Welcome to The Pipeline.

The Death of Cold Calling Has Been Greatly Exaggerated #webinar0

Join me on May 8th, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM PDT, as along with the folks from Exponential Sales, we explore sales from the singular view of execution.

The best sales organizations are those who excel at executing their sales process; from demand generation, to prospecting to closing and growing accounts. The best sales processes are those that evolve and reflect the changing nature of their clients and markets. While there will always be “new ways” to sell, the best sellers look for what works, not what is new or fashionable, including yes cold calling.

The challenge is adoption of process that continues to change as often and as fast as your clients’ markets; it is like building an airplane while it is flying.

Learn how winning sales teams are uncomplicating their sales with a focus on an activity based process. The clearly defined and executable sequence of high value activities that address clients’ requirements and move the sale forward with each activity.

Learn why and how consistently successful sales organizations understand that the focus is revenue, not sales or marketing, but an integrated approach to driving client success. The combination of process, high value activities and mutual accountability between sellers and buyers and the organization to their sellers, leads to revenue success, regardless of “style or fashion”.

Learn how:

  • Execution based selling beats and other selling
  • Its more efficient to develop a hybrid of sales skills
  • Why Cold Calling and social selling are not mutually exclusive
  • The mechanics of a functional and dynamic sales process
  • Why numbers matter
  • Why Execution is the last word in sales

If you lead a sales organization, manage a team or are a front line seller, you need to attend this webinar, the first in a series looking at why much of the buzz in sales is distracting you from success.

The second webinar in the series will examine the opportunity to leverage technology to execute your process and drive revenue for your company, not just those selling you the technology.

Register

Playing With Numbers – Sales eXecution 2470

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

crystal ball

I was never big on Shakespeare, took me long enough to master English as my third language, good old Willie just confused things that much further, I must admit that I do have an appreciation for the phrase from Hamlet “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”. Not only as a parent, but perhaps in a similar vein working with sales people, as exemplified by a recent exchange with a rep I am working with.

Earlier this month in a post title To Call Or Not, I cited some stats about the level of effort required to engage and sell new buyers. The rep in question was very defensive about some of the numbers, asking where they came from, when I shared that with him, he kept on protesting and questioning, just like the lady in Hamlet.

Having remembered that the company had recently done a trade show about a week before our conversation. I asked how many leads he picked up, he told me about a hundred or so. I went on “how many have you contacted or followed up with?” He told me about thirty or so. Or so? What is there a margin for error, or a margin for slackness? Either way, below the stat he was protesting, and likely the reason he was protesting, the light was just a little too bright.

At this point you have no choice but to don my Kevlar reinforced wetsuit, and ask “what about the rest?”

I bet if I asked you to look away from the screen you can guess the excuses, go ahead give it a go.

First just the lack of time, apparently there was a battery that had to be driven across town to a client. I took a bullet, in as much as he had to attend training. But my favourite was “Some of these are not real, some were just tire kickers, I can tell which are worth following up with, so I went to hose first, I will continue down the list.”

I right away called my wife “Honey, I met a real celebrity, I spent my morning with Kreskin”  I can just see him holding those business cards up in the air, one by one, and divining which were buyers and which were not.

“Have you sent a follow up e-mail to the bunch?”

“I though Marketing was gonna do it”

Sales people are no different than others, if you don’t like the message, you shoot the messenger, and if the messenger is wearing Kevlar, try to undermine the numbers in question.

As discussed here before, sales people fall into one of two groups, what I’ve referred to as the X Factor of sales, execution, or excuses.  Not only was our boy not ready to execute, he was great excuses, a complete lack of accountability. Now to be fair, there was little clarity from the organizations as to what was expected after the show, i.e. “follow up with all leads within 72 hours.” But in the end, for someone so ready to question the numbers, he was doing a lot to hide form them and little to disprove them.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

3 Reasons Why Objections are Not a Bad Thing3

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

No sales keys

Most sales people think about objections as being a bad thing, a lot of sales people and worse leaders, get really uptight when it comes to objections. Often before we have even began to define parameters with stakeholders, they’ll say “Oh, and we need an Objection Handling session”, they want to take a tennis approach to managing objections, prospect “throws” out an objection, and they want to hit it back to them. But objections are really not a bad thing, not always convenient or easy to manage, but they are not a bad thing.

Here are three specific reasons why objections are not always a bad thing (no specific order):

  • Indicate engagement
  • Allow you to introduce more value/information/facts without pitching
  • Allow you to qualify – disqualify buyers

The goal here is not to specifically give you techniques, but more to get you to relax a bit and see how objections are good for you, your sales, humanity, and global warming.

Keep in mind that for the most part objections come up in two ways, when you are trying to engage or prospect them, (we did a six part series on this, you can find Part I here). The second is when you are trying to gain agreement, either during the sales on specific points that will move things forward, including simple Next Steps, or at the end when you are trying to complete the sale. In either case, what follows will help you put things in a different perspective and let you use the objective to improve your selling, as a whole, and in specific deals.

Indicates Engagement – Even though some objections during the prospecting phase are knee jerk on the part of the buyer, the fact that they “are responding” allows you if prepared, to deal with that objection and segue to a conversation, key is being prepared. As you get into the sale, the objections will be more specific, a direct reflection of what the buyer is thinking, and how they are interpreting what you are saying, and if they are not clear, an opportunity to correct course. Even towards the end, with the lowest form of objection, the price objection, it is an indication that they are involved, capitalize on it.

Allow you to introduce more information/facts/value without pitching – Every time they object, they are in effect asking a question of for clarification, what a bonus. You can get a sense where their thinking is at, introduce additional elements. You can usually go deeper, and more importantly ask for more clarification on the part of the prospect. “Help me understand what you mean by…” Many objections are really questions, or the buyer evaluating things and they vocalize them, it is my chance to recalibrate, add useful value elements, align with the buyer, and move forward.

Allow you to qualify – disqualify buyers – Sellers are always looking to qualify buyers, well their objections are a good qualifier, and as I have argued in the past, if your qualified prospect to closed ration is less than 50%, your time is probably better spent disqualifying those that you know will not close based on experience, which will leave you with more “qualified” buyers. Objections are a great way to disqualify, if you cannot manage and move beyond, you need to accept that it is time to move on, rather than play objection tennis, where you always lose. The big thing is that every time you disqualify a prospect, you have to replace them with a new one. Which is why some sales people would rather pretended they doing productive things by dealing with insurmountable objections, than doing some prospecting.

How you deal with objections is a different post, and there others out there with some great ways. But first you need to deal with how you view objections to begin with.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

What’s Your Favourite Hyphenated Selling – Sales eXecution 2460

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

un hy selling

Several pundits have presented the argument that we are all sellers and we are always selling, no surprise, selling is part of life and the human experience, right from the guy selling fragments of the big bang, or the serpent selling Eve the apple. As a result, just like people, sales comes in different ways, shapes, approaches, techniques, etc.

This brings with it a host of labels and subsets of sales selling. What I call the hyphenated sale. You’ve seen this and will continue to see it throughout sales. Different labels/qualifiers placed on sales, some times to better frame the technique, sometimes because it pertains to a very specific part of the sale, other times the name of the person who “created” (ya right) that type of selling, other times just to be catchy.

There are times when it is nothing more than a marketing label. Let’s face it, we are a target for someone’s product, someone trying to sell a product to us, a course, an app, an assessment, so slap a label on it and start sell it. Other times there are movements that want to adopt a particular sticky tag as a means of finding a readymade audience, or as a means of siphoning off their competitors. If there are a group of people who are terrified and terrible at old calling, what better way to attract them than to adopt the label of no more cold calling, whether it works or not is secondary, what great branding. Sometimes the branding evolves, Sales 2.0 was the rage a while back, till all the various flavours realised there was more to be sold by going Social Selling.

So what I am asking for today, is your list of hyphenated sales, you don’t have to follow the methods, or be a proponent, or you could in fact be it’s biggest groupie, not the point here, all I am asking for is a list of hyphenated or branded sales you are aware of. Here I’ll get you started:

Solution Selling
Impact selling
Sugar-free Selling
Kosher Selling
Consultative Selling
Trigger Event Selling
Interactive Selling
Social Selling

Go for it, have some fun with it, let’s see what we come up with.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

To Call or Not9

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Touch

I am often asked a question I really hate, and while I have learned not to let it get on my nerves, and usually manage to deal with it calmly, it still pains me that my fellow professional sellers would ask it. The question relates to how vigorously one should pursue a potential prospect? I find the question bizarre on a number of levels, not the least of which is that today’s potential; prospect is tomorrow’s prospect, next week’s customer, and a stream of revenue (if not commissions) for some time after that. Ya, you should pursue it vigorously.

I am have a hard time not screaming when a sales person asks me “Should I call that prospect or not, I called him a couple of weeks ago, he didn’t call back, I guess he is not interested.” No, from where I sit, it is the sales person making that statement who is not interested. If they were, they’d be reaching out to the potential prospect, not asking the question. Not only do they lack the interest, but a good and executable pursuit plan needed to engage the potential prospect and start a mutually satisfactory relationship.

Consider the following:

48% Of Sales People Never Follow Up with a Prospect
25% Of Sales People Make a Second Contact and Stop
12% Of Sales People Make a Third Contact and Stop
Only 10% Of Sales People Make More Than Three Contacts
2% Of Sales Are Made On the First Contact
3% Of Sales Are Made On the Second Contact
5% Of Sales Are Made On the Third Contact
10% Of Sales Are Made On the Fourth Contact
80% Of Sales Are Made On the Fifth to Twelfth Contact

It is clear that the answer is not whether you should make the call (e-mail, tweet, smoke signal…) or not, but how many times, and what will you communicate. It is one things know how to spell nurture, another to execute it well

A good pursuit plan maps out how many touch points you will execute, in what sequence and frequency. Frequency is an important often overlooked or mismanaged factor. These touch-points should be made in a much narrower timeframe than many recognize or feel comfortable with. If you set out a pursuit plan that includes say eight touch-points, which is a median number, some go higher, some go lower, if you’re going to err, err on the higher end, so eight is about right. The time horizon should be between three to four weeks at the max. Long gaps, a week or two will just diminish the compounding effect of the touch-points.

When looking to connect with someone you have had no direct contact with, two or three touches a week are necessary, but most people don’t want to do more than one a week, you may as well not bother. One of the reasons they don’t call you back is you are allowing them to forget about you, and more importantly what you are trying to engage them around. That combined with the fact that you lose focus, and allow your attention to wonder during the long gaps.

The other key component is the combination of content, and medium. While I still think that Marshall McLuhan, would have been a lousy sales person, because it is the message that drives revenue, the medium does count. A combination of phone, e-mail, text, LinkedIn, tweets, introductions, smoke signals, you name it. No single touch should overwhelm the recipient, remember the goal is to engage directly not to sell. The content should entice the recipient to engage, while each may build on the other, the goal is to have the opportunity to complete the picture directly, even if it takes a few tries.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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 

Don’t Be Afraid of the Empty Time – Sales eXecution 2450

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Appointment Time

Many people seem to equate action with productivity, doing things to “move forward”. And let’s be honest, in many ways some of the things I and my peers write and serve up on a regular basis, can easily be read to support that view. But the reality is that building in some flux to your sales time is an important element of success.

Planning your day week or month is not the same as filling your time. It is important to create some empty time. More importantly it is imperative that you do not feel guilty or fully productive because “you are not doing something”. We all hate it when someone else creates “busy work” for us, so why do it to yourself.

I work with a lot of sales people who tell me exactly that, “I need to be doing something, otherwise I feel like I am not contributing”. Sure sometimes this a result of just having a bad manager who believe you can only contribute if and when you are doing something. “Don’t just sit there, pick up the phone”.

While keeping a detailed calendar is key to ensuring success, and this may result in a “full calendar”, it does not mean that you have to be active and engaged in sales activities at all times. Just as you need to set time aside for the unexpected emergencies, (Grab you copy of the Sales Happen In Time white paper, to learn more), you need to include some down time, time to step back, re-energize, regroup, and re-emerge ready to conquer more.

If you run marathons, you know the 10-1 approach, run at race pace for 10 minutes and easy off for a minute, then 10 again. This gives runners the ability to run at a faster pace because the give themselves a chance to recoup. If you watch elite runners, they do it do, it is just that their off minute is not as noticeable as it is with old farts like me.

Create some empty time, allow yourself to not “do things”, idle time is not wasted time when consumed the right way.

One way, and from a timing stand point, a good one is today or tomorrow. The start of Q2, a good time to step back and not just assess how the last quarter went, what worked what didn’t, and then recalibrate. But to think about something other than selling that will in the end help you sell more. Here are three things you can try:

  1. If my line of product did not exist, how would my customers achieve the objective they achieve with the product I sell?
  2. If a law came out that required that everybody sell my product category at the same price, how would I differentiate?
  3. How can I help a prospect without involving my product?

There others, but create some empty time, don’t be afraid of it, the key is to make the most of the empty time, just as you need to make the most of the selling time.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Game the Plan – With Chris Cabrera0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Game the plan

Almost everyone in sales will tell you that incentives drive behaviour, but beyond that there is often little agreement among the pundits as to what the right incentive plan is. Some see it as a black art, while others, usually sales people, see it as something to manipulate, hence the expression ‘gaming the plan’. But ask Christopher Cabrera, founder, president and CEO of Xactly Corporation, who has a different view, and believes that front line reps and CFOs do not need to be at odds when it comes to incentives. In fact, Cabrera literally wrote the book on incentives, “Game the Plan: Every Sales Rep’s Dream; Every CFO’s Nightmare”, which suggests that when it’s done right, reps can and should game and maximize the plan, and everyone wins.

I had the opportunity to discuss incentives and the book with Cabrera, and ask him some questions many of my clients ask when it comes to their challenges around incentives and driving behaviour that leads to everyone’s success, buyer, seller, and company.

One aspect of the incentive where the pendulum of opinion swings back and forth is between simplicity and complexity of a plan. While some try to engineer things down to the minute detail, others, look to perhaps over simplify by offering 100% commission based pay. As you would suspect, the reality is somewhere in between. Cabrera’s view is that 100% is not the most effective, but over engineering a plan has faults as well. He suggests that structure is much more important than the specifics. What “counts is the number of measures; there is a strong correlation between the number of measures and a successful plan.” Measures being the elements being paid on, Cabrera suggests that optimal number is three measures being incented. As you exceed that number, you lose focus and therefore the effectiveness of the plan.

Another factor was the number of people being paid on any given deal, an extreme example Cabrera gave was a company that had over a hundred people on any given deal. He suggest that the right number of people is five.

Cabrera is also a proponent of paying different rates on different products. While paying on net revenue is a start, companies should also incent higher margin products at a higher rate, thereby driving sales and higher profits. He also discussed that managing activity is the role of management not the incentive plan.

Another area of discussion was the use of SPIFFs (Sales Promotion Incentive Fund). Cabrera explained that while this was an effective practice, companies need to keep them fresh and not overuse them. “Keep them guessing by changing the annual cadence, if they know it is coming and when, it loses the desired effect.” He also recommends that they not be overused, three times a year, and at different times, for different element. Tying them to quarter end each time really misses the mark.

The thing that gives the book teeth and makes it a must read for sales leaders and sales people is not only Cabrera’s own extensive experience in the field of sales incentive and incentive management. But more importantly, the volume of data that is available to him as a result of the work Xactly does. The ability to leverage the empirical, anecdotal and other elements give Cabrera, the book, and by extension the reader, an unparalleled level of insight into incentives, and doing it right.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Social Selling is Just Good Selling – Sales eXecution 2440

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Last week I had the honour of placing in the top 10 of the 30 The Top 30 Social Salespeople In The World.  But more than ever before it highlighted the need to unhyphenate sales, and focus on those things that make sales people good at what they do.  I can’t speak for the others on the list, but I do not see myself as a social seller, but as a sales person who takes the profession seriously, and as a result of that commitment use every available tool to communicate with my market, and deliver avenues and means for them to achieve their objectives vis-à-vis their business.

top30socsale

This is why I had some gentle fun with Social Selling’s predecessor, Sales 2.0. These are not just marketing terms, but limiting terms, especially in the hands of the wrong people, especially the pundits. If Sales 2.0 was the label for those who were leveraging Web 2.0 tools and opportunities in their sales, then what number do we assign to those sales people who were early adopters of the first wave of web capabilities, Sales 1.0? What about those of us who jumped on things like portals, the original BlackBerry pagers, Sales 0.0. And what of the sales people who invested in Palm Pilots and green screen e-mails, Sales -1.0. Take to the logical conclusion voice mail in the 1908’s Sales -3.0, answering services introduced in the 1930’s Sales -6.0, etc.

Silly marketing terms that pre-occupy sales people and sell products for those selling to sellers. So let’s unhyphonate sales, especially silly, potentially revenue destructive labels like “No Cold Calling”, “Referral Selling”, “Trigger Event Selling”, and others. These address one small aspect of sales in a very incomplete and ineffective way and serve only to sell a product. This may explain why some were left off the list who are in one light much more “social” than many of us on the list.

I can only speak for myself, but I suspect I was on the list because I love selling, and writing about selling and will use every available tool and means of selling better, these days that includes social. I think if you want to hyphenate sales, there should only be one Good-Selling, everything else is just packaging.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

 

3 Tracking Tools for Serious Sales2

CC March 14

The Pipeline Guest Post - Carrie Powers

Effective tracking tools pave the way for great sales, so when considering what tools to use for your business, you shouldn’t accept anything less than exceptional. Let’s look at three of the best tracking tools available.

Evernote

With over 800,000 downloads on Google Play™ alone, Evernote® is one of the most popular and highly rated productivity apps on the market. It’s compatible with nearly every device and computer, and can perform an incredible amount of organizational tasks. It allows you to quickly and accurately catalogue everything from web pages to business trip itineraries to notes from meetings, and also includes multiple sharing functions so you can share your thoughts and ideas with colleagues.

So what does this mean for your salespeople? They’ll spend far less time slogging through a mess of information and more time actually using that information to turn your business into a well-oiled super-sales machine. Once you’ve used Evernote to establish a smooth and steady flow of useful material, you’ll be better equipped to form comprehensive sales strategies, reach out to your customers with new and fresh content, and keep everything neatly organized all the while.

Automatic Address Book

In the world of large and small businesses alike, it’s a widely known fact that using a customer relationship management (CRM) system can help you boost sales. CRMs allow you to give your clients the personalized attention they want and deserve. Only a handful of CRMs offer excellent tools that go beyond basic functionality to achieve remarkably intuitive performance. The Automatic Address Book from Insightly is one of those tools.

There are a plethora of both free and paid address book programs available, but what sets Automatic Address Book apart is its ability to automatically identify all kinds of connections within your large network of contacts and customers. For instance, let’s say that 5% of your customers know each other through a recent business conference. While a standard address book application wouldn’t be able to detect this sort of subtle information, Insightly’s Automatic Address Book analyzes the from, to, and cc fields in emails to identify a connection, and then searches the web for files that include the names of those customers together (such as online comments and conversations pertaining to the aforementioned conference).

Just like that, you’ll have valuable information on how your customers know each other, so your salespeople can best appeal to their interests and experiences, taking that budding sales relationship to the next level.

Business Card Apps

Even though the vast majority of the modern business world is now digitized, physical business cards still remain the most popular way to quickly exchange contact information. After all, we don’t always have the time to pull out our smartphones, create a new contact, then enter a name, work number, mobile number, and email address.

The problem is, however, that even when given plenty of time, most salespeople won’t sit down after every networking event to go through their stack of business cards and manually enter each contact into their device one by one. The solution? Quick and efficient mobile apps to scan or photograph business cards, then instantly turn them into an easily accessible contacts on your smartphone, tablet, computer, or any number of social networks.

ABBYY® and CamCard, two of the most trusted card reading apps on the market, are available for iOS® and Android™. CamCard is also available for BlackBerry® and Windows Phone. With so many options (and so many other card reading apps out there) you’re bound to find something to suit your needs.

Although all of these tools may seem a bit intimidating at first glance, their useful and noteworthy capabilities can make them invaluable to your sales team. If you’re looking to boost productivity, cut down on wasted time, and see an increase in sales, these tools could be just what you’re looking for.

About Carrie Powers

Carrie Powers is a college student, writer, and lipstick enthusiast. She is currently earning her bachelor’s degree in English while simultaneously pursuing a career in writing and marketing, and has previously worked as a content writer for BlueGlass Interactive. She is now a contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com.

Carrie has enjoyed writing for a wide variety of clients, from clothing brands to car insurance companies, and prides herself on her ability to make any topic fun, engaging, and fresh. Her areas of expertise include beauty, fashion, and style, and she looks forward to a long and exciting career in writing.

wordpress stat