Welcome to The Pipeline.

You Can Play Nice or You Can Play To Win0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

iStock_000003854002Small

There are times when you hit a wall in a given sale or opportunity, where you have some though choices to make: do you walk away, do you take a different approach with the buyer, or do you abandon the person you have been working with and go around or over them.

As interesting as the choices that people make in these situations, what’s even more interesting and noteworthy from a learning standpoint, is why and how the make those choices.

Not a negative, but a reality is that many sales people positive nature and disposition, a ray of sunshine buyers will be drawn to, a “can do” attitude spiced with plenty of optimism. This drives them to look for positive outcomes, which is often different than the right or profitable outcome.

As an interesting side note, according to recent Harvard Business Review article by Steve W. Martin, What Separates the Strongest Salespeople from the Weakest, the best sales people as measured by performance, are in fact inwardly pessimistic. Questioning the buyer, motives, aspects of the sale, etc. This allows them to qualify/disqualify and be more effective sales winners (as opposed to the large group of relationship starved professional visitors who are in sales). While “possibilities” are endless, reality comes down to fewer choices, some harder than the others.

Of the choices above, abandon, change the facts or change horses, most sales people will be most reluctant to changing horses, going around or above the person they have been dealing with. Odd, because it is generally the most effective, both in terms of outcomes and best use of time.

It all hinges on how you view one fact, what are the potential consequences. The most optimistic relation types see negative consequences (now who is pessimistic), they say “If I go around or over them, it may upset the person I am dealing with, and the deal won’t happen”. The best, high performing sales people say “If I stay on the current path, the deal ain’t happening, I need to engage someone who can make it happen”.

One major difference is that the high performers look at it from the perspective of what’s right and best for the buyer and their company; they look at deal, not the people. Most importantly, they look at the situation as being “who else can I engage”, not necessarily going around or over someone. If that’s what you are looking for, that is what you’ll find.

At it’s core the question is a common one in sales, are you reactive or proactive, do you put more faith in hope or action?

It is not a question of the cup being half full or half empty. What differentiates these two types of sales people is that they both see the half glass, they both aspire to have the glass full. One is hoping that being genteel, nice and smiling will hopefully fill the glass. The other group knows they need to take proactive steps to fill the glass.

Tibor Shanto

Live Cast

Ego And Confidence In Sales Success – Sales eXecution 2782

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Clone not

Successful sales people share certain attributes, some can be learned and developed, some we come by naturally, and if we have less of those than other, we can spend time and effort developing them, and improving our sales habits and results in the process. Two that are common to many successful sales people are ego and confidence. The question and challenge is proportions and dominance, and as always, intent.

Some sales people tend to confuse ego with confidence, and fall victim to this trait. When I was a young rep I had the fortune to learn the difference between the two, and learned to balance one with the other. My mentor kept telling me that if I have to tell people how great I am, rather than demonstrating it through my actions, ability and knowledge, I was letting my ego lead, and likely costing myself sales and friends. Demonstrating capabilities is confidence, a sign of security, attracting people and their confidence in me, and helping my sales success. Telling it to people signaled insecurity, thus causing them to pause before acting with me, and buying form me. Confidence is something you can build and more importantly share with others, bringing them into you process. An ego driven by insecurity is often sustained by having an air of superiority, expressed or implied, or both. Neither adding to ones sales success.

Let’s be clear there is nothing wrong with sales people having an ego, the question again is intent, and the risk of an unchecked ego. I remember once telling a director that I could not imagine or fathom going to our annual sales meeting and going up on stage to receive an award other than the one for making quota. This drove my activities, and gave her a great tool to motivate me when needed. I remember having a slow start to a fourth quarter, all she had to do was to remind me that I need X dollars to put me into the Platinum Club. No doubt it helped her bonus, but it was the reminder, the nudge I needed to get my act in gear; ego served a good purpose.

If confidence is a sign of ability and security, no doubt that is more than partly supported by knowledge and how to best apply that knowledge. In the case of sales how do we help buyers achieve their objectives, so they buy our product, pay their invoices and help us achieve Platinum or some such club. Some sale people are too lazy to acquire knowledge, after all it does take work, it often takes more than what your company will spoon feed you. Face with the choice of putting in the effort or faking it, many sales people opt for the latter. This is often manifested in some sales people compensating for knowledge with ego, or more accurately their lack of knowledge. As Einstein pointed out, the relationship is invers, Ego = 1/ Knowledge. By extension, the more knowledge the greater the confidence and less leading with ego. Buyers aren’t stupid, they can tell the difference, and their buying decisions reflect that. Leading to bruised egos and missed sales and numbers.

In the end the elements that make for a confident rep are usually the ones that make for a successful rep. When you find the balance tipping to ego, step back and ask what you need to do to re-calibrate, not only will it make you a better person, but a more successful seller.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

A Verbal Painting is Worth A 1,000 Words0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Art Brush

We have all the expression above, but it really rings home in sales, especially for successful sales people. If you look at sales as being an educational process, that is you learning from the prospect, even while you are helping them learn how you can help them reach their objective, let’s focus on the latter, you helping the buyer learn about the potential value you can/may bring.

Broadly speaking people fall into one of three styles of learning

  • Visual Learners – Learn through observing, visualization; good visual recall of what they saw or read
  • Auditory Learners – Strong in Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence, listen and identify patterns, effective use of language
  • Tactile Learners – Learns through touching and physical interaction, activity, via demonstrations

The challenge is that as a sales person you can’t call in advance and as your buyer’s disposition, or start meetings by asking, not to mention that there may be multiple people in the process or a given meeting. I also believe that demos are only appropriate at certain point in the sale, and giving them something to read especially early could be counterproductive in so many ways. As a result sellers tend to lean on the visual and verbal, which can be effective, especially with a little planning and focus on how they execute.

The ability to paint a picture with words a number of benefits is selling. One is the ability to engage buyers on a deeper level, at a level where they make decisions. We have all heard the saying “people buy on emotion, then they rationalize it.” While not incorrect, it is also not complete. As I understand it, (or not), there a third element, the specific trigger that sets things into motion. With three layers in the brain (The Reptilian, Emotion and Thinking) each responding to outside triggers differently, it is probably more accurate to say that people buy in response or reaction to trigger – Reptilian; filtered by the Emotion, is this good or bad, pain or pleasure; the rationalized by the Thinking brain. Which is why despite all the data and objective facts available, people still make mistakes in buying.

As a sales people we have the opportunity to trigger responses and emotions that can cause a buyer to look at things differently and buy from us, versus. Unlike what some pundits will tell you, the goal of a sales person is not to stand around and wait for a random event to trigger something in the buyer, but to create the trigger to initiate the desired event(s).

Which is where the ability to paint a verbal story comes in. Think of a time in your life when stories, vivid stories were a key part of your daily routine. That’s right, when you were a child. The people who sharing the stories were people close to you who you trusted, parents, grandparents, kindergarten, teachers, etc.

“The Limbic (Emotional brain) system creates chemical messages that connect information to memory, the retention of which is significantly increased when that information is presented in an emotionally charged context.” Since having the buyer retain your message is a key challenge, there is a pay-off right there. But further, “This is why you are most likely to remember events that created a strong emotional response within you, and why other people will mostly remember the things you said or did to them that made them feel a certain way”

Most of us felt safe secure and happy when we were read stories when we were kids, that’s why leave movies or play with a good story feeling good and rewarded.

Learning to paint a quality verbal picture aligned with the buyer’s objectives, will not only enhance engagement, help the buyer retain more of what you are telling them, and feel good about buying from you. Trigger the right reaction in the reptilian and emotional brain, and you can move your sales forward in a measurable and repeatable way.

One caution, that no matter how good you verbal painting is, it won’t overcome a crappy product, or if they are not aligned to buyer objective. The goal is not to become a spin master but to tell your story in a way meaningful to the buyer.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Who Exactly Are You Selling To?2

May 14

The Pipeline Guest Post –  Megan Totka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

EDGY Conversations: How Ordinary People Can Achieve Outrageous Results0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

EDGY Conversations

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

The Fine Line Between Cool and Rude8

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Back 2 back sm

In an increasingly hurried world of too many things to do in too few hours, buyers seem to fall in to two groups: Cool and Rude. The cool are those who can deal with and clearly communicate what is on their mind, regardless of the impact on sellers. While what they communicate may not be what sellers want to hear, the upside is that the communication is clear, and they are offered the respect a potential partner deserves. The rude (and I suspect other shortcomings) are those who fail to communicate clearly for whatever reason, that, only they know since they are unable or willing to communicate properly.

Specifically I am speaking about the common act by many, but here specifically prospects, of going radio silent on sellers.

Context

This came about as a result of a coffee with a long-time associate Harry, a very professional and proven seller in his industry, with a solid track record of delivering results for both his employer and his clients. He has been around long enough to know that his offering is not for everyone, and that at times he does not sell as well as other times, but he has for years managed to sell and deliver value in an industry that continues to be commoditized daily. Add to that we were talking about not people not responding to initial approaches from e-mail, inbound marketing, cold calls, voice mails, LinkedIn InMails, Tweets, or any form of initial approach, the examples he was discussing were from people who were engaged in the process, went well past the initial exploration, and clearly expressed more than an interest in engaging. Harry was lamenting the loss of common courtesy, not that he expects everyone who starts the process to buy, just a simple communication as to where things are, even when they are nowhere.  BTW, I have heard this from a steady number of professional sellers of late.

The Reality

His comments came not from the frustration as a seller, but the deterioration of common courtesy in business. He has been around long enough to understand that many will not see value in what you sell, and may come to that determination after going part way through the cycle. Being old school, he is doggedly focused on next steps, and when he doesn’t get one, he understands that he needs to both ask why, and he needs to find a new prospect to replace the one that just said no. What he was puzzled by is why people who committed to a next meeting, next call, next action, not only do not follow through, but fail to communicate. Yes, silence clearly communicates their intent, he was just wondering why they just couldn’t say no. Again, for Harry it was not about the lost sales, but the lack of will, or ability to communicate.

Most professional sales people understand that they will hear more no’s than yes’s, in fact the better they are, the truer that is. Harry was just asking to hear something, even as he moved on to the next opportunity.

Yes, we know that buyers are crazy busy; busy, busy, busy; but busy is not permission to be rude. In fact most successful executives go out of their way to close conversations and discussions, I suspect because they know they may need to interact with that person at one point in the future; now that’s cool! As Harry said “I didn’t put a gun to their head to meet to begin with, some reached out to me, the least they can do is to tell me to FOD.”

In a selling world enamoured with the concept of relationship and etiquette, one where the mantra of people buy from people, rules supreme, it is a curiosity why so many seem to prefer to be rude and ignorant, rather than cool and communicative.

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What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

The Law of Least Effort (#guestpost)0

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The Pipeline Guest Post – Jeff Shore
Adapted from Be Bold and Win the Sale by Jeff Shore
Available from McGraw-Hill Business in January 2014
 

In his (amazing) book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman touches on a fascinating concept that he calls, “The Law of Least Effort.” Kahneman states that, “…if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will gravitate to the least demanding course of action.” The premise here is that people are not categorically lazy but are striving to be efficient.

Before reading on, it is worthwhile to consider some of the natural implications of this law.

  • Minimal effort o Acceptance of mediocrity
  • Blending in with everyone else
  • The dreaded “Minimum Performance Standards” (I despise that term!)

There is a strong psychological underpinning to all this. Finding ourselves unsure of the depth of a given threat (an opportunity to be bold), we revert to the instinct of energy preservation. It’s a survival technique.

Here’s the problem: this subconscious tendency actually helps us to feel better about ourselves when we yield to discomfort. There is a built-in justification for doing so. Our primal brain assures us: “Hey, I’m just preserving my energy in case a greater threat comes along.”

Of course, the penalty for taking the path of least resistance can be severe, coming in the form of limited potential and confining self-beliefs.   Every time we give in to discomfort we cement ourselves more fully into the familiar yet confining world of mediocrity. Just ask those around you who have taken bold but uncomfortable steps in their own lives. They will tell you that the so-called “law of least effort” is a sham, and that the richest treasures are not to be found on our existing mental maps.

Where are you guilty of offering only the least amount of effort? In this one case, I  encourage you to break the law: the law of least effort! Be bold and start making the effort to go the extra mile today.

About the Author

Jeff Shore is a highly sought-after sales expert, speaker, author and executive coach whose innovative BE BOLD methodology teaches you how to change your mindset and change your world. His latest book, Be Bold and Win the Sale: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Boost Your Performance, is forthcoming from McGraw-Hill in January 2014. Learn more at jeffshore.com or follow Jeff on Twitter.

More About the Author: For more than three decades, Jeff has guided executives and sales teams in large and small companies across the globe to embrace their discomforts and deliver BOLD sales results. In a crowded field of sales experts and training programs, Jeff Shore stands out with his research-based BE BOLD methodology. Combining his extensive front-line sales experience with the latest Cognitive Behavioral Therapy research, Jeff has created a highly effective, personalized way to reset sales paradigms and deliver industry-leading results. Jeff doesn’t just teach you how to sell, he shows you how to change your mindset and change your world.

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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

Small Business Week – BNN Interview (#video)0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

This week is Small Business Week in Canada, as part of that BNN, Canada’s business news television network is running features highlighting the Canadian small business space, and looking at trend and advice for the small business community.

 

On Monday I had the pleasure of discussing how small business owners approach hiring sales talent, what works, and what they should avoid.

 

Take a look, and as always, share your thoughts, leave a comment.

 

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

Exceeding Your Sales Expectations0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Solar Scape

Many adhere to the saying that goes “perception is reality”, no arguing that, but for sales professionals the mantra needs to be “Expectations are reality”. Regular sales people let their perceptions dictate their reality, and are often limited by their own perceptions, those of their buyers’, and of course the perceptions they glean from the pundits’. As a result they often settle for things they perceive, rather than achieving the things they can do given the right expectations.

I was working with a reps last week, helping him be more effective on the phone in the process of setting appointments. While he got the words and the flow of the approach and talk track down quickly, he was still not getting traction, especially when compared to others. What he was lacking was conviction and the dynamics that come with that.

Those dynamics, nuances in attitude and delivery, can make the difference between another prospecting call, and an appointment. The better the call, the more appointments; the more choice you have in your pipeline and your success. One specific is the attitude you have about the outcome, which directly influenced by what you expect to happen on and as a result of the call.

His expectations were all focused on the negative less than fun side of the call. He expected to get voice mail rather than a live person, he expected to be greeted by the admin or what sales people like to call gate keepers, (talk about setting the battle lines with labels). If those hurdles didn’t pop up, he expected the target to be irritated, not interested, and almost pissed for getting the call. If he got past that, he expected objections by the boat load, and finally he expected that there was little he could say to take away the objections and get the appointment.

I felt for him, he was piling up all these limiting obstacles, and he hadn’t even looked at the phone, no wonder it seemed like a five ton dumbbell. I suggested he had reset his expectations. “To what” he asked, “what are your expectations when you make calls?”

“I expect to get the appointment”

Those words are not magic, I still need to deliver an effective introduction, and while I get objections like the rest, I expect to deal with them and get past them. My expectations are focused on the outcome, the appointment, the opportunity in the pipeline, the sales, the commission and the meal at my favourite restaurant, I can taste that vindaloo now. If you expect to meet and be defeated by obstacles, then that is what you’ll get, and that will dictate your perception, and the reality of your effort.

Sure perception is reality, and if your perception is that you can’t do it, prospecting doesn’t work, then that will be your reality. If you expect to get the appointment, expect to get the next step, expect to win the deal, then that will inform your preparation, actions, reactions and outcomes. Those who set expectations, and settle for nothing less than what they expect can go further and overcome more hurdles more effectively than those guided by perceptions. What are your expectations today?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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