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Wasted Sales Opportunities – How One Bank Blew Theirs5

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Toaster

One of the big Canadian banks, we’ll call them the Green bank, has a current radio ad that I believe holds a great lesson for sales people.

In the ad, a customer of a competing bank, is complaining to a competing bank manager that all he got for switching to the bank was a toaster, “I already have a toaster; and it doesn’t even toast bagels.  I am a grown man, I have a toaster”, he proclaims.

At this point I am thinking what a great way for Green to highlight how they focus on your unique needs, how their offerings address the real requirements of Canadians, and how there is greater depth to their banking relationship than a mere utensil.  Surely they are not going to pretend that they can bribe us with a toaster or other kitchen appliance.

Well I was half right.  They were offering a 7” tablet.  I was wrong thinking that they may actually talk to things that are really important in these days of economic woe, helping one save, creative mortgages, proactive retirement options, and more.  But no, given the opportunity they offered up not quite a toaster, but a tablet, how 2013 is that?  And that is the half that I was right about, it wasn’t a kitchen appliance, but one you can use in the living room, bathroom or probably everywhere.

Some sellers fall into to the same trap, getting so focused and blinded by their needs, their agenda, and their world view, that the buyer and their reality are just incidental to the process.  Many of the questions posed, assumptions made, benefits highlighted during the sale, have more relevance to the seller, their marketing department and company, leaving the buyer underwhelmed, disappointed and looking for alternatives.  That was my thought, if this is the best Green can offer as alternative to Blue, Red or Black, what’s the point?  If their response to the old practice of enticing clients with old school utensils, is to offer up a new school utensil, than why would I switch, why would your customer?

As sellers we need fix our lens on the buyers’ objectives and priorities, and work with the buyer towards those ends.  It sounds straight forward, but continues to be a challenge.   I am part of many call plans and reviews, and time after time, sellers commit to the obvious, but then try to retrofit the buyer into their product or solution, rather than helping the buyer understand how their objectives, the buyer’s, can be achieved using our offering.  This requires a bit more effort since you first have to surface the objectives, but it is doable, especially if you have sold similar things to similar buyers.  But despite the modern veneer, sellers often fall into pitch mode, feature benefit, and some form of price concession at the end.  I bet some would just love to have a trunk full of toasters to hand out with each next step or close.

Sadly for Green, I already have a tablet, a 10”, and a mediocre Blue bank, only a few shades darker than Green.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Compounding Your Sales Successes40

One of the greatest things invented by the financial service industry was “Compound Interest“.  Save for the fact that no one is paying much interest on money these days, the reality of Compound Interest still holds and delivers added gain regardless of how low of high rates are.  I was watching a teacher explain the concept to a grade 5 class, and he brought it down to “a little to start, a little from here, a little from there, and over time you end up with more than straight interest”.

As you assess your plan for sales success in 2013, you can take advantage of “Compounding” to achieve greater success. Rather than resolving to do new things in new ways in 2013, why not resolve to improve a little here and a little there with things you already do or need to do; but do it in a way that ends up being greater than the individual gains on your efforts.

Read On…

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Price – A Hard Habit To Kick – Sales eXchange 171100

A couple of weeks ago I lost an opportunity I feel I should have won, and as you have read here in the past, you need to invest the time to understand why deals turn out the way they do. To do that I asked a couple of people I know, also involved in sales training to sit down to conduct the review, in essence to play the role of the manager, and keep me honest.  The goal is to learn if the deal was winnable, if so what could I have done differently.  If not winnable, are there any trends we can glean that we need to incorporate into future sales; or what can we learn that will help us recognize deals that are not going to happen earlier, so we can move on faster.

I was taken aback when the first question one of my peers asked was: “do you think you would have won had you priced it lower?”

Wow, what an uninspiring start.  I guess if I gave it away free I would be busy five days a week, but my kids would starve.  I looked at her hoping she would continue, and asked her why she started there, especially when I had shared with her and the other fellow involved the form/tool I use of our reviews, exploring many factors beyond price.  What worried me even more is that this person was involved in working with sales teams, and this was top of mind here, what is top of mind when they are out in field.

The importance of reviewing both deals you win and lose, is understanding the trends behind the decisions.  Every time a buyer does not buy from you is not a failure on your part, and the reviews will help you delineate between the two.  There are buyers who will not pay for the value of your offering regardless of how well you communicated.  It is important to understand which end of the communication failed.  If it was you, then you need to work to change how you do things, and reviews will help.  But if it was the buyer’s failure to understand/appreciate the value when you did everything you had to, it is better to know that and why, and how to recognize it moving forward.  Communication is two directional, and it could well be that the buyer does not see the value or does not want to pay for it, yes they are cheap.  And none of want cheap customers.  The quicker you can spot one vs. the other, the quicker you can decide who is worth your time and resources, or which opportunities you can abandon early.*

Fine Print – the above is predicated on having a healthy pipeline of real opportunities, it is a lot easier to walk away from a bad thing knowing there are other opportunities to work on, than to walk away from the only thing left in your pipe.

Price is easy, in fact it is addictive; sellers need to be value competitive, not  price competitive.  Much better to get your clients addicted to your value/quality, then you becoming addicted to discounting.  As with anything addictive, you run the risk of not just selling at a lower price, but for the wrong reasons.  At first you figure you hey what’s a 3% discount.  Once that is comfortable, you need a bigger fix.  When you come up to the next resistance, you hesitantly try one more point, then another, and you are at 5%.  You figure on $100,000 deal, say 8% commission, going to $95,000 will only impact you by $400, but could be the margin for your company.  Remember that next time you wonder about investment in product development, marketing, resources, and all the things the $5,000 you gave away could buy.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

A Sales Association #Webinar31

“Leveraging Value from Engaging the Buyer to Closing the Sale” – A Sales Association Webinar
Tuesday, October 30 – 2 p.m. EST / 1 p.m. CST / Noon MST / 11 a.m. PST (1 hour in length)

On Tuesday October 30, I have the privilege to deliver a webinar for The Sales Association – I will be talking to specific steps sellers can take to delivering and leveraging value throughout the sale.

Almost every conversation about selling starts or ends with the concept of value. At the same time, there are as many different understandings and definitions of value as there are sellers and buyers. Without a clear and actionable definition of value, many conversations between buyers and sellers are less than effective, and do not help create a buy.

Starting with a clear definition of value, participants will learn the five-step process to leveraging value throughout the sale, from the initial engagement to winning the client.

Steps include:

  • Identifying and validating buyer’s objectives
  • Understanding why buyers really buy
  • Why Buyers buy and don’t buy from you and your company
  • Converting the above to Impact Questions for quality conversations
  • A structured follow-through approach to maximize impact and progress

Participants will learn how to use this process to create alignment with the buyer, their objectives and buying process.

Click Her to Register Now!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Pipeline Vs. Opportunity Review – Sales eXchange 169128

Some things in sales can be called by various names without much consequence, the underlying subject being very much the same, prospect – potential buyer, information gathering – discovery, and many others; it comes down to words not actions or outcomes.  In other cases the semantics are very important, and cannot be simply interchanged for convenience.  A stellar example of this is the confusion between pipeline reviews and opportunity reviews.  They are not the same, you can equate a pipeline with a funnel and funnel review, it is not the same as an opportunity review, and pretending they are will cost you time and money.

For me both type of reviews are important, in many sales organizations necessary, and if not done right, or just plain not done, could have big consequences.  One of the biggest is lack of engagements by the reps, many having spent countless tedious and unproductive hours in some of these meetings, simply stop taking them seriously, a disengagement that has big negative impact on success.

A pipeline review is a snapshot of the state of the pipeline and the directly contributing factors, usually activity.  Regardless of how you look at your pipeline or funnel, it is likely to have a minimal number of clear stages or sections.  Lead – Prospects – Pre-Proposal – Proposal – Initial (verbal) Agreement – Won Business (Closed).  A pipeline review just needs to look at the opportunities at each stage – are they real, next steps, and volume based on the individual rep’s documented conversion rates.  Are there enough leads to sustain the subsequent stages, and is the rep focused on the right activities.  Reviewing this in a brief efficient, and frequent fashion, leads to continuous movement of the right things through the pipeline or down the funnel.  You can do this review in as little as five minutes per rep, if you have 8 reps, you can be done and wiser in 40 minutes.  If you have a large volume of deals you can cut it back to a more than significant representative sample that will ensure short and snappy meetings.  These pipeline reviews should be done as a group, and in my opinion weekly, you don’t all need to be in the same room, and with today’s technology can be done from anywhere, including the parking lot of your next appointment.

An opportunity review is much more, and could involve a heavy dose of coaching, as such the first difference is that these are done individually with each rep, and therefore not as frequently, not more than once a month.  In this meeting you review each opportunity, how the rep arrived at where they are, strategies on what to do next, and develop a specific action plan.  This where the coaching is key, using the review not only to impact the outcome, but to directly impact how your reps can sell better using a real live scenario as a springboard.  Helping the reps to not only widen their view of the deal, but others like it.  It is an occasion to examine why some opportunities died, and why specifically some were one, or did not take a decision.

Trying to cram both into one meeting is useless, and typifies the KPI mentality many bring to the process, “did it, I can check it off the list”.  They conduct these meetings neither to help their reps, or to understand the state of their pipeline (all their reps’ pipelines rolled up to one), they do it as a CYA exercise.  Usually because they have to go into to a meeting with their seniors, and want to be in a position to answer questions they anticipate.  If they were to conduct both types of meeting separately, ensuring they achieve what they need to from each meeting they would be way ahead.  They would be in a position to directly influence the outcome of their reps activities, and by extension the outcome of the meeting with their reps and results presented.  They would also be in a stronger position going into the meetings with their superiors, not only answering anticipated questions, but presenting in a way and with content that would negate the questions and focus on results.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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