Return On Objectives #Webinar0

Return On Objectives - Harnessing Objectives to Drive Better Sales Conversations

Learn how to change the sales conversation and who should be having that conversation with!

Presented by  

Join me on March 19, at 3:00 pm Eastern.  

Objective Based Selling looks at how to align the conversation with the buyer’s objectives, and leveraging those objectives to create a better conversation that drives mutual opportunities and success. With changes in the buying and selling dynamic, B2B buyers who are ready to buy are much better informed and more empowered than ever, and unless sellers are that much better prepared they risk being reduced to glorified order takers. Buyers who are not in the market, the so called Status Quo, are more time deprived than ever and are much less susceptible to traditional sales approaches and conversations. Impervious to pains, needs or solutions, a large segment of your market is better able to cocoon themselves from traditional sellers and sales conversations.

The presentation will cover how to take advantage of current realities and present specific ways sellers can successfully approach and engage prospects, but create selling opportunities where others may not see any, and in the process build credibility, expert status, and loyalty with existing and new buyers. Objective based selling is a process based, value driven four plank platform for success in selling to Status Quo buyers, the most overlooked segment of the market:

  • Breaking down “Value” to core components and why people buy
  • Leveraging past experiences – Won, Lost and No Decision deals – 360 Degree Deal View
  • Building a better question
  • Proactive exploration

D & R

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What Do You Sell? – Sales eXchange 2260

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Objectives

Seems like a straight forward question, especially if you are in B2B sales; as easy a lay-up as possible for today’s sellers, right?  But you would be surprised how professional sales people struggle to give a meaningful or useful answer to this question, especially if you measure useful in how well it causes a potential buyer to engage and/or act.  The main reason is that most answers are still anchored in the “product”, and while they may dress it up to sound like “solutions” or other euphemisms, it is usually still beige, and really non-engaging.

Typically I ask this from all groups I work with and over 80% of the time what I hear back are very much the deliverables that their company usually delivers.  I hear hardware, software, applications, blah blah services, etc.  You usually have a few who will say “solutions”, but when pressed for what solutions, many revert back to the comfort of their product or deliverable.  This just  validates that solutions is more a buzz word that the willingness to explore the real problems the buyers is experiencing, or more importantly, what is the perceived problem preventing the buyer from achieving.  While a lot of progress has been made by some, it is still very much that sales people are a solution (defined by marketing or their value proposition) running around the country side looking for a “problem” that fits their solution, rather than being able to help the buyer achieve their objective(s).

The answer to “What do you sell” needs to directly relate to not what the buyer is buying, but what they are trying to achieve with what they buy.

Here is a simple example, assuming a hypothetical buyer need to achieve perfect and identical quarter inch holes, hundreds in multiple places and over a period of years.  When they go to the “store” they are still fixated on the ¼ inch hole, but most sales people want to talk about the drill.  All it’s features, the innovativeness of the engineers who worked on the drill, the ease of use, and the multitude of available attachments, (of which only one could potentially deliver a ¼ inch hole), and more.  The assumption is that the buyer is looking for a drill, the best drill, their drill.  But the buyer is looking for ¼ inch hole, and usually could care less if it is done with a drill, or ice pick, they need a consistent identical whole every time.  But sellers keep talking about what you can do with “it”, not what “it” will do for the buyer.

The answer to the question of what you sell needs to start with what and why the buyer is buying.  Why buyers buy is the key, they are rarely looking for a solutions, they are always looking to achieve an objective, big or small.  Those objectives are in response to perceived risk, financial gain, productivity, time gains, and role defined interests.  But this is just the start, a step many reps have taken, but it is just that a step.

I hear too many reps staying on the surface, using the above categories as complete statements.  Just listen, and you will hear many reps say things like “we deliver efficiencies to workflow, while improving productivity”.  “Our document management solutions reduce costs while enhancing productivity”.  Good starts, but one needs to go deeper to get traction, especially if you are going to try to sell to people who are not looking or have identified a “need” or felt a “pain”.  Without need or pain, the only thing all buyers have in common are objectives, which are not product or solutions based.

Think about the consistently perfect ¼ inch hole, not the perfect drill.

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What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Sales Come Flooding If You Let Them – Sales eXchange 2240

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Truth

No one argues the need to listen in sales, as I have written about here before what you listen for is key. Sometimes it comes down to the question you ask; other time to how well you listen, eliminating distractions and not just listening to the client, but hearing what they are saying.

And while many talk about Active listening, they practice Selective listening; looking for cues to pitch and push their agenda over the buyer’s. Don’t get me wrong, the seller’s primary function is to sell, drive revenue for their company, while delivering value for both the buyer and their company. Key here being mutual value, not ours over the buyer’s, but that’s exactly where many sellers seem to end up.

There is just bad skills and manners, which can be corrected. Where it is really fatal is when the problem is rooted in the intent.

I have been working with a rep who needs help in being a better listener, I have been on a few meetings with the rep over the last couple of weeks, and I swear the rep would make more money if they got $10 for every time they didn’t let the buyer finish a sentence, then the actual commission that may result from the sale (which may not happen because they didn’t shut up long enough to let it happen).

The funny thing is that if you ask the right question, which this rep often did, a lot of truth and selling opportunities will present themselves, but you have to let. Back to intent, if you want to hear how you may maximize your opportunity with buyers, you have to let them tell you, and they will. But if your intent is to sell them something, a very specific something, there is no room for the truth or the buyer’s reality, it may interfere with what you want to sell. So many reps, like the one in question prevent thing from flowing.

The other way this rep and others prevent the truth from flooding, and creating sales, is by failing to get to the root of issues buyers put on the table. Many are good at asking initial questions, but then take the buyer’s initial response at face value and move on. The reality is that people, all of us, “say things”, especially if we have been asked similar questions by a number of sellers in a short span of time. Many responses are a lot like sound bites, and reps settle for that, others take the time to examine the issue from different angles, looking for ways to a) understand what the buyer is really saying; b) to see how they may educate the buyer to better address the buyer’s objectives. Of course the risk is that they may not have the depth for that discussion; their intent is to sell product, not to help clients achieve objectives. And it takes a bit more work than they are willing to do, again, intent; it is easier to cut the prospect off and limit the discussion to those selective facts that you feel you need to make the sale.

Asking the type of questions that get the facts to come flooding, and using that to create clients not only differentiates us from other sellers, but leads to more sales and longer client life cycles than any form of selective listening.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

What’s Your Question? – Sales eXchange 2150

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

iStock_000004159256XSmall

Most would agree that questions are the most powerful weapon; a seller has at their disposal. Yet it is interesting to see how many will either not use them at all, or to their full advantage. As with any weapon, practice is key, not just on the battlefield, but off the field as well, the better you become at the technique the better the outcome for both you and your buyer.

But day after day you see sellers come to play with either the wrong questions, dull questions or just plain stupid questions.

Some questions are so self-serving they leave buyers just depressed and so reluctant to answer, because they know that the “correct”, not the right, answer will just extend a bad selling experience. A couple of weeks ago I had someone trying to sell me a piece of technology that would “just rock my sales”. After a few set up statements, he highlighted the areas that he was claiming his app would help, and then he used one of my most hated forms of question: “Wouldn’t you agree that blah blah blah would be a good thing?” In this case knowing what the prospect was thinking about the presentation. It is a no win situation for the buyer, and everyone knows it. Yes it would be good to know that, but if I pick that obvious answer it does not mean that your app can do it, or more importantly that I want, like or am remotely interested in your app; but if I provide the “correct” answer, I am committing to play the stupid game – or – trap. So I decided to take the less painful route and said no. Which highlights another misuse of questions, no follow up to the “no”; they are all set for the “yes”, because it is the logical answer, but throw in a “no” at the right (wrong) time, and watch the void, in their eyes, sales and pipeline.

This is sadder (funnier) than we think, all it takes is a little practice to know how you will handle any of the potential responses to your question. After all, as sales people we are usually in the advantageous position of asking the first question in most selling situation (if you are not asking the first question 99% of the time, then you are an order taker not a sales person); given that, you should figure out in advance what the answers potentially may be, and then plot a course for each one, except the one where the prospect disqualifies themselves, then just work on replacing them.

People answer the question they are asked, extrapolating that to mean things you “need” them to be can be a mugs game. Avoid this in two simple ways. First make sure that ask a number of validating follow through questions, get to the root of the issues, and don’t just linger at the surface. Second, come at the issue from a number of different angles, things can be interpreted differently by different people based on their views and experiences. By exploring the issue from a few different viewpoints will ensure an understanding, and that you are really working with someone in a position to buy. It may take time and effort up front, but it beats getting one right answer but no sale.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Are You Selling Like A Child?10

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Child with PC asking

Maybe You Should!

When you get to be my age you end up spending a lot of time with adults, full of expectations, bound by ritual, shackled by their habits, blinded by their opinions, limited by their knowledge. So it was refreshing to spend some time with some so five to seven year olds last week. Beyond their energy level, I came to see why kids are the best sales people on the planet.

Once I adjusted for the noise level and energy I began to notice their sales skills come to the fore. First I noticed is that they have little or no inhibitions. They will try anything without stopping to figure out “why not”, they are just happy to have the experience. How many times have you coached a “professional sales rep”, asked them to do something they knew needed to be done to move the sale forward or close it, only to have recite a laundry list of why they can’t do that? Keep in mind that what they are being asked to do is not illegal, immoral, or unethical. In many cases these are the very things their colleagues are executing day in and day out to win deals, and exceed goal. Yet the reps in question will tell you why they can’t or won’t, and sadly, often the reasons are the same no matter the activity, a closed mind that limits only their success. While these kids are willing to try anything, especially when their friends are doing it and having fun in the act. In fact you are more likely to tell them not to do things, and they respond by asking “Why?” every sales person secret weapon word.

I was answering a prospect’s e-mail on my handset, and right a barrage of question, “who you writing, what are you writing, why, why them, what for, what are you gonna get out of it, why now, what are they gonna get out of it, what if you didn’t write them, do you have to answer everything they asked, will you buy me an ice cream with the money you make?”

And a million other questions. Brilliant, so energizing, because it made me have to think, just like questions make your prospect think, it challenges them to look beyond the race that is their day, to thinking about specific things. The questions they asked made me think about what and how I answered the e-mail. Credit for getting the next step I wanted should got to the kids.

One other thing about their questions is that they didn’t give a rat’ what about being politically correct, they just wanted the facts, they were not rude, nasty, or anything negative, just not hung up on all the adult things sales people tend to get hung up on.

They are also great closers, the best man. They know what they want, laser focus, and totally consumed by figuring out what they want and how to get it. Can you say persistent? I remember my oldest son approaching me when he was around seven, trying to get cookies for his brother and he.

“Dad, can Ez and I have a cookie? One or Two”

I had to give him permission for two, how many did your prospect give you?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Is it Ever The Right Time? – Sales eXchange 2083

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Clocks head

If you prospect regularly, a common push back you get from potential buyers is “it’s not a good time”, or “the timing is wrong”, or any variations on that theme.  In some instances it makes sense, calling an accounting firm in the March April timeframe, or a school supply company in August; these are times those companies are busy executing, having made purchase decisions much earlier in the cycle.

With only 15% or so of your market being in play, that is actively out there “buying”, and 70% being in what is commonly called Status Quo, ostensibly not looking, it is a safe bet that 70% of the “time” the timing is not right.  I say ostensibly, because there is a lot of opportunity and buyers to be found in that large group called Status Quo, the fact that they are satisfied with their current state, does not mean they won’t buy, no matter what some pundits tell you.  Satisfied is a long way away from ecstatic; there is a lot of room for improvement and your offering between those two points, don’t settle for satisfied.  The problem is that too many sales people allow the statement about timing to throw them off or give up on an opportunity, not just for themselves, but for the buyer, and by extension the buyer’s company and objectives.

“75% of customers who leave or switch vendors for a competitor, when asked, say they were ‘satisfied or completely satisfied’ with the vendor they left, at the time they switched.”  ‘Customer Loyalty Guaranteed’ Bell & Patterson

What the Status Quo prospect is saying is that they don’t have time to waste on another value proposition, or you history of accomplishments.  They want to know how to move past satisfied, which you could do if you could surface their objectives, and what they feel is in the way.

For those 70% of the time where by definition your timing is “not good”, you need to counter it in a way that acknowledges your understanding of their statement, but allows you to put the onus on them not to prevent that from them taking action.  Left to their own devices, it will never be the right time until it is too late, they go to market, and you are part of a crowd willing to drop their pants and sell at a discount.  Not for you, the time is now.

The simplest and most effective way to do that is to move the discussion off time and on to their objectives.  Understanding why people buy, why they have bought from you and/or your company is key, and one of the great benefits of reviewing all deals, wins, losses, and draws.

You can start and create a gateway by asking “is it ever a good time?  With all the things we have on the go, it is difficult to have time for everything.” Pause, and using the above, and specifics tied to your market and offering, “if you had to create time, and complete the number one item on your list, what would that be?  At the same time, what’s something that you could drop from that list without much impact on your business?”

By listening with an open mind and a blank canvas, you can begin to understand and discuss what their priorities and objectives are, and how you can impact those.  As with most prospecting calls, the goal is to secure an appointment, not to sell, this will put you in a position to assess the opportunity and secure an appointment.  You’ll have a sense as to objectives and current barriers, and how you may add value.

As with most things in sales it is not 100% full proof and is usually done hand in hand with other steps that need to be executed, but it will allow you take a common objection and turn it into a sales call.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Win Tickets to see Tony Robbins in Toronto – July 24!

ROO vs. ROI2

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

ROO

Everyone is familiar with ROI – Return On Investment, sales people love to talk about, buyers (and their CFO’s), love to hear about it, and even more, love to achieve and validate a return on their investment.  But much like solution selling, after the shine wore off a bit, buyers became more hip to ROI discussions, sellers abused the concept, stating high often unattainable numbers that represented the highest ROI achieved by one or a few buyers rather than the average ROI received by most.  Buyers demanded real ROI calculations, not projected best case scenarios, having been jaded by too many flowery ROI projection, and almost as many misses in outcome.   Buyers now expect, no demand, ROI with teeth.

Perhaps a better measure of return, would be to measure the Return On Objectives – ROO.  While it may be true that return on investment may be a more objective measure of success, people are not entirely objective, unless they are Mr. Spock, but he is not people.  We tend to be more subjective, and as most sales people know emotional.

We’ve all seen people make and rationalize questionable decisions and actions, and when it comes to numbers they have all fudged a decimal or two.  When the numbers add up fine, but if there is a gap, if you are not the lowest cost provider, if it may take a three more months to get pay back with your offering than another, you need to bring other factor to help them make the right decision.

People take pride in achieving, in accomplishing what they set out to do, we have all seen people high five all over the place when they successfully realize what they set out to do.  By bringing in the power of ROO, you can get a buyer to stretch and buy the better more costly, and right solution.

If you can help a buyer exceed expectations in ways that go beyond the numbers, you can enhance the perception of the outcome.  Focusing on ROO gets the buyer emotionally invested throughout the cycle.  From information exchange, to closing, to execution.  When they emotionally invested they will work with you in so many more ways, than when it is strictly down to the numbers.  Especially when expectations around those numbers are missed.

The work is in surfacing the real objectives and expectations, working out the gaps and obstacles they face.  As you remove those gaps, or remove hurdles, the client can see progress towards their goal, and get that much more committed.  That is the work in sales.  Executed right, this is much more powerful than focusing on outcomes you have delivered for others, because it is “their” objectives, not someone else’s.

Let’s be clear, you can’t get away from delivering ROI, or having to demonstrate capabilities and past successes, but tying things to their specific objective, and measuring returns on those will give you the unfair advantage you seek.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Sales Immersion (#video)0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Biz TV

We often hear the expression: “Follow the Money”.  Well in sales that pursuit always leads to the buyer and their reality not ours.  To get the most out of sales, you need to immerse yourself in the buyers world, not work on making the opposite happen.

Here is what I mean:

Sales immersion

 

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Effective Telephone Prospecting Tips – Sales eXchange 2023

by Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Child Phone

If you are a sales person who does not use the phone to proactively prospect for potential clients, you may not find this post of interest, on the other hand you may find something to spark you to take up the habit.

As with many things in sales, to successfully engage and move through the process, you need to do some things that are counter intuitive, don’t conform to how you may act or behave in regular circumstances.  But if you’re in sales, you know that selling is not a normal circumstance.

While the numbers vary, there seems to be consensus that communication is:

  • 60% Body language
  • 30% Intonation
  • 10% The words you use

The challenge for those using the phone is that there is no room for body language, (well almost), and with that 60% of their ability to be fully effective is negated.  Unless you compensate for that in some way, you are relying more on luck than anything else.

Most sales people do not take this into account, and in fact approach their prospecting calls as though they were in a face to face meeting, a fatal mistake.

All good selling involves a bit of drama or theater, the telephone as a medium, also lends itself to a bit of theater, when prospecting by phone you need to combine both.  You need to accentuate certain things to make up for the lack of visual.  The logical thing is to put greater focus on the second element, intonation.  Rather than speaking in your normal tone, using words you would use sitting across the desk from someone, you have to make things bigger, be more assertive, descriptive and direct.

Think of the old radio programs, and how they ballooned things for effect, and so must you, especially given that your buyer is getting calls from dozens of other sellers, and that if you are an unscheduled call, their focus and attention is elsewhere, unlike when they have committed the time to at least listen to you in the context of an appointment.  Introduce a bit of drama and effect, use more descriptive words, and accentuate them.  Rather than simply saying we do this or that, say “we have a proven track record of success in delivering double digit growth.”  Get rid of socially expected norms of being polite, rather than saying “I was wondering if we could meet” or “I was hoping…”; say it direct and with conviction.

People have a tendency to rush the prospecting call, which makes it easy for a prospect to go with the flow and the call faster.   Leave greater pauses between words, let the meaning land before moving on, slow down, make you voice deeper.  Ask questions, make them engage, rather than just listen and object.  This is why having a script helps.  Not so much because you will recite the words by heart, but it allows you set the momentum and rhythm that will engage the listener on the other end (assuming the right content and message).

Remember that the lack of body language cuts both ways, while they can’t see you, you can’t see their reaction either, so you have to sharpen you other senses.  My first sales job was telesales, the first things I was taught was that I had to listen for things other than words.  Focus on the breathing, the space between words and sentences, and all the other things that make up for the lack of body language.  In the end, there is more than one element that will help you “give good call”, but if you do not make up for some of the big things, the small things will matter less.

Don’t Forget To Enter The Big Contest!!
See Biz Stone, Seth Godin and others

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Emotion + Risk in Getting Buyers to React and Act! (#video)0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

roller coaster

Today I feature the third excerpt from my discussion with Ago Cluytens, for one his Coaching Masters Series interviews.  Today we look at the roles played risk and emotion in getting buyers to not only react, but act.

In Monday’s clip, I talked about the fact that you don’t need to waste time in waiting for an event to engage with a potential buyer, what you are looking for is the reaction, not the event.  Two things that get reactions every time are risk and emotion.

But while it is true that buyers buy on emotion and the rationalize that decision, it is also true that there are other factors such as risk, stories, sounds, and other factors a seller can leverage to get a buyer to react and more importantly to act.  It is easy to get a ready buyer to react and act, but you need to use many things to get a complacent buyer to engage, react and act.

Take a look:

If you would like to see the entire discussion you can either visit my You Tube channel, or go the Ago’ site by clicking here.  Always open to comments and views.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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