Welcome to The Pipeline.

Stop Workplace Drama – An interview with Marlene Chism16

My friend Marlene Chism has a book hitting the shelves this month and I want to encourage you to get it.  It’s called Stop Workplace Drama, and it’s for anyone who leads a team or owns a business.  I can tell you that Stop Workplace Drama would help those who are struggling with clarity or finding purpose, or those who are ready to leave the drama behind and take charge of their careers.

Below is an excerpt of a conversation I had with Marlene about her book.

When you say “drama,” what do you mean?
The working definition for the sake of the book is “any obstacle to your peace or prosperity.”
Both peace and prosperity are important for a person to experience success and well being. No doubt all of us understand the desire and importance for prosperity, but without peace, we are not able to fully experience success or share it with the world.

Let’s talk about the obstacles. What are the obstacles you see the most often?
An obstacle can be a person, a situation, or a mindset. For example, right now the biggest obstacle for many is the economy; yet there are those who do not see the economy as an obstacle but an opportunity.  Therefore, an obstacle is really about perception. Actually, I want to make the distinction between two kinds of drama: the drama versus your drama. The drama is the situation or the circumstance and your drama is your experience of the circumstance, or situation. For example, your boat springs a leak; that is the situation. No drama around it; just a leak in the boat. However, your experience could be magnified into drama: it’s the boat maker’s fault. This always happens to you. Now, life is over, and so on.  In other words, your experience of the leak is different from the actual event, and if you experience the leak in the boat as threatening, it becomes “your drama.”

Is the obstacle a form of resistance?
No, the obstacle is just the vehicle for you to either experience a breakthrough or experience resistance. Resistance is the non acceptance of what is, and in effect, the inability to see a possible solution.

You say in your book that there are three core components always present with drama. What is the first component always present?
There is always a lack of clarity. Anywhere there is drama, confusion, or upset, I can guarantee there is a lack of clarity. For example, if a manager avoids a difficult conversation, it is because there is confusion about what is more important—solving the problem or keeping the peace. In effect, you have confusion because of competing desires, which I refer to in the book as “The Integrity Gap.”

Okay…I want to get to the other two components in drama, but very quickly can you elaborate on The Integrity Gap?
One definition of integrity is to be complete and whole…lacking nothing, When you are out of integrity, it means you are divided, or another word for it is double-minded. When you are unaware of competing intentions, you will experience anxiety, confusion or a lack of peace, and this mental and emotional state will impact your personal performance in various ways. You may experience preoccupation, have insomnia, or be viewed as unreliable by others because your actions are not congruent with what you say you are committed to.  When we are unclear, and divided in our intentions, we will experience the confusion, the anxiety and the unrest that comes from being incomplete.

What is the second component always present in drama?
You will always find a relationship component. Most of the time, we think this means relationship with other people, but sometimes the relationship is with something non-physical, such as your relationship with time, or your relationship with money, or politics, or authority and so on. In the end, everything is about relationship, and it starts with relationship to yourself: how do you see yourself? When you change how you see yourself, everything else also changes.

What is the third component always present in drama?
The third component always present is resistance. Resistance is the non-acceptance of what is, and the inability to see a solution.  Until you release your resistance to “what is,” you will be stuck on the fence of indecision, or you will experience a lot of drama.

Talking about feelings does not sound like a business concept.
We may not talk about feelings in the business world, but denying that human beings are also emotional and spiritual beings does not change the facts. Much of our inner dialogue is made up of programming and half truths.  In fact, once you start studying how the brain works, you realize that what you believe about yourself, religion, politics, and what is possible, is from past programming.  The challenge is to dissect the lies and half truths we have once believed, and then reprogram in order to step into a new truth. This is where the role of “feelings” comes in.  If you want to reprogram, you have to learn how to work with your emotions and your mindset instead of being ruled by them.  When you learn this, you can step into a new truth. These principles work for the individual and in the business world.

Before her career as a professional trainer, speaker and author, Marlene worked in a blue-collar factory job for more than 20 years. The principles in Stop Workplace Drama are what Marlene developed and used in her process of reinvention.  FYI: For a limited time, a free Book Club comes with the book. Check it out at www.stopworkplacedrama.org

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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How Does it Look in the Real World?14

Expanding on the sales process themes introduced in the last few videos, we now look at a few specifics relating to process.  How does it look in practical terms; where do you begin if you don’t currently have one; who owns it and its maintenance once you do implement one; and does it make sense for every business including small businesses.

Today I answered the question of what does it look like in the real world, how does it look in practical terms.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKjCqi5vhjc[/youtube]

As always, let me know if you agree, or disagree.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Sales Training as The Hiring Advantage – Sales eXchange – 8515

“What happens if you don’t train them and they stay?” Freight executive

As we inch out of the recession, it appears that we will need to deal with some trends that presented themselves in the Pre-Lehman Bros. era.  One positive trend is the pending talent shortage for skilled people.  In some parts of Canada, some have felt this despite the economy, many of the trades have been lacking new talent for some time, and this will only accelerate with economic growth.

I recently read a piece outlining how there will be a shortage of capable sales people, and opportunities and or challenges this will bring.  Some would argue that there has always been a shortage of good sales people; most seem to buy into the 80/20 rule, often without even asking which they may belong to.  I guess the implication in the article is that a shortage of capable sales people will change the 80/20 to 85/15 or maybe even 90/10.  The question then becomes what opportunities or challenges does this present to companies and individual sales people (capable or better).

At the risk of coming off as self-serving, to me it seems a great time for companies and individuals to rethink their strategy to improving their sales approach, process and related skills.  It is time for these market participants to develop and implement a continuous sales improvement policy.  Some are already doing this, and are recognized as leaders because of it, and while many will acknowledge these leaders’ stature, they often don’t relate it to the way they onboard and continue to train their sales people.  Only a few leaders have a clear product/offering advantage, most recognize that in many instances, the products among industry leaders is not all that great, and as such, the real advantage is in the customer experience, which starts with sales.

As this talent shortage materializes, good and great sales people will base their decisions as to where they want to ply their craft, on who will help them maximize their skills in an ongoing way.  As a result an advantage in hiring real sales talent will be less product related, and more talent management and training related; if you can’t answer clearly and specifically when a real star candidate asks what your development strategy and road map is, you are likely going to see them join a company that can.  There is no doubt that product is still important, but just as customers want to know what your R&D commitments are, to see if you can continue to evolve with their needs, good sales candidates will take a similar view to sales training, in effect, R&D for sales talent, which also has to evolve to meet client requirements.

It is not only companies that have to concern themselves with this, but individual sales people as well.  If you are not in the “20%” group, then what are you doing to get there?  The companies that do have a plan and are proactively developing their people, will likely favour those who have shown a propensity for learning and development.  If you don’t believe in yourself enough to invest in improving, then why should they?  They will ask how you will take advantage of their investment in the process if you are not invested in yourself already.

In an economy that will get more competitive as it improves, companies will apply new measures to talent, or at least the leading companies will.  The great get greater, and the poor get poorer, just like the rest of the economy, selling is no different, so if a sales person wants to be part of a leading team, they will have to demonstrate winning habits before they are hired, one will be the time and effort they have invested in improving themselves on their own.  Many sales reps see sales training as something a company should provide; but just as you would not invest in the stocks of a company that has shown little initiative, companies will not invest in those that have not shown a similar initiative.

Here are some interesting figures: first, a 7% improvement in the skills and abilities of a sales team, yields the same results as an increase of 25% in the size of the same team; less than half of companies (in the USA) invest in formal sales training for their teams; finally, less than 20% of active sales people read a sales book in a given year.  Take all these factors, and add them to a tightening market, and it is clear that sales training is a cost effective way to gain major advantages in the market, for both companies and individual sales professionals.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


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Five Tips to Negotiate Your Deal Through Email5

The Pipeline Guest Post – Jeanette Nyden

We have a love hate relationship with email. We love instantaneously sharing information with a lot of people. But, we also get spammed or deluged with irrelevant “reply all” responses.

We have the same love hate relationship with using email to negotiate deals. Sometimes we love how efficient email is. But, studies show, we lose more than 50% of our deals when we negotiate exclusively using email. Email negotiations are here to stay. What can you do to effectively negotiate your deal through email?

1)    Email Has Limited Value to the Negotiator. Recognize that email messages are easily misunderstood and can create a cascading effect of communication problems with buyers. So much of human For example, when answering a buyer’s questions about her shock at the price increase in your latest proposal, acknowledge her surprise in the email. Simply answering her with a canned pitch that prices go up every year is not appropriate, especially in an email.

2)     Carefully Select Subject Lines.  Subject lines are your first impression. Use them wisely, and don’t be afraid to change the subject lines to fit the body of your email.

3)     Structure Your Email for Impact.  Long, rambling emails will confuse the buyer. Time is at a premium with buyers. Clearly structure your emails to make it easy for the buyer to follow the back and forth negotiation process.

4)     Learn to Engage the Buyer in a Back-and-Forth Conversation.  Negotiation is all about the conversation. It requires a lot of back-and-forth conversations to get to the final deal. Ask the buyer questions before dumping data or throwing out a proposal.

5)     Make Effective Tradeoffs.  A tradeoff is a mutual exchange of value. Times are tough; margins are tight and buyers want more from you. To balance their demands with sound business judgment, make a tradeoff.

Email is here to stay as the preferred business communication tool. Learn to use email effectively by recognizing its limitations. Then make small, significant changes to what you include in your email message. You will increase the odds of negotiating a great deal using email.

About Jeanette Nyden

Jeanette Nyden, author of Negotiation Rules! A Practical Approach to Big Deal Negotiations and the co-author of The Vested Outsourcing Manual, is an attorney, mediator, and professional speaker. As the president of J. Nyden & Co., Inc, she provides negotiation skills seminars to mid-market companies. For free negotiation resources, visit www.jnyden.com.

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Media Roundup8

In addition to the little ditties you read here, I have been contributing to other blogs and publications.  I thought that some of these would be of interest as they do look at sales and hey, I wrote them so I have to believe they are worth reading.

Today’s Trucking

As the name would suggest, talks to the vast transport industry.  In this month’s issue, I write about the opportunity for trucking companies to not only cement their relationships with customers, but increase revenues by leveraging their most visible ambassadors, which in their industry is not the sales rep, but the driver.  In a piece titled “Putting The Wind In Your Sales” (page 25) , I look at the upside and means of achieving this.

B2B Sales Lounge

With all the excitement about Trigger Events, it is important to remember that waiting for events to happen has downside, not the least of which is everyone responds to the same events.  While mastering trigger events is important for sales reps, sales professionals need to evolve if they are going to separate themselves from the competition.  In “Don’t Wait – Pull The Trigger” I look at the importance of triggering the type of reactions buyers have relating to specific events without waiting.  Taking a proactive approach and execution in triggering the same reaction an event can but without the crowd.

Sales Bloggers Union

In January we looked at things that need to be said goodbye to in 2011, so it only makes sense to look at things we welcome and say hello to this year.  In “Say Hello to Accountability Baby!“,  I discuss importance and of accountability and its embrace by many companies and sales organizations.  While you are there you can read what the other leading sales bloggers are looking forward to seeing more of in 2011 and beyond.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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The Golden 1/3!13

Here we are half way through Q1 2011, and if you believe some of the experts, half way to sealing the fate of your entire sales year.  According to some, as a sales manager you should know by the end of Q1 whether you will make your year or not. Although not universal and with exceptions, how you execute and deliver in Q1 will heavily determine your year.

Read on…

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Win Tickets to The Art of Marketing20

Contest Details Below!

Today’s global market is consistently changing. How do you know what’s happening now and how do you innovate and create marketing strategies to stay ahead of the curve?

The Art of Marketing brings thought leaders from around the globe and gives you direct access to cutting edge thinking and real world experience. On March 7th, 2011, join five internationally renowned bestselling authors and industry experts at Canada’s #1 marketing conference.

Developed to answer the questions and challenges currently facing your organization, you’ll learn…

» How to design a blueprint for competing with other organizations for customer attention, dollars, loyalty and effectively defeat competition
» Why storytelling is the most important business concept in the current marketplace
» The decision process, and the myriad influences that dictate purchasing choices
» What to ask before jumping off on any new initiative or project
» Why Twitter and Facebook are just tools and not a social media strategy


People can’t stop talking about The Art of Marketing …

“One of the most valuable days I’ve spent in a long time! ” – Bob Weeks, Editor, ScoreGolf

“The Art of Marketing was an event filled with inspirational speakers and ideas. Some of the industry’s top talent showed their secrets of success and visions of the future, INVALUABLE! ” – Will Eagle, Sr. Digital Marketing Manager Scotiabank

“I am sorry that more of our staff could not attend, this was a must see, must attend event! ” – Kathryn Bohnet, Marketing Manager Travel Alberta

“A tremendous opportunity to take a one day snap shot of great ideas in the areas of marketing, corporate and personal development! ” – Dean McIntosh, Digital Marketing
Hockey Canada

exclusive OFFER

Through this exclusive offer, you can take advantage of our preferred pricing and SAVE $50 off the regular price by using the promo code TS28.

PLUS – when you register 3 or more people, you’ll save an additional $50 off each ticket!

Grab the VIP Pass and experience The Art of Marketing to its fullest!

The VIP Pass includes:
o Express VIP entrance
o Reserved premier seating in the first five rows
o Exclusive VIP lunch with access to select speakers
o Copies of featured best-selling books:
» Guy Kawasaki – Enchantment
» Jeffrey Hayzlett – The Mirror Test
» Gary Vaynerchuk – The Thank You Economy
» BONUS BOOK – Chip & Dan Heath – Switch

Enter to Win FREE Tickets to The Art of Marketing March 7, 2011 in Toronto

Here is your chance to win a ticket to this great event, and it is simple (sort of).  To win, just tell us which of the speakers you most want to see, why; and which the five books you have read, and what you thought of the book.

We are looking for solid entries, no softies, no cute answers; we want to make sure that the winner is someone who will make the most of it.

So click here and go for it!

Good Luck!

Five Things To Love About Selling – Sales eXchange – 8418

With Valentine’s Day upon us, I am sure we have all looked after the most important loves of our lives.  But given that so many sales people are so passionate about their profession, I though I would present five things to love about our chosen craft.  It is not exhaustive, and certainly subjective, but mostly fun, if you can think of others, please use the comment area to have your say.

So, in no particular order, and tongue firmly planted in cheek, here we go:

1. The Unpredictability – Despite all the tools, methodologies, scientific insights, the outcome in most instances remains somewhat unpredictable.  There are always the unknown things going on that are not directly visible to the seller, the hidden agendas, the changing realities that bring truth to the saying ” The best laid schemes of mice and men / Go oft awry.)

2. Direct Return On Your Efforts – This only applies to those whose earnings come entirely from commission, no base!  We have all heard “you eat what you hunt”, well it rarely truer than in the case of a pure commission rep.  While many shun the opportunity, opting for a base and lower commission, those who take on the challenge generally seem to earn more.

3. The Evolutionary Nature – While many do sit on their laurels, “remember that big one I closed?”; yes it was 1997 and not much since, the consistently successful and constantly evolving their craft to ensure that they are able to deal with and produce given the unpredictability mentioned above.  While the tools and methodologies help, great sellers take it on themselves to evolve their game.  I mentioned in the past that when someone tells me they have 15 years of experience, I always like to ask “15 years of growth and development, or the same year 15 times over?”  I love the former group, they are equipped to deal with the points 1, and 2, and love point number 4.

4. The Deal – If you sell, and sell well, nothing replaces that rush when you close a deal, the money is nice, and it stays around, but that moment when you win the deal, and your effort and work come together to deliver results to your client, your company and you, is a rush like no other.  All the better when it is a deal you and others though may elude you, but through persistence and process, you bring it together.  The only downside is that it is a bit like a drug, it always seems you need just a bit more of hit, a slightly bigger deal, a slightly bigger pay off, a slightly bigger rush.

5. The Characters – I am sure almost every profession is diverse in so many ways, but sales brings together an eclectic group of people, with an assorted set of egos, traits and certainly opinions.  I love the fact that you can ask five sales professionals a specific question, and end up with seven different opinions, with the two most contrary ones coming from the same rep.

Well, those are five, what are yours?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Reverse Prospecting – Guest Post21

The Pipeline Guest Post – Brian Jeffrey

I’ve just invented a new catch-phrase — Reverse Prospecting — and if you like the concept, you’re welcome to steal it from me.

Anyone who has been in B2B sales for any length of time appreciates the fact that no matter how great your selling skills are, if you don’t have someone to use them on, you don’t make a sale. Duh… talk about a blinding flash of the obvious!

The Good Old Days

Prospecting today is far more challenging than it used to be. Sales managers who are long in the tooth like me will remember the old days when we had to walk two miles to school, barefoot, uphill, both ways. They will also remember how prospecting used to be.

In those days, whenever we finished a call on a company, it was good form to do a cold call on one or two businesses on each side of the company we just had visited. In most cases, but not all, we actually got to talk to someone and often were granted an instant appointment. When the person didn’t have the time to talk right then, most were amenable to setting up a time for you to return.

Man oh man, how things have changed. It’s almost impossible to do a physical cold call anymore. And trying to get through the technological moat that people throw around their businesses and themselves presents a whole new set of challenges for our salespeople.

I don’t know about you but I’m dragging forty years of sales and sales management baggage behind me and what we face ahead in terms of prospecting is daunting.

Recent Changes

Here’s my take on what’s been happening over the past three to five years. There has been a growing tidal wave of information and technology that is simply overwhelming people.

Look at your own business life:

  • Are you finding that you just don’t have enough time to get things done?
  • Are people becoming an interruption?
  • Are too many people wanting too much of your resources?
  • Are there just too many emails and voice mails needing attention?
  • Are you spending more time fighting the alligators than draining the swamp?

If so, you’re not alone, your prospects feel the same. Compounding the situation, from your salespeople’s perspective, is that they are no longer needed as the primary source of information like they were in the past.

To a great extent, the Internet has replaced the salesperson as a source of technical and sales data. Salespeople can no longer be the exclusive providers of information. They have to find other ways to add value to the relationship.

Basically, we all have become so busy that we no longer have the time to deal with unsolicited personal visits, emails, or voice mails. Our prospects are shouting at the top of their lungs, “Don’t call me; I’ll call you!”

In other words, in today’s new sales world, you have to be findable when the prospect needs to find you. In addition to being findable, you need to be top of mind when the prospect goes looking. Hence, reverse prospecting.

There are two key elements of reverse prospecting:

1.    Be findable
2.    Be top of mind

Be Findable

Being findable means ensuring that your Internet presence is as good as it can be. You need to rank high in organic searches for the keywords that your prospects will use when they go looking for what you offer.

Sometimes, what you sell is just so generic or so competitive that it is all but impossible to rank high in the search engines. In this case, using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising may have merit.

Some companies still use more traditional media such as print and broadcast advertising to get the word out. And more and more companies are availing themselves of the social media platforms such as blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, etc.

While your salespeople are unlikely to impact your findability, they can be instrumental in creating top-of-mind awareness.

Be Top of Mind

It’s important for your salespeople to maintain a presence with your prospects. When a busy prospect comes up for air and is looking for what you offer, you want him to remember you. Reverse prospecting at work.

The key to creating top-of-mind awareness is touch points, more specifically, value-added touch points (VATP).

Value-Added Touch Points

A touch point is any time you come in contact with the prospect, or any time the prospect comes in contact with you. It doesn’t matter who initiated the touch. It only matters that the touch occurred.

A value-added touch point is a bit different. This is where the prospect walks away from the experience with something that she considers of value. It might be something tangible like an article or a sample, etc, or it could be something intangible such as an idea that she feels she can use.

Reverse Prospecting at Work

Here’s a personal example of reverse prospecting at work.

The time has come for me to divest myself of an investment property. For the past number of years, a realtor has been sending me unsolicited quarterly updates of property sales in my investment neighbourhood. I’ve been using these reports to keep an eye on the value of my condo.

Now that it’s time to sell the property, which realtor do you think is going to have first crack at offering me their services? You got it, the one who has been touching me with useful information.

VATP Exercise

Here’s an exercise that will not only get your salespeople thinking about value-added touch points but is likely to produce a list of actionable items for both you and them. At your next sales meeting, explain the VATP concept and then ask your sales team for ideas.

I recently did this exercise with one of my sales management consulting clients. We quickly came up with a list of seventeen touch point ideas, most of which fell into the value-added category, and several that we realized we were already doing.

How many do you think your team could come up with?

The Bottom Line

If you want more prospects, move from cold calling to reverse prospecting. Being findable and getting people to remember to find you — reverse prospecting — is the way to go in today’s busy business world.

About Brian Brian Jeffrey

Brian Jeffrey, co-founder and president, Salesforce Assessments Ltd, works with organizations who want to make the right hiring decisions by assessing a person’s suitability for sales using his sales assessment test. After years of hiring as many losers as winners, Brian figured that there just had to be a better way to make the hiring decision. That’s when Brian started the research and testing that ultimately evolved into the Sales Temperament Assessment. For over 20 years, companies have used the Sales Temperament Assessment to assess thousands of salespeople and make even better hiring decisions.

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Who to Hire – Sales or Product Guy?19

Hiring the right people to sell your offering is trying at the best of times, it gets even more challenging when markets and resources are tight.  As products get more involved, clients getting more demanding and arming themselves with preconceptions about the solutions they want, all in an environment where managers are asked to deliver more with less headcount, managers are faced with tough hiring decisions.  Do they hire a someone who is a product expert, spending time, energy and opportunity teaching them to sell; or are they better off finding a proven sales expert and ramp them up on the product side?

Here is what I said, see if you agree.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgwjNJQ15dg

What’s inYour Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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