Welcome to The Pipeline.

Thank You For #CASL Mr. Harper0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Cold calling Harper 3

Tomorrow July 1, is Canada Day, a day where Canadians in our own way celebrate the difference that is Canada. But tomorrow will not be a happy day for many businesses, sales people and sales organizations. July 1, 2014 is the day the new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation goes into effect. Known by its acronym: CASL, which makes it sound safe. Canadians can now feel protected from those African “nasties” who want to share their princely fortunes, or those Asian companies offering to share their collectibles if you act as their agent, and of course all those voodoo doctors who want to help reshape key parts of your anatomy, up top and below.

Learn about the CASL Relief Special

But the reality is that those Nigerian princes will still be hitting your inbox, of course given that it is 2014 most now end up directly in the junk box. And despite the bravado from the Canadian Government that they will pursue these spammers to the four corners of the world (I thought earth was round), I doubt they will be able to stop or even slow the usual abusers. Meaning that most will experience the downside of CASL.

CASL will impact small and medium businesses, the very group Harper’s Conservatives claim to champion, legitimate Canadian businesses and their sales organizations. While many larger companies, with resources, money and time will adopt various forms of marketing automation, many SMB’s lack the ability to take advantage of the alternative. Even if they did, the fuel of these automated alternative is content, and that will be a challenge. Of course they could outsource it, but for many an effective strategy will be too cost prohibitive.

While no one will argue the good idea and intent behind the legislation, the outcome is anything but. While some apologists have put off the severe negative effects of CASL on small and medium businesses to the law of unintended consequences, I am not sure it fits here. The consequences could and should have been predicted and more importantly with a bit of forethought and consideration easily minimized or avoided. Forethought? Sorry, what am I thinking, we’re talking about governments; BTW, guess who is exempt from some of the business killing effects of the law, yup, governments and Members of Parliament, nice.

One beneficiary of this debacle is Canada Post, direct mail marketing should see an uptick based on what many are planning to fill the gap. Let’s look at some of the unintended consequences here. More paper wasted, and I am not a tree hugger, but I do pay taxes. Everyday loads of useless paper is delivered in my mail box, I have to take that to my blue box, and pay the municipality to recycle it, and start the charade all over again, and they make the money, you and I pay the cost. Seems like a lot more bother than hitting the delete button, or better yet given that it is 2014, just have it go straight to junk. Maybe Canada Post should get into recycling the junk they deliver, charge it to the advertisers, and make up for some of their losses.

But for the most part I can’t complain here, because the other big winner here is: COLD CALLING!

Ya baby, you have fewer choices now. While social selling, inbound marketing, and various forms of automation are great, they are not all that effective in engaging with those people lopped off by CASL. No getting around the whole “electronic business communication” thing. But you can pick up the phone, say something worthwhile, and directly engage, and sell. Talk about great unintended consequences!

So here is my give to Canadian and American SMB’s alike. The Renbor CASL RELIEF SPECIAL. That’s right, book Renbor to deliver our world famous, road tested and proven Proactive Prospecting Program for your company, during July 2014, (to be delivered before September 15, 2014), and will give you a 20% Harper/CASL discount. Click here to learn more about our CASL Relief Special.

Thank You Mr. Harper!

casl button

Global Survey on Sales Lead Generation Best Practices2

Survey

The folks over at 360 Leads are conduction a global survey on sales lead generation best practices.

The survey takes about three minutes to complete, and will deliver insights into:

  • Most effective channels at generating leads
  • Top sales and marketing challenges facing business
  • Sales lead nurturing practices

Take a few minutes, contribute by completing the survey, and then learn from the results.

Using a Top Ten List to Grow Your Sales (#guestpost)0

ButchNewHeadshot1

The Pipeline Guest Post - Butch Bellah

How would you like to be able to easily (almost effortlessly) track your ten hottest prospect and keep them moving toward a sale? Well, you’re in luck! By using a Top Ten List, you can do just that. David Letterman has made a lot of money with a Top Ten list and now you can, too.
First, what is a Top Ten List? In my world it is simply the ten hottest prospects you are currently working, ranked in order of their ability to be closed. It is not a Wish List, it’s not an “I’d love to have that business” list, it is made up of the Ten best prospects you’ve made presentations to and are working through the sales cycle.

NOTE: If you don’t have ten today, that’s OK. But, if you don’t have ten a month from now there’s only one person to blame.

The Top Ten List depends on the old adage, “You can manage what you can measure”. Think about that, what we measure we have the ability to manage. In this case, if you leave your list of top prospects rattling around in your head or just as part of a massive database, they’ll get lost, forgotten and probably never become a customer.

The Top Ten List allows you to see at a glance who they are and allows you to ask yourself the most important question in sales: “What can I do to move this relationship forward?”

Assume your Top Ten List is completely fully. Position 1 is the person who should become your next new customer, Position 2 is the next most likely and so on. Every day—yes, every day you should look at this document and ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move them closer to a sale?”

How do you get number 6 into position 5? How do you get the prospect in position 4 into position 3? This is a fluid, living document and will change weekly. Just because someone is your hottest prospect this week (Position 1) doesn’t mean they’ll hold that spot next week. If something happens in the process with the prospect in position four that moves them to the top of the list, GREAT!

The key is to understand each of these ten is at a different stage of the sales process and they have to be handled as such. However, each should be moving forward. If they aren’t, why aren’t they?

Your Top Ten List is a perfect tool for sales managers to use to work with their team and is the single most important piece of data you own. If you use it effectively and truly concentrate on developing it as a tool, you will see your sales and closing percentage increase.
Why? Because you are spending your time with the people most likely to do business with you. Keep pushing the prospect in position eight up the ladder and that will, in effect, keep pushing the prospects ahead of them toward becoming a customer.
The key is to be honest with yourself. Where do these prospective customers rank and are they really deserving of being on the Top Ten List. If they do, then by all means work daily to move them toward a sale.

Question: How can you use the Top Ten list to impact YOUR sales?

About Butch Bellah

Butch Bellah is a Sales Coach & Trainer, speaker and author. He operates B2 Training & Development and www.butchbellah.com. You can order his new book, “The 10 Essential Habits of Sales Superstars: Plugging into The Power of Ten” here and follow him on twitter @salespowertips. He can be reached at butch@butchbellah.com or at 337-384-9204

Goodwill And Selling Now – – Sales eXecution 2570

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Road to success

Goodwill: “a kindly feeling of approval and support: benevolent interest or concern”

I sales there is always talk of trust, easy to see why. But trust is not an instantaneous thing, nor can it be acquired by the pound, it has to be earned, demonstrated through actions, it needs to be reciprocal, and to the chagrin of some marketing folks, it is much more than an italicized bullet point in a brochure. Further, in sales, talk of trust brings with it an ever expanding range of opinions and advice from a number of “knowledgeable experts”.

As you would expect, the wider the range of opinions, the less likely it is that any one single source has the right, or even the “righter” answer. With trust, it is better to master a given element, learn, and build a base of success from which you can move to the next set of elements. This then becomes the iterative road should define your sales career. Unless you can definitively prove that you have figured trust, and you don’t need to evolve it further. (Hint number one, if someone claims to have the definitive answer, be suspect).

What I disagree with is the view held by some that people will not buy until a seller has established trust, or more important for sellers, that they cannot sell until they have developed trust. But since it takes time and action to establish trust, and buyers often have objectives with shorter timeframes, what do you do, especially in a quota driven reality?

The answer is Goodwill. As there is no ”Express to Trust”, think of Goodwill as the stations along the way; and great thing for you and your buyer, is that you can get sales as a result of building goodwill, avoiding the “what comes first the trust or the sale?” puzzle. We have all heard the sales expression “they don’t care how much you know until they see how much you care”; goodwill allows you to do just that.

There are myriad of ways of building goodwill with a buyer, much of it will be dictated by what you sell and your buyers objectives, another reason to implement a disciplined opportunity post-mortem routine.

As with other aspects of sales you can build goodwill if you stop doing certain things. For example, there is a leading expert, whose stuff I used to like. I say used to because every time they send out useful information, it is merely a teaser, the meaningful part is always “locked” behind a form, with a lot more detail than most forms request. While I utilize forms, there is a bunch downloads I provide to prospects that don’t require one. There are times I send prospects info and direct them right to the download, bypassing the required form. If the information is of use, I get an opportunity to engage, some goodwill, and a brick in building trust. Every time this this person writes me, I remember what a pain they are, and I score one against them.

Giving prospect access to something you normally save for clients; introducing prospects to some of your clients who could be their buyers; one company I knew had their product development folks available for a monthly Q&A for prospects the sales people selected, no selling just discussion. The choice is yours, both in terms of what and why, and the best why is it builds revenue now, and trust along the way.

Hey, if you liked what you saw here, invite me to speak at your next meeting!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Do You Confirm Set Appointments? – The Feedback3

 By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

eGrabber time

A few weeks ago I put out a question based on a discussion I had with a sales rep about the need for and, value of confirming appointments. To be specific, appointments where the prospect had accepted the appointment both verbally on the phone, and then again accepted the electronic invite (Outlook or Google) you e-mailed.

Thank you to everyone who responded. We had some great responses, and the result was in some ways different than what I had expected based on similar discussions with salespeople in workshops I have delivered, or other reps I have worked with directly.

Recognizing that this is not in any way a scientific poll, not one respondent said no to confirming set appointments.  About 75% said they indeed do confirm, the remaining 25%, offered a conditional response. The conditions usually related to distance, travel time, or effort.

“If I’m travelling more than 45 minutes, then I always confirm.”

“Usually I don’t; people get enough email the way it is. If, however, it’s a small, out-of-the-way account, I learned (the hard way) that it’s best to do so.”

In some ways I was surprised by the numbers. In most discussions I have had the split is usually more balanced, with some 30% saying they do not confirm, and I have had groups that were evenly split. I did wonder how much of the difference may have been due to people putting on their public face, giving the appropriate response rather than their SOP. But looking at some of the reasons people gave in support of their actions, one has to take the results at face value. One also has to factor in that people who do not usually confirm meetings, may not be inclined to take the time to respond.

Here are some comments from those who confirm, and what I thought were good twists and ways to tactically leverage the confirmation.

“I believe inherent in the confirmation you have once again inserted you, your company and its products in his mind – always a good thing, and professional, in my opinion.”

“Yes, because then it’s top of mind and if they’re not interested you’re not wasting 15 minutes of your time sitting and waiting for them … It’s all about getting to the ‘no’ quicker so you can find people that are ‘yes’ …”

I have to agree with the concept of getting rid of the “no’s”, and saving time and resources who are likely to go through the cycle with you. The more you can “disqualify”, the more “qualified prospects you will end up with.

A couple of the responses offered similar reasons for confirming, that it is an opportunity to get you and your company in front of the prospect once more:

“I believe inherent in the confirmation you have once again inserted you, your company and its products in his mind – always a good thing, and professional, in my opinion.”

A variation was around how people confirm, choosing to present it in a way that not only confirms but opens other useful avenues:

“I would not call to ask if they will keep the appointment, but ask if there is any additional data or information or a specialist colleague I can bring to the meeting on the scheduled date and time, and that I am prepared to invest additional time doing the research. If we call them and ask if they will keep the appointment, there is a chance they will answer NO and hang up.”

For full disclosure, I usually do not confirm once the other party has accepted the electronic invite, I am not religious or black and white on this, but I tend to give other professionals the benefit of the doubt, and not often let down. Once I accept a meeting, I feel that it is my professional obligation to respect the other party and inform them as soon as circumstances change. Perhaps those of us who do not confirm are a bit naive. My view usually is that the appointment was agreed to, then followed up with an invite that puts the time, person and purpose right in their calendar, anything beyond that seemed redundant. Further, over 90% of the time the appointment happens as planned, or I get a call or note in advance about any required changes.

I also find that what you sell has something to do with it. I do notice that transactional sellers get forgotten more often than higher ticket product or what some would call more complex sales or solutions. I personally believe that this is more a reflection on the buyer than the seller, perhaps knowing that the rep is likely to call again, they have a choice in suppliers being contributing factors. All the more reason to focus on driving the buyer’s objective to raise one’s profile and importance of the meeting. Again a reason to leave the product in the car and base the appointment on objectives and impacts.

In the end, I am not sure there is a right or a wrong, there is what works for you. Be open to trying different approaches and don’t get stuck behind something that worked yesterday, but not today. The key is you are getting appointments, and while some may fall away, keep booking the next.

Hey, if you liked what you saw here, invite me to speak at your next meeting!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

That’s My Name Don’t Ware I Out – Sales eXecution 2560

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

High wire

Over the last couple of weeks, I found myself as the prospect at two sales meetings I attended. I always find it hard to concentrate in these meetings, because of what I do, I tend be distracted from the topic at hand, and focusing more on form and format of the execution, and the meeting is unfolding.

For me a sales meeting is like a present, what’s inside the box is important, but the box itself, the wrapping, the ribbon, the bow, and finally how it is presented and unwrapped are integral to the experience. Done right it can enhance the experience, and as a result lead to faster cycles, firmer prices, and a series of knock-on benefits. Needless to say, do it wrong, and you get the opposite and detrimental effect. And while you can still get the sale in the end, why make things hard on yourself and the buyer.

This is why some may see some the “mechanics” of sales as being pedestrian, in some ways secondary to the “the technique” or “methodology”, the mechanics and dynamics of execution are still more important than many want to acknowledge.

Both were good products, both were good sales people, but in both cases their style of execution got in the way, and in one instance will likely cost her the sale. I want to be clear, it was not that I did not like the individuals, it was the way they executed, the unnecessary distractions, to the point where I lost interest in dealing with them. Just as a times buyers lose interest in us, despite the fact that we did everything by the book.

Let’s look at the salvageable sale first. She kept using my name. There are time that I recommend using the buyer’s name, probably for all the reasons you’ve heard, but not be very sentence. It was Tibor this, and Tibor that, Tibor everything. I love my name, and unlike many, she was pronouncing it correctly, but I was getting sick of hearing it. Instead of listening to her, I started counting how many times she used it in the hour, (21). (At one point I almost responded “yes Mom”.)

The other rep, he is unsalvageable, just pissed me off. Every question he asked me was prefaced by telling me how great he and his company were, as though I should apply to buy from them, and I’d be more than silly if I didn’t, even when there are a dozen more vendors like him in a stone’s throw, or certainly a click of a mouse. The questions were less about what I was out to achieve, but each was an assumptive close. What’s worse is he probably has the right product, top three potential fits, but I just can’t picture spending time with him, his ego, his company’s ego without eventually expressing my feelings in a very direct way.
When it comes to making the sale a great experience for a buyer, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Challenger, a SPINner, or any affiliation, pay attention to the “wrapping” too, it counts. Playing it by the book is good, but some things are not in the book, just in the room.

Hey, if you liked what you saw here, invite me to speak at your next meeting!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Micromanage Me, Please0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

microscope

The best way to turn a positive in to a negative is to give it a nasty name. A great example in sales is the use of the word “Micromanagement”, a favourite among those looking to shirk some responsibility and/or accountability that comes with “Active Management”. VP’s, Directors, Managers, and Front-line reps all love to throw up the Word to avoid dealing with issues and/or challenges they face but don’t like, i.e. “Active Management”.

I do want to acknowledge that real micromanagement, the wet blanket type, in the classic sense is not good (most of the time), but what a lot of people in sales label as micromanagement, is nothing more than active management. This includes real expectations, measured or tied to benchmarks and metrics. And it is usually those who fall short on the measured areas who cry “Micromanagement”.

Regardless of the title, the role of the front line manager is to lead their teams in executing the process, by leveraging and balancing activities and the coaching of their team to consistently better execute the high value activities that drive the process. Straight forward enough but not necessarily simple.

Let’s use the example of a core metric important in driving sales, one of the simplest, proposal to closing ratio. You would expect that most sales people would know their own, and that their manager would too, otherwise how could they possibly coach them. There are a host of indicators that can be used to manage activity and coach for improvement, of course as a leader you want to focus on the leading indicators.

I was interviewing a team last week, including their manager (he’s been around a while, so his title was VP, but he was a line manager), and when I asked him about some key conversion rates, he responded that he did not want to “get involved to that level, I don’t want to micromanage”. This would seem OK if they were blowing their numbers away, but that’s not why I was there. I asked what expectations are set either in terms of activities, pipeline coverage, or territory contact/coverage/penetration. And in all instances, the reply was basically that the guys are professionals, “do things their way, and don’t like to be micromanaged.” Apparently, they don’t like to exceed quota either.

When I asked about how the team was coached, the typical, “we talk every day, they call me when they have issues with a deal, and we meet once a month as a team to talk about the market.” Any coaching plans for the reps? “We do a performance management meeting every six months.”

When I spoke to the reps, I got their version of the “I don’t want to be micromanaged” routine.

Now we all know if I went back and asked them what their favourite ball player’s batting average, or RBI numbers were; or +/- in hockey, they would know it. I am willing to bet that if a ball player didn’t follow the coach’s system, they would expect the coach to get involved, and why not, just look at the success Phil Jackson was able to drive with his process, was he micromanaging? Or if someone was not producing as many goals as in previous years, they would lead the “trade them” charge. If the team was underperforming they would be calling for the coach to be fired, but not when it comes to their performance, the very same expectation would be met with the “micromanagement” cry.

Active management is a must for any professional team to continue to outperform their competitors, sales is no less a profession. You want to succeed, embrace active management.

Hey, if you liked what you saw here, invite me to speak at your next meeting!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Sales Referral Etiquette – Sales eXecution 2550

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Referral Eq

We all know the value of referrals, although some seem to revere the practice a little too much, suggesting it trumps or eliminates cold calling or other forms of buyer engagement, when we all know it is about how to integrate approaches. But that’s for another post, today I want to focus on the etiquette of what we should do when someone refers business to us.

I give my share of referrals, mostly because I know what I do well and when my clients have a requirement beyond that, I prefer to refer it to someone who knows what they are doing. This delivers value to my clients, puts me in the role of trusted advisor, and helps another expert/provider. And that latter bit that sometimes is mishandled by people, sometimes putting a wrench in an otherwise productive flow.

More often than not, when I refer someone it is when I am actively engaged with the buyer, and they require the capability the person I am referring the business to. An example would be someone looking to hire and reps to their team, and we decide to hold off on training until the team is full. I refer it to a recruiter, my opportunity is contingent on the recruiter doing their bit.

Most people understand that they should communicate continuously with the person who gave the referral, especially when both are engaged with the same buyer at the same time as part of the same process. In the example above, salesforce improvement. Without that communication, I am unable to respond to the buyer should questions come, nor can I support their cause without knowing what is going on. This gets even more dicey when the two opportunities are intertwined, a lack of communication can not only make us look sloppy in the eyes of the mutual buyer, but can derail things for all parties.

I know this all sounds elementary, but you would be surprised. Some of the most capable people I know come up short in this simple follow up step, undermining the quality of their opportunity, and more importantly any future referrals from me, as I am not one to fly in the dark, I prefer a different set of risks.

Everyone like getting referrals, and most of us like to give referrals for the reasons above, but getting is step one, earning the next referral is step two, three and four. Pick up the phone, send an e-mail, no need for the whole Megillah, just a few highlights, and done. If I have to ask the buyer how things are progressing with the work you are doing for them, it makes us both look bad, and I don’t like looking bad.

Hey, if you liked what you saw here, invite me to speak at your next meeting!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

2014 Annual magazine with “Top Universities for Professional Sales Education” listing0

2014 Annual

In 2007, fewer than 30 universities had recognized sales programs. In 2014, the number has grown to close to 100, evidence of the success of sales programs in educating the next generation of sales professionals. One key factor driving that growth has to go to the good folks at the The Sales Education Foundation and their efforts in bringing attention to this overlooked faculty. In some ways it speaks to a reality that should be of great interest to companies and future professionals.

The average rate of student employment, within three months of graduation, hovers around 50%, sales programs report an average of 92%. Students from sales programs average 2.8 job offers before graduation. Add to that the fact that approximately half of all college of business graduates begin their professional careers in a sales role.

All this adds up to why you need to get a hold of and read the 2014 Annual magazine is housed on the Sales Education Foundation website, www.salesfoundation.org. The magazine includes the listing of “Top Universities for Professional Sales Education.”

As a college recruiter, hiring manager, sales organizations: you’ll find that statistics show sales graduates ramp up 50% faster and turn over 30% less than their non-sales educated peers. Partnering with a university sales programs ensures recruiters and their organizations with a pool of future top sales professionals.

If you are a student, you can research and choose a university that offers Professional Sales programs. Sales graduates report their career satisfaction at over 77%. The average starting salary for a sales representative is over $56,000.00. For those looking to pursue an undergraduate major that virtually guarantees employment, professional selling is the program of choice.

University looking to start a program, or connect with other programs, the “Top” listing provides contact information for these programs.
I had the opportunity to be introduced to the Sales Education Foundation, as a result of working with Dawn Deeter-Schmelz, Director, National Strategic Selling Institute, Kansas State University, where I had the pleasure of presenting during their Sales Week this past February.

The Sales Education Foundation’ tag line is ELEVATING THE SALES PROFESSION, something we should all get behind. Grab the Annual, get involved in make our profession an profession everyone aspires to be and improve.

Get Out Of Your Own Way!0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

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Everyone in sales has heard the expression “You are your own worst enemy, or biggest obstacle.” Usually in the context is our ability to break through barriers, or reach new highs. But it is also true that we are our own biggest asset when it comes to the same opportunity. It really is just a question of how we choose to view and respond to things. Given this, I am always surprised to see how many sales professionals continue to get in their own way, rather than be a force of progress in their own success.

I would be easy to just look at attitude or self-limiting thinking, and if that is your challenge there plenty of good sources of information and ideas to address that. More often than not though, sales people know what they have to do, they just don’t do it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they say “I know that I have to do that, but I just won’t.”, there are other factors. But the net effect of their inaction leads to the same result, and they end up getting in their own way.

There are some basic things, and yes I know basic is out of fashion in these days of ‘complex sales’, but making things complex when they don’t have to be is one way we get in our own way. There are clear steps we can take to get outta the way and move towards sales success.

First is how we choose to deal with our resources, especially non-renewable resources, the most precious of which is time. Time is the one thing we all have in equal portions, and in especially sales, how you use your time is usually the difference between success or not. While full speed ahead is a nice mantra, and “trying to stuff as much in to a day as we can” may sound politically correct, there are better ways to leverage this resource for sales success. Start by inventorying how much time you need to allocate to each of these high value activities over the course of the cycle, allocate that time, and focus on managing your activity within that time, not on managing time. (More on time click here)

Another is to develop a clear road map for the sale, beyond high value activities, what has to happen in what sequence. Which of these are “Musts” and which are non-fatal. Stage by stage, activity by activity, it should be mapped. Some will say that they have the experience, they don’t need this, but I disagree. You favourite athlete has a play book, and while they do execute in their own way, they still have their play book. Without it you can’t make adjustments, improvements, or see the small things that will help you run the play better, sell better, in less time.

These are but two elements, and there others. The key is to step back, really examine what you are doing that is getting in your way, and then address it directly and methodically.

Hey, if you liked what you saw here, invite me to speak at your next meeting!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

 

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