Welcome to The Pipeline.

Are Your Buyers Asking WTF?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Sellers often have a distorted view of what is really important to buyers, leaving buyers to repeatedly ask WTF? Get your mind out of the gutter, the question is Why That Feature? Not what you’d be asking when the deal goes sideways, as it will if you are unable to nail the buyer’s WTF.

One thing that many executives and owners tell me regularly is that they are frustrated by some sales people’s inability to relate to the buyer’s perspective of things. As importantly, the incapability of sellers to have a fluid and malleable enough understanding of the products they sell to make it fit the buyer’s requirements, not just those of the selling organizations.

They feel that sellers come in and present features that may seem cool and useful to people in their own marketing group, or features someone in product development thought made sense. While some features may seem cool and useful to a developer, the same may not resonate with real world users. While secondary research may suggest a demand for a feature to the marketing group, it may not be top of mind for all buyers.

At times the disconnect is simply that buyers, especially executives are looking for specific outcomes, and don’t look at the product through functionality. One executive noted “I could care less how it does it, if it’s legal, and gets me what I want, that’s just fine!”

Sellers need to be able to relate aspects of the product to the buyer’s reality, and while there may be similarities in those realities, each buyer is just that different. Mat be it is only in terms of where they are in the buying cycle or as broad as market strategy. While everyone says that they are beyond feature/benefit in their sales approach, buyers tell me different. Sellers are still trying to bend the buyer to their feature, rather than highlighting how that feature gets the buyer to where they want to be.

Of course to do that, sellers need to be aware of what buyers are trying to achieve. And this is not more of something per minute, or faster processing, or social integration. It is more about something that starts with why, and ends with outcomes and impacts. The means are usually secondary.

Presentations where the seller filled with buzzwords still abound, as does communication from marketing. There is almost an expectation that the buyer will paint the same picture in response to single trigger word, as the seller or their marketing group did. Expecting buyers to come around to our view and our definitions just leads to more and harder work, a lot harder than changing the narrative to that of the buyer.

The same is true for unnecessary upgrades or changes in features that were working just fine. Change and new are not always better, especially if it change that was not driven by users/buyers. Users/paying customers don’t always see the same need for change as the developer. If it does not positively impact the buyer’s journey or ability to drive objectives, it is not a great feature or upgrade. These also lead buyer to ask Why That Feature, this not so much why do I need that (why do I wanna pay for that), but what was so bad about it that you had to change it.

Learn to speak with the buyer, not at the buyer, and avoid forcing them to ask WTF?

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

3 Words to Ditch To Improve Your Sales – Sales eXecution 3042

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 


Words are a big part of selling, seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how little attention some in sales pay to the words they choose. Words impact not only what your prospects hear and their reactions to them, but almost as important is the effect they have on you as the seller. Words impact and reflect you view of things and situations, and while many will argue that it’s just semantics, they fail to realize or acknowledge the degree to which words you choose reflect and signal your intent; something that your buyers pick up and are influenced by as much as anything.

Now let’s be clear, most don’t set out to use words that may hinder their success, and often they use certain words or phrases because they were brought up right. Like asking “is this a good time” when they interrupt a busy person in the middle of their day. Most people do it to be polite, a good thing, but the result is counter to the objective of the call. In most instances the prospect says “not really”, the sellers asks “when is a good time?” Prospect offers up a random time, and the rest is just painful.

As with most things it needs to be brought to their attention, and then the hard part, putting it into practice instead of going back to the same old, same old.

So here we go:

Gatekeeper – Talk about starting off on the wrong foot. Right out of the gate, us vs. them. Sadly, many of the people that sellers refer to as gatekeepers, can actually be helpful in moving your agenda forward. Today’s executive assistants are part of the “inner circle” and are very aware of their boss’ and organizations’ priorities and objectives, the better you align with those the more likely that the person in question can move from being a “gatekeeper” to a “gateway” to your success. Rather than looking past them as some would suggest, work with them, engage them the way you would any decision maker, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Just – Nothing cuts you and or your message down a notch more than the word just. Look at the definition: only or merely – “He was just a clerk until he became ambitious.” Not a way you want you, your product or message to be framed. Most use it to minimize the intrusion or effort required, but all it does is minimize everything. If you can truly add value to their world, help them achieve objectives, then go bold, not minimize by putting a just in front of it.

Hope – Such an uplifting work that can do so much damage to your pipeline. You hear this drug sprinkled into sales conversations all over. “I was hoping to set up a time to meet”, no you wanted to meet, but had to settle for hoping because your talk track was not good. In pipeline reviews, “I am hoping to hear from them this week.” Rather than hoping, would it not have been a better idea to set the next step before one left. I can be humorous and say I was hoping reps do that, but when those words come out, all hope is dashed. Decision makers want to deal with decisive people, hoping is not an attitude that conveys that.

So there you have three words in sales that hurt, cut them out, if you replace them replace them with something strong and forward looking, but you don’t really need to replace them at all, just sell.

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

Sales Pollution (#video)2

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Biz TV

Words set expectations for buyers, and they impact the way sellers act and execute their sale.  Words are a big part of sales, and it is important that sales people think about which words they use, when and how.  As in other parts of life certain words have meaning in some context while not in others, words become fashionable, and then become over used.  Make sure you use words that complement your actions and have meaning and engage the buyer, rather than turning them off or worse.

Here is what I mean:

Sales Polution

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


Small Talk Is For Small People – Sales eXchange 2040

by Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

David and G

When I talk to sales people about how they start sales meetings with new potential buyers (first time they meet), most (not all) tell me they “break the ice with some small talk”, then they “get in to it!”  We’ll leave the getting into it for another time, what I don’t get is the “small talk” bit, I am not sure that in the current format, as practiced by most sellers is effective, necessary, and at times can be risky to the opportunity.

I am antisocial, (although some have accused me), but spending time talking about the weather, or the useless season the local sports team is having seems counterproductive to the goal of the exercise, helping the buyer move closer to their objectives, and yours.  And while the people buy from people crowd may want to pounce on me, wait.  You can “break the ice”, and set the mood without having to resort to pointless gibberish.

The buyers are all busy, as I should think you are, you obviously said something that caused them to invest an hour of their time with you, it is up to you to maximize the ROT  for both.  Getting to the point may not the worst strategy.  Some buyers may make you feel that they required “small talk”, but that is more conditioning than anything else, if you deliver value by the end of a successful meeting, they will not complain about not having their time wasted.

I am also not suggesting that you jump right into the deep end, I know that the “void” walking between the reception area and the office or meeting room has to be filled, it is how you fill it that can differentiate you from the others.

As you are doing research ahead of your meeting, look for recent events, announcements, or analyst coverage, not specifically related to your product, but significant for the company and or the person you are meeting.  A while back I was meeting with a dairy company that was the first to introduce Omeg3 into a line of product, to accentuate the launch, they introduced a beveled edged carton so it would look different from the other milk cartons on the shelf.

On “the walk” from reception, I asked how the packaging was received, changes they had to make to production, and were they looking to use packaging as a differentiator way with other products.  While this had nothing with what we were meeting about, it indicated to the buyer that I came prepared, that I was taking an interest in the entire business, not just the part I can sell to, and I can relate the benefit of my offering to the other responsibilities he had.  In return, the information he shared with me about the above, helped me refine and better position my value vis-à-vis his objectives.  Small talk, yes, but it beat talking about snow in March or the fact that the Leafs were going to miss the playoffs again.

While we think we are being social with small talk, it can and does often come up being hollow, unimportant, and does not move things forward even one millimetre, in which case, what’s the point.  It is also interesting that many people who don’t like the small talk when they are buyers, rely on it when they are sellers.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Selling In The Right Time Frame – Sales eXchange 1962

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Time Frame

One common theme here and at other quality sales sources, is the need to cover the entire buying organization, top down, bottom up, and all sides.  This not only eliminates the need to go around or over someone, but delivers a number of benefits and opportunities to sell and establish contacts and relationships.    Over the years there has been a lot written about the need for sellers to be “multi-lingual” in order to properly communicate with all levels of the buying organization.  Executives/decision makers/VPs in your target organization speak a differently than say the implementers or users of the product even when they are talking about the same thing.   If one or both do not understand what you are saying it is a problem.  When you call a on a VP, and deliver your message in implementer speak, you risk being banished down in the organization, because that is what you sound like, where you may be stuck for a while, extending you sales cycle, or forever, and never getting the sale.

Understanding how to communicate with the different groups, what their specific drivers, issues and hot buttons are, is a must, especially when they have viable alternatives to your offering, and they always do.  As you master this you will learn that not only do these groups speak different languages, they function in different time planes, which means you will also need to learn how to exist in multiple time frames.

VP’s will tend to have a longer time horizon than implementers.  In a very general way, there are those focused on strategy and the strategic direction of the company.  Once those strategies are decided and set, and things begin to move to the tactical execution of the strategy, as a result the time horizons of the implementers is shorter.  If you fail to manage this, it could be much more fatal than the language issue.  In fact mastering the different time frames will directly help with language, if you know where they are focused, you can speak to it, but if you are positioning for a different time than they are looking at, you are bound to miscommunicate.

If you look at the continuum of a purchase, it is likely that someone had an idea for a product or an initiative at the executive level.  They will then gauge support among their peers, while helping to shape the big picture.  They may then have some of the team leaders scope things out, costs/benefits, challenges, etc.; this may include consulting with outside parties, a great opportunity to introduce your company long before vendor selection process starts.  Once the project gets the go ahead, the implementers take centre stage.

Goes without saying that if you can insert yourself in the process at the scoping stage or before, you would have a great advantage, one reason to call high in the organization.  But if you speak the wrong language, and talk about feature/benefit, you in the wrong time frame, and in the wrong “country”.

Another advantage to getting in early, will be your ability to influence and impact their strategy, and with that done, you will be in a much better position when it comes to vendor selection, after all, you’re “a safe choice” vis-à-vis the executive, and while price will always be an issue, you will have set the standard much earlier in the process, or if you will time frame.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Yes, and…37

Sometimes it is not what you say but how you say that help the buyer get engaged.  Take a look and give it a go.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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