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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

Here is to Relationships and Sales7

I guess Valentines Day is a good day to talk about relationships, with all the flowers, candy and wine marking the relationship between lovers and strangers at times. But in sales, relationships are fleeting and deceitful at the best of times. One dictionary defines relationship as follows:

The relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship

Sounds great, that’s because the sales reps read the above as connecting participants. What a lovely image, participants, two equals in a journey of positive eventuality, connected by the value of their newly minted relationship with their prospect. In fact the power of this connection is so strong, that the relationship transforms the prospect to client, a customer. Wow, like the caterpillar to a butterfly, what a beautiful thing, and it even comes with a commission. Sadly, the prospect (yes soon the customer) reads the definition and reads it only as binding participants. Not bad, binding, still ripe with possibility, why is Shanto sounding so downbeat. Well let see what the same dictionary says about binding:

1 a: to make secure by tying b: to confine, restrain, or restrict as if with bonds c: to put under an obligation <binds himself with an oath> d: to constrain with legal authority

While I have friends who would call that love, none of them are in sales.

Time and time again reps say they won the deal because of the “great relationship” they had with the prospect. And all it took to court that relationship and turn that prospect to a customer was a small discount, not much larger than your company’s margin on the deal, and you even get to pay commission just to make sure the company makes no money at all. But hey, you got a customer, the rep is happy, and instead of an 18 month payback, you have to wait 30 months, it’s only a year, we have a relationship, we have a happy customer, let’s move on to creating the next relationship. Time flies, Victoria Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving, hey rep time to renew your relationship. Off he goes in his car, it’s all good, we have a re-lay-shon-ship!

But wait why the long face George? What do you mean they didn’t renew, what happened to your relationship? What do you mean we lost on price, we gave them a discount, you said you they loved you, you have a re-lay-shon-ship? Why did they go with them? Maybe it’s not the caterpillar and the butterfly, but Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde.

What’s in Your Pipe?

Sell Well!

The Pipeline

Going Around4

One of the most often asked questions at workshops if they should go over or around someone who is stalling or in the way of a sale. Our view is an unwavering YES. It is one thing to be told that there is no sales, and it is quite another to be blocked from getting a decision from a real decision maker, especially by someone who is unable and not empowered to make decisions. One way to avoid this trap is to approach a company through multiple contacts, using a top down, bottom up approach. But as with most things in sales it comes down to outlook, attitude and preparation. Preparation, in most cases the reps getting blocked or stalled; don’t have a plan or a list of people through the buying organization they can call in case they hit a wall. Their attitude is subservient and as a result even if they find the right people they rarely are able to establish a peer to peer relationship. While it may be accurate that people buy from people they like, they like peers more. Most importantly when it comes to going around or over someone is who you see as your customer. The reality is that the company is your client, not the individual. Further the company you are selling to is the customer of your company, pretending otherwise is folly. I always find it interesting when people rely on “champions”, the reality is today’s “champion” is tomorrow’s albatross. You can avoid this trap by selling the whole company, instead of investing your efforts and emotions in one, usually wrong, person.Sell well!

The Pipeline

How Much?!0

I was talking with a prospect today, and when all was said and done it came down to guess what? Right, the price. Having had a price in mind in advance, I was not really worried about the discussion, and going in I knew the company was notorious for beating down vendors. It seems in the 1980’s this player was a leader in their field, everyone wanted to work with them and they usually dictated the terms; and while those days have long gone the way of the Ford Pinto, the person I was negotiating with apparently still had some Cool Aide left and was heavily into it during the call.

After some to and fro we got to my walk away price, which had been adjusted with the expectation that this would be a complex project and I would need to charge fair market value. This is where got good, right after I reminded him about how we agreed that they were getting great value, they would face considerable risk if they didn’t move forward, he gives me the old stand by: “well if you can’t do it for $X,XXX, we’ll have to go with an alternative.” I told him I understood and wished him luck.

The project starts mid March at my price. SWEET!

Never surrender and

Sell well!

The Pipeline

I couldn’t do that15

I love January, one of the busiest months of the year for me, lots of workshops, people want to meet, the buzz of optimism everywhere. All this makes it a lot easier to deal with some of the nay-sayers you meet. What brought this on was the number of sales people who respond to new ideas or new techniques by saying “I could never do that”.

Cool, more for those that do take things on board and incorporate it to their routine in winning deals and making money. You can see it as you look out over the room, the go getters who consistently deliver and make money are processing and inputting; you can see them putting it together in their minds, picturing how they will apply and monetize the concepts and techniques.

Some other faces you see them searching for how they can rationalize not using the concepts and methodologies, and why it will not work for them. It is an interesting look, this look of rationalization; it is very close to the look of fear, the fear of success. I would like to help them overcome, but they push back and reject the whole thing, the concept, the application, the offer to help to implement, I guess the money that they could make.

If someone out there can help me understand, I would welcome it, as it may help some of these otherwise fine reps make some money.

Sell well!

The Pipeline

Who Cares1

Back from Vancouver, the workshops went well, despite the fact that the materials never arrived thanks to a courier company that promised they would be there before I arrive, and as it stands now things may arrive today, after I am back. Great! When I called to find out what happened, no one had a reason. Well they did, but each of the four people gave me different reasons so I am assuming that no one knows. More importantly, no one seemed to care; not so much about the inconvenience to me and my client, but about the impact on their company and their reputation. Sad, I chose to use them because they were once my client, and I try to be loyal and reciprocate and send business to those that do business with me. I will continue to reward my customers, and it seems this company will continue to miss deliveries.

Sell well!

The Pipeline

Black Monday2

Well you definitely know that the sales year has started in earnest when you have to board your first flight of the year. Like a guitar player who hasn’t played for a few weeks, you have to build up your calluses.

The packing, kissing your wife and kids good bye; finding just the right parking spot at the airport, the checking in; the security the indignity and we’re not even at the gate yet. There is still that plastic dinner to be had. Off to Vancouver, and I know it’ll be good when I get there, but it just has that unique feel of the first trip of the year.

Like the song says:
“Pick up my feet
And kick off my lethargy
Down to the gate
With the old mood upon me”

Travel and Sell well!

The Pipeline

How much is too many?23

Recently I have been getting the same question come up during workshops: “How many times should I call a new prospect before I give up?” in reality most say “before we move on”, I hear “before I give up”; this is coming up much more than in the past. The reality is that sales professionals should be reaching out more time to any given prospect than they naturally feel comfortable doing.

There have been a number of studies that show that most reps will try three times then move on. Same studies show that it takes as much as 5 to 7 touch points for potential prospects to let us in. These can be phone calls, in reality voice mail, e-mail, or in some cases fax still works.

So if you are moving on after three tries, and your competitor calls twice the following week, you just primed the pump for his success.

Believe me they wont take it personally, you are not going to upset them, there is money in being professionally persistent! Meaning don’t hound them every day for eight weeks, but six time over the course of a couple of weeks will get you more meeting, and as result more sales, more referrals, etc.

Sell well!

The Pipeline

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