Welcome to The Pipeline.

Calendar 2016

Time To Get Around To It0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Michael Jordan was quoted that the only thing that changes is our focus on the fundamentals, a great lesson for those who tend to be distracted by shinny objects promising “easier” way of achieving or exceeding quota, or, to avoid doing things we don’t like. One of the core fundamentals for successful selling is how we view and utilize time, right down to the minute. It is always important to remember that time is the only non-renewable resource we have. Leads are recyclable, lost deals can be revisited and won. But once the next 60 seconds go by, we don’t get to replenish or redo.

This leads us to the importance of allocating time, not managing it; once time is allocated to specific activity, then focus on executing and managing the activity you actually designated the time to. But many sales people cherry pick time, and use it to avoid things that have to be done, like prospecting for example.

Regularly when I ask buyers why they didn’t prospect, or when they plan to prospect, I hear “I’ll get around to it when I have time”.  As though some rich uncle is going to pull up with some extra time in the trunk, and give it to us.  Time is something you have to commit to in advance.  If you don’t commit time in advance in your calendar for important activities, like prospecting, you will not do it.

“I’ll get around to it when I have the time.” Is the very opposite of what it should be.

I understand that there a lot of demands on a sales person’s time, the importance of focusing on current customers; I understand the importance of finishing that proposal, doing a demo, and all the things we signed up for as sales professionals.  As professionals, one of the key skills we are paid the big bucks for is prioritizing, be that targets, opportunities, accounts, but most importantly, our activities.  While maintaining current customers is important, it’s as important to remember where the current customer base came from, and having that influence how and what we prioritize.

No Distraction

It is interesting to work with new sales people, when they have no distractions, no base, no proposals, nothing to do but identify and pursue pipeline opportunities.  These newbies have nothing else to focus on but that.  Then their success begins to chip away at not only the available time for prospecting, but their willingness to prospect.

It’s the latter that surprises me. There is no taking away from the fact that prospects have to be sold, and clients have to be serviced, but at what point does a quota carrying rep decide that they “have earned the right not to prospect”. An actual quote from a 12-year veteran has made quota in about half those years, but only twice in sequential years.  When something is important, you make time for it. This is as true for business as it is personal wants.  Which may lead one to conclude that they do not want to prospect.

Calendar timeBut for those who do want, and are genuinely struggling to pack everything they need to do into a work week, the only option is to get ahead of it, and commit to it in advance by blocking it out in your calendar.  Studies have shown that we are less likely to blow-off an activity that is in our calendar, than those that not, despite best intentions.  Most reps only have client meetings and team meetings in their calendar, important, but no more important than prospecting.  Real pros I work with, set appointments in their calendars to do research, to segment their opportunities, and time to prospect.  They also build time into their calendar for legitimate distractions, this way when they do need to be sidetracked while prospecting, they have time “banked” away to make sure they can complete their task, prospecting.  If the distraction or “client emergency” does not happen, then you have time in the bank for other high-value activities, like maybe prospecting.

Those who plan their prospecting times in advance, avoid the peaks and valleys that drain so many sellers.  The emotional rollercoaster, the misspent energy, all avoided by setting an appointment with themselves to secure appointments with their next big client.

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radio1

Gaining and Maintaining Momentum0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

It has been a while since I have had the opportunity to speak with Michele Price, but I recently found this segment we did.  I am sharing it today as we head into the last week of October, and are looking to se how we can maintain momentum to finish off the year right, and carry that momentum into next year.

Take a listen, give us you feedback, and go forth and execute.

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Help 1

I Need Some Help0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Despite the state of discourse in general these days, in a one on one settings, like a sales meeting for instance, most people are helpful by nature. As a sales professional, we need to walk the line of leveraging that to help us make a sale, while not taking advantage of it.

I know some days it is hard to convince you that people are helpful, especially when someone just hung up on you, or you’ve run out of ideas how to get a response from someone who said thy were ready and would have the order ready a month ago. But, when you can put those moments aside, there are things you can do to help both the prospect and you succeed.

As with many elements of sales that are more subjective in nature, how effective we are will be influenced by personalities, and how you approach things.  People who naturally social, who draw attention the minute they walk in the room, find soliciting help much easier than another rep who may take a more cerebral style; the difference is in how they solicit help, not their ability to leverage people’s helpful nature.

A simple example is one used by many in prospecting into companies they have not dealt with before, ya, cold calling.  One lady I worked with does this extremely well, she pours her maternal self into every call, and with the warmest and “lost voice” she will call her intended target, and start with the following:

Seller: Is this Mr. Chapman?
Prospect: yes,
Seller: I am hoping you can help me.

Help 1

She then goes on to introduce what she sells, not a product riff, but as a true graduate, she speaks to objectives and outcomes she and her company have delivered to other similar buyers.  She ends her intro by asking:

“Who should I be talking to about that?”

When the person identifies themselves as the right party, she continues:

“Wow, that was fortunate, ….”  She then continues to close on the appointment.

It is important to remember that this does not guarantee an opportunity, people will still evaluate the premise of the offering, timing, and more.  But she does have more conversations, and is able to explore further than in scenarios where the call does not start with a call for help.

The main reason for this, is that by asking for help, we help the mind focus and understand that they are looking for an answer to the caller’s “dilemma”.  When they get a plain cold call, it is perceived as an interruption, and the mind listens and weighs their perception of the call vs. being interrupted. As soon as it is labeled an interruption, the mind shifts to “we gotta get rid of this disruption, and get back to my work.”  When we start by asking for help, the mind shifts to “I gotta listen and see if and how I can help.”  Again, I am not suggesting that asking for help will lead to an instant prospect, but it will lead to a more attentive one, and by extension, and better shot.

Hope that helped!

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Old TV

I Don’t See What You Mean0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Some may remember the first video/song ever played on MTV, was The Buggles

Old TVVideo Killed the Radio Star.  The message was clear, we are visual creature, and prefer a visual presentation over other means. This is why some singers who were great at singing and expressing themselves via vinyl or CD struggled to make the transition to video, while others, who were so so when it came to singing, but had a great presence and could “please” the screen.  Where once lyrics and delivery determined the success of the performer, now it was down to visuals, at the cost of all else.

Close Yet Far

It seems that telephone prospecting and selling are experiencing a similar thing but in reverse, and with added risk.

As more and more of the sale goes virtual, the less we have the opportunity to leverage one of our greatest strength as people and communicators, namely the visual. While opinions may vary slightly, most experts agree that somewhere between 75% – 90% of communication is non-verbal; and the vast majority of that is body language, intonation and vocal quality and characteristics.  All good things when it comes to face to face selling, not so good for those who now need to sell without ever seeing their counterparts.

I know that many who use systems like Zoom or join.me, will say that they have and encourage the use of videos to enhance the experience, most still seem to just see these technologies as extensions of PowerPoint, and even when the video is turned on, it is less than the face to face experience.

This is why focusing on the message and the medium, as many do, still leaves gaps in their approach.  It Is important to also ensure that we compensate for the lack of immediacy and direct visual contact; and I don’t mean just talking louder.

Stepping Back

Starting with the basics of slowing down the pace and deepening your voice, and then going beyond.  You need to also focus on your intonation, what you put an emphasis on, where you place your gaps, silence between thoughts, words, and concepts, pronunciations and more.  Words count too, but not in the way many are looking for, the perfect or secret set of words that unlock the kingdom. More in using words that fit with the buyers’ expectations, words that they would use to describe the scenario, not words your company came up with to “differentiate”. Remember if they don’t understand you, they won’t understand what you sell, or why they should buy.

There are also words that work better in direct conversation that lack impact on the phone, and the other way around.  Given the ease with which calls and web meetings can be captured these days, it is worth exploring how different ways of presenting things change the sales based on the words used, when and in combination with e=what other things.

Often what counts is what you don’t say. One way to ensure engagement in a remote scenario is to create opportunities for the prospect to ask questions. As a subject matter expert, you should be in a position to know which elements to lead with, and which to leave to the end, and which to leave to the prospect to ask. This is one way to encourage the flow missing in remote selling situations, that is quite natural when two people are sitting face to face.

By using your 360 Degree Deal View, you will be able to understand what some of the key moments in a good sales call, understand what is enhanced by the virtual setting, and what is diminished, and create a flow for each type of sales meeting.  Once you have that, then comes the hardest part for many sellers, practice.

Taking it back to radio, those actors who were successful in radio drama, think Orson Wells, knew they had to make up for the lack of visuals in order to deliver a drama that worked on radio without a single visual aid.  While video may have killed the radio star, don’t let the web meeting kill your sale.

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Time allocation

It’s Not A Race0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

It is easy to see why people in sales, at all levels, are infatuated by speed, or as the hipsters say, velocity. You have a specific target, with a defined time line, or more accurately, an end point, which drives many to approach sales like they were the winners of a local grocery store contest. You know where they crown a winner, who runs through the store, filling their cart with as much as they can in 60 seconds, and when they time is up, they keep what they gathered. The faster you are, the better you’ll do. Not so in sales. Sales people and their leaders have fallen into the habit of over relying on velocity as a means to sales success.

Sure, if you are selling a commodity, or a single purpose or use product, you can gain benefit from speeding up the sale, or shortening the cycle, but as discussed in the past, even there, you do hit a point of diminishing returns; the only benefit of speed in that scenario, is you fail faster and get to move on. Once you find the optimal length of a cycle, you need to leverage other things to increase sales.

The obvious may be to look at technology, or skills training to help, but there is one low tech approach that works for many, regardless of sales church they claim allegiance to, namely, slow down!

Many of the people who are on a constant quest to shorten their cycle, when asked about other aspects of sales, would tell you that they are firmly in the Quality Over Quantity camp.  But by putting an emphasis on duration, in essence they are putting quantity above quality, in this case, the quality of deals they win, and more importantly the quality of deals they lose.

Building a base of knowledge and understanding with a given prospect, their objectives, hurdles, etc., takes time, with some more than others.  Unfortunately, if you are on a quest for “fast”, the easiest place to gain time and speed is during discovery, and in many pipelines, this is painfully obvious.

I recently sat in on an opportunity review, for what I would describe as a bit of a complex sale, but not rocket propulsion stuff.  The rep in question was a solid B player, knows the product, market, and there were years he actually made quota.  There were also critical questions he could not answer about multiple opportunities.

Mostly because he felt the pressure to move the deal through, and felt he could do it based on minimal information, rather than complete information; and complete will always take longer than minimal. As a result, he like many of his teammates, end up cycling more opportunities through the cycle, with the goal of landing more deals.  In essence, quantity over quality.  Many of the “rushed over” deals, could in fact have been better, not just in immediate revenue and quota retirement, but upsells, referrals, and most importantly, margins and price integrity.

While it would be easy to blame reps, they are being led by their managers to do this.  Driving their teams to drive more lower quality deals for the sake of time.  This may work in the short run, but leads to challenges down the road, most specifically at the time of renewal.  Deals that are rushed through, propelled by price concessions, are much less likely to renew without further concession, leading to a higher than necessary quota next year, when the cycle begins again.

Time allocation

I understand what’s driving this, it is important to remember it is not a race, December 31 shows up the same time for everyone.  So rather than managing the clock, sellers should manage the individual opportunities.  How long those take to close should be understood, but not the driving factor.  Success for consistently A sellers is not based on closing as many deals as we can – and – fast; but on closing enough of the right deals.

If you want to put your fingers on the scale, don’t use time, use prospecting instead.  Once you know how long a deal usually take to unfold organically, not “artificially accelerated”, more often to a “no” than a “yes”, and you know what your own individual close ratio is, you can proactively know how many deals you will need in a given year, and how many opportunities you’ll need to drive those deals.  As long as you bring sufficient opportunities to the top of the pipe, you’ll make quota, even if you have an 18 month cycle.

So rather than putting all that energy towards shaving hours or days off your cycle, why not invest the time in prospecting.  Getting the right number of the right prospects, is a better use of your time, than trying to hasten a bunch of questionable opportunities through the cycle fast.

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Stand and deliver

Pipeline – Stand And Defend0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Lately I have had a chance to sit in on a number of “opportunity reviews”, and it is interesting how the format and tools have changed, the plot and the theme have not changed much beyond the costumes, props, and players.

Real or Fantasy

What was striking is that for the most part, these “events”, fall in to one of two groups, they are either objective, fact based exercise, leading to a realistic view of their opportunities, with the conviction one gets when one is fully engaged and working the opportunity.  The rest, they are much more subjective based, open to how people feel about what happened, with or without input from the buyer(s).  This has allowed the former group to act and speak about their pipeline with conviction backed by results, the subjective group, spends more time rationalizing the outcome than driving it.

It would be easy, and unfair, to blame sales people for this, but in many ways, it is the fault of their managers, and others in the organization that are paid to enable sales.  First, when it comes to opportunities, it should be less about reviewing, and more about moving them forward to a win.  Even after all the advancements in tools and other aids, many managers, especially those new to the role, look at these gathering from the wrong angle.  Above I referred to these rituals as an “event”, when they need to be ongoing process, reviewing the specific actions of the buyer, and planning and taking the next appropriate steps; do that and your pipeline and the opportunities in them, will fare better than if you’re just performing a CYA routine.

Of late, what has helped those with the subjective approach has been the rise in statistics they can present to support their cause; again, when you’re looking for cover, stats are great.  On the other hand, when you are looking to win deals, you want to evaluate things much more objectively, you want to examine the facts as presented by the interactions with the buyer(s), this ensures you are focused on things that lead you to quota, and maximize your most precious resource, time.

Statistics

A new wrinkle is now available to the subjective group, one they feel lends a bit of weight and validity to what they are doing, namely statistics.  Thanks to the sales tools and technology, there are more stats than ever available, and sales managers being the creative lot they are, are using them to shore up the state of opportunities in their pipelines.  Stats are good, but much more malleable than facts.  I’d much rather work with sales people who can present probabilities based on actions taken by the prospect, and all the people involved in the decision, than on comparing a current deal to statistics gathered in past leads.

Stand and deliverWhile it is true that there are many similarities between deal of the same product to generally similar companies, when you get close enough to read the numbers, they all unfold in their own way, even within broad parameters.  Each deal is different enough, that looking at stats derived from a collection of varied deals over time, to figure out how things may turn out in a current deal, does little to help you close that current deal.  On the other hand, if you look at opportunities based on actual things the prospect has said and done; your ability to speak to specific elements of the decision you need them to make.  How well you know the why, how, and what of their decision, based on what they say, and more importantly do, will have a greater impact on your success, than doing regression on a series of unrelated deals.

Execution – Everything else is just talk

The more you can stand and defend a deal based on actual things in the deal than subjective elements, the more likely you are to make right plan, take the right actions, and win based on the merits of each deal, than a regression model of the last 100 deals; especially since those have been won, and this one is still up for grabs.

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Apple in calss

Educate To Sell0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

I was in the audience for a panel looking at sales, and the future of sales (yes, another). What made this a wee bit more interesting is they actually had some buyers on the panel, bringing a level of reality often absent from such affairs. One CEO made a comment that at first seems basic, but when expanded on his experience, it was easy to see why we as sellers think we are doing something, the buyer completely misses, or misinterprets.

He spoke of how he measures a good meeting, a simple measure, but as he says often not achieved by sellers. He feels that is a meeting with a sales person makes him think, look at something in a tangibly different way as a result of the meeting with the rep, and best of all, if he learned something new. If the seller was able to challenge some of his assumptions, and preconceptions, it often led to one or more of the above measures. He was asked if he had heard of the Challenger Sale, and if those were the type of sellers he was looking to work with? He said he was aware of the book, and as he said he has had “the pleasure of participating in meetings where sales professional challenged in the way the book spells out, and others, where the sales people just play point-counterpoint, the only challenge there is making it through the meeting.”

Many in sales will agree that it is the role of a seller to educate their buyer, the question is how that is done. Think back to school, who were the best teachers, the ones that made you think, reconsider your view, and help you take on new concepts and practices? While there is a Madison Ave image of the teacher, a lecturer dispensing information and lessons. These are the ones where you sat in class and asked if it was on the test, if so you retained it, if not, why take up storage space.

However, most people remember those teachers who left a lasting mark or impression; more importantly, taught them how to think about a scenario or situation, in a way that leads to analysis and understanding. These educators, the best educators, start with engagement. Engagement is more than just being present, many executives sit through meeting, nod politely, but not be engaged. No engagement = no understanding = no purchase.

Apple in calssTo engage, you have to get them to think, as Gerald Bostock told us, “I may make you feel, but I can’t make you think”. Getting them to think takes questions, planned, scripted questions based on experience, and expertise. The right questions interrupt a racing mind; while they may be in the room, most busy buyers are thinking about the next meeting, or the one after that. Good strategic questions, based on your 360 Deal View work, keep the buyer present, and open to ideas they would miss when drifting in though. At the same time, as Dorothy Leeds explains in her The 7 Powers of Questions: Secrets to Successful Communication in Life and at Work, questions get people to think, and that’s always good, especially these days.

Evidence of engagement is when they are not just willing to share info, but crucial information about gaps in their thinking, and how they can address the issues you are exploring with them. Meeting that advance the buyer’s knowledge, also advance their confidence, and willingness to buy something other than what they thought at the start of the meeting. We have all been to meetings where there was a lot of information exchanged, but no one left any smarter, or more willing to buy. As with most good education, it has a purpose and a destination, so should your sales meetings.

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App Vending Machine Buy Apps Shopping Download

3 Reasons ‘Choice’ is Killing Your Pipeline0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Most people think they like choice, they think, contrary to practical experience, that choice empowers them, giving them “control”, and a sense of being in charge of their own destiny.  The reality is often different, and giving prospects choices can have unanticipated consequences.  While there are some pros and cons, there are three reasons you should not give choices, especially where you don’t have to, and you’re just doing it because you ran out of ideas.  So, in no specific order or importance here are three reasons not to provide choice.

Less Revenue

Less Revenue – I have heard from many that they give a choice of product, and related cost, as a means of helping the customer feel less pressure, and the opportunity to not go with the highest priced option.  I have had professional sales people tell me they give three choices, because they know that most will go for the middle tier.

I have a client that sell components, by far his best product is the middle of the three he presents clients.  Most clients love it, and give off “buying signals” indicating they will go for option B, till pricing comes up, when and most revert to the lower priced component.  When we changed the approach to presenting the best option, one price, one decision, much easier to make than three.  Quicker sales, more revenues, no unhappy customers.

Authority

Authority – One reason the above works so well, is that his sales people now are presenting themselves as subject matter experts.  They first spend time understanding what the prospect is trying to achieve and then present the right option.  Usually it is the former middle choice, but the reps often present the lower and higher cost point alternatives, based on what they uncover during discovery.

As a subject matter authority, you build the right to make a recommendation based on your expertise, experience, and support of the company.  Imagine if you went to an expert for help, a doctor, and after they talk to you, examine you, and share their prognoses, and then offered you three options.  Would you not look to them as the expert, to make a recommendation, it should not be like going to a restaurant, given a menu, and pick you cure.  One of the upsides of conducting a good discovery, is along the way you are earning the credibility to make a recommendation; I guess when you don’t have that credibility, you reach for the menu – look out for the sales bots, they’ll do it better.

Inability To Choose

Inability To Choose – We have all been in situations where given three or four choices, we ended up leaving with none.  This is not limited to impulse buying or something not having importance.  While not all, the reality is that many of the deals that end in no-decision, do so because the buyer could not make a choice, and ‘abandoning’ was the easiest option, of course had we not started them down the ‘option’ path, they may have found it easy to say yes to one thing, recommended by an expert at a rational price.

A friend expressed it best when speaking about having his car worked on.  He hates having to choose which type of oil he should pick when he has his car service, or choosing winter tires.  He is typical of the first example.  He is convinced that the highest priced tires are overpriced, with extras he feels he does not need.  He doesn’t want to be that guy that opts for the cheapest, after all his daughter often drives the car.  So, he goes for the middle, but here is the rub.  He never feels good, always second guessing, which makes the purchase much more dramatic and stressful than need be.  As he says “if the mechanic would just tell me what I need, why, and which one best does the job, I’d buy that one, even if it was the top of the line.  But when I have to make a choice, I’m never quite sure about the choice, and I just don’t feel good about it.

Choice is yours, want to make you buyer feel good about dealing with you, don’t make it about price, make it about them, and your ability to recommend and deliver on the best “solution” for them.

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Rain

Risk vs. Uncertainty0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Risk and certainty are not the same, but listening to the way many speak, it is easy to get the impression that even native English speakers often mix and interchange the two.  In most instances or conversation this misuse (or abuse) of the two may not matter or have tangible consequences, but in sales, well, they do.

At a basic level, with risk we are dealing with the known or experience backed estimate or assumptions.  If we look at actuarial work, they assess the risk, based on data and other factors, and then calculate what it will take to cover or mitigate the risk.   

Certainty speaks to the unknown, right out of the dictionary:

not clearly identified or defined; a fire of uncertain origin. 

Certainty or uncertainty may be a component of the factors people will use to calculate risk, but it is always the unknown element.

When it comes to selling it is not a question of right or wrong, but ensuring the seller and buyer are talking about the same thing, otherwise we sellers, may be introducing unnecessary risk into our sales.

Buyer may be uncertain about a number of things related to their purchase, which impacts the level of risk they perceive.  Some of that uncertainty may be around the new direction they are embarking on that may require services like yours.  Others may be certain they are on the right path, but uncertain you are the right travel mate or partner embark with.  One way to manage this is providing insight and knowledge to help the buyer understand, and reduce their uncertainty.

RainSome believe they do this but they do not.  An example would be ROI calculators or marketing contrived scenarios.  These are not bad, but are usually product or vendor centric.  They take a “real life” scenario, which is usually not based on the average experience, but the absolute best-case scenario, usually one your current buyer does not always relate to.  This adds to their uncertainty about whether you understand what they are looking to achieve, adding to both their uncertainty and the risk to you getting the deal.

According to The B2B Buying Disconnect – TrustRadius 2017, buyers find sellers focus on providing material that buyers don’t find very useful or trustworthy, they don’t trust all vendor claims, nor do they expect to, especially when sellers overemphasize selection criteria that aren’t important to buyers.  But buyer do want something that vendors have in but fail to fully leverage, satisfied customers, prospects want hands-on experience with the product and insights from customers.   A clear indication that sellers are adding to the uncertainty with their approach.

Sellers often know the outcomes or impacts they seek, but have no clear ideas on how to get there.  This is where sellers make the mistake of only focusing on risks they perceive prospects may focus on while comparing providers.  When they do this instead of dealing with the buyer’s uncertainty first, they are adding risk to their chances of winning the deal.  Sellers need to understand buyer uncertainty, once they have removed, minimized or isolated the buyer’s uncertainty sufficiently, they can turn to dealing with the inherent risk. Sellers actually increase the risk in the deal if they do not deal with uncertainty first, especially if that uncertainty is not around vendor, but on the means to an end, specifically their objectives.  By failing to deal with uncertainty, they elevate risk.

One way to deal with this, as I have stated in the past, is to leave the product in the car, and go in with the goal of understanding their objectives, gaps and hurdles in their way to achieving those objectives.  This will help them articulate their uncertainty; you can leverage the tension between what they want and what is driving their inability to achieve them, the very things causing their uncertainty.  Creating clarity, removing doubt, will not only allow them to attribute value to dealing with you, but also reduce perception of risk on their side.

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Man in Square

Push and Pull In Sales0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Picture an weighty, rectangular object, placed in the middle square of nine squares; your task is to move the object to another square on the grid, a square other than the one you found it in. Ignoring the tools and resources you may want to utilize, there only three things that are going to happen;

  • You’re going to lift it (in this case maybe a crane, so will move to the next)
  • You’re going to push it
  • You’re going to pull it

Now let’s apply that to a prospect, the square they are in represents their current state, and the square they end up in, represents their state, where they are, after a purchase decision. With about a third of all opportunities going into B2B pipelines ending in no decision, the reality is that about a third of the time the square they end up in is the one they started in.

Man in SquareA key influence as to whether you will need to push, is the prospect’s current state. A small percentage will be easy to push, because they know they want to leave the square they are in, and know which square they want to move to, and why; all they need from you is a little push. I was talking to someone selling specialized ERP, and he was saying that this is only 5% of his market at any given time, small. But the vast majority of the market, has no reason to leave their familiar square, and given that they are busy improving their square, they don’t see the grass as being greener in the other square, and are too busy to care. To move these prospects, you’re going to have to “pull”.

Pulling here adds up to enticing them to see you as being able to deliver and exceed everything they set out to do in their square, but better; the only catch being that to do they need to be in a different square. You can try to push these buyers, but they do not react the same way as the willing 5%. These prospects have “to be led to”, and you have to do the leading. If you can lead in a way that they will follow, you can move them.

Getting them to follow involves many things, but two are a must:

  • Your vision for their future state has to exceed their vision (from their perspective)
  • It has to appear that you (more accurately your expertise), is the only path

Clearly these two go hand in hand, excelling at one, while not fully leveraging the other will not do; and both require that you demonstrate and reinforce your status as a subject matter expert.

The more and better they recognize and accept your SME status, the more effective you will be. Here we are not talking about your product expertise, but your expertise in helping prospects get the most out of their square. When you show them something they missed; something they had not considered or missed, that would have had an unanticipated outcome, a negative vis-à-vis their objectives, they will follow you. This could be unanticipated risk, something that impacts their cost structure or funding that in turn eats into margin; something that completely alters their supply chain in a way they hadn’t envisioned; or other factors like time. As with most successful sales approaches, it is not about product, need, or pain, but about changing the buyer’s state. BTW, addressing a single pain, no matter how well, generally just stabilizes the buyer in their current square, but will not get them to follow you, just puts them back on their current path, pain free.

All of these and many more, will allow you to create a reason for them to follow you, and as a result for you to pull them forward to another square.

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