Welcome to The Pipeline.

Great Product and News19

Download Express

Leads are the lifeblood of prospectors, the more quality leads you have, the easier it is to vet, qualify and prioritize and start prospecting.  We can talk about the process, means and degrees of vetting or qualifying, but it all starts with the lead.  To validate this, “a lack of leads” is one of the battle cries of people looking for an excuse not to prospect. So when it comes to leads, having a rich reliable source has always been key to my success in prospecting. That’s why for the last 25+ years I have relied on Scott’s Directories as my go to source for leads.  In fact when I started Renbor Sales Solutions in 2004, first thing I did was put my house up for sale in Jersey (on my way back to Toronto), bought a lap top, and called Scott’s to order my directory, secret stash of leads.

Let me state here that I get no commissions or payments from Scott’s.  I have bee a user for years, I have worked at events with them, since we both service sales professionals, and they have sponsored events where I was presenting, but my comments here are purely as a result of the product, and the value it presents users.  There are few sources for Canadian data, and even less that are provided by Canadian vendors.

I am writing the piece because Scott’s has now improved things for users targeting Canadian buyers, especially casual users, or those reps left to source their own resources. The improvement is the introduction of Download Express, a new on demand service that allows users to search the website for free to create list counts based on customized searches.  Search criteria include Business Type, Industry Classification Code (NAICS), Province, City, Employee Size, and Job Function.  Once you have generated your list, you can set the amount you want to spend, complete control over your budget.

The key to me is access to premier source of Canadian companies, a powerful search tool, making it easy to get to the information you need without a collage degree in library science.  Best of all, you can set your own budget!  Rather than being locked in to monthly fees, you can source leads when you need them as you need them, in an affordable way.  This is great news for individual sales professionals, marketing consultant, and small business owners.

If you’re selling in Canada, this is a great way to have access to the quality data Scott’s is known for in a way that makes sense for you.

THANK YOU!

Bronze Medal Winner Top Sales Book 2010

I want to thank everyone that voted for the book I co-wrote earlier this year on trigger events.  The book won the bronze medal in the Top Sales Awards Book of the year 2010.  I want to also thank the judges who the readers vote.  I also want to congratulate Jill Konrath and Art Sobczak, who won silver and gold respectively.  But mostly I’d like to thank Jonathan Farrington who not only conceived the awards but pulled it all together is a short time and presented a great awards ceremony.  Jonathan, have a GRRREAT weekend!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


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Focus Roundtable: Trigger Events25

WHEN

Today, December 16, 2010 – 2:00 pm Eastern

WHERE

Toll Free United States (866) 951-1151
Toll United States (201) 590-2255
Conference #: 4999006

WHAT

Join us for this exciting roundtable teleconference on December, 16th at 11AM PT/ 2PM ET with Tibor Shanto, Nigel Edelshain, Umberto Milletti, Leanne Hoagland-Smith, and Craig Klein where we will discuss how sales professionals are using trigger events to engage prospects at the optimal time with the right message.

To follow the conversation and to submit your own questions use keyword FocusRTTE on Focus.com and #FocusRTTE on Twitter 

Moderator:

Tibor Shanto, Sales/Marketing , Renbor Sales Solutions Inc. 

Panelists:

Nigel Edelshain, CEO, Sales 2.0
Umberto Milletti, CEO & Founder, InsideView
Craig Klein, CEO, SalesNexus.com
Leanne Hoagland-Smith, Chief Results Officer, Advanced Systems

Please feel free to RSVP on our LinkedIn event page via the REGISTER button below.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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3 Specific Actions You Can Take for a better 2011!20

As we are about to enter 2011, it is time to think about how you are going to improve your sales, while we all sell different products in different markets and ways, the one thing we all likely have in common is the fact that our stakeholders will be expecting “more”. Whether that is more revenue, more new clients, more transactions, or some combination of all; the other certainty is that we will not be getting any more time with which to deliver more.  So it is down to us to figure out how to go further next year; to be fair, some employers will be providing training, tools and support, but the key element for sales success, execution, will be left to each individual sales professional.

To help, we want to focus on three specific actions you can take to improve your output regardless of which sales approach or methodology you employ.  They are in no specific order, at different times during the year or sales cycle one may be more important than another but over the course of the year, all three will figure and be a factor in your success.

  • Collaboration
  • Proactive
  • Differentiate
  • Read On…

    What’s in Your Pipeline?
    Tibor Shanto

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    Masterclass: 1:00 PM Eastern Today – December 1410

    Execution – The Last Word In Sales

    Join me today at 1:00 pm Eastern for this unique look at sales.

    There are many great sales methodologies out there, SPIN, Miller Heiman, EDGE framework and others. No matter which dogma you choose to bite on, they all have one common weakness, as good as they look on the page, and they all need to be executed to matter.
     
    The fact is that they usually fail for one simple reason, lack of execution. The sad truth is that sales people know what they have to do, they just don’t do it. You can train them, but can’t make them do it.  It’s the age old difference between the “doer and the thinker”, in sales, doers executes and win. 
     
    This Masterclass will look at four key components of Execution.  Regardless of what approach you currently use, these four elements will help you move from Should to Do.
     
    Are you looking for that silver bullet in sales? There are many great plans gathering dust on shelves, but the winning plans are the ones actually executed, everything else is just talk.  That is why Execution is – The Last Word In Sales.

    What’s in Your Pipeline?
    Tibor Shanto

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    Please Vote

    If you look to the left, you’ll see that I am also a nominee for two categories in the annual Top Sales Awards. Please take a minute to vote. Thank you in advance.

    Death Of The Salesman – Sales eXchange – 7538

    Again?

    One of the subtle theme behind many of the “pitches” at vendor booth last week at Dreamforce was the death of the sales person.  Not in so many words, but that was certainly an underlying theme behind some of the messaging.  “The new reality is that the customer is in charge, knows all, and does not need the sales person until they are ready to transact”; “Web 2.0 has changed everything (again), buyers can make decisions on their own, they don’t need the vendor till after the decision has been made”; “Third parties first, vendors last”.  Hmm, sound’s like WalMart and Piggly Wiggly will soon be adding new isles for SAP and Oracle applications; just imaging buying a CRM on a Kmart lay-away.

    All very compelling messages; until you step back, and take a couple of things into consideration.  First consider the audience, potential buyers, leery of pushy sellers, what better way to put them at ease than to cloak yourself, message, and product in softer covers.  Until you got close enough to the booth, at which point they pounced on you in their web 2.0 ways, the sheep’s clothing shed to reveal the wolf, which was very reminiscent of the pounce I used to experience in 1990, well before the web.  Since I wasn’t buying anything, I had the luxury of being able to purely be a spectator.  First thing, I noticed is that many of the people making the pitch, were sales people who were carrying a quota, and who would be in deep 2.0 explaining why their forecast was off because the buyer was “in charge”, I wonder how VP 2.0 or Manager 2.0 would handle that?

    There is no denying that buyer have more access to information and data than ever before.  There is also a lot of opportunity to network and get input from peers and others.  This could include input on products, service, reliability and even info on individual reps.  It would be silly to pretend that this doesn’t happen, and if you have a quality product, service and reputation, you would be smart to encourage this.  But it is also true that there is much misinformation out there, and vendors are much more active in managing their social media reputations and resulting message.  In fact, many are much more proactive in ensuring that noise is balance, and if possible skewed to the positive.

    There is also an overwhelming amount of information from an unprecedented number of sources, of varying quality and reliability.  Based on a number of factors some will have more influence on buyers than others will, influence does not equal accuracy.  A number of surveys have also shown that decision makers are deluged with information and data, and ultimately despite the amount of information and input available to decision makers, they are not always sure of its dependability, and therefore the majority of their decisions are based on interactions with sales professionals.  Add to that what John Cousineau of AMACUS – Innovative Information Inc. points out, the number one thing buyers are looking for is help.  The sort of help sales professionals provided by sales professionals

    There is no doubt that it is a new playing field out there, but let’s not forget that the same opportunities presented to buyers by Web 2.0 and the social media/networks, are also available to sales professionals.  Add to that the fact that intelligent proactive sales people, you know the one who go out and make things happen rather than waiting for it to come to them, are actively using these channels to identify, influence and interact with potential buyers and influencers.  It is very much a two way street, and sales people are very adept at working both side of the street.  Couple that with their expertise, their knowledge of how different companies have used and have been impacted by their products, taking that experience and becoming formidable subject matter experts who continue to be indispensable to a smart buyer.

    To quote Mark Twain, as a sales professional: “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated!”.  Oddly the ones who benefit most from this truth are not only the intelligent buyers, but many of the companies hanging on to the bandwagon while it is in town.

    What’s in Your Pipeline?
    Tibor Shanto

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    Please Vote

    If you look to the left, you’ll see that I am also a nominee for two categories in the annual Top Sales Awards. Please take a minute to vote. Thank you in advance.

    Socially Proactive!32

    I had the opportunity to present at Salesforce.com‘s Dreamforce this past Wednesday, thank you to InsideView for inviting me.  I was one of a number of people talking to social selling (as opposed to anti-social selling of yesterday, still my favourite, I am actually thinking of doing a Gordon Ramsay style sales show, get right in the faces of sales reps, stripping their last ounce of confidence away while yelling “you call that a f%#*ing sales call…).  Being that I co wrote a book about trigger events, that was the topic I was asked to cover.

    The further I got into preparing the presentation, specifically in the context of social selling, the clearer it became that triggers, by definition should trigger a reaction, which in turns leads to action, which makes them proactive.  Events, are defined by time and space, and have to take place before one can act and benefit from them.  While one can prepare, and anticipate, and position themselves, whatever results is still a reaction to the event.  As a result one question kept coming up: is selling based on events, be they compelling events, critical events, or trigger events, reactive by nature?  Unless you are in a position to cause them, which is triggering the event, the answer seems to be yes.  Then came the next question, does putting the two together do anything to change the event side of the equation, or does it dilute the triggers side?

    Now those of you who read this blog regularly (thank you), know that I do have some hang ups, two being my preference for proactive approach to selling, the other my lack of shame in describing sales as a hunting exercise.

    When I say hunt, I am not referring to hunting prospects, but to hunting revenue. After all, when there is one opportunity to close, and three companies send out their respective warriors, one comes home with the deal, the other two, well, as Anthony Iannarino say, have skinny babies.  So whether you are hunting big game or big revenue, you’re much more likely to succeed by being proactive, rather than taking a reactive stance wait for something to happen.

    There is no doubt you can take a number of proactive steps in positioning and readying your self for an event and the actions you will take when the event occurs, it is nowhere as proactive as developing a plan that and action that causes the actions and reactions that bring about the event.  Better yet, create the interaction and engagement with a potential buyer that leads to a sale without the impending event.

    Thee are a number of ways to achieve this, much the same way as you would prepare for a trigger event, know what lead to success in the past; knowing understand and articulating the impact your offering will have on the buyer.  The difference being that rather than waiting, as you would for a bus, you open the client’s eyes to the possibilities not an event that other sellers can also leverage, which just makes for a crowded bus when it finally arrives, late or on time.

    What’s in Your Pipeline?
    Tibor Shanto

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    Please Vote

    If you look to the left, you’ll see that I am also a nominee for two categories in the annual Top Sales Awards. Please take a minute to vote. Thank you in advance.

    Sales Options Exchange18

    Sales Options ExchangeAs much as sales people are alike, they also differ in so many ways.  One way they differ is how their outlook on sales and selling is impacted by what they sell and who they sell to.  This brings me to a great conversation I had with my friend Josh who sells into the financial community and is therefore exposed to some creative thinking.  Beyond sales, the other interest Josh and I have in common is a fascination with derivatives.  Neither of are studied enough to get into some of the exotic instruments and strategies, but we both follow and talk options.

    As we were talking about pipelines, pipeline management, which included a laugh about closing probability, and sales people’s odd love/hate relationships they have with their deals or sales in progress.  It was one of those moments where a throw away statement leads to deep discussion.

    The statement, made by me during my third pint, “Hey Josh, imagine if sales reps or their manager, or their companies could write or buy options on opportunities in their pipeline.”  After a good laugh, we started thinking about the possibilities.

    At first, we looked at it from the stand point of managing cash flow for good sales people, sort of like factoring for manufactures.  You feel good about your pipeline, a specific deal, cash in your commissions now for a bit of a discount, (assuming you can find a buyer); deal comes in, they get the commission everyone is good.

    Josh played out a few scenarios, mostly poking fun at the fact that if they are willing to bet on sub-prime, why not on a software sales rep’s commissions.  Imagine if you could hedge your deals, he kept saying, “I’d hedge my whole 2011 Q2”.  You see he has some fairly big deals that will close at that time, little doubt, “so why not write some calls, pocket some of the cash, by some puts just in case, and voilà”

    I began to look at it from the a pipeline management point of view, what if instead of dealing with probabilities, sales people had to deal with the financial accuracy of their forecast.  Now, on the one hand they already do, but only in a simple way, they either do or do not make their commission.  But in the context of the overall success of the company, there is a bit of misbalance, while a rep who delivers only 70% of a reasonable quota, may make less money, the impact on the company is entirely different.  When you consider that according to CSO Insight only 51.8% of sales reps made quota in 2009, down from the previous year.  (It’ll be interesting to see what the numbers for 2010 will be.)  Much like when a rep discounts as little as five percent of a deal, the impact on commissions, minimal; the impact on the company’s margins could be dramatic.  Given the circumstances, why would a company not want to buy some puts.

    Another potential upside involves deal times.  While shortening sales cycles may be an ambition for many is sales, there is a point beyond which you can’t expect to accelerate or shorten your cycle.  On the other hand,  most sales leaders would settle for predictability, rather than doing some thing in less and less time, they would much prefer to have deals done in a predictable timeframe.  Not only could they count on it, more importantly it would indicate that they are able to communicate their sales methodology, and have their teams consistently execute.

    Options have a finite life, as do sales.  Man sales people don’t buy that, they don’t distinguish between the active part of a sales cycle and the over all client acquisition cycle. Things would change if there was an expiration date.

    In the end it was all good fun, but both Josh and I went back and reviewed our pipeline, looked at what we would keep, what we would dump.  What we would cover, and which deals we would write or buy puts on.  I am sure we did not come up with a new pipeline management process, but we did get a new appreciation for selling and our pipeline.

    What’s in Your Pipeline?
    Tibor Shanto

    BTW – for those of you at Dreamforce in San Francisco, I will be presenting at the InsideView booth at 11:30, stop by, there some other great presenters.  See you there.  TS

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    Please Vote

    If you look to the left, you’ll see that I am also a nominee for two categories in the annual Top Sales Awards. Please take a minute to vote. Thank you in advance.

    Thank you! and Just One More Please16

    Thank you!

    Yesterday it was announced that I was selected as one of the “50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management in 2010“, by the Sales Lead Management Association.

    I want to thank you all for voting, especially those who voted for me.

    The Sales Lead Management Association has the mission of helping companies become more successful in the critical business process of managing sales leads.  This critical aspect of sales success has always been core to Renbor success and to the work we deliver for our clients.

    I now would like to ask you to vote one more time, as I am a finalist in two categories in Top Sales World‘s Annual Top Sales Awards, Top Sales Article of 2010 and the Top Sales Book of 2010.

    While you are there, you may also want to support some other worthy candidates in other categories, these include but are not limited to:

    S. Anthony Iannarino – Top Sales Blog
    Salesopedia – Top Sales Resource Site
    InsideView – Top Sales 2.0 Solution
    Active Conversion – Top Sales Tool

    Please take a minute, no matter who you vote (but vote for me), you are supporting a hard working group of sales professionals committed to helping you answer the eternal question:

    What’s in Your Pipeline?

    Thank you in advance,

    Coming Attraction Call – Sales eXchange – 7431

    People ask me what makes for a good cold calling script or as what some closet cold callers like to call “talk track”.  Frankly both are the same, the important thing is to have one, and use it as part of your engagement process.  Allowing for the differences between industries, products and other broad factors, there are some key elements that make for an effective script (talk track, methods, whatever). 

    We present five steps in our approach, and that is what I will refer to it as moving forward.  The important thing is less what you say, there are no magic words; what is important is the flow, the sequence and purpose, that make for a successful call.  While words are important, they are secondary to flow and delivery.  Think of it as when a baseball player hits a home run, no one tells them how they should run around the bases; they can do it calmly, with great flash, the key is no matter how they choose to do it, they must touch all the bases in the process and in sequence, or it won’t count.

    So it is with the five steps we follow, you can bring a lot of yourself to it, in fact you should, it is one way to avoid sounding scripted. However, you also need to remember that you are trying to move the process and the potential buyer, from point A to point B, hopefully to C then D and to where ever your close is.  To do that you can be yourself (or whoever you want to be if it helps you sell better), but you need to map out and follow the flow, without skipping steps (bases).

    One of the pivotal points in the call, the second of the five referenced, is where you need to fully engage with the person you are calling, and at the same time have them engaged in the call.  One analogy we use that has helped people get comfortable a bit quicker is getting them to think of the initial call as a good movie trailer. 

    The key is to speak directly to your audience, in the movies they need to speak to the group and the individual, in a cold call you need to speak to the person both as an individual, but also as part of a collective, specifically their company, address both and all needs in between.  The trailer needs to be compelling, specifically speak to what’s in it for them, what they will get out of coming to the meeting, and as you would expect in any good sale, what they will get out of the experience.

    Sounds easy but is not, it requires work, often more work than many sales people are willing to take on.  Some will take half measures, and suffer the risk of not seeing a return.  Think of how many times you sat in the theatre, watched a trailer, and turned to you partner and said either, “ah, we’ll wait for the DVD (download); or “wait till that comes on demand for free”; vs. “man, we got to come and see that when it opens”.

    Beyond the requirement for having a good (great) movie, just like the need for a good product, it takes a lot of work to make a great trailer.  At the heart of it is knowing your audience, what turns them on, what turns them off; what their priorities are, and what they will ignore till it easier to consume (DVD), or not be bothered at all (I wouldn’t even DVR that sucker).  There is an understanding of not only what aspects of the story to highlight, but how, in order to get the right reaction from the audience.  Producers sink a lot of time, money and effort into the trailer and related promotion.  Just look at some of the trends over the last few years in using alternate media to support the trailer, and the additional production effort.  You need to not just research, but fully understanding the target audience, then communicating that understanding without preaching or sounding scripted.  Exploring why you had success in the past, and avoiding messaging that missed.  Again, all requiring direct, hard, and hands on effort, not just an afterthought.

    Not that different from a cold call, you have to do your work well in advance, put in the time and effort.  Understanding what your audience will respond to, and avoid what will come across as just another schlock feature that wastes their time, effort, and brain cells.  You want to be that call that stands out above the dozens they got that morning.  You want to be the trailer they remember after sitting through a half dozen before the movie, and still be remembered after a good movie.   That’s the one you’ll go back to see; that’s the one that will get you the appointment.  It always has to do with content and length and flash; and you already know the content, because it is there in all you previous wins, and absent in your losses.

    Just remember, the trailer, the cold call just gets you in, make sure you deliver; we have all seen great trailers for movies only to find the movie itself was a bomb and the only good parts were in the trailer.  You don’t want that to be your sales experience, the plot, the theme, the whole thing has to hold up throughout if you are going to get the sales in the end.

    What’s in Your Pipeline?
    Tibor Shanto

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    Please Vote

    If you look to the left, you’ll see that I am also a nominee for two categories in the annual Top Sales Awards. Please take a minute to vote.  Thank you in advance.

    Status Quo? Really?19

    Is this Zebra white with black stripes – or black with white stripes?

    Status Quo, one of those expressions in sales that has a nudge – nudge, wink – wink sense to it, we all know how to deal with it, we all know what it means (?), or do we?

    The three biggest point of agreement are:

    1. Status Quo (buyer complacency) is your biggest competitor, the biggest barrier to change even where it is evidently needed
    2. The largest segment of the market is in Status Quo, or “not in the market”, or as has been said “happy and not looking”; depending on which data you use anywhere between 50% – 70% of the potential market
    3. And because of the above two points least likely to buy, again you can find data that will peg probability of closing someone in the Status Quo, is 0% – 25%

    Time to question some of these views, or at least shine a different light on them to see if they hold up.

    While buyer complacency is an issue, it is not as fatal as many will have you believe.  The reality is that Status Quo and/or client complacency is the barrier to selling many will lead you to believe it is.  The key is to understand why the buyer is not in the market, is it because they don’t have any issues, or is it because they do not believe that thee is in fact a suitable solution to the issue in question.

    In the real world, where buyers are trying to 16 hours into a 10 hour day, not all is as it seems, or more specifically interpreted by sales people, many see closed doors where none exist.  Often buyers who can’t divine a solution on their own, convince themselves that one does not exist.  Given that they have a million things that have to get done, they have not only convinced themselves,  but have fortified that belief.  Without that fortification, they would occasionally stop and think about it, at times even allow a sales person to come in only to make no progress, and the only thing to show for it is wasted time, and when they look up they realise they now have 16 hours of work but only 9 hours instead of the 10.  As a result, the only solution in their mind is the status quo, complacency, the ability to marginalize the pain so they can continue to function through their day.

    Along come the next sales person, averagely persistent, typically reactive, and the draw the conclusion the target is in the status quo, not ready to buy.  They put them into the CRM for follow up (well some), nurture, start a drip campaign, until such time that the target realizes that they want to change.  By this time they have probably gone to the internet, educated themselves, sometimes even with things the rep’s company put out there, and now they’re ready to talk, compare, whatever.

    It is the job, the profession of a sales person to not only initiate the process, but to ignite it.  A buyer will not consider that you may have a solution, until they are convinced that someone understands their challenge or issue.  Turning an old saying on its side, “they will not buy until they feel you understand”.  That will take more than just saying it, and the only way to demonstrate it is through the questions you ask.  Questions that will first penetrate the fort, then get the buyer to believe that there “may be” an answer.  Only then will they begin Exploring possibilities, Define requirements, commit to a Game plan, and finally Execute, (EDGE).  How do you know what to ask, not easy, takes had work, as it would any time walls have to be broken down.  You need to stop thinking sales, and think business.

    What is the target trying to achieve, what are their challenges, what are their opportunities.  On the other hand, this is not new or foreign, it is very similar to other buyers you have sold to, just as part of the answer is in deals that went to no decision.  The answer is not in the solution, but in the objective of the buyer, driven by their business realities.  So skip the next sales book, (ya, even the one with my name on the cover, that can be next), and pick up a business book, personally I have always liked the The Ten Day MBA, but there are others.  Understand their business, understand their objective, and they believe that you may have an answer, they will move with you out of status quo; absent that, Status Quo baby!

    What’s in Your Pipeline?
    Tibor Shanto

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    Please Vote

    If you look to the left, you’ll see that I am also a nominee for two categories in the annual Top Sales Awards. Please take a minute to vote.  Thank you in advance.

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