Welcome to The Pipeline.

How Is Your Sales Process?19

While on some levels you can argue that the new year is an arbitrary marker of time, one of the benefits is the fact that it does encourage people to review, adjust and recommit to the way they you will succeed over the next 12 months.  One important aspect of sales to review and utilize consistently is your specific sales process.  Without the process, executing becomes more challenging.  Using the process as your blueprint for success will then allow you to use the right tools, question and steps required to engage with the right prospects, and take them through to becoming clients.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIWSYNIt78U

Once you have watched the video, review your process to ensure it still supports your goals; if not, then update it.  If you don’t have a sales process you should develop one, test it and refine it till it serves your needs.  This does not mean that making it easy, but making sure it allows you to be proactive and productive in winning business.  We are here to help if you want.

Exciting News!:

Jill Konrath’s “Selling To Big Companies” is being offered totally free for the next few days.  Jill, the author of SNAP Selling, is offering her book just in time to kick start your sales year.  Click here to take advantage of this great offer.*

*   No catch, I get no commission, I bought it in the store when it was published, and made money as a result.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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I Am Not a Barcode – Part II – Sales eXchange – 7838

+ You Are Not A Sales Person

Back at the end of December, John Cousineau, President at innovative information inc., posted a great piece on his blog titled “I am NOT a Barcode + You Are Not a Gadget“, recounting an experience earlier in the month at Dreamforce.  I remember meeting John at the conference and as we were sharing impressions, we both commented on a disturbing trend on the exhibit floor.  I’ll state upfront that I don’t think what we saw was unique to that trade show exhibit floors, but it was much more pronounced this time, and elevated several degrees due to the nature of the event: Sales.  It was raised a further by the fact that many at the event, and many of the people John and I ended up discussing were proponents of the “new way”, Sales 2.0.

Right at the front of the hall was a vendor, (and I still don’t know what they offer), who dispatched their pawns to accost all passersby, stick a flimsy plastic “chachka” in their hands and without asking, immediately scan the bar code on their name tags.  You can see the counters tumbling behind their phony smiles, you immediately got the impression that these people were being rewarded by the number of scans (leads?), clearly not at all by the number of viable potential leads they would generate at the show.  The third time I was scanned by the same booth (yes they were fast), I asked my assailant “do I need this?”  “Of course you do” she smiled back; “no not the plastic doo-hickey, the product/service in your booth?”, but alas she was gone, scanner in hand, on to her next conquest.

Now I understand that it costs a lot of money to exhibit at these events, and one measure of return would be the number of leads acquired, but you would have to water down the definition of a lead to such a point that one has to question the value of this type of “drive by lead acquisition”.  You wonder how much of this leads to the ongoing bickering between marketing and sales when it comes to leads.  Sales being accused of squandering leads, and marketing having to defend the quality of the leads.  If they could only agree that these were not leads to begin with.  You wonder how much of it could have been avoided by actually engaging with attendees.

Now let’s be clear, the particular vendor was not alone in this practice, they just happened to be at the entrance, and best (read annoying) at the practice.  All up and down the aisles, there were vendors doing similar things.  I had my picture taken with odd looking creatures, I still have no idea what they do, even after visiting the site to retrieve the picture, I looked good, my daughter has an addition to her collection, the company does not have a lead.

I figured I would test some current lore, you know, “the customer is in charge”, “when they are ready they will come to you”; I tried initiating discussion with some, “what do you do?”, “we provide a tool that increase productivity” that’s different, haven’t heard that for a few booths.  What else?  “We provide a solution that makes it easier to implement your strategy”, ooh, any strategy, should he have ask about my strategy?  “We help you transform your process from being cumbersome and dreaded to strategic and motivating for reps”; “We have a solution to automate manual functions”, ya like how we interact with potential prospects at trade shows.  “Generate, nurture and qualify greater leads with less effort”, no doubt the barcode scheme being one.  They all had me in their system, they got what they think they wanted, let’s see what I get.

So far, more than half have done nothing, some sent an e-mail with a call to action, and of these, I deleted some, like the folks at the very front of the hall and this piece.  Others I clicked through to the page where they wanted me to go.  No doubt, this click then not only registered on their marketing automation application, but also increases my score as a lead, and since I did this several times over the course of a week or so, I am sure my ISP`s score probably went up a notch or three.  Of the sites I visited, no direct contact from any as yet, a couple of well crafted follow up e-mails all inviting me to call when I am ready.  To me these are at best cursory interactions, but no real contact.  None of the barcode jockeys have engaged. 

The one who have contacted me were some of the people who were properly executing a trade show strategy; a preliminary qualification, if I passed that, I was asked if I was open to a call from a rep, then asked if I can be scanned to I can receive further information.   Some of these people do have offerings that are on the radar for me in 2011, of these I will actively pursue the top two or three, the ones below that, I suspect that I like most buyers, 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, whichever, I imagine will not see action from me unless they are proactive, despite what my score says.  A proper and fully executed communication strategy leading to engagement could probably lift their results, as much if not more than any of the tools they were promoting.

Much of this is not new, not profound, and therefore maybe not as attractive in these heady days of Social Selling.  In the end though, it still comes down to execution and engagement, as John points out in his post: “Be real. Be engaging, Be curious. Spark my curiosity. Learn about me + my situation. Help me learn how you could help me improve my business.” 

So like John, I am not a barcode, and clearly, the “barcodes jockeys” we encountered are not sales people.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Happy New Year!21

So here we are, December 31, last day of 2010, a year that many will be glad to see end, others having seen it as a brighter alternative to 2009, either way a day to celebrate accomplishments and to look forward to challenges of 2011.

In celebrating 2010, I looked back and selected a post from each month over the last 12 months.  These are not necessarily my best post from each month, but ones that on reflection caught my fancy.  See if you agree, and if you don’t we’ll still be friends.

January:
Socializing Sales

February:
Stoke Your Sales Fires

March:
Reputation 2.0

April:
Change – Or – Improvement

May:
Saturday Sales Tip – 18 – Take It Away!

June:
Out Of The Box Thinking

July:
What’s My Job?

August:
Velocity – Sales Myth or Objective – Sales eXchange – 57

September:
PRIDE – Part III – Initiative

October:
The Proactive 20% – Sales eXchange – 68

November:
Is Your Pipeline Managing You?

December:
Coming Attraction Call – Sales eXchange – 74

Looking forward to 2011, I will continue to post three times a week, but there will be some new and I think interesting features that will make The Pipeline a better experience for all of you.  One thing is the introduction of a weekly post by a guest blogger.  These bloggers will include the best in sales and other practices, sharing their views and best practices.  Stick with us and by this time next year you will have had the opportunity to be introduced to 52 different opinion leaders, and the ability to continue enjoying them on their blogs.

We will also be making more regular use of media other than print, including video, audio and who knows what else.

So are you ready for 2011, I am bring it on!

Happy New Year!
Tibor Shanto

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2010 Highlights and Lowlights!22

2010 has been an interesting year, then again if you live life to the fullest they are all interesting years, like sales it is what you make of it, what you give to it, and what can you take away from it.  So what makes any year different is the specifics, the things we’ve learned, discovered, and on the down side, the things bothered us to the point of delivering an unwanted lessons.  So like most outlets this time of year, it’s time for the Highlights/Lowlights – Stars and dogs.

Among the highlights for me, was stepping in and salvaging a failing book project on trigger events; I was able to marshal some key resources and bringing life back into the project, saving it, and then have the book win a bronze in Top Sales World’s Annual Sales Awards 2010 Book of the Year.

But even the above is a distant second to the feedback from readers and sales professionals of the blog, or by extension those reading them in the various LinkedIn groups they are pushed to.  There are those who doubt your recommendations would work, and put together valid arguments as to why, and cause you to think in the process.  Then there are those who try things and write back in delight, and make your week.

Now for the dogs, and believe me I know dogs, my wife is a star groomer! (It’s probably an insult to those four legged critters to label what follows after them).  For me it is the sales bloggers/experts who are one hit wonders and persist on repeating their thin same message time after time, in response to every question and post.  Let’s be honest, those of us who blog regularly do it in some part to promote ourselves, our companies, our methodology and approach to sales.  Since sales is a varied game driven by what you sell, who you sell to, where and a host of other factors that make it different enough day to day, sales person to sales person.  Given that, there is great opportunity for most to contribute to various discussions in a number of different and valid ways depending on the subject or question at hand.  But then you get that small group who mo matter what the question asked, what the discussion is, not matter what the topic, cut and paste and post the same comment/response no matter what.

Doesn’t matter if their contribution relates to the topic at hand or as in most cases not even in the neighbourhood, they just blah blah blab the same thing every time.  Now when I say the same thing, I don’t mean same subject, I mean the exact same thing, word for word, comma by comma, cut and paste taken to an art form.  It’s gotten to the point where I can bait them because they track certain words, and regardless of how and why those words appear, you can bet your lunch money that those words are about to come, early for the east coast ones, a bit later as you move west; place the bet and that lunch money will buy you supper too.

So there you have it, I guess I am old enough to know that this will not change much in 2011, but I am smart enough to focus on the highlights and help them create often enough to drown out the lowlights.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Management By Subjective – Sales eXchange – 7716

Many organizations take advantage of a means of accomplishing thing through a process popularized by Peter Drucker known as Management By Objective (MBO).   This allows everyone to understand the company’s objectives, the means and process of achieving it, and the individual’s role and responsibility in delivering it.  One by-products of MBO is the efficiencies gain through standardized processes.

Most functional areas of companies have standardised procedures and processes to ensure a level of quality and consistency in their product and deliverables. After all, by having a uniform or standard approach, it is not only easier to manage, but easier to predict and address flaws or issues should they arise. This is even more the case for companies with multiple locations or facilities carrying out the same process.  What you also notice is that in most functional areas of these same companies, there is usually an adherence to corporate standards and processes and without completely squashing a healthy dose of local flavour and character.

One area where many companies continue o struggle in implementing MBO, is sales, specifically when it comes to front line sales people.  There seems to be success with MBO with Directors and Managers, but continues to be a challenge for the front line.  In many companies this is due to the role sales people play, or are suppose to play in the revenue process.

Where there is a lack of sales process, reps are able to perpetuate the myth that sales people are a unique breed, with god given skills that would be neutralized by any interference by management, especially in the form of a process.  Since one of the fundamental elements of a good sales process is metrics, measurement and comparisons as a means of maintaining and improving standards, it requires a level of transparency and visibility many sales people are uncomfortable with and are willing to accept.   Of course without this it is unlikely that you can roll out and get adherence to a functional and worthwhile sales process.  Since many of these sales people have convinced their managers that they cannot perform if a process or MBO is implemented, managers are held hostage to the unspoken possibility that they may lose one of the sales reps, even when they know the rep is not performing up to standard or ability.  There is no bigger fear among front line managers than the thought of a vacant territory, so they fall for the bluff and work with the rep to either avoid a process, or help them circumvent it in the hope of numbers to be delivered.  When the numbers come in, fine; when they don’t the manager is left holding the bag, and the underperforming rep dodges another one.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Managers should be able to extend MBO down to the front line, they should be able to show at least the vast majority of their reps that a process and MBO can help them be more consistent in their success and enjoy the monetary and other rewards that come with adoption.  It is true that at times there will be some short term turmoil, some reps that are good may leave because they don’t like the new regiment.  That is usually offset by the gains realised from the other reps, who may not be stars, but improve their performance by adhering to the process and working with MBO.  The question that has to be answered is are you willing to live through short term rough waters in exchange for long term performance improvement, or do you want to continue delivering unpredictable results.  From where I sit, it is much more practical to align front line objectives with the overall corporate objectives by managing to those objectives.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Time, Sales Cycles and Prospecting18

In this last of the series of Grab-N-Go content, we look at time, sales cycle and the importance of consistent prospecting in order to ensue that you have a sales cycle, and that you have the luxury of discarding prospect that lose lustre or promise.  Knowing the length of you cycle is key to managing your pipeline and know when to give up on something that is not going to happen, at least for know.  So download the snippet, take it with you to shop, you’ll have plenty of time to watch, review and plan as you wait at the check out counter.  Tomorrow, we’ll have a video of a different sort.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XU4QAFwlZg

Don’t forget you can watch the whole interview (while still in line) on our youtube.com Sellbetter channel.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Don't Beat Yourself Up – Deal with it!17

Today’s Grab-N-Go slice of time looks at how to deal with missing a plan or the pressures of time.  Some who do practice time in a disciplined way, at times miss, or do not get the plan/desired results.  The key is to examine and understand what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how to incorporate it in to your actions moving forward.  As mentioned in Monday’s snippet, it is important that we don’t let time manage us, by understanding if this is a recurring factor, an anomaly, or something we should have known in advance, it allows us to deal with it confidently and properly in the future.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4HU3Lepa_w&feature=related

Again, if you want to see the whole interview, you can see it here on youtube.com.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Multi-Tasking?!?21

Continuing our Grab-N-Go content for the holidays, today we look at the follies of multi-tasking.  While computers seem to benefit from continuous improvements in multi-tasking capabilities, does the same ring true for sales people?  Can sales professionals be more productive in terms of driving revenues; can they do a better job of answering clients’ needs; or does it just merley increase the speed of the treadmill they are on?

Take a look at my response during a recent interview about time and the impact on sales professionals.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcuTg54xZoE

You can see the entire interview on youtube.com.

What’s in Your Pipeline?

Tibor Shanto

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Sales Happen In Time – Sales eXchange – 7619

I recently completed an extended interview looking at time and how it impacts sales professionals, I have posted the entire interview here, and on youtube.com.  In light of the fact that we are in the throes of the holiday season, a scramble to get things done while simultaneously stimulating the economy through consumer spending, I wanted to offer up something a bit different.  I thought it would deliver content this week that is very much in line with the core topic of the interview, in a way that is consistent with the theme of the interview, better use of time.  As we approach the New Year, time will be the only thing that will not change, but your use of it can and should.  For the next four days, you will see a snippet dealing with specifics things you need to be aware of and integrate in to your planning and selling.  Think of it as Grab-N-Go content, load it up, watch on you phone, pad, where ever you may be.  Friday will be a bit of a different video, somewhat timeles.

Today, I speak to the difference between Time Management and Time Allocation.  How one of the two is more honest, advantageous and productive for sales professionals, especially proactive sales professionals, like you.

Apology!

This past Tuesday, due to technical difficulties, (don’t ask me I am not a techie), were unable to deliver the planned Top Sales World MasterClass Webinar: Execution – The Last Word In Sales.  I guess you can say we failed to execute.   Fear not, we go our elves on the job, hard thing this time of year, and we are set to go again.  We have rescheduled it for January 15th, yes a Saturday, you can watch relaxed in your jammies from home, at 1:00 pm Eastern.  Don’t worry, we will be giving notice again.  In case you cannot make it, or have better things to do with your Saturday, it will be recorded and available for viewing later, over and over and over.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

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