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Senior businessman being shocked after receiving bad news on cell phone, sitting at office desk behind alarm clock showing five minutes to twelve.

Stop Sabotaging Your Prospecting0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

We have all heard the expression that people make decisions based on emotion, then spend time rationalizing the decision. This interplay between our primal instinct and our later developed intellect, impacts sales success in other key ways. Our beliefs on a primal level have greater influence than we often realize, and despite our intellect and education, our beliefs will either limit us, or empower us beyond what many give them credit for.

Take telephone prospecting, yes cold calling, certainly a real and often emotional thing for all involved.  There are as many opinions out there about cold calling as there are minutes in a day.  Yet whether it works, or not, has less to do with technique and the times we live in.  It instead comes down to your beliefs and the actions those beliefs lead to, or more typically, actions they prevent.  And just like actions having consequences, in sales, especially lack of action, has greater consequences.

This leads to the question of which beliefs are interfering with your sales success, and can be recalibrated to change your beliefs, thoughts and actions.

One of my core beliefs, supported by real world experience, and empirical data, is that my customers benefit in very specific ways when they follow my programs.  They regularly achieve objectives they set out to accomplish, and realize direct impact on their business.  I am conduit to best practices, and as a result, can help prospects even before they commit to my programs.  This allows me to pick up the phone, and call someone I have not met, but have the confidence that I can help.

Now if you don’t have that core belief, the belief that you can help your clients, you are going to have difficulty prospecting, which equals difficulty selling.  Even though I am a professional interrupter, realizing that I am disrupting the prospects day, I both know and believe that the ultimate positive impact I will have on their sales team, will greatly outweigh the interruption.

What’s interesting is why people lack the belief that they can help their prospects.  Some tell me they sell a commodity, and as a result it is all down to price.  I get it, it is not easy, but you and I both know that there are people out there prospecting in your hen house and winning the business without dropping their price or pants.   What they have going for them is their focus on the outcomes they deliver, not how they deliver them.  This allows you to concentrate the message, avoid talking about yourself, and quickly have the prospect focus on the issue not the product.  The prospectors we turn out never talk about products, who their company is, or any of that intellectually rooted messaging, it is all about outcomes.

Start by going back and having straight conversations with your clients, ask them why they continue to deal with you, and then listen, and not selectively.  What you’ll find is that even if it is a commodity, door nails, is that price is not in the top three reasons, usually not in the top five.  Seems to me, those three things that keep them with you, but are not price, should be the things you lead a cold call with, even before talking about your company.  Frankly dear, no one cares that you are the Mid-West account rep for a Fortune 500 company, well maybe your mother, but no prospect, go to the outcomes.

It will take a few interviews with clients, and with people where you lost, or they did not take a decision.  But over time you will not only understand what you should focus on in prospecting calls, but as you get traction, you will confirm your ability to help people and change your beliefs to a healthier and more rewarding set of beliefs.

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surfing

Riding The Prospecting Wave0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

There are many things that influence a sales cycle, some within our control, others not.  Often we spend too much time, energy and emotion worrying about the things we can’t control, while deliberately ignoring and not attending to things we can control, and would make a difference if we did.  Some elements or factors are not that back and white, while we may not control them, we can ride and leverage them to help us succeed.

One example of this maybe momentum, we can’t directly initiate or ensure momentum, there are things we can do to leverage momentum to help us sell.  As with other forms of black art, sales people can best leverage momentum by grounding their sales approach in routine and discipline, this in turn helps you put you in the right place more often to create and increase momentum when it is with you, and to neutralize it when it is against you.

According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, “40% to 45% of what we do every day sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit.”  Start by reviewing the things you do every day and through the sales cycle.   The first challenge is recognizing the habits that are holding you back, and then replacing them with habits that leads to success.  Then it gets a bit harder, actually replacing bad habits with good, this can be harder than quitting smoking, as someone who has done both, I know this first hand.

Funny thing about momentum, it seems to follow your habits, the more of the right basics, the more other elements fall into place.  We see this time and time again, when we work with people through the initial 12 weeks of the Proactive Prospecting Program, participants adopt and execute new practices and disciplines, i.e. change their habits, resulting in more opportunities in their pipeline, and they see momentum going their way.  Whereas before, when their habits kept them from having a healthy pipeline filled with choice, momentum seemed to be always against them.

surfingSo here is a simple example.  I repeatedly see reps commit to say an hour of prospecting a day, not that much in the scheme of things, but I would argue one of the most important hours of the day.  Usually this is based on their specific time range based on their individual output from The Activity Calculator.  Some have the habit of doing a whole bunch of things related to prospecting, without ever actually prospecting, this includes research, prep, BS, you name it; at the end of the hour, few if any new prospects.  So while they have built momentum for “getting ready”, they have added to the momentum keeping them for success, cause their ain’t nothing new in their pipeline.

Even when they get an appointment, they see it as an opportunity (excuse) to stop.  What a waste!  If you set aside for prospecting, do it for an hour; most people get more relaxed after they succeed, in this case secure an opportunity, so why not keep going, and have momentum work for you.   Same can be said for the rest of their pipeline, as soon as they get a few opportunities to Discovery, they figure that good times are here to stay.  They are but only for those who have developed the habit of making prospecting part of their ongoing routine.  Maybe it’s just me, but I do my best prospecting when my pipeline is full, and do the worst when my pipeline is depleted.  I would rather face having an overflowing pipeline offering choice, than the desperation an empty pipeline brings.  By seizing momentum when things are going my way, usually as a result of habit and execution, I can ensure that my pipeline and opportunities will always be sufficient.  Just as the reality of no pipeline, no opportunities, bring a momentum that is hard to reverse.  The right habits consistently applied, will help you build you momentum and ride the wave.

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sep-16

4 Alternate Ways to Promote Your Business0

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

Marketing, advertising, and finding innovative ways to promote your business are all part of a strategy to acquire new customers. If you don’t market, you probably won’t gain much more business – and new customers and more sales are something every business needs.

In a traditional sense, there are lots of ways to advertise your business, and you probably feel like you are doing all of these regularly. However, with so much competition, you need to find some ways to make your brand stand out and ensure your current and prospective customers want to do business with you instead of one of your competitors. Take a look at these 4 alternate ways to promote your business:

Build and market a mobile game.

Get your game created and start marketing it right away – the marketing part is essential to its success. If you don’t tell anyone about the game, how will people play it? A marketing strategy is the key to ensure you succeed in this highly competitive marketing landscape. So go ahead and share the news on a blog or via social media accounts. Include news about it on your website and even in a press release. You’ll want to make various call-to-actions for different networks such as videos or banners, too. While creating a mobile game may seem daunting at first, remember that it’s simpler than ever to create a mobile game, and the payoff can be huge.

Business cards.

While this one is obvious, a lot of people still run a business and don’t have their own business cards. This is the age of encouraging people to “follow me on Twitter” or “like my Facebook page” — but what if the person forgets your business name before they have the chance?

There are many reasons business cards still matter – in fact, they are ideal because you can hand them to people and they will have all of your information right at their fingertips, literally. There are some business owners who tend to feel that we are in the digital age, so business cards are old-fashioned. However, there are lots of situations where a business card is much more convenient.

Sponsorship.

Many people’s minds go straight to large corporations/brands at the thought of sponsorships, but it’s actually feasible for small businesses, too. Focus on promoting your business at a local level. While something extravagant may not be affordable, you can still find ways to effectively use sponsorship with some creativity.

Think about why businesses turn to sponsorships in the first place—to get the name of the business out there and let people know it exists.  If you own a small pet supply shop, you wouldn’t want to hold a bake sale, but instead think along the lines of a local pet show so people who attend learn all about your site and your business – and hopefully remember you when they need to make their next purchase.

Create local awareness.

It’s ideal to gain coverage in local newspapers, websites, and trade magazines to increase name recognition and inform people about your business.  Don’t feel like you have to hire an expensive PR firm to help you – there are ways small businesses can do some PR on their own.

First, research publications that cover local business – or your industry. Once you know the writers and publications that cover stories, craft a pitch that will pique their interest of our business.  Find ways to explain how your business impacts the local economy, and it’s likely the publication will want to cover a story on you.

Marketing your small or new business is vital to its success, but doing so doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg and take up a big chunk of your time. Savvy entrepreneurs can utilize these ways to increase visibility and drive customer acquisition to take their small business to the next level.

What are some ways you market your small business?

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for ChamberofCommerce.com, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and contributing to a number of publications on the web. Megan can be reached at megan@chamberofcommerce.com.
Website: www.chamberofcommerce.com

Photo credit: http://www.instantshift.com/2015/05/25/ways-to-promote-your-business/

pearl

Prospecting For Pearls2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Regardless of what some might tell you, there are elements of sales that are quite organic, and as a result there are lessons we can take from nature. One is that not all things that lead to real value start smoothly or simply, but as the process unfolds, the end result can be both a thing of beauty and value. That’s one way I like to look at prospecting, specifically telephone prospecting, yes cold calling.

I like to think of a cold call, the very start of an engagement with a prospect, as being very much like the start of the process in the making of a pearl. There is no denying that the pearl starts out as an irritant, an intrusion from the outside; but then over time, ongoing interaction, things develop, and where the end result is a thing of beauty and value.

Let’s be straight, I am not suggesting that you set out to irritate anyone intentionally, but at times you may not have a choice if you are going to help and win new customers. This is especially so with prospect who are removed from the market, the Status Quo, who left to their own, are not actively engaged in or thinking about buying anything, beyond “social” reach; this is usually in excess of 70% of you target market. These prospects, who are not self-declared buyers, may perceive the initial approach as a nuisance or aggravation.

I get it, cold calls are irritating, even cold calls that executed well; but I would also argue, not for the reason most think and fear. Sure bad calls are bad no matter what, but when done right, the reality is that we are making the prospect face things they have been able to ignore and burry, and avoid dealing with. They know what they have is not just far from not perfect, but not even close to ideal. It is just that they have decided that “the pain of the same is less that the pain of the change”. Initiating that change, the catalyst that leads to action, not just denying or ignoring the issue, may not be pleasant to start.

Those who a) understand that, and b) understand how they will manage the buyer experience, have the greatest success in telephone prospecting. To be successful at cold calls you need to be able to talk to outcomes and changes that will benefit the buyer and deliver the business impacts they are looking to achieve. This starts with understanding what outcomes you have been able to others in similar roles, in similar type of environments.

If you call a small fleet operator and initiate the call peaking about pains and needs they have not acknowledged, your fate is sealed before the first ring. Yet this is what most sales people and pundits go for: pains, needs, problems, (solutions), efficiencies, and all the things that prospects have turned a deaf ear to for years. Instead, you can call and speak to how you can help them get more service calls in a given day, or how you can help them extend the life of their vehicles, and improve their return on assets, or how you can help them reduce fuel costs while allowing them to wear a “green” halo. These are things not tied to pain, but to outcomes, things people are always thinking about, and more willing to hear more about.

The best sellers understand that part of their job description is “disruptive marketing”, which includes the willingness and ability to take an interruption to a conversation, an irritating grain of sand to a pearl.

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A vending machine with the words Buy Apps Here and many app tiles and icons ready to be bought and downloaded to your smart phone, tablet computer or other mobile electronic device

There Is No App For That0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

There is no doubt that we have more tools to choose from in sales than ever.  Making things more interesting are the number of tools and apps available to buyers, and the direct impact that has had on sellers and their craft.  One can argue that the gains available to buyers have more than negated any advantages sellers gained with their adoption of technologies, leaving sellers no further ahead.  Witness the dreadful stats around the number of people in sales making quota, and the even sadder state of affairs when it comes to saas reps and quota.

Technology has definitely stream lined some sales processes, and has automated many tasks that unnecessarily consumed sellers time and energy.  One would think as a result sales productivity would have gained., but clearly not the case.  While we can talk about how and why there has been no or little gain in productivity, the bottom line remains that while we do things “more efficiently”, do them “faster”, and have greater visibility than ever into what is happening; just one thing, there is not that much more happening than before.

Many of the apps have ended up doing things that many reps just refuse to do, even when they have to be done to succeed, or menial tasks, that expensive professional resource are too valuable to have do.  But this concept only works if the freed up time and resources are reapplied to higher value activities which they are not.

Where apps and even social selling cannot help you with is that last inch, that moment where buyer and seller engage, that human to human connection.  In case of commodity sales, be that consumables, toner, nails, IT components, and more, where developments in IoT and other areas, make it easy, in fact more efficient for buyers to leverage tech and apps to keep things humming.  The Amazon Dash Button, will quickly eliminate “sales people” (Well, order takers, social, but no longer required).   This is why it is not surprising that Forrester forecasts 1 million US B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce by 2020, accounting for 20% of the B2B sales force.  Fear not, because someone still has to sell that first button, and for that they’ll need a sales person.

Don’t get me wrong, automation is key, but in most instances, it just levels the playing field, any advantage you are going to have will still come down to how you sell, not how you automate.  For example, I have a client who was able to triple the number of outbound dials by introducing a power dialer, and as a result doubled the number of conversations, and number of conversions to opportunities.  Impressive, but nothing their competitors couldn’t replicate with a similar number of dollars.  The real pay-off was in the investment in the last inch, how his reps handled the call to actually increase the percentage of conversions.  This led to a 30% increase in conversions, leading to a combined impact of 200% increase in engaged opportunities.

Ah, the human factor, there is no app for that.

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Time questions concept as a group of floating clocks and timepieces shaped as a question mark as a metaphor for deadline or business schedule confusion or corporate appointment information as a 3D illustration.

Are You Too Busy to Succeed?8

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

While it may not always seem that way, sales is not that complicated, notwithstanding what pundits and also rans will tell you. That’s not to say it is easy to execute, and we all know that success in sales is all about execution, everything else is just talk, but in terms of complexity, not that much. The size of the deal, or the number of people or moving parts involved, do not make it complex, people who claim to be doing “complex sales”, make complex. Especially when you consider all the tools we have at their disposal than ever not only to reduce complexity, but to get ahead of it, simplifying things even more. What makes it complex is when you leave out things that have to be done for success, and then have to do a whole bunch of things to make up for what you didn’t (want to) do. Like prospecting.

It’s hard to keep a straight face when a rep tells me that they were “too busy to prospect.” Excuse me, too busy to do a core part of your job?

Let’s simplify it here a bit, let me quote an old timer who taught me a bit about sales: “sales come from prospect, and prospects come from appointments” (Or any engagement, live, phone or web). Sure we can dress it up, complicated with a bunch of words borrowed from IT, but I challenge you to show me the flaw in that? The complexity happens when you try to succeed in sales by leaving out one of the above, yup, prospecting. Proactive hands on prospecting, not waiting for “lead?” from someone who like your latest infographic.

Yet regularly sales people tell me they were too busy to prospect. Often these sales people were also too busy to make quota. While many will hide behind customer service, or some other thing that someone else could do much better than them, but if they did, they would have no excuse to not prospect. Like the rep who rather than prospect, drove a $12 part across town to a client, “I am very customer focused”, he told me. I told him so is UBER, and they could have gotten it there for $20, and you could have prospected for new clients needing more $12 parts.

It starts with understanding ALL the things that have to be done during the course of a sale cycle, not just the stuff we like, and then doing them, including prospecting. Say based on you experience, you need to dedicate 10% of your time to prospecting. Given a fifty-hour work week (I know you work so much more), that’s five hours, and hour a day. The best sellers I have met look after the building blocks first. They go into their calendar and block out the time for the winning activities. While actual specific client meetings will be hard to pinpoint in advance, you do know how may meetings a week you will need to succeed based on your conversion rates across the stages of the cycle. Say your number was
eight a week, and your clients are usually a drive away, it is not hard to carve out 16 hours in a week to ensure that when the meeting is secured, you have the “inventory” to fulfill.

Using the example above, if you need an hour of prospecting a day, and your best time to hit your targets is 10:00 am to noon, then go into your calendar today and block an hour a day, you have choice, you can vary it up, but go in there today, and block that time off through to the end of your fiscal year. This will ensure that you have the time needed to get your next opportunity. No matter how good your pipeline looks today, even if you close every opportunity, you will need new opportunities after you celebrate. By blocking off that hour in advance, you will always be prospecting. What I find telling, is that I have never had a rep blow off a client meeting because their pipeline was anemic, and they wanted to make sure that it was healthy again.

Stop making excuses for why you are too busy to succeed, and start making an appointment with success.

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great than

Buy My Crap – Please!0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Many sellers forget just how many sales situations buyers are involved with, most sellers have tunnel vision in the way they view the world, a very narrow tunnel, just big enough for their product to go through. They figure the only other people calling on and selling to the buyer are them and their direct competitors, but it is important to remember that buyers get calls from a range of product peddlers. How any single buyer reacts to you is shaped more by those experiences than a direct response to your approach, if you forget to take that into account, you will fail to make progress.

One of my favourite examples revolves around the most common objection one faces in telephone prospecting, the proverbial rallying cry of the Status Quo: “We’re all set, we’re good thank you!” Those words are just the tip of the iceberg. Just under the surface they are bracing themselves for the assault.

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Sellers forget two things, first is that the purpose of that first call is to get engagement, either in the form of a face to face appointment, or agreement to participate via web tools or phone for non-direct sales. Second, is the likelihood of a prospect making wholesales changes based on an unsolicited call, are slim, and anything that makes the call fall into that category will work against you. If sellers embraced this they would find life much easier and profitable. You first need to “get in”, so you can start selling, no need to worry about the end so early in the game. Yet that is the very trap many sales people fall into, adopting an “all or none” posture that just pisses even the most will participant off.

When most sales people hear that “All set” objection, respond by saying “Well, get rid of that crap, and buy my crap!” Click To Tweet Sure they may not use those words, but that is what the prospect is hearing, as they have heard thousands of times before, from thousands of other also-rans.

You are not going to win if you focus on their current vendor, there is only one path to Nirvana, co-existence. By understanding their objectives, and having a good understanding of how you have helped your current clients achieve similar objectives, you can take the focus off the deliverable or product, and place it on their objectives.

When companies tell me they have a trainer, I don’t knock up against that, instead I focus on adoption. No matter the training the real challenge is having people adopt and change as a result of the training, a frustration for many. Rather than taking the discussion to my offering vs. the incumbent, a losing proposition, I focus on how my methodology (not framework) actually increases adoption of all training introduced by the company. I can co-exist with other providers, even direct competitors, because the issue in not the program, but how much of any training delivered will be evident in six months. Sure I want to replace, but that comes after I get in. To borrow from Lyndon B. Johnson, my variation would be “I’d rather be inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.” Once you have a seat at the table, even at the end of the table, you will be part of the next discussion, and have a chance to take things further.

The reality is that it is often not so much your crap vs. their crap, but how can you make their crap better for the prospect.

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Solstice

Is Sales A Winter Sport?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

This post makes most sense read on Labour Day, on a deck with a cold one in hand, which is where you should be today!

Being that it is Labour Day, and the de facto end of summer, I thought we can take a look at a lighter side of sales while still giving us something to think about without having to think too hard, something many of us in sales are already good at most days.

I’m not a big Shakespeare fan, but one of the things I did like was his use of the environment (skies, landscape, etc.) as tool to accentuate or contrast elements of the plot, or the inner conflicts of characters. Next time between calls, check Macbeth or The Tempest. You can see similar things unfold in sales, or at least those of us observing the drama, often the characters, you the sellers, are too close to see what the audience sees.

More often though, it is more the case that sales people tend to reflect their environment, which is good in the context of a sales meeting, but not when the environment influences their view and execution.

The Tuesday after Labour Day signals the unofficial start of the home stretch for most sellers. This conveniently comes only a few weeks from the Autumn Equinox, (well only here in North America, for our Aussie and southern hemisphere followers it would be the Spring Equinox).

I have always found that the time between the two Equinoxes to be the most productive for sales people. Not just because of the “Year End” or “Start of year” dynamic, but other factors and trends. (Speaking of drama, and Shakespearean predictability, are you braced to see an avalanche of “How to end the year right” posts, quickly followed by “How to start the year right”). An obvious one being the productivity cycle of their market and buyers. There is a natural cycle where businesses are more focused on doing business, less distracted by things like opening the cottage, getting the kids ready for collage, and more.

The Autumn Equinox brings with it shorter and shorter days, less light more darkness; it is dark when you start your day, and dark before it ends, making it easier to focus on the task at hand during day light house. An almost Shakespearean effect of the days narrowing with your opportunity to retire quota. Everything coming to a crescendo with the arrival of the Winter Solstice. While many will run the race right December 31, most will build their efforts to peak days before Christmas. And just as we return to work January 2, new beginnings, fresh opportunities, and longer days, more light, more energy.

Just a crock of sh#t you say, you’re probably right, but how deep do you want to be on the “last” day of summer, with a frosty on a deck?

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Balance concept

Why You Want A Sales Framework Not A Methodology2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

While there are many types of buyers, not just across, but within companies, most sellers and sales organizations deploy one way or method of selling. I still regularly meet sales leaders who say we use “this method” or “that type selling”. This works if you sell one specific product to a single defined buyer, but given the fact that most of us have a varied audience, with multiple interests and drivers, there is great risk to committing to a sales method rather than a sales framework.

Now you may ask what is the difference between a “sales method” and a “sales framework”, if you’re asking you should. Keeping it simple, a framework is a construct, allowing for a logical means of classifying, segmenting, or categorizing things. Whereas a method is rooted in action, a defined way of executing or doing something. It is usually characterised by or as a process, a set of steps, measures, activities, leading to a set of outcomes along the way, and the ultimate outcome of the sale when successfully completed. Breaking it down even further, think of it as the framework as being a noun, while the methodology as being more of a verb. Despite the fact that English is my third language, I have confused the two when I write (as you can often see on this blog), but not when it comes to selling.

A framework, such as Objective Based Selling, gives enterprising sellers, the ability to sell in a specific way to specific buyers, unlike many methodologies that focus on activities, without much thought as to the “Why”. A framework allows you develop and deploy a philosophy to engaging with a buyer in a much more meaningful way than if you just lever a methodology. It allows you to align your point of view with that of the buyer, giving you the flexibility and agility to work with the buyer to achieve their objectives, thus delivering specific business and personal impacts. Where as a methodology, enables you to do things that speak to and resonate with the most common, the most “80%” of the lot, in other words to everyone you think is like me, but necessarily me. Based on the tribe, not me.

While execution is king, and everything else is indeed talk, execution without an outlook or something grounded in a framework aimed at winning customers by helping them achieve objectives, will always leave you short, causing sellers to search for the latest and next (best) methodology. Adopting a methodology without a framework prevents you from fully engaging with buyers, as methodologies lead the conversation to “what” and “how” less often than “why”. Buyers know when they are being engaged in a real dialogue, that helps them to a decision, as opposed to being corralled by a methodology. Best way to avoid that, and expand your ability to engage diverse buyers, is to lead with your framework, and use your methodology to support it. Skipping framework, as many do, leads to lost discussions, lost opportunities and extended cycle times. It is the sales equivalent of “think before you act”.

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target

Priorities vs. Objectives3

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

If you read this blog regularly (and why wouldn’t you), you know that I put a lot of emphasis on understanding and selling to a prospect’s Objectives, a much better area of focus than pains or needs.  One of the positive elements of Objectives is that they are generally long term, and they continuously evolve.  This provides with a number of opportunities to succeed, but it needs to executed right and in the right sequence.

Many sales people I speak to are always in a hurry, looking to short cut things.  You can’t blame them, every time they go “Home”, they are asked, what did you close?  As old as time, the tribe sends out their hunters, and they expect that hunter to come home with a kill, not “progress”, a “next step”, or any intangible gains.  This drives a certain behavior that limits focus on the buyers’ long term, in favour of the seller’s immediate focus of quota.

I recently had a rep tell me that they would rather focus on the prospect’s priorities than their objectives, his reason being that priorities “paid off quicker than anything long term like objectives.”  Well maybe.

Sure you are more likely to have short term gains with helping people with priorities, what they see as their immediate burning issue.  But what I have seen is that priorities, or series of priorities are part of an overall plan, an overarching Objective, eventually success will be measured in not how well you accomplished any given priority on route to the Objective, but how well the Objective was achieved, and did that in turn drive the impacts and results the business was looking for.

Many sales people will opt to service the priorities because working on the whole Objective may take work and time.  After all, the company may not realize their Objectives for some time, but may buy the first piece now.  The challenge with that is that servicing their immediate purchases without aligning it with Objectives will often leave vendors exposed to the next flash or discounter who comes along.  But if you can focus and sell to Objectives, it does not preclude you from servicing some of the steps along the way.

In addition, there is the question of influencing and shaping their Objectives and means of achieving.  It is the familiar posture in sales, one where you would prefer to be a “trusted advisor” rather than a “supplier” or “vendor”.  Keep your focus on what they are trying to achieve and why, not what they need to buy.  There may well be alternative means of achieving their Objectives, ones you can introduce by virtue of being a Subject Matter Expert, picking off smaller projects along the way will not give you that.  As well, if you are not aligned to their Objectives, any vendor who delivers a priority can come along and displace you.  It is also OK to not win every small project along the way, as long as you are the one they look to for validation of the work, and further direction.  The best sales people will win both priorities and Objectives by focusing more on the latter than the former.

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