Welcome to The Pipeline.

Beyond E-Mail and Voice Mail12

In our two previous video posts we looked at the use of voice mail and e-mail in the course of prospecting.  However, in today’s fast paced world, people have more options in how they communicate, as a seller you need to use them all.  Today we talk to other options sellers need to consider and use.  This involves both old and new.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vn8WLQBITTk

BTW, in case you have doubts, check this site: www.eztexting.com, if you won’t use it, someone else will, and get sales as a result.

Here is the link to the piece mentioned in the video: Texting as a Form of Cold Calling!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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The Upside of Being Measured – Sales eXchange – 9717

People often have opinions or views that drive their approach and by extension the sales results.  It therefore follows that if the underlying assumptions or beliefs are inaccurate than so will the resulting approach and related actions, which can undermine their success.  This is one reason you want to measure and quantify things so you can base your actions on facts rather than just feel.  Yes, I will acknowledge that there are some things you can’t measure and therefore have to rely on other inputs, but at the same time there are a whole bunch of things that you can measure but some choose not, or choose not to take the action, leaving them with no measure and no success.

One example is prospecting, more specifically for many lead gen and lead conversion to appointments and then prospects.  If you follow this blog, you know that I believe in allocating time, and managing activities, rather than the simple notion of managing time.  When we work with sales teams we ask them early on what they need to allocate time to, and prospecting is always on the list, we then ask how much of their time by percentage they should be allocating to prospecting, on average we end up with a number around 30%.

This raises a couple of red flags for me, first, while they say 30%, they rarely do 30%, always finding some other “important” things that have to get done.  Second, it also tells me they have no clue, because they neither do it nor track.

With most of the same groups, we implement a process of tracking their activities, and what we find is that after a month or so, those who prospect habitually, can drive enough appointments in much less time.  First thing they have to know what “enough” is, this can be easily arrived at by working backwards from their goal to understand what that number is based on their own conversion rates along critical parts of their sale.

Assuming a 45-hour week, for most successful B2B sales people that would be a short week, but let’s pretend, 30% would equate to 13.5 hours or 2.7 hours per day.  Seems like a big chunk of time, no wonder many in sales avoid it, especially if they can go squeeze their base for some “growth”.  But once they actually begin a regiment of prospecting, implement a methodology, in the case of Renbor’s clients, ours.  What we find is that a vast majority, over 80%, can get to their required number of appointment or new prospects, whichever makes more sense to measure based on their business, in considerably less time than the 13.5 hours they may have “guessed” before they adopt the approach.

Knowing this encourages them to actually do it consistently, while at the same time freeing up time to complete other important parts of their sales, parts they thought they like more.

So next time someone brings up the concept of measuring what you do execute, don’t get all defensive, they are not looking to micro manage you, or as some have told me “cramp their style”.  Metrics or measures are primarily a way to improve your game.  Adopt a methodology that makes sense for your product and market, measure key elements, and implement a program to continuously improve your game.  Now if you have no game, and fail to take steps to improve it, then measure could be your undoing.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Reports of the Death of the Salesperson Are Greatly Exaggerated17

The Pipeline Guest Post – Craig Rosenberg

At Dreamforce, Tibor and I presented at the InsideView booth. My presentation, “Customer 2.0, ” focused on how the buyer has changed and has more power than ever before. The new buyer interacts with an organization when he or she is ready (not before), does the vast majority of research online without the vendor’s help, is distracted, and so forth. Focus.com CEO Scott Albro coined the saying, “Always be helping is the new always be closing.” I still love that quote, flipping Glengarry on its head. I use it all the time and get tweeted, compliments, etc. So, why am I talking about this? Tibor called me a week later and asked if I believe the role of the salesperson is diminished. Tibor may have been right about how my presentation came across, but he was wrong about how I feel about salespeople in the modern Customer 2.0 era.

I would argue that the salesperson is more important than ever. Let me clarify: I would argue that the highly trained, effective salesperson is more important than ever. Here are some of the keys to understanding the new buyer, why sales is important, and what you can do about it:

1.    Buyers have no time for anything that sucks, including the salesperson. Part of the Customer 2.0 era is choice. The buyer has more choices than ever before, and that includes choosing to talk to your salesperson. I can tell you this from my own personal experience. I am so busy, I can’t see straight. When I get a bad salesperson, it’s like buying a ticket for a bad movie with a lousy date. You are stuck, and the only way to get out is to leave (which may or may not work).

What you should do: Nothing new here — keep your crew well-trained in professionalism, product, and market. Buyers want to have an intelligent two-way conversation, and this won’t happen with some over-cologned “closer.” Fully trained intellectual equals is the name of the game here, folks. Make sure they can bring it in the right way. No, it doesn’t mean you need to be a “wuss.” I understand you still need to get the order, but the route to getting the order requires salespeople who can converse appropriately, from the top of the funnel to the bottom.

2. Buyers want to be helped, not closed; see quote above. Remember, today’s buyer has access to information like never before. If you take the website I represent, Focus.com, for example, buyers can ask for information they want/need and get it from third-party sources or peers. Now, you can take that as a threat, or you can embrace the change and change your approach. Buy your team the T-shirt: Trusted Advisorship: now more than ever!

What you should do: Arm the sales team with buyer-helpful content that they can both speak to and provide for the client. Create campaigns for the sales team that, rather than offering “once-in-a-lifetime” discounts or “check-in,” instead offer a report with valuable data. Don’t hold it back, give it away. That is how you build trust. Also, train the sales team on the buyer funnel, not just the sales funnel. That way they can determine where the buyer is in their process and provide the kind of content that will help the buyer get to the next step (versus sending the buyer a ZIP file with all your data sheets).

3. Buyers buy from people they like (and respect). This is old school yet totally real. Think the salesperson is dead? Ask buyers that. No one hates salespeople, they hate annoying, over-the-top salespeople who have no idea about what they are selling.

What you should do: Get your sales team “in the mix.” Everyone thinks of social selling as a way to understand the prospect (it is), but it is also important to think about social selling in terms of your online persona. There are simple steps you can take, such as having salespeople keep their LinkedIn profiles up-to-date (think the buyer doesn’t check it as they are talking to you or before you come if for a call? Guess again). Twitter: Get the sales team following the mavens in your industry and retweet them, interact with them, and then teach them to connect with prospects. They will see the salesperson as someone who gets it. Should they blog? That to me is slippery slope; see David Brock’s great post on this. The answer to me is: It depends. Remember, if you write it, they will read it. Put another way: If you don’t want a prospect to read it, don’t write it. Long form is different than Twitter. I do believe salespeople can and should write blog posts about their market or selling in general if they are thoughtful and articulate. If you write a post on “How to Close a Mark,” you will lose 75 percent of your deals; but if you write a post on “Understanding the Buyer,” you look smart.

4.    Buyers want to be understood. At Focus.com, we have been polling buyers for the past six years. The overwhelming message in their advice is that sales must understand their unique needs. I know, I’m not going to take credit for inventing solution selling, but it is important to note that this is part of becoming the Trusted Advisor. This all ties together; to win in the long-term, you have to earn respect. If you can’t even figure out what keeps buyers awake at night, you have failed. This is an age-old adage, I feel bad writing it. But I do think I have to write because our polls tell us the buyer isn’t seeing it in this new buyer-centric selling environment.

What you should do: I really shouldn’t be the one recommending that you train your reps on whom to ask questions. However, I have some other recommendations: Have you read all the marketing blogosphere stuff on buyer personas? Those are as much for sales as they are for marketing. Arm sales with an understanding of the types of buyers they will meet and what type of content and conversations are needed to propel them through the buyer funnel.

Is the salesperson dead? No, the salesperson is as important as ever — but he or she must be better than ever.

About Craig Rosenberg

Craig is the leader of the Focus Expert Network, his team is in charge of recruiting, retaining, and managing the amazing Experts that fuel our site.

Craig is also the author of the popular b2b sales and marketing blog, the Funnelholic (www.funnelholic.com).  He focuses on b2b sales marketing across the entire funnel from demand generation to overall marketing to sales process and organization.

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Planning for the Obvious5

Time is the great equalizer, every day we all get 24 hour, consisting of 60 minute no matter who or where you are. As we have spoken in the past, you can seek all the sage advice, old school, new school, school 2.0, or even the ultra-hip and modern social school, nothing will change the fact, you can slice and dice it, digitize it, but you can’t manage it.  Do what you will; it’s still 24 hours, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

What you can do, is understand how much time you need to apply to which specific tasks. With that, you can then allocate the time needed to complete those tasks successfully on a consistent basis, and then spend the allocated time actually executing and completing the task at hand.

Read On…

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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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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