Welcome to The Pipeline.

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.

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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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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Are You Shoulding All Over The Place?2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

In every walk of life, you hear people saying “I should have done this” or “should have asked that”, and a whole bunch of other should haves. We all have moments of realization after the fact, you leave a meeting and just as you get on the freeway, you remember you should have asked a question of the prospect, or you should have highlighted something. Worse is when you are sitting in the room, know you should ask or state or do something, but you don’t, only to rationalize later with the familiar tune of the “shoulda coulda woulda” blues.

So beyond the obvious question as to why didn’t you, there is the more important question of when are you going to? This question applies to both moving forward, and to recent events.

I often have sellers tell me they should have… something, usually in a way that suggests that they can’t change or remedy things. It is true that you can’t turn back the clock, but there is nothing that says you can’t go back and fix or redo. There is nothing preventing us from going back and asking for or just creating a do over. The fact is that unless you were rude and asked not to come back, not you right, you can go back, and often going back could be the difference.

If you do find yourself singing the “shoulda coulda woulda” blues, try this. Callback the prospect (or prospects) and tell them the truth, “you know Henry, I was thinking about you and our meeting yesterday, and I realized that I was remiss in …not asking, not discussing, not presenting, in rushing…” It never ceases to amaze me how responsive people are when you take this approach. First you are flattering them by not only telling them, but demonstrating that you were in fact thinking about them, their objectives, and how you can positively impact them. At the same time, you have an opportunity to introduce new ideas, and extend the conversation, and show how you are not like the others.

A slightly more fatal version of this is when sales people tell me that they know they should do something but don’t do it. This could be for any number of reasons, but it is usually fear or ego. While ego is important in sales, it should not get in the ways of success, a little humility not only goes a long way, but opens doors others don’t even see. If you know you should do something, be that something with a current buyer, or make a prospecting call, or anything, do it. As long as it is legal and ethical, the worst thing that can happen is the deal does not move forward, which no worse than not winning a deal because you should’ve. So stop shoulding all over your success, and do it, you’ll either win a customer or learn a useful lesson, and learning is something you should always be doing.

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video intro 2016

Checking Not Doing Will Give You More Sales #video4


Time is the currency of sales, your most precious resource – how you spend it will determine your success, or…

The video below provides a great way to spend your time better, and save for things that will make you more productive and earn you more sales and success. Check it out, and let me know what you think.

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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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Fear of

Which Fear Is Driving Your Results?1

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

One thing you have to love about sales is that while some fundamentals are constant, the execution continues to change and evolve. This evolution and change challenges sellers every day, taking them to new highs and lows depending on how they respond. A delicate balance that dares their abilities and preys on their fears. Top performer are not so much fearless, as they are people who leverage those fears, and channel the energy in a way that drives their success. The chronic underperformers, C players, are so far removed from the reality of selling that fear is not the main ingredient of their failures. Where fear is a silent killer is in the middle pack, the B players, usually the largest percentage of any sales team.

These are the ones you want to move up to be A players, and despite everything you do, replicating the very things you do for A players, sharing the observed habits and behaviours of A plyers, only a handful move up to the premier league, they spend their entire career being solid B players. The reason for this is most often the limiting factor of fear.

This explains the many “Motivation” pundits who line up to help you “crack the code” of changing the results of your B players. They offer to share their secret for motivating these players to new highs. But it’s no secret and plain to everyone once these “motivating helicopters” leave town, and the dust, noise and hype settle, these reps continue to bounce of the floor and ceiling of the B Zone.

These B Players are gripped by one of two fears. The first, common and relatable to many is the fear of failure. Given the peer pressure of not just society, but sales culture, failure frowned upon and limiting in so many ways. While everyone will talk about learning from your mistakes, the reality is that it’s not often tolerated. There is no doubt that there are many enlightened dealers who can take failure as a springboard to learning and development, the fact is that not many front line sales managers fall into that category, meaning a lot of lost opportunities for development, both for individual reps and their entire organization as a result. I have a unique vantage point on this, in workshops when people are asked to practice in “safe environment”, the fear is strong, many otherwise smart people, would rather look stupid in front of their peers, than face their fears and improve their skills and results. In the end it is easier not to, than fail.

The other fear is a mystery to me, the polar opposite of the above, and that is the fear of success. Yes, success. When the norm among your peers, the people you socialize with, participate in football pools with, is to be a solid B, you risk being cast out if you transform to one of those A’s. Not only is there one less B to commiserate with, but now you are one of those guys. Don’t believe me, watch the dynamics when someone is promoted to manager, see how their former mates respond. Fear of success thrives on tearing others, usually successful sellers, easier than elevating one’s own abilities. And again, it is easier not to, than carry the wieght of success.

The only thing I have been able to figure out is that success takes and brings accountability. Failure does not. Those who fail to take accountability for their activities and everything that requires, find it easy to not be accountable for the results. On the other hand, to be accountable for your success requires that you be accountable for all that takes. Something that is not for the faint of heart.

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