Welcome to The Pipeline.

Contact – Now What?11

Over the last few weeks the video posts have dealt with some of the challenges around prospecting by phone and reaching potential prospects.  We looked at the role of voice mail, e-mail, and alternative means of communication we can use to proactively reach people we want to engage.  The goal is to avoid waiting for external events to trigger engagement, to connect with buyers ahead of other sellers and before a specific event puts them in the market.  Taking a proactive approach in triggering engagement.

Today we look at what you need to do when you do in fact connect with the target of your call.  How to initiate the conversation, what to avoid, and how to deal with the inevitable objections.


As always, I encourage you to be proactive, not wait for events, and manage your own success.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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LinkedIn: Social-ism Meets Capital-ism – Sales eXchange – 9810

What happens when social-ism meets capital-ism?  Or more to the point, can a publicly traded LinkedIn serve two masters at one time?

Specifically, now that LinkedIn has gone public, the first thing they need to buy with their new funding is a bigger bed to accommodate some new bedfellows, very demanding bedfellows; specifically the fellows from Wall St.

This piece is not about the IPO, it’s merits, or value; no it is about the fact that the expectations of the social propeller heads are very different, and probably entirely at odds with the expectations of Wall St.,  those valiant guardians of shareholders “rights” and “value”. Remember everything goes as long as there are profits at the end of the exercise, and the opposite is true, regardless of the social merits.  There is nothing wrong with that, capitalism like socialism is not dead, even though it may smell funny over the last few years.  After all, we in sales play a big role in driving revenues and profits, and ultimately cash flow.

There has been a gentle coexistence between the Social types (media or network), and the capitalists.  The social purists get their playground, the illusion of a new frontier, they get to shade their avatars green while real people get crushed on the streets of Teheran, and a vicarious front line view to the birth of democracy in Egypt.  Oops, scratch that, the “Tyrant” has been deposed, but no democracy yet, oh well, it may be different in Syria.  All for minimal cost of 8 out of 10 tweets being about how to make more money using “proven” methods on Twitter and social media,  or how to get thousands of followers overnight; FOLLOWERS who couldn’t pick you out of a line up, much less relate or benefit from your tweets.

Going public changes things, it makes one central mantra superior to all others, that mantra being profit; in fact it now has to be profits that exceed Street expectations, because merely meeting expectations is not enough.  Community is nice, social is nice, networking is nice, but even combined they are nothing more than the red headed step child compared to profits, which now is the central and only goal. If you doubt that, just sit in on an analyst call and see which facts and which guidance gets top, no, only billing.  Can you picture providing guidance that speaks to functionality that serves the demands of the community, but do not add to or diminish profits in a given quarter.

So what do you do?  If the “Socialites” want or expect one thing, but the income statement expects another. I realize the problem may not be a big one yet, as long as recruiters and job seekers continue to see benefit and continue to use the LinkedIn, other voices will be quelled, save one voice, the voice of Profit.

For sales, this has been a much more fruitful coexistence, at least on the surface.  First, it gave us Sales 2.0, that kept capital rolling, triggering the repurposing existing products for a 2.0 world, just add social links, and presto.  Let’s face it that Sales 1.5 was just so last year.  Then you get the Social Selling types, for them putting a number after the word Sales doesn’t quite do it, it has to embrace the whole Social experience.

However, there remains the problem of Promise vs. Realty in the social selling space, or maybe more accurately, the promise of something new versus the reality of a thin shiny veneer on the same old.  Just in case you think I am being too cynical, consider a tweet earlier this week from a Social Selling type promoting a site as a boon for Social Sellers.  The site, well check it out! Beauty eh?  For a nominal monthly charge of $49 they will deliver 100 LinkedIn connections per month, you want 200, you get a discount price, only $89 per month.  In case that is not social enough for you, they offer 500 Facebook Fans a month for $96 per month.  According to the site “Most Popular” is 2,000 Twitter followers per month for $89.  All 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed.  That’s the kind of social circle I want to belong to.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good, especially if one can accept that despite the label, it is capital not social, it just has to be sold the social way.  In case you think this time it will be different, just ask Pete Townshend, or better yet, ask yourself how many of the folks sitting on Yasgur’s farm in 69, were and are sitting in the corner offices of Wall St. during the excess of the 1990’s and early part of the last decade, and now.  Depending on how you answer that will determine your perception of things, but not the reality.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Selling to Mr Know-it-all17

The Pipeline Guest Post – Ian Brodie

Have you ever tried to sell to Mr Know-it-all?

You know the guy. You meet him for the first time and he’s done a ton of research. He thinks he knows what his problem is and what he needs to fix it. He’s looked up you and your competitors and and thinks he knows all your relative strengths and weaknesses.

So when you meet, instead of a consultative discussion where you tease out his problems, explore the impact, and suggest ideas – he’s grilling you on technical points. Some of which don’t even seem relevant.


I hate selling to Mr Know-it-all. Probably you do too.

In fact, if I get the chance, I’ll qualify him out. Focus my time on someone more receptive. Someone open to a consultative discussion. Someone who respects my expertise and listens to my ideas.

But you know what?

I’m Mr Know-it-all.

So’s my wife. And my kids.

We’re all Mr Know-it-all these days.

Whether it makes sense or not, the web and the availability of information has turned us all into Mr Know-it-all.

What was the last thing you bought without researching it first on the web? Probably something trivial.

For anything important you’ll have looked up what you think your problem or opportunity is and the different ways of solving it. You’ll have decided what you think the answer is. And you’ll have checked out the major product/service providers who could help.

You may get it completely wrong (I do, rather often). But it doesn’t stop you thinking you have the answer.

And that completely changes the dynamic of a sales meeting.

For the unwary seller it’s like entering the lion’s den. Instead of a receptive audience you can lead via questions, you’re going to be on the wrong side of a grilling.

Selling in this environment requires a subtly different approach.

You’ve got to be prepared. To have thought through what Mr Know-it-all might be thinking.

You’ve got to be able to satisfy his need to be in control – yet be able to quickly and politely take him back to check his assumptions and thinking.

You’ve got to be able to introduce new ideas. Get lightbulbs to go off in his head. Get him to realise there’s more to this than he originally thought.

Only then you can re-establish your expert positioning. Only then can you begin to sell.

About Ian Brodie

Ian Brodie is a Marketing Speaker and Coach who helps consultants, coaches and other professionals attract and win more clients.

For a free copy of his Client Breakthrough report and training videos head over to http://www.ianbrodie.com/more-clients-in-less-time

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Beyond E-Mail and Voice Mail12

In our two previous video posts we looked at the use of voice mail and e-mail in the course of prospecting.  However, in today’s fast paced world, people have more options in how they communicate, as a seller you need to use them all.  Today we talk to other options sellers need to consider and use.  This involves both old and new.


BTW, in case you have doubts, check this site: www.eztexting.com, if you won’t use it, someone else will, and get sales as a result.

Here is the link to the piece mentioned in the video: Texting as a Form of Cold Calling!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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The Upside of Being Measured – Sales eXchange – 9717

People often have opinions or views that drive their approach and by extension the sales results.  It therefore follows that if the underlying assumptions or beliefs are inaccurate than so will the resulting approach and related actions, which can undermine their success.  This is one reason you want to measure and quantify things so you can base your actions on facts rather than just feel.  Yes, I will acknowledge that there are some things you can’t measure and therefore have to rely on other inputs, but at the same time there are a whole bunch of things that you can measure but some choose not, or choose not to take the action, leaving them with no measure and no success.

One example is prospecting, more specifically for many lead gen and lead conversion to appointments and then prospects.  If you follow this blog, you know that I believe in allocating time, and managing activities, rather than the simple notion of managing time.  When we work with sales teams we ask them early on what they need to allocate time to, and prospecting is always on the list, we then ask how much of their time by percentage they should be allocating to prospecting, on average we end up with a number around 30%.

This raises a couple of red flags for me, first, while they say 30%, they rarely do 30%, always finding some other “important” things that have to get done.  Second, it also tells me they have no clue, because they neither do it nor track.

With most of the same groups, we implement a process of tracking their activities, and what we find is that after a month or so, those who prospect habitually, can drive enough appointments in much less time.  First thing they have to know what “enough” is, this can be easily arrived at by working backwards from their goal to understand what that number is based on their own conversion rates along critical parts of their sale.

Assuming a 45-hour week, for most successful B2B sales people that would be a short week, but let’s pretend, 30% would equate to 13.5 hours or 2.7 hours per day.  Seems like a big chunk of time, no wonder many in sales avoid it, especially if they can go squeeze their base for some “growth”.  But once they actually begin a regiment of prospecting, implement a methodology, in the case of Renbor’s clients, ours.  What we find is that a vast majority, over 80%, can get to their required number of appointment or new prospects, whichever makes more sense to measure based on their business, in considerably less time than the 13.5 hours they may have “guessed” before they adopt the approach.

Knowing this encourages them to actually do it consistently, while at the same time freeing up time to complete other important parts of their sales, parts they thought they like more.

So next time someone brings up the concept of measuring what you do execute, don’t get all defensive, they are not looking to micro manage you, or as some have told me “cramp their style”.  Metrics or measures are primarily a way to improve your game.  Adopt a methodology that makes sense for your product and market, measure key elements, and implement a program to continuously improve your game.  Now if you have no game, and fail to take steps to improve it, then measure could be your undoing.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Reports of the Death of the Salesperson Are Greatly Exaggerated17

The Pipeline Guest Post – Craig Rosenberg

At Dreamforce, Tibor and I presented at the InsideView booth. My presentation, “Customer 2.0, ” focused on how the buyer has changed and has more power than ever before. The new buyer interacts with an organization when he or she is ready (not before), does the vast majority of research online without the vendor’s help, is distracted, and so forth. Focus.com CEO Scott Albro coined the saying, “Always be helping is the new always be closing.” I still love that quote, flipping Glengarry on its head. I use it all the time and get tweeted, compliments, etc. So, why am I talking about this? Tibor called me a week later and asked if I believe the role of the salesperson is diminished. Tibor may have been right about how my presentation came across, but he was wrong about how I feel about salespeople in the modern Customer 2.0 era.

I would argue that the salesperson is more important than ever. Let me clarify: I would argue that the highly trained, effective salesperson is more important than ever. Here are some of the keys to understanding the new buyer, why sales is important, and what you can do about it:

1.    Buyers have no time for anything that sucks, including the salesperson. Part of the Customer 2.0 era is choice. The buyer has more choices than ever before, and that includes choosing to talk to your salesperson. I can tell you this from my own personal experience. I am so busy, I can’t see straight. When I get a bad salesperson, it’s like buying a ticket for a bad movie with a lousy date. You are stuck, and the only way to get out is to leave (which may or may not work).

What you should do: Nothing new here — keep your crew well-trained in professionalism, product, and market. Buyers want to have an intelligent two-way conversation, and this won’t happen with some over-cologned “closer.” Fully trained intellectual equals is the name of the game here, folks. Make sure they can bring it in the right way. No, it doesn’t mean you need to be a “wuss.” I understand you still need to get the order, but the route to getting the order requires salespeople who can converse appropriately, from the top of the funnel to the bottom.

2. Buyers want to be helped, not closed; see quote above. Remember, today’s buyer has access to information like never before. If you take the website I represent, Focus.com, for example, buyers can ask for information they want/need and get it from third-party sources or peers. Now, you can take that as a threat, or you can embrace the change and change your approach. Buy your team the T-shirt: Trusted Advisorship: now more than ever!

What you should do: Arm the sales team with buyer-helpful content that they can both speak to and provide for the client. Create campaigns for the sales team that, rather than offering “once-in-a-lifetime” discounts or “check-in,” instead offer a report with valuable data. Don’t hold it back, give it away. That is how you build trust. Also, train the sales team on the buyer funnel, not just the sales funnel. That way they can determine where the buyer is in their process and provide the kind of content that will help the buyer get to the next step (versus sending the buyer a ZIP file with all your data sheets).

3. Buyers buy from people they like (and respect). This is old school yet totally real. Think the salesperson is dead? Ask buyers that. No one hates salespeople, they hate annoying, over-the-top salespeople who have no idea about what they are selling.

What you should do: Get your sales team “in the mix.” Everyone thinks of social selling as a way to understand the prospect (it is), but it is also important to think about social selling in terms of your online persona. There are simple steps you can take, such as having salespeople keep their LinkedIn profiles up-to-date (think the buyer doesn’t check it as they are talking to you or before you come if for a call? Guess again). Twitter: Get the sales team following the mavens in your industry and retweet them, interact with them, and then teach them to connect with prospects. They will see the salesperson as someone who gets it. Should they blog? That to me is slippery slope; see David Brock’s great post on this. The answer to me is: It depends. Remember, if you write it, they will read it. Put another way: If you don’t want a prospect to read it, don’t write it. Long form is different than Twitter. I do believe salespeople can and should write blog posts about their market or selling in general if they are thoughtful and articulate. If you write a post on “How to Close a Mark,” you will lose 75 percent of your deals; but if you write a post on “Understanding the Buyer,” you look smart.

4.    Buyers want to be understood. At Focus.com, we have been polling buyers for the past six years. The overwhelming message in their advice is that sales must understand their unique needs. I know, I’m not going to take credit for inventing solution selling, but it is important to note that this is part of becoming the Trusted Advisor. This all ties together; to win in the long-term, you have to earn respect. If you can’t even figure out what keeps buyers awake at night, you have failed. This is an age-old adage, I feel bad writing it. But I do think I have to write because our polls tell us the buyer isn’t seeing it in this new buyer-centric selling environment.

What you should do: I really shouldn’t be the one recommending that you train your reps on whom to ask questions. However, I have some other recommendations: Have you read all the marketing blogosphere stuff on buyer personas? Those are as much for sales as they are for marketing. Arm sales with an understanding of the types of buyers they will meet and what type of content and conversations are needed to propel them through the buyer funnel.

Is the salesperson dead? No, the salesperson is as important as ever — but he or she must be better than ever.

About Craig Rosenberg

Craig is the leader of the Focus Expert Network, his team is in charge of recruiting, retaining, and managing the amazing Experts that fuel our site.

Craig is also the author of the popular b2b sales and marketing blog, the Funnelholic (www.funnelholic.com).  He focuses on b2b sales marketing across the entire funnel from demand generation to overall marketing to sales process and organization.

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Planning for the Obvious5

Time is the great equalizer, every day we all get 24 hour, consisting of 60 minute no matter who or where you are. As we have spoken in the past, you can seek all the sage advice, old school, new school, school 2.0, or even the ultra-hip and modern social school, nothing will change the fact, you can slice and dice it, digitize it, but you can’t manage it.  Do what you will; it’s still 24 hours, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

What you can do, is understand how much time you need to apply to which specific tasks. With that, you can then allocate the time needed to complete those tasks successfully on a consistent basis, and then spend the allocated time actually executing and completing the task at hand.

Read On…

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Who Are You Selling? – Sales eXchange – 9610

Having worked with thousands of sales people at hundreds of B2B sales organizations; some who sell multi-million dollar solutions, and others who sell $30 deposable commodities, you end up having some unique litmus tests for understanding who the good sales people are.  When I say good, I want to take the broad view, not just simply who is “good at the craft of selling”, but who is good, exceptional at driving good for their company, their customers, and good for themselves.

One test that has stood up regardless of the product or service involved, comes down to who the sales rep is spending time selling.  Are they spending time with prospects, engaging and working on defining requirements and value, maximizing the return for the customer while driving revenues for their company?  Or are they spending time selling their manager and company why they should cut a deal to this customer, why the offering is deficient, and why they can’t make quota given the market, pricing, product, and the location of their parking spot.

There are a number of sales people who find it easier to spend time with internal people explaining why the product needs tweaking, pricing needs to be adjusted, and their territory needs to be altered.   While not all things are perfect, and think about it, if it were, would they need sales people?   If it was easy they would not need us.  Part of the job is to create that fit by working with the buyer to define requirements, help them understand the value of doing things a certain way, and then presenting the right product/service.

Yes this will involve some feedback to internal people, outlining changes and potential enhancements to the product based on market input.  Even pricing is open for discussion in certain circumstances with the right parameters.  All that however is very different than what I see all too many sales people doing, which is spending some real time and genuine skill and effort, selling their company what they can’t make a sales, when it should be the other way around.  They should be selling to the market and customers.

Over time, I learned that if you observe how much time, effort, energy and resources a sales person spend selling in-market vs. In-house, you will know who the good sales people are vs. The also-rans.  It is easier to sell in house than in market.  It makes for a more profitable and enduring career selling in-market.  It may alls sound obvious, but take a look around.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Time To Step Up!11

2011 Sales & Marketing Success Conference

Benefiting Victims of the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

As readers of The Pipeline, you are always looking for new and great ideas to improve your sales results, and a challenge.  Now you have an opportunity to get direct input from 35 of the world’s best know sales experts, all part of the 2011 Sales & Marketing Success Conference, presented by Top Sales World.

This coming week from May 9 to May 13, you can participate in the worlds biggest online conference ever, each seven of the world’s best will deliver webinars dealing with all aspect of sales and marketing success.  You can view and download the full schedule here.

Now while I would take in as much of the presentations as you can, in this case they did save the best for last.  Here is the line up for Day 5:

Friday May 13, I share the bill with a stellar group covering some hot topics:

12:00 Noon EDT – Paul McCord: Build a Solid Business on Referrals by Knowing Who Your Client Knows

12:45 PM EDT – Anthony Iannarino: Building Your 13-Week Sales Success Plan

1:30 PM EDT – Harlan Goerger: Success with the New Sales Paradigm: Different Thinking Brings Different Results

2:15PM EDT – Dave Stein: Sales 101 Isn’t Enough: Advanced Selling Capabilities for Outselling Your Competition

3:00 PM EDT – Eric Taylor: Success is Something You Attract by the Person You Become

3:45 PM EDT – John Doerr: Keys to Mastering Successful Rainmaking Conversations

Then whole event wraps up with me, Tibor Shanto, Friday May 13 at 4:30, presenting Success Through Execution!

The thing that makes this conference truly great is that all the funds collected will go directly to the relief fund for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Just four weeks after the Magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake and a tsunami which delivered 46ft waves, we learn that the death toll is likely to top 25.000, and recovery is going to take not years, but possibly decades, maybe even a generation, at a cost of at least $250 billion.

This is an opportunity for anyone involved in the sales space to make a meaningful contribution to the Japanese Disaster Fund (via the Red Cross).   We estimate that after administration charges levied by banks/PayPal, we will be able to contribute around 95% of all registration donations.

The plan is to charge just $5 registration fee per presentation.

Here is the challenge, pick you favourite sales leaders and sign up, now, don’t wait, procrastination kills success.  Even if you only participated in five presentations, just look above; that is $25 investment.  If you implemented one solid practice from each presentation, and ended up closing one more deal in the next quarter from each what’s that worth to you?  Knowing that in he process you are helping a worthy cause, how much is that worth.

Again, don’t wait, pick your presentation, and reserve your seat now, and participate in this most unique online event.

Thank you in advance and I look forward to having you sit in.

Tibor Shanto
Renbor Sales Solutions Inc.

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Sales in a New World – Choosing your Customer18

The Pipeline Guest Post – Jeff Ogden

We used to go far and wide looking for customers.

Cold calls, email blasts, webinars, etc. – all designed to attract interested buyers. We were looking for the proverbial nugget of gold – a prospect with pain and a budget.

But in this age of empowered buyers, where an executive can do his own research ad hoc – that strategy is growing less and less effective. Prospects avoid salespeople and do their own research.

I recommend you consider a new approach. Choose your customers.

In addition to the marketing strategies outlined above, list out the 10-12 ideal customers your company would like to win. Then devise a strategy to crack those accounts. I’ll share some ideas on how to do it.

Let’s say you want a dominant market share in financial services by winning showcase customers.

One of the biggest names in financial services is American Express. Having American Express as a client would impress everyone. But there is one problem – American Express has never heard of your company. So what do you do?

We know picking up the phone and making a cold call is very unlikely to yield good results. So what works to engage us in American Express?

I believe it is the combination of Trust and Timing that yields results today.

Let’s examine each of those>


Trust is built slowly, patiently and deliberately. I believe in the adage “Give to get.” This means you need to invest time and effort into HELPING American Express executives. How can you help them?

1.    Thoughtful blog comments
2.    Retweets of their tweets
3.    Personal, handwritten note sharing something of interest.
4.    Attend one of their events
5.    Get involved in the execs outside interest.

Case in point, the CEO of American Express presented his company at

American Express Company at Goldman Sachs US Financial Services Conference December 07, 2010 10:30 a.m. ET
The presentation and content from the CEO’s presentation are posted on the American Express website. The CEO shares the business results, strategy and more. What do you think he wants to talk about? Your products? Or how American Express can compete more effectively against Visa and Mastercard?

Here’s is one very simple thing you can do? Listen to Ken Chenault’s presentation. Get some executive stationary. Hand-write a note to Ken, and comment on something you learned from his presentation. Sell nothing. I guarantee it will resonate with him.

You can also attend these events. Every year American Express does an investors day. Admission is free. And all their top executives are there. I am shocked at how many salespeople fail to take advantage of these events.


Timing is essential.  You need to contact American Express at the time they are most receptive to your message. This means some type of trigger event. Maybe they hire or promote an executive. Or they announce earnings. Or they buy a company.

Regardless, you need to wait for the optimal moment to contact them.

If you have patiently earned their trust and contact them at the optimal moment, you have a great chance of winning a showcase client. You really can pick your customers.

About Jeff Ogden

Jeff Ogden is President of Find New Customers “Lead Generation Made Simple” Find New Customers helps companies like yours (with 50 to 5,000 employees and complex products) implement lead generation programs to improve the way you find and acquire high quality sales leads using best practices in online lead generation.

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