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Business cartoon showing two business managers, one is saying, 'the "no excuses sales seminar" is this weekend... but I'm going to try to get out of it'.

Best Way To Motivate Your Reps: Take Away EXcuses2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Managers always ask, “How can I motivate my reps?” Of course, what they are asking is “How can I get them to do their jobs?” And who can blame them, there is some much out there about how to motivate people, and specifically sales people, it seems easy to believe that there a single simple formula that fits all. Well there isn’t if there were, what would motivate all these people to write about a subject that was already solved, especially when there is so much more money to be made wading in to the unsolvable. That’s not to say that you can’t get some of the desired results many of these souls are searching for, it is just that they at times need to come at it from the other end.

As discussed before, all human being have the X chromosome. In sales people, it determines which skills a sales person will master. As the numbers suggest and support, in just under a half it predisposes them to master EXecution. While in the larger half, it accounts for their skills in making EXcuses.

No doubt managers who are gifted, can elevate those with the positive X chromosome, EXecuters, to greater accomplishments and success. They can often influence and guide some on the fringe of the EXcuse group to rehabilitate and kick the EXcuse habit for a life of successful EXecution.

You have to start by taking away their ability to use Excuses, which means a focus on continuously evolving process and continuous development, each with its own challenges. A continuously evolving process evolves because it has to continuously align with the buyer. This can be like building an airplane while it is in flight. One has to have a way to capture what they are learning in each sale, and apply it real time. There are many examples of sellers and organizations who are doing this, their only secret is that they spend more time understanding the buying process, and contributing to it, and by extension shaping that as well. With that in place it will make it easy to EXecute the sale. It may not always be great, not even pretty, but it will get done. But if it is being done, it can be improved, which is where continuous development comes in.

The best ‘motivation’ you can do for your reps is to invest in their success. They don’t need to go win one for the Gipper, if they can get it for themselves. Development doesn’t just help them improve their skills and EXecution, but demonstrates your commitment to their success, and what can be more motivation than knowing there is someone committed to your success, and not let you wallow in your EXcuses.

By “Motivating” them with the old hokey Rah-Rah, you are only enabling them to make more EXcuses, you train them that all it takes for them not to do what they are being paid for, things others on your team are do without threat to life or limb, is just come up with another better EXcuse. In some ways you are right when you think you are motivating them, unfortunately you’re not motivating them to improve their sales skills, but rather their EXcuse making skills instead. What’s worse, is the message you’re sending to those busting their balls EXcuting and making you look like you’re necessary in the process.

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Snake oil

“Fake Sales News” Lead To Fake Sales!4

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

We here in Canada have not been spared the phenomenon of fake news, although we are still working on making it the art form it is elsewhere. Sure, you’re all thinking about the fallout from the election in the former colonies to the south, but I am speaking even closer to home, specifically the fake news making the rounds in sales circles.

Who hasn’t mistakenly (or just through sheer curiosity) clicked on a Never Cold Call Again link. The experience was usually based on the bias the person had long before they clicked. Those who have a serious fear factor when it comes to picking up the phone, felt their inaction would be validated, and those of us who have made loads of money smiling and dialing, see these sites or posts as a source of amusement in an otherwise productive sales day, selling to people we cold called.

The problem with fake news, sales or political, is it is all amusing when it stays on the web, where it can be a source of entertainment for some, or a source of excuses for others.  But when these fake posts and articles begins to ooze into the real world, it costs people sales, their jobs, drive companies to bankruptcimpacts the economy, and the next thing you know we need to cut interest rates again. As with political fake news, these posts are full of repeatedly debunked, but the peddlers of fake news, political or selling, have mastered the mantra of “let’s not cloud the issue with facts.”

For example, many “cold calling is dead” proponents regularly point to stats that suggest “social sellers” convert and close more business by a factor or XX%; while at the same time pointing to the low success rate of cold calling. Now I don’t have counter facts, mostly because I am busy working with sales people who work for people I cold called. When you live in the real world, you have the advantage of experience and the ability to evaluate facts as you see them, not vicarious stats and experiences.

Snake oilI share another recent experience as an example of fake news and fake sales. I visited a sales leader a few weeks ago, (using a combination of social selling and traditional selling, I think those of us who do not have a social selling book or webinar, just call that selling). A few minutes in to the meeting he asked what I thought about “social selling”, I told him I see it as a part of a big tool kit, and that while I do not label myself as a social seller, I was 8th on the list on forbes.com.

He then told me that he had engaged a local social selling expert, apparently, they were “world famous in Toronto”. As we explored how the two approaches may be harmonized, he told me that he wasn’t sure about social selling, but he had read so much about, the stats were impressive, and he felt he would give it a try. What he said next was the most telling. He said that he had to try because he was given ‘a real good price because” name omitted to protect the innocent, “was in the process of collecting logos, and made it real cheap.”

And so there we are, fake sales. Because there is a difference between selling it, and socializing it before you give it away. And so once again it is about the revenue, not the sale, because this fake sale, much like the fake news that are void of facts, this fake sale had no revenue.

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Revenue

It’s The Revenue, Stupid0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

I recently had a conversation with a VP of sales who asked me what I thought of social selling. Not sure where he stood on the topic, I shared my view that for me selling is selling, I don’t have the need like many marketers, to categorize or qualify things. As a longtime proponent of the movement to unhyphenate sales, I have felt that tagging a label on sales, be that Solution Selling, Consultative Selling, Sales 2.0 or Social selling, were just stupid distractions that served little else that the book sales of the person who coined the phrase, rarely those who jump on the bandwagon. As in music, there are many genres, but in the end, there is good music or bad music; there is successful selling, or unsuccessful selling, the rest is theater, theater that distracts from the core issues: Revenue.

Being that we are at the height of earnings season, and that we were both Jewish, I decided to do the tribal thing, and answer a question with a question: “When you look at your quarterly results, do you break out revenue as “Social Revenues”, “Traditionally sold revenue”, “Revenue from resourceful sellers leveraging all resources”? We all know the answer is NO! Revenue (as long as it is attained legally and ethically) is revenue.

RevenueChanging the narrative to revenue from sales, puts a whole different light on the subject, especially when you consider that most companies have revenues that well exceed the amount of revenue generated by their sales teams. How is that other revenue attained, how can sales help increase revenue in all channels, not just one, the one they are in? In the end, this all comes down to a simple process of Plan – EXECUTE – Review – Adjust – EXECUTE some more, and over again. I will be the first to admit this may not be as exciting, chic or trendy as social selling, it is much more effective where it counts, revenue.

Labeling or hyphenating sales not only brings unneeded complexity to sales, because now we are doing thigs to satisfy a system rather than for revenue, it also opens a number of opportunities for distraction, and wasted time and energy. I recently met a VP of sales at a company selling an enterprise application, he did not know his BDR’s conversion ratios, but seemed to be up-to-the-minute on the number “likes” his Facebook page had. OK, I thought, and asked “How much is each Like worth in top line revenue?” No idea. Yet when I interviewed his Director, he felt part the BDR’s challenge was that they were spending too much time on social media, learning everything there is to know about leads they were provided, failing to reach out to those leads instead.

Revenue is not hyphenated, revenue is not Social. Revenue either exists or does not. Where it does it is due to execution, and where it doesn’t it is due to excuses.

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Concept of afraid businessman like an ostrich

The Power of Denial0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Wanting to understand “why” and “how” are a curiosity we are all born with. Just look at infants and toddlers, they are always asking “why” and “how” questions, something may be mundane or old hat to me, is brand new and completely unimagined to them until they see or experience it. But as they enter the school system, things change; a small minority maintain their constructive curiosity, not settling, they continue to push the envelop to discover more, discover “how” things work, and “why” things have to be the way they are, “why” not different. are keen to change, add to, or take away from a technique, to see what incremental change will lead to incremental gains that add up over time. Even when they succeed, win first prize, they are never satisfied, because they know more will be required tomorrow, and certainly the next fiscal year.

And then there is the rest, the majority, those who from the time they enter school, seem to look for little more than the opportunity to exist and sustain. They are taught and quickly learn to “fall in line”, accept how “things work”. Their success (as such), is based on, and thrives by continuing to tow the line and play to the current wave. Rather than leveraging curiosity to propel them further, they wait to be told “how” to do things and “why”. Success here of course is not measured by quality of output, but by how well they play within the lines and being able to deny any and all things outside those lines. They learn how to rationalize and deny; and with years of practice, they are ready to move into the work force, prepared to deliver. Needless to say, some of these people grow up to be sales people, where playing between the lines and denial as an art form, seem to be core and sought after capabilities.

If you doubt this, ask yourself why so many underperforming reps continue to be employed, while continuing to miss quota. Or why the Pareto Principle, the 80/20, is so entrenched, and unchallenged in the sales world; rather than challenging the principle it, people operate as though it was divinely ordained. Interestingly, someone was sharing some data with me recently, that suggested that it is now 13% of reps delivering 87% of the revenue.

It takes a lot of attitude and effort to avoid the seduction of denial. As we progress from school to post secondary, the art of denial is fine tuned and reinforced. Speak to the “average” students, and they have learned to rationalize their results much better than learning the subject matter they “averaged” in. They point to those A+ students as anomalies, denying the facts at hand. By the time they arrive at work, their habits and attitudes are set, faced with a choice of taking a different tack than their peers or denying results, and the latter wins with most. Their managers, themselves plucked from the pool of deniers, just reinforce the whole mess, and cycle continues.

Don’t disperse, while the power and seduction of denial is great, there is a way to overcome it, and it is a tactic that will help your interactions with buyers as well. Make a difficult, but important change. Rather than telling people, including prospect, “why” and “how” things are, change to asking “why” and “how”, and then deal with the answer. Most exceptional sellers I know, the 20% (13%), fear failure, and are willing to go a path less followed; while the 80% (87%), fear success, and everything that brings, and opt for the power of denial!

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Done

Just Do It?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

No, I am not questioning the message behind Nike’s well known slogan or mantra, nothing to do with Nike at all.

I am talking to and about sales people who regularly fail to follow through on expectations they set for people they work with, but most importantly, prospects and customers.

We have all familiar with old sales adage: “Under Promise – Over Deliver”, well it seems many sales people feel that only applies to some things, some actions, but not all. While most get how to leverage this from a product perspective, they seem to feel they have immunity when it comes to actions they have committed to. While existing clients may be a bit more tolerant of tardiness, (although they should not have to be), prospects who have never dealt with you, have nothing else to parse a decision around than your ability or willingness to actually follow through, in the way you said you would.

Buyers long ago have realized that even products claiming to be bleeding edge and “revolutionary”, are at best evolutionary in nature, or last year’s model with a fresh coat of paint. This leaves the interaction with the rep and the selling organization as one the determinant and differentiator in a decision. While it is always an advantage to be able to deliver insight that prospects can action and achieve more than they set out to achieve, or take any action they otherwise would not have. But absent that, and believe me in a world of feature, buzzword and price selling, it is very absent, the only thing left is how we sell, and core to that is how we deliver on even the smallest commitment we make.

DoneWhile I understand that there are more demands than ever on sales people’s time, there are (or so we are told) just as many new tools allowing sales professionals to maximize their time. This really is a situation where you are in control, both in the commitments you make, and the ones you chose not to follow through on. The fact that many, pundits and buyers, recognize that you are having to pack 16 hours into a ten-hour day, does not equal having permission not to do something, especially things we committed to with prospects/buyers. Things includes the “smaller” things, but in a world “same”, it will those little things that will swing decisions.

There are some simple things we can do. Starting with prioritizing, and not just in creating a list, but in how we set expectations for prospects. If something indeed is “small” in your estimation, then the expectations you set around it should also be small. You can tell a prospect you will have an answer for them much further out than you would for delivering something impacting an impending buy decision.

Couple this with other useful practices. One is the old Urgency/Importance matrix, allowing you to prioritize activates, and make sure they are done. Add to this the practice chunking, where you set allocate specific time to the practice of setting out “chunks” of time for specific tasks. Where many limit their success is not extending these to their calendar. If it has to be done, it needs to be scheduled! If you don’t have the time, and you know it going in, don’t promise, or know who you will delegate it to. While I appreciate the power of intent, it does not replace do, or make up for something you don’t do that you led the prospect to believe you would.

While it is natural to focus on the on the visible, the things that you get done, but buyers are more likely to remember the things we don’t do.

Want to maximize your sales time, grab your copy of “Sales Happen In Time”, and make time work for you!

3 Sterne Bewertung

Can We Stop Accepting Average? Please!0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Something has changed over the last few years, and it needs to be reversed. There is too much celebrating of average, everywhere, but especially sales.

Average may be a good measure to use when comparing house prices on a given street, but falls short when it comes to measuring accomplishments, setting goals, or anything that counts, especially in sales. Let me remind everyone that average = typical; common; ordinary. Not something one would use to describe themselves or loved ones, yet, we seem to celebrate it almost daily.

Average is certainly not something you see at the top of skills listed in job postings for sales positions. BTW, cold calling is, yet the average salespeople seem to find it difficult to execute this basic sales skill. Even when coached and directed, the average reps seem to search for reasons not to do execute core sales activities.

3 Sterne BewertungThe difference between average and excelling is not a great as many would have you believe, and while it may be easy to point at the reps involved, it may be worth looking at what in their support (or lack of support) system allows to get away with it, and at times encourage it, starting with their managers. For a number of reasons many managers are afraid to call out mediocrity or averageness. Sure, HR policies and a litigious environment contribute to this, managers need play an active role in helping people exceed average, or help the individual transition to something they can be more than average at.

It does not help that many managers are reluctant to address the issue head on. I have had managers tell me that they’d rather have someone in the territory than have it vacant. I get it, but I firmly believe and have seen that the long-term damage to revenue in such territories, when an average rep is sent to compete against accomplished sellers. I have heard the arguments about the costs, direct and hidden, that are associated with rep turnover, but the answer is not hanging on to average, but having the conviction and guts to hire the right reps. Coming from the “hire slow, fire fast” school, the holding on should happen at the front end of the process, during hiring, not in avoiding the firing.

In some ways, you can’t blame only those involved on ground level. Many of these average sellers are a product of ‘The “Participation Trophy” generation’. Looking at the charts presented, it is likely to get “averager” before it gets better. Unlike little league, in sales only one rep goes home with the deal, the others, as they say, have hungry babies (and maybe a ribbon).

The cost for all this is borne not only by the organizations and those reps who strive to achieve, rather than just participate, and spend more time and energy on excuses rather than execution. Which leads to the average sales force where a hand full of committed professionals will always outperform a stable of also-rans, the choice is yours, not matter what you tell yourself.

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New Or Improved

Same New, Same New!0

Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

We are familiar with the expression “same old same old”, indicating that little has changed save the packaging. This is why you don’t see marketers and ad folks lead an advert or campaign by proclaiming that this “new thing they are presenting, is really the same as previous versions or releases, but we did slap a fresh coat of paint on it”. Instead we are presented with yet another new improved dish detergent, that leave the plates no cleaner than last year’s model. We have all seen our favourite web site introduce “upgrades” that feature little or no new functionality, just buttons moved around like the deckchairs on the Titanic.

I think that in sales, for something to qualify as “new”, not swept clean or rinsed off, but truly new, it should have two elements, A) it should allow you to do something in a measurably more efficient way while leading to more prospect and/or sales; B) it should change your behaviour and how you execute moving forward. For example, when BlackBerry introduced the first device to combined e-mail and phone in one handset in 2002. Clearly made one more productive in a sales context and clearly changed the way sales people, and all business people behaved after it’s adoption. Many of the specialized productivity apps you find on tablets, had the same impact on many roles.

As sales professional your most valuable asset is your time, your most valuable tool is your sales process or sales-flow. Any “new” thing, be it a sales tool, app or methodology, should be measured against those two elements, do they free up time that you can reinvest into selling, and do they help you execute your process better, leading to you being able to sell better and more? If they do great, the time and effort invested, the momentary distraction of applying something new, are all worth it given the increased sales and productivity that will follow, and on an ongoing basis. If not, then is it really worth your time and distraction?

While I know a lot of Apple groupies, few get every release of the iPhone. The question that needs to be answered is whether the change was either needed, due to a shift in the market or a flaw with previous iteration. If not, it is a safe bet the biggest beneficiary is the person/company selling the “New”. Did the provider of the service, hardware, software or what have you, manufacture the impetus for change, and is the only one pointing to it, or did it evolve because of a hole in the market? If it is the latter great, especially if that hole is impacting your ability to succeed. If on the other hand the only one impacted by the “new” is the guy selling it, you should spend time elsewhere.

If leveraging your process to better use your time and improve execution to sell better is something new to you, start there, worry about buying something new later. New does not equal good, good equals good, and the test for that is not newness.

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No BS – Just Facts – Data and – How #Webinar0

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Wednesday, June 1st at 11:00 a.m. PT – 2:00 p.m. ET

No BS – Just the Facts, the Data and the How – Register Now!

We have all sat through webinars that talked about the abstracts of how others do this and do that, but were light on specifics. Not here, this webinar brings a real company, a real situation, warts, glory and all. We’ll go through step by steps with all involved and share how they were able to implement a plan, tools, and methodology and support that lead to:

  • Daily outbound dials per ADR increased 300% from 50 to 150 dials
  • Conversations through local presence increased 100% from 5 to 10 conversations
  • Meetings scheduled per week increased 200%.

Learn how Arctic Wolf Networks leveraged strategy, technology, data and professional development to increase productivity, opportunities and revenues. This webinar will examine which specific steps to follow in order to overcome common challenges facing SDRs and outbound teams.

In this webinar you will learn:

  • Align strategy and technology
  • Increase conversations by leveraging sales acceleration
  • Convert more conversations into qualified opportunities

Learn how combining InsideSales.com, the industry’s leading sales acceleration platform built on a predictive and prescriptive self-learning engine, and Renbor’s Proactive Prospecting Program, designed for SDR’s and outbound professionals, helped Arctic Wolf Networks get more at bats and improve their swing to get more hits.

Featuring:
Brian NeSmith, President and CEO of Arctic Wolf Networks
Gabe Larsen, Director of Sales Acceleration Services at InsideSales.com
Tibor Shanto, Principal at Renbor Sales Solutions Inc.

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Woed GAmes

The Word Games Of Sales0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

I have always said that success in sales is all about Execution – Everything else is just talk! And there is no shortage of talk in sales, believe me people in sales, and people around sales, the pundits, can talk some shit, not only is it funny and amusing (or sad) at times. People seem to go out of their way to mangle the language and meaning of words, and by extension the quality of their execution and sales success. Sometimes it is innocent and simple, just providing a quick smile, like when a sales person’s outbound voice mail message says “I am currently not available right now.” As opposed to currently tomorrow?

But other times the misuse of words can have specific impact on people’s actions and results. Here are some examples I encountered over the las few weeks.

Resources vs. Resourceful

I many sales organizations provide a lot of resources to their teams, CRM, apps that extend the functionality, all the resources they feel their teams need to succeed. But resources themselves are only a start, being resourceful has nothing to do with the resources available. In fact, some of the most resourceful sales people and organizations are those who don’t have the latest tools and gadgets at their fingertips. Some of these tools help automate necessary tasks, freeing up time for reps to do other important things, a good resource. Resourcefulness comes down to how sales people apply the freed up time to accelerate sales and results, not just make things easier. Resourceful speaks to what sales people without the resources do to deliver superior results to those that do.

Ambition vs. Drive

Many in sales talk about ambition, and many in sales do have ambition, often the ambition of using sales as entry to a company only to pursue other ambitions within that company, focusing all their resources on achieving that rather than closing sales. Drive goes to how the person views, plans and executes their sale. What are they willing to do to meet and exceed the buyers’ expectation, and bringing in sales that those who have only ambition fail to deliver. Ambition speaks to your outlook, while drive is about what you are willing to do to achieve those ambitions, the execution. Ambition without drive is good, but drive is what leads to execution, which leads to cash.

Imposing vs. Implementing

This is more from a management standpoint, where many believe that they are implementing a process or procedure, when in fact they are imposing things on their teams. This usually leads to lack of adoption, which fuels more actions by management that resemble imposition. While it is true that leaders need to make decisions, at time decisions that their teams may not always like, it is their job to create buy in. When you implement a new process, help the team understand why it is being introduce; and this goes beyond “we need to get more sales or prospects”. As with most things in sales, show them what’s in it for them, how they will benefit, how they should execute, and why it makes sense for them, your buyers and your company. Sure it is easier to impose, but there are better results when you properly implement. Not the least of which is continuous improvement in execution.

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Stop the domino effect concept for solution to a problem

Sales Excuse Litmus Test and Cure7

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

I had an interesting chat with a client last week. We were reviewing their progress on specific things we agreed on. She mentioned that she had not made progress on a specific task, and was honest enough to add “I am not sure if I am making excuses or if there are other real factors preventing me from getting it done.” While it may be easy to just default that they were just making excuses, that will do little to get them to change their ways. It is better to approach it in a way that leaves them open to change, and will get them to take ownership for the outcome, which will drive the activity. In this case the outcome is more sales and earnings, so let’s look at the litmus test and how will then to execution rather than excuses.

In this case the task was to prospect in sufficient amounts to ensure a given number of new opportunities per month. The method was not an issue, they can cold call, socialize, referrals, whatever, the measure was new opportunities. Since all activities take time, and time is the currency of sales, how you spend or invest it will dictate your success. Based on that I asked this rep to sit down and carve out 30 minutes each day specifically for prospecting. To be successful, I insisted that they block out the times for the following week the week before. On Thursday, block out times for next week, this way you are doing it before getting caught up in the moment, when it is easy to rationalize not doing something when something that seems bigger (at the time).

After the first week we can explore empirical evidence as to how the half hour a day impacted all other activities. Did they still get all the other “important” things done, or did their universe fall apart, and they can’t show their face at the club any more. If it was the former, then we just keep carving out incrementally more time, till we get a balance of getting all the things we need to done. This works best when you chunk time for all the important things that you need to do, and focus on just the activity you have allocated the time for.

If the result is that you are not getting all “important” things done, then we need to look at a couple of things. First, are they all “important”, or are we doing some things to be able to legitimately avoid others. One thing that takes work but delivers results is looking at your habits, auto routines, you’ll need a partner in this one as few of us are objective enough about our habits to work this alone. They say that 40% of our daily activities are habits, we do them without thinking. Some good habits like working out, others bad, like a smoke with every coffee. If you can identify, or have someone help you identify “bad sales habits”, you can then focus on changing the habit, which will change the result. If you can swap out a bad habit or two, and replace them with good habits that will get done automatically, you will change the impacts and outcomes.

Best to do this slow, and one specific habit at a time. Small victories lead to big results. Change=pain=gain, trying to change all bad habits at once, will usually lead to being crushed under the weight of the challenge, giving up, and staying the same, and clearly the same is not good in this case.

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