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5 Star Selling: From Beginning to Excellence – Lee Davis0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

lee davis

Lee Davis, author of 5 Star Selling: From Beginning to Excellence, is different than many of the people who write about sales.  Unlike many people who write about sales, he actually sold right through his career, and built the book around his experience, he offers lessons learned, rather than populist advice.  When I asked him what compelled him to write the book, he told me about how his son turned to him for advice when he set out for a career in sales.  They set out to find a book that would help those who have never sold, a book that did not assume that you have sale experience.  Lee told me “Unfortunately, it seemed most of the books were targeted at more complex sales issues, and were primarily oriented toward the more experienced salesperson.  The timeless, critical, basic skills necessary to sell successfully were not available in a concise, logical, one-stop source put together like I wanted.  So, I decided I could offer those ideas and principles from my experience that would be valuable for other salespeople.”

The book is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting a thorough grounding in the sales process, from beginning to end.  Before you turn away because you’ve been in sales for 15 years, there are things here for you too, things that made you money when you did them, and it’s time to do them again. The book concentrates on the timeless basics that every salesperson needs in order to begin and grow sales.

It focuses on how to face the toughest challenges, including one of my favourites, why most people hate rejection in various aspects of their daily life, but generally don’t encounter it on a regular basis. Salespeople face it every day and have to learn how to handle rejection with a calm but determined approach to move forward. 5 Star Selling offers many ideas on how to overcome that fear of rejection and use the results to your advantage.

5 Star Selling tells you how to put together the “hooks” that will get you appointments with the key people you want to meet. From getting organized for greater efficiency, to prioritizing your accounts to develop better territory call plans. Lee presents what information you’ll need to best sell your company and its offerings. 5 Star Selling stays with you as you prepare for your calls, and handle the actual calls themselves. It reviews follow-up in great detail, as Lee will tell you, following up properly is often the difference between great salespeople and those at the back of the pack.

Other key areas covered include what to do with the information you learn in the selling process, and how to transmit it effectively. Lee speaks to more than just the buyer side, considerable time is spent on how to get your whole inside team on your side by selling internally (an often overlooked topic in many sales books). One of the real strengths of the book is the attention to building strong customer relationships. These are the cornerstones of the great salespeople who realize, all things being equal, “People buy from people”. Lee presents how to call in depth, when and how to use management effectively, and how to avoid some of the pitfalls that may occur in the process. Much detail is spent on how to handle problems and really make them opportunities, and the difficult art of negotiation.

Nothing is left out for the new salesperson. And when the reader is finished with a “checkup “ on their basic selling skills, they will find additional information on how to ride the crest of the wave of success and keep it going and growing.

The principles, concepts, and ideas presented in 5 Star Selling include real-life illustrations from the Lee’s extensive experience. The stories are humorous, helping the reader visualize they can apply these important principles in their everyday selling. This is a book belongs in every sales library, not only to expand on many of the things already there, but to use as a reference when faced with new challenges and unfamiliar situations.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Who Exactly Are You Selling To?1

May 14

The Pipeline Guest Post –  Megan Totka

We talk quite often about sales tactics and marketing ideas in a general sense. But who exactly is your company trying to sell to?

People can be classified in so many different ways. But one of the most common classifications is by generation. Most recently, the generation we’ve talked about the most has been the baby boomers. Born in the post-World War II era, from the years 1946-1964, baby boomers have made up a huge consumer base for many, many years. Many people consider baby boomers to be the first real consumer generation, raised after the Great Depression and in a time of pretty impressive technological advances.

In the no-so-distant past, the baby boomers have arguably been the most important group to market to, as they did (and still do) make up such a huge portion of the population.

But there’s a new group on the scene – the Millennials. This generation, made up of people born from 1980-2000, is estimated to encompass 80 million people. That’s more than the baby boomers.

The biggest thing that sets the millennial generation apart is their familiarity with the Internet. The Internet and related technology are not new and exciting to this generation; it’s been around since they were small children. While it might still be possible to impress other generations with technology, Millennial have come to expect it.

So how do we cater to this new generation of buyers? One thing is for sure – give them what they expect. This Forbes article likens hotels that don’t have free Wi-Fi to the same hotel charging to use a toilet. At this point, we’ve all come to expect free Internet, just about everywhere we go, millennials in particular. Millennials also respond to an “omnichannel” concept. This means that people should be able to contact you or your company in whatever way they want to, without having to do it the same way that they did the last time. For example, if a customer contacts your company once via Facebook, they should be able to expect the same information and level of service from any other avenue, such as phone, Twitter, email, etc.

Does your company have any lessons to share concerning marketing and sales that is geared towards a particular generation?

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Jill Konrath’s Agile Selling – Sales eXecution 2520

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Agile Selling

When it comes to sales and selling, I would agree with those who say: “The wheel has been invented, success comes down to how you spin it.” Now Jill Konrath, of SNAP SELLING fame, has delivered a book, “Agile Selling: Get Up to Speed Quickly in Today’s Ever-Changing Sales World”, which sets out challenge the view of both the wheels we spin, and how sales people spin them. It presents an AGILE view of sales and selling and how you may spin the wheel better. At its core, that is what this book is about, how you can spin things in a way that will help you succeed in changing and challenging time for sellers and buyers.

An enjoyable read, Jill sets out challenges the reader from the outset to be what the book is about, agile. Presenting agility as a competitive advantage, she then dares the reader by presenting success as a choice, one they need to make. The premise from there is that once they have made the choice, they can use the book as their guide.

Our customers are reinventing themselves, and if we don’t keep up, reinvent ourselves, our selling, and help in that development, we will be left behind.

We learn to take the buyer’s perspective, wheels our buyers deal with, and how we need to spin things their way, not ours; with new orientation, new opportunities are presented. Markets and opportunities will continue to evolve, and our job is to do exactly that. While many pundits sell you on routine and the risk of deviating from them, Jill presents a case for abandoning routine as the path to success.

The focus is on preparedness, why and how it allows you to be agile, anticipate and respond, unencumbered by methodology. A focus on tactics allows you to maximize approaches rather than be limited by their dogma. Death of the ugliest statement in sales “We always did it that way”.

In light of the fact that we are all given the same finite time to sell, success will come to those who make the most of that, and agility is a key factor in that. The refreshing thing about the book is that it accepts that great selling is a cerebral discipline, supported by exemplary execution, I have found few others who share this view, willing to make sales a thinking man’s game, good to have another author, and now her readers in the ranks.

I find sales books fall into two general camps, those that encourage you to work harder, “it’s a numbers game”; those that encourage you to work smarter while others resort to working harder. Agile Selling falls into the latter.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

3 B’s Of Pipeline Success0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca


How you manage and stage your pipeline can be the difference between an OK year or career, or a consistently great one. To use a sport analogy, your pipeline is your core, no matter what sport you are in hockey, tennis, or running, a strong core, a well exercised and maintained core adds to athletic performance and lifts one competitor to victory over a comparably talented athlete with a less conditioned core.

Below are three things every seller should consider and do, no matter which methodology they use to sell, to lift their execution and results.

Bold – This speaks to who or which opportunities you choose to peruse, there is the element of pursuing ALL REAL potential prospects that others either ignore, or completely miss due to personal or corporate blinders. There are many potential buyers that are overlooked by a large number of sales people. Some don’t see the dots and as a result can’t connect them; others see the dot’s but fail to or are afraid to connect them. There is a lack of imagination and boldness in their approach.

Some will overlook things that fall beyond conventional qualification measures, an over reliance on BANT if you will. The key here is that they be REAL, meaning given the right circumstances they would buy your offering, and qualifying comes down to how you view your market, and choose to align your offering. Are you limiting your sights and pursuits to those people that have the pains or other mundane signals, those your product has traditionally addressed? If so, you’ll likely miss many REAL prospects or opportunities.

But if instead you look to see how you may help someone achieve their business objectives, your universe of REAL potential expands considerably. This is huge from a pipeline perspective, the more REAL potential prospect you’ll be able to identify, the more REAL opportunities you can fill your pipeline with. Since sales is to a degree a numbers game from a conversion ratio perspectives, more opportunities translate to more and or better sales, and at the minimum more options for you as a seller.

Binary – Leveraging the above, being binary becomes easier and more productive. Let’s explain what I mean by binary. Your pipeline should contain only active opportunities, those prospects you are engaged with now, and in turn they are engaged with you and the sales process; it should not contain anything else. All those potential “prospects” you are not currently engaged with, as great as they may be, are leads, and should be managed in your leads funnel, not your active opportunities funnel or pipeline. But many sales people, and by extension their sales organizations, hold all kinds of inactive opportunities in their active pipeline, distracting time and resources. There are some common examples of this: former prospects who you met once or twice, who smiled, told you they were “really” interested but have not met with you or returned your call in weeks. Sure, they send you e-mails, saying they are still interested, they are just tied up, or on another project, or are waiting for some event, or maybe just waiting for Godot.

These are not engaged prospects and need to be moved out of your pipeline. This is not to say that they are not worth pursuing at some point in the future, but in popular vernacular, they are in the nurturing phase, not active selling phase of a pipeline. Alongside these are those “prospects” who are talking to you, but are doing less than nothing to move the process forward, move them out, they are just filler, and you can’t have that. The only opportunities that should be in your pipeline are those where the buyer is taking reciprocal action, executing their buying process as you are executing your selling process, and together you move to a mutual agreement. Binary – active – not active; taking action – avoiding action; on or off; keep the on’s and get rid of the off’s. Don’t clog up your pipeline with crap, not a place for a heart attack.

Many fool themselves by looking at their pipeline and thinking, “wow, look at all the stuff I have in there”. Exactly, stuff not opportunities. This false sense of doing, just messes you up, and most importantly sucks up your time for a number of reasons, and most deadly, prevents you from prospecting. When we are stuffed we don’t eat, when the pipeline feels stuffed, you don’t prospect.

If you want to see this clearly, just look at any pipeline using the 90 – 60 – 30 method and watch how it piles up, what happens in the last 30 days; for validation just look at how many times opportunities are recast in the 30 day segment.

Blended & Balanced – I remember learning this lesson the hard way, I fancied myself an elephant hunter, and ignore many smaller and shorter cycle opportunities. Till one year the elephants went to a different field, and I was left short on my target. My friend on the other hand, she focused on the small and easy, didn’t over extend. Interestingly enough we both came in behind someone who had a nice blend in their pipeline, big, small, short, long, and everything in between. Seems obvious, but not always easy to execute. There are a lot of distractions, things to entice you, being a home run hitter has its appeal. But with planning and discipline, you can map out a prospecting regimen that helps you balance the pipeline just so. I now use a Plan P approach, P being for pursuit, this allows me to continuously balance things, think of it like balancing and rebalancing a portfolio actively to maintain the optimal mix for you requirements. This allows you to be Bold in you pursuits, forces you to remove the inactive opportunities clogging up your revenue artery, and maintain a productive and profitable pipeline.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 


It’s Really Not This vs. That – Sales eXecution 2510

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

A few weeks back I asked in a post What’s Your Favourite Hyphenated Selling, and many missed the point, and actually told me why one “type” of selling is better than the other. Many pundits and so called experts will tell you that this “type selling does not work anymore, only that type (their type) does.” Good sellers understand that it is not vs. the other, but how do I combine and expand to make the best of all possible techniques and tools to deliver value for the buyer.

Have a look, and tell me what you think:

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 



Two Letter Word To Increase Global Productivity1

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca


One of the things I enjoy about what I do is the variety of people I get to observe doing their work across a range of verticals and locales. While on the one hand many of these people are in sales, their buyers are in so many different categories. After years of watching and learning, I have come to the conclusion that if business people would get comfortable with and adopt one word, they, their companies, their entire ecosystems, and by extension the world, could become measurably more productive, and probably happier.

Contrary to what some may be thinking, the word, and more importantly the outcomes it delivers is not big, uncommon, academic, or any of the sort. It is a small two letter word that packs a big message. The word is NO!

I truly believe that if buyers, sellers, and almost everyone in business would just embrace the word, and say it when they know they should, millions of dollars would not be squandered, hours of productivity can be recouped or redirected towards better use.

Looking at prospects who say things like “call me back”, or “send me some info”, or any of the common euphemisms for “no I don’t want that”. By using this cop out, they all but assure that they will be interrupted again, no matter how skillfully they think they can use voice mail. What’s funny is the second call, because they finally say what they should have said on the first call, or they come up with another line. Either way they have wasted some of their time, and while not as important, some of the seller’s time. In the process creating a stalker, because they gave the seller a whiff of a possibility instead of just doing what Nancy said, “Just Say No”.

Sales people are no better, they can’t say no to prospects, clients, or their peers. Imagine how much more money they would make if they just said no when colleagues ask them to grab a coffee, do this, or help with the football pool, or any of the things that regularly take sales people away from their task, or even just break their concentration or flow. They should say no to buyers making unreasonable demands that not only limit profitability, but waste the most precious of all resources, time. The effort required to negotiate internally to deliver something they should have said no to, is at times greater the effort required to go out a find a better prospect.

Of course the biggest enabler to enabling a sales person to say no, is a healthy pipeline. If you know you had enough, or more than enough viable prospects in your pipe, you would say no to silly demands, you would not pin hopes in empty promises like “please send me some info”. No, you would see it and call it for what it is.

The biggest no sellers can learn to say, is to that voice inside that beckons you to see things that are not there, ignore the brightest red flags, and to pretend that even when the buyer does not use the word, he clearly means no!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

The Objective Seller #webinar0

Webinar cover

Join me for this special webinar looking at:
The Objective Seller – presented by salesforce.com
May 12, 1:00 pm Eastern – register here

All businesses have objectives, focusing on objectives and the buyer’s desired return on those objectives, are the most effective way to engage and align with buyers. With changes in the buying and selling dynamic, B2B buyers who are ready to buy are much better informed and more empowered than ever, you need to shift the conversation from your product to their objectives. Those buyers not in the market, the so called Status Quo, are more likely to respond to a conversation about their objectives and how to reach them than to traditional sales approaches and conversations. Impervious to pains, needs or solutions, a large segment of your market is better able to cocoon themselves from traditional sellers and sales conversations, but they all have Objectives.

The presentation will cover how to take advantage of current realities and present specific ways sellers can successfully approach and engage prospects, and create selling opportunities where others may not see any, and in the process build credibility, expert status, and loyalty with existing and new buyers. You will be presented a process based, value driven approach for success in selling to Status Quo buyers, the most overlooked segment of the market.

  • Breaking down “Value” to core components and why people buy
  • Leveraging past experiences – Won, Lost and No Decision deals – 360 Degree Deal View
  • Building a better question
  • Proactive exploration

3 Things You Should Do Again – Sales eXecution 2502

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

horse drawn

As selling and sales approaches evolve and we adopt new practices, we also tend to forget give up or move past practices that when used, still facilitate sales, foster relationships, and help us succeed. I’d like to present three that you can weave back in to your routine and step up your sales.

Ask to meet the team – there two specific reasons you want to do this, especially very early in the sale. First, even though you may be dealing with the decision maker, they are still part of or leading a team, demonstrating your ability to get along with the team can only help with the decision make. In the process you will also learn about how that decision maker views the individuals on his/her team, and gain insight into power and influence distribution. At the same time, many leaders are looking for consensus support for their choice, with many products looking all too similar the team’s input could swing it your way.

The other reason you want to meet the team is to avoid being blocked by implementers. We have all been slowed down if not undermined by someone who can’t alter the decision, but can prevent implementation. By meeting them early you can get ahead of any potential issues, and where there is none, you can build support.

Use an Agenda - I have posted about this in detail in the past, but there are some basic aspects worth repeating. One being able to avoid surprises. The agenda should feature key points/areas to be covered during the meeting, and your proposed next steps as a result of progress on the above items. Send the agenda to the person(s) you are meeting a day or two in advance so they can react. If for whatever reason the prospect is not on board with any of the items or the next step, you have time to adjust or address.
You can also include a request for people, resources or other things that will help the meeting, allowing you to make the most of the meeting. The more buttoned down your sale is, the more professional you will appear.

The third contains two, but since they are closely linked, I’ll combine them.

Always send a Thank You note – even if the meeting doesn’t go your way, you don’t achieve the desired outcome, no next step, send thank them for their time and input. They can always be a prospect in the future, and they certainly are a source for referrals now. I am always surprised by how few sales people send thank you e-mails in general, and especially when things didn’t go their way. How much effort is involved in creating a “thank you” template and firing it off?

To really stand out, and this the second element, make it a hand written note. Write the address by hand, get a stamp, and put it in the mail. While this is great for post meetings, it is also great for getting meeting. Snail mail is so rare, especially hand written and addressed, they practically sail by any admins or EA’s. Recipients have told me they were so curious to see what was inside they opened it right away. I have had people call me before I had scheduled to call them when they read my prospecting greeting card. I have seen thank you cards I mailed sitting in buyer’s offices months after I sent them, every day they thought of me.

Three small things that can make a big difference.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Add Salesformics – Stir and Sell0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca


One of the opportunities offered by the web 2.0 world, or as many around sales like to call it social selling, is to leverage a number of tools to improve and accelerate the quality of interactions, especially at the early part of the sales cycle. The challenge is how to leverage the various tools, integrate them into your daily sales-flow and work-flow, without adding, or being forced to alter your work-flow in order to get benefit.

In the process of lead-gen, lead gathering, evolving and lead conversion, some sales people and organizations are often faced with a choice, find an all in one tool that has key features and elements offered by other tools and apps built in, in effect a Jack-of-all-trade approach. Alternatively, use the best of breed tools, but be left on your own to integrate them on a work-flow level. Add to this the challenges around functionality, and something that should be fun and productive ends up being work.

One tool I have discovered allows me to keep using my favourite tools and apps, integrate them into a work-flow that matches my approach, and reflects my style of lead-gen and prospecting, is Salesformics. Here a couple of examples that will illustrate what I mean. Twitter is great gleaning and mining all kinds of executable information and insight about prospects, issues, and more. While there are some great tools for slicing and dicing twitter feeds, there is often the issue of shuffling that with other information, and creating action. With Salesformics, I am alerted to specific key words or phrases by potential leads, current prospects or clients. I can then initiate a sales-flow, either constructed or in response to the way things are unfolding.

As someone who delivers events, I am a user of Eventbrite, great tool. Eventbrite helps me grow your network and email lists by promoting my live or web events, and even allows me to do a great initial follow up. Salesformics takes that a step further by integrating with Eventbrite, one can enhance the follow-up, and ensure that I don’t miss a chance to follow up with a contact well after the event.

I also use Constant Contact, and have had to deal with some of the manual realities of using both Eventbrite and Constant Contact, given the overlap. With Salesformics, I can get the best of both, and keep my hair, more importantly, automate, use the work-flow, and gain back my most valuable resources, time, and all while gaining effectiveness as well as efficiencies.

A lot of people struggle with segmenting their social media followers and then adding them to email marketing services like Constant Contact, but Salesformics has a marketing automation platform that allows you to build workflow that bridge across third-party solutions, including the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, Buffer, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, Dropbox and more.

In the end, we only have two hands and 24 hours with which to win sales, any tool that helps with that is a bonus, a tool that helps me get more out of and across all my tools and apps, like Salesformics, is a triple bonus.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Knowledge: A Seller’s Equalizer – Sales eXecution 2490

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca


Every day you read something about how today’s buyers are 60-70 percent through their buying process before they will reach out to a salesperson. You also know that I believe that if that is the segment of the market you are pursuing, you are an order taker, not a seller, a seller’s job is to go out there and engage with those potential buyers not in the market, who do not have a self-serve mentality. Nothing wrong with capturing that revenue, we all should, but that is not selling, and more importantly in most instances, not enough to get you to quota.

While there is no denying that buyers are out there scouring the web, including your company site, social site, not just for peer input, but to get a view of you as a seller; there is also no denying that much of that information is contradictory, confusing, bland beige, and often unusable. For every piece you read about buyers using the web to bypass sellers, there is an equal number that speak to how executives are often left confused, overwhelmed, and less able to move forward than when they started. They end up seeking clarity and someone who can cut down the noise, someone who is not flinging information, but someone with knowledge, knowledge they can leverage to achieve their objective.

The reality is that they do not go to the web to get informed about a line of products, rather they set out to address a business objective, be that rooted in something negative, or positive; things like the ability to increase market share, leapfrog the competitor with product innovation, etc. To do that they seek knowledge, and while the web may have a lot of information, some better than the rest, knowledge is where you can make the difference. The same knowledge that will help you sell to not only those in the market, but to identify, approach and engage the much larger pool of buyers that is not in the market, nor would they be if you did not knock on their door. The area where knowledge trumps other elements, including relationship. While we all want that relationship, building it on helping the buyer leverage your knowledge will help facilitate it. Relationships, real ones, not just following each other on LinkedIn or Twitter, take time, you can use knowledge now to start, facilitate and accelerate.

Sure, information will help you be found, but knowledge will differentiate you when found. Especially in an environment where not only is there an 80% overlap in features and functions of leading competing products, but in the stream of words and stock photos on their website, Facebook pages, etc. This extends to the information available on the web. For every point, there is a counter point; there is less and less that a buyer can discern on social media, one web site looks like the next.

Using knowledge as the equalizer and differentiator, takes a bit more work than waiting for that buyer who calls you at the end of their process or journey. But even with those buyers, knowledge allows you to take a leadership role, with knowledge you can challenge common misconceptions, and poor decision that result. There is a pundit out there who always asks “do you want to be right or do you want to be rich?” The implication is that you have to make a choice, usually at the expense of the buyer. But I am here to tell you that you can be both, you can be right, and you can be rich, by applying your knowledge to help the buyer also make the right choice for them, making you both rich.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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