3 Tracking Tools for Serious Sales2

CC March 14

The Pipeline Guest Post - Carrie Powers

Effective tracking tools pave the way for great sales, so when considering what tools to use for your business, you shouldn’t accept anything less than exceptional. Let’s look at three of the best tracking tools available.

Evernote

With over 800,000 downloads on Google Play™ alone, Evernote® is one of the most popular and highly rated productivity apps on the market. It’s compatible with nearly every device and computer, and can perform an incredible amount of organizational tasks. It allows you to quickly and accurately catalogue everything from web pages to business trip itineraries to notes from meetings, and also includes multiple sharing functions so you can share your thoughts and ideas with colleagues.

So what does this mean for your salespeople? They’ll spend far less time slogging through a mess of information and more time actually using that information to turn your business into a well-oiled super-sales machine. Once you’ve used Evernote to establish a smooth and steady flow of useful material, you’ll be better equipped to form comprehensive sales strategies, reach out to your customers with new and fresh content, and keep everything neatly organized all the while.

Automatic Address Book

In the world of large and small businesses alike, it’s a widely known fact that using a customer relationship management (CRM) system can help you boost sales. CRMs allow you to give your clients the personalized attention they want and deserve. Only a handful of CRMs offer excellent tools that go beyond basic functionality to achieve remarkably intuitive performance. The Automatic Address Book from Insightly is one of those tools.

There are a plethora of both free and paid address book programs available, but what sets Automatic Address Book apart is its ability to automatically identify all kinds of connections within your large network of contacts and customers. For instance, let’s say that 5% of your customers know each other through a recent business conference. While a standard address book application wouldn’t be able to detect this sort of subtle information, Insightly’s Automatic Address Book analyzes the from, to, and cc fields in emails to identify a connection, and then searches the web for files that include the names of those customers together (such as online comments and conversations pertaining to the aforementioned conference).

Just like that, you’ll have valuable information on how your customers know each other, so your salespeople can best appeal to their interests and experiences, taking that budding sales relationship to the next level.

Business Card Apps

Even though the vast majority of the modern business world is now digitized, physical business cards still remain the most popular way to quickly exchange contact information. After all, we don’t always have the time to pull out our smartphones, create a new contact, then enter a name, work number, mobile number, and email address.

The problem is, however, that even when given plenty of time, most salespeople won’t sit down after every networking event to go through their stack of business cards and manually enter each contact into their device one by one. The solution? Quick and efficient mobile apps to scan or photograph business cards, then instantly turn them into an easily accessible contacts on your smartphone, tablet, computer, or any number of social networks.

ABBYY® and CamCard, two of the most trusted card reading apps on the market, are available for iOS® and Android™. CamCard is also available for BlackBerry® and Windows Phone. With so many options (and so many other card reading apps out there) you’re bound to find something to suit your needs.

Although all of these tools may seem a bit intimidating at first glance, their useful and noteworthy capabilities can make them invaluable to your sales team. If you’re looking to boost productivity, cut down on wasted time, and see an increase in sales, these tools could be just what you’re looking for.

About Carrie Powers

Carrie Powers is a college student, writer, and lipstick enthusiast. She is currently earning her bachelor’s degree in English while simultaneously pursuing a career in writing and marketing, and has previously worked as a content writer for BlueGlass Interactive. She is now a contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com.

Carrie has enjoyed writing for a wide variety of clients, from clothing brands to car insurance companies, and prides herself on her ability to make any topic fun, engaging, and fresh. Her areas of expertise include beauty, fashion, and style, and she looks forward to a long and exciting career in writing.

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Customers, Employees and Influencers as High Performing Sales and Marketing Channels1

Beedon Headshot

The Pipeline Guest Post – Dick Beedon

Although brand advocacy has always been important, it is critical today. The path to purchase has changed forever. Because there is so much data available, and because communication is so easy, today’s buyer almost always seeks advice from a trusted friend or consumer source before making a purchase. Brands are now starting to realize that what others say and write about them defines who they are.

Smart brands know they must build strategies and systems to generate, track and manage brand advocacy. They know they must encourage and enable the people that know and trust them – their customers, employees and 3rd party influencers – to advocate on behalf of the brand.

And it works. By encouraging and empowering these customers, employees and influencers, they will drive peer-to-peer referrals, forward content, share information about new products and promotions, and write testimonials. And they can do it at scale and more efficiently than traditional channels.

The Benefits of New Channels are Compelling (examples)

  1. They Build Brand Awareness – when a customer shares something about the brand with a friend, there is no better way of building the brand.
  2. They Generate Leads – those friends that respond and go to the brand for more information become the best leads a brand can get. There are few people on earth who will argue that leads generated from referrals are the best leads. 
  3. They Drive New Customer Acquisition – Leads from referrals close faster, they buy more and they stay longer. 

Other reasons customers, employees and influencers make good sales and marketing channels;

1.  Identify Brand Advocates and Build a Rich “Social” Data Set

Brand Advocates are identified when they register for or engage with your programs. By using technology systems, brands know who “opts-in” and advocates, how often they do it, what their sharing preferences are and how big their network is. We learn who they know and how influential they are. Brands are able to now get a deeper 360 view of their customer’s network value.

2. You’ll Know when Potential Customers are “In-Market”
Social channels provide insights and information not previously available. At the most basic level, social channels extend a brand’s sales force (with zero overhead) and they solve one of the biggest challenges brand’s face: knowing when a potential buyer is in-market. Only your current customers know when the people they know are ready to buy.
3. The cost of acquisition is lower.
This channel is always on and continually active – making referrals, amplifying products and promotions, and posting positive information about your brand. Brand advocates do this for a brand because they trust the brand and they want do it. Therefore, the time and cost invested into this channel is significantly less than other channels.
4. New customers that are referred by someone in your Social Channel are Valuable.
Research has consistently shown that consumers who convert as a result of a referral from a friend, are more loyal to a brand, spend more and stay longer.

Who are your Potential Channels and how Well can they Perform?

Customers, partners and employees are the fastest growing sales and marketing channel today. By utilizing the latest in social marketing software and technology, business leaders can mobilize these social relationships to generate new customers, and they can track and manage social behavior that is critical to the success of their company.

Customers recommend your products because they have first-hand, positive experience with them.

Today’s truly successful companies understand the importance of leveraging their customers into sales and marketing channels that drive corporate productivity. Creating and cultivating a large group of advocates can: pay huge dividends in the growth of your brand, increase subscribers, and boost profits. The financial investment to create this channel is minimal when you compare it to the long-term payoff for the brand.

About Richard Beedon

Richard Beedon is a founder and CEO of Amplifinity.  Beedon has led the acquisition of both Entyre Doc Prep (by Wolters Kluwer) and University Netcasting, who merged with Student Advantage (now collegesports.com) and was acquired by CBS. Dick’s thought leadership and early adaption of SaaS based technologies that allow brands to manage advocacy marketing has been instrumental in the success and growth of Amplifinity.

Things You Can’t Fix0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

fix it

There is a lot of pressure on sales people, from customers, prospects, managers, and self-imposed pressure. The last thing sellers should do is add to that, but they do, every day, and in the most unnecessary ways. One way is focusing on things out of their control, spending resources, energy and time on things they can never fix; at times compounding the issue because they involve others in the discussion who are just as powerless to change things, and as result more time and resources down the drain.

Highlighting things that may not be working is not a bad thing, especially when the goal is to improve the client experience, add value, and or improve sales for you or the company.  An example would be being part of the feedback loop, where direct feedback from customers via front line sales is invaluable. What’s at question here are the things that sellers complain about, or choose to focus on that do not bring value or are likely to be different as a result of the exercise.

The best way to avoid this time and energy sucking is to organize and compartmentalize.  Start with a blank sheet of paper, or better yet a large dry erase board. Top centre, write down your key objective, it has to be concrete and quantifiable.  A specific revenue objective, landing a specific account, or just opening the door at a named account.  Then write down all perceived obstacles or barrios, perceived or real. Don’t think about it too much, write it down no matter how obvious or farfetched.

Once the list is up there, look at the list and eliminate the things that are not real, those  that may have been one way a year ago, they have changed but you have not.  Then eliminate those things that are real and an action plan has already been put in place. What you’ll have left is a short list of real things you can change, and list of things you cannot change or get someone to change on your behalf; and it really doesn’t matter if it is real or not, because the fact that you can’t change it trumps both.

The on the list that are real, things you change or impact, commit to changing or find someone willing to take ownership, but there has to be an owner, someone accountable for the outcome, and develop an action plan, including time lines, the start and end of the process.

As for the things you can’t change, don’t let them side track you.  You can either find alternative ways of addressing the issue or move on. I am not suggesting you give up, but you know what they say about I moveable objects.  You should always try to figure things out, consider alternative ways, but if they do not present themselves, then wasting time and resource will only put you behind. Complaining about them or letting them prevent you from succeeding should not be an option.  Maybe you need to find another prospect.  You’ll be surprised how creative you can get when you approach it like this; or how much sense it may make to move on and find a real, and winnable opportunity.

At times though, I can’t help but think that some sellers focus on things they can’t change as a means of avoiding things they can, and thing that do need to be done.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

Sales Tools Don’t Fail – Sales eXchange 1864

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

change

Advancements in technology, and the access to information have come at a staggering rate over the last 25 years.  In some cases the resulting gains in productivity and efficiency have been as great or greater; access to data and analysis, manufacturing and supply chain are a couple of examples.  But some areas like sales, have lagged.  Considering the upside presented by sales tools, and lately web 2.0 based apps, sales people should in theory be much more productive and efficient in executing their craft and improving their output, but they are not; the question is why.

There are a number of contributing factors, and all are in some way are connected to probably the most prominent factor, the inability of the purveyors of said technology, to effectively communicate to the users, the sales people, a compelling reason to adopt.  While both vendors and the executives of sales organizations can be blamed, I would focus on the executive/leadership.

I hold the executives responsible, for one simple reason: they fail to do the very thing they demand from their teams daily – putting the clients’ interest first, show the client the upside and they’ll deal with you, put yourself first and you lose.  The vendors fail because they only focus on part of the buying group, not the whole.  Since the final decision and funding is with the executives, vendors spend a lot of time selling the executive, the visibility they will get, the great data collected, leading to valuable and actionable data, while ignoring the front line rep.  But if the front line rep does not adopt, there is little visibility, insufficient or questionable input, leading to questionable output, analysis, action or the desired change; all leading to failed implementations.

Both vendors and the executive need to sell the front line reps on “what is in it for them”, the oldest rule in sales.  Instead reps are told about all the ways these tools are going to make it easier to adhere to the process, give management a better inside view, provide data to other departments, make it easier for marketing to support the sales effort and customers, give CSR’s a complete view of the customer, and more.  All good things, but none speak to how the tool’s will make it easier for the sales person to close deals, make quota, and make more money; which is “what’s in it for the rep”.

What’s ironic is that sales people have traditionally been early adopters of technology and tools that help them with any or all three of the things above; they were early users of the web, e-mail, and mobile phones.  They will often take time to learn or relearn things when they believe it will make it easier for them to close more deals, make quota and money.  Remember the effort many of us put in to learning how to write again when we bought our Palm Pilot in the 1990’s because it made selling easier, freed up time and resources used to sell more.

That has not changed, today you can see hundreds of tools and apps sales people seek out and adopt on their own in order to make sales gains.  Just look at the growth in the BYOD movement, sales people willing to spend time and money on those things that help them make sales, quota and money.

Leaders need to practice what they preach and provide tools that first help sellers succeed, and in the process spin-off all the benefits they need.  Providing tools that integrate into the sellers daily efforts, rather than distracting them.  When a tool does require time and effort to learn, show the front line rep how it will help them succeed.  Show them how the tool, app or whole new system will help them be more strategic, save them time and effort while enhancing their tactical execution; do that, and they will clamor for the tool.  Tell them how it helps YOU with YOUR forecasts, job or help YOU cover your ass instead of theirs, and you can bet that same ass that you’ll have assure minimal use, mandated or not.

Another mistake some leaders make is going BIG right out of the gate, and assuming the gains before they happen.  Rolling out a new SFA tool, with a steep learning curve, and using the new tool as a reason why reps should be able to sell more is not only counterproductive, but unnecessary.  You can either introduce a tool in stages, aligning it with the team’s execution of the sale, allowing them to integrate as they benefit, then introduce the next phase, and so on, leading to a smooth and productive adoption.

The alternative is to introduce tools that make it easy to deliver value to the user, the executive, the organization as a whole, by helping reps do something they already do in a more productive way.  An example would be Front Row Solutions.  This app, which sees a 95% adoption rate, helps reps capture the outcome of a sales call (live or phone), in a few taps on their wireless phones.  This helps them stay focused on their best opportunities, plan next steps, drive deals, evolve their execution and best practices, and more, all in a few easy seconds.  In the process it produces some of the most actionable data for management and the rest of the organization.

In the end you can blame lack of adoption on failed roll-outs, the tools themselves, on reps reluctance, and more.  But for me it comes down to bad selling; bad selling on the part of leadership.  Failing to sell their customer, the front line rep on “what’s in it for them”, instead making it all about the leaders.  What makes things worse is that same sloppy selling manifests itself right through the sales organization they lead, putting them at an even further disadvantage.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Pipeline Vs. Opportunity Review – Sales eXchange 169128

Some things in sales can be called by various names without much consequence, the underlying subject being very much the same, prospect – potential buyer, information gathering – discovery, and many others; it comes down to words not actions or outcomes.  In other cases the semantics are very important, and cannot be simply interchanged for convenience.  A stellar example of this is the confusion between pipeline reviews and opportunity reviews.  They are not the same, you can equate a pipeline with a funnel and funnel review, it is not the same as an opportunity review, and pretending they are will cost you time and money.

For me both type of reviews are important, in many sales organizations necessary, and if not done right, or just plain not done, could have big consequences.  One of the biggest is lack of engagements by the reps, many having spent countless tedious and unproductive hours in some of these meetings, simply stop taking them seriously, a disengagement that has big negative impact on success.

A pipeline review is a snapshot of the state of the pipeline and the directly contributing factors, usually activity.  Regardless of how you look at your pipeline or funnel, it is likely to have a minimal number of clear stages or sections.  Lead – Prospects – Pre-Proposal – Proposal – Initial (verbal) Agreement – Won Business (Closed).  A pipeline review just needs to look at the opportunities at each stage – are they real, next steps, and volume based on the individual rep’s documented conversion rates.  Are there enough leads to sustain the subsequent stages, and is the rep focused on the right activities.  Reviewing this in a brief efficient, and frequent fashion, leads to continuous movement of the right things through the pipeline or down the funnel.  You can do this review in as little as five minutes per rep, if you have 8 reps, you can be done and wiser in 40 minutes.  If you have a large volume of deals you can cut it back to a more than significant representative sample that will ensure short and snappy meetings.  These pipeline reviews should be done as a group, and in my opinion weekly, you don’t all need to be in the same room, and with today’s technology can be done from anywhere, including the parking lot of your next appointment.

An opportunity review is much more, and could involve a heavy dose of coaching, as such the first difference is that these are done individually with each rep, and therefore not as frequently, not more than once a month.  In this meeting you review each opportunity, how the rep arrived at where they are, strategies on what to do next, and develop a specific action plan.  This where the coaching is key, using the review not only to impact the outcome, but to directly impact how your reps can sell better using a real live scenario as a springboard.  Helping the reps to not only widen their view of the deal, but others like it.  It is an occasion to examine why some opportunities died, and why specifically some were one, or did not take a decision.

Trying to cram both into one meeting is useless, and typifies the KPI mentality many bring to the process, “did it, I can check it off the list”.  They conduct these meetings neither to help their reps, or to understand the state of their pipeline (all their reps’ pipelines rolled up to one), they do it as a CYA exercise.  Usually because they have to go into to a meeting with their seniors, and want to be in a position to answer questions they anticipate.  If they were to conduct both types of meeting separately, ensuring they achieve what they need to from each meeting they would be way ahead.  They would be in a position to directly influence the outcome of their reps activities, and by extension the outcome of the meeting with their reps and results presented.  They would also be in a stronger position going into the meetings with their superiors, not only answering anticipated questions, but presenting in a way and with content that would negate the questions and focus on results.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

An ‘Easy Button’ for Prospectors!49

Success in sales comes down to ensuring you allocate enough time to the right activity, high-value activity, and how well you execute those activities.  So any time you can find a tool that helps you reduce the time it takes you to do a high-value activity, and lets you do it in a better way with better results, you know you have a competitive advantage.  Add to that the real bonus that it is cost effective, and you have a sales tool that is a no brainer.

The tool in question is Leadferret.

LeadFerret, the world’s largest B2B database offering a full range of information one needs for prospecting success.  You have full access to complete data, including an email address for every record.  For Social Sellers and Sales 2.0 aficionados, you will like the social media links for many records, allowing you to act instantly, find a prospects contact info and find out more about them from their linkedin, facebook, and twitter profiles/pages. 

For those like me, frugal, the best thing about LeadFerret is … it is completely FREE. 

You don’t have to upload any data, earn any points, or pay anything.  Just go to LeadFerret.com, search for the records you want and you’ll soon be viewing them on your screen without paying a dime, or jumping through any hoops.

Other than rejection, the biggest challenge sellers talk to me about is sourcing quality leads, with accurate data, in a cost effective way.  LeadFerret offers exactly that.  Quality leads give you the confidence to reach out and engage with the right prospects, start the sale off right and build velocity as you move the sale forward to a more solid and value based close.

LeadFerret has a range of great search tools, giving you the ability to search by radius from your office, search by SIC and NAICS tools, search by title, search by company size; you can easily build a list of target contacts and companies from records you find while searching, hit the ground running, freeing up time to prospect and sell, not wait for people to find you.

In sales as in business, if you can find someone who will do it better, faster than you can, you need to leverage that to gain time and execution advantage, given the wealth, depth of the data  and it’s cost, which is none, LeadFerret is an easy choice for productivity and sales gains.

And as we said before, best of all it’s free, give it a whirl.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Making Your Monday Sales Meeting Meaningful – Sales eXchange 15584

Your Monday morning sales meeting needs to set the tone for the week, the successes, challenges and activity required to move prospects forward between now and Friday, thus making the week contribute to a successful quarter.  Here are a few simple to implement steps you can take to assure this.

First, keep it short focused and on track.  Monday morning is prime time, sales professionals ready to go, having had the weekend to decompress, buyers are also looking to make their mark on the week ahead, the last thing you want to have is your meeting take steam, drive and the spring out of team’s step.  The traditional, laborious never ending Monday morning meeting is like Black Death for you A Players, slightly less painful for your B Players; only your C Players see it as a good use of time as they will look for anything to avoid prospecting or selling.  The meeting should last no longer than the equivalent of 5 minutes for each rep on your team, really 5 minutes.

Next make the meeting about the week ahead, not what happened in the past, or things that are not happening at all.  Some still conduct meetings where every opportunity and PROSPECT in the funnel real or not**, is discussed ad infinitum, with those not having fallen asleep looking for rope or other form of mercy.

** So what’s real PROSPECT – and what’s not? Simple if an opportunity has a Next Step, meaning specific agreed on action(s) by both the buyer and a seller that will move the sale forward, with an agreed on time line or deadline, then it is a real PROSPECT.  If it does not have BOTH, it is not real, it is a start, it’s an opportunity, but does not qualify as a PROSPECT.  Something that sounds like “I am going to call him Tuesday”, is not a next step unless it is scheduled and has actions attached; it’s a plan, may be a good plan, but not good enough.  Likewise, “He asked me to call him mid-week to set something up”, is not a next step, and therefore not a PROSPECT.  It may be a good future opportunity, and as soon as you have mutual agreement with the buyer on when and what, you will have a next step and a real PROSPECT.  May seem simple, but a challenging discipline for many to adopt, but once you do you’ll have a more realistic pipeline, as it will be absent of filler and sunshine.

Once you adopt the above, you can then conduct Monday morning meetings looking at specific real PROSPECTS that your team will be interacting with that week, no distractions or far away tales, just real revenue related events.  As well, you don’t need to look at every prospect every week, just a representative sample that tells you the state of the pipeline, and what kind of help you can provide to your team to succeed.  The right ratio of prospect to examine is about 5:1, for every five prospects (real), have the rep discuss one, so if the average number of REAL – ACTIVE – PROSPECTS in you funnel is 25, you have the rep talk to 5, if it is 15, talk to 3, etc.

And when I sat talk, it does not have to be a Tolstoy novel, which is what kills the regular Monday meeting.  Every opportunity, every week, right from the start, sometimes right back to Adam and Eve, no need for that.  Just name rank, and serial number.  Who is the PROSPECT, when is it scheduled (has to be between now and Friday or it doesn’t count), what is the upside if things go right, downside, potential value, any special resources required from the company.  Chick Chack, focused 2 – 4 minutes per prospect, no stories, just the facts.

This will give you a good sense for how each individual rep is doing and the general state of their funnel.  This does not replace the regular talks you have with your reps throughout the week and your daily conversations about their prospects.  You will have deeper knowledge as they review pricing or aspects of the deal, but those don’t need to be part of the Monday meeting.

At the same time, it allows for a tacit transfer of sales and market knowledge among your reps.  After adopting the process, you will find that ideas are exchanged, you get “you know I worked with that type of challenge at XYZ, tried this, and this was the outcome” or “avoid that as it tends to…”  People learn, they contribute and you will find them looking forward to contributing.  You will also find that the stragglers tend to self correct due to peer pressure and that gets them on track, which mean better pipeline.

Think of it if you have six reps, you’re done in 30 minutes, you have a good picture of the state of events, and you have continuous activity driving deals and prospecting.  Remove the cloud from their Monday morning, and you’ll find they are ready to play to win.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Social Reality – Sales eXchange – 14850

This past Saturday, I had the great pleasure of spending the day with some of North America’s brightest sales thinkers. You can track them through my tweet stream @TiborShanto, and there is a list below. These 20 or so sales thought leaders are a subset of a larger group that has collaborated a number of ways online and in the socialsphere, I have worked with some for years, but this was the first (of many I hope) time we got together in one room to focus on and move a common agenda forward.

Without getting into detail, we made great strides in specific areas with concrete executables. While we had done things in the past, it paled in comparison to the quantum leap in progress made around the table in a few hours. This was not a surprise, nor a shock, in fact it was predictable, it just had to happen. People with a common purpose accomplish more together.

This is true for sellers and buyers, you can accomplish way more, especially at crucial points, working directly, together, in the same space.

Now this is not a negative post about social selling vs. traditional selling, or virtual selling vs. live direct selling; this about how things work together. Many valuable relationships start in the social media, but in most instances, especially in sales, it needs to progress to a direct interaction to fully flourish. The advantages to mastering both, the social and the direct interaction are many, especially when you perfect the timing of the transition from social and direct interaction. But there is no question you need to master both to win, and relying on one over the other, limits your options, repertoire, and success.

One of my greatest take away from Saturday was the quality of the interactions. Again, not a surprise, but always great when it happens. People were open, shedding veneers and pretence, things that are easy to hide behind or get lost behind in a purely social media based interaction. People want to help people, and do that much better face o face, not that the intent is absent in social media, but live it takes on dimensions that fuel success.

So get social, but also get live, you relish the experience and success.

Thanks to:

@scoremoresales
@saleshorizons
@CharlesHGreen
@mike_weinberg
@CoachLee
@StevenARosen
@SalesDuJour
@RobertTerson
@donfperkins
@babettetenhaken
@TheSalesHunter
@douglaserice
@milesaustin
@fearlessselling
@iannarino
@BlueprintSMS
@ZeroTimeSelling

Next Step

  • Get Social
  • Get Live
  • Get Sales

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Leave Me a Voice Mail!!!55

Believe it or not, voice mail has been around since the late 1970′s, and for all the advances mankind has made since then, voice mail still seems to puzzle and cripple the success of many B2B sales people.  Further, it seems that some sales people don’t want to figure it out and master it for sales success, to borrow a term from a recent commercial, they see voice mail as “an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum“.

But it doesn’t have to be, I and others have shared road tested proven methodologies for using and leveraging voice mail for sales success.  As recently as a few weeks ago I had someone spend time questioning the method and success, without ever trying for themselves, go figure!

As a result of that adventure, Kevin Gaither of This Week In Sales invited me to elaborate on the use of voice mail and break down some common fears and myths.  So here for your pleasure and profit is that exchange with Kevin.

httpvh://youtu.be/RbI3vg2hzoI

Next Step

  • Understand the goal of voice mail
  • Be counter intuitive
  • Stop making excuses and leave a message

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

5 Ways to Holiday Proof Your Pipeline! – Sales eXchange – 12614

A few years back I ran an article in our monthly newsletter – also call The Pipeline – talking about the perils of allowing your pipeline to take a holiday this time of year, called Make it a Happy New Year Now.  Rather than rerunning it as I have in some subsequent years, I thought we would take a fresh approach and highlight specific things you can do to make sure you enjoy the holiday season and still start next year in a successful way.

Clear out your pipeline – You know as well as I do that you have collected a lot of plaque over the last 12 months, clogging up your pipeline, giving you the false illusion that you have something to work on, while preventing you from getting to new opportunities due to clutter in the pipes.  Get rid of the dead wood, you can always revisit them later; with the clutter gone, you`ll be left with things you may close by year end, or kick the year off strong.

Re-fill your pipeline – With the cleaning done, you now have room for new real opportunities.

Call every prospect that went with someone else between December 2010 and the end of March this year.   They have had time to experience their decision and some will have realised they made a mistake, and some of those will be willing to do something about it.  The same can be said for deals that did not end in any decision at all.

Don`t allow yourself to be distracted – there are plenty of distractions this time of year, not the least of which are the pressures to “close” for year end and the draw of the holiday related events.  While you can feel good about closing some new business, and meeting with clients and others to celebrate the season, it could put a crimp in your plans to start the year strong.  While I am not suggesting you don’t close what you (realistically) can, or that you don’t celebrate the season, just make sure you continue to prospect, regardless of what the nay-sayers tell you about prospecting during Christmas season.  There are people looking to make decisions, and you should help them make them.

Make sure you have client appointments your first day back – A focus on the above point, but make sure you have at least one new prospect meeting your first day back after New Years, and one with a prospect in the pipeline, and finally with a client you are looking to upsell.  The tendency among most is to come back – catch up with colleagues, move some paper around, plan, and get ready to sell.  Forget that, nothing gets you going better than a client/prospect meeting, make sure you set that up now.

Create an Action Plan – Many sales people spend time planning this time of year, either voluntarily – or more common – they are tasked by their manager.  Many of these plans are big picture, broad and general.  While that is necessary and good, you need to action them.  Make a detailed, step by step plan for achieving specific benchmarks and milestones within specific accounts/opportunities.  Make sure these include, names, times, actions, contingencies, and Plans B and C.  They should be clear enough, that if you win the lottery on December 26, and decide not to come back to work, someone can pick things up without losing a stride.  And since most of us will not win that lottery, it will be good to have that detailed plan to help us win when we come back

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto



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Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2011

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