Welcome to The Pipeline.

The Importance Of Empathy Of Selling0

Today I am introducing our first guest contributor, and I am pleased and honoured to have Jonathan Farrington be the first guest contributor. I have always found his view and understanding of business and sales to be of great value, I am confident you will too.

If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him you are his sincere friend.” Abraham Lincoln

Nowhere is this truer than in selling, where you are trying to persuade another, often a stranger, to make a decision they may not even have considered prior to your meeting.

The buyer-seller situation – like any human contact – is an exercise in human relations: the interplay, cause and effect of behaviour by two or more people on each other. In the buyer-seller situation, the seller must be responsible for shaping mutual behaviour.

What’s the difference between human nature and human relations?

• Human nature is the instinctive behaviour that governs action concerned with the self and with self-interest.

• Human relations are concerned with how we think and act in terms of other’s interests.

Successful selling demands that human relations be dominant over human nature.

Selling is not something a salesperson does to a prospect. Selling is something you do with the prospect in a process of discovery and interaction – human relations at work.

The greatest barrier to success in this process is the “Egocentric Predicament”. This consists of being overly and unnecessarily concerned with self. Our ability to be perceptive and concerned about others is inversely proportionate to our self-concern.

When self gets unnecessarily in the way, the fruitful cycle of good human relations stops producing.

The key to understanding and accepting others, is to first understand and accept oneself – starting with the realisation that, rather than strive for an unattainable “I should be” image, we should settle for our real self as “I am” – accepting shortcomings along with strengths.

The following points provide a practical answer to the “I am” versus “I should be” conflict.

Recognise it – and recognise that its source is rooted in the views of others.

Either (a) accept your “I am” image or (b) decide on attainable, constructive steps to achieve “I should be” in the future.

Our behaviour is a reflection of our attitudes; and our attitudes grow out of our values.

Each is an integral part of the other. Do your life values make it easy for you to put the other person’s interests first?

Sincerity is a much-used word in relation to selling.

Integrity is a kindred word. Integrity implies a consistent kind of honesty: acting outwardly the way you truly feel inwardly. That’s why sound values are so important to your success with others. Remember: “People buy our product not so much because they understand the product… but because they feel that we understand them.”

There are many effective ways of doing this: The best way to create this kind of buying climate is to “transmit on their frequency.” This opens their mind to you…makes them willing – and eager – to listen.

A sincere, specific compliment on a point of real meaning to them gets the other person talking about things of interest to them. It opens doors.

Before I sell my prospect what my prospect buys, I must first see my prospect as they see themselves.”

In Summary:

Empathy is the magical word in the lexicon of human relations. It means feeling as the other person feels, not just with them. It means putting yourself in their shoes and shaping your attitudes accordingly.

Beyond getting the order, the plus factor in selling is to make people look good in their own eyes and in the eyes of others. Rather than sell to them, we help them buy.

We do this best by building their self-image. This helps them grow. And as we help others grow, we grow. To do this, we must be open and honest – this is the essence of good human relations.

These concepts are applicable to every facet of our lives and in selling, they pave the way to the truest and most fruitful success.

Copyright © 2008 Jonathan Farrington. All rights reserved


Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognised business coach, mentor, author and consultant, who has guided hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals around the world towards optimum performance levels.

Formerly, Jonathan was the Managing Partner of The jfa Group which he established in 1994 and then early in 2007, Jonathan formed Top Sales Associates (TSA) to promote the very best sales related solutions and products. TSA is now a subsidiary of The Sales Corporation –
www.thesalescorporation.com based in London and

Paris, where Jonathan is the Chairman.

The JF Consultancy – www.jonathanfarrington , launched early in 2008 and Jonathan’s highly popular daily blog for dedicated business professionals can be found at www.thejfblogit.co.uk

Q1 Down- 3 To Go!3

Tomorrow is the end of the quarter, for many the first quarter of the year, for some of our clients it is the mid-point of the year. Either way a great time to stop for a quick review of where you are vis-à-vis you targets, not only in terms of revenue, but activity targets and other specifics you set out to accomplish at the start of the year. Similar to a start of year plan and review, this one should look at a number of key variables that will impact your success. First and most obvious is where you are in YTD revenues. Others include but certainly are not limited to the following. Review your ratios:

  • Conversations to appointments
  • Appointments to real prospects
  • Prospects to proposals
  • Proposals to deals

Based on where these are compared to the start of the year and current market conditions and outlook you may (or may not) need to make adjustments. Time allocation to specific activities based on the above or key activities that your business demands. Sometimes the easiest way to get back on track is to readjust you time allocation. People often talk about market conditions, certainly with some of the uncertainty in today’s market that is a consideration. Not much you can do to change the broad reality. But you can take note of your current deal size versus last year. You can look at the length of your sales cycle and again build that in to your approach.

The reality with a third of your year gone, and if you have a sales cycle that 60 – 90 days, if you do not review and adjust now, you are risking your whole year.

Sell Well!

The Pipieline

Down to the Wire?0

Here we are in the last week of a very tumultuous quarter, and exciting time in sales. I was talking to a client Thursday, and she was saying her team is having its best quarter in the last ten years. She was looking forward to the Easter weekend, hoping her team enjoys the buzz of their work, rest enough to come out swinging Monday, but not cool off too much by for that last week to push things to great new highs.

She felt good because the one thing the team had done consistently all year is spend time prospecting on a regular basis. They adopted the mantra we instilled in them: Focus on the end of your sales cycle every day, because today is the last day you can impact that sales cycle!” So for those sales teams who are going to be “closing” this week two questions:

  1. What were you doing the rest of the quarter?
  2. Would the last week of the next quarter be any different if you adopted the mantra above?

Sell Well!
The Pipeline

Learning from you0

One of the things I love about what I do is I get as much of a chance to learn as I do to deliver knowledge and related skills. I was working with a telesales group for a major Canadian B2B supplier; they are in a highly competitive industry that is facing price pressure and commoditization daily. We were conducting a live call out session to real prospects, when one of the participants in the workshop, we’ll call her Joan, was confronted by a prospect who threw the following at her:

Prospect: “You know I’d love to look at what you have, but my best friend works for LMNOP Inc.” (LMNOP Inc. is my client’s major competitors)

Joan: “Well, that’s great, but let me ask you this, if I can show great value, service and support, would you like your friend any less?


Silence at the other end, seemed like a life time, more like five seconds, but then came the thrill of victory:

Prospect: “you’re right, let’s talk…..”

I loved it, Joan was great, game, set and match!

Objections 0 Sales Rep 1

Sell well!
Joan did!
The Pipeline

Leveraging Voice Mail11

voice mail

Productivity and cost efficiency are key drivers for corporations adopting new technologies. While it is hardly new and few can dispute its overall benefit, voice mail is one technology that has greatly reduced the productivity of Business-to-Business sales people and increased cost for their employers. This however can be fixed. Here’s how.

No question that trying to engage with a live prospect has become increasingly challenging as voice mail has become ubiquitous. Contrary to what most reps think it is not always a case of people “hiding behind voice mail”, most people are truly busy and use voice mail to cope. However, consistently successful reps always leave voice mail, and as a result get more appointments and generate more sales and revenues There are a couple of dynamics at play. A lot of reps say “I never get a call back”; “No one ever returns voice mails”. Not true, I get return calls from five out of ten messages I leave.

More importantly you also benefit from messages left even when they don’t call back. Studies show it can take anywhere from four to seven approaches before someone responds to or consider something new, i.e. your product/service. Many reps will call numerous times, not leave a message hoping they will eventually get the person live; most will give up after three attempts at reaching someone, and move on. There is a difference between being persistent in getting on a prospect’s radar, and pestering; most reps give up too soon. When you do not leave a message, then you may have tried three or even four times, but as far as the prospect is concerned you’re at zero; you didn’t leave a message, no “calling card” telling them you want to talk to them.

Some reps waste time dialing someone dozens of times, not leaving a message. When they finally connect they let the built-up frustration out on the prospect, as though it was his fault that they called and called and called, instead of leaving a message and having them call back, while making use of the wait time to reach out to more prospects. Another thing to consider is that a vast majority of reps, who do not leave messages, still listen to the entire outbound message on the voice mail, so why not take a few more seconds and leave a message. It’s a no brainer. On the one hand, even if they don’t call back (within 72 hours), you are on the prospects radar (yes initially at the fringe but better placed than the those who don’t leave messages).

On the other hand, you have a 50-50 shot of getting a call back, good odds, and certainly many more conversation leading to more appointments. The technique for getting a call back is very simple. The human mind hates a mystery, given the opportunity to erase a question mark most people will do it. Most messages ask you to leave “a detailed message”, because they want to be able to full evaluate and prioritize who and what they call back. Your goal is to be contrarian and minimalist. Create a need for them to call back if they want to close off or resolve the issue. Using third party references and brevity is the key. Consider using a message like the one below. Assume ABC is a company you currently do or have done business with that the contact will recognize, (competitor, supplier, customer, but one that you are or have dealt with).

“Hi Ms. Smith. This is Paul Drake from Safety Software. You can reach me at 416-555-1212, and I’m calling you with reference to ABC Company.” Keep the messages short!

If you leave a message like the one above, elicits curiosity and leverage the work you are doing with ABC Company to schedule an appointment with your target. As mentioned above, I get five return calls for every ten messages left. That is five more conversations than those who don’t leave messages, which means more appointments and more sales.

Sell well!

The Pipeline

Who is a Sales Man?11

I trained a group the other day, and as we do sometimes I ask what their challenges were vis-à-vis consistent sales success, I was floored when four of the five participants told me they don’t like to think of themselves as sales people. They felt that what they do what not sales, sales is what Herb Tarlek did on WKRP in Cincinnati.

Herb tarlek

They felt their role was to inform the client of what was available to them, and just sit back and wait for the prospect to come to the logical conclusion: “I’ll buy that”.

A good plan in theory, better yet if it works, you know it I asked:

“Does that work for you?”

“Sometimes” they replied.

“Does it work often enough to help you achieve your goal?”

“Not always”“Would you rather hit goal?”

“Yes but…”

Man, I couldn’t believe it, the “but” was that they didn’t want to be pushy or come across crass, which is how they saw sales: Herb and his type out there forcing grannies, prospects and orphans to part with their money.

Funny, because they did feel their product had value, and that is why if they just waited, as soon as the market saw their advertising or mailing, well their phone would just ring off the hook, and presto. Their numbers did not support this fantasy.

Fortunately the next day, I worked with a group that took pride in being sales professionals and worked hard to grow and improve how they proactively engaged their market and prospects. And oh yes, their numbers showed it.

Sell (proud) well!

The Pipeline

Doesn’t work here!0

One of the things I love about what I do is seeing how people look at the same issues or things in so many different ways. One example is when you ask them to adopt a new way of doing things, say prospecting or how they actively manage their funnel. Right off the bat you see the wheels turning, some are thinking how they will incorporate it into their daily routine, others are formulating excuses as to why what they are being asked to do won’t work.

One of my favorites is when they say something to the effect:“Well you see Tibor that may work in Toronto but it won’t work here in Calgary. You see it’s different here.” This is a geographical variation on the proverbial fan favorite and often remixed “our industry is different, it may for some, but you have to understand we are different”.

The reason I bring this up is I was working with a company with offices in BC, Alberta and Ontario, and one of the reps sat through the whole day and even gave a positive review in the company’s assessment form. A week later during our follow up session, he pronounced that what we presented “does not work in Calgary, maybe it works in Toronto, but you see Tibor, Calgary is different, it just doesn’t work here, you just have to understand that.” Well, I wasn’t heart broken, especially since most of his colleagues have had success, tremendous success according to some. It turned out he tried things out for a day and decided that he didn’t like it, ergo “it doesn’t work in Calgary”. Works in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Boston, Chicago, London, Richmond VA, Vancouver, Orlando, and even Newport Beach CA; but not in Calgary. D’you suppose? Or is it that he Mike, doesn’t work in

Calgary, or for that fact anywhere where he may be unproductively occupying a desk.

Sell well,

The Pipeline

Took my Time0

I am not sure where it was, probably on the radio last week, but there was a discussion about gadgets and their impact on our productivity. The details escape me at the moment, but what really stuck with me was a statement by one of the talking heads who stated that he no longer has a wrist watch due to the pervasiveness of clocks and visible time on all the gadgets. Who needs the burden of a watch?

I remember thinking he was so right, it’s everywhere, like on my handheld, which is never out of my hands too long, e-mails, phone calls; in fact I am writing this very post on it, he is right, time is everywhere! This is why I find it so amazing that with time being so visible everywhere, how most sales people can’t seem to better. In fact the reason “I find the time” to write this post, is because I am waiting for someone who is challenged managing theirs; 15 minutes late and counting!

There are so many things that are out of the control of sales people; time is the one thing that they can and must master. Yet most sales people, from the very top, right down to street level, choose to squander their time day in day out. You hear their battle cry “we have to respond to our clients.” Somehow they feel more effective or valuable in a perpetual reactive state, rather than basking in the warmth of the control rooted proactive state.

I love asking sales people if time were money, and each year you were given a finite sum at the start of each year, how ready would you be to waste it, how much would you give up to others, how little control would keep over that money? Oh wow, 17 minutes late, but he is here, glad I found a way to use my unplanned down time.

Sell well!

The Pipeline

The inconvenient truth about cold calling11

So generally I don’t get caught up in fads and passing trends, but with -20 degrees outside, I really want to get some of that global warming here soon man, where are Al and Tipper Gore when you need some.

The only upside to this deep freeze is that the cold calling is warm by comparison. But you know, I talk to some reps and they are telling me that they are not making calls because (get this) “when it’s cold like this people don’t wanna meet sales people”. What do you want to bet that this same guy will tell me that you can’t cold call in August because “people don’t wanna meet when it’s so hot”. So here we are, the real inconvenient truth about cold calling, you gotta do it! January, February, Monday, Thursday, Easter, Ramadan, Purim, August, when ever! I told him to put a touque over his head set and make some calls. He did, he got an appointment, I got paid, cranked up the heat and headed for the door, I thought I saw Al Gore in a limo.

Sell well,

The Pipeline

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