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The Complete Salesperson?2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

I witnessed an interesting exchange the other day, two Sales VP’s were exchanging views on hiring, on=boarding and development of sales people. One offered up that he only wants to hire A players, “people who do not want to prospect all their career”. For context, this VP had a team of SDR’s and account managers. Before I could jump in, the other VP asked “what do you mean, prospecting is a key skill for A players.” Or at least his definition of an A Player.

We’re All The Same At The Start

There is no doubt that the pattern for a long time has been to start off a sales career prospecting, because unless you adopt a territory, there is no other way to build a base, (even if you’re good at referrals, you need someone to refer you). As we build the base we become victims of our success, demand on our time and attention turns to maintaining and organically growing the base. And eventually stop prospecting, or do a token amount.

The Turn

The other thing that happens is a change in attitude. Sales people hate it when a buyer chooses an alternate product, perhaps not as robust as ours, and tells us that despite everything, the alternative is good enough. While that hurts, many can deal with it, why? Because they have also adopted the same “good enough” attitude. The reach a level of income that is “good enough”, the effort it takes to prospect just becomes a bit more than they are willing to commit. Sure they could go from $250,000 to $300,000 or more with a bit of prospecting, “But hey, you know $250,000 is good enough, I’d much rather work on my putt and short game.” Usually this followed by one of the saddest statements a professional sales person can make: “I have earned the right not to have to prospect anymore.” I would argue that your product, customer service, finance and others in the company earned most of that. The key value any sales person bring is customers who represent new revenue streams. Other than direct referrals, prospecting is the optimal path to that.

With the exception of a few products, when you stop prospecting, you diminish your value as a sales person. It’s not about greed or just making more money, it is about continuing to be the best they can be. Can you imagine the blow back if an athlete said that they have earned the right not to pass, or slide, or anything required to win? A players have a different outlook.

Wisdom Of Success

I remember training a financial services professional, top three in his branch, been there 15 years, had a “book” of business he could milk for years. As I would work with new recruits, on his own, he would always come in and tell the participants why he loves to prospect, especially outside his network. He gave two compelling reasons:

1. If he could secure one or two new clients a year, he would have all that many more referrals to add to the ones his current clients were providing.
2. If one of his clients fell away, perhaps taking some of their referral with them, they would be replaced.

I am not sure I can agree with the VP when he say that A players are those that don’t want to prospect, I think A players do it, and don’t complain about it, because they know the rewards of their work.

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Is That All The Difference You Got?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Here is an example of an element discussed in Monday’s post.  It’s hard to see the difference when you all look the same. Time for Sales and Marketing to step up and say something that makes a difference for the buyer.

Ever wonder why buyers would rather go it on their own?  I did when I was watching my favourite Sunday morning political pundit parade, these commercials were one spot apart in the same break.

If this is the best Marketing and Sales can come up with in speaking to their potential customers, no wonder it is coming down to price, there is little other difference between the two.

No wait, did the one guy shave his beard for the second one?  Is it surprise buyers are confused and would rather do it on their own, and companies need apps to do their selling for them?

Back to the drawing board.

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Feature/Benefit – Or – Feature/Price3

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Every tribe has its myths, collective beliefs, and things they claim to believe, things they avoid or adhere to, for sales the concept of Feature/Benefit is a go to favourite. While some believe this mode of selling may be outdated, and have moved beyond, the essence of most sales conversations, for many, Feature/Benefit is still the staple of their approach. Usually supported by their marketing teammates, it dominates their selling style, messaging, content and approach. For those who have moved beyond the basic Feature/Benefit, it may seem odd, but I am willing to bet, based on daily encounters with sales people and sales organisations, that a good majority of people reading this are selling based on some iteration of the Feature/Benefit selling.


There are a number of iterations of Feature/Benefit selling that are quite effective. It all hinges on which Features you leverage, and more importantly to whose Benefit. Stating that a particular Feature allows the product to spew out 11% more of something per hour, or faster, or shinier, means nothing. More, better, faster, is all good and nice, but still very vendor centric, and speaks to their view of Benefit, usually versus another competitor, including the current state (Status Quo being you number one competitor).  Consistent high performers see that as a spring board to what really matters, the buyer’s objectives.  These objectives are rarely framed in features which can be mapped to the product or offering.  They are defined in outcomes, impacts and how achieving one set of business objectives, sets the buyer up to achieve the next one.  High performers frame the Benefit in the outcomes and the business possibilities available to the buyer when they reach their second and third set of objectives.  Buyers, especially Status Quo buyers, ones who have neither started or interested in starting a buyer journey, will engage if you can get them to believe that you can impact their objectives, which Feature is leveraged in doing that, is usually irrelevant to the buyer.


Taking it back a bit, often the problem is not just the Benefits highlighted, but the actual Features showcased. In many instances marketers and sellers are blinded by their relationship and proximity to the product they sold for a time, and even may have had a in it’s development and introduction to the market.  Features are introduced because they may have seemed cool internally, those close to the product, but added nothing to the clients’ experience. How many times have you seen upgrades, especially in web based products or services, that did nothing but allow the vendor to talk about the upgrade, while pissing you off because you have to relearn something that makes no difference from outcome point of view. A lot like the Febreze “nose-blind” commercial, what others removed from the product experience is not the same as those who spend all their time with it, and depend on it for their success.

Which Is What?

The only features that count are ones that drive buyer’s objectives, delivering impacts that benefits the buyer in their terms, not in terms of the feature.  It’s simple, if the Benefit is a stat, not a specific business outcome for the buyer, try again.  If the Feature was thought of internally by someone who thought it was cool but has never faced a customer, rather than based on buyer input, the sale will be decided based on Feature – Price, with no Benefit.  Back to the drawing board.

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By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

I just can’t help myself, but sport analogies are so great when it comes to making some points about sales.  You know when your team is down by some outrageous score, no hope of a come back, Jesus or not, just like the Raptors in game 5.  But still you have fans yelling “Defence, Defence, Defence” as though the louder they yell, the more times they yell it will somehow make a real difference, as though they can make the rally “trend”.  At the same time, seeing players interviewed on the side line, repeating symbolic words and well worn clichés, as though saying it will change the lack of execution on the playing field.

This came to the fore when I attended a recent sales event, where the masses gathered to hear the pundits speak.  To be honest I felt like I was at a sales revival more than a sales event, where amens and hallelujahs were replaced hashtags and internet speak.  To be clear, it is important that presenters speak the language of their audience, just as sellers need to be multi-lingual, and speak the language of their buyer, language is important after all since it is the vehicle for substance.  But when there is a complete lack of substance, language is the only take away, or the only message; Marshall you came too soon.  In this case or event, the less substance the presenter had, the more #this and #that they threw out.  It left one sitting there wondering WTF they were saying and wishing that they would just stfu.

Of course the tweets and RT’s streamed behind them on the big screen, only to be reshared and retweeted by the masses.  “Oh look Henry, we’re trending”.  No you’re echoing, it reminds one of the singer at the Holiday Inn on the edge of town, telling everyone that they are ”world famous in Topeka Kansas”, and even then, just that night.

Just because you slap a hashtag on something does not make it real, better or a fact, in many cases it just makes the message more irritating.  You can tell the crowd that the only way to succeed in sales is one#way, the one in your #book, only to be out hashtaged by the next presenter, with his #book, with more hashtag friendly words on the cover that he can get everyone in the crowd to repeat.  #Boring #Sad

As with most things in sales, the arbiter is the buyer, or in professional selling the non-buyer, those who did not come to your website and download the same thing they downloaded from five of you competitors along their 57% of the journey, a journey they started without any prompting from a sales person, because they had a need.  Professional sellers are the ones that identify, reach out to and engage with those potential prospects who were not interested in starting a “buyer” journey, because they were not “buyers”, had no perceived need, no perceived need.  With there prospects, you need to lean on substance, not colloquial expressions, or trending buzzwords. #Oyvey.

Don’t forget to join me and Michelle Schifrin is the Lead Customer Success Manager at Prezi, for a webinar today at 1:00 PM ET.



Forget Presenting and Start Engaging #Webinar0

June 9, 2016 10:00 AM PT/1:00 PM ET

Communication is central to sales success, and communication is a multi-faceted experience.  Sure the message is key, a bad message can set you back; while a great crystal clear message, delivered on target can be a crucial to your success.  But what happens with a perfectly crafted message that misses the mark, does not land the way it was intended?  Sale lost.

Among the things you can control is the how a message is delivered, and how it is taken on by a buyer.  In a world where death by PowerPoint is the norm in selling, presenting yet another sales presentation may not be the way to go.  We all want to engage buyers, encourage a dialogue based on their objectives and business driver, your visuals should align with those, not force the buyer to align with your visuals.

Join Michelle Schifrin and I, the Lead Customer Success Manager at Prezi, to explore how high performing sellers and leading sales organizations are facilitating interactions that deliver the message to a buyer in a way that drives the dialogue, drives sales, and drives mutual benefit for both the buyer and seller.

You’ll learn:

  • How to tell your story in a visual way that engages buyers, creates value, and drives action
  • Case studies from real sales teams who have successfully implemented visual storytelling with a positive ROI
  • How to tackle the challenges that come with transitioning to a more engaging approach to delivering sales presentations



Do Facts Matter?2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

I recently took in a discussion where one of the panelists addressed the question of preference and decision making. Specifically, individuals’ tendencies (or lack thereof) to change their mind once they have developed a primary preference.

The Decision Journey

The gist of it was that as people begin the decision journey, especially in instances where they know they will have to make a decision, be that a purchase decision, one person to date versus another, or an election, they begin to rank “choices” and identify a potential front runner.  The question then is can those choice or preferences be changed?  There is no doubt that they can be reinforced and strengthened, no matter who you back in the coming American elections, you are likely to take on things that support your “preference”, and likely to rationalize or ignore those that challenge them.

A pundit on the panel was firm in his belief that once that preference is in place, even when at a subconscious level, or when a person claims they are open to alternatives, it is harder to change than many believe.  So what does it take to change their minds, can their minds be changed, and most interestingly, what is the role and power of facts in the process?

Well it seems that facts, no matter how solid, are not that useful in changing people’s minds and having them switch from their initial preference.  Which is a bit of a problem for sales people.

Buying On Emotion

While many sales and marketing people will tell you that people buy on emotion, and then spend time and effort rationalising that decision, they continue to lean on the rational and fact based efforts in trying to win over buyers with a preference.  Be that case studies, ROI calculations, data, etc.  Yet there is a counter effect to these facts based evidence, buyers will feel the need to defend initial choice when they feel it is being challenged, especially when the buying spotlight is on them.  Their emotions are triggered, and they double down on rationalizing rather than evaluating rationally.  Whether we put that off to ego, weakness, their need to hold power in the decision, doesn’t matter, the outcome is the same.

Getting Ahead of Their Preference

So what’s a seller to do if they are not the “preferred” one early in the process, or when the buyer arrives at 57% mark of their journey?  Shift facts by shifting the narrative.

Take the discussion back to the beginning, before the initial preference occurred.  What caused them to enter the market to begin with, why did they start that 57% journey all alone, before having a preference, then calling them, then calling you as a way to validate they made the right choice.  Telling them they didn’t, no matter how right, will just confirm they have the right vendor in column A.

But if you can take them back to square one, you can be in a position to understand their objectives, what business outcome they were trying to achieve before they looked out the window?  You need to leverage their objectives and focus on outcomes they are looking to bring to their business.  More than demonstrating your understanding of those objectives, you have to show how others have achieved those same objectives, the business impacts they were able to realize.  Only after this would you introduce your role in the process, doing it earlier will just drive them back to their initial vendor preference.  It still goes to emotion, one of risk, getting it wrong, has a greater pull than the reward of getting it right.  But the wrong here is not the product, but achieving the objective or not.  And when it comes to that, facts don’t matter.

Join me and Michelle Schifrin is the Lead Customer Success Manager at Prezi, for a webinar:
Why Sales Teams Should Forget Presenting and Start Engaging
Thursday at 1:00 PM ET.


Pain Pills

Pick Your Pain0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

There is a lot of talk in sales about pain, sales people seem to be always looking for it in buyers, trying to avoid it in their world, yet selectively being open to some pain, while completely avers to the same or lesser pain served up differently.  Many sales people seem to live a variation of an old sayings, “Better the pain you know than the pain you don’t know”; “The lesser of two pains.”  For me it all stems from prospecting, sales people willingness to prospect thoroughly and consistently.

When I ask sales people why they don’t like to tele-prospect, the number one reason I get is the fear of rejection, the pain of rejection seems so big and painful, that people would rather forfeit success, than pick up the phone and talk to a real prospect.   No doubt there is a big rejection factor, chances are you will be rejected by about 86% of the people you speak with.

At the same time, studies have shown that on average the close ratio of Sales Qualified Leads in B2B sales is 16.4%.  Looked at the other way, this is an 83.4% rejection rate.  Yet I have never heard a rep tell me they don’t want to go to a first appointment for fear of being rejected at the end.  They happily march off to battle, giving it their all, never thinking twice about the impending rejection to come, they lean in to it and make it happen, well sometimes, really about 16.4% of the time.  So what am I missing 86.00% vs. 83.40%, where in the 2.6% difference is the tipping point?  While rejection in any form is undesirable, seems to me the quick bullet between the eyes when making a cold call is much better than the slow death.  I hate it when you go down to the wire and get a no, having invested the effort time and resources required moving the sale along.  You don’t know the guy who just hung up on you, and he would not have a clue who you are when you stand behind him waiting for his “skinny soy venti double shot Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha”.  It is even worse with Marketing Qualified Leads, according to some, 98% will not lead to closed business.

The key difference is the complete lack of process and metrics around prospecting vs. the rest of the sale.  Most sales people and organizations have clear process for the sales from handshake to close.  The stages are defined, activities, tools, measurements all in place.  Contingencies for different road blocks, potential alternatives, and resources.  This allows for context and understanding, we may not like the results, but we can contextualize it based on the process, and take lessons into the next sale.

The same can be said for the lead generation process.  Clear rules around what happens when there is an inquiry, how they are nurtured, etc.

But when it comes to that first contact there is little process.  Sure some give you a script, but what about the dynamics, how to deal with environment created by an interruption, how to handle the most common objections.  Metrics are absolute, rather qualitative and individual, making them limiting not enabling.

In the end though the worst pain is that of being “Rejected from President’s Club”.   Somehow some sales people would rather live with the pain, stigma and reality of missing quota, than a brief rejection from someone they do not know, who will forget them long before the next call.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

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Today Is the Day0

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Join us today at 2:00 PM ET – 11:00 AM PT

Learn firsthand how Arctic Wolf Networks Increased Revenue with Sales Acceleration Technology and a Proactive Approach to Converting More Conversations to Opportunities.  A step by step look at the tools, strategies and methodologies used to achieve a 200% increase in appointments.

In this webinar you will learn how to:

  • Align strategy and technology
  • Increase conversations by leveraging sales acceleration
  • Convert more conversations into qualified opportunities

Register now to attend the webinar

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Sales Blind2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

One of the most common comments Sales VP’s make in speaking about their team is that they fail to ask for the order, or go in for “the close”.  Now I can hear some of you saying “close, no no no, we don’t do that in sales today”.  I don’t take that comment so literally, I think it refers to a scenario we all have seen, where there is an opportunity to move the process forward, or everything is in place, and rather than moving to implementation, both the seller and the buyer allow for creep, creating an ongoing cycle, rather than to the objectives set out at the start.  A condition I call “Sales Blind”.  The sale goes on and on, things look good, but never materialize, and then you discover another vendor won the opportunity.  I find this happens with a couple of types of reps, who are two side of the same coin.

The Forever Seller

First are those sales people who are really great at selling and love the discovery process to no end, literally.  They will reach out to anyone in the buying company to get the right answer, and the right people engaged in the process.  They ask questions that not only demonstrate their depth of knowledge of the subject, and at the same time get the prospect to think and rethink what they set out to buy and achieve.  They enjoy the process so much, completing the deal leads to their fun ending (till they start the next sale), and as a result at times it seems they make little effort to close the deal, as it will end their party.  Sounds absurd, but if you have managed many sales people, you have had one of these people on your team.  I had one, this was one of the best sales people I worked with, but would never take things to the last next step.  I was and am convinced that it was not a question of ability, but one of “the hunt being more fun than the kill”.  Being “Sales Blind” they are happy selling without regard for the outcome.

Relationship R-Us

The second is the hard core relationship seller.  I often ask groups of sales people what they want to do with new prospects they meet.  The ones who answer “create rapport” or “build a relationship”, fall in to this group.  Have you ever had someone on your team who was loved by the clients and prospects, yet continuously came up short at the end of the year?  This is them.  Relationships are great, but what they should doing for new prospects and clients is helping them achieve objectives, through that process they will also help their employer by generating revenue.

There is a Cure

The good news is that “Sales Blindness” is a curable condition.  Through active coaching and setting account/opportunity based milestones and timelines.  This will surface key barriers that the rep needs to eliminate and reestablish some deal vision.  Both these types of sellers have the requisite skills, they are just blinded a bit from seeing past a point, once you help them through that they are often your best reps and role models for other team members.

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No BS – Just Facts – Data and – How #Webinar0

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Wednesday, June 1st at 11:00 a.m. PT – 2:00 p.m. ET

No BS – Just the Facts, the Data and the How – Register Now!

We have all sat through webinars that talked about the abstracts of how others do this and do that, but were light on specifics. Not here, this webinar brings a real company, a real situation, warts, glory and all. We’ll go through step by steps with all involved and share how they were able to implement a plan, tools, and methodology and support that lead to:

  • Daily outbound dials per ADR increased 300% from 50 to 150 dials
  • Conversations through local presence increased 100% from 5 to 10 conversations
  • Meetings scheduled per week increased 200%.

Learn how Arctic Wolf Networks leveraged strategy, technology, data and professional development to increase productivity, opportunities and revenues. This webinar will examine which specific steps to follow in order to overcome common challenges facing SDRs and outbound teams.

In this webinar you will learn:

  • Align strategy and technology
  • Increase conversations by leveraging sales acceleration
  • Convert more conversations into qualified opportunities

Learn how combining InsideSales.com, the industry’s leading sales acceleration platform built on a predictive and prescriptive self-learning engine, and Renbor’s Proactive Prospecting Program, designed for SDR’s and outbound professionals, helped Arctic Wolf Networks get more at bats and improve their swing to get more hits.

Brian NeSmith, President and CEO of Arctic Wolf Networks
Gabe Larsen, Director of Sales Acceleration Services at InsideSales.com
Tibor Shanto, Principal at Renbor Sales Solutions Inc.

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