Welcome to The Pipeline.

Does Everyone Need One?19

Last week I looked at what it takes to take a sales process from concept to reality, actioning it through execution, and clear definition.

On a regular basis I am asked if everyone can benefit from a sales process or does it have more applications for certain companies.  Generally the question is phrased in the context of large company vs. small companies.

In today’s video I look at that specific issue, and provide reasons as to why I do believe that sales process is key to consistent success, regardless – or – despite their size.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMBJ0-tjoPU

See if you agree, and let us know, even if you don’t.

Related video – Putting Process in to Action

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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At The End Of The Day – Sales eXchange – 8619

A few years back, a recruitment firm published the results of a survey identifying the ten most over used buzzwords or expressions.  These included things like “synergy”, and “at the end of the day”; this last one is particular favourite among sales leaders, we’ve all used it, it sounds good, and seems to capture an attitude, but is it the right attitude, outlook and posture for sales leaders, or sales people to adopt?

From what I understand it is supposed to convey that when the deadline comes, the results will speak for themselves. The assumption I guess is that if everything is done as it is supposed to, then the outcome will be what we expect at the end of the process, or the “end of the day”.  Well you know what they say about the risks you take on when you assume.

The reality is that all too many sales leaders are already fixated on the results, at times at the exclusion of focusing on anything else.  There is no denying that results are what count in sales, revenue is the lifeblood of any for-profit organization; having said that, there is also no denying that when it comes to changing results and attaining consistent results, “results”, are a “lagging indicator”, they represent things as they have turned out.  These can be great lessons for the future, but there is little that can be done to alter the “results” once they are in.  The country’s jobless rate is also a lagging indicator, know that almost 10% of Americans are unemployed, does little to change the reality of George down the street who has been out of work for three months, and is about to lose his house.  What would have helped George is to have had something happen to change the result, either with his job or house or both.  “The end of the day”, it is too late to impact the outcome. 

To do that, leaders need to focus on “leading indicators”, to be able to impact and alter results, rather than just review and analyze them.   These indicators will vary from company to company, and based on the process in place and the individual rep’s ability to execute it, may even vary between sellers on the same team, there are some core ones to choose from.  These could be number of prospects engaged in a month; account coverage and penetration for those tasked with growing existing accounts; proposals submitted or conversion of the same proposals.  You can get more specific looking at specific tasks to be taken by the seller or actions required by a prospect.

The key is to identify key indicators, not every action through the cycle, and establish a game plan with the rep to help them understand why certain actions/steps are being designated as “leading indicators”, and how these “indicators” will be used to help achieve collective success.  While it is true that many reps do not like to be measured, in some ways you can’t blame them because often these “measurements” or “stats” are used in a non=productive way.  There is more to coaching and changing results than just pointing out that the “number” or “activities” are not up to snuff. 

As a leading indicator, they should point to where you are versus where you want to be, and what specific corrective actions you can execute to move towards the desired outcome in a consistently successful way, for a consistent set of results.  A focus on leading indicators will not only deliver consistent, predictable, and desired results, but will establish a process and culture of continuous improvement through a focus on inputs rather than outcomes.  At the end of the day, the best way to ensure the outcome, is to alter things at the “start of the day”.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Manage Your Talents with Emotional Intelligence(EQ)20

The Pipeline Guest Post – Linda Beck, MBA, EQi™ Coach

What does it take to go from good to great as a sales professional?

Tibor is prolific in his blog about relating the tools that a salesperson needs to be successful.  In one of his recent blogs he talked about the importance of asking “killer questions when mining the field”.    There are of course a litany of skills and talents that one must possess in order to be successful in sales including persistence, knowing and understanding your product or service, goal setting, effective prospecting, sourcing organizations undergoing trigger events, focusing on results, and on and on.  The list can be overwhelming.  So how does a salesperson go from good to great?

Often salespeople possess the fundamentals of “sales intelligence”: they know how to set their goals; they do the number crunching to keep the pipeline active by making those calls; they ask the all important questions to qualify and meet their prospects’ needs.  These skills and processes are unarguably fundamental for success.  Now let’s look at it from the client perspective for a moment. Does the client care how full your pipeline is?  No! So what do your prospects and clients care about?   They care how, you, the salesperson make them feel!  Feel!?  Yes, feel.  They want to feel valued, secure, taken care of, confident in you, your product/service, your relationship with them.  To be great, you not only have to have “sales intelligence”, you also have to have “emotional intelligence” or EQ.  Dana Ackley, PhD, with MultiHealth Systems (MHS) defines emotional intelligence as “a set of learnable skills that integrate logic and emotions to produce superior performance.”  To be a great salesperson, you have to exhibit superior performance and that means paying attention to your emotional intelligence as well as your cognitive intelligence, in this case your “sales” intelligence.  The emotionally intelligent salesperson is an independent thinker, assertive in her communication, is adaptable to numerous situations, empathetic to the prospect’s needs, able to problem-solve, and remains realistically optimistic amidst challenges.  That “something extra” that takes you from good to great, is to possess some of these competencies which build your emotional intelligence.  So what does this look like in the sales environment?

When a salesperson’s strategy is going well, it is easy to be “emotionally intelligent”.  When things get tense and emotional that is when one’s true EQ skills surface.  Let’s take an insurance sales situation, which tends to be more emotional than most just due to the product.  When prospecting families who want to purchase insurance but may have limited funds, the salesperson must have empathy for the family’s financial situation and be sensitive to emotional need to take care of the family when the breadwinner dies, for instance.  The salesperson wants to make the sale, but if he cannot connect with the family on an emotional level, and put himself in their shoes, they may feel he is too pushy, only about the commissions, and look elsewhere.  Once again, the client wants to feel safe in this interaction.  Exhibiting empathy sincerely is one way to accomplish this.  Displaying empathy shows evidence of EQ.

In another example a client may be irate for some reason; a shipment was late, the product was faulty.  The client has chosen to vent her anger on you the salesperson.  An emotionally intelligent sales professional has strong self-regard and knows not to take this tirade personally.  She will keep a level head, put herself in the client’s shoes (empathy) and use her problem solving abilities to assess and address the situation.  She will also remain realistic, but flexible and adaptable where possible.

Some of us know where our strengths and challenges lie with respect to our emotional intelligence; many of us don’t.  For those who don’t and want to learn more, there is an on-line assessment which measures one’s core set of social and emotional abilities called the EQi™.   The EQ-i™ assessment is the world’s first and most respected scientifically validated measurement of Emotional Intelligence. It is used by thousands of organizations around the world to predict and improve individual and organizational performance.  The assessment is accompanied with a one hour professional coaching session to walk individuals through the results.  If any readers are interested in this report, please email lindabeck@pillarperformance.com.

Emotional intelligence adds powerful attributes to your sales repertoire.  Continued growth in this area will take the “good” salesperson to “great”.

About Linda Beck

Linda Beck, Chief Learning Officer at PILLAR PERFORMANCE, has worked with thousands of individuals within numerous organizations across Canada to enhance their skills and talents. The PILLAR learning environment is highly interactive, informative and focuses on topics that leaders at all levels demand to boost performance: Topics include: emotional intelligence, project/time management, supervisory success, targeted communication, dynamic teams, and leadership.  Please contact Linda at lindabeck@pillarperformance.com if you have any questions or comments.

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Stop Workplace Drama – An interview with Marlene Chism16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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How Does it Look in the Real World?14

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

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

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

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

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Sales Training as The Hiring Advantage – Sales eXchange – 8515

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


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Five Tips to Negotiate Your Deal Through Email5

The Pipeline Guest Post – Jeanette Nyden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Jeanette Nyden

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

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Media Roundup8

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

Today’s Trucking

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

B2B Sales Lounge

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

Sales Bloggers Union

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

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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The Golden 1/3!13

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

Read on…

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Win Tickets to The Art of Marketing20

Contest Details Below!

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

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

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

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


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Hockey Canada

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

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

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Good Luck!

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