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Execution – The Last Word In Sales – PT 4 – Time and Time Allocation20

You really can’t have a serious discussion about Execution without talking about time; problem is that the context of the discussion is often wrong, especially when it is framed in the context of “Time Management”.  Time Management is one of those feel good concepts that many buy into because it sounds good, but in reality offers little other than frustration to those who end up wasting their time trying to apply it.

What a silly notion, time management; let’s face it, time already comes pretty well managed, 24 sixty minute chucks fit nicely into a container of seven, which sits snugly into a carton of 52 to make a year, etc.  The Lunar guys may wrap it a bit differently, the Gregorian version lags a touch, but as far as sales go, we all start out with 24 hours in a day, and no matter how much you “manage” it, there is not much of that you can change.

The real issue is time allocation!

What do you allocate your time – And – How well do you manage your activities in the time allocated to them.

Now I know some of you are sitting there saying “well that’s what I meant”; and how many times have you lost a sale because you said one thing and meant another.

This is where Attitude and Planning come to play.  Part of planning on this level is the need to understand and pan to spend the “right” amount of time on those, and only those activities that deliver success.   There are a whole bunch of things I can spend time doing that look good, look productive, look important, but do not contribute to success as measured by how close I am to delivering quota while at the same time delivering measured value to the client.

It is not as hard as it sounds, but in real life it is a lot harder than it seems.  To get the most out of it you need to understand both what are the key must do activities to succeed with your sales, which is different than someone else’s, so we are not looking to pretend that there is a perfect set of activities.  Second, your conversion rates, this will tell you how much time you need to spend on specific activities.  You also have to make allowances for the known distraction, like real client emergencies, and other things that WILL come up, you they will, you just don’t know when and in what form.  For a full breakdown and description of this see: Allocate Time – Manage Activities.

Once you allocate the proper amount of time to an activity, you need to stick to it, and stick to it for as long as you committed to.  Don’t multi task, you are not an operating system, do the one thing you scheduled.  Focus on the one thing and get it done, multitasking will just ensure that you don’t get a number of things done at the same time.

Another place where Attitude come is to play is around how you deal with distractions, all kinds of distractions, colleagues, the web what have you.  I know it is easy to “go for a coffee” with a friend, especially when you are faced with doing something you don’t like, things like prospecting or driving the limb.  One classic is “responding to a client” as a means of avoiding something that has to be done, and wasting time.  If you allocate different periods during the day for voice mail, e-mail, then stick to it.  There are very very few real emergencies, make sure you don’t fool yourself.

It takes a lot of discipline to execute, and it takes a lot of discipline to make sue you do what you have to before you run out of day.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Execution – The Last Word In Sales – PT 3 – Planning and Process22

The problem and puzzling thing about a lack of execution in sales is not so much that people do not know what they have to do, it is more often the case that they do not “DO” what everyone knows has to be done.  The reasons for that could probably fill a book, which is not our goal here, so we will look at two specifics:

  1. A lack of a plan – or – unrealistic or bad plans/planning
  2. Lack of a process

Planning is one of those things everybody talks about; many people do it, some better than others, and everybody feels good about having a plan.  Unfortunately, not many stick to their plans.  For some it is a lot like a taking on a fitness or weight program, they have a lot of enthusiasm at the start, they go out and by the stretchy pants, set big goals and big plans; the more expensive the sneakers, the bigger the plan.  Then they go off to the gym, give it a whirl, stay with it for a few days, some weeks, and eventually abandon their goals.  Not for any negative reasons, more because they had no plan for how to achieve their goal, and life getting in their way. 

A PLAN, really needs to be a series of plans.  What many see as a plan is really a goal, and many end up having great goals but no means of executing the steps that help them achieve their goals.  This is not to say that having Big Goals is a bad thing, no, you should have them, they will help you succeed.  I want you to set Big Goals; we talked about that in the Attitude portion of this series.  Write them down, look at them, thrive off them; but to attain them you need to break them down to small bite size pieces, your plan(s), and of course do it.

I am a big proponent of visualizing the end result, and then working my way back to the start, understanding and anticipating what will and or may happen along the way, then developing contingency plans to deal with both the anticipated and unanticipated.  One of the big problems with A Big Goal, is that people get so excited about it, buy in to it, they forget to allow for complications and do not build in contingencies.  Much like in the gym, a big challenge presents itself, and all of a sudden, the plan seems to be deficient, “no good”, and it is abandoned.

One way to cope with this is to do things on two parallel paths, one for the Big Goal, and the other is a series of smaller action plans.  A Big Goal alone launches you on a single path, a single trajectory, forcing you to be reactionary as things come up; the small plans allow you to make adjustments based on reality, based on the real path to your goal.

Let’s talk execution. As stated above, do put your plan together, whether it is for an account, a territory, a sales team, etc.  The key is focus on keeping it real and manageable.  For an account, what services you see them using from your company, meeting additional contacts in the account who can help you penetrate further, or simply how much you want to grow their spend.  “By Dec 2010, ACME Inc. will be using both our software and professional services, and increase spend by 22%”; “By the end of Q2, XYZ Corp. Will be purchasing their health and safety supplies from us rather than the Guys In Black”; “By the end of the year I will have met and sold to both the VP of Finance and the VP of Operations while maintaining the relationship with the VP of Marketing”, or any other goal you set.  The next step is to inventory what will need to happen to achieve the goal, what you will find is that it is a series of things that need to happen either simultaneously or in a given sequence.   With that done, begin to set plans for each of those individual things, clearly in sequence where required. 

This allows you to be proactive, attack each step with full focus and vigour.  As you complete each step, you will not only be able to celebrate your success, but before moving on to the next step, review where you are, assumptions you’ve made, anything that may need adjustment, or complete rethinking.  Do not be afraid to make adjustments, it is not “being wrong”, it is about being real and proactive; remember contingency is your friend.

This also allows you to deal with life, and you can always count on life to mess with your plans.  Sometimes it’s big, sort of like Lehman Bros. big, but more often it is just enough to force you to change as you go along.  Taking a Goal or a big plan and breaking it down to small executable steps allows you to change, abandon or stay the course based on what is really going on, rather than what an outdated plan dictates.  As with the big picture, you can see the end, but with the smaller plan you can clearly see how you get there.

Once you have that piece down, you need to have a process for taking your plan from the page or white board, and bring it into the real world.  A process involves creating workflows that allow you to act based on likely scenarios and outcomes for the actual activities you will take.  In essence, you can define the process as being a series of actions steps required to realize your plans and goals, it is what translates a plan to execution.

Yes it involves work, sales always does, you have to create goals, you have break them down, consider what can go right and may go wrong, and then create alternative plans and workflows to deal with them; and when you are done, you do it again.

Let’s be real, you can forgo this work, you can choose not to do it and spend the energy making excuses, blaming marketing, pricing, the product team, or Godot; seems to me to be about as much effort as I am asking for, but many still choose the route.  You can choose to have a Goal and go for it; I hear sales people do it all the time, “just trust me!” they say, when they deliver they are cool, when they do not, it is back to the first sentence in the paragraph.  Or you can choose to execute all aspects of the sale, take a page from Nike’s book and “Just Do It”, one small step at a time.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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The Role Of Product In Selling – Sales eXchange – 6446

Last Wednesday I posted a piece on demand generation, in it I suggested that in many instances, creating demand was much more important than the product, specifically:

Regardless of how compelling a case there may be for your product and services, it pales in comparison to internal requirements.

Most of the feedback was positive, but there were a couple of people, who took offence to me suggesting that product plays a secondary role to anything in sales.  As I explored this with some others off line, the discussion seemed to turn an age-old question:  How important is “product” to a sale or success in sales?

I’ll state my bias right up front, I think selling and how you sell impacts the outcome to a much greater degree that product.

We have all seen example after example, where an inferior product sold by a superior sales person, who was selling for a company that had a superior sales process, out sold a product that is “clearly better” in all the ways that count.  If sales was a clinical experience the superior product would out sell the lesser product; but sales is not, and as result, the best product does not always win.

Does anyone remember the company Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)?  A pioneer, a leader in product, but they were out sold by IBM.  I recently met a former DEC rep who still gets passionate about the fact that the better product did not rule the day.  Think back to the late 1990’s, the hay day of the Dot Com, how many products never saw the light of day because there was a complete focus on “product” and none on sales.  At the same time you had a bunch of also-rans that did well, had great IPO’s and more, strictly because of their ability to sell.  How about BETA MAX vs. VHS?

This is not a knock on innovation, it is important, but you can wait for the world to beat a path to your door, (and the odd time they may), but you are much more likely to succeed if you actually go out and sell it.

An extension of the discussion is whether you are better off hiring a good sales professional and teaching them the product, or would you be better off hiring a product expert and (hope to) teach them to sell.  As I stated in an article a few years back, “Hire a Sales Rep – Not a Product Rep”, you are infinitely better off hiring someone who is a sales professional rather than a product person.  Not taking anything away from product experts, the level of passion, planning and intangibles needed to execute a sale is very different than the focus and skills needed to be an expert on the product.

I work with a number of organizations that have elected to “promote” engineers into sales positions.  A vast majority regret and rethink it before long.  They find that customers – meaning users – find the engineers and plus, but buyers, fail to connect, and usually because the experience for them is too product centric, and was totally on the rational level and not on the primal level where reactions and decisions are formed.  By contrast, organizations which teamed “sales engineers” or “sales technicians” with sales professionals have a much greater success.

I recently met with a president of a company, leader in their field, who attributes their success to the fact that they have for yeas proactively pursued a hiring policy that focused on attracting people who can sell, and training them to use their sales process and product knowledge.

Sales is about execution, not about product.  Some may need the security of product knowledge, but for consistently higher sales you are much better off with someone who understands the complete sales, not just the product portion.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Execution – The Last Word In Sales – PT 2 – Attitude30

“Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. ” Charles Swindoll

It may seem surprising that the first instalment in a series about Execution – The Last Word In Sales, with what at first glance seems to be an intangible, specifically Attitude.  However, when all is said and done, more often than not, the critical difference between winning and losing is the attitude of the seller.  The bad news is that most sellers do not realize this, the good news is that once they do become aware, attitude is something that can be worked on, developed and improved with practice an commitment over time.

This is why attitude is very much like other core sales skills, to improve you have to work; work consistently to improve and maintain it in order to make full use and benefit from it in sales.  Attitude is something that has to be worked on daily, just like any other sales skill. The upside is the compound effect and benefit attitude delivers in combination with other sales skills and activities, especially the ones to follow in this series.

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.” —Muhammad Ali

Let’s be clear, there is more to attitude than looking in the mirror say “I am OK I am fine”, although it is a start.  Attitude is a constant, not a daily dose to be taken in the morning.  It starts with a sellers willingness to do what has to be done at every step of he sales cycle; from the planning stage, to the follow through after you win the business.  It is the difference between the rep who is willing to wing it, and the rep that takes the time to prepare, practice, double check and practice again.  It is the difference between the rep who would rather look foolish practicing a presentation than look foolish in front of a customer when they have not.

As I have discussed in the past, I am always more irritated than surprised by sales people who say “oh, we can’t do that”.  Well the fact is they could if their attitude did not prevent them from it.  It is a terrible feeling to face someone who has the basic skill and tools to succeed, but lack the attitude to seize it.    As is usually the case the effort involved in adopting the right attitude is not any greater than the effort and energy involved in rationalizing under performance.

“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” Anonymous

Underlying attitude is the urge to be the best that you can be, and win the most that you can win.  Attitude comes back to very pedestrian things that every seller can control and manage.  It involves planning, and basing those plans on concrete elements and experiences based on metrics and benchmarks to measure where you are and what you have to do to get there.  These elements and factors are here for all sales people, attitude is the element that determines how a sales person will utilize them to win where others will feel just fine loosing, telling themselves “hey, I did the best I can.”  Or did they, I can tell you that there are deals that I won because I wanted it more than the other sellers working the deal, that “wanting it more”, dictated my planning, review, and approach.  Beyond the energy, it is a question of what you are willing to do, what you are willing to ignore; what many call “thinking out of the box”, is really about attitude.  How far beyond the obvious limits, what do you see, and what are you prepared to do about it.

“To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Environment has much to do with it as well.  While money is not the end all for successful sales people, it is a factor.  Even among people who are salaried and receive nothing extra based on performance, you see the difference attitude makes.  I remember telling a VP I worked for, that I could not imagine going to an annual sales meeting and not be invited on stage to be given an award.  To me that was is what drove my attitude.  Which takes us back to the planning, and since attitude is very personal and individual things, the planning here is very specific to each individual sales rep.  What do you want to achieve, not in your territory, not with an account, but what do YOU want to achieve, remember you career is just a means to that end.  Do you want a farm in Montana, 1967 Mustang, John Lennon’s toilet, what ever.  When you step back and identify those plans, write them down, “January 20XX, I am in my two bedroom beach house in Costa Rica”.  Once you’ve captured them, look at them regularly, visualize it, it will drive your attitude.  Now some of you may sit there and say, “ya right”, but I can’t worry about your attitude, I am busy working on mine.  It is that attitude that allows me to step up and Execute.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Bust Your Slump!16

If you or your sales team finding it difficult to bring in business these days, then I have a great suggestion for you.  You should pick up Bust Your Slump: A Dozen Slump Busting Strategies to Fill Your Pipeline in 30 Days by Paul McCord which has just been released.

Bust Your Slump isn’t another book that promises easy eternal success and delivers nothing but a bunch of fluff and hype with no substance. 

McCord has only a single purpose in Bust Your Slump, and that is to lay out in detail 12 proven, effective, real strategies that will generate business for you fast.  Each chapter not only gives you the concept, it gives you a step by step process for implementing it, and then demonstrates what it can do by relating how one of his clients used.

If you read this blog regularly, you know I am all about EXECUTION, and when you read this book you will see that this is what sets it apart from most.

Whether you sell B2B or B2C, are involved in a one-time close process or a long sales cycle, sell a commodity or a sophisticated product or service, you’ll find strategies that will work for you. 

If you buy the book at Amazon during the next couple of days, you’ll get several hundred dollars of great bonus gifts from some of the top minds in sales such as Jill Konrath, Keith Rosen, Jonathan Farrington, Dave Kurlan, Wendy Weiss, Dave Brock and of course me.  Click here http://www.bustyourslump.com/bonus.html to check out all the great bonuses you get for simply buying a book that will fill your pipeline.

Bust Your Slump is the real deal.  The strategies are real and they work, and Paul shows you exactly how to make them work for you.  You’ll have to invest the time and effort to implement them, but you already know that, know you’ll also know how.  These aren’t silver bullets, we are hunting revenue not werewolves, that’s why you need real deal Bust Your Slump delivers.

I encourage you to head over to Amazon and pick up your copy then head over and grab your bonuses at http://www.bustyourslump.com/bonus.html.   Would you rather have the Kindle version?  Get it here http://www.amazon.com/Bust-Your-Slump-ebook/dp/B003YRIK4O/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_3.

Want to be able to answer the question below – pick up Paul’s book Bust Your Slump and you’ll have no problem.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Demand Side Selling28

If sales were to be defined in terms usually used by economists, and you asked sales people whether they were on the demand side or the supply side of the equation, most would tell you that they were on the supply side. In fact, when you work with and observe sales people, despite what they might say, they act and sell very much from the supply side.  But if you step back, and observe successful sales people, you realize that they spend their time on demand, specifically creating demand.  Most sales people spend a disproportionate amount of their time and effort focusing on the wrong side of the equation, on the supply side when we should be spending our efforts on creating demand.  The role of a sales person is demand generation not demand fulfillment.  

Read on…

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Execution – The Last Word In Sales – Sales eXchange – 6329

If you read about sales, one thing you see a lot is the use of two types of analogies, first is sports, second is military, usually war.  Having used them myself, they make for great comparisons and means of driving home explicit points or highlight the need for specific methodologies and systems.  Like sales, there is a logic and a hierarchy to the organization, how things are implemented and communicated, or sometimes not communicated.  The other thing they have in common is the lack of a definitive single way or commonly agreed on ways to achieve stated objectives.

There are as many “systems” as there are winning teams, each telling us that based on the makeup of their teams, their system helped them win the big trophy.  Some will tell you that having the best players trumps “system”, but we have all seen teams win the championship only to miss the play-offs the following year with virtually the same roster.  What then is the one factor that is common to the winners, what is the one thing that all winning teams, sport, military and sales have in common which leads to success and therefore defines success?  Execution!

Look at sales, we have the big known schools with their “proven methodologies”, and largely they do work, and all have the right to be in a leadership position.  You have the updates and rebranding Consultative Selling to Solution Selling to Customer Centric selling.  There are the retreads and renamings, what were compelling events in the 1990’s is now trigger events.  Doesn’t matter what you call it, if you don’t Execute, it is little more than a theory.

This applies to other aspects of sales too.  While more and more organizations are rolling out CRM’s to “improve sales and enhance productivity”, evidence suggest that it has not lead to the great successes hoped for.  Not because the application does not work, but because of the way they are rolled out and the lack of adoption and adherence by the sales teams.  In other words, a complete lack of, or just bad execution by all involved.  (Yes, I know there are other factors, bad planning, expecting the wrong outcome, wrong reason for buying it to begin with, but all those can be addressed if there was adoption, team execution.) 

Whether you look at SPIN, Achieve Global, Miller Heiman, or even our own EDGE Framework, all great processes or systems, yet when you look at results in the field they don’t work consistently.  Two quick examples, let us start at home.  I worked with a company back in 2007, implementing the Interactive Sales Program, which is based on the EDGE Framework and Zones.  As with all our programs it included a follow through Action Plan and the results were very positive until November 2008, when along with the economy, all things fell apart.  I saw a similar thing happen at a company which has been committed for years to SPIN, yet despite reinforcement twice a year, they are not getting the results or hitting goal.  The common element to both, the teams are just not Executing.  At my client, when the economy slowed, and every sales became a battle they abandoned the discipline, and stopped executing the program.  At the company using SPIN, it is not a question of the SPIN questioning process failing, it is the fact that their reps are not Executing. 

As in sports or the military, there are all kinds of great programs and advice, but they are all worthless unless they are executed.  Just walk around any sales office, find the rep with 8 – 12 years experience, somewhere in his office or cube you will find a half dozen or more sales training manuals and related books and cheat sheets.  There is more evidence on his shelf of the programs he has learned than in his day-to-day selling, the typical rep does not execute the programs they are trained.  So while there are some great programs, methods and applications to help individuals and teams sell better, without Execution, it’s all just talk.

You would think that execution should not only be easy, but people would be willing to do what it takes to execute and succeed, but we all know that they don’t, at least not consistently.  There are many reasons why, some I get, some I don’t.  What I have seen is that in many cases people are taught a theory or a system, but are not taught how to actually execute it.  Some trainers are so close to the material, taking many parts of it for granted, believing the details to be self-evident, and as a result gloss over the most important piece.  I often hear people say that they heard something great or brilliant when it comes to selling, and when you look to see why they are not adopting it, you see that they do not know how to or lack the will to execute.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting a series titled Execution – The Last Word In Sales.  Do not worry about missing an instalment, as the goal is to pull all four parts together and make them available as e-booklet.  As always, please comment and provide your feedback, it always helps.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Life is full of choices, we make them every day, some easy, others hard; there are those that we make on an almost reflex basis, then there are those we agonize over, they take a lot of thought, reflection and consulting, even help from others.  There also things that we do where we pretend that we had no choice, where we choose to be victims while trying to convince others, but really ourselves, that we had no choice it the matter, when in fact we did, but chose not to exercise it.

As a former smoker, I can tell you that smoking is a choice.   Yes it is addictive, and it is a killer to quit; but the first time I picked up a cigarette, it was a choice, and when I quit (cold turkey) that was a choice too.  It wasn’t easy, but that had to be made, and had to followed through on.  Same can be said for weight issues, exercise, and choosing a life style that helps you avoid being fat, unhealthy and at risk.

Success in sales is also a choice.  You look at the consistently successful sales people and they are not only constantly making choices, but of course following through on them.  At the same time, the people scraping the bottom of the barrel are also making choices; they are choosing not to do what they have to.  When all is said and done, it is up to me to tell my colleague that I choose not to accompany him to the coffee shop; that I chose to carry out the activity I allocated my time to, be that prospecting, client follow up, or learning more about a product or solution from a client’s perspective, etc.

After a while of making the wrong choices or avoiding choices, many of these same reps choose to rationalize the state they and their pipelines are in.   I recently worked with someone who made one bad choice after another, and in the end chose to justify the whole thing by presenting himself as a victim.  A victim of product, territory alignment, marketing’s lead gen efforts, and the fact that Starbucks was two blocks away from the new office, where it was in the lobby of the old one.

As I listened to him, I realized that the energy and effort required to rationalize, the creativity he demonstrated in painting himself as a victim, was almost as great if not greater than he would have expended in actually choosing to go out there and do what others in the same company were doing and delivering success with.  This then just spirals further down, as now in his mind he had an excuse to avoid other choices he needed to make.

There are probably two ways you deal with this if you are his manager, one preferable to the other.  The lesser of the two, and therefore a last resort, is to become very hands on and take the choice away for the rep, and set out his day for him, much like you would for a three year old.  Since reps are not three years old (yes I know), it really doesn’t work over the long run, if it does not jump start them and get them back to reality quickly, you’re better off helping them find a more suitable career.

The better way is to get them to take responsibility and become accountable for the consequences of their choices.  I find the best way to do this is get in a room with a white board.  Talk about all the things that need to be done, capture them on the board.  At the same time, capture all the excuses and reasons they are making specific choices about the specifics on the board.  With both up there begin a process of elimination, if you can eliminate or surface the reason for the choices they are making, and be left with the must do’s, you can then develop an action plan that will help them get back on track, take accountability and became a willing partner in changing their choices.  The good thing is that the reps involved usually know why they are in the state they are in, they are just caught up and need to find an exit and get back on track.  If they don’t, well, we are back to career transition choices.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Get up – Look Around – Never Know What You’ll Find25

Sales meetings, buyer – seller, not internal, have fallen into somewhat of a predictable pattern.  For the most part, they take place in either the buyer’s office, or in meeting or boardroom.  One party on one side – the other on the opposite side, the ritual unfolds.  You get there, you sit down, sometimes you are offered a coffee (water) other times not. The meeting is conducted, shake hands and good-bye.  The breadth and quality of the information exchange is to some degree limited by the environment.

Well there is no law that says it has to be like this, seriously I checked.  Why not get up and take a look around the place.  Some sales people naturally do, others need to in order to be effective; people selling maintenance equipment to plants, transportation reps walking the warehouse, there are other examples.  Many other sales people overlook the opportunities that present themselves un taking the meeting out of the conventional, to almost anywhere else.  You never know what you can learn by saying “hey, I’d love to get a better look at how you do things”, I say it all the time.

By changing the environment, you right away initiate two things.  One is they have to talk, it virtually impossible for them to “show you around”, without taking the lead on talking, and they will talk about many things you may have not asked about, or that may have surfaced much later.  Second, not only do we like to talk, we like to brag, and as we are walking around, you will learn about the individual, how they view things, do thing, even decide on things (or not).  A simple change in the environment not only opens the door to this, but also puts you in a different light than other sellers they may be meeting with.   In many ways, instead of you presenting to them, they are presenting to you; you create an opportunity where they tell you what they would like to see differently by pointing to it directly.

There is also the opportunity to see things and ask about things you would have never had the chance to had you stayed in the office.  Again, even if you are selling the most intangible service, there is always something that will spark discussion and therefore discovery.

One other dividend, is the opportunity to meet others in the process, you are just bound to run into to colleagues, workers, others executives, and more.  There is always an introduction, and then it is up to you how well or far you can leverage things.  At the very least you’ll have other contacts, people you can now call, and allies or better later when you may need that additional internal support.

I remember asking a VP of Sales to show me around, and as we walked by the president’s office, he introduced us.  She was pleasant, we chatted a few minutes, exchanged cards, I told her I’ll include her on my mailing list, and we moved on.  A few weeks later, the VP left, and it was very easy for me to reach out to the president and take the relationship, and the immediate sale to that level.  I would have never had that opportunity had I not asked for the tour, I would be like my competitors waiting for the new VP.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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PRIDE – Part V – Evolve – Sales eXchange – 6225

As touched on in the last post on Decisive Action, sales people are as susceptible to the Status Quo as our prospects are, and for almost the same reasons. This is why it is one of the most important of the five attributes of PRIDE, the others being:

Many sales people are stuck in their ways, while they may learn to keep up with the evolution of their product line, they fail to evolve their approach to selling. The problems is that while this may not always lead to total disaster, it leaves them consistently short of their potential, and as a result they do not deliver full value to either their clients or their companies.  What they see as 12 years of career and professional progression is really little more than the same year playing itself out 12 times with strikingly similar results. Whatever small progress they make is reclaimed by the natural march of time. 

At the same time when you look at sales professionals who consistently deliver, they are the same reps who continue to evolve, reinvent their sales approach while adopting new tools and methodologies.

Here are some scary thoughts:

  • Fewer than 20% of sales people will buy a sales book in given year, and fewer again will actually read one
  • Less than half of businesses have formal sales training programs for their sales people. (To be fair, some budget for staff to attend ad hock off site programs, which good, but does not lead to cohesion or consistency).
  • Less than 30% of new front line sales managers receive sales management training when they are promoted

Not a picture of a progressive group, can you imagine pilots or lawyers taking the same attitude: would you fly an airline boasting a team of pilots that has not been trained in years, after all, they had training in 1999.

What is surprising is how little is involved in upping your game.  Let us say you don’t want to bother buying or reading a book, there dozens of great sales sites and blogs you can access, and for the most part free, see a partial list below.  All offering great insights, techniques, strategies, either in the form of postings, webinars, whitepapers, e-books, or all of these form.

In fact, some of the free resources are much better than the traditional media sites.  Many of the experts behind the blogs are still practicing and selling daily, the advice delivered is road tested first hand every day.  Whereas the publisher sites are traditional when it comes to content and revenue model and the advice tends to less than subtly reflect that.

In some ways it is not surprising that some sales people are stuck in their ways, many of their managers are stuck in their ways as mentioned above.  Add to this the fact that some in the sales enablement industry have been preaching the same thing the same way for years.  I remember being trained by one specific training outfit over a dozen years ago, today their content is still the same, whatever you ask is always answered the same way, even their work material is the same, with the exception of the cover which is now in colour. 

As with most things in the PRIDE model, it comes down to attitude and the will to do what has to be done.  If indeed you are a sales professional committed to bringing their best game each and every day, then you have likely resigned yourself to the fact that each day will differ slightly from the day before, which then demands that you to differ slightly than the day before.  This goes beyond being “better”, it goes to being more willing to do one thing you did not do the day before; stretching and pushing the limits, expanding the base, and taking PRIDE in your chosen profession.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Partial list of site that will help you and your selling Evolve:

Selling to Big Companies by Jill Konrath

Partners in EXCELLENCE Blog — Making A Difference by David Brock

The Sales Blog by S. Anthony Iannarino

SalesBlogcast by Doyle Slayton

A Sales Guy by Jim Keenan

The Science and Art of Selling by Alen Majer

Sales and Sales Management Blog by Paul McCord

Selling to Consumers by Skip Anderson

Fearless Selling by Kelley Robertson

The Queen of Cold Calling by Wendy Weiss

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