is not. Some may add that in a warm call the recipient may be aware of the person calling and the reason for the call, usually in the form of a referral. Some may add that one can “warm up” a call by doing research and having something relatable for the recipient, so they don’t blow you off as quick.

But the reality is that the difference is in your head.

Any unscheduled call, be it from a referral or from an overly informed rep, is an interruption. That’s why I tell people that I work with to reorient how they think about their work. If you are calling people who do not have a call scheduled in their calendar, you are interrupting them – next time someone asks you what you do for a living, I want you to say with great pride – “I am a professional interrupter; I interrupt people in the process of helping them achieve their objectives and delivering positive impact on their business.”

Download your copy of the Objection Handling Handbook

The challenge for most sales people, and the reason the call leaves them feeling cold, is that they are unprepared for the series of events and reactions their interruption sets into process.

After having research the company in an effort to warm the call, they figure that they have something relevant to say, and fail to take into account the interruption. So they wax poetic, all the while the prospect is thinking “how can I get back to work”. This is just compounded when they are usually talking about “solutions”. Given that 70% or more of the market is not looking for a solution, the interruption just seems worse when they deem the message to be irrelevant. Add to this that they have heard this same approach a thousand times before. So what can you do, focus on Objectives, not pains or needs; every business has objectives, align with those, and you’ll go from an irritating interruption, to an interruption with possibilities. Yet few research, they continue to research for problems some may have that fit their solution, rather than the other way around. You want the reaction to be “I was thinking about this”, not “WTF is this guy talking about”, leading to a click or objection.

When the objection comes, most sales people take the rejection personally. After all, they spent all this time researching the company, the person, and god knows what else, and at the moment of interruption, it seems all for not. As soon as it is personal, people get defensive, and it’s all downhill from there.

Managing and overcoming objections on a cold call starts long before they come up in the call. We interrupt, that triggers specific reaction. As before, if the initial narrative was a “solution” based intro, most reps defend and double down on that narrative, thus accelerating their fate. But if the intro was based on Objectives, doubling down on those allows you to expand your potential value rather than limit it.

If you can accept that you are an interruption, and focus on objectives and impacts, you will be in a position to manage and take away objections, and move towards a conversation – a sales conversation about their objectives, not pains, needs or solutions.

Download your copy of the Objection Handling Handbook

Hot and cold phones
Night view of rail tracks in depot, Kiev

Changing Your Path To #Prospecting #Success2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

No one says telephone prospecting is easy, which is why I am always puzzled as to why many sales people make it even more difficult than it already is. Many don’t set out to sabotage themselves, some are not even aware they are doing it, and many are just sadly following the advice of pundits who talk about but don’t actually telephone prospect. What many are doing is ignoring some basics communication realities that in a sales situation cannot and should not be ignored.

Over 90% of sales conversations are started or initiated by the seller, this goes to 100% of telephone prospecting calls, especially cold calls. So how we start the call will very much dictate the flow of the call, and even the reaction of the prospect. Start things the right way and you improve your odds, start the wrong way, and you dig a hole that will be hard to get out of. How you start a cold call matters, that’s why scripts are important.

While everyone agrees that the first few seconds of a call are crucial to the success of the call, most still chose to squander those precious seconds.

Most recipients of cold calls start down a path, in most cases that path is headed to them blowing us off and getting back to work. Our job is to either set them on a different path, or change the path they started down, if not, the conclusion is clear, no prospect, (they are back doing what they were before we interrupted), no opportunity, frustration, and time we will never recover, gone. This mainly happens because we play into the expectation of the prospects, instead of challenging those expectations.

Having listened to thousands of real world calls, most calls start by telling the prospect who is calling, and in its worst form this includes the callers title, and some self-serving statement about their employer: Hi, my name is George Handoff, I am the Mid-Atlantic Account Manager with ACME Corp. a Fortune 500 company and leading manufacturer of Sprocket Valves.” Who cares, what does that tell someone you have interrupted in the middle of their day? Do you really expect them to get excited about any of that? This is usually followed by highlighting the types of problems you have “solutions” for. No, that’s not the sound of them hanging up, it is their head hitting the disengage button as they fall asleep listening to all that, the ones that stay awake, just blow you off.

Given the fact that only about 3 of 10 people you call will recognize the problem, and only one of those three are willing to act now. The other seven could care less because they don’t see themselves in the picture, and your opening statement sets them down the path of “Who cares, I need to go back to work, good bye.”

To set them on a different path, why not start the call by highlighting what things look like after your product is in place. Lead with the outcomes! How many more units did you help someone produce in the same or less time; how did you improve their cash-flow; how much did you help increase market share, or how many of their target prospects did you help them land, how many more appointments did your prospects have as a result of your work, and what was the increase in pipeline value? Those are interesting opening that set the conversation on a path they not only can relate to, but want to achieve as well.

It’s not a big change, but one where you are presenting your capabilities via specific outcomes and impacts your clients had and were able to achieve as a result of your offering. That’s a path worth exploring, one they are thinking about, but no one is calling about, especially those waiting to be found.

The only reason many will tell you that cold calling sucks is because of the results they are getting. But rather than giving up on the cold call, they should give up on their approach, and try a path that has an ending of interest to prospects, be they Looking or Status Quo.

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don't do this on cold calls

3 Things To Leave Out Of Your Prospecting Call1

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Not only do I get to listen to a lot of outbound calls, but I get a fair bit of cold calls, (I guess they did not get the memo that cold calling is dead), and there are a number of things that if people would just stop doing, they would be so much more successful. These aren’t the top ones, or worst ones, they are just the ones that irritated me most this week.

1.  Who Is In Charge Of…?

These are the people who give cold calling a bad name, lazy people who can’t be bothered to go to your web site or LinkedIn and do some basic scraping to get basic info. Even if the above were to leave you wondering, asking this question is just going to make more work, and lead to less results. The receptionist may have a different idea of who is in charge of. As far as he/she is concerned the person in charge of office supply is the person asking them if the need that supply. The person in charge of telecommunication is the one who works on their telco problems, not the one making the decision about carriers. So if you are really unable to find the right person before you pick up the phone, hard to believe these days given the resources available, just ask for a specific title. Not any harder, not much better, but if you have to, it is better to ask for the CTO, than the person in charge of telephones or IT.

2.  What you or your company does

Really no one cares, if they did, they would have phoned you, not the other way around. Beyond the name of your company, no one cares. Tell them what you have done for others with similar objectives, what the economic outcome was, and how it impacted their business. Anything other than that is saying please hang up on me, I prefer to talk about me and my company not you and your opportunities. Instead of who you are and what you do, talk about outcomes, lead with outcomes they are looking for and thinking about, it is about the end, not the means.

3 Your Title (or lot in life)

I rarely laugh at sales people when they call, I know the effort it takes, and they are doing their job, I usually listen, and if they are open, make suggestions. But one thing that always gets a belly laugh is when I hear someone include their title. “hi this Josie Broune, regional account manager for Canada”, or the voice mail version, “hi you’ve reached Mike Smith, Eastern Canada Sales Director at Another Company”.

I am sure your mother and spouse are proud of your title, and for many I am sure your title defines some aspect of your life, but for the person listening it means nothing, in fact those people who hang up on you, for them it means less than nothing.

I am not saying it is not impressive or that you should not be proud, but it adds nothing to the call, which means it needs to be eliminated. I’ve had some tell me that it communicates their capabilities and demonstrates some credibility. It doesn’t. You want to impress, and create credibility, get to what is in it for them, the business impacts you have delivered to others with similar objectives. Start and stay with that and you’ll get their attention, anything other than that, and they are just waiting for a pause where they can shut you down, and if that opening does not come in time – – click.

Don’t do it Len, leave these things out.

Not interested

They’re Not Interested – What Now?3

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

No one likes objections, the number one reason for sales people hating cold calling is the cold reality of the objections. I get it, but when you think about it there are probably five common objections you will face in telephone prospecting. About 80% of the time, 80% people we are calling will go to one of these five objections. While none are pleasant, especially when you are not ready, the most frustrating seems to be the “Not interested” objection. Seems the most sensible people lose their mind for a second.

I recently had a call from someone for a product, that based on their introduction I felt I did not need, did not want, and would not help me in any way. I told the rep: “no thanks, no interest at the moment.” Sounding somewhat irritated, he asked “why is that?”.

Me: Based on your intro, I don’t see the need, so thanks, but not interested.
Rep: I get that, but why not?

At this point, I said “Well get this” as I hit the end button.

Now he is not the worst I have had, and I figure his frustration was not with my reply but the fact that he blew it and had no clue how to handle it any other way. (He should take my program)

First mistake, he assumed that telling me about his brand, and their Unique Selling Proposition (which other than his company’s name was not unique at all), would arouse a deep and hidden need and desire. I had what he was selling, so need and want were non-factors. What he should have done is align his approach with my priorities, and how they may contribute to them.

I would argue that the main reason someone says they are not interested is that they gleaned little or no value from your intro, and what little they may have, was not enough to displace a current priority. The oldest rule “What’s in it for them”, yet most calls are about “us, and what we do, and we, we, we.” If you offered something of real interest, you would get a different response. Don’t believe me, call five people and offer them $1,000,000 and see how many “Not interested” responses you get.

I am not suggesting that you have to go to that extent, but you do need have a clear idea of how you can impact the prospects business and objectives in a very specific way. And that’s where the work comes in, speaking to those points that are on the minds and the ‘to-do’ lists of byers. Given that there are multiple buyers in each decision, apparently 5.4 buyers, it means work. Generic “we, we, we, ROI of that” no longer cuts it unless you happen across someone who has that specific need at the time you call, not likely, less than a 30% shot. But 100% of businesses and business people have objectives, that’s where the value is, that’s where their interest is.

Want to handle objections better, grab our Objection Handling Handbook now, normally $12.97,
free by clicking here.

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executive woman talking on the phone in her office

Good Things Happen To Those Who Call – Sales eXecution 3290

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 
Over and over different sales people tell a success story that starts with them saying “I got lucky the other day, I called this guy, and he is ready to move forward.” Or “I’ve been calling this guy every few months for the last couple of years, and I finally got a meeting with him.” While luck may have played a small role in it, especially the first scenario, the fact remains that even luck has to be met half way.

Timing is the second most critical element in the first case above, the most critical, was making the call. The simple reality is that if you don’t make the call, you can never take advantage of timing, whether by luck or by design, such as a trigger, not just a random event, but any trigger. Which leads us to one of the key flaws in the cold calling is dead argument. Cold calling here is defined as any call to anyone who does not have you in their calendar. This does mean there is no reason to speak with, it just means the call was unplanned, not unmerited.

For every stat that suggests that prospects will not take your call, there as many stats that show that decision makers and recommenders are open to input and are actively seeking expert advice in ensuring that they make the right choice for their company. Buyers are very much like sellers, some are lazy and go with the popular flow, others take their mandate seriously and consider all viable resources. The question for sellers is “how do I become viable or relevant to a prospect?” Calling with the usual script that sounds a lot like: “This is Us, We do this, you ready to buy?” will seal your fate the second you open your mouth.

As with any campaign, and that is what prospecting is, a campaign to engage with qualified potential buyers, the goal is to create buyers. Yes, prospects are created not found, and once you have a prospect, you need to convert them to a buyer. This is why those who wait for buyers to realize they want or need to buy, or who are 57% through a buy decision, end up dealing with order takers, not sellers.

The second scenario above is a great example of a prospect being created. A consistent flow of touch points, direct and specific communication, and regular interactions, lead to a prospect being created, without having to wait for a random event. Those calls spaced between other forms of communication add a dimension missed by those who don’t pick up the phone and call. We learn different elements and evolution in the prospect’s world. Each bit of information and intelligence gained is ploughed back into the campaign, each time making you more viable, more relevant and more on target. So when the moment comes that the prospect decides to engage, it is not just timing, not just persistence, that could be achieved through various forms of automation and drip approaches. It is the personal contact and added knowledge gained and the refinement of each call that makes one stand out from the also-rans.

Again, it is not this vs. that, you can work with marketing, leverage and be social, but if you don’t cold call, you’ll be missing a crucial element in creating a prospect. Sure, you can wait to be found, or you can put calls into the mix and make good things happen.

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Business man point: Turn Prospects Into Sales Appointments

You Have To Sell Is The Appointment First1

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

In the past I have posted about the attitude sales people have towards prospecting, some see it as a necessary evil and unpleasant part of their job, something they have to “tolerate” early in their career, until they build up a sufficient base to live off. How many times have you heard a rep with tenure say they “have earned the right not prospect”, or the less honest version “put me in front of the right guy and I’ll close them.” While that may be true, the big bucks in sales go to the ones who can get in front of the right guys on their own.

One thing that differentiates the complete sales person, the sales people who can execute all elements of the job, not just the easy ones or the ones they like, is their understanding that prospecting is a sale. Perhaps the hardest sale of all, selling the appointment. The same instincts, skills and disciplines it takes to sell the product or service, are involved in selling an appointment, it’s just that the prospect is not yet a willing participant. Which is why you need to take the attitude that the appointment has to be sold.

Beyond role play, one of the things that we do with clients is listen to recordings of actual calls by the reps we train. Not one or three calls when they know they are being listened, but recording of dozens and dozens of calls throughout their week, getting a real sense of what they are doing when it counts, not just to impress on one or two calls. What you hear across dozens of calls in consistent; sure you can explain one call, or two, but when you hear the same mistakes over the course of days and weeks as we do, there is no denying facts.

Right from the time the prospect answers you can tell which reps came to sell, and which came to take orders, hoping the prospect throws them a bone. The way they initiate the call, how they engage the prospect. Not just style and mannerism, but what they speak to, and the narrative they paint for the buyer. This is not just about enthusiasm, while that is key and infectious, when wrapped around the wrong message it becomes toxic, and no one wants to be infected with that. Or the diminutive subservient posture they take, if you close your eyes you see Goofy when they try to handle the “all set” objection: “Well maybe I can be your number two if you ever tire of number one, ah, gosh darn it.”

Those reps who sell the appointment are much more often the ones who sell the deal, while the others are more likely to be used for info and price concessions, or worse, as a means of getting concessions from the incumbent, and once that is achieved, they are tossed to the curb.

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video intro 2016

Prospecting Call Mistakes You Can Avoid #Video0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Making outbound prospecting calls can be challenging and stressful, for both the prospect and the rep making the call. To be more effective you need to change some things that may work in day to day life, even in a scheduled sales call, because this is not a scheduled call, so the dynamics will be different, and as a pro you have to make up for that difference. Take a look at the video below to learn to common mistakes to avoid.

Tell me what you think; and if you have doubts about what you heard, read what the University of San Francisco has to say about building credibility in prospecting calls.

Hey if you liked the segment and the ideas, join me this Wednesday, when I and dozens of other sales thought leaders share best practices during the Sales Acceleration Summit, the world’s largest on line sales event. Click here to see the agenda and to register. My session is on the Dynamics of Successful SDR and prospecting calls.

Disapproval thumbs down by a male executive.

Who Is That For, You or the Buyer?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Prospecting can be a nerve racking experience for many in sales, especially outbound telephone prospecting, which explains why so few are good at the practice. The rejection, the unknown, the boos looking at you output and shaking his head, and clock on the wall ticking louder and louder. This triggers series of primal responses from nesting and protection to fight-or-flight. Let’s be clear we’re not talking about fighting the customer, but fighting the urge to give up and go back to inbound prospecting, or perhaps flight to a better strategy and approach to telephone prospecting.

When the nerves kick in, we try to compensate for it and comfort ourselves in the hope that things will get better. But hope is really not a path to successful prospecting, and the best comfort comes from having a pipeline full of real opportunities. Most of the other comforts are really there to make the prospector feel better, not necessarily to improve the scenario and results. To do that you have to actually go the other way. While being counter intuitive may not be immediately comfortable, it will lead to more opportunities, which will in turn will allow you to indulge in some real comfort, no matter what that is for you.

So here are somethings you should stop doing specifically on a first call, things that may make you feel better and more comfortable, but has the opposite effect on the buyer, and thereby detrimental to your success. Your litmus test should be: “Is this for me or for the buyer?” If the answer is for the buyer, great; if the answer is you don’t know or for you, then cut it out, full stop. There is no grey, it truly is black and white, and any time you waste debating it is time you are not selling.

First off, stop asking the buyer how they are two seconds in to the call. Yes, I know we were brought up that way, Mom always told you to be polite. While I may agree with Mom that you should be courteous and respectful of the prospect, she probably wasn’t thinking that raising an outbound sales person. Asking that question consumes valuable seconds at the start of the call, and keeps the conversation from the focus, which is what is in in for the buyer, and how it helps them achieve their objectives. How they are, is not germane, and you know, there will be times when it they are jammed, feeling harassed, and all the question does is accentuates that. Whereas getting to the point of what’s in it for them, allows them to focus on that, which is what you want. If you want to feel how useless asking how they are, just think of the last time a duct cleaner asked you how you were.

litmus

Next pacifier that needs to go, asking them “is this a good time?” or “Do you have a couple of minutes?”. That’s like asking for the bullet to the head, might as well save the prospect the time and do it yourself. When we do outbound calling, to people who did not have us on their calendar, people who are trying to pack 16 hours into a ten-hour day, people who only see their kids awake on the weekend, time is a premium, and we are a disruption. So by definition they do not have time for the unknown, and at the time of the question in the call we are an unknown. Now if you started with what is in in for the buyer, and how it helps them achieve their objectives, they will make time. But again, you want to be polite and hope that they like you, instead of helping them like what you represent, you know a “solution”.

litmus

I know going cold turkey on these bad habits is hard, so here is something that will help you let off some social steam, make you feel better but not risk the call. Right where you would blurt out either of the above questions, and normally stop to wait for the answer, instead say “Thanks for taking my call.” Statement not a question, so you don’t have to stop, and you can get to what really counts, the real upside for the buyer.

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Twin sisters making stop sign

2 Serious Mistakes To Avoid In Prospecting2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Most see selling and prospecting as two different things, as evidenced by the fact that while apply themselves to the former, but save their real creativity to avoiding the latter. But the fact remains that you can’t sell without prospecting, but sadder still, you can prospect a lot without selling. Mastering the skill-and-art of proactively prospect, especially buyers who don’t know them, is the ticket to continuous sales success. But people avoid prospecting because of the rejection factor; that nagging reminder that sellers are mere mortals after all.

Successful professional prospectors also know that sales and prospecting are different, and it is how they view that, and what they do that helps them deal and succeed.

Being that sales and prospecting are two of revenue process, each has its own set of objectives, and related activities, and desired outcomes. For prospecting, the singular and only objective is engagement with a buyer, plainly speaking, as many of you would express, “getting in”. To do that they avoid doing two common things, this in turn contributes to their prospecting and by extension sales success.

Thing 1 – “Gatekeeper”

People focused on leveraging clients’ objective for prospecting success, detest this term. It puts you and someone important to your success in adversarial posture. Conjures up the image of the bridge keeper from The Bridge of Death, keepers of the gate to sales Nirvana. To be clear, this is not about a receptionist in the lobby, (sometimes lock away from her colleagues), but an executive assistant or personal admin who work with the executives you want to sell to. They are not the enemy, nor do you want them to be, as they have a lot knowledge you’d love to tap into, and influence with the very individual whose influence you seek.

By now you are probably hip to the new number in town, 5.4, wonderfully unpacked by our friends at the CEB in the #ChallengerCustomer. No one knows those players better than what many mistakenly call the ‘Gatekeeper’. If you start treating them in the same way you would any of the 5.4. Furthermore, they are a unique source of insight as to who your Mobilizer may be. Rather than following the advice to isolate and exclude, you should think and do inclusion, tell them what you would tell the person he/she assists. Engage around who the executive may delegate the kind of projects or products your offering has improved or moved towards their objectives. Yes, Virginia, we are talking on the first call, I want to get in, not play coy.

Thing 2 – Decision Maker

It’s not about the maker, it’s about the decision. Hard for many Judeo-Christian sellers to just let go of the Maker.

Whenever I ask a group of sellers, who they want to reach out to when prospecting an organization. The answer is overwhelmingly “the decision maker”. Now I have used a range of directories and lists, and many had some on-depth information, but rarely did they have the title Decision Maker. And given that the studies show that there usually more people involved in the decision, looking for one maker may not be the best approach.

The thought process for prospecting should be about the decision, not the maker; about mapping the decision to objectives you can contribute to, who you impact internally and in their customer base, and most of all what your specific impact is. Looking at getting a decision and what is involved in that, and then building your track around that for all involved, will help you uncover anticipated advantages in creating and extending conversation, especially to where you can converge them around you. Looking for a Decision Maker, will narrow your focus and cause you to miss things you could leverage even if you found Salomon.

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