3 Reasons Why Objections are Not a Bad Thing3

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

No sales keys

Most sales people think about objections as being a bad thing, a lot of sales people and worse leaders, get really uptight when it comes to objections. Often before we have even began to define parameters with stakeholders, they’ll say “Oh, and we need an Objection Handling session”, they want to take a tennis approach to managing objections, prospect “throws” out an objection, and they want to hit it back to them. But objections are really not a bad thing, not always convenient or easy to manage, but they are not a bad thing.

Here are three specific reasons why objections are not always a bad thing (no specific order):

  • Indicate engagement
  • Allow you to introduce more value/information/facts without pitching
  • Allow you to qualify – disqualify buyers

The goal here is not to specifically give you techniques, but more to get you to relax a bit and see how objections are good for you, your sales, humanity, and global warming.

Keep in mind that for the most part objections come up in two ways, when you are trying to engage or prospect them, (we did a six part series on this, you can find Part I here). The second is when you are trying to gain agreement, either during the sales on specific points that will move things forward, including simple Next Steps, or at the end when you are trying to complete the sale. In either case, what follows will help you put things in a different perspective and let you use the objective to improve your selling, as a whole, and in specific deals.

Indicates Engagement – Even though some objections during the prospecting phase are knee jerk on the part of the buyer, the fact that they “are responding” allows you if prepared, to deal with that objection and segue to a conversation, key is being prepared. As you get into the sale, the objections will be more specific, a direct reflection of what the buyer is thinking, and how they are interpreting what you are saying, and if they are not clear, an opportunity to correct course. Even towards the end, with the lowest form of objection, the price objection, it is an indication that they are involved, capitalize on it.

Allow you to introduce more information/facts/value without pitching – Every time they object, they are in effect asking a question of for clarification, what a bonus. You can get a sense where their thinking is at, introduce additional elements. You can usually go deeper, and more importantly ask for more clarification on the part of the prospect. “Help me understand what you mean by…” Many objections are really questions, or the buyer evaluating things and they vocalize them, it is my chance to recalibrate, add useful value elements, align with the buyer, and move forward.

Allow you to qualify – disqualify buyers – Sellers are always looking to qualify buyers, well their objections are a good qualifier, and as I have argued in the past, if your qualified prospect to closed ration is less than 50%, your time is probably better spent disqualifying those that you know will not close based on experience, which will leave you with more “qualified” buyers. Objections are a great way to disqualify, if you cannot manage and move beyond, you need to accept that it is time to move on, rather than play objection tennis, where you always lose. The big thing is that every time you disqualify a prospect, you have to replace them with a new one. Which is why some sales people would rather pretended they doing productive things by dealing with insurmountable objections, than doing some prospecting.

How you deal with objections is a different post, and there others out there with some great ways. But first you need to deal with how you view objections to begin with.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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Your Own Sales Kick-Off with Dan Pink and Matt Dixon – Toronto – January 28th0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Yes Small

While experiences vary, there is no denying that sales kick-offs can be effective on a number of levels.  Beyond creating focus and setting the theme for the year, it was at times an opportunity to take in a speaker who brings a unique, or perhaps new view on sales and sales success. But the reality is that not everyone has an opportunity to participate in such an event. Whether it is because your company is too small, or other reasons.

But if you are in Toronto on January 28, you can attend The Art Of Sales Conference, and not only have your own Sales Kick-Off, but take in six great speakers to help set your year off to a great start.

I had the opportunity to speak to two of the presenters just before the holidays, Dan Pink and Matt Dixon. I asked both how things have evolved since they each respectively wrote their books. More to the point what you can expect if you attend the event.

I started by asking Matt Dixon, what can people who have read “The Challenger Sale”, expect at the event. “While I will be reviewing the findings and implication of The Challenger Sale, expanding on some areas we have seen in practice. Those who have read it can expect to learn more about how people have implemented the concepts in the book. Their successes, challenges, and discoveries they made about themselves and their teams as a result.” Dixon went on to say “one thing that reinforces what we found and shared in the book is that it takes time and work to put things into practice, there is no silver bullet in sales”. I couldn’t agree more, we are hunting revenue not werewolves, we need a sound approach, not silver bullets or other superstitions. As for people who did not yet read the book, they can expect to hear the key findings directly from one of the author of the book that has caused if nothing else, great debates among sellers and pundits.

Dan Pink, shared that he will not only be reviewing and expanding on core concepts presented in “To Sell Is Human”, but sharing new research, and how to take advantage of that when putting it into practice. “For those who have read the book, we will be discussing the reality of the perception of sales people”, with the perception running at 4:1 negative, I think we can all get some insights from Dan. For those who have yet to read the book, Dan will be sharing “how not only that we are all in sales, but sales itself is not what it used to be.” Dan went on to assure me that he will be highlighting “practical tips to effectively leverage and make use of the research presented in the book.

These are only two of the sales leaders presenting at the conference. Now if your company had these guys in for your kick-off, maybe you have a reason not to attend, but if not, don’t you think you can kick some sales ass by attending this event?

WIN TICKETS

Not only will I see you there, but you also have a chance to enter to win tickets to this event, just click here to learn more and enter.

See you there,
Tibor Shanto

 

Dude – It’s Not Really A Duck!0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Duck

What’s the old saying:

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck.

While that may be true for Donald or Daffy, it is not the case is sales. But a number of sales people I have worked with seem to believe that this Duck Method is a good way to sell.

Here is an example, about a month ago I got a call from a rep selling a “sales productivity” tool. The usual shtick, intro blah blah, big value prop, around how the tool drives engagement in sales call and increases productivity, sales and could (if it worked) deliver truckloads of money. It was clear that they did some research about me, but did bother to validate some of their assumptions that were truly wrong, first mistake. I guess they figured that I look like one, spoke like one, I must be what they assumed I was one, when I am not. Just because the word Solutions is part of the company name, I don’t deal in IT.

Then came the real Duck sale, the series of unrelated questions that if answered affirmatively, they hoped will lead to a close.

Before I share the conversation, it is worth noting that while the idea behind the product was conceptually good, and must have looked really good on the white board, you know like world peace, or a fifty cent gallon of gas. But the idea that drove the concept was not really present in the product. While they were trying to flog it as a ready for market product, in my view it had little or no application in the real world. In some ways I think he was aware of that too, which is why he went for the Duck.

Him: Tibor wouldn’t you agree that if you could measure engagement it would be a good thing?

TS: I guess (shrugging my shoulder)

Him: Great, and wouldn’t you also agree that if you could then increase engagement it improve your results?

TS: Sure (this time I only raised one shoulder and an eyebrow)

Him: So if you found a tool that could do that, you would see it as a good addition to your tool kit?

TS: Sure, if I found one

Him: Great, that’s why I think our Thing-A-Ma JIG is the perfect application for you, and I am glad you agree and are ready to get started.

TS: Quack?

Just because I agreed to a couple of concepts does not mean I am at all interested in your offering, or that there is a line on the planet that remotely connects those dots.

While the above is an extreme example, badly executed to boot, it is not an uncommon approach. You see it daily. If you agree with point one, and agree with point two, then point three must be true. No I am sorry it is not.

The only question is this, are there people actually buying when they are Duck sold? You would think that if there aren’t any buyers, there would be no sellers using the technique, but it continues to thrive, along with the Ben Franklin close and other such tricks, one has to wonder why.

So if you are tempted to sell like Donald Duck, or are being sold by one, just remind them that Donald’s best friend was Goofy.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Two Webinars This Week You Don’t Want To Miss0

Webinar

Coming up tomorrow and Thursday I will be presenting two webinars dealing with two critical aspects of prospecting.

Tomorrow, Wednesday October 23Time – Prospecting – And Getting the Jump On BothI’ll be talking to the importance of sourcing the right leads, information about the individual and their companies, and securing the right and accurate contact information so you can engage with the right person for the right conversation.  Along with the good folks at eGrabber, I will present on: “Time – Prospecting – And Getting the Jump On Both“, looking at the combination of cutting edge tools available from eGrabber to help you make prospecting more time efficient and productive.  Time is the only unrenewable resource you have, the better you use it the more success you will have.  Improve your rate of connecting with the right decision makers, and you will increase prospects, sales and profits.  We will be sharing best practices and everyday techniques for improved prospecting.

Click here for more detail and registration

 

Then on Thursday, October 24 at 2:00 pm Eastern time - Cold Calling: How to Handle the Objectionworking again with the DiscoverOrg team, I will be presenting the follow up to the highly successful webinar last month on the fundamentals of effective Cold Calling, this time we will go deeper on how to handle and manage the most common objections faced while prospecting.  The goal is to provide attendees with common sense and proven practices for handling objections and initiating more conversations with buyers, and help them become customers.  Most sellers tell me: “Get me infront of the right buyer, and I will close them”.  Problem is overcoming those early awkward objection to you call, and move to selling.

Click here for more detail and registration

See You On-Line!

After and Before2

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Note pad

In a business that emphasizes relationship as much as sales does, it is sometimes interesting to see the degree to which sales people, and buyers, tend to ignore, overlook and at times avoid some basic components of human interactions, and way to enhance those interactions and the impact of that on business and sales outcomes.

Michael Jordan once said:

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

This statement is as true in sales as it is in basketball. Sometime those fundamentals seem simple and inconsequential, but in the end it is often those little things that make the difference. Remember that your product is often indistinguishable from those of your competitor’s, so the way YOU sell may often be the differentiator that clinches the deal. So let’s focus on two seemingly small things, that when executed consistently and well, after and before meetings with buyers, will win you deals, no matter other factors. And while these may seem small, do them and then judge the results.

After:

After every meeting you should send a note, what most will call a thank you note, but done right it can be so much more.

Few send thank you notes anymore, I know that when I am the prospect, if I get a thank you note, it is so rare, I take notice, and mentally give the sender bonus points, points that may take them ahead of the other vendors. A hand written note, will just blow their mind. But more than a thank you note, it is an opportunity for you to recap what you took away from the meeting, action items everyone agreed to, and most important, what you propose the Next Step to be.

If you and the buyer synch on all of these points, then the note will just cement things in their mind, along with you being the vendor who helped them do that. If you took away different understandings, it is to your advantage to find that out now, and make any course adjustments you need to make. Better to correct things now than go into the next meeting with different ideas; if you can’t correct them, better to find out now than after investing more time and resources.

As well by introducing what you think the next step should be, you get them thinking about it, and again, if they don’t disagree, you are on the right path, but if not, you can deal with it now, not later.

Before:

About a business day ahead of the next meeting, send in a n agenda, nothing deep or heavy, three or five points (odd numbered lists are better), AND, what you would propose as the Next Step, if things unfold according to the agenda. As above, if things are on track, you can go in with some sense of confidence that you are on the right path. If not, better to know well in advance of the meeting than at the end when it may be too late to do anything about it. Same goes for the Next Step, if they can’t live with your suggestion they’ll speak up, and while it may not be what you had planned, better again to know early than after the fact.

While neither may appear to be all that and more, when you first read them, execute them consistently and it won’t be long before you attribute deals directly to executing these steps.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto  

It's time to get Bricked!

It’s Only an Emergency if You Haven’t Planned for It (#video)2

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Biz TV

Many emergencies can be anticipated and planned for, thereby limiting their impact and your ability to succeed. On the other hand, many prefer emergencies to some key sales activities, like prospecting, so any emergency will do. Take a look to see what I mean:

Not Emergency

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

 

Voice Mail Week – Part II – It’s More Than Just The Message0

by Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Voice mail

In Monday’s video I mention the fact that voice mail is just one of a number of ways to reach out and touch prospective buyers.  There is e-mail, SMS or text message, all forms of social media, traditional snail mail in the form of a letter or card, or other more creative means of reaching out and touching a prospect.  Why is this important, because with all the things buyers have to deal with these days, it takes many more touch points to just get on someone’s radar, or have them react to our approach.

Back around 1999, I read a book that suggested that it takes anywhere from 5 to 7 touch points for the reaction to potentially happen.  Since then, technology has evolved, mobile is pervasive, people are expected to do more with less, more than ever people need to pack 16 hours’ worth of work into a 10 hour day, which makes getting their attention even more challenging.  Because of that, and this is confirmed by some of the things I am reading today, it may take 9 to 12 touch points for that initial reaction to occur.

So if nothing else, say you diminished expectations to no call backs at all, zero, there is still a value to leaving voice mail, it is a touch point, and touch points are compounding.  This is why I don’t worry about the depth of the content of the voice mail message, because it will lead to one of two outcomes:

1. You’ll get a call back, and speak with the prospect (the XXX accompanying video talks to that outcome Or 2. You will achieve a touch point which when executed in context of the overall approach is a plus.

Yet in a recent unscientific poll, only 52.5% of respondents answered ‘yes’ when asked: “When you are prospecting by phone, do you leave a voice mail message on the very first call?”  What a wasted opportunity.  First off, they could be getting calls back from 30% – 50% of people they leave messages for, leading to engagement and sales.  Second, no touch point, no start, and what you don’t start you can’t finish.

One important take away from this beyond the fact that you have to leave a message, is that you have to map out a touch point campaign whenever you target or pursue a potential buyer.  Not only do you have to make the commitment to touch them enough times in a given period to facilitate contact, but plan and write it out, and the of course execute.  My minimum goal is seven touch points in two business weeks.

You can leave a voice mail on Monday morning, follow up with a brief, not Tolstoy style, e-mail after 5:00 pm that day.  Another voice mail Wednesday; the e-mail that follows Wednesday’s voice mail will have one additional element, you will tell them that you will call them again say Thursday at 9:30 am.  I am not naïve, I don’t expect them to be chained to their desk at that time, but, if they were mildly interested in your message but were busy running around this could provide the focus they need.  But more likely they will not be at their desk, and you’ll leave another message.  The BIG BUT and GAIN, is that you will have demonstrated that you follow up on your word, something many sales people are falsely accused of not doing.  Talk about laying a pebble of trust.  So here we are five touch points by Thursday morning, and I don’t think we are near an injunction order.  Repeat the following week, you’ll have more conversations, but it starts with commitment and execution.

Sadly the same survey showed that most sales people give up after three or so tries, priming the pump for those of us who are willing to go the distance.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Small Talk Is For Small People – Sales eXchange 2040

by Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

David and G

When I talk to sales people about how they start sales meetings with new potential buyers (first time they meet), most (not all) tell me they “break the ice with some small talk”, then they “get in to it!”  We’ll leave the getting into it for another time, what I don’t get is the “small talk” bit, I am not sure that in the current format, as practiced by most sellers is effective, necessary, and at times can be risky to the opportunity.

I am antisocial, (although some have accused me), but spending time talking about the weather, or the useless season the local sports team is having seems counterproductive to the goal of the exercise, helping the buyer move closer to their objectives, and yours.  And while the people buy from people crowd may want to pounce on me, wait.  You can “break the ice”, and set the mood without having to resort to pointless gibberish.

The buyers are all busy, as I should think you are, you obviously said something that caused them to invest an hour of their time with you, it is up to you to maximize the ROT  for both.  Getting to the point may not the worst strategy.  Some buyers may make you feel that they required “small talk”, but that is more conditioning than anything else, if you deliver value by the end of a successful meeting, they will not complain about not having their time wasted.

I am also not suggesting that you jump right into the deep end, I know that the “void” walking between the reception area and the office or meeting room has to be filled, it is how you fill it that can differentiate you from the others.

As you are doing research ahead of your meeting, look for recent events, announcements, or analyst coverage, not specifically related to your product, but significant for the company and or the person you are meeting.  A while back I was meeting with a dairy company that was the first to introduce Omeg3 into a line of product, to accentuate the launch, they introduced a beveled edged carton so it would look different from the other milk cartons on the shelf.

On “the walk” from reception, I asked how the packaging was received, changes they had to make to production, and were they looking to use packaging as a differentiator way with other products.  While this had nothing with what we were meeting about, it indicated to the buyer that I came prepared, that I was taking an interest in the entire business, not just the part I can sell to, and I can relate the benefit of my offering to the other responsibilities he had.  In return, the information he shared with me about the above, helped me refine and better position my value vis-à-vis his objectives.  Small talk, yes, but it beat talking about snow in March or the fact that the Leafs were going to miss the playoffs again.

While we think we are being social with small talk, it can and does often come up being hollow, unimportant, and does not move things forward even one millimetre, in which case, what’s the point.  It is also interesting that many people who don’t like the small talk when they are buyers, rely on it when they are sellers.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

3 More Tips For Effective Telephone Prospecting1

by Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Phone guy

On Monday I wrote about the need to counterbalance for some of the realities of telephone prospecting, and some things sellers can do to compensate.  Today I offer up some other basic things you can do, to improve your success in some simple ways.

Some of these things may seem mundane and basic, but that doesn’t lessen their importance in consistent results from telephone prospecting.  As in sports, music or other crafts, focusing on the most basic aspects is as important as mastering the big things, your messaging, value props, etc.  The balance and combination of the two, augmented by your style and personality are what make for your success.

We spoke about intonation on Monday, we the most basic thing you can do is smile when you are on the phone.  Smile even when you feel like reaching through the line and strangling the person at the other end.  The tone and tenor of your voice is different when you smile, but it does carry over the phone and impacts your listener. We all remember the old song “When you’re smiling – the whole world smiles with you”, is true!  Smiling is something you can practice, sounds odd, but in the heat of the moment, when your emotions kick in, you will forget unless you practice it as part of your routine.

Speaking of practice, yes, you should practice – out loud, and more than once.  Sales people often look at me funny when I suggest they lock themselves in a boardroom or meeting room and practice their approach, be that a prospecting call, an actual sales meeting, anything important.  By practicing, you become not only more confident, but master the salient points much better.  In fact in addition to practicing, I recommend you write down the key points you want to cover, when you write things down you retain them better, just like in collage.  By the way, this does not imply that you are memorizing the “presentation”, I don’t like presentations, but you can apply this to questions you want to ask around key points you need to explore to get the client engaged and in a buying mode.  By practicing and mastering what you want to cover you minimize the need to think (or worry) about what you are going to say, when and how you’ll say it, freeing up valuable bandwidth to focus on what the buyer is say, and processing power to deal with that properly.

For prospecting calls, it is important to practice how you will respond to and manage objections potential buyers have.  It is one thing to download our Objection Handling Handbook, it is another to spend some quality time with it in a room alone and practicing the methods and concepts, much like practicing a playbook in sports.  It may unfold differently on the field, but the practice allows you to react from a base of knowledge.  If the meeting is large, important, or to a committee, spend time visualising the meeting, exploring potential paths it may take, questions, comments or objections participants may pose.  You’ll find that you’ll be much more prepared for the expected and the unexpected.  The same works for a prospecting call.

Finally, and it may seem small, stand up when you make calls, get a headset so you can use your hands to express yourself the way you would in a direct conversation.  With Bluetooth headsets, you now have the freedom to walk around, feel and be relaxed, and that too carries over the phone and adds to your intonation.  Add a mirror to the equation and you can really affect the way you speak, and how they hear you at the other end.  Some say this sounds bizarre, but to bring it full circle, I remember taking a telephone skills program from Bell back in the 80’s, and when we finished the course, we were given an 8 x 6 mirror, and in Bell blue at the bottom it said “Smile”.  Worked then, and still works now, as long as you commit and execute.

 

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

 

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

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