Welcome to The Pipeline.

Is Cold Calling Dead?17

I keep hearing cold calling is dead, yet I see people winning a lot of clients through cold calling, and without a lot of other sales people getting in the way.

So what’s the deal?


I suspect that cold calling, like other sales techniques continues to evolve, right along with other methods.  In and of itself, cold calling, like referrals or other prospecting methods is not the end all and be all.  But in combination with other methods, cold calling continues to deliver results.  In fact studies have shown that next to referrals, it is the most effective, time and cost efficient way to engage with potential buyers, especially those who have not declared themselves as being in the market.

As with most things in sales, it comes down to the execution.  If you are not having success, you have two choices, seek help and improve; or give up and proclaim that it doesn’t work.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Customer Hot Potato – Sales eXchange – 11720

With so many opportunities to ensure customer satisfaction, it is a wonder how some companies keep blowing it.  Take this experience with my internet provider (well part time provider, the system keeps going down).

I recently called them to complain about consistent outages and slow service, something others in my area have also complained about.  The first encounter was with a CSR, who quickly tried to convince me that it had nothing to do with their (lack of) service, and was likely my router.   A variation on the familiar “oh no, it is not the hardware, it’s a software issue” ya right.

Throughout the call their rep kept apologising, I don’t know why, being sorry won’t resolve the issue, and I doubt that she personally came to my house and disconnected or throttled the service.  After a half dozen apologies, and no progress, I asked her what she specifically was apologizing, for;

“I am just sorry that you are unhappy with the service”

Me too, so why not deal with fixing it.

“I apologize”, man some consultant made a quick buck telling them that if they apologize and empathize, it will have an effect on the customer.   And it did, it pissed me off.  I congratulated her on taking me from a concerned customer to being irate, and now, finally, she had a reason to apologize, all the while making no progress on the real issue, reliable internet access.

Decided to take a different tack and took my story to twitter, put out a tweet asking if Rogers had a customer service group or a customer obstruction group.  Sure enough, a shot time later, I got a tweet back from one of their social minions, asking how she can help, at least she didn’t apologize!

I tweeted back that others have tried without results, I am looking at alternative providers.   Her response, NOTHING, no response after their first query.  Not very social.

A couple days later, I gave it another go – slightly more aggressively to the point:

Tweeted: Why is it I pay for a month’s worth of internet but your services are not up all month?

Within minutes @Rogers_Chris responded: Hi, have you contacted tech support about your internet problems?  I guess he does not have access to their CRM, he just “listens to social comments”.   This exchange led to no joy.

On September 25, I put out another tweet heralding them as the new slow.  Enter the next Rogers_, this time @Rogers_Kate, who offered the following hope in the form of a tweet:

“@Renbor Hi Tibor, is this happening when uploading? I’d be happy to take a further look into it for you, follow me so we can chat :)”

Instantly, I followed her.   But I am still waiting, here we are a week later, and still waiting, just like when I try to load a page in my browser.

You know there is a difference between social listening, responding on line, and actually doing something to deal with the issue.  There is more to customer satisfaction than optics, although I am sure there is someone internally touting the speed with which they responded to the situation.  Their situation, not mine.

Next week, our adventures with our cable provider, guess  who?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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23 Marketing Tips For Avoiding Small Business Failure37

The Pipeline Guest Post – Eric Gilboord

Lists like this one are usually made up of financial reasons for the failure of a small business. Unfortunately there are also many sales and marketing reasons. Fortunately, there is a positive step that can be taken for each one that will greatly increase your chances for success.

1. Face Your Weaknesses. Failure to face up to your weaknesses and a lack of effort to take advantage of your strengths can keep your business in a no-growth mode.

Take two pieces of paper and list your company’s strengths on one page and its weaknesses on the other. Note the ways you can make your staff, customers, prospects, and other business associates aware of each of your strengths. On the page of weaknesses, identify steps to correct each problem. Discuss the
points with your staff and develop a schedule to address them. No it’s not really as bad as you think.

2. Take Action. Talking about the great marketing program you have been developing and following through with it are two very different actions. Implementing the program is the key to marketing success. Plan all you want, but be prepared to act on all the steps you have identified. Don’t be surprised to discover that there are some steps you hadn’t initially considered.

3. Accountability And Responsibility. Understand the difference between accountability and responsibility. Make sure your staff and suppliers recognize that by accepting responsibility, they are accountable to you and to the rest of the company. It is now their job to get the assignment completed.

4. Don’t Play At Business. Don’t play at being in business. It is not a hobby or a pastime. Think about the message you are sending to your staff, suppliers, and customers. A genuine commitment to the customer and to the success of the business will get you through difficult times. It will also pave the way for much
success in the future.

5. Avoid Ad Hoc Marketing. Struggling from one idea to another without thinking your complete marketing story through will typically end in one failure after another. Prepare a program for the year or at least for a complete season. Build on previous efforts to ensure continuity.

6. Seek Employee Buy In. When your staff does not support your marketing program, you are usually destined for failure. Get them involved early in the planning process and incorporate their ideas.

“These actionable tips are the responsibility of everyone who works with you. Make sure they know and understand them.” A2E

7. Appreciate Every Customer. A complete disregard for customers is a sure sign that a business is failing. There is nothing more irritating than walking into a business or past a booth at a trade or consumer show and discovering that the
person behind the counter is having a personal telephone conversation or reading the paper. Immediately, you are made to feel like you are interrupting. Customers should be welcomed into your business and greeted with your full attention.

8. Spot Trends. Recognize trends, changes, marketing mistakes, etc. A new trend that is different from your product or service is a terrific opportunity to present something new to your customers. New ideas also refresh your staff.

9. No Egos. If you suffer from the ‘‘not invented here’’ syndrome, fix it right away. Great ideas can come from anywhere and from anyone. Limiting yourself to ideas created only at your company is like viewing life through a very narrow lens. Seeking outside assistance and not listening to it is equally dangerous.

10. You Don’t Know It All. The assumption that all of your ideas are right just because they were ‘‘invented here’’ is also dangerous. You may know your business better than anyone else but you don’t know everything. Seek outside help.

11. Control Sales Staff. Lack of control over sales staff will result in missed opportunities and wasted hours. If your sales reps have little direction or support, they could be selling to whomever they choose. Often, they spend much of their time with existing customers and miss large new opportunities. Develop specific sales plans with your reps and review them regularly.

12. Create Tools. If you don’t create proper sales and marketing tools for your staff, you will make their jobs much more difficult. Arm them with well-thought-out selling tools and train them to use the tools effectively.

13. Keep Tools Impressive. If the sales tools you have are unimpressive, out of date, poorly conceived, or lack strategy or focus, they are damaging to sales opportunities. Work with your staff to prepare useful selling tools.

14. Prepare A Realistic Budget. Don’t force your marketing group to live with a low or non-existent budget. Be realistic about your expectations and provide appropriate funding to increase your chances for success.

15. Don’t Try To Spend Your Way To Success. On the other hand, if you spend too much money on marketing, you may not get value for your investment. Carelessly spending dollars on marketing does not always guarantee sales. You may need to rethink the media and promotional offers that currently make up your marketing program. Introduce a social media program that starts with a real strategy and has the manpower to execute it over a sustained timeframe. At least 2 years and if possible forever.

16. Promote Your Website & Social Media Pages In Traditional Media And Within Each Other. An important lesson recently learned by many participants in the internet is the need to go outside of it to traditional media. Aside from producing a well thought-out website and social media presence, the key to success on the net is to let your target group know where your site and social media pages are located. Add your web address and social media pages to all of your communication materials: business cards, letterhead, invoices, flyers, packaging, and cross promoting between all your social media etc.

17. Answer The Telephone Properly. The habit of not answering the telephone properly or having an uninformed person answering it for you can be damaging. Customers and prospects become frustrated when they can’t get answers to their questions. Train your staff well and equip them with the most up-to-date information. If they shouldn’t be answering the telephone, don’t let them.

18. Don’t Lose Orders. They are so hard to get these days how can you even think about losing them. The problems of lost orders or orders not completed on time can be easy to resolve. Create a step-by-step fulfilment process with checking systems to make sure that an order is controlled from beginning to end.

19. Promote Yourself. Some business owners believe that the product or service they offer should be as irresistible to others as it is to them and that customers should just come to them without promotion. Not promoting yourself will only serve to keep your business a secret.

20. Encourage Others To Promote You. It is just as important to encourage others to promote you. If someone else has a clear understanding of what your company does and who your target group is, they can help to promote you. Develop a brief statement that identifies who you are, what you do, who you do
it for, and why you are different from competitors. Make sure that anyone who may be representing your company to prospects understands this message.

21. Face Negative Word of Mouth Head-On. Negative word of mouth statements can have a devastating impact on your sales, far beyond one or two unhappy customers. Solve the problem quickly and win customers back. Those customers will be your best salespeople.

22. Use Resources Around You. The failure to use readily available resources can lead to wasted opportunities. Seek out government self-help offices, associations, consultants, internet sites, and libraries. Talk to customers and suppliers and study your competitors.

23. Be Better Than Competitors. Don’t just try to be as good as the competition, be better than them, offer something different, provide better service, etc.

About Eric Gilboord

Eric is a specialist in making marketing easy for business owner/operators and any staff with sales or marketing responsibility. He demystifies marketing so they can use it to generate sales today and grow their businesses faster.
Check out his new book ‘Just Tell Me More’  click here.

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Plan B17

While Dynamic Planning continues to be a rarity for many sales people, the trend in planning individual meetings seems to be improving.  Sales people continue to realize that buyers are more discerning and will not spend much time with an unprepared seller.

But there is still an opportunity to improve planning, and one way is to make sure that you have a Plan B and a Plan C based on the type of buyer or buyers you are dealing with.


But remember, the goal here is sales, so never let a good plan get in the way of success, if it is there seize it!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

A Tale of Two Cold Calls and Two Directors – Sales eXchange – 11639

I know people don’t like to cold call, but because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it does not work, or be part of a broad new business acquisition routine.  One way to make cold calling more effective is to think of your target not as an individual, but as the entire company, you are targeting, allowing you to base the sale on the overall value you can deliver to the whole company.

Then select the individuals to call, and then translate that value to them based on their role, requirements and or filters.  The key is to make sure that you are calling everyone you can, all at the same time, rather than one typical inundated buyer.  Remember your value extends to others in the company; they are your natural buyers’ internal customers.  From a tactical point of view there are other benefits, least of which is the intelligence you can glean.

Some disagree, and feel that you should not prospect multiple people at the same time at the same company; I can’t say why, because I don’t understand why they would hold that view.  I hear things like “I don’t want to go around” or above their contact; they often make it sound like some form of infidelity.  I don’t get it, maybe I’ll deal with in another post. The other thing I hear when it comes to complete account coverage and the reluctance to call on multiple people within the same company or department is “I don’t want to confuse people”, “I don’t want to seem desperate”, “I don’t want to confuse the prospects”. When I hear that, I hear “I don’t want to work.”

There is no upside to not calling multiple people, especially now when decisions seem to be a pack activity. There is only upside to calling numerous people, at the same time when prospecting a company, here is why.

Here is one simple example for initiating multiple inroads into a company. I had a company on my target list, did my research gathered the contacts, and started my work. I had two Sales Directors on my list, one owned the Eastern region the other the West, and in my knuckle dragging way I cold called them both.

The first fellow was very polite, generous in the information he shared, but in the end was insistent that they had firm plans and decisions that took them through to 2013, and there really was no need for us to talk till late 2012. That was his story, and he stuck with it despite my best efforts.  No problem, I still had another director to call, not to mention the other contacts in the same company. Within 10 minutes of being told that there was less than zero opportunity in the company, I was on the phone with the other director. He too was polite and engaged, but apparently he did not get the memo about the plans and he was very excited about meeting based on where his people were and things I discussed, we set the appointment.  By the way, it would appear that cold calling still works, and based on this example, about 50% of the time, but that’s not the point.

Had I followed the “call one guy” approach and started with the same director, I would have packed it in after that call, put them into a nurturing program, and scheduled a follow up for sometime in 2012. I am not suggesting the first guy was a lair, he may not have understood what I do, may have felt that they do have it covered, doesn’t really matter, the end result was the same. By sticking to the plan, and making the second call, I was able to get in.  The director I spoke to brought the other fellow with him, who didn’t seem to remember our conversation at all; we had a good meeting, I got a next step, we’ll see what happens next.

Even if you are selling a commodity, I would encourage you to understand and list all the people impacted by what you sell, contact them, understand their priorities, likes and dislikes.  You may not end up selling to them, or they may not be directly involved in the sale, but, A) you never know till you call; B) what you learn in those calls will prepare you better for the call with the buyer, and throughout the sale, especially if you revisit them to learn more as you go along.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Cold Calling: The Warrior Delusion52

The Pipeline Guest Post – Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

What is the truth about cold calling? So many people believe so many negative myths about cold calling that sometimes it’s almost impossible to see beyond the darkness… Read on to discover:

Whenever someone subscribes to our email newsletter, “Opening Doors & Closing Sales,” they get an email from us asking them about their most pressing sales and/or new business development issues. We send this email because it helps us help our readers.

Here is an email response we recently received from a new reader:

“Since you asked, I want to let you know that I apparently suck at cold calling. I’m not a very good bull shitter.”

Wow! I feel for her. Talk about starting out from a difficult place…

But it’s not really her fault. Cold calling has been so demonized, people believe so many negative myths about cold calling that sometimes it’s almost impossible to see beyond the murkiness of the various stereotypes about what is essentially just a phone call.

This new reader unfortunately seems to believe that she needs to make stuff up and be incredibly manipulative in order to succeed at cold calling. Not true.

Here are some of the things that people believe about cold calling:

1. It’s a numbers game. It’s not. While you do have to dial the phone, sheer volume of calls is not enough to help you succeed. Today it’s simply too hard to get people on the telephone. Today you have to be targeted, strategic and skilled.

2. Cold calling is manipulation. Many people (see email from reader, above) believe that cold calling is about manipulating people into buying things they neither want nor need. Not true. Your cold call is simply your introduction. There are many ways to meet a prospect, this is one of them.

3. Go through the ‘no’s’ and hang ups until someone finally says, ‘yes’ to you. This is my personal favorite—really, who wants to do this? I call this myth the “Warrior Delusion” because a lot of cold calling training centers on how to deal with rejection. Instead, of learning to handle the ‘no’s,’ it’s a much better idea to learn the skills that you need so that prospects say ‘yes.’ Couple that with some strategic thinking and targeting and you’re in a much better place to succeed.

4. The Born Sales Person. This is a very insidious myth because it keeps people from taking action. (See the email from reader, above.) No one is born knowing how to cold call. It’s a communication skill and like any communication skill it can be learned and improved upon. (The Queen was lucky, early in her career she learned this skill and it enabled her to build a business. You can learn it too.)

Bottom line what we’re talking about is a phone call—the basic tool of any sales professional. It doesn’t have to be painful. It doesn’t have to be brutal. It’s simply a phone call. If your calls aren’t working for you, then get the help that you need to make them work. It’s only a phone call.

If you’d like help knowing what to say to prospects, I invite you to download my Special Free Report, Getting in the Door: How to Write an Effective Cold Calling Script. You can easily access it here: http://www.wendyweiss.com.

About Wendy Weiss

Wendy Weiss, “The Queen of Cold Calling™,” is a sales trainer, author and sales coach. Contact her at wendy@wendyweiss.com. Visit her at http://www.wendyweiss.com.

Who else wants more sales fast?28

Despite what you may hear some say, cold calling is far from dead, and way more effective than many would lead you to believe.  But, as with all things that matter, it is only effective if done right.  In order to help you be more effective, I have arranged for a special webinar to help you succeed at this fundamental aspect of successful selling.

I turned to an expert, someone trusted resources like Inc. Magazine, Business Week, Entrepreneur Magazine, The New York Times, and Sales & Management go to when they want to know about one of the lowest cost, most effective, and most profitable ways to generate ready buyers and sales.  The person who literally wrote the book.  The author of the best seller “Cold Calling for Women” and “The Sales Winners Handbook.”  The expert known as The Queen of Cold Calling… Wendy Weiss.   Lucky for me I happen to know Wendy personally.  So I went to her and asked her if she would do me a huge favor.  And she agreed.

So, on Thursday, September 29, 2011, 1:00 EST she’s agreed to join me in a webinar to tell all of us how to communicate by phone and make cold calling the most PROACTIVE – PRODUCTIVE – Profitable way to grow your business in 2011.

Cold calling has changed and if you’re still following the old rules you are missing out on a lot of great new prospects and a ton of business.  She’s going to tell us what doesn’t work and she’s going to share the 6 rules you must follow to make cold calling work today.

Here’s the best part.  There is no cost to attend all I ask is you register to join us so we can save you a spot.    Click on this link . . .

So if you want to answer the question below with ease and confidence, join us for this special webinar.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

P.S.  Join me and The Queen of Cold Calling and find out how to make cold calls that get you through to your prospect, help you set appointments, and quickly move your prospect through your sales process.  All you need to do is click on this link to register for the event…

None For Us, Thanks!37

This past Monday I discussed options you have in dealing with your underperforming reps.  One suggestion I made is that companies are squandering resources investing in reps who have demonstrated their inability or often unwillingness to perform at the established and expected standard.

Not surprising, I got some feedback at both ends of the issue.  There were those who thought I was on the money; and of course, who thought I was harsh, uncaring, and knocking up against HR policies.

I was asked if I would stand by my statement, and you can see the response below.


I for one do not think it is harsh to expect full effort from reps, consistent coaching and leadership from front line sales managers.  I also don’t think it is uncaring to want the company and the rep to succeed.  There is no shame in not being cut out for sales, there are plenty of other important functions in the corporate world.  But, I do think it is shameful for someone to knowingly and willingly underperform, cost the company revenue, and negatively impact clients.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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The Process Difference15

A process generally describes the act of taking something through an established and common methodology, a set of procedures or steps, to convert it from one form to another, such as processing paperwork to get into collage, processing milk into butter, or in the case of sales, converting a prospect to a client. A process involves steps and decisions in the way you executed, usually unfolding as a sequence of events, (not to confuse things, not always sequentially).

Some have argued that the process one follows can be as important, if not more important, than the results or outcomes achieved through the use of the process. This is especially true when you need to achieve those results in an ongoing or continuous fashion, where the process needs to be repeatable and lead to the desired results consistently. Without understanding the underlying process, it is difficult to know how a specific set of results were achieved, or evaluate if and why they were good or bad. So, if we look at the desired outcome or result as the “destination”, you can say that the process is the “roadmap” (GPS if you want to be appliance specific), that gets you there. The ideal is to be able to use the same “roadmap” for as many road trips as you want, with only a few variations or detours based on the desired “destination” or outcome!

Read On…

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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25% Increase in Sales Training ROI – Sales eXchange – 11547

Some aspects of sales training are easy to measure others not so, but it is a fair question when I am asked what they can expect from an ROI standpoint. For some of the more difficult to measure situation elements, I try to quantify things a bit differently.  My experience has been that about 25% of the team will jump all over it, implement it, and see exceptional improvement in the way they do things, and their results after a sales cycle or two; that lift alone usually will cover the cost of the program.  The middle 50% will see a measurable and sustained lift if their managers continues to be proactive, and we help them with that through the Follow-Through Action Plan. I then tell them that the last 25%, and they know who they are, will get nothing out of it except a free lunch.

While they always appreciate my honesty when I am asked, most are shocked when I tell them that there is no need or reason to have those people attend, often they are just a distraction for those who do want to learn and improve.

Some nod as if to agree, and then they send the deadwood anyway.  Why?

I always say there is no need for democracy or equality when it comes to sales training, why should a company or leader waste time and money on someone they know will not produce any returns, and whose time is usually limited.

Companies have shown selectivity with other training or development programs. Even within sales organizations, we see different development tracks organized for high potential individuals, so why not extend that logic to sales training.

Most VP’s I work with know who is who, and where they sit in the group.  Many do a great job segmenting their teams into A, B, and C players. The key function with the C’s is to manage them out, so why train them?  I know some feel this is harsh, I remember the feedback I got when I suggested getting rid of C players in the past.  Not only do I think that isolating the C’s is a start, I think you can have a debate about how to handle the B’s, I do support the view that the focus should be on the A’s only; but I can buy the rational for including the B’s.

Everyone in sales seems to buy into the old 80/20 rule, if you do, ask yourself how negatively your sales would be impacted by getting rid of the C players, not much if any. What if you got rid of the bottom half of you B’s?  Probably not devastating, especially if you replace a few with B+ or A reps. Now if you did that, and did that every year, you would end up with a killer sales force.   Not only will you continuously improve sales, but attract much better sales people, as they look for an environment where their talents are appreciated, where they are not ignored because their manager is preoccupied with sales people who will never make it anyways, the C players.  Given that, why train them?

I know some people don’t like to hear this, they would rather sit in the board room, hold hands and sing Kumbaya, feels good, but doesn’t do much to bring in sales or get rid of the C’s.

You measure ROI on other investments; you pass on the ones that don’t show any returns, so why not when it comes to training, forget the C’s and see a 25% improvement right out of the gate.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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