Welcome to The Pipeline.

Apple in calss

Educate To Sell0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

I was in the audience for a panel looking at sales, and the future of sales (yes, another). What made this a wee bit more interesting is they actually had some buyers on the panel, bringing a level of reality often absent from such affairs. One CEO made a comment that at first seems basic, but when expanded on his experience, it was easy to see why we as sellers think we are doing something, the buyer completely misses, or misinterprets.

He spoke of how he measures a good meeting, a simple measure, but as he says often not achieved by sellers. He feels that is a meeting with a sales person makes him think, look at something in a tangibly different way as a result of the meeting with the rep, and best of all, if he learned something new. If the seller was able to challenge some of his assumptions, and preconceptions, it often led to one or more of the above measures. He was asked if he had heard of the Challenger Sale, and if those were the type of sellers he was looking to work with? He said he was aware of the book, and as he said he has had “the pleasure of participating in meetings where sales professional challenged in the way the book spells out, and others, where the sales people just play point-counterpoint, the only challenge there is making it through the meeting.”

Many in sales will agree that it is the role of a seller to educate their buyer, the question is how that is done. Think back to school, who were the best teachers, the ones that made you think, reconsider your view, and help you take on new concepts and practices? While there is a Madison Ave image of the teacher, a lecturer dispensing information and lessons. These are the ones where you sat in class and asked if it was on the test, if so you retained it, if not, why take up storage space.

However, most people remember those teachers who left a lasting mark or impression; more importantly, taught them how to think about a scenario or situation, in a way that leads to analysis and understanding. These educators, the best educators, start with engagement. Engagement is more than just being present, many executives sit through meeting, nod politely, but not be engaged. No engagement = no understanding = no purchase.

Apple in calssTo engage, you have to get them to think, as Gerald Bostock told us, “I may make you feel, but I can’t make you think”. Getting them to think takes questions, planned, scripted questions based on experience, and expertise. The right questions interrupt a racing mind; while they may be in the room, most busy buyers are thinking about the next meeting, or the one after that. Good strategic questions, based on your 360 Deal View work, keep the buyer present, and open to ideas they would miss when drifting in though. At the same time, as Dorothy Leeds explains in her The 7 Powers of Questions: Secrets to Successful Communication in Life and at Work, questions get people to think, and that’s always good, especially these days.

Evidence of engagement is when they are not just willing to share info, but crucial information about gaps in their thinking, and how they can address the issues you are exploring with them. Meeting that advance the buyer’s knowledge, also advance their confidence, and willingness to buy something other than what they thought at the start of the meeting. We have all been to meetings where there was a lot of information exchanged, but no one left any smarter, or more willing to buy. As with most good education, it has a purpose and a destination, so should your sales meetings.

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App Vending Machine Buy Apps Shopping Download

3 Reasons ‘Choice’ is Killing Your Pipeline0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Most people think they like choice, they think, contrary to practical experience, that choice empowers them, giving them “control”, and a sense of being in charge of their own destiny.  The reality is often different, and giving prospects choices can have unanticipated consequences.  While there are some pros and cons, there are three reasons you should not give choices, especially where you don’t have to, and you’re just doing it because you ran out of ideas.  So, in no specific order or importance here are three reasons not to provide choice.

Less Revenue

Less Revenue – I have heard from many that they give a choice of product, and related cost, as a means of helping the customer feel less pressure, and the opportunity to not go with the highest priced option.  I have had professional sales people tell me they give three choices, because they know that most will go for the middle tier.

I have a client that sell components, by far his best product is the middle of the three he presents clients.  Most clients love it, and give off “buying signals” indicating they will go for option B, till pricing comes up, when and most revert to the lower priced component.  When we changed the approach to presenting the best option, one price, one decision, much easier to make than three.  Quicker sales, more revenues, no unhappy customers.

Authority

Authority – One reason the above works so well, is that his sales people now are presenting themselves as subject matter experts.  They first spend time understanding what the prospect is trying to achieve and then present the right option.  Usually it is the former middle choice, but the reps often present the lower and higher cost point alternatives, based on what they uncover during discovery.

As a subject matter authority, you build the right to make a recommendation based on your expertise, experience, and support of the company.  Imagine if you went to an expert for help, a doctor, and after they talk to you, examine you, and share their prognoses, and then offered you three options.  Would you not look to them as the expert, to make a recommendation, it should not be like going to a restaurant, given a menu, and pick you cure.  One of the upsides of conducting a good discovery, is along the way you are earning the credibility to make a recommendation; I guess when you don’t have that credibility, you reach for the menu – look out for the sales bots, they’ll do it better.

Inability To Choose

Inability To Choose – We have all been in situations where given three or four choices, we ended up leaving with none.  This is not limited to impulse buying or something not having importance.  While not all, the reality is that many of the deals that end in no-decision, do so because the buyer could not make a choice, and ‘abandoning’ was the easiest option, of course had we not started them down the ‘option’ path, they may have found it easy to say yes to one thing, recommended by an expert at a rational price.

A friend expressed it best when speaking about having his car worked on.  He hates having to choose which type of oil he should pick when he has his car service, or choosing winter tires.  He is typical of the first example.  He is convinced that the highest priced tires are overpriced, with extras he feels he does not need.  He doesn’t want to be that guy that opts for the cheapest, after all his daughter often drives the car.  So, he goes for the middle, but here is the rub.  He never feels good, always second guessing, which makes the purchase much more dramatic and stressful than need be.  As he says “if the mechanic would just tell me what I need, why, and which one best does the job, I’d buy that one, even if it was the top of the line.  But when I have to make a choice, I’m never quite sure about the choice, and I just don’t feel good about it.

Choice is yours, want to make you buyer feel good about dealing with you, don’t make it about price, make it about them, and your ability to recommend and deliver on the best “solution” for them.

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Rain

Risk vs. Uncertainty0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Risk and certainty are not the same, but listening to the way many speak, it is easy to get the impression that even native English speakers often mix and interchange the two.  In most instances or conversation this misuse (or abuse) of the two may not matter or have tangible consequences, but in sales, well, they do.

At a basic level, with risk we are dealing with the known or experience backed estimate or assumptions.  If we look at actuarial work, they assess the risk, based on data and other factors, and then calculate what it will take to cover or mitigate the risk.   

Certainty speaks to the unknown, right out of the dictionary:

not clearly identified or defined; a fire of uncertain origin. 

Certainty or uncertainty may be a component of the factors people will use to calculate risk, but it is always the unknown element.

When it comes to selling it is not a question of right or wrong, but ensuring the seller and buyer are talking about the same thing, otherwise we sellers, may be introducing unnecessary risk into our sales.

Buyer may be uncertain about a number of things related to their purchase, which impacts the level of risk they perceive.  Some of that uncertainty may be around the new direction they are embarking on that may require services like yours.  Others may be certain they are on the right path, but uncertain you are the right travel mate or partner embark with.  One way to manage this is providing insight and knowledge to help the buyer understand, and reduce their uncertainty.

RainSome believe they do this but they do not.  An example would be ROI calculators or marketing contrived scenarios.  These are not bad, but are usually product or vendor centric.  They take a “real life” scenario, which is usually not based on the average experience, but the absolute best-case scenario, usually one your current buyer does not always relate to.  This adds to their uncertainty about whether you understand what they are looking to achieve, adding to both their uncertainty and the risk to you getting the deal.

According to The B2B Buying Disconnect – TrustRadius 2017, buyers find sellers focus on providing material that buyers don’t find very useful or trustworthy, they don’t trust all vendor claims, nor do they expect to, especially when sellers overemphasize selection criteria that aren’t important to buyers.  But buyer do want something that vendors have in but fail to fully leverage, satisfied customers, prospects want hands-on experience with the product and insights from customers.   A clear indication that sellers are adding to the uncertainty with their approach.

Sellers often know the outcomes or impacts they seek, but have no clear ideas on how to get there.  This is where sellers make the mistake of only focusing on risks they perceive prospects may focus on while comparing providers.  When they do this instead of dealing with the buyer’s uncertainty first, they are adding risk to their chances of winning the deal.  Sellers need to understand buyer uncertainty, once they have removed, minimized or isolated the buyer’s uncertainty sufficiently, they can turn to dealing with the inherent risk. Sellers actually increase the risk in the deal if they do not deal with uncertainty first, especially if that uncertainty is not around vendor, but on the means to an end, specifically their objectives.  By failing to deal with uncertainty, they elevate risk.

One way to deal with this, as I have stated in the past, is to leave the product in the car, and go in with the goal of understanding their objectives, gaps and hurdles in their way to achieving those objectives.  This will help them articulate their uncertainty; you can leverage the tension between what they want and what is driving their inability to achieve them, the very things causing their uncertainty.  Creating clarity, removing doubt, will not only allow them to attribute value to dealing with you, but also reduce perception of risk on their side.

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Man in Square

Push and Pull In Sales0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Picture an weighty, rectangular object, placed in the middle square of nine squares; your task is to move the object to another square on the grid, a square other than the one you found it in. Ignoring the tools and resources you may want to utilize, there only three things that are going to happen;

  • You’re going to lift it (in this case maybe a crane, so will move to the next)
  • You’re going to push it
  • You’re going to pull it

Now let’s apply that to a prospect, the square they are in represents their current state, and the square they end up in, represents their state, where they are, after a purchase decision. With about a third of all opportunities going into B2B pipelines ending in no decision, the reality is that about a third of the time the square they end up in is the one they started in.

Man in SquareA key influence as to whether you will need to push, is the prospect’s current state. A small percentage will be easy to push, because they know they want to leave the square they are in, and know which square they want to move to, and why; all they need from you is a little push. I was talking to someone selling specialized ERP, and he was saying that this is only 5% of his market at any given time, small. But the vast majority of the market, has no reason to leave their familiar square, and given that they are busy improving their square, they don’t see the grass as being greener in the other square, and are too busy to care. To move these prospects, you’re going to have to “pull”.

Pulling here adds up to enticing them to see you as being able to deliver and exceed everything they set out to do in their square, but better; the only catch being that to do they need to be in a different square. You can try to push these buyers, but they do not react the same way as the willing 5%. These prospects have “to be led to”, and you have to do the leading. If you can lead in a way that they will follow, you can move them.

Getting them to follow involves many things, but two are a must:

  • Your vision for their future state has to exceed their vision (from their perspective)
  • It has to appear that you (more accurately your expertise), is the only path

Clearly these two go hand in hand, excelling at one, while not fully leveraging the other will not do; and both require that you demonstrate and reinforce your status as a subject matter expert.

The more and better they recognize and accept your SME status, the more effective you will be. Here we are not talking about your product expertise, but your expertise in helping prospects get the most out of their square. When you show them something they missed; something they had not considered or missed, that would have had an unanticipated outcome, a negative vis-à-vis their objectives, they will follow you. This could be unanticipated risk, something that impacts their cost structure or funding that in turn eats into margin; something that completely alters their supply chain in a way they hadn’t envisioned; or other factors like time. As with most successful sales approaches, it is not about product, need, or pain, but about changing the buyer’s state. BTW, addressing a single pain, no matter how well, generally just stabilizes the buyer in their current square, but will not get them to follow you, just puts them back on their current path, pain free.

All of these and many more, will allow you to create a reason for them to follow you, and as a result for you to pull them forward to another square.

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VR

The Change Game0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

No matter how one slices it, sales is a game of change. If you are the incumbent, the best way to avoid a client to change vendors, is to continuously introduce change in how your product helps the client achieve their objectives. If you are not the incumbent, then it is all about regime change. Both require that you capture and maintain the buyer’s focus, and have them adopt the change you represent. At its core, it is about first changing how the buyer/prospect views their reality. To do that, you need to do two things:

  1. Fully understand the buyer’s current view of their current state
  2. Get them to change their current view of their current state

Buyer Current State

This is not as easy as it first sounds, which why many sellers ignore it, and pay the price. Main reason is that it requires that we completely let go of our product and service, and immerse ourselves, not so much in the buyer’s view of our product, but their world, how they see it, where they see it going, why and how. Before you can change their view of their current state, you need to “live it”, so you can look at the issue the way they do, not the way you hope they do, or think they do.

It has been shown that opportunities have a greater likelihood to fall apart long before the talk of vendor or selection begins. Once they (buyer(s)), agree that there is a specific worth addressing, they then go on to see if and how it can be addressed. It is only once everyone agrees that that it is indeed addressable and how, does the internal conversation on the buy side turns to with whom, i.e. which vendor(s).

They may turn to the vendor community for information in the middle phase, but it is really for subject specific not product or solution specific info. Many vendors confuse this as a signal to pitch, when the buyer is actually looking for insights on the issue, how it impacts them and their objectives, and what others have done, see, and thought about in this stage, they are not looking for product stuff, they are not there yet mentally. And if you lead with product at this stage, you are putting your chances of being considered in the selection stage at risk.

So without an understanding of their current state, and how that state informs their views and actions; you will not be able to see what it will influence their views in a way that leads them to a view, which by extension, leads your product. Changing their state, their objectives, and the filters blinders, starts with you adopting their view, not hoping that they adopt yours.

Key here are their objectives, if you can align to those, especially those agreed on internally in the first stage “is this addressable?”, then you will be in a position to share how others have dealt with things, not how your product changed things.

The goal is to change their vision and outlook, and the impacts they want to deliver to their organization, it is not about getting them to change vendors to do the same as they are with their current vendor, with slightly fresher hue. It really is about doing something different, not just doing things differently #sellbetter Click To Tweet.

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Reach for goal

Who Is Your Best Prospect?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

On Monday, I posted about understanding and knowing the very next thing that needs to happen if a specific opportunity is to move forward to becoming a client.  Because I wanted to focus on a specific question, I glossed over the question I am sure many had as I set out a scenario, specifically when we ask sellers:

“Who is your best prospect?”

Talk about a loaded question inviting interpretation and misinterpretations.  If you do this with a group, you will get all kind of answers, about the only thing most have in common is the overload of subjectivity most have.  Once they finish describing the opportunity, ask:

Reach for goal“Why did you pick or go with that prospect or opportunity?”  To which I hear:

“It is the largest opportunity in my pipeline” (Be that dollars, units, etc.)

“They are the furthest down the pipe”

“I have been chasing them so long that…”

“They were a customer once, then they left”

Here is a challenge for you, what is the most bizarre response you get to that question.

At first glance you may put this off to different companies, but I got the above from people on the same team.

For the moment, it really does not matter which I, or anyone else, thinks is right or wrong.  What’s scary right off the top, is that there are multiple definitions of what is a “best” or a good prospect.  What I found that unless you get a uniform answer to that question, you can bet that they don’t even know what a prospect is.

That lack of definition is rarely the reps’ fault.  If based on your process and onboarding, and related training, there is still a divergence around this core issue, you need to stop, step back and plug this hole.

Not knowing what a prospect is, is a common problem, and it not only leads to pipeline full of crap instead of opportunities, that crap drowns out the few viable opportunities that do exist.  Definitions are important, they are not like some like to say, limiting, they help you utilize your time in the best possible way.

I was taught early that we need to call things what they are, and if I referred to someone or an opportunity as “Prospect”, it clearly stated that the “Prospect” was fully engaged, and if they were fully engaged, my manager should be able to see a clear Next Step relating to the opportunity in CRM.  Next Steps also need to be defined, you can see mine here, but to summarize, they need to be clearly agreed on by both you and the buyer(s), needs to move the opportunity forward, and be tied to a specific time.  I continue to be amazed at how many sales people have things at various stages of their pipeline without any clear next step, or in some cases plan.  Even worse, these are the things that go into your forecast, an opportunity sitting at 60% communicates something to the manager, sales leadership, finance and the entire organization.  So when a rep has something sitting at 50%, all because they had a good phone call, and the buyer told him to call back after vacation, what’s that going to do to you quarter, especially since they have not called them back yet.  I had a pipeline review with a rep once, he had 42 opportunities coming in.  Before getting to the nitty gritty, I asked which of these there were formal next steps with, only 2.  I know this is an extreme, but you need to go through your pipeline and ask how much an extreme, how many opportunities do you have a proposal stage without a next step?

This lack of definition why sales people’s time is consumed creating a narrative for their pipeline, rather than working their pipeline, especially when a manager’s idea of a pipeline review is having a story for their review with their superior. This is why many managers, never trained in finance, become experts at factoring.  When your time is spent adjusting forecasts up or down based on past experience with a rep, forcing you to live in your spreadsheet rather than that expensive CRM, you are not leading from the front or adding value to your team, just revaluing worthless numbers and forecasts.

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tango basic steps

What Has To Happen Next?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

A simple question at first glance, but when you ask people in a given vocation or profession, it is staggering how many different answers one gets, and more stunning is the number of people who can’t give you a clear answer. Most read way too much into the question, and try to come up with elaborate responses that go well beyond and away from the question. “How you get across the road?”, is very different than Why did the chicken cross the road?” In sales, I find the responses break down to roughly three group: (1) Those who understand and answer the question asked; (2) Those interpret the question, changing it slightly in the process, and the response fits their repurposed question, both misleading the inquisitor and leaving them wanting; (3) People who don’t know, and can’t be bothered worrying about it.

If you are in sales, especially leading a team, this should be a major concern, especially if you “have a sales process” you think is driving your success. It may be more accurate that it is driving reps’ results, not how they achieve those results; in fact, if they did follow the process, the result would be more success. The good things is that in sales, you can get ahead of this and ensure greater success and results.

Next time your team is together, (and you can do this on your own if you are a rep), ask for a volunteer, and ask them the following:

“Who is your best prospect?” Not meant to be a trick question, but it is interesting the responses you get, but that’s for another post.

After they tell you who their best prospect is, follow up with this question (phrase it any way you like):

“Given where you are in the cycle, what is the very next thing that needs to happen to move the sale forward?”

You would think for experienced sales people, especially if they have been in the role for a few years and have been close to or at quota, meaning they have successfully executed the cycle several times, the answer should not only be straight forward, but something they are thinking about.

Those in group (1), always respond by telling what action has to be taken by them, the buyer, and mutually. Why that action, and the specifics it will lead to in moving the sale ahead, including what has to happen next, once this next step is completed, and the consequences and contingencies in case things do not go as planned. They can clearly and in specific detail provide the ingredients and recipe for making next happen.

Those in group (2), take the question, add some subjectivity to the mix, and hear “what should happen next”, then proceed to give you an answer that is more strategic and theoretical than the question required. Instead of speaking to specific actions and tools, as group (1) did, they general outcomes, skipping the how to make those outcomes happen. “We need to get buy in”; “we need to identify the decision maker(s)”; and other no-brainer feel good statements, but all absent the “what has to happen” for those things to come to be.

tango basic stepsYou can avoid this by being more specific in your process, perhaps start by changing the label to sales-flow, allowing you to get more prescriptive. Don’t assume that because your process calls for understanding the buying/decision process, that everyone on the team knows the specific steps they’ll need to execute to actually do that. On the other hand, many in group (2), when given specific and granular steps, improve their game and results measurably. There is a reason why NFL playbooks have drawings and arrows, Arthur Murray has the footprints on the floor, and Broadway stages have markers. Once you have that, they will need to practice, not just to get it, but once they got it, practice to master, and to ensure that you can adjust when the buyer and markets change.

Last, inspect, inspect that they are doing it, each step, as it has to happen. Don’t just assume they are doing it based on results (yikes), do you think gets a Tom Brady pass? Sure he wants to get to the end-zone, but getting there takes one down at a time, knowing exactly what has to happen after each play.

BTW, if you are wondering why I didn’t get to group number (3), don’t worry about it, they didn’t notice.

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girl by phone

Social Ends When The Phone Rings0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

The reason you need to integrate social selling, traditional phone work, and other elements of prospecting, is to ensure that you are covering all bases the process of converting a stranger, into a bonified pipeline opportunity. This means using the right tool at the right time, not as some would have you believe, using one tool “über alles”; but rather using the right tool for the task at hand along each step of the process.

Social selling, and the use of social media is key to learning about the target industry, the specific company, certainly for understanding the individual you are pursuing, or more accurately the image your target is projecting on social media. Remember the lessons learned from Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are. There is no shortage of materials available on how you can leverage LinkedIn, ABM and more, on how to smooth the path to first contact. But for most, especially in outbound sales, there is the point where we must pick up the phone and go direct.

When the phone rings, we enter a different realm, where based on the reality of the situation, “being social” does not play as well, and in fact can be deterrent for the prospect. Whatever interaction we may have with someone prior to the phone, it is usually on their terms, they choose to interact, they set the ground rules, and ultimately pause a conversation, or take it further right away. But when we call them, especially an unscheduled call, at a time we picked, not the target, a different set of dynamics kick in. As discussed here in the past, we are an interruption, and as such, a set of events are set into motion, usually leading to an objection, the bane of telephone prospectors everywhere. Being aware of what we are in the eye of the prospect, we need to take steps to make it easier for the prospect to stay on the call, rather than making it easier for them to blow us off.

There are two things sellers can do, with focus and practice, to avoid being victim of dynamics. Two questions that many feel compelled to ask at the start of the call, that if left out, would help them be more successful on more calls.

girl by phoneThe two questions:

  • How Are You?
  • Is this A Good Time?
    (or any variation of either of the above)

We ask these questions because we have been conditioned to do so from day one; our parents, teachers, and others, have drilled into us that social norm is for conversations to start with one of the above. Well telephone prospecting is different than other conversation we usually have.

I am not suggesting we need to be rude, unsocial, or unconventional for the sake of unconventional, but to take an interruption, where the other party just wants to get back to finishing their seemingly unending days, to a genuine conversation, we need to manage the dynamics of the moment.

The reality remains that the prospect wants to understand “What Is In It For Me”, and that is what we need to lead with. Knowing they are feeling great, or like shit, does not get us any closer to that. Leading with the outcomes they can expect based on your ability to help them achieve their objectives, is more likely to. Being an interruption, and then asking, “Is this a good time?” or “Do you have a few minutes?”, or any iteration, is just stupid by definition.

Of course it is not a good time, they have a ton of stuff to finish, and there is a 90%+ chance they were not thinking about your product or marketing speak. On the other hand, if you lead with specific outcomes, they may recognize their own objectives in the mix. Lead with that, and ditch the “Social Norm” questions, to conversations based in that norm, a cold call is not that.

To close, I know that years of conditioning is hard to shake, so here is a way to transition from the silly questions above, to starting help them understand what is in it for them in your call. Remember, the problem with questions, is that you have to stop and wait for an answer, which relinquishes control of the flow, you are now completely dependent on their answers. If you get a positive response, great. But if you get a negative “I’m busy”, “Not a good time”, “What do you want?”; you now have to deal with that objection, rather than one based on your real value to the prospect. Rather than a question, make a statement, one that allows you to get rid of that social steam you have pent up. Once you introduce yourself, just name, not your whole resume, say “Thanks for taking my call”. You acknowledge that you have interrupted their day, but unlike a question, you can keep going to your outcome statements.

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Stop (640x427)

Pitch – Please!0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Despite the talk, the training, the tools, and everything else sales people have been exposed to and have access to, it is still interesting (disappointing) how fast most sellers, even those who hit quota, will resort to product in a sale. They may want to pretend that they are not, they may want to dress things up, but in the end what they deliver is a Pitch. While many will argue that as long as it gets the job done, except it is that view that leads to inconsistencies in results, rather than predictable outcomes that result from professional selling, rather than professional order taking.

One reason many resort to pitching is their failure to understand the business drivers behind the purchase the buyer is undertaking. This is especially prevalent with many one trick pony companies, where each product, and thereby each sale, is just one singular component in “the stack”. This allows reps to fall into the trap of knowing their slice best, and not having to worry about the big picture. To be clear, this laziness is present and abundant in other sales teams as well, it is just most prevalent with products that address one particular need.

Stop (640x427)The problem is that economic buyers do not set out to buy things. They usually set out to achieve things, at times these can be simple things that do not require a lot of process, like “I need to buy toner”. But with “solutions”, or more involved purchases, buyers are more often driven by a result they are trying to achieve. They often don’t care how that result is achieved as long as it is legal and cost effective. Which is why pitching product, or features, or even ROI’s lead to longer sales.

The ‘pitch” is usually centered on “how, and how well, we do what we do”, just think of your average “elevator pitch”. Some evolve to what makes “the how we do that” by adding what makes their process unique, hence the Unique Selling Proposition, but it is still about what we do and how, not necessarily why that is good for the buyer, just that it is unique from the others doing a similar thing. Still little about the outcomes, and “what’s in it for the buyer”. This leaves the buyer to figure out how well the pitch aligns with their objective.

Some smart marketers figured out that if they change the label to Value Proposition, from selling Proposition, they could catch more fly with that honey. But still a pitch.

To truly be unique, you should define your value vis-à-vis objectives the buyer is trying to achieve, results they are looking to deliver to their business. To do that you have to think more like they do, less like the day to day user of the product, and more like the ultimate beneficiary of the output of your product. To do that, you need to look at the world through their perspective rather than the product or sales perspective. I seriously doubt your buyers are reading the latest sales book, sales guide, or someone’s thesis on resurrecting some secret black art. They are more likely reading business books related to running their business, and the latest in that thinking. For every one of my posts you read, you should read a post written not for sales people, but your buyer, read an engineering blog, consume a journal from the professional association of your buyer. Read anything that allows you to have a conversation with your buyer about their world, not yours. That conversation will take further than the best value prop or USP. It’ll help you avoid driving your buyer to think “pitch – please”.

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Voice Mail – To Leave or Not To Leave?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Proactive Prospecting Summer – Part 9

I like to hear sales people talk about voice mail, especially the ones who do not leave messages. If you are going to succeed at prospecting, phone will be part of your tool kit. If you’re going to make phone calls, you are going to hit voice mail. You can run from it, like many so-called sales people do, or you can watch the video below, understand why you should leave them, then follow the link in the video to learn how I get 40 – 50 percent of messages I leave returned in 72 hours or so.

Don’t forget, you can take the on-demand version of the Proactive Prospecting Program available on-line at Sales Gravy University.

 

PPP On Demand
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