Welcome to The Pipeline.

Who Are You Selling? – Sales eXchange – 9610

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

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

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

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

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

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Time To Step Up!11

2011 Sales & Marketing Success Conference

Benefiting Victims of the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tibor Shanto
Renbor Sales Solutions Inc.

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Sales in a New World – Choosing your Customer18

The Pipeline Guest Post – Jeff Ogden

We used to go far and wide looking for customers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s examine each of those>

Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

Timing

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

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

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

About Jeff Ogden

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

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Prospecting With E-Mail13

Last week we looked at means of leveraging voice mail in prospecting.  This week we continue exploring some hurdles in prospecting, and how to overcome them; this week we look at e-mail.  As with voice mail, it is not going away, it is everywhere, we live in a BlackBerry world, well we used to, now it is as much likely to be iPhone or Android, but still e-mail on the go and everywhere.  This all presents a number of opportunities to leverage e-mail and the culture that goes with it, to engage with potential buyers.

As always, give it a go, see how it feel, to date no one has died using the techniques, but sales people have starved when they don’t address and leverage all prospecting means.

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

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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April Article Of The Month9

Top 10 Sales Articles winner of Month

Yesterday I got the news that my article “Implementation vs. Execution” was selected as article of the month by Top 10 Sales Articles.  I am always pleased to get the recognition, even more that people see value in what they read.  I want to thank all involved in the selection, and happy to have had an article be selected three years running.

Take a read, send your feedback, enjoy and profit.

What’s in Your Pipeline?

Tibor Shanto

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Achieving Trust! – Sales eXchange – 9512

Trust is one of the holy grails in sales, when they trust you, they will reward you by buying from you.  As with other aspects of sales, the above is straight forward enough, achieving is not always that.  For many in sales there are some challenging things about trust.

First is defining it, everyone talks about trust, everyone tries to define it, each in their own way, ask 10 experts you end up with 12 definitions (at least).  One thing is clear, there is not one definitive definition, in fact type trust into Amazon.com, and you get 54,235 results just in the book section.  Add to that volume of books, blogs and video and more, and it is easy to see why it is such a challenge.  Many overlap, some are unique, some are from the most untrustworthy sources, others have reduced it graphs and stick diagrams (welcome to the IKEA version of trust), trust me, I’ve read them.

In sales some seem to talk out of both sides of their mouth. One side “they won’t engage until there is trust”; next breath: “takes regular interaction over time and to build trust”.  So if they won’t engage with me till they trust me, and they won’t trust me they will not engage with me, I am sort of in a tough spot.  The fact remains that unless you are foreign policy expert, you can’t suck and blow at the same time, so we need to figure out a different approach.

While it is hard to argue that that people are more like to buy and deal with people they have developed trust with and in; it is far from accurate that you cannot engage without trust or that it takes a long time to develop enough trust to be bought from. Add to that it is not as hard to work on building trust as some would have you believe, but to be clear it does take work, but it is not hard.

One common and followed definition for trust cites the following elements as foundational:

  • Intent
  • Results
  • Competence/qualifications
  • Integrity

If you accept this, even as a starting point, you do a lot and go a long way to initiating trust even with people who may not have bought from you in the past.  Assuming your Intent is to help and add value through your interaction, you have the opportunity to communicate that in various and direct ways that the buyer can identify with.  Support that with Competence and your (your company’s and your) Qualification, based on Results to date and you can take big strides in demonstrating that you are trustworthy and worth engaging with.  Remember, you are not out to sell them in the first step, you are looking to engage, and the three elements above give you the means to do that.

Integrity may be a bit more challenging, but not out of reach.  With a solid record of accomplishment, you cannot only demonstrate success because of your integrity, but with a bit of pro-activity, you can collect validation from other clients or trusted sources to back it up.

As with most things in sales, it is down to the execution.  The added bonus here is that the way you execute you initial approach to a potential buyer, the way you introduce and leverage the four elements can in fact propel trust with said prospect and propel the resulting sales cycle.

Key is to be prepared, having solid evidence for each of the four elements, and then communicating it in a way that a potential buyer will understand, consume, process and act on it.  That is where the hard work comes in, because they may be common elements, but they unfold and are consumed in as many different ways as there are potential buyers.  Having said that, once you master the process, you can evolve and use it continuously to engage prospects and move sales forward.

One last consideration, you not only have to build trust, but maintain it and live up to it on an ongoing basis.  Some sales people make the mistake of focusing on it early in the relationship, and then taking it for granted, until they lose the account because someone capitalizes on your neglected trust.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Five Bucks To Success!10

I am a big coffee drinker, 5 to 8 cups a day is just a start, this no doubt encouraged by my tendency to view Starbucks outlets as my network of remote offices.  A friend of mine affectionately refers to Starbuck as Fivebucks, as he never seems to leave the place spending less than that, but hey it’s coffee, so I get it.

Five buck is not that much, but a bunch of five buck can add up, and that’s exactly what Jonathan Farrington and other members of Top Sales World are setting out to prove.  Jonathan and Top Sales World have organized the biggest ever online conference, 2011 Sales & Marketing Success Conference.  Five days, May 9 to May 13, 36 of the world’s top sales and marketing practitioner and thought leaders, presenting all about succeeding, winning and exceeding expectations.

That’s where the Five Bucks comes in, not will you be better prepared to succeed but you are also in a position to help to help those in need.  This is more than a sales conference: Just four weeks after the Magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake and a tsunami which delivered 46ft waves, we learn that the death toll is likely to top 25.000, and recovery is going to take not years, but possibly decades, maybe even a generation, at a cost of at least $250 billion.

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

The plan is to charge just $5 registration fee per presentation.  Hmm, let’s see, a cup of coffee or sales success, heck, grab both!  Hey maybe Starbucks want to step up and supply the coffee, at least for my session.  I have the honour of closing the conference with a presentation titled:

Success Through Execution! Friday May 13th 4:30 – 5:00 EASTERN

Also on Friday May 13, I share the bill with a stellar group covering some hot topics:
12:00 Noon EDT – Paul McCord: Build a Solid Business on Referrals by Knowing Who Your Client Knows
12:45 PM EDT – Anthony Iannarino: Building Your 13-Week Sales Success Plan
1:30 PM EDT – Harlan Goerger: Success with the New Sales Paradigm: Different Thinking Brings Different Results
2:15PM EDT – Dave Stein: Sales 101 Isn’t Enough: Advanced Selling Capabilities for Outselling Your Competition
3:00 PM EDT – Eric Taylor: Success is Something You Attract by the Person You Become
3:45 PM EDT – John Doerr: Keys to Mastering Successful Rainmaking Conversations

Thank you for your support!

Once you have taken in some of the presenters you will have a much better answer to our favourite question:

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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3 Lead Generation Myths That Will Clog Your Sales Funnel & Keep You From Closing More Sales12

The Pipeline Guest Post – Joanne S. Black

Sales gurus tell us that getting more sales is all about your “activity,” but is it?

Our job as salespeople is to move as many qualified prospects through the sales funnel as quickly as possible—leading to more sales, better clients, and more income.

The traditional sales funnel to attract new business has maintained the same structure for years. There’s a wide opening at the top and a skinny tube at the bottom. The traditional prospecting method crams as many prospects into the top of the funnel as possible, hoping that new clients magically pop out of the other end. The only thing that mattered was sheer activity.

I’m going to debunk the myth that sheer activity is the ONLY thing that matters along with two other myths that hold you back from getting more clients.

3 Sales Lead Generation Myths That Will Hold You Back From Closing More Sales

Myth #1 Sheer Activity is the Only Thing That Matters in Sales

Wrong! Of course, activity is still important, but what really matters is that you feed the right people into the funnel in the first place and nurture those prospects who have been referred to you. Then hasten their passage through the sales funnel. This decreases the amount of time it takes to you close your sale.

Picture the funnel from the traditional “olden” days. If you just stuff as much as you can into the top of the funnel, weeds, rocks, sand, and other debris clog the opening and prevent the steady entry and flow of good business. Try pouring water in a funnel filled with debris. The water backs up and nothing moves through. Not a pleasing picture, and not functional business model. It’s certainly not one that fosters an environment for attracting new business.

Myth #2 Sales 2.0 Leads are Qualified

There’s so much that’s wrong with the traditional sales funnel, and it’s gotten worse in the Sales 2.0 world. We were schooled to throw as many prospects in the funnel as we could find. For example, get so-called leads from mailings, trade shows, advertising, networking, newsletters, and speaking. Now in the 2.0 world, we get so-called leads from blogging, social media, videos, eBooks, free reports, press releases, eZines, affiliate traffic, RSS feeds, and email lists.

I call the leads above “So-called leads” because these aren’t really leads.

They’re inquiries, possibly names—or people just interested in free stuff. Everyone likes free stuff. If we take the time to weed through all this trash, we might actually find a prospect. These people are just prospects. They’re not business referrals. And, they’re still not leads.

Myth #3 It’s Important to Sort “Leads”

We have to change how we talk about leads. Inquiries are not leads. People wanting free stuff are not leads. Neither are those “coveted” lists or files of names. Calling these “leads” borders on insulting.

Leads are people who:

•    Are truly interested in talking directly to you about your products and services to see how you can help them

•    Match the profile of your ideal client

•    Have a budget

•    Have a need that you can fulfill

•    Are open to pursuing how you can help them attract new business.

Now that’s a qualified business referral.

The best leads are those you receive through a referral. When you receive a qualified referral, you are pre-sold. You earn credibility and trust. Your sales time shortens. And, you ace out the competition. When you’re referred, you get a new client more than 50 percent of the time. Get more referrals and get these results.

So stop calling everyone and everything a lead. It’s is a waste of your valuable sales time. I’m not just splitting hairs over terminology. It is downright misrepresentation when companies position themselves as lead-generation machines. Our sales funnel clogs with trash instead of attracting Ideal Clients through referrals.

It’s easy to be lured by business which clogs our sales funnel. We can’t afford to attract the wrong kind of clients to our business. It’s like dumping trash in our sales funnel. A full funnel is only valuable if it’s filled with the kind of clients that match your Ideal – clients you attract through referrals.

Think about it: What’s in your sales funnel?

About Joanne S. Black:

America’s leading authority on referral selling and founder of No More Cold Calling, Joanne Black helps salespeople, sales teams, and business owners get more referrals and attract more business fast without increasing costs. Now, discover how to turn prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time at http://www.nomorecoldcalling.com

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Mastering Voice Mail14

Two weeks ago I in a post title Prospecting and the “Last Inch”, looking at key thing to consider at that final moment when you have to reach out and engage directly with your prospect.  Towards the end of that conversation, I was asked how I felt about voice mail,  I said I love voice mail, always leave a message, in fact went on to say that if you don’t leave voice mail messages, you should leave the business.

In today’s video, I go into detail about leaving effective voice mails, how to leverage them and make them a core part of you campaign to win specific buyers.  As with many things in sales, it is not always about what you do, but why you do things, what your objective should be and how to properly execute to create the right balance and get a good number of calls back.

I get 50% of messages I leave returned within 72 hours, watch the video below to see how.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mPGkOP2vac

Try it out and let me know how you make out. But Don’t Wait, do try it today.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Don’t Wait – Initiate! – Sales eXchange – 9411

Last week I was involved in two on line events that looked at selling today and reconfirmed a basic fact of sales that does separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to professional B2B selling.  At its core, the discussion comes down to being Proactive vs. Reactive and passive, the latter describing the efforts of the majority of sales people today.

On Wednesday, I had the privilege of participating in a Top Sales World Roundtable, answering whether Selling is Getting Soft.  The answer was that indeed sales was, but it was interesting to see how the real question and discussion turned to whether sellers were being to passive, reactive and readily abdicating part of their mandate, letting the buyer dictate the outcome good or bad, because relationships are more important than sales.  Becoming the client’s “favourite”, these days being more important than being a value based resource, proactively delivering that value through a proper sale and execution, thus putting the seller in waiting mode based on the buyers’ travels and whims.

On Thursday I presented the second in a series of webinars for Social Selling University; in March we did part 1, Triggers 101 – Events, and this week, Advanced Triggers – A Proactive Approach to Client Acquisition.  The second presentation built out on the core lessons learned in leveraging events, now extending them in a way that does not limit you to waiting for an event to dictate your fate and success, or having to spend time making oneself “a favourite” while waiting for something to happen that is out of your control.

In both events, the key take away for sales professionals is that “you are in charge of your success”.  You can take steps and make the effort to not only benefit from arbitrary events, but that the same actions that help you leverage events when they eventually take place, can and should be used in a proactive way to help buyers take action based on the impact rather than the cause.  Get buyers to be motivated by the opportunity to be better, the impact of their actions; achieve the same responses that an event may cause, but we in advance of the event.  Motivate buyers using the solution not an event.  Done right, this will leave you to act and execute well in advance of all the other sellers who are all waiting for the same event.

Once empowered with the understanding that it is the reaction not the event that counts, you can focus on creating the reaction rather than suffering the softness caused by inaction and waiting.

As Anthony Iannarino pointed out during the Roundtable, “There is no sales metric for waiting!”

Initiate – Don’t Wait!
Tibor Shanto


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