Welcome to The Pipeline.

Talking Long-Term – Acting Short-Term – Sales eXchange – 10963

Last week I wrote about the follies of having a shorter sales cycle, beyond the points highlighted, I think it raises another trend in sales these days.  One that permeates many aspects of sales, starting at planning and territory alignment, right down to day-to-day tactical aspects of sales.  Specifically, the tendency to talk long-term, but act short-term; the effect of which is usually negative on results.

You often hear sales leaders articulate their long-term plans, direction of the market, and how they plan to take a leadership role in many of the developments they outline.  Yet many of those same people will sit and comb through their reps’ pipelines looking for instant gratification, taking their team to task for not closing one deal or another.

While I know some do it as a way that they think motivates their reps, and let’s be honest, many reps do get pumped.   Unfortunately they then go and take it out on the client, not in an aggressive way, say like a hockey player all pumped up from the coach’s intermission banter, and then hit the ice and the first opponent they see.  But in ways that sabotage the sale but scaring and/or alienating the buyer.  One of the things I hear most often from people we train is that they want to create “urgency” in their buyers.  But if that desire manifests itself in the wrong way, they tend to disaffect buyers.

Buyers, talk about someone who has a long-term view, while they do have deadline to meet, they are not tied to our quarterly performance.  While it may present itself in other ways, one of the biggest causes of lost deals is being out of synch with the buyers timing, this misalignment is the silent killer in sales.  If the seller gets ahead of the buyer, they risk coming across as aggressive, not caring about the buyer’s priorities or pushy.  This generally happens in the first half of the sale, the Engage and Discovery stages.  The seller has had the buyer in their sites for months, yet the buyer is just beginning to get involved in the process.  In Discovery, the seller is ready to pitch and close, yet the buyer is still Defining their requirements.

The opposite of this happens when the seller gets behind the buyer, this happens with many reactive sellers, who don’t want to come across as being pushy, and see sales as a social event rather than a commercial one.  So while they are waiting to be found by a “ready” customer, a proactive seller aligned with the buyer scoops up the deal.  And by-the-way, the buyer is hip to the whole thing.

The answer is in how proactive an approach you take sales, and who you are engaging with.  As highlighted in last week’s post, it is not about hurrying things, but executing the process with the right prospects; get enough of those in your pipeline, and you will be successful in the long-term, without pushing too hard in the near-term.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Mobile Apps for the Mobile Sales Force58

The Pipeline Guest Post – Lauren Carlson

In an increasingly mobile business world, professionals operate day-to-day on their mobile devices. Because of this, vendors have worked to develop the best apps that can bring all the necessary business functionality to an individual on the go. One profession that stands to benefit most from these apps is sales. We at Software Advice typically focus on sales force automation software, but we decided to broaden our focuse and see what is available on mobile devices to match the needs of a mobile sales force. We were honestly amazed at the great tools we found. Below we highlight some of our favorites.

Networking
Hashable Mobile – With everything else going digital, why shouldn’t business cards? Hashable has developed a neat app that basically allows you to track everyone you meet. If you can gather an email address or Twitter handle, the app will do the rest. It logs the individual down, along with the place that you met them. It allows you to make contact notes, set reminders to follow up, and track phone calls and meetings. Everything can sync back to your calendar and/or email to help keep you organized. Hashable Mobile is free and available for iPhone and Android.

Presentations
Soonr – Soonr brings file collaboration to your mobile device. Not only can you create and edit PowerPoint presentations, but Soonr allows you to access and share over 40 different types of files, from spreadsheets to mp3’s. Because Soonr operates in the cloud, any changes made from your mobile device are automatically saved and synced back to your desktop. Another cool feature is the SMS notification. Whenever a file is updated or edited, anyone who has access to that file will receive a text. This way, you always know what is going on with your files, even if you are thousands of miles from the office. Soonr is $9.95/user/month and is available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Android tablets.

Travel
FlightTrack Pro – One of the biggest pain points in a traveling profession is, you guessed it, traveling! FlightTrack Pro was developed by Mobiata to ease some of that pain. This is probably one of my favorite apps. It allows you to sync your travel itinerary, and then sends you push notifications about any changes with itinerary – delayed flights, change of gates, etc. It also has a really neat map feature that allows you to track your flight on a visually stunning graphic map. FlightTrack Pro is $9.99 on the App Store and is available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

CRM
Sugar Mobile – Sugar is already a leader in the CRM arena, and now they have extended their capabilities to mobile devices so that you can access client-critical information from anywhere. You can run reports, set up meetings, manage cases and contact information all from your mobile device. And with their latest update to the app, the user interface has become even more intuitive and simple. The coolest new addition to the app is the Twitter Connector. This feature essentially allows you to manage your Twitter account and Twitter streams without having to leave the app. Price is free and it’s available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

These are just a sampling of the apps. For more information on each one and to see more choices for each category, check out the original article here: http://www.softwareadvice.com/articles/crm/apps-for-the-mobile-sales-force-1072811/.

About Lauren Carlson

Lauren Carlson is a write and market analyst out of Austin, Texas. She focuses on enterprise technology in the area of customer relationship management. She has been mentioned on Forbes.com and other notable web sites. You can see her articles regularly on the Software Advice blog.

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Solutions and Egos56

It does not take long to figure out that there is more to selling a solution than just “the right” solution.  Most sales people know they have to surface the “problem/opportunity” their solution addresses, after all a solution is useless if there is nothing to solve.  Having raised the issue is no guarantee that the buyer will act, many will not act until you clear other hurdles.  One of those hurdles is ego, by solving the problem you may create other challenges for the prospect.  As with most things in sales it comes down to anticipating, preparing and executing!  Take a look:

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_3-tn3yqQs

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto



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Why a Shorter Sales Cycle? – Sales eXchange – 10845

When you ask most people involved in sales, be they front line, leaders, experts, and pundits, one of the top three things on their “wish list” is a shorter sales cycle.  Theory being if one can increase the velocity of the sale, one can get more sales done, and the world is a happier place.  Or is it?  Beyond the feel good nature of the sentiment, is there anything to support the view that faster cycles lead to sustainable improvements in results, or is it sales version of throwing more spaghetti against the wall, hoping more will stick.

Interesting that with all the many views and schools in sales, this one concept seems to cross all lines.  But I would argue that a good, leading to a good quarter, years, or quality base of customers does not result from, or improve with speed.  Like a good mystery, it needs to unfold at its own pace, the seller has to manage the investigation of the facts, exploring theories, eliminating distractions and getting everyone involved on focusing on those things that add to solving the mystery to everyone’s satisfaction, buyer first, and seller.  What makes a Tom Clancy or Lee Childs novel enjoyable is not their brevity, but the means of resolving the plot elements, and the way the story unfolds.  They may be fast reads, “page turners”, but the plot is not rushed.

And so it should be with selling, a consistent methodical approach to reaching a mutually beneficial conclusion.  Like a mystery, it is about asking the right questions of ALL the people involved, even when it may not always be apparent.   Not just the same old questions, but questions with purpose, with direction, used to arrive at the right conclusion.  You don’t want to miss anything even remotely relevant, running the risk of overlooking something that could change the outcome, the value for all involved.

It should not be a surprise to some of you that I am going to argue that the alternative is to have more of the RIGHT prospects, not just more prospects, which is what faster cycles dictate.  Yes there is sense in seeing if you can make your sales cycle more efficient, but there is a point beyond which there is diminishing returns, where your hurry to complete the sale a week faster just causes more prospects to run for the exits, leaving you with no more or even less sales.

Your goal should be to make each sales more effective, and then engage with the right prospects.  This may not lead to shorter cycles, or more proposals, but it will lead to better use of resources and time, and ultimately a higher close ratio, which what I think most are after to begin with.  Maybe it is a question of more sticky spaghetti to throw, rather than more.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


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Sales And Marketing Alignment In Terms Of Lead Generation In A 2.0 World53

The Pipeline Guest Post – Shannon Bryant
(Emerging Technology New Business Specialist for Hire)

(Edited by WimWilmsen)

It’s nothing new that we’re living in a changing world and economy today. Sales and marketing are merging for small businesses and require strong collaboration for larger companies. Sales and marketing lead generation tools follow this suit. Other leading content providers such as Olgilvy Advertising and CMO.com agree.

It’s usually marketing’s job to create campaigns and messaging, and set social media and web strategy. But the smaller a company is, the more their internal people need to do and the less tools they will have to help them. If you don’t have your inbound web strategy in place, outbound sales will have to work harder to find prospects and nurture them.

A solid inbound web strategy also includes nurturing, but if you don’t have marketing tools then outbound sales will have to manually nurture as well. If you don’t have an inbound strategy, then you better treat everyone willing to spend time with you via out-bounding like gold; be efficient, consultative and thankful for their time. Make sure you understand their initiatives and how you can help them, and follow through to ensure your help meets their initiatives.

Ask your prospects what you can do to help them learn your products and how they can help. Ask what their timeline is and schedule action items and follow-ups in conjunction with them. Ask them when they want their next follow-up, and follow up. This is small business lead nurturing. As you grow your inbound strategies, follow one of the leading software and content providers in this small and medium business space, Hubspot.

In bigger companies, your outbound staff is your ear to the world. Outbound reps are the people who can tell you what the market is interested in or how to change your product vision. For this reason, outbound reps and marketing should meet to establish vision and strategy and campaign in collaboration towards qualified leads.

This means your tools need to allow for this collaboration. And the larger your company (it’s reach, sales force, brand offerings, partner layout), the more robust your tools need to be. And the easier and more comprehensive your software, the better. Adobe’s Content Management System is a leader in simplicity and comprehensiveness. The Marketing Director of one of my target companies recently said about another system, “we don’t use that because it is not user friendly to sales.”  That told me he knows his tools need to support and collaborate with sales, and put me at ease knowing he would support me if hired!

Marketing needs to understand they are supporting sales.  If they don’t provide supportive messaging and qualified leads, it makes selling harder.  The closer marketing can get to qualifying a lead following BMANTR, the happier sales will be.  Here’s what this looks like:

Budget- method/process for purchasing
Authority- contact over the purchase
Need for the product
Timeframe of purchase
Risk that could drive the need, timeframe and even budget.

Regardless of your company size, if an outbound rep thinks they shouldn’t get involved in social media, they are mistaken. How are they going to learn their competitor’s offerings to know how to compete? How are they going to accelerate learning the initiatives of their clients and how their product offerings can help? How are they going to accelerate referral relationships? Sales has to know they are a voice for their company, and marketing can help them understand social media policy, strategy and vision in the case they want to contribute.

My opinion is social media participation should be mandatory for all sales and marketing drivers. As Mike Volpe of Hubspot says, “if you are not building your fan base now you are basically dooming yourself on SEO in the future.” Every tweet that follows the company’s vision and strategy in some way directs a company to growth. The more content, the better and more relevant it is, the better a company’s following. The better a company’s following, the better the leads and referrals. Then it’s also how sales and marketing nurtures these leads that they will effect the bottom line.

About Shannon Bryant

Shannon Bryant has a track record of 15 years of driving new business. Specialties in:
•    Establishing marketing & sales tools and process
•    Finding your targets & territory mapping
•    Finding client’s needs & developing messaging around them
•    Growing interest to a purchasing level
•    Finding partners
•    Coaching Inside Sales
Targeting emerging tech players such as Invodo and Google, as well as partners around products like Sharepoint, Day and Omniture.  Targeting Eloqua to grow my knowledge of their industry leading lead generation tool.

She can be reached @Leads2FullCycle, Shannon_Bryant@austin.rr.com or (512) 983-3338.

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Sales and Time51

The White Paper and the Interview

Even with the advances of automation in sales related tools, sales people are still challenged to get everything they need to get done on time.  Every day seems to get shorter and we seem to be able to get less done.  Many try different “Time Management” techniques, only to discover that much like fad diets, they are short-term fixes; as they fall off the routine, they gain even more weight back, and with time they fall further behind.

In a White Paper prepared for Top Sales World, I look at the relationship between sales, time, activity and success and offer up concrete alternatives to stupid concepts like Time Management and Multi-Tasking.  Listen to the interview below for an introduction, and then download the White Paper to get a hold of time and use it in a more productive fashion.  Remember you can only do two things with time: use it productively – or – waste it.

Download it now, before you run out of time!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


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Removing The Barrier From Sales – Sales eXchange – 10740

A couple of weeks ago I was presenting at an Apple expo here in Toronto, there were two tracks, one for the public, the other for Apple resellers, my crowd.  in addition to presentations there were a number of vendors.  One had a really neat utensil that caught my interest, I wanted to buy it and asked which plastic cards he accepted, he told me none.  I had rushed that morning and only had a few dollars, and my luck, there was no ATM around.  I asked if I can order the thing on his site, no.  All around the other vendors all were accepting credit cards, bit my man!

It didn’t take long for me to lose interest and move on.  Diving home it struck me that this fellow an unnecessary but real barrier to successfully selling, going to an expo with thousands of attendees, and completely limit the means of buyers to buy does not seem savvy.  Long drive, I started thinking further as to how many B2B sales people and sales organization also make it unnecessarily difficult to buy from them.

Sometimes these are simple things like talking when they should be listening, closing with every other sentence, asking silly questions like “what keeps you up at night, or not reading at least one sales book in a given year.

But perhaps the biggest barrier is one they impose on themselves by not making their sales career an ongoing learning experience.  Many get into a routine, one that perhaps delivered some level of success for some time, and they stick with it, no matter what is going on in their world.  Some only want to look at their successes and ignore those things that did not go their way, fooling themselves by only looking at those things are familiar and ignoring the real opportunities to learn what went wrong, and what they could do differently  next time out.

Yes it takes work; sure it’s not always pretty, and often exposes weaknesses we don’t want to face.  On the other hand, if you just look at what works, you will just continue to build walls rather than breaking them down and grow your skills and opportunities.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Good Messaging is About Clarity and Persuasion, NOT Buzzwords and Description63

The Pipeline Guest Post – Allen Peterson

A Buzzword Expert and His Interview

Business communications and messaging is critical.  New business words and phrases are arriving each day, along with all of the popular business jargon and clichés.  It’s confusing.   Meanwhile, we are all communicating in more and more ways—email, voicemail, instant messaging, podcasts, videos, blogs, tweets and—occasionally—direct phone calls and face-to-face conversations.

Frank Langual, president and CEO of BuzzSpeak Associates, is the self-described leading expert on business buzzwords, catch phrases, clichés and general business jargon for salespeople and marketers too busy or unable to speak or write in plain English. “Business Best Practices” Editor Dick Dunbar recently interviewed Langual.  Here is a copy of that phone interview.

Dunbar: Where do most of these words and phrases come from?
Langual: They’re in the ecosystem, blogosphere and many come from marketing.  In fact, a new book with 6,000 alternate phrases for praise and acclaim is arriving soon.  I’m excited.

D: Who do you actually consult to?  Are you a copywriter or what?
L. My clients want the best integrated solution that will enable high-impact customer messaging, drive sales enablement, and result in measurable lifelong value.

D: So, do you help sales and marketing organizations?
L: Isn’t that what I just articulated in my verbalized value stream?

D: And how do you price your services?
L: I value price as high as possible.

D. What, exactly, is your value?
L. I provide language-rich communication content, delivered in a mission-critical format that transforms my clients into valued customer-centric organizations and industry leaders.

D: How do you differentiate yourself as a buzzword and cliché expert?
L: I have a content optimization model that is centered on descriptive phrases and constantly refreshed by new terminology. Also, I seldom use verbs, use a lot of H acronyms, and have a huge social network fan base.

D: What, exactly, are “H acronyms”?
L: Currently they are HDCP, HDLC, HDMI, HPET, HPNA, HTML, HTTP and H.264 and fifteen more with fewer letters.  I’m always looking for more.

D: What about helping marketing deliver sales messaging that salespeople will actually use?  Do you help assure message clarity and usefulness?
L: Marketing and I shouldn’t be constrained by clarity or persuasive focus as long as the language is rich.  Besides, descriptive copy is more fun and a lot easier to write.  Ask any marketer.

D: Let’s move to social networking.  Would you explain what a social networking site is?
L: Quite simply, a “social network site” contains profiles, semi-persistent public commentary on the profile, and a traversable publicly articulated social network displayed in relation to the profile.

D: Isn’t there a simpler explanation?
L: Simplicity isn’t in my DNA.

D: Do you ever say things in plain English, so that people can actually comprehend what you are saying?
L: You have a result-driven mind-set that isn’t a strategic fit with my game plan.

D: Does that mean “no”?
L: Negative.

D: Does THAT mean “no”?
L: Let’s take your issues offline.

D: Why can’t you just answer this basic question?
L: CLICK!  Recorded message: Your call is very important to me.  Please leave a message.

End of Interview

The Need: Clear, Persuasive Corporate and Sales Messaging
We all communicate a little like Frank Langual at times.  Our jargon and buzzwords are natural to us. We
use them internally to communicate.  But our prospects and customers are busy.  They have easy access to
information about us, without us.  They expect clarity.  They expect responsive answers to their questions.
They have three key “Why Buy” questions that deal with need, differentiation, and urgency/value :

1.    Why buy? (need)
2.    Why buy your solution? (differentiation)
3.    Why buy now? (urgency and value)

Corporate and sales messaging must be developed to answer these questions.  This is hard work that
benefits from process.  Usually, several iterations are required to drill-down to core substance that is crisp,
clear, personal, customer-aligned and provable.

Marketing and sales alignment is a widely acknowledged challenge for companies today.  Ask almost any
sales organization what they need from marketing, besides the ongoing desire for more leads. They will say
that they want persuasive sales messaging that they can use.  Unless and until marketing answers the Why
Buy questions in a clear and persuasive (NOT just descriptive) manner—sales must/will continue to do this
work—and the misalignment will continue.

About Allen Peterson

Allen Peterson is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC), speaker, advisor and angel investor.  He helps clients achieve rapid revenue growth by providing assistance with sales techniques/process, persuasion science and strategic planning.
Email: allenpeterson@comcast.net; Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/RevenueDoctor; Website: http://www.strategicplanningalliance.com/about_us.html

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A Cure For Our Economic Woes!!!29

photobucket.com

We in sales (should) know better than most that sales/revenue/turnover is the fuel that drives the economy and Capitalism.  Increased sales, leads to increased earnings, increased investment, increased wealth – isn’t Capitalism grand.  (Let’s not forget that it pays for the air conditioning in this heat wave).

Today I was sitting with a client, and he was telling me about this great book he is reading, Capitalism 4.0: The Birth of a New Economy in the Aftermath of Crisis by Anatole Kaletsky, he was digging it and suggested I check it out.  I came home, and checked into my favourite book fulfilment site, Amazon.com; and as the list of related books came up, I saw another book, Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons, by Peter Barnes; and that’s when it hit me.

My moment of epiphany, the cure for the economy, maybe even the debt ceiling crisis, although I am not sure they would listen to a Canadian, you know we are practically socialists, left of Obama, but I digress, on to the cure.

So capitalism is already at 4.0, yet we in sales are stuck at 2.0, man we are so behind, no doubt a drag on the system.  I mean who knew Lehman Brothers would propel  Capitalism so far forward that it would leave sales in the dust.  Further examination revealed even more.

Capitalism 4.0 was published in 2011, and Capitalism 3.0 was published in 2006, a full year before we in sales started farting around with Sales 2.0, man, behind, behind, behind.

So here’s the deal, let’s get the United Sales Council together, (if we don’t have one I am willing to volunteer the facilities of the Sales Bloggers Union, and or the STA), and let’s pass a resolution to not putz around with Sales 3.0, as some are thinking of doing, and go straight to Sales 4.0, (some of us are already using Foursquare, so what would it take?).  It is our economic duty.

Further, in light of the fact that Capitalism 4.0 was such a good seller, is Capitalism 5.0 far behind, exactly.  So now that the ranks of the social sphere has swelled with the arrival of Google +, there is no reason for us not to ready the world for Sales 5.0.  We should do it now, I hear a bunch of us will be disappearing soon, so the rest of us may be too busy when the time comes, and Capitalism will pass us again.

What’s in Your .0?
Tibor Shanto

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What’s in Your Pipeline? – Execution!27

You know in sales it’s all just talk till you put in action.  You can plan, strategies, prepare, put on your killer suit and tweet all about, but till you execute, you got bubkas.

So when you look to answer the question What’s in Your Pipeline, it starts and ends with execution, the last word in sales!

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoH1f2fKSDw

What’s n Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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