Welcome to The Pipeline.

Key Sales Management Actions To Prepare for 2015 (#video)0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

2015 rocket

About a month ago I had the privilege to be part of a great panel exploring key issues sales leaders need to not just think about, but act on in preparing for a successfully 2015.

The panel included:

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

As the next instalment in this week’s posts dealing with kicking the New Year off right, meaning in a way that will help sales organisations and teams exceed quota in 2015. Below is an expert from that discussion, but I encourage you to take in the full discussion by clicking here. It is a lively and insightful discussion that will provide a number of ideas for helping your team crush their number.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

The Global 2015 STAR Sales Manager Survey0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

2015 survey

As we rush headlong in to the New Year, my next three posts will feature things sales leaders should be thinking about to drive success for their teams and their companies.

I want to start by inviting you to participate in a survey being conducted by my friends over at Star Solutions That Achieve Results Inc. (STAR Results), The Global 2015 STAR Sales Manager Survey.

The Sales Manager Survey seeks opinions and perceptions from sales executives and leaders around the world on key skills and development priorities for sales managers.

The goal of the study is to help organizations better meet the developmental gaps of their frontline sales managers.

“For companies to achieve better sales results they need to invest their resources into the proper training, support and coaching of their sales managers,” said Steven Rosen, founder of STAR Results. “Frontline sales managers are the key to unlocking the performance of the sales organization.”

The targeted audience for completing this survey is:

  • VP of Sales
  • Business Unit Managers/Directors
  • National Sales Managers/Directors
  • Regional Sales Directors
  • Front Line Sales Managers
  • Trainers

To participate in the study click on Take the Survey. Participants will receive a free copy of the final findings report – valued at $250.
Rosen observed that sales organizations invest millions of dollars on sales training, yet very little investment on their sales managers who develop top sales people. It isn’t surprising to see that so many sales managers are failing to delver the results their companies expect.

“Most sales managers are selected for management because they are excellent sales people but few are adequately prepared to help their sales team truly realize their potential,” said Rosen. “It’s assumed that because they can do it themselves, they can easily make the switch to getting the best out of others. But that’s just not true.”

As part of the process, Rosen will be presenting results and insights from the survey at the first Annual High Performance Sales Conference, in Toronto, Q1 2015. In addition to Rosen, the conference will feature Tim Hurson, myself and other industry leaders, keep you eyes here for more details to come.

About Steven Rosen/STAR Results

Steven Rosen, MBA is a top sales management consultant whose clients have included Fortune 100′s (including Novartis Pharmaceutical and Alcon), medium size businesses (including Red Rock Breweries) and select smaller businesses and charities for whom he helped grow the bottom line.

STAR Results, based in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, is a sales management coaching, training and consulting organization dedicated to sales leadership development. Its mission is to inspire sales executive and managers to realize their vision, hire top-performing sales reps, transform managers into sales coaches and achieve greater personal and professional success

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Sales Management: 6 Top Tools to Create More Effective Sales Teams0

Dec-14

The Pipeline Guest Post - Diana Doherty

Want to increase productivity without stressing out your employees? Data can help you improve your process – and your workforce ROI.
Think you have the best possible toolkit for your sales team? Think again. The best sales tools now are all about integration and automation. If you’re using clunky apps or programs that don’t integrate, you’re wasting time. The best tools for your team make more sales, less work.

Clari
How can you give your team instant access to all the relationship data they need with immediate communication to managers? A mobile sales productivity app. Clari pulls information from sources like Salesforce and translates it into usable sales information. Clari’s goal is to give your team all the benefits of data without wasting their time on data entry. Use the management side of Clari to direct your sales team in real time. Clari is much more than an alternative to customer relationship management (CRM).

Salesforce
CRM software can be tough to choose, but it is imperative to your team’s success. Salesforce is one of the most popular options and for good reason. It’s a powerful CRM that focuses on customization, scalability, and integration. With so many options available, one of the most important features to consider is integration. The Salesforce AppExchange boasts hundreds of apps, plus the ability to create a custom-built app. The best part is the apps integrate with programs you’re already using, such as Evernote, DocuSign, Google Drive, and Hoopla.

DataHero
This service connects to many of the best business apps, such as MailChimp, Stripe, GitHub, and Dropbox, to collect and analyze all your data. It finds patterns and creates shareable, interactive charts to represent that data. It features drag-and-drop chart creation, so you don’t need a specialist to analyze your data. Charts can even be set to automatically update when your data is updated, such as sales tracking spreadsheets. One more perk: DataHero works with Salesforce. You can combine Salesforce reports with Pardot or MailChimp reports to see your sales data from various services in a comprehensive, easy to understand format. No more exporting data to Excel and struggling to make sense of it.

Act-On
Generate leads for your team backed with information they can use to convert. Act-On automates your social media and email marketing efforts, measures customer interaction, performs A/B testing, scores leads, and integrates with your CRM. It lets you create and manage email campaigns with webforms and attachments. It provides metrics and data analysis. Act-On is robust marketing automation software that delivers the customer information you need without drowning you in data.

Membrain
Uniquely designed with B2B in mind, this sales pipeline service aims to optimize your sales process and lead your team to success. It has CRM tools built in, but focuses entirely on the sales perspective. Salespeople can see opportunities and where they are in the buying process. Membrain even analyzes and visualizes data for you, creating metrics for defined categories. Most impressive, though, is the drag-and-drop customization of the interface you can design to match your sales process exactly.

Perenso
If your sales team travels, Perenso could be an invaluable tool. The iPad app allows your team access to pertinent client data, and competitor information. It prioritizes clients based on their history, minimizes data entry, handles orders, and encourages upselling. Your team can even create and share presentations in Perenso. Team data is updated instantly, letting you keep tabs in real time. You set cycle priority and Perenso schedules visits and calls in the most efficient order, saving on drive time and money.

The best sales tools address needs you have now with the integration flexibility to address needs that may arise in the future. Remember, when you choose tools for your team, it’s all about empowering them to do their best and saving them time. Anything that clutters up the sales process isn’t the best tool for your business.

About Diana Doherty

Diana Doherty is a freelance writer specializing in SEO content, and is a contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. She loves all things tech, photography, craft, military family life, and business. She earned her BA in English Writing Arts from SUNY Oswego.

Amp Up Your Sales – Great Reading To Start Your Sales Year0

Book Review - Amp Up Your Sales – Andy Paul

Amp-Up-3D-cover

Many of you are no doubt familiar with Andy Paul, author of Zero-Time Selling; well Andy is out with yet another great book just in time to kick your sales year off right, Amp Up Your Sales.

Andy looks at a key question in sales: What Buyers Want from Sellers?

It’s the big mystery of sales. How do we get buyers engaged? What can we say or do to make them pick us. What can we do to speed their decision?

Andy looks at how to deliver what your customers want in Amp Up Your Sales. He presents powerful strategies to move customers to make faster and more favorable decisions.

I had a call with Andy about the book, and here are some insights.

TS: Amp Up Your Sales focuses on responsiveness, maximizing value and simplification in your selling efforts. Why did you focus on these topics?

AP: The Amp in the title is really an acronym (AMP). It is a simple mnemonic device I created, that all salespeople can use to ensure that every step of their sales process is focused on the tangible and intangible attributes that make a difference to their customers and their ability to make good decisions quickly.

A=Accelerate Your Responsiveness: Responsiveness in sales has two components: information and speed. To be responsive a seller has to provide complete information to a customer in a timely manner. One way to think of this is that every customer has a certain number of steps in their buying process. And each step has associated with it certain questions that need to be answered before the customer can move on to the next step. Being a responsive means to quickly provide the customer the information they need to move on to the next step.

M=Maximize the Value You Deliver in Each Sales Interaction: A customer gives a seller some of their time. In reality they invest their time in the seller. The seller has to give the customer something of value in return for that investment. That value must be something (information, facts, insights) that moves the customer at least one step forward in their buying process. If the customer gives a seller some of their time and they receive nothing of value in return they will stop giving time to that seller.

P=Practice Simplicity in Your Selling: The difference between winning and losing in sales is a very thin margin. I ask sellers all the time: “What was your margin of victory in your last deal? 10% 50% 75%?” The fact is that no one knows and no seller can predict. They have to assume that their margin of victory, especially in this economy where the actual and perceived differences amongst products is virtually nil, will be only 1%. The question then becomes what can a seller do that will create 1% more value than their competitors? In these cases, winning a deal often comes down to the small things, the simple things that a seller can do to create differentiation. For instance, one simple way to stand out from the crowd of competitors is to be more responsive.

I could go on, but it is a better idea to get a copy and read it immediately. Pay particular attention to Chapter 13: The Power of The First Perception. It will change how you respond to leads forever.

BTW, Andy tells me that if you buy the book today, you get instant access to Andy’s 6-part video series with sales giants and more on concrete strategies you can use right away to amp up your sales, while I may not be on the list, you can still learn more here.

 

Questioning Assumptions0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Assumptions

I remember reading somewhere about a company that had set up different office, each with a different motif. One would be full of things relating to fishing, another would be all decked up with pictures of golf courses and golf related chachkas. The goal was to stump the sales people who would come through, often it played out to be stump the chump. They wanted to see how many sales people would fall into the trap of trying to create rapport by making small talk, no let’s be honest and call it what it is, empty talk, by trying to relate to and talk to the motif in the room. You’ve seen it, the sales rep trying to chummy up to the buyer buy talking about his fishing adventures or golf outings.

What the sales people didn’t realize is that none of the pictures include the person they were meeting with, there were no names on the door, these were their “sales social experiment”, and not social in today’s context. If and when a sales rep bit, the company had a bit of a chuckle, and the rep’s stature went down a notch.

While we can talk about the merits of this little experiment, it does highlight how easily some sales people assume things through their filters, and run with those assumptions till they hit a wall or fall off a cliff, and it’s too late to recover. If you think something is so, even something as obvious as a person liking golf because of the pictures on the office wall, why not ask a question instead of making a statement. Put in the form of a question you give the prospect a chance to correct you, without putting yourself in a corner. What’s more, in the process of correcting you, they often share additional and valuable information or nuance that can prove to be valuable in moving the sale forward.

Even when things seem obvious, they are often not.  I’ll give a personal experience, on a regular basis I receive calls from strangers, who start by telling me how great they get along with someone I did a webinar with, or was on a panel with, making the assumption (and hoping) that because our names share a billboard it will warm their way into my heart.  The reality is that this just heightens my suspicions about their intents, given that other than that one event we have little in common; in fact at times, I am there as a counter to the other panelist’s view.  Yet if they would not lean on this false assumption who knows what they may be able to achieve?  Just because my name is Tibor does not mean I like goulash, I’ll take a hot vindaloo any day.

While it may take a bit of effort, it would be so much more profitable to validated things before betting the farm, or in this case the outcome of the sales call or the whole sale.

Yes, even when you think you know something, test it, because often you will find that you really didn’t know until it is much too late or costly.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Ego And Confidence In Sales Success – Sales eXecution 2782

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Clone not

Successful sales people share certain attributes, some can be learned and developed, some we come by naturally, and if we have less of those than other, we can spend time and effort developing them, and improving our sales habits and results in the process. Two that are common to many successful sales people are ego and confidence. The question and challenge is proportions and dominance, and as always, intent.

Some sales people tend to confuse ego with confidence, and fall victim to this trait. When I was a young rep I had the fortune to learn the difference between the two, and learned to balance one with the other. My mentor kept telling me that if I have to tell people how great I am, rather than demonstrating it through my actions, ability and knowledge, I was letting my ego lead, and likely costing myself sales and friends. Demonstrating capabilities is confidence, a sign of security, attracting people and their confidence in me, and helping my sales success. Telling it to people signaled insecurity, thus causing them to pause before acting with me, and buying form me. Confidence is something you can build and more importantly share with others, bringing them into you process. An ego driven by insecurity is often sustained by having an air of superiority, expressed or implied, or both. Neither adding to ones sales success.

Let’s be clear there is nothing wrong with sales people having an ego, the question again is intent, and the risk of an unchecked ego. I remember once telling a director that I could not imagine or fathom going to our annual sales meeting and going up on stage to receive an award other than the one for making quota. This drove my activities, and gave her a great tool to motivate me when needed. I remember having a slow start to a fourth quarter, all she had to do was to remind me that I need X dollars to put me into the Platinum Club. No doubt it helped her bonus, but it was the reminder, the nudge I needed to get my act in gear; ego served a good purpose.

If confidence is a sign of ability and security, no doubt that is more than partly supported by knowledge and how to best apply that knowledge. In the case of sales how do we help buyers achieve their objectives, so they buy our product, pay their invoices and help us achieve Platinum or some such club. Some sale people are too lazy to acquire knowledge, after all it does take work, it often takes more than what your company will spoon feed you. Face with the choice of putting in the effort or faking it, many sales people opt for the latter. This is often manifested in some sales people compensating for knowledge with ego, or more accurately their lack of knowledge. As Einstein pointed out, the relationship is invers, Ego = 1/ Knowledge. By extension, the more knowledge the greater the confidence and less leading with ego. Buyers aren’t stupid, they can tell the difference, and their buying decisions reflect that. Leading to bruised egos and missed sales and numbers.

In the end the elements that make for a confident rep are usually the ones that make for a successful rep. When you find the balance tipping to ego, step back and ask what you need to do to re-calibrate, not only will it make you a better person, but a more successful seller.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

A Thanksgiving Audio Treat0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Radio Renbor the pipe

Given that today is Thanksgiving in the States, it is not the time for heavy reading (maybe heavy eating), so today’s post is an audio delight that you can take with you and enjoy. It is a recent interview I did on Biz Radio Canada, talking about what else, Pipeline and Sales.

You can use it to distract you from the other in line or at the mall, or stop you from getting trampled as you reach for that last discounted super-duper flat screen. Hey, you never know, you may discover a nugget or two that will allow you to Sell Better next year and allow you to hire a personal shopper to troll the mall for specials, or just not worry about paying full price because of the increased sales you’ll make, and stay home and watch the game on your flat screen.

Enjoy:

Happy Thanksgiving

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

The Art of Sales Conference – Toronto on January 26th, 20150

Yes it is that time of year again, time for the Art Of Sales in Toronto, and while January may seem a bit away, it’s not, and now is the time to plan ahead.  Not only that but readers of The Pipeline can take advantage not only of promotional pricing, but the Early Bird pricing in effect until December 5th, 2014.  You will also want to check back to learn about a contest I will be running where some lucky readers can win tickets to this event, more on that as we get close to Christmas.

Now here is all you need to know.

banner 15

 The Art of Sales Conference – Toronto

Join us for Canada’s top sales event returning this January 26th, 2015.

The Art of Sales conference, sponsored by Microsoft, brings world-renowned sales leaders and bestselling authors for a full day of cutting edge thinking and real world experience on today’s most critical sales strategies.

Connect with over 1,300 of Toronto’s most notable sales professionals and gain insights from:

  • GREG MCKEOWN – New York Times Bestselling Author.
  • MARK BOWDEN – Communication Expert, Performance Trainer.
  • JOEY COLEMAN – World Renowned Expert on Customer Experience Design.
  • JACKIE HUBA – Customer Loyalty Expert & Bestselling Author.
  • JOHN JANTSCH – Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author.
  • SCOTT STRATTEN – Bestselling Author of UnSelling, UnMarketing.

Take advantage of the EARLY BIRD RATE, use promo-code “RENBOR32” and save $100 when registering!

Register

 

 

When: January 26th, 2015 8:30AM – 5:00PM

Location:  

Metro Toronto Convention Centre
John Bassett Theatre
255 Front Street West
Toronto, ON
M5V 2W6

The Ultimate Beneficiary – Sales eXecution 2770

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Market-Research

There certain things that people tend to “speak” in sales circles, which tend to be “tribal” in nature and are often mouthed to suit the circumstance or attain peer acceptance. But when you dig a bit you find that some of the things they speak to or of, don’t always reflect the way they actually execute. And since talk is cheap and the payoff is in the action, it is important to look at some and see if we can get some change, no, not for the bus, but for better sales.

One area where is who they target and pursue to gain engagement and traction, if not the sale. When you ask some (not all) sales people who is important to them in getting a sale or a deal done, they often respond that they need to get to the decision maker. Since that is not usually a title and the function varies from deal to deal, I find that response wanting.

When I ask some sales people who they sell to, especially without giving them a reason for the question, I often hear people who are users, and lower level decision makers, like managers, office manager as an example. Nothing wrong with these people, but they are often implementers or contributors to decisions, but not what we are looking for. When I push the issue, they’ll say “oh ya, well we also call on the executive or C suite”. Better but still, not the answer we were hoping for.

Given the way purchasing has gone over the last few years it is better to redefine the answer away from title, and more into roles. While I would not discourage anyone from going high in an organization, it is always good to be in tune with those setting the strategic decisions, they are not always the ones who decide, or decide the way some sales people would think.

Many senior executives place less importance on the actual product or services decided on, and put more emphasis on the how their teams see the offering, is there consensus around one product versus another. When there is, it means smoother (read less costly) implementation, greater adoption, and other more desirable outcomes, that in turn help drive objectives.

In light of the fact that there is often so little real differences between the offerings on the short list, senior leaders will often go for a product that may score 1% or 2% less on the comparative chart, but has the support of all, where the top one may have less than unanimous support.

In light of the fact that most leaders buy things to drive and attain objectives, and they rely and delegate aspects of that to others on the team, the goal of a seller is to identify and engage with the ultimate beneficiary. Sure it would be simple to say that’s the person at the top, but in day to day terms, it is the person who most relays or is impacted by the work and output generated by what’s being purchased.

Since buying and selling are economic activities, let’s stick to basic economies, supply and demand. Who generates the demand for the purchase in question? The person or people who are the ultimate beneficiaries. Based on the specifics it could be the VP of Marketing, or it could be brand manager for a specific segment. Identify the people who most benefit, and you will be in a position to not just create demand, but if it already exists, shape and influence it. Do that in a way that aligns with their objectives and those of the company, and you’ll be pleased with how those beneficiaries will influence the purchase process and decision.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Your Help and Support is Requested0

vote

For many this time of year is the holiday season, but we all know that in fact this is the awards season. The Best of 2014, Top Ten of 2014, and more. And so I find myself in the running for a few awards and need your help in the form of votes, in two polls.

The first is over at Top Sales World, where they are set to recognize a number of leaders in some key areas related to sales and marketing. I have the good fortune of being nominated in two categories, and am writing to as for your support.

The first is for Top Sales & Marketing Blog 2014, and if you are regular reader of this blog, I would truly appreciate your support.

The second category is for Top Sales & Marketing Webinar 2014, for the webinar I delivered for salesforce.com about The Objective Seller.

Now the great thing about the good folks running the Top Sales & Marketing Awards, is they really understand democracy. Unlike those malcontents in Ottawa and Washington, who limit the citizenry to one single vote per elections, Top Sales World rewards initiative, and allows you to exercise your vote over and over, in fact every 12 hours. So you can vote now, 12 hours from now, twice tomorrow, and every day after that until the voting closes on December 12, now that’s democracy.

The other award I would ask for your support, is run by the Sales and Lead Management Association, who are looking for votes to determine the 50 Most Influential in Sales Lead Management. Now SLMA, has a more traditional view of democracy, limiting each person to one vote throughout the voting, which closes November 30. I am asking for your support for this as well, your votes got me on the list last year, I hope we can do the same this year. You can vote by clicking here!

Thank you for your support in these votes, and in general through the whole year.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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