Welcome to The Pipeline.

Talking Sales Strategy – Sales eXecution 2921

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

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Earlier in the month, I was invited to sit in with Executive coach and Sales Coaching Expert Steven Rosen, and Emma Foster of expertise.tv. The questions came from the audience, and as such will hopefully be similar to those areas of sales you are interested in. You can view and excerpt below, and watch the entire program on my You Tube channel.

Have a look, and tell us what you think.

Tibor Shanto

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Looking for More and Better Prospects?0

Who isn’t right!

Webinar Laptop

Well the good news is that over the next couple of weeks I will be participating in two webinars aimed at helping you do just that.

On Thursday April 16, at 1:00 pm Eastern:

I will be part of a webinar with eGrabber, titled: Mastering two key elements of Sales and Prospecting success. Along with Clinton Rozario, we will be looking at the most efficient and effective ways to source leads and then connect with them so you can start selling.

To learn more and register, click here!

Later in the month on

On Thursday April 23, at 1:00 pm Eastern:

I will be joining my friends at DiscoverOrg, and will look at Sales Triggers: Don’t Wait – Create. We all know about trigger events, how they create opportunities, we will look at how to better leverage events, and how to trigger similar reactions without having to wait like everyone else.

If you need new prospects to fill your pipeline with the right opportunities, you should attend these webinars. You learn specific steps you can take, tools that will make you more effective and learn about new developments in helping you succeed in prospecting.

To learn more and register, click here!

Look forward to having you along,
Tibor

Facts Vs. Reality2

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Haa2

The other day at the Sales Performance Summit, fellow presenter, Tim Hurson referenced an old Russian proverb; and I am paraphrasing:

” Nine pregnant women for one month do not make a baby.”

It reminded me a lot of many people in the revenue process. I say revenue process, because people in both sales and marketing say silly things, often causing the loss of revenue instead of enhancing the experience and leading to results.

Having watched many presentations and webinars, you see people falling into the trap of citing a string of unrelated facts that they believe will make for the truth, when in reality, they make for a string of unrelated facts and a loss of credibility with anyone listening.

I had a chance to take in a presentation from an expert making the case for how much things have changed, and that everything is being disrupted, and if you are not disrupting, blah, blah, blah. I mean really, when has that not been the case, just ask the horseshoe maker, and the guy who used to deliver ice blocks for the ice box in your granny’s kitchen. Another example of this intellectual masturbation, is when they cite facts that have been around for ages, as proof of change.

One example this person used was the fact that that over 80% of the companies that made up the Fortune 500 are no longer there. Not entirely true, as many are there in merged or reformed entities. Their argument is that this the fact that it is no longer business as usual, we are in the age of business unusual. Well I am sorry, when has there been a state of business as usual. Walk down any main street and see if the same store dominate as 25 years ago. Seems to me that a whole bunch of banks and investment houses disappeared in 2008, little to do with technology, millennials, or any new trends, same old corruption and rip offs.

The velocity of change has changed, but that change has been balanced on both sides, sellers are keeping up with market evolution and buyers evolving habits, and in many cases shaping and leading them. Same thing causing and allowing buyers to evolve are there also helping the seller evolve, just look at Amazon, Apple, Uber, and others that have led the buyers to do things, rather than the other way around.

As a seller you should take two things from this. Buyers will follow if you make sense. Just because it sounds good, it does not make sense. And if the buyer smell the BS, you’re fried, no matter how interactive or mobile friendly you are.

But they kept going, so let me share. Making the point that 2/3 of searches are now done on mobile devices, they couldn’t resist say that despite the number one search was still for pubs and bars, confirming that while people may change their method of searching to the most convenient and easiest mechanism, the underlining motivation has changed little.

Because it sounds good in a boardroom or focus group, it does not really going to help you sell. Another innovation that was supposed to enlighten us was the movement to benchmarking your company not against you peers, but other industries. Example given, two organization who apparently benchmark their timing/speed, against an F1 pit stop’s time for changing tires, seems they do that now in less than 3 seconds, vs. 67 in 1950, not sure what the point of that was other than ya, it’s faster. Oh what they failed to mention, in 1950 you can only have 4 crew members work on the care, whereas the 2013 example they were comparing it to had 18 crew members hands on car. But the belly laugh came when they told us about how now West Jet is benchmarking their turnaround time on the ground at airports against this. Further that operating rooms are also benchmarking themselves against the F1 pit stop. I don’t know about you, but given that the jet liner is already built on components provided by a lowest cost provider, I somehow wouldn’t mind if the pilot and crew took an extra minute on the ground, and take that walk a little slower to ensure that we don’t crash faster than we did in the 1950’s. Or that the surgeon take a couple of extra minutes before sowing me up. I know time is money, but there is cost to instruments being left in your body, and the cost of retrieving them.

The only purchase that resulted in this was me increasing my coverage to cover the downside of speed surgery.

Tibor Shanto

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There Is More To Leadership Than Leading – #SPS15 Special0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

woman with sketched strong and muscled arms

There is a lot written about leadership in general, and more specifically sales leadership, I have contributed my share to the din. This is a clear indication that no one has really figured it out, if they had the book will have been written, millions of copies sold, and people move past the debate, and focus on the next thing.

One common theme in pieces about leadership is how the leader needs to be involved and leading the process. And while that is true, the nature of that involvement differs based on who you read. I have always been an advocate of “leading from the front, not behind a desk”, and the assumption many take is that this literally means out in front of the troops Napoleon style. But I truly think that the best form of leadership, and means of driving change, the right change, not just change for change sake, anyone can rearrange the furniture and replace the curtains, is to not be part of the action. The best leadership, and I see things through the sales filter, is change that comes about in what appears to be in an organic way, initiated and completed by the sales rep/team, with only partial prints from the leader.

Managing/Coaching sales people, is really an exercise in selling. In a conventional sale we are trying to get the buyer to purchase our “stuff”, as a means of helping them achieve their objectives. Well as a coach, you are trying to get the sales person to integrate and take on your view alongside or instead of their current view or means of executing. That being the case, it really is best approached as a sale itself. As such, you not only have the opportunity to get the rep to buy into the change, but the means by which you do that could itself be a model or at a minimum, reinforce the process.

Everyone buys into the notion that “people don’t want to be sold”, and so you need to create a buying environment. The flaw with that in coaching is twofold. First While people may not want “to be sold”, they often need to be, that’s why we hire sales people. And the fact that the rep took on the job of selling, they have de facto declared that they want to buy, or buying to your process, otherwise, why are they working for you.

So how do we pull this together, simple, much like buyers like to hear things come out their mouth more than the sales reps, even when it was the sales person who choreographed the moment, sales people, especially established, good sales people who need to be taken to the next level, respond to ideas and actions that are their idea, not the managers. Meaning the best thing a manager can do lay down the bread crumbs, and let the rep discover things on their own, and when they do, you can become a resource in their journey to success.

How do you do that, I am old school, put the focus on your sales process. You have one right? Clear stages, specific activities in each stage, objectives, desired outcomes, tools, contingencies, and most importantly, clear reasons to disqualify. Each stage supported by an evolving playbook, and a clear next step go-no go, criteria. If you have this, you’re set to help the rep discover what you want them to, without directly leading them. If you don’t, you can call me and we can get you started.

As a first step, you can join me and my colleagues today for the 2015 Sales Performance Summit, webcast live from Toronto.

Tibor Shanto

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A Chat About Prospecting #BBSradio0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Radio Renbor the pipe

That time again, when Michele Price’ and I get together to talk sales on BREAKTHROUGH radio.  This month we talk prospecting, I know your favourite.

To hear my segment from last week, click on the image below.

Tibor Shanto

Live Cast

Are You Committing This Prospecting Sin? – Sales eXecution 2910

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Chrch candles

The biggest prospecting sin you can commit is not to prospect, but there are many others that are dangerous and can have almost as detrimental effect on your sales success, and more.

The one we’re going to look at today is a common technique used by many, encouraged by pundits is this one:

Your on the phone with a pre-qualified(?) prospect, and you say something to the effect of “I just need 15 minutes of your time…” Or it’s déclassée cousin “I just need 15 short minutes…” I mean really, what is the difference between the two, does the “short minutes” meeting have 50 second minutes, or will it just be that much less torturous?

Frankly this works well if you are selling a commodity, let’s see if the nut fits the bolt, can you deliver on time, and for two cents less. Yes, almost anyone can do that in 15 minutes. But selling something of value, selling “A Solution” that will take more than 15 minutes, no ifs ands or buts.

People use this approach because they feel that it will make it easier for the prospect to accept a 15 minute meeting. Said differently, “I’ll waste 15 minutes on this guy, but not more.” Sure you’re thinking that if you put on a good performance in that first 15 minutes, they’ll give an encore in the form of a further 15 or 30 minutes. Sure, sometimes, not often, usually you try and cram a meeting that properly unfolds in longer time frame into 15 minutes. Instead of initiating a good discovery exchange, most revert to a product pitch, after all “we are pressed for time”, and you can’t risk without presenting your value prop and at least a minimal look at your product. Next thing you know it’s time to try and get that next step, and go. And what is that next step in most cases, the meeting you really wanted in the first place.

So why not gear your call to that to begin with? If you truly have a solution worth having, one that actually solves (solution – solve) an issue they may be having, you know a pain or a need, lead with that, and get the right meeting. But when you say “Just 15 minutes”, it sounds like “please man, I am desperate, do me a solid, be a KPI.” Sure this may work once in a while, usually with the wrong prospect, but if it’s not inside the Bell Curve it’s a Hail Mary.

Like any sin, smoking, illicit activities, being a politician, what have you, there is the momentary pleasure, and lingering dark side. In this case you are starting your relationship, regardless of how far it may go, based on a lie. You know at the time you propose the meeting that you are not being truthful, as do your prospects, the 15 minutes is their insurance policy, “if this guy sucks as badly as I think he may, I can pull the lever after 15 minutes; if by chance he is good, then we’ll see.” Sure this may work once in a while, usually with the wrong prospect, but if it’s not inside the Bell Curve it’s a Hail Mary. I have always been for a separation of church and sales.

Tibor Shanto

Live Cast

You Can Play Nice or You Can Play To Win0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

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There are times when you hit a wall in a given sale or opportunity, where you have some though choices to make: do you walk away, do you take a different approach with the buyer, or do you abandon the person you have been working with and go around or over them.

As interesting as the choices that people make in these situations, what’s even more interesting and noteworthy from a learning standpoint, is why and how the make those choices.

Not a negative, but a reality is that many sales people positive nature and disposition, a ray of sunshine buyers will be drawn to, a “can do” attitude spiced with plenty of optimism. This drives them to look for positive outcomes, which is often different than the right or profitable outcome.

As an interesting side note, according to recent Harvard Business Review article by Steve W. Martin, What Separates the Strongest Salespeople from the Weakest, the best sales people as measured by performance, are in fact inwardly pessimistic. Questioning the buyer, motives, aspects of the sale, etc. This allows them to qualify/disqualify and be more effective sales winners (as opposed to the large group of relationship starved professional visitors who are in sales). While “possibilities” are endless, reality comes down to fewer choices, some harder than the others.

Of the choices above, abandon, change the facts or change horses, most sales people will be most reluctant to changing horses, going around or above the person they have been dealing with. Odd, because it is generally the most effective, both in terms of outcomes and best use of time.

It all hinges on how you view one fact, what are the potential consequences. The most optimistic relation types see negative consequences (now who is pessimistic), they say “If I go around or over them, it may upset the person I am dealing with, and the deal won’t happen”. The best, high performing sales people say “If I stay on the current path, the deal ain’t happening, I need to engage someone who can make it happen”.

One major difference is that the high performers look at it from the perspective of what’s right and best for the buyer and their company; they look at deal, not the people. Most importantly, they look at the situation as being “who else can I engage”, not necessarily going around or over someone. If that’s what you are looking for, that is what you’ll find.

At it’s core the question is a common one in sales, are you reactive or proactive, do you put more faith in hope or action?

It is not a question of the cup being half full or half empty. What differentiates these two types of sales people is that they both see the half glass, they both aspire to have the glass full. One is hoping that being genteel, nice and smiling will hopefully fill the glass. The other group knows they need to take proactive steps to fill the glass.

Tibor Shanto

Live Cast

FREE is A Four Letter Word – Sales eXecution 2900

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Solution

As you may be aware I have the honour of being one of the presenters at this year’s Sales Performance Summit, the event is both live, and being webcast live simultaneously to anyone with a web connection, even the folks on the International Space Station. What I found interesting is the number of people who are questioning the wisdom of charging for the simulcast, many of those questioning us are themselves sales pundits. They point to great content being made available on the web for free; or that the webcast will cut into our live attendance as people can participate from their office and save.

But here is the deal, I believe buyers are smarter than that, tire kickers maybe not. People know value, and they are willing to pay fair value for value received. Much of what is available for free on the web has a hidden cost, usually some form of product promotion or some other offer made during the presentation. Organizers of the Summit have committed to no selling, no hidden cost, just actionable insights for improving Performance Management.

There is nothing wrong with free webinars or web events, I have done them, and will do them in the future. Everyone knows what they are signing up for, and in my case, can’t speak for others, I always make sure that there are some specific take aways, both in terms of steps or things attendees can do to improve their sales, and or tools they can use over and above whatever product the sponsor may offer.

I remember working with a global brand, one specifically known for their selling prowess and power. As we got down to the short strokes, the buyer, a director of Sales Productivity, asked me to offer the initial session free, this would allow them to assess how to roll it out to other geographies, a show of good faith on my part. I pointed out that my mortgage holder offered no such sign of good faith for having my mortgage.

To make his point, he told me that another provider delivering a different program is doing a “pilot” for free. I pointed out that I do not set pricing for them, but I do for Renbor, and the price quoted was fair value. He asked why I would suppose that the other party would be willing to do that: “Maybe they want my business more and are willing to show this gesture?” I offered, “Maybe they know what their stuff was worth”. We went back and forth, and I finally said “OK, if I do it free, and when we get around to price and negotiations, and your team asks me how to handle it, I will tell them do what I do, give it away free. Or we can come to a mutually fair price point and I can share with them how to not get bullied on price” I am not sure what he like less, being called a bully or having to pay for the program.

There are three things you need to have in place to avoid the price or free trap:

  • Understand real value you bring to the buyer’s objectives
  • Be able to articulate, demonstrate and validate that you have helped other buyers achieve those objectives, and that they were able to attain a measurable ROI at your full price. This takes work and a deep understanding of the buyers objectives, their process of achieving those objectives, and barriers that have prevented them for getting there that you have successfully broken down
  • This is the hardest, have enough of a prospect base where you have the ability to turn away from bad deals. Without that, you’ll be able to rationalize any price, even the absence of one. Want to win the price game, learn to prospect.

Remember free is a four latter word, one that begins with the letter F to boot!

Tibor Shanto

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You Can’t “Just Call It In” To Win In Cold Calling3

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Calling it in

Having trained hundreds of sales people in effective telephone prospecting, I have witnessed a number of recurring patterns which impact success, both negatively and positively. One key to success is being present and in the call, not “just calling it in”.

Coming out of the training most will apply what they learned quit literally, almost religiously. They are attentive to details, complying with what the process dictates, to the point where they are rigid, almost unnatural. But as a result of putting a structured and proven approach into practice, they usually have a measure of success, meaning more appointments, more returned voice mails, more confidence in facing objections, and usually a big boost to their confidence. It is this increased confidence that puts them at a fork in the road, one path leading to ongoing and growing success, the other back to where they started, if not worse.

Some begin to evolve the process and the technique, introducing their own style without changing the core approach. This allows them to be more conversational, more relaxed casual, more themselves, making the whole experience much more engaging for both the buyer and themselves. This in turn delivers even better results, and encourages reps with the right attitude and work ethic to continuously improve, evolve, and advance both the quality and quantity of their pipelines and sales.

The majority however, travel the other path. They take their initial success and interpret it differently. They see success, revel in it, and take their foot off the gas and their eyes off the ball. They see improvement as an event, not as a process. You can hear it in the way they execute the call, you can see it in their posture and body language. They become complacent and mechanical, believing the momentum will maintain itself, even believing that it will continue it the same trajectory without further effort.

Even as they pick up the phone and dial, it is clear they are not really present, the call is one of a number of things they are doing, whether it’s reading the newspaper, updating their status (even though I would bet they are not present enough to know what their status is), they begin to live a routine, instead of driving the process. They are literally “calling it in”.
Cold calling is like any other skill, it needs to be practiced and executed in the moment, atrophy will quickly set in, and before you know it, you are just going through the motions. Any progress made will quickly be reclaimed by mediocrity.

Doing it, is not the same as executing, and evolving. This is one of the reasons people fail at cold calling, because like most things worth doing, it takes effort and commitment to master and evolve. I think people do not like cold calling because it does require effort, it demands that you to commit and be present every day, every time you pick up the phone. Making a professional cold call is very different from just “call it in”.

Tibor Shanto

Live sold out

Getting More Out Of Your Selling Time – Sales eXecution 2892

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

collo papillon  camicia

24 hours is all any one of us get each day, how we choose to spend that time will determine our success.

In the past I have written and spoken about the importance focusing on time allocation and utilisation, and not worrying about time management. One key element on my approach is to allocate time to all high-value activities. While most understand the concept when it comes to basic, yet high-value activities like prospecting, admin, etc. Things that are there, have specific actions, desired outcomes, and some degree of measurability. Many have difficulty when it comes to more abstract things that do very much require that we spend time on them, but lack the shape a definition of say, prospecting, spherically like unplanned emergencies and planning.

One of the things you can bank on in sales is that there will be demands on your time that you will not be in control of, but you will need to concede to if you are going to win or maintain customers. There will always be client emergencies that will require you to drop whatever you are doing in order to deal with it, we all have to fight fires. Some sales people are good at see fires where there is no smoke as a way of avoiding things they don’t like to do, like cold calling.

But when a real fire come you have to deal with it. The challenge is you can’t predict when it will come, but you can, no ifs, and or buts, predict how much of your time in a given month will be required to deal with real fires. Just look at the last six months and you have a clear indicator moving forward. I have always counseled reps to set aside that much time in their calendars, so when it comes, it will not force them to not do some other important thing.

This is where the challenge comes in, say a rep saw that 4 hours a week were consumed by fires over the last year, and they set aside four hours a week moving forward, what do they do with that time if in fact the fire does not come? We all know how to use it when it materializes, but as one rep asked, “do I just sit around and wait when it does not come, especially when I have scheduled it?”

The answer is simple, what is your highest value activity. What is the one activity that always pays off, and the more of it you do, the better you are set to succeed. Is it prospecting, working referrals, upselling current clients, you know better than I what it is for you. If you find that in a given week not all the time you set aside for fires is utilised, simply reinvest that time in your highest value activity. Don’t be like those shmucks who figure they have free time to grab a coffee, or sit by your phone waiting for it to ring. Reinvest in your highest value activity. For me it is prospecting. No fire, I dial. Allowing me to get more out of my selling time.

Tibor Shanto

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