Welcome to The Pipeline.

Ready Set Go – Part II0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 


Last Monday, in Ready Set Go – Part II  I wrote about how to plan and execute the rest of the calendar year (for many their fiscal year). We looked at two scenarios, one for sellers who set themselves up for success. The second, and the focus for today’s post, is for those in the other group, the “Holy s#*t, there are only how many working days left in the year?” Don’t panic, that would just be a waste of your time, and time is something you don’t have in abundance; instead, get prospecting. Prospecting in two ways, first reworking all your current assets, the second is going beyond to prospects and buyers that you will need to identify, engage and move through the process. In essence what you should have been doing before the summer.

What I mean by reworking all your current assets are two specific activities. One look at all your “no decision” opportunities over the las 12 months. Opportunities that went into your pipeline, or sales process, progressed but died before coming out the other end as customers. These are not opportunities that bought from someone else, but that tested the market, then went back to the sideline having changed or done anything. In some instances this group could exceed 30% of things that go into the top of the pipe. They know you, you know them, things have changes, they may be more ready now, it certainly is worth a call. Even if they don’t re-engage now, they are likely starting the planning cycle for 2016; early bird is a good thing to be.

The other method is to crank up your referral efforts, both in your client base and, your indirect network, and your Referral 2.0 network. While I still believe in cold calling, referrals are nice too.

But you will also need to go beyond the comfort zone, and that’s where cold calling will come in. Specifically in two directions, first looking for opportunities that have a reasonable chance of closing this year. This does not have to be the proverbial lower hanging fruit, but could smaller deals for example. This may mean having more of these to sell, but that could not only mean shorter cycles, but also provide an initial entry point to accounts. The idea is to both salvage the year, and set yourself up for future growth.

Second, much like the successful group above, start hunting for things that will close next year, and close early. A challenge many sales people have is the start of year lull, often because they spend a disproportionate time “closing” late in the year. They return in the New Year only to find a neglected pipeline that takes time to build up and get back in shape. This can easily be avoided by starting early, starting now. Think of it as a variation to the above scenario, except in this instance we seed now, harvest in January. To avoid this, but you have to start now. I always find it interesting that prospects are able to hold

Look at it this way, at least if you miss quota this year, you will have given your employer a reason to keep you around for next year.

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Successful Voice Mails are like Bikinis! – Sales eXecution 3091

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Voice mail 3

They always say it is good to borrow perspectives from different fields as a means of perhaps learning something unanticipated about your day-to-day work. With that in mind, I’d like to use a perspective I learned some time back from someone in finance. This individual had an interesting view of financial statements:

“Financial statements are like bikinis, what they reveal is interesting, but what hide or don’t show is even more compelling.”

And that’s a great perspective to bring to voice mail.

There is no middle ground with voice mail, you either have those who leave no message, and at the other end are people who don’t just leave a message, but proceed to dump their brains out when leaving a voice mail.

Not leaving a message is just silly, why invest the time and effort in making the call, then listening to the target’s out going message (and most listen), only to hang up without a mark. Those who do leave a big fat message, tell me “well if I leave a compelling enough message, the prospect is bound to call me back”. Ya, because the world is such a rational place, let me guess, they probably call with a checkbook in hand asking “where do I sign?” Right.

If you listen to 90% of outgoing voice mail messages, they ask you to “please leave a detailed message”. And most sellers, wanting be liked and looking to form a relationship, comply. If you thought sales people can “spray and pray” live, they take it to an entirely different art form when it comes to voice mail messages they leave.

Why do these prospects want “a detailed message”? Because they want to protect their most precious resource, time. They want to know exactly why NOT to call you back. The more your message conforms to their request for detail, the more they know why they don’t need to call you back, and they can use that time and energy to deal with one of the other many things they are trying to cram in to their day.

Which is why you want your voice mail to be like a bikini, seductive yet not completely revealing. Seductive enough for you to say “OK, this interesting, show me more”.

Your goal or objective for voice mail is to get a call back and nothing else; a crucial point many miss. This is why we often get the Tolstoy equivalent of voice mail, rambling messages that provide every detail about the caller and the reason for the call. Detail leads to no call back. A lack of detail, where crucial elements are not revealed, think bikini, leads to more call backs, and more of the only measure of success with voice mail, a return call.

The human mind hates a mystery, and will take steps to resolve them, all relative to the context. Ever been talking about a movie with a group of people, and none of you can remember the name of the lead actor. It gnaws away until someone remembers the name, and there is a collective sense of relief.

The best voice mail are ones that create that same feel, a mix of compelling facts, and insufficient data. Info that is compelling enough, but insufficient enough to draw a conclusion. This will leave the recipient with the choice of putting the whole message out of their mind, or pick up the phone, dial the number left, in the hope of completing the picture.

For specific details of a quality voice mail, watch these videos:

youtube Understanding and Leveraging the Dynamics of Voice Mail 

 The Step by Step of a Great Voice Mail

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Proactive Prospecting — Turning an Interruption Into a Sales Conversation #webinar0

Thursday, Aug. 20 – 4:00 p.m. Eastern

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If you are in sales, you are also in prospecting. Getting in front of the right buyer is critical for sales success, yet many sellers struggle to maintain and leverage a consistent prospecting regimen. This webinar will show you: why reps are reluctant to prospect; how to help them overcome this reluctance; a proven process for prospecting success; how to deal with email and voicemail; and a means of creating sustained change behaviors in your team members. You will learn why looking for need and pain will limit prospecting success, and what you have to introduce into the call if you are going to overcome apathy and complacency in buyers. You will also learn how to deal with the most common objections you will face while prospecting.

Join me this Thursday August 20, at 4:00 pm Eastern for a webinar full of actionable insights.


Turn Your Proactive Prospecting Calls Upside-down – Sales eXecution 3072

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

upside down key

The primary, and one can argue the only purpose of a prospecting call is to gain engagement. It is not, as some pundits will tell you, to build rapport or start the relationship, or set yourself up for the future. These latter outcomes are things we sometimes have to settle for, but there is no doubt these are a distant second place to the primary goal; the singular objective and measure of success is to schedule a meeting, (live, phone, web, what have you), anything short of that is second place, which as you know is first place for those who missed the primary objective.

Adopting that attitude is key, as attitudes influence your actions, and how you act on that initial call will determine whether you engage with your potential buyer, or join the ranks of the Also-rans. The attitude is that we need to meet because there will be a mutual advantage to both as a result of the engagement. In the long run, the buyer will be closer to their objectives, and you will have a buyer. In the short term, they will learn from you, as they would from any encounter with a subject matter expert, and that is what you are; and you will learn something from them and their business. But none of that happens if you fail to engage.

Attitude also influences the message, what you say right out of the gate, most sales people, with help from the marketing team, tend to blow this important opportunity, and as a result the call. Listen to B2B sales people make prospecting calls, as I have done with hundreds of reps, thousands of calls, and you will discover that most end up delivering the wrong massage in the wrong way.

While everyone will tell you that the call has to be about the buyer and their “What’s in it for Me”, it rarely is. Most calls start off with an introduction to the company, what “we” do, and how “we” do it, how great “we” are, and then, well into the call they finally introduce the “what” may be in it for the buyer. Something like:

Hi Buyer, I my Name is Alfred E. Newman, do you have a few minutes, I am the North East Account Manager at YetAnother Corp. We are a leading manufacturer of something you already have, our clients recognize as being reliable and customer centric. We help them reduce the total cost of production by 8% while reducing their manufacturing process by 6%.

Now that last part is good, assuming the person you called is still awake, considering the precious seconds you wasted with boring non-relevant data. I know it is hard, but on that first call, in those early seconds, no one cares about us, our awards, place in the market, how we do things, seriously, they don’t, no matter what your marketing folks tell you.

What they DO care about is “what is in it for them”, more specifically “how will this help me get to my desired outcomes or objectives?” Which is the last part of the above intro. Which is why I say “turn it upside-down”; start with the outcome, what’s the tangible for the, meaning the “the reduction of their “total cost of production by 8% while reducing their manufacturing process by 6%.” The stuff before that is just filler for you, not for the buyer who may not be awake by the time you get to it.

Lead with that last part, it is more likely that they were thinking about that before you called; but many sales people can’t bring themselves to leave out the filler, the puff-pastry that brings nothing to the call but the risk of rejection, discouragement, and a lack of prospecting success.

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Delivery Over Messaging In Prospecting Calls0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Bulls eye

When it comes to effective prospecting there is usually a complete imbalance between two critical components of an effective message. Effective here means leading to initial engagement. The two components are “the content” of the message, and the “delivery”. The being the ability to ensure that the content is packaged and delivered in a way that the recipient can full receive and digest it and get out of it what the seller intended. Most people tend to focus way too much on the message, and the content, then fail to pay sufficient focus and energy on the delivery, often resulting in great content and message being wasted.

The important part of the delivery is “dynamics”, what is happening on the prospects side of things that will enable them or prevent them from taking on the message. Your value prop is a flop if it lands on deaf ears, on the other hand if you can get the prospect to take in the message, even a semi polished message will go further than the perfect line that misses the target.

Most prospecting calls, OK, cold calls, usually fall short because the caller is thinking too much about their end of the call, not the prospects end. First and foremost they are trying, and frankly encouraged by many pundits, to come up with a message that will avoid or side step an objection. Well forget it, that is not happening, when you are interrupting someone trying to pack 16 hours into a ten hour day, you will get an objection, because you are an interruption, no matter how golden your message or revolutionary your product. The only way to avoid objections is to not make the call, and I know some resort to that method. Add to that the fact that no matter how cool or “disruptive” your product, they think they already have it or something like it, remember you called them.

So you have to make it about them. Now I know you’re all sitting there saying I already do that, but having listened to thousands of call delivered by hundreds of reps, you’re not. What I hear is people telling the prospect about their company, what they do, and their product, and only after that do they get to the good stuff, what’s in it for the buyer, but even then, it is often to general. What reps tell me is that they need to introduce themselves, no you don’t. You need to introduce what’s in it for them. By the time you get through your intro they are either asleep or looking for a window, not to jump, but to throw the phone through. Lead with the outcome, the happy ending, the punch line, whatever you wanna call it, give them the end, then work back from there. This will help you get their attention, ensure the message gets through, and will set you up to manage their objectives more effectively. Now, if you want to better manage their objectives download the Objective Handling Handbook, normally $12.97, free today.

This but one example of how the delivery can make a difference. There is also the words, the tone, the cadence, and more, the key is to not focus entirely on the message, and put more attention to the delivery and dynamics involved.

BTW – you can start by joining me today at 1:00 pm Eastern, for a webinar I am present with data.com, I will be showing you how to Mastering voice mail, e-mail, and other tools of Prospect Pursuit Success! 

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Mastering voice mail, e-mail, and other tools of Prospect Pursuit Success! #webinar0

data dot com logo

Thursday July 16, 1:00 pm Eastern – 10:00 am Pacific

content (2)Having great leads, being social, and ready are all important, but it takes a lot more to connect and engage these days.  Sometimes the biggest challenge is not the message but the ability to deliver it.  This webinar will look at the tools of trade, how you use and leverage will be the difference between connecting and selling or being left behind.

We will explore:

  • The Pursuit and Pursuit Cadence
  • Voice mail messages that get returned
  • E-mail and role in the pursuit
  • Referrals 2.0
  • Everything New is old again

Changing the Odds In Your Prospecting0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

poker card player gambling casino chips selective focus

How much of a premium would you pay to bet on a sporting event where the odds favoured your team over the other by 6000 to 100? A no-brainer right, in fact too good to be real, right? Let’s look at it a bit differently, how would you like to be up against a professional opponent favoured by similar odds, an opponent who practices every day, honing their skills and techniques, improving their game day in and day out, while you only occasionally dabble in the sport?

I am guessing most of you are saying no to those odds, and would probably pass on getting in the ring with that level of mismatch. But I see sales people do this very thing on a regular basis, but instead of a five dollar bet, what is on the line is their income.

Sales people get into to the ring every day, unprepared and underestimating their opponent’s skills, abilities and level of preparedness. What I am talking about specifically is prospecting, especially for buyers in the deep sea of Status Quo. We are not talking about buyers who are actively looking, visiting your website, or buyers who were referred to you because they called their friend in a hurry looking for the exact thing you sell. No the buyers I am talking about did not expect your call or e-mail, these buyers would swear up and down that they don’t Need whatever value you are proposing. This is not to say that they would not derive value from what you offer, but left to their own devices, when you phone, what you are selling, or what you are proposing, is not on their radar.

Further, they are trained professionals at shutting down people who call them in the middle of their work day and ramble on about something that does not align with their perceived priorities.

I ask sales teams I work with: “how many unsolicited sales calls do you think your average target gets on a daily basis? Stop and ask yourself that; think of what you sell, think of all the things that individual buys that you don’t sell, how many calls do they get?” I get a wide range of answers, from five a day to 20 per day. Let’s take the lower end, five unsolicited sales call per day; 25 per week; assuming they work 48 weeks a year, that’s 1,200 calls per year. Now let’s bring some more reality to the scenario, say they have been on the job for five years, that’s 6,000 calls! Take that in a minute.

That’s a lot of practice in tuning out the beige and bland! How many times in those 6,000 calls do you figure they have heard empty words like:

  • Solution
  • Reliable
  • Productivity
  • Efficiencies
  • Customer centric
  • Improved work-flow
  • Dependable
  • Blah Blah Blah

After a time it all sounds like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoon, wha whawha, whawha wha wha.

How practiced are they in blowing you off and getting back to work? Infinitely more than the average seller. They have it down, so down they can do it without thinking or “being in the call”. When they give their initial objection, they don’t even think about what they are saying, they just deliver the fatal blow:

Seller: Increase productivity blah blah, work-flow.
Buyer: Thanks, but we’re all set
Seller: Well perhaps I can send you information in case you ever need a back-up, I can call you back in a few months (putz).
Buyer: Sure you do that, thanks! (back to work)

Knock out!

This why sales people hate telephone prospecting, high rate of rejection, low rate of success.

Does it have to be that way? Absolutely not!

Why is it that way? Because sales reps are nowhere nearly as prepared as the person at the other end of the phone.

Yet one of the hardest things is to get sales to practice and prepare. Rather than practicing, developing skills and a proper game plan, working on avoiding sounding like all the other voices, they do the same thing over and over again. What was it Einstein said about this type of behaviour?

Attracting Status Quo buyers is not that difficult, you just need to change a few small things, and practice. And I don’t mean on unsuspecting buyers, but before you pick up the phone or fire off that e-mail.

Start by changing the your goal for the call, your goal is not to impress them, not to have a conversation and develop rapport or trust; your goal is to get engagement in the form of an appointment, live, web or telephone, where the buyer has agreed to engage in a business conversation. Singular measure of success, engagement!

Change the narrative from needs or you and your company, not what you do, and how you do it, frankly no one cares, no really. Tell them what they will get out of it, speak to specific impacts and outcomes others in similar situations realized; not in feature benefit speak, they’re hip to that, but in business terms they speak every day. What will they tell their boss changed after you? This takes focus and practice, if you are going to wing it like most of the 6000 have done, if you are going to spew you value prop hoping it will impress them, forget it, you’ll just be 8001, they’ll go back to work, and you?

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Summer time and the Selling’s Easy #podcast0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Radio Renbor the pipe

There are a lot of misconceptions about selling in the summer, but don’t be fooled, there is selling in the summer.  That is the focus of this month’s segment with Michele Price and BREAKTHROUGH radio.  Take a listen and let me know how you’heat you summer sales.

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Check Out Marketing Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Breakthroughbusiness on BlogTalkRadio

Mastering Tools and Methods of Prospecting Success #webinar0

Business man point: Turn Prospects Into Sales Appointments

Wednesday June 10, 10:00 am PT/1:00 pm ET

Prospecting continues to be the most sought after skill when companies hire and promote sales professionals. The better you are at identifying and engaging with the right prospects, the more success you will have in your sales career. But to achieve success in prospecting, you will need to master two key elements

1. Sourcing the right leads and crucial information needed to reach that prospect
2. Connecting and engaging with those leads and converting them to pipeline opportunities

Join me and Clinton Rozario, as we present you the methodologies and tools that will help you master the two elements above, and keep you pipeline full and healthy.

By attending this 60 minute expert talk, you will learn how to become more efficient at both lead generation and prospecting and following up, thereby allowing you to spend less time in gaining more prospects and freeing up time to sell more to new and existing clients.

By attending this webinar, sales professionals can learn about

• Leveraging Social Platforms for Micro Targeting
• Reaching C-Level Decision Makers on Social Networks
• Proven method for successful B2B Prospecting
• How to sustain a continuous flow of opportunities
• Lead Gen and Prospecting Tools that will make you more efficient and successful

About Clinton

Clinton Rozario is an expert in B2B lead generation and prospecting on social networks. He has been the chief architect of several such patented products at eGrabber. He offers his expert advice about B2B sales lead generation at various forums and has written numerous articles on the same.




Get More Appointments In Less Time2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

No Magic, no voodoo, no silver bullets, no secrets, I’ll lay it all out; a proven technique for getting more appointments without increasing your prospecting time. This proven techniques works whether you are seeking face to face appointments with vetted prospects, getting prospects to attend an intro web meeting, or are conducting an inside sales function by phone.

First thing is first, the purpose of a prospecting call is to get engagement (Tweet).  This call can come after an initial e-mail, social tenderising, or it could be the first attempt to connect directly with a prospect. What you want is to get engagement, you want the commitment to a meeting, or the time to initiate an information exchange or call it discovery if you will. So just as in theory there is a separation between church and state, there needs to be a distinction between prospecting, and selling. But most sales people do not practice this, they blur the line between the two.

The best way to do this is to have a focused plan for the call, and execute it in a very specific way. Initiate the call, Engage using Value Prompts, hit them with an Impact Question, and Request meeting. At this point you’ll either get the appointment, or more often the initial objection, which you will have to take away. You need to get used to the fact that you will get multiple objections, and you’ll have to take those away, using specific value points. Not the value proposition on your web site or brochure, but value to the buyer, to their world from their perspective. (To see detailed breakdown click here).

Now after you take away three or four objectives, you should move on, because you can always revisit this prospect, but you will never be able to recover the time you waste trying to convert someone in a call who has rejected you multiple times, sorry no silver bullet or secret incantation, just process and execution. Some will try to avoid the inevitable by asking questions that at best get you nowhere, or usually just make you sound desperate, and leave the wrong lasting impression with the prospect.

The key here is time. A good prospecting call, again, not a sales call, but a prospecting call as defined above, should take no more than three, at most four minutes. Taking on more objections does not get you anywhere but adds time to the call. Asking questions that show how smart you are and all the research you did, again does not get you closer, it just adds time.

I watch sales people stay on a call six, seven, eight sometimes 10 minutes, trying to sell way before the potential buyer is even engaged; no engagement – no sale!

So if you spend 90 minutes making calls, speak to five people, and get one appointment (OK but not the best), imagine if you cut you on call time to three minutes from say seven, you’ll be able to get in twice as many conversations, be less frustrated, and get twice the appointments, every time.

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