The 3 Legs of Sales Success0

By Tibor Shanto -

Stool Success

As you finalise your 2014 sales plans, it is good idea to review and commit to some of the basics. Some of these may not be fashionable, on the other hand nothing is more fashionable in sales than exceeding quota.

As with many endeavours, we sometime focus too much effort on style and take our eyes of the fundamentals. As Michael Jordan once said:

“…You have to monitor your fundamentals constantly because the only thing that changes will be your attention to them”

While the framework for the fundamentals are process and quality of execution, the key fundamentals that we need to continuous focus on regardless of methodology or approach are:

  • Size of Sale (or order)
  • Volume of Sales
  • Price integrity

Size of Sale – Refers to the specific size of the order, specifically in two forms. One is the result of the type of prospects you pursue; if you are selling stuff measured in units, the larger the target company, the more units they will require. Since in most instances, the effort required to sell a $50 million dollar/40 employee company, is often not that different than selling a $100 million/100 employee company, why not focus on the larger end of the scale. A variation on this is a recent example from a company I worked with. They found that of the three batteries they sold, the mid-range one was the best product/value for the price, for both the customers and them, but people tended to opt for the entry level battery. They discontinued offering the bottom end, their unit sales did not decline, and their revenue and margins increased.

It is no different if you are selling services, if you target companies that can ‘consume’ more of what you sell, you will sell more by avoiding those who consume less. Since the time you have to make the sales does not change, why not target those opportunities that can give you size or scale. You can always go down stream once you have sold the ideal size first.

Volume of Sales – this is different than the first point, it goes more to how many sales you get irrespective of size. If right now you are doing four deals a month, and were to increase that to say 4 ½ deals per month, you would move to 54 sales a year, a 12% increase. Even if you have a long cycle, big ticket, say only six sales a year, increase it to 7, may not sound like much, but.

This involves better use of time, primarily through the discipline of disqualifying those opportunities that will not close now, they may close a year from now or even in the summer, just not now. This is where your process gives you the confidence to say no, rather than spending time to try and get a yes where one does not exist. Like the old gold rush 49ers, the quicker they got rid of the sand and stones, the quicker they got to the gold, increasing their daily take. Get rid of the crap in your pipeline, and you’ll work with more gold.

Price Integrity – as straight forward as it gets, the less we concede the more we succeed. Resist the temptation to “give a good price to get in”, because you will never recover.

As you evaluate your opportunities, it is important to consider how any or all of the above can be leveraged to deliver better and consistent results, and how misalignment can be detrimental to success.

With all of the above methodology and improved execution will help you sell more to more of the right people, but merely adopting a methodology without target one of the three elements above is not enough. You may want to start by targeting one, or better yet explore opportunities that allow you to move the dial on all. We use a simple matrix allowing clients to plot opportunities based on these elements with the added element of time. This allows them to visualize and focus on the right number of highest value opportunities sold at full price.

Everything we do in sales should have a positive impact on one or all of those three elements. It is when we take our eyes off these fundamentals, that the level of effort, training, coach or other initiatives, will always be greater than the results. The start of the year, (quarter, month, day) is a good time to refocus.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


Do You Really Need/Want a Shorter Sales Cycle?4

By Tibor


Shorter sales cycles are one of those things that come up in many discussions with sales and corporate leaders.  When I ask them what specific improvements they would like to see 18 to 24 months out, a shorter cycle is usually one.

While I get it, there is more to the question than many have given serious and productive thought to. First, there is little agreement in and across sales organization as to what constitutes a sales cycle. Some will measure it from their initial attempt to engage with a buyer, some from initial contact, others will measure from the time they are able to get their first next step to close; it’s all over the place. Right off the top what you measure will dictate the length of the cycle; the same sale will be “longer” for the first group than the last. The length of a cycle should not vary based on the eye of the beholder, there should at least in the same organization be agreement of where it begins and ends.   While this sounds straight forward, just go and ask three sales people in your organization.

Not saying it is definitive, but for the remainder of this piece, I measure the CONTINUOS cycle from initial hand shake to close. I say continuous because there are many instances where I contact or engage with a potential buyer, but am unable to take things through to the end. The deal either dies mid way, or after an initial meeting the time is not right for one or both of us, etc.  Often, a few months later I will reengage with the same buyer and take him through to close.  The cycle would be that second round, which was continuous.  The rest of the time and effort for me is prospecting and nurturing, not active selling.  Semantics, to a degree, and that is why it is important to settle on a definition for your company and then stick to it so you can begin to make improvements.

Once you do settle on the points to measure, you can look at shortening it, there are a number of ways, I did a piece a few years back on “How to Shorten Your Sales Cycle”, and there are other ways you can find from many pundits.  While getting to the shortest cycle possible is a worthwhile endeavour, you have to ensure that it is a productive one.  Many spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to shorten the cycle, almost making that the objective as opposed to just an element of success, which ultimately is delivering the revenue targets.

There is a point that is optimal, meaning any time and energy spent on further reducing the cycle is wasted, and distracts from the real goal.  Yes, there is merit to the thinking that if we can shorten the cycle we can sell more, but the reality is that every sale and seller will find the point where it is the RIGHT length of cycle; a point beyond which it can’t get any shorter without damaging the sales, the state of the pipeline, and your success.  Based on what you sell, your strengths and challenges, this could be 12 months, six months or two weeks, but there is that point that constitutes the shortest time in which you can deliver a sale with maximum and consistent results; a point beyond which it does not get better.

It will take a bit of effort at first as it involves two specific routines.  First you’ll need to go back and look at the last 20 – 25 deals you did and measure the cycle (as defined above), and then look at the average length.  If you sell multiple offerings with different buyers and attributes, you may have to do this for all lines.  The idea is not to get too granular, but to have a measure for the typical sale.  Second, you will need to start reviewing and analysing all your sales.  (You can access a worksheet here) The ones you win, to see where there is commonality and opportunities to shorted, or just to validate that you are still at the right length.  Don’t forget to review your losses as well, there could be lessons there as well, not just for length of cycle (maybe you rushed some sales), or there could be realistic adjustments that can turn a loss to a win.  Those who tell you to just analyse wins are just setting you up to be blindsided.

Many leaders continue to believe that if you keep at it, you will be able to increase velocity in the sale,  this is not always true and is a view which brings a real risk because it is centred around the seller’s need to sell, not on the buyer’s reason for buying.  While this may not be important when you are selling to willing and active buyers, those who have done their research, and are shopping (price shopping), and have evaluate you and your product in that light before ever contacting you.  But if you are pursuing buyers who are not actively looking, you risk building velocity and leaving the buyer and the sale behind.  This may numerically bring down the length of your average cycle, allowing you to pick up some sales faster, but also causes you to lose some potential sales because you rushed the process, coming out behind in the long run as a result.

I don’t want to discourage you from exploring ways to be more productive and time efficient in selling.  As new technologies are introduced, as markets evolve, or other factors kick in, there may in fact be an opportunity to achieve gains.  But you need to ensure that these gains are attainable and how.  There two keys to doing this right, one is the review process discussed above, and the corresponding adjustments that will result.  The other is don’t hesitate to experiment, if what you are doing now is not getting you what you want, try something new, beyond the current norm.  Even if it does not reduce the cycle, but helps you sell better in other ways, experimenting is a great way to change and improve. Not only the way to sell, but the cycle and the outcome.  Experimenting is a better waste of time than time spent shaving one day off a three month cycle.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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You Should Lead With Price – Sales eXchange 2072

By Tibor


If sales were presented as a play, the typical flow would seem to be: segment, identify, qualify, engage, discovery, gain commitment, negotiate and close. Somewhere towards the latter part of “gain commitment” and “negotiate”, the issue of price becomes central to the plot, in fact with some sellers “negotiate” is really just a code word for “price haggling”.  This would explain why so many sales these days are won or lost on price, especially when “discovery” is rushed or executed in a cookie-cutter way.

The plan (I guess), is build value (place your methodology here, ours is good too), and align to price. The frustration for many is that they may not know the relative role of price till late in the game, especially when there is a low cost provider in the mix.  Wouldn’t it be better if you could learn if price will be the breaking factor much earlier in the play?

That’s the catch 22 of selling I guess, if you don’t build value you can’t justify or rationalize the price; on the other hand, you could spend time and energy building value and be defeated by price. What’s a seller to do?

Well, why not lead with price?

Counter-intuitive, maybe? Risky? Could be, but most things worth archiving involve a level of risk.  The opportunity and skill is in managing the risk and finding the balance where calculated risk consistently rewards the risk taker.

This is not to say that your meetings should start:

“Hi I am George, with ACME Solutions, the price is $42,000, plus 20% annual maintenance fee, ready to go?”

But there may be merit to putting price front and centre much earlier in the process. There is an element of this accepted, if not always executed, by many sellers in the form of exploring budget; in terms of its existence, availability, control and commitment.   But budget is different than price, how many times have you been able to check all the tick marks around budget but still lose on price?

But what if we did introduce process earlier?  The reality in many instances, the price is based on some formula, be it unit based or other elements, and sellers have a sense of what a deal is worth early in the play.  Before you protest the last statement in an effort to seem above the fray, go look at yours or any other forecast.  So why not put it on the table, and make it a way of introducing, driving and accelerating the value discussion.  After all, if they object to the price at that point you can get to the heart of the matter by asking them what they base their remarks on.  It is a great way to go to the real value discussion.  As both price and value are relative, you can find out what they see as value in their reaction to the price.

You can then use all the tools and techniques you would normally use to build value, but this time it can be much more collaborative.  The key is not think of it as defending the price, but as a mutual and collaborative value definition.  In the course of executing it, you can uncover objectives, separate needs from wants and a range of other things that make for a successful sale.  All without the suspense of the traditional ending.

As with most things in sales, we can stick to the same old, or so called fresh techniques that are the same old in new packaging.  Or you can try something that will not only differentiate you, the way you sell, and most importantly the outcome.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Dude, You’re Gonna Need More Than 15 Minutes3

By Tibor Shanto –

Just 15 minutes

Sales people are constantly working at communicating value to their buyers, especially in the early stages of the cycle, lead gen to prospecting and engaging the buyer to where they could complete an effective Discovery process.   After sellers have done all the work involved in getting to the point where they can engage with a buyer, I am always surprised at how easily they are willing to undermine it, and risk their opportunity by saying something completely unnecessary, and serves only to sooth their nerves.

The expression that does this most is “I just need 15 minutes of your time” or “A quick 15 minutes”.  Both are stupid and useless, the second is one I never did get, how is a “quick 15 minutes” different than 15 minutes, don’t all minutes have 60 seconds, it is just the quality of the content that seems to make some minutes last a lifetime.

I know why it is used, generally comes down to two things, both can be dealt with more intelligently and effectively.  First is the popular notion that if you can get 15 minutes, and do well, they’ll give you an encore and you can stretch it out; I guess we all think we can do a good job.  On the other hand I used to work for a VP of Sales who managed his calendar down to the minute, busy guy.  He would ask you how long you needed, and would book you in for that time, if you said 15 minutes, he would end the meeting right at 15 minutes.  He wasn’t rude, he had to get to his next scheduled meeting, if you couldn’t live up to the expectation I set, it was your issue, not his, you had to deal with it, not him.

Which brings us to the first contradiction, most decision makers have more than what to do in a day, how realistic is that they don’t have other meetings behind your, or other things that require their time and attention.  Yes, no doubt we have all had instances where we were able to extend 15 minutes in to 45 or even 60 minutes, but an occasional anomaly does not make for a sound strategy.

The other issue with this approach is that you are in fact misleading the prospect before you have even met them.  Think about it, do you really want to start things off by lying to the prospective buyer?  Any way you rationalize it, that is exactly what you are doing, not a good foundation for a trust based relationship.

The second reason sales people do this is linked to the first, and just as weak.  Specifically they are trying to minimize the apparent impact on the buyer, trying to make it “easy” on them, “Your time will not be wasted”, is the implication.  But unless you are selling a coffee service or window cleaning, how much real or tangible value can you effectively communicate.  More so, when you are selling what you would call a “solution”, where information has to be exchanged, 15 minutes is not going to get you there, you can pretend all you want, you are going to pitch, worse, you are going to ‘speed pitch’.

Some will tell me, “I can at least get things started”, sure then comeback and continue, with a bit of recapping, you are costing you and the buyer more time.  By asking for 15 minutes you are undermining your  so called “value proposition”.  What the prospect hears is that this is so basic and unimportant, what they are asking themselves is as follows: “we’re going to make real progress in 15, can’t be that important or unique, maybe it can wait, or I can delegate it to someone who deals with unimportant things.”

Think about it, assuming things get started, small talk, while you assume they checked out your web site, you have to validate; if they did, you still need to create context, if they didn’t you have to do a bit more than that.  From here, you need to at least go through the motions of gather information or executing a Discovery of facts and objective. Ah, look at that time is up!  I remember someone trying to sell me an ad in local board of trade directory, they said they just need 15 minutes, I pointed out to him that he will need to ask me some questions, I will certainly have some for him, so let’s get real, how much time will we really need, he was honest enough to come across with a real time frame.

What’s worse, it is usually the seller who brings time in to the equation, not the prospect, again communicating a lack of confidence in their offering, or their ability to sell, or both.  Just stop this juvenile practice, and sell.

Now I know that there times when you will be asked by a prospect how much time you need; in my case I gear my first meetings to about an hour, I am the one that gets antsy after 50 minutes.  But rather than saying “one hour”, I pause, and ask, “how long can you give me?”  They usually come back and say “is an hour enough?”  Touch down!

But assuming they ask again, I just say “I usually need about 30 minutes for Discovery, I assume you’ll have some questions, so 40 minutes is safe.”  If I feel they have a sense of humor, I add “any longer than that I take as interest on your part.”

I do have people who say “I can give you 30 minutes.”  Great I can work with that; if they offer 15 minutes, I say no, I know what is going to happen, it is not a good use of my time, my most important resource.  Either we can find a mutually better time, or on to the next one.  If you have lots of prospects, this is not an issue, if you only have one or two, you may have to settle for the scraps that a quick 15 minutes represent.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Impact Questions – Sales eXchange 1870

By Tibor

Impact Question

Back in the 80′s or maybe even earlier, the purveyors of Consultative Selling, put a lot of emphasis on Open Ended Questions, for all the right reasons. It took some effort and focus to get sales people to adopt this style of interaction, especially after years of pitching and doing things the traditional (old) way.

Many sales people had difficulty being comfortable and effective in the vast openness provided by this style of questions. It was difficult to fight the urge to regress to their previous comfort zones, many sellers had to be continuously managed to adopt the new more effective question based selling.

One practice was to paint closed ended questions as being inferior, substandard, in those days, even communist in nature; may sound extreme, but in reality, closed ended question were uniformly vilified.  In fact the pendulum swung so far that closed ended question were just plain bad.  Today, in many workshops, you still hear people demonizing closed ended questions.

Well I am here to tell you that there are no such things as bad questions. There are very few if any absolutes in sales.  It’s more accurate to look at how appropriate a question is for a given circumstance.  If you look at questions as tools of the trade, there is no such thing as one tool fits all; there may be tools that are appropriate to various tasks, others may be useful less often
Which is why I am here to say that the much maligned closed ended question does have a place in B2B selling in 2013; hell I’ll go further to say it has a place in Sales 2.0 and/or Social Selling.  It is about the situation, what is the desired outcome, and what the next step needs to be from both parties perspectives.

Given the above there are regular occurrences in sales where closed ended question makes perfect sense. So I am on a mission to reintroduce this tool to your sales tool kit. A few years ago Timberlake made it his goal to being Sexy Back, so I am advocating the same for closed ended questions (although I am certain they will never be sexy, but the positive results delivered may be).

I am calling the updated version Impact Questions, a marketing friend told me that one needs to rebrand for re-launch; change the name and you change focus from potential negative connotations.

Let’s face it, there are times when you do want to focus things, narrow down the possibilities. Often you want close things off so you can move the process forward, or to realize that there is no forward to move to with a prospect and it may be time to move to the next opportunity.

During a cold call, oops, prospecting call, (need to be politically correct), open ended questions can take you off track; a question that works well in a sales call can be negative during a prospecting call.  There are other times when you do want a clear one or the other, a yes or a no.  It comes down to how the response serves the purpose.  What is the impact of the answer, and how that answer impacts the outcome.  For example, when I ask someone I called the first time if they “have ever worked with a third party trainer like Renbor?”, either answer serves to move the process forward, and could prove to be a benefit for both.  Rather than using a series of open ended questions to arrive at the same point, a simple impact question focuses bith the prospect and I on the same critical turning point.

So know where you are trying to go, know how you can help a prospect or a customer, then ask the Impact Question, and deal with the impact, not whether it is open ended, closed ended, or some other ended, work to achieve positive impact for the buyer and yourself.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Who Is a Better Closer? – Sales eXchange 17946

Don’t look around in your office for the answer, look at your prospects.

Who is a better closer, you or the buyer you are facing?  In most cases the argument can easily be made that the buyer is a better closer.  In more cases than not, they end up achieving their objective more than you do.

In the case of active buyers, those in the market, reaching out directly to sellers, or actively seeking input from their peer network; or passive buyers – those buyers who are not actively looking but are no longer happy with their current situation, making entrees into the market, searching the web for “what’s out there”.  The buyers are usually the better closers, simply by closing you on the fact that they have other options, and unless things are done entirely on their terms, you’ll lose the deal.  The more one capitulates here, the clearer it becomes that the buyer is closing the seller on the deal they want.  Discounting is an issue in most verticals, either you close the buyer on the value you deliver, or they close you on what you have to surrender to win the deal.

In circumstances where there is no deal, either because the buyer bought from someone else, or decided not to make a decision, again the buyer was the better closer because they closed themselves on not buying, where the seller was not able to close them on buying.  Assuming you were truly convinced that they had a need, and you qualified them, and they didn’t buy, they were the better closer.

Where sellers seems to be much better closers are with those buyers commonly called as status quo.  Where the seller was able to engage in a proper manner, meaning not waiting around to be found by someone with preconceived ideas and price points, but engaged as two peers around a common opportunity.  This involves a proactive approach by the seller, doing the research as to who is in a position to benefit from their offering and engaging with them as a potential means of achieving objectives, not as a latter part of a buying process that started long before the seller was aware.  Where the seller takes the initiative rather than the buyer, the odds are much more even.

The reason for this is obvious but often overlooked.  In the end, it is not about the close but everything that precedes it.  All the elements of the EDGE Process; beyond the research, it is the prospecting Engage long before the buyer goes to market; the Discovery to help confirm the buyer’s objectives, and build value through a collaborative process that encourages the buyer to be part of the process – and part of the outcome.  Leading to the point where you Gain commitment based on the mutual definition of value, and then of course Execute together with the buyer.

The ability to change the focus from close to outcome allows you to help more clients close on you.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Are You Qualifying for Budget or Out Of A Sale?77

Many people involved in sales seem to be fixated with budget; they want to qualify for it way to early in the process.  I know it is important, but you maybe disqualifying perfectly good buyers for the wrong reason.

Your job in sales is to well, sell, which means identifying requirements or gaps in the prospect’s current situation.  But most, about 75% of potential buyers, don’t know, realize or admit they have requirements or gaps, remember – status quo is your biggest hurdle.  So if they don’t perceive a need, they don’t see a need to allocate budget.  This does not mean that they don’t in fact could benefit from your product, but they have lived with the pain long enough, or on the positive side they didn’t realize they could achieve their goals by taking advantage of your offering.  Ask this type of person about budget too early, and you will end up disqualifying a perfectly good buyer.

If you are talking to the right people in the right way, budget is very much an issue that can be (at times easily) overcome.  Consider these examples, have you ever walked into an electronics store looking to buy a flat screen, you know what you had in mind, you encountered a clerk who “qualified you”?  They asked a bunch of questions, including budget, and then showed you two or three products that fit what you described.  Contrast that with the time I walked into an electronics store, with a specific flat screen in mind, shopped it on line in advance so I had a budget in mind, but I encountered a different sales person.  She asked me why I was buying the TV, had I had a flat screen before?  What type of things would I be watching?  She then continued to ask if I what kind of DVD player I had, telling me about Blue Ray, asked if stream from the web, and of course since I told her I watch music DVD’s, what was I using to maximize the sonic experience.  When all was said and done, I had exceeded my flat screen budget by $250, or 20%; in addition I became the proud owner of an unbudgeted Blue ray player, decided to give my inadequate home theater system to the kids, how else was I going to make room for the new one.

You can say I was an impulse buyer, I would argue that I was maximizing my investment in my enhanced flat screen.  Either way there is no arguing that rather than qualifying me for budget, she qualified me for what I was trying to achieve and how to best maximize that over the life of my new Smart TV.

Corporate buyers are no different, the higher you go in the organization, the truer this is.  Executives are able to create budget, able to shift funds around, and make a buy based on a host of factors beyond budget.  I have many clients who did not have budget for training when I cold called them, but after we engaged, and I demonstrated how their investment in what I do will deliver results and returns that will exceed their investment, and justify an unbudgeted expenditure.

Executives want, no need, to make a difference, show them how you can do that and you will find a person motivated to make things happen.  Show them that you primary interest is their ability to spend, and even those with budget will self-disqualify.  It’s about engagement and investment – not budget.  Go ahead, qualify someone for a better competitor.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

‘Why Not’, Not Why83

Sales people are aware that their biggest competitor in the market is complacency, the lack of the buyer willingness to change, the status quo. Change is hard; it involves time, effort, and the need to overcome the fear of the unknown.  This is why even when things are not perfect, visibly not meeting expectations, buyers will stick with less than they deserve, fear is a strong emotion.

Add to this the fact that sellers are already predisposed to the view that people buy based on emotions, which they then rationalize.  As stated above fear is an emotion, and as a result sellers are up against the dynamic that buyer feel a strong reaction to a strong emotion, one that keeps buyers spending a lot of time rationalizing why they do not need to change, why they can “make due” rather than risk change.

This triggers two common approaches in sales and marketing types.  The first, probably the most common, and well disguised when presented by the guru community, never quiet expressed as this, but essentially: “wait till something changes, then pounce”.  To which I say, there is no sales metric for waiting, do you know why, because it is not your job to wait, it is your job to sales happen.

The second, a bit more logical, is to try to minimize the fear and risk associated with changing (to your product), by putting a lot of effort into proving why your offering is better, safer, and economically more sound that the buyer’s current circumstance.  Unfortunately in the process we are pushing up against the buyer’s safety zone, heightening their fear of the unknown.  Every feature and benefit we recite causes them to cling more firmly to the safety of the status quo. We unintentionally work against ourselves.

Given all this, why not turn you efforts to undermining where they are now?  Rather than trying to entice them to go where you want them to go, introduce some doubt and uncertainty into where they are now, and where their current path will lead them.  The one emotion that is worse than the fear of the unknown is the fear of the known. If I can focus the discussion on why the current situation is untenable, why if they left it unaddressed it will bring exposure, the discussion turns to how to avoid that, rather than avoiding the risk of change, the unknown.

If you know how to articulate why your product is truly better for the buyer, what the benefits are, financial, productivity, time advantage, etc., then you have the speaking points you’ll need to turn the table.  Use that knowledge to develop the type of questions that drive the discussion to WHY NOT for the status quo, rather than WHY change.  Your why is the safe alternative to the why not.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

A Sales Association #Webinar31

“Leveraging Value from Engaging the Buyer to Closing the Sale” – A Sales Association Webinar
Tuesday, October 30 – 2 p.m. EST / 1 p.m. CST / Noon MST / 11 a.m. PST (1 hour in length)

On Tuesday October 30, I have the privilege to deliver a webinar for The Sales Association – I will be talking to specific steps sellers can take to delivering and leveraging value throughout the sale.

Almost every conversation about selling starts or ends with the concept of value. At the same time, there are as many different understandings and definitions of value as there are sellers and buyers. Without a clear and actionable definition of value, many conversations between buyers and sellers are less than effective, and do not help create a buy.

Starting with a clear definition of value, participants will learn the five-step process to leveraging value throughout the sale, from the initial engagement to winning the client.

Steps include:

  • Identifying and validating buyer’s objectives
  • Understanding why buyers really buy
  • Why Buyers buy and don’t buy from you and your company
  • Converting the above to Impact Questions for quality conversations
  • A structured follow-through approach to maximize impact and progress

Participants will learn how to use this process to create alignment with the buyer, their objectives and buying process.

Click Her to Register Now!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Z to A – Sales eXchange 17042

Today I have a bunch of things to do, so we’ll make things short, sweet and to the point, I need to prioritize and maximize my time.  Coincidentally, the point of the post is about improving the results of your prioritization process, extending the return on effort.

We have all heard the expression “practice makes perfect”, there is no debate that doing something repeatedly, will help you do it better if not perfect.  This is great as long as you are doing the right thing, or doing something the right way; perfecting a bad practice is not that good no matter how perfect you make it.

Forget for a moment how you prioritize your target competitive accounts, there are a number of methods you can use to make sure you are pursuing the right opportunities, based on your specific criteria and measures.  It is what happens once that list is complete that I want to focus on.  Change this one thing now, and you’ll close the year strong and set yourself up for 2013.

10% of sellers, will take the resulting list, put their Amazing Kreskin hat on, and proceed to second guess their work, and divine using their mystic powers who they should call, in reality who they should not call, and why, amazing powers I’ve yet to master; but I have made my numbers, where many of these psychic sellers do not.

Another 15% – 20%, will do the right thing, and pursue the best opportunities first; start with the A’s,  B’s second, and C’s last.  Apportioning 50% of their prospecting time to the A’s, B’s 30%, C’s 20%.  Some will add a filter to make sure that the A’s represent the highest value, and greatest probability for closing.

The rest of the sellers will hit the list in alphabetical order, the way they are spit out is the way they will work the list.  I am not going to change that here, but let me make a suggestion, start at the back of the list, start with the Z’s, they have never been called.  Here is why, regardless of what people will tell you, activity does lead to interaction, interaction leads to prospects, prospects lead to sales; and all these things require time and your focus.

As people hit the list, improve their approach, they do get better with practice, which means as they get past the letter A and B, their prospecting is getting better, by the time they get to E, they are in a groove, and getting more traction.  By the time they get past G, they have opportunities in their pipeline, they have real things to keep them busy, and they have success.  And what happens to most sales people when they get some customers?  They stop prospecting and “look after the customer”.  As a result, the companies at the end of the alphabet have a very small percentage of sellers calling them.

Go ahead, give them a call, surprise them and yourself.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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