Welcome to The Pipeline.

A Verbal Painting is Worth A 1,000 Words0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Art Brush

We have all the expression above, but it really rings home in sales, especially for successful sales people. If you look at sales as being an educational process, that is you learning from the prospect, even while you are helping them learn how you can help them reach their objective, let’s focus on the latter, you helping the buyer learn about the potential value you can/may bring.

Broadly speaking people fall into one of three styles of learning

  • Visual Learners – Learn through observing, visualization; good visual recall of what they saw or read
  • Auditory Learners – Strong in Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence, listen and identify patterns, effective use of language
  • Tactile Learners – Learns through touching and physical interaction, activity, via demonstrations

The challenge is that as a sales person you can’t call in advance and as your buyer’s disposition, or start meetings by asking, not to mention that there may be multiple people in the process or a given meeting. I also believe that demos are only appropriate at certain point in the sale, and giving them something to read especially early could be counterproductive in so many ways. As a result sellers tend to lean on the visual and verbal, which can be effective, especially with a little planning and focus on how they execute.

The ability to paint a picture with words a number of benefits is selling. One is the ability to engage buyers on a deeper level, at a level where they make decisions. We have all heard the saying “people buy on emotion, then they rationalize it.” While not incorrect, it is also not complete. As I understand it, (or not), there a third element, the specific trigger that sets things into motion. With three layers in the brain (The Reptilian, Emotion and Thinking) each responding to outside triggers differently, it is probably more accurate to say that people buy in response or reaction to trigger – Reptilian; filtered by the Emotion, is this good or bad, pain or pleasure; the rationalized by the Thinking brain. Which is why despite all the data and objective facts available, people still make mistakes in buying.

As a sales people we have the opportunity to trigger responses and emotions that can cause a buyer to look at things differently and buy from us, versus. Unlike what some pundits will tell you, the goal of a sales person is not to stand around and wait for a random event to trigger something in the buyer, but to create the trigger to initiate the desired event(s).

Which is where the ability to paint a verbal story comes in. Think of a time in your life when stories, vivid stories were a key part of your daily routine. That’s right, when you were a child. The people who sharing the stories were people close to you who you trusted, parents, grandparents, kindergarten, teachers, etc.

“The Limbic (Emotional brain) system creates chemical messages that connect information to memory, the retention of which is significantly increased when that information is presented in an emotionally charged context.” Since having the buyer retain your message is a key challenge, there is a pay-off right there. But further, “This is why you are most likely to remember events that created a strong emotional response within you, and why other people will mostly remember the things you said or did to them that made them feel a certain way”

Most of us felt safe secure and happy when we were read stories when we were kids, that’s why leave movies or play with a good story feeling good and rewarded.

Learning to paint a quality verbal picture aligned with the buyer’s objectives, will not only enhance engagement, help the buyer retain more of what you are telling them, and feel good about buying from you. Trigger the right reaction in the reptilian and emotional brain, and you can move your sales forward in a measurable and repeatable way.

One caution, that no matter how good you verbal painting is, it won’t overcome a crappy product, or if they are not aligned to buyer objective. The goal is not to become a spin master but to tell your story in a way meaningful to the buyer.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Perfection Is Overrated – Sales eXecution 2762

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Perfect

While I am sure that this is not limited to sales people, they are the group I get to observe most, thousands to date in fact. One thing I see over and over again is the amount of opportunities by sellers because e of their propensity to wait for the perfect moment, a moment that all too often never comes. Be that the perfect moment to speak to someone, or until they perfect a technique or a script, or they understand the product perfectly. You know one thing that is not on that list is the perfect understand of the prospect, their environment or their objectives.

The interesting things is that some of the most successful businesses and business innovators rarely waited for perfection. They had enough of the right elements in place, and went for it, in sales parlance, they executed, and applied the lessons from the outcome. There are countless companies that waited to perfect only to miss the window or blow up when they came to market. Yet others, had a workable plan, vision, the basics, and went for it. Then they perfected things as they gathered data and experience.

The best sales people I know understand that the game is played on the field not in the locker room. Practice is important, a playbook is important, but nothing comes close to doing it – executing. The best sales people learn a lot off the field but their best lessons come from doing it, getting bruised and doing it again. The best sales are like building a plane while it is in flight, as the sale unfolds.

I find that what causes people to wait for perfection is less a quest for quality, and more driven by fear. The best sales people have one fear, fear of failure, of not making quota, of not delivering value to their buyers and their companies. I don’t know about you, but I find buyers aren’t looking for perfection, they looking to achieve specific objectives. They understand that waiting for perfection will only leave them lagging in the market. Add to that given that people buy from people, perfection is rarely a criteria for buyers or for execution, since people are not perfect, being perfect may in fact scare buyers since it may appear to make one not human or genuine.

Intent and effort go a lot further for sales people than perfection. You can often achieve more when you make an honest and genuine effort, explore the results, and most importantly, apply the lessons learned. One can argue that if and when you perfect your sale, it will only ever apply to that one sale, and therefore be of little value moving forward. Whereas if you go for it, imperfections exposed, you can only learn and improve. I guess as with most things, perfection in sales is about the continuing journey, not the destination.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Why Are You Trying To Kill Me?0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Horrorfilm

Said the Cold Call To The Socialite.

Recent headlines about AC/DC’s drummer brush with the law, got me thinking why would someone want to kill someone? Such a passionate act must be a result of some big or egregious cause, or at the very least a means of avoiding harm. Then I remembered that in sales we see this all the time, over and over, people are trying to kill cold calling.

The most recent would be assassins are Socialites, social selling advocates, who seem to spend as much time sniping at and proclaiming the death of cold calling as they do speaking about what they sell, social selling products, seminars, remedies and dreams. I wish them all the luck, capitalism rules, everyone is allowed to make a buck, I just don’t understand why cold calling needs to be dead for their stuff to work. Cold calling does not present danger to them, in fact it complements and adds to social selling, just as social selling adds to cold calling success, so what’s the deal here Socialites?

You know I have never read an article or a post that was written by an advocate of cold calling, suggesting that social selling is bad, ridiculing people who use the practice to engage with prospects, suggest that it is inadequate, or about to die. Even though you can find stats that would suggested that on its own, it is not all the Socialites will have you believe.

I suspect the main reason is that cold callers do not see social as a threat, is because we do see it as a great addition to an existing set of tools and techniques we use to drive business. We cold callers seem to take a more inclusionary approach to engaging with clients and driving revenue. I would argue cold callers have taken a much more “social approach” than many Socialites who seem to either proclaim or wish that cold calling was dead. Now we all know it is not, you wouldn’t need to keep saying it if it was, it would be self-evident, when was the last time you read a piece about Plato being dead?

Let’s Spin Some Stats!

(Step back you don’t wanna get any on your shoes)
 

To start with not every buyer has a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn account. Not only that but depending on who you are prospecting, it is important to note that some groups’ social media activity is in decline. According VentureBeat’s summary of the 2014 CEO.com Social CEO Report “an annual survey that investigates the social media habits of business leaders, has been released. The results show a depressingly small increase in social activity from Fortune 500 business leaders over last year’s analysis.” Further, “Amazingly, the CEO.com report shows that 68 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social presence on any of the major networks. Taking a deeper dive into the data reveals that while there has been significant growth in the number of Fortune 500 CEO accounts created versus last year’s results, the number of “active” accounts grew marginally. This suggests that nearly as many business leaders with existing accounts abandoned their use of social media.”

I’ll be the first to admit that you can probably find stats to the contrary, which just goes to show that sales and sales people are just as susceptible to hype as the next group. But hype is something decision makers have a radar for, serious decision makers want facts not hype, they want tangible things that help them achieve their objectives. This leads to the fact that the most effective means of communication with senior leaders is direct. And while 68% may shun a social presence, 100% have telephones and e-mails. The key is to have a meaningful message that leads to engagement.

Here are some famous stats that keep getting dragged out (and abused):

Corporate Executive Board reported that B2B buyers are 57% of the way to a buying decision before they are willing to talk to a sales rep.
• “A survey by DemandGen Report, reported that 77% of B2B buyers said they did not talk with a salesperson until after they had performed independent research, and 36% of buyers said they didn’t engage with a sales rep until after a short list of preferred vendors was established.”

I am not here to argue the stats, but I do want to point out that both stats refer to BUYERS. These are people who of their own volition initiated a buying cycle. Which means that by the time they are 57% – 77% of the way there, they are not looking for a sales person, but more an order taker. Sad but true. Sales People are paid to persuade and influence, not accept orders from someone who has for the most part made up their mind and is now looking to see which models are available and for someone to negotiate price and terms with. Definition of selling:

To Sell –
-   to persuade or induce (someone) to buy something:
-   to persuade or influence to a course of action or to the acceptance of something

The real problem with waiting for buyers, is that according to Chet Holmes and other sources, “About 3 percent of potential buyers at any given time are buying now” (The Ultimate Sales Machine – by Chet Holmes). Only 3% of your target market are active buyers, even if you social sold your share and then some, are you near quota? These 3% are the people calling you when they are more than half way through their journey, most are past persuasion or influence. If you want to talk SALES or SELLING, you need to be talking about the other 97%. If you want to sell to that 97%, you are likely going to have to pick up the phone and say something other than #wannabuy?

Since we are on stats, allow me to digress for a second. This is one quoted by a Socialite as proof of the “paradigm shift in the sales industry”

“10.8% of social sellers have closed 5 or more deals attributed to social media.” Or looked at from the other end, maybe it can be phrased “89.2% can’t attribute deals to social media”; and “54% of social salespeople have tracked their social selling back to at least 1 closed deal.” I bet the I can find unhyphenated sellers who can track a lot more deals to cold calling, and even more to just selling using all the tools available to them instead of just some.

Let’s look at the “short list claim”, and decision makers. DiscoverOrg surveyed 1,000 IT decision makers at Fortune ranked, small and medium-sized companies. It shows how outbound – today’s euphemism for cold – sales calls and e-mails affect and “more importantly disrupt vendor selection.” Further, some “Seventy-five per cent of IT executives have set an appointment or attended an event as a direct result of outbound email and call techniques.” Finally, “nearly 600 said an outbound call or e-mail led to an IT vendor being evaluated.”

So if you did cold call along with your socializing, you’d be in much better shape than narrowing your chances to one vs. the other, Socialite style.

“But I don’t sell to Fortune 500” I hear you say, “I target Small Business”, the other end of the spectrum. Well small business is only selectively accessible via social.  At a conference last summer, where attendees were owners or senior managers of business that were for the most part under $25M, way less than half said they were using LinkedIn. I am a firm believer in the value and power of social and selling, but if they are not there, there is not much point. And it will not surprise you that all of them had telephones and e-mail.

Oh yes, referrals. There is no denying that a warm referral is like first prize, and an indirect referral, second prize. But cold calling usually shows up as third in terms of return on time and effort. Me, I like to bet safe and spread my risk across all three rather than betting on just one. Besides, not everyone is in a position to get or generate referrals. If you are in a more transactional sale, a new rep to the company, in a new territory, referrals will have limited utility early on. Sure you can generate some from existing “happy” clients, but you may find your probation and bank account run out first. You will need to incorporate all tools available, including the dreaded cold call.

Dreaded being the operative word. Most people who kill cold calling suck at it, makes them hate, makes them bitter. Like overweight people looking for that magic pill, instead of understanding that the magic pill combined with regular exercise and activity will always deliver a slimmer tummy, and healthier state. Sure the Atkins Diet worked for some, but it worked better for those who combined it with exercise.

I don’t like cold calling any more than the next person, but I do it, and I do social, and I do it well, or so I am told. But I don’t need to insult or undermine anyone in the process of executing my total approach to prospecting. Why do Socialites?

Kumbaya Time

The point is to use all tools available, not just one or some.  The only reason for camps, social killing cold calls is to sell social products.  And that’s one thing that has not changed, “Buyer Beware”.  Few sales people I have met can live off referrals only, or off their base. Not everybody is selling social media strategies, inbound programs, or content. Way more sales people have to sell in the trenches, selling traditional products and services, where social has a presence, referrals may play a role, but new business success includes cold calling.

Cold calling is not dead, it just smells funny when done wrong, but done right, it has the sweet smell of sales success. So let’s break down the walls, let’s get rid of the camps, stop thinking about killing or dead things, and make some calls.

That’s my two cents, what about you?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Frontal Sales Blitz – Sales eXecution 2750

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Football biz

Several sources attribute the following statement to Gartner Group: “In a typical firm with 100-500 employees, an average of 7 people are involved in most buying decisions. Lesson: cold call multiple people in each account.” It does not take a firm like Gartner to come to the realization that more and more purchase decisions are going to consensus, and often the winner in a bake-off is not the best product, but the one most people in the buying group rally around, or at time settle for. Other sources will tell you that even the traditional uber-decision maker, will often support the product he/she feels his people will support and adopt over the best choice. If it doesn’t get used, it doesn’t matter what marginal advantages there may be.

The best way to respond to this is to execute a full “Frontal Sales Blitz”. A slight twist on the common football blitz, where additional players are sent to “rush the quarterback”—that is, try to tackle the quarterback or disrupt his pass attempt. The Sales Blitz approaches this a bit backwards, where the sales rep attempts to engage all the players on the decision team in order to build and create consensus around their offering. The disruption is perpetrated on the other sales people who like approach the team one at a time, and build consensus that way, I would argue the slow and wrong way.

Some sales people do this really well, especially those with experience in enterprise type sales, and who also see themselves as the central orchestrator in a hub and spoke approach to sales success. But many sales people are still reluctant to do this, especially when they have done business with one of the members of the buying team. Terms like “champion” or insider come to mind. They are reluctant to “go around”, “go over their head” or “risk the relationship”.

Let’s look at the last one, there is no relationship! Not one that counts anyway. You may have had a relationship with Buddy seven or eight years ago, and it was that relationship that got you in, and even kept you in, but times have progressed, and if they assembled a team to buy, you are at best assured to have one vote, and that’s no guarantee. I won’t even deny that when you lose the account it will be Buddy that will take you for a “last” drink while your competitor is installing.

You need to quickly learn from Buddy who is on the team, what their criteria are and then get to work. Tell Buddy you want to continue to serve the account and ask Buddy for help in doing that, if he/she is not wiling, they are telling you to do it on your own, and that’s what you’re going to do.

You need to connect with each of the members of the buying team, with an understanding of the overall mandate, and their individual bias, be that role based or personal. You need to understand how your offering aligns to those elements and the overall objectives of the company and supports their individual “world view”. To successfully do this in as little time as possible, you need to go to you library of Sales Rosetta Stone. Meaning you need to be able to speak the language of each of the members of the team, including Financish, HRish, Marketingish, and all other languages represented at the decision table.

Once you have the start of momentum take it to the uber-decision maker, but instead of talking about your product, and how great it is, and how this and that you and your company are, talk to the uber-decision maker about the consensus on the team, and the buzz around their ability to accomplish their mandate. Chances are he/she are not going to be “end-users”, but more likely beneficiaries of the output, and what is going to produce the output is the consensus your Frontal Sales Blitz created.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

 

STRATEGIC SELLING – DECEMBER 4TH & 5TH IN TORONTO0

Logo Skillsharp

I have recently partnered with a great organization to deliver some of the core Renbor programs to individuals in a public setting. SkillSharp was developed for the purpose of delivering a wealth of knowledge to Canadians, committed to providing their clients with the best available skills to help them succeed and reach their full potential. They’ve enabled thousands of professionals to find their path and achieve significant milestones throughout all stages of their career.

As part of their ongoing effort, they have invited me to deliver a two-day Strategic Selling program built on The Objective Seller framework. The two days covers the entire client life cycle from lead to close to retention and growth. We cover it all in a student friendly environment designed to assist people in learning as much as they.

The program will be held at the BMO Institute for Learning, on December 4th and 5th. If you are from outside Toronto, there are plenty of quality accommodations nearby.

I invite you explore the curriculum, and join me and your fellow sales professionals for a two day hands-on, interactive and intensive program. Whether you are an individual reps, or a team, this is your opportunity to become The Objective Seller, and put Strategic Selling to work for your pipeline and success.

Feel free to reach out to me should you have questions or visit the course info on the SkillSharp site.

Look forward to seeing you there!

You Know How It Is!?!0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Detective

No I don’t!

I find when I am working with sales people resistant to change, which in itself funny because they are paid to help prospects to change, yet when it comes to their reality, they try persuade me why the status quo is right for them. If you work with sales people, don’t you wish you had a dollar for every time you heard one say “well this is how we have always done it”; and while that may be true, the sad thing is that prospect you are working on knows exactly that this is how you’ve always done it, and that’s why they won’t buy this time, just like they didn’t buy last time.

Often these rep really do not have an argument or a reason for not wanting to change, other than perhaps fear, specifically fear of success, the same fear a lot of their prospects have. As a result they often resort to rationalizing their position by saying “You know how it is?” Or if they are hip “you know what I’m saying?” It’s the questioning sound at the end that tells me they don’t buy into their own statement either, they just need to say something other than “no I am too scared or set in my ways to try something different.”

Change is hard, and at times frightening, but there is one universal truth insales, your quota will go up next year, and it will go up more than the rate of inflation. Another fact but not an absolute, is that customers who make up your current base will be looking for efficiencies, meaning to hold prices where they are (or even lower them). Which clearly suggests that you need to change, because doing what you did last year will lead to the same results you had last year, plus the rate of inflation, not much these days. What’s the old Einstein saying – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different result is the definition of – well – someone who will miss quota, if not something else.

Another popular saying sellers can adopt is FDR’s “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”; and the best way to overcome fear is proactively. Change is a process, so approach it as such, not emotionally, but objectively. Set specific and progressive goals, not just one but a series. The series should help you change a specific over a given time, this means deadlines are important. Setting out to change something without a deadline allows for procrastination and excuses, so set a time line and be hosnest with yourself.

Make each step progressively more challenging. Start with something easy, something that will act as a gateway to success. When you achieve that first thing, celebrate, give yourself a reward. Then build on it, until you achieve your change.

So the question is, what are you more afraid of, the pain of change or the pain failing, specifically failing to deliver quota. My experience is that trying and failing still delivers benefits. But not trying and failing by default just builds a culture of losing. Once you are living in that spiral, well, you know how it is!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Key Sales Management Actions To Prepare for 2015 – Live Panel Discussion0

November 12, 2:00 pm Eastern

2015 arrow

2015 is fast approaching, hey if your sales cycle is longer than 8 weeks, you’re already selling in 2015. All this adds up to the fact that you need to prepare now, well actually November 12, at 2:00 pm Eastern.

I am pleased to be part of a leading experts on sales, planning and sales leadership.

The time to start thinking about 2015 is here, planning should be well underway. Making time to plan for 2015 while closing 2014 can be a challenge. Take a break from Q4 to get some ideas on ways you can lay the groundwork for a great 2015. Join sales experts Steven Rosen, Lori Richardson, Lee Salz, Dan Enthoven and Miles Austin and I, as we present key actions that are important to focus on for a stellar 2015. With years of experience in sales and sales coaching behind them, our panelists will share what they have learned–saving you time and effort in your 2015 planning activities.

The Panel:

Lori Richardson – Score More Sales
Lee Salz – Sales Architects
Steven Rosen – STAR Results
Dan Enthoven – Enkata
Miles Austin – Fill the Funnel
And I

This will be a lively unscripted event that is sure to bring up some new things for you to think about. Please join us to give your 2015 planning a boost.

Register

What’s Your Recovery Period? – Sales eXecution 2740

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

recover

No one likes rejection, and I would argue few professions have to put up with as much rejection as sales people do. We face rejection throughout the sale, from the time we try to prospect and engage with a potential buyer, right to the end when they finally agree to deal with us. We face rejection from prospects we lose, and from those we actually win, in fact we win by overcoming rejection.

Each rejection is like a blow, whether we overcome them or not, they consume effort, energy and they take their toll, much like a blow in any athlete in any contact sport. And yes, let there be no doubt that sales is a contact sport. What separate great athletes from also-rans, is not only their ability to deal with and overcome the blows, but how efficient their recover time is.

Of course it is best to start by trying to minimize rejection, and avoid being the guy who can survive by taking the most blows. But in the end, in sales there is no avoiding rejection of some form during the sale, could be mild, could be fatal, but much like death, taxes, and lying politicians, if you’re going to sell you will face rejection, and you need to learn to deal with it. The better you are at that the greater success you will have in sales. One way is to improve your recovery time, there is truth in the saying about getting back on the horse.

First is be prepared. It is coming, you can’t avoid it, so learn to deal with it. If you try to hide from it, you will also hide from successful sales. Often the best sales are a result of a well handled rejection, the rep that faced it head on, dealt with it, and moved to the next step with their prospect in tow, wins more often than those who avoided it. Part of engagement is push back, if you’re not getting any, you’re prospect is probably not engaged.

Specific to prospecting, telephone prospecting, the first think you need to know, actively manage and constantly improve, are your conversion rates. Attempts to right person contact; right person contact to desired result (appointment). I know there are those socialites who will tell you sales is not a numbers game, (I guess to them it is just a cotillion or day at the country club), but knowing and managing these numbers will improve your recovery time and your success. It will also help you with your time allocation, know how much of an activity you need to do will help you set the right time; that in turn will help you set the right mind frame. Just like I know what it takes me to run a five kilometer run, I can know what it takes to secure the number of appointments to deliver quota. And BTW, having a few extras will give you options, who to let go and who to double down on. Not having enough prospects build pressure, and makes every prospect sacred, and losing one devastating, making it harder to recover, increasing your recovery time. A key preparation is to ensure that you are working from a “position of plenty”.

Again, knowing that rejections are part of the territory, learning how to handle and manage the most common objections before they come so you can help your prospect get from reactionary mode to interaction mode is also key.

The way to recover is to take your lessons from the event, and apply it, not retreat. Avoid what a lot of sales people do, they get rejected and they take time to recover, grab a coffee, call their mom, or question the quality of the lead. All adding to recovery time and reducing selling time.

The Best Day To Prospect Is Not Someday!2

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Someday

I was talking to a rep the other day, he was telling me about his approach to structuring his week to help him succeed. He set certain activities to specific days, and filled in the rest of the time with things that were dependent on the buyers’ calendars. He had time set for writing account reviews, Thursday afternoons, this way if he had to get something from the clients he still had time in the week. Proposals were done on Wednesdays and Mondays, all he had to do is set the right expectation from the buyer. And so it went.

But when it came to prospecting, there were no allocations. I asked him about it, and he like others told me that he does it when he can, any time he can get around to it. I asked why he has clearly allocated time to all other key activities, does he not see prospecting and filling the funnel as a key activity? Of course he said. Well, then why does it not conform to the way you approach and execute the other key activities, I said “you have everything else all neatly in place in place, what’s the deal with prospecting?”

He hummed and haad, checking the tips of his shoes, but it was clear that the day he allocated to prospecting was Someday.

Now I don’t like prospecting any more than the next guy, especially cold calling, but it has to be done. Which is why I do it first, then it’s out of the way, and I can go on to doing what I like. But kicking the can down the road only works in Ottawa and Washington.

I know the beauty of Someday is that it never comes, but the deadline for your quota does come, and in light of the fact that those people who make quota hovers around 50%, and the number one reason most sales leaders give for that is a lack of prospects and too much dependence on their base, the day of reckoning will get here before Someday, specifically two months from Tomorrow, December 31.

Given the choice between Someday and Today, I would go with today!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

So Listen – – Sales eXecution 2733

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

So listen

There are certain universal concepts and sayings in sales that everybody just nods to, “sure, of course, that’s hockey, motherhood and apple pie, of course.” And then they go in about selling like they always have whether they implement the concept or not. One of these concepts is around listening. “Come on Tibor, everyone knows you gotta listen, this is nothing new.” Then they double down and tell me “Tibor, I am all about active listening.”

But what does that really mean? Especially given the fact that the original Active Listening, dates back to the days of consultative or solution selling. Just as aspects of those approaches have felt the effect of time, in some ways so has active listening. And let’s be clear, my focus is not on the intent or merit of active listening, but the manner in which it unfolds with some sales people.

As with most things in sales is it about the execution, everything else is just talk, and often not worth listening to.

My main concern with the way some people “do” Active Listening, is that all too often it is really Selective or Filtered listening. Specifically they are actively listening for those things that fit their solutions, their narrative. And if they don’t hear it they try to steer the conversation in that direction. How many time have you heard a rep start a question with “wouldn’t you agree Ms./Mr. Prospect that if you could….., then it would be …..?” Of course it is often hard to say no to the proposition even though it may not add to the discussion at hand. But by agreeing, the prospect is taken down a predetermined path, a path that the seller hopes leads to a sales, but often doesn’t, just leads to wasted time and emotions.

If you’re a buyer and want to have some fun, next time you hear those words just say “no I am not sure I agree”. If the question was sincere, the seller will be able to add context and build on the premise, and extend the discussion; but if it was meant to take you down a path, you’ll see a classic deer in the head light moment.

Real active listening is a lot like bungee jumping, where as a seller you are willing to throw yourself into a discussion with a buyer, tethered only by your genuine curiosity and the strength of your subject knowledge. If either one of those is weak, you risk plunging to the depths of the gorge, your landing only softened by the bodies of other sellers who came before you.

Listening takes practice, especially since we think faster than people speak, it is easy to race ahead. Which is why many end up listening for selective things rather than everything the buyer is telling them. To be a better listener, you really need to be a better questioner. By learning how to formulate questions based on what they buyer is saying, you can engage them better, and demonstrate your knowledge, and move the discussion forward. One technique I was taught a long time ago, is to challenge yourself to ask a question base on what the buyer just said. This forces me to listen, evaluate, and synthesis the information before speaking. By using their input as a means of asking the next question, one can interview instead of interrogate.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

wordpress stat