Once They Bought Product – Make your Client Change1

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

change

Change is hard for all of us, that much more so for sales people. On one side they are trying to get buyers to change, clearly articulating the upside of change. Some of the most creative modern prose have flowed from sales people enticing their buyer to change, “Your business dreams, are but one change away”. Yet as sellers, we rarely hold that mirror up in front of us, we don’t like change, believe me I spend a lot of time helping sellers to change, and it requires a lot. Much like their potential buyers, they are resistant to new things, and are much more willing to live with the pain of what they know, than experience the pain they associate with change.

This could be the very reason why many sales people prefer to be “gatherers” – account managers than hunters. After all, spending 80%, 90% or more of their time with their base, allows them to regularly avoid having to talk about change. When they do, they are not only in-congruent, but on a number of levels dishonest with their potential buyers. After all, singing the praises of change all the while thing it yourself, just sends the wrong message, regardless of how much they rehearse, intentions and genuineness always rings through.

Not only that, but as soon as they “change” a buyer from their previous provider to being their client, they cast off their mask, and become steadfast defenders of the status quo, doing everything they can to make their client forget change.

But just like with fire, the best way to fight change, specifically the type of change your competitors are trying to sell your customer, is with change. Start by forgetting the product, yes, I know, it’s hard, such a warm blanket. While many are fixated with upgrade and new releases, there are other and “better” changes a good sales person can present.

As in the sale, the differentiation, and often the value, comes not from the product but from the sale. The way the seller engages, and conveys value to the buyer has to transcend the product, especially in a world where on a good day the overlap between you and number 2, is at least 80%. And once you are the incumbent, your competitor, number 2, will embellish that 20% until only a small discount is needed to entice your client away.

But if you the focus off the product, and placed it on how the client uses the product; how it specifically impacts their reality, their profits, competitive edge, or other non-product dependent things, then change is not about the product, but you, and what you do for them. Sure they can use the other product, but they will lose the benefit of you, your expertise, and the value you bring. It is easy to change the box, it will be hard to replace how you help them benefit from the box.

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What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

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So How Did You Do With That One Thing? – Sales eXchange 2310

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Success 1

Last year around this time in a video titled “The One Thing“, in which I challenged you to avoid the temptation of pursuing whole changes and resolutions going into the New Year, and instead focus on one thing. One thing that will measurably improve you execution, you’re selling, and when you master that one thing, build further from there.

Well it’s a year later, time for a reality check, let’s see how you, or we, did on that one thing, what worked, what didn’t, and why. If you did take on the challenge, how did you do?

If you did not accomplish what you set out to do, there are some things to keep in mind. If you gave it a real effort, made some progress, but are not where you want to be, that’s ok, as long as you keep going, don’t settle for “some progress”, go for your goal. If it is taking longer than anticipated try to understand why, and they adjust accordingly. At the times the goal is valid, but the means we choose is not the best. Step back, focus on your goal, the positive impact it will have on your success, and see if there is an alternate path. Don’t mistake with changing your course with changing goals or coming up short. In fact as a sales pro, at times the best thing we can do for prospects is show them how they can achieve their objective though an alternate way they hadn’t considered. If the goal is valid and really key to helping you sell better, stick with it, experiment, and apply the learning, even when it is a result of failed approach.

If you did succeed, congratulations, pat yourself on the back, reap the rewards, and then ask: “What next?”

With all the changes and continuous challenges facing sellers today, you can’t stop and rest on your laurels, you need to use you success as a springboard to your next conquest, right after you examine some elements of how you succeeded. How long did it take, what were some anticipated hurdles you overcame, what were some of the unanticipated that if proactively used moving forward will positively impact your journey.

When did you accomplish success, four weeks, three months, most of the year? Understand the elements, just as you would elements of a sale you want to repeat to ensure you succeed again and again.

Once you have an understanding of the concrete elements, it is time to look forward, and move forward. Meaning decide some things you would want to change in 2014. While you may want to look at more than one, you also don’t want to go crazy. While I will ask you to focus on one at a time, you are now in a position to plan out more through the year; as you accomplish one, roll in to the next, orderly, methodically, each building on the last, setting up the next. Just like a sale, just like planning your sales, like a process, for sales success.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

You Should Lead With Price – Sales eXchange 2072

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

change

If sales were presented as a play, the typical flow would seem to be: segment, identify, qualify, engage, discovery, gain commitment, negotiate and close. Somewhere towards the latter part of “gain commitment” and “negotiate”, the issue of price becomes central to the plot, in fact with some sellers “negotiate” is really just a code word for “price haggling”.  This would explain why so many sales these days are won or lost on price, especially when “discovery” is rushed or executed in a cookie-cutter way.

The plan (I guess), is build value (place your methodology here, ours is good too), and align to price. The frustration for many is that they may not know the relative role of price till late in the game, especially when there is a low cost provider in the mix.  Wouldn’t it be better if you could learn if price will be the breaking factor much earlier in the play?

That’s the catch 22 of selling I guess, if you don’t build value you can’t justify or rationalize the price; on the other hand, you could spend time and energy building value and be defeated by price. What’s a seller to do?

Well, why not lead with price?

Counter-intuitive, maybe? Risky? Could be, but most things worth archiving involve a level of risk.  The opportunity and skill is in managing the risk and finding the balance where calculated risk consistently rewards the risk taker.

This is not to say that your meetings should start:

“Hi I am George, with ACME Solutions, the price is $42,000, plus 20% annual maintenance fee, ready to go?”

But there may be merit to putting price front and centre much earlier in the process. There is an element of this accepted, if not always executed, by many sellers in the form of exploring budget; in terms of its existence, availability, control and commitment.   But budget is different than price, how many times have you been able to check all the tick marks around budget but still lose on price?

But what if we did introduce process earlier?  The reality in many instances, the price is based on some formula, be it unit based or other elements, and sellers have a sense of what a deal is worth early in the play.  Before you protest the last statement in an effort to seem above the fray, go look at yours or any other forecast.  So why not put it on the table, and make it a way of introducing, driving and accelerating the value discussion.  After all, if they object to the price at that point you can get to the heart of the matter by asking them what they base their remarks on.  It is a great way to go to the real value discussion.  As both price and value are relative, you can find out what they see as value in their reaction to the price.

You can then use all the tools and techniques you would normally use to build value, but this time it can be much more collaborative.  The key is not think of it as defending the price, but as a mutual and collaborative value definition.  In the course of executing it, you can uncover objectives, separate needs from wants and a range of other things that make for a successful sale.  All without the suspense of the traditional ending.

As with most things in sales, we can stick to the same old, or so called fresh techniques that are the same old in new packaging.  Or you can try something that will not only differentiate you, the way you sell, and most importantly the outcome.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Aligning Time Horizons (#video)0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

Time is pivotal to sales success, on the plus side, it can help you better engage with potential buyers, and on the down side it can create distance and barriers between you and the buyer.  One specific is the degree in which you are aligned with the buyer’s horizon.  All too often we get ahead of the buyer, or fall way behind, either can slow down or cost you a sale.

Take a look at what I mean, then download our E-Booklet – Sales Happen In Time:

Alignining Time horizons

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

Sales Focus: Online Channels vs. Traditional Tactics0

CofC Mar 13

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

The Internet has opened up a whole new world of marketing and advertising tactics. And although this isn’t breaking news, people are coming up with new ways to utilize the web every day when it comes to sales. But are we letting more traditional sales practices fall by the wayside in lieu of solely committing to digital tactics?

In my experience, the companies with the best strategies are making the most of both types of marketing. Finding a winning combination of traditional marketing and Internet marketing can take some trial and error, but it’s worth it for your company in the long run. Consider these perks of focusing on online advertising and sales:

•    Less Expensive
While running a business website isn’t necessarily cheap, there are many ways that you can advertise online for very little cost. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer great outlets for marketing and a variety of tools to help you build your network and share your message.

•    Bigger Reach
It typically costs less to reach more people with online marketing. Using social media accounts and websites can generate thousands of views—even hundreds of thousands for successful companies—each month.  It’s difficult to reach that many people with traditional marketing tactics and a small business budget.

•    More Outlets
There are so many ways to advertise online. Some of the most obvious include social media networks. The biggies include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but there are hundreds of other social media sites that you might consider using based on your type of business and your audience, among other factors. Community-style message boards, blogs, and websites may also be ideal channels to add to your digital strategy.

Although digital tactics can undoubtedly be effective, traditional advertising and sales still carries a number of benefits, too, including:

•    Tangible Nature
Some people like advertising materials that they can see in person or touch. Some examples might include business cards, postcards, or business swag (think branded water bottles, key chains, or pens).

•    Increased Permanency
Marketing campaigns such as billboards or magazine ads can be placed for a longer period of time without needing changes. Online, it’s more necessary to keep content new and changing constantly to not only serve your audience, but also search engines.

•    Appeal to a Larger Audience
Don’t confuse this with having a larger reach. While online advertising may have the ability to reach a higher number of targeted people, traditional marketing techniques reach multiple generations and income levels and typically aren’t as segmented as digital alternatives.

Your best bet as a business owner or salesperson is to find a balance between the two types of marketing. It’s important to gauge your audience to see which kind of marketing best suits your clientele. If you can find the right combination, you’ll be able to reach a huge audience and give everyone something that they want—not to mention using a variety of marketing techniques will help you increase sales and expose your company to new customers.

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Shock Treatment – Sales eXchange 1922

by Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca
 
Jump Start

Last Monday I posted about the overlooked opportunity in that segment of buyers know as Status Quo, pundits and sellers alike commiserating each other about the difficulty of selling to a ready group of buyers, vs. taking orders from self-declared buyers.

I’ll be the first to admit change is hard, especially for business buyers who have their handful, trying to make headway in a competitive market.  Change is time consuming, a drain on resources, creates upheaval, usually expensive, and fraught with risk, for the organization and the individual at the centre of the decision.  Moving the dial with these types of buyers requires more than a bit of effort, which is why change is also hard for sellers; it is much easier and safer to rationalize, and wait for a referral.

This is why there is a healthy and growing industry of sages ready to sell indisposed sellers every mean of just waiting at the edge of the forest, encouraging them to wait for something to come out to them, rather than entering the fray and winning business most sellers seem reluctant to peruse.

How much effort does it take? Well take a minute, step back and look around you and study what it takes for people to make critical changes in key their lives. Frighteningly, you discover that people don’t often make big changes, right changes, preferring to avoid and live with the consequences of the Status Quo.  Even when they know that the new state is preferable to their existing one.  The naive notion which many buy into that people will move to a better mouse trap has cost both sellers and buyers much time and money.  You can build the better mouse trap, Trap 2.0, and people will rodent infestation will maybe look your way, then rationalize why they shouldn’t beat a path to your door.

Don’t believe me, how many people do you know who continue to smoke, even after their father expired due to lung cancer; how many people do you know who continue to biggie size it, despite the fact that they have to buy a new wardrobe every six months?  People can change these with a effort if they wanted to, but it takes effort.  How many times have you watched companies go to the brink or beyond because the devil they knew was a better alternative to the one they didn’t know?

The answer is not offering the “right” or “better” solution, or in becoming their friend.  It is about penetrating the barriers the buyers have erected to protect their current state.  Your only choice is to shock them, shock your way past their fortress of hope.  Hope it will work out, hope it will last, and hope no one will notice.  For the “be found crowd”, this is not an issue, the buyer has dismantled the barriers, and are ready to change, but for the Status Quo, intervention time.

Now I am not talking about clamping a couple of electrodes to your buyer’s temples (or elsewhere); but I am talking about asking hard and very direct questions, which at best could be called provocative, at worst a punch below their reality belt.  One does not have to be rude, but one does have to shake things up, which means the ultimate relationship you have starts out a bit rough, but ends up being a solid one, built on being a reliable resource, not a cuddly friend.

There is plenty of writing and thinking out there about how to succeed with the Status Quo, mine, others who provide means and questions you can use.  But the first step is for you as a seller to recognize and decide how you want to deliver value to your buyer.  Once you decide that you can do more than just take orders from ready buyers, and win more business who may not think they need you or your offering, there are plenty of resources to help you, but as with other changes, you need to first admit that you are a card carrying member of the Status Quo.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto  

5 Tips For Cutting Overhead Costs and Unleashing Your Sales Team’s Potential0

Running The Sale

The Pipeline Guest Post – Zoe Maldonado

Cutting overhead costs is one of the best ways to help your business succeed. With many businesses, the expenses are far easier to control than the profits. Cutting overhead doesn’t only help you on a financial level, but it also simplifies the management of your business. Cutting overhead costs is extremely complex and depends on the industry that you’re in, but here are some good ways to get started.

Move key resources to the cloud

Cloud computing is a relatively recent development and has been adopted by many companies as an excellent way to save money and operate at peak efficiency. With cloud computing, you take advantage of an array of computers over a private or local network like the internet. You can use these computers just for data storage or to host and run your business software.

Cloud computing is inexpensive, secure and Eco-friendly. Taking advantage of cloud technology means that you won’t have to spend any money on your own network or multiple software licenses; and you don’t need to have space for your own data servers. This saves you on both your technology budget and your rent and storage. Cloud computing also enhances the efficiency of your business because it allows your sales staff to access files and data from anywhere in the world. This efficiency can easily translate directly into increased sales. In addition, new studies are showing that businesses using multi-tenant cloud data centers produce less carbon than businesses utilizing the same types of services in-house.

Process sales on the go

Mobile credit card processing is the wave of the future. Even the big box stores have started taking advantage of this technology, and for small business use it has many clear advantages. With mobile credit card processing technology you can take a payment from a credit or debit card anywhere you go. These types of services often have a small credit card reader you can attach to a tablet or smart phone in order to swipe customer’s cards and close the sale right away.

Ditch the office space

With all the mobile apps for businesses available today, a physical location isn’t even necessary for many business owners. If you find that your staff is mostly on the road, and that you can do your work from home, ditching the office space can be one of the most cost saving decisions you make. If you need a storefront office, you can always down-size and allow some of your employees to “work from anywhere”.

Hire independent contractors

Independent contractors are on an hourly basis and can’t claim the benefits most employees do. Of course, you need to follow the government’s guidelines on whether your staff qualifies as independent contractors, but many do. You may not be able to get them for as many hours, but the savings will pay off.

Ditch the land-lines

Phone systems are often one of the most expensive initial costs for a company, but this goes back to the olden days when phone systems were the core of a business. Consider switching to mobile phones if it’s at all possible, because this will not only save you a lot of money, but it will also enable your staff to be more accessible to clients. Land-line phone systems have expensive monthly costs and are chained to a desk, so if your sales staff moves around a lot, land-lines are virtually useless.

About the author

Zoe Maldonado is a freelance writer and blogger for TechBreach who enjoys writing about all things mobile and electronic and spending time with her very active twin boys.

Just Do It NOW! – Sales eXchange 1850

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

target

I often think that Nike got their famous tag line only half right, they should have added the word Now to Just Do It!

If you are a follower of this blog, you know I am big on process, a structured approach and a tight approach to time and what activities we spend time on.  Many mistake this for rigidity, and often push back on how it limits their creativity and spontaneity.  I beg to differ and here is a specific reason why.

I have been working with a group of experienced (or at least tenured) sales people.  Many too experienced to learn new tricks or skills, they know what they are doing and resist new things, man that sounds a lot like some prospects we all know, don’t it.  Working with one fellow, I noticed he had a running list of names on a note pad, when I asked he explained that these were people who popped into his head during that day, people he should call.  Either because he “had an angel on something” or he had not thought about them, and thought “I should give them a call”.  When I asked him when he calls them, he said “as soon as I get around to it”; when was the last time he did, “just before Christmas”, why the wait, hadn’t gotten around to it yet, nor did he get around to getting quota, coming in at about 83% last year.  What was he busy with that he could call them, was the initial thought still valid, no answer.

Personally, I call these people right away, hand held laws be damned, if I think of a good reason to call a prospect, or an up-sell potential client, I do it right away.  Before the thought and ENGERGY fade.  Call Now is my mantra.  If I am in a meeting, I make a note in my note book and it is the first thing that gets done when I am out of the meeting.

Waiting has a lot of risk.  First and foremost, is the call not getting done.  Even if it gets done later, it lacks the urgency and energy of a call made right there and then.  This kind of energy is just electric over the phone, the prospects feel your excitement and get caught up in the moment along with you.  There is few things as effective as telling a prospect “Hey Jon, I was just thinking about you!”  People love to be thought about, and if you tell them why and what you see happening next, it just gets through and makes a clear and powerful point.  The spontaneity, the excitement in your voice is contagious and effective.

I attribute my ability to make these calls, and succeed in making them to my process, the time I build into my day to experiment with selling and do off hand things like this when they present themselves.

So here is the challenge, next time you think about calling someone, call them, don’t make a note, don’t rationalize, call them, you never know what will happen, but I can predict what will be the outcome if you don’t.  So just do it NOW!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Objections – Not What They Appear to Be (#video)0

TV Head

Many sellers believe that Objections are the bane of their existence, and one can understand why.  On the other hand, if you step back, you can actually see Objections in a more positive light, and see them as something you can leverage to move sales forward, and win deals other less enlightened sellers may miss.

Below is the first of a series of videos dealing with objections, and how to make them work for you in winning sales.

Objections 1

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

New Year’s Evolution0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca
Success premium

Last week I posted about the how trends don’t use calendars and the flaw in trying to tie trends and the start of a new year; people on the other hand are different and do make effective use of calendars and planning to make improvements or changes in the way they do things.  This includes sales people and the way they sell, and I would encourage people to set more time based objectives, and develop and execute a plan for achieving the desired results by or within a targeted time frame.

The new year is a natural time for people to set these objectives, hence the ritual  of New Year’s Resolutions, interesting concept, not often effective.  According to Knowledge Wharton Today, “Nearly half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year. Of those, only 8% are likely to succeed.”  Not great odds, not even a good closing ratio if you are in sales.

I have seen sales people resolve to make more calls in the coming year, to go after accounts they were reluctant to approach, and other things that they see as a major change in the way they sell.  I am all for “stretch goals” in the various senses of how the term is used in sales, but to be effective the “stretch” needs to be reasonable, not extreme.  Sure if the extremes were achieved that would be great, but in most instances they are not, and turn out to be negative and discouraging.  As the article points out, they become counter-productive.

The goal is to set reasonable attainable goals, building on what is already working, adding new elements of execution or strategy.  The key is to set both goals and execution plans.   There are times where people set a reasonable goal, but fail to develop an execution plan, and the outcome is negative, and the goal is abandoned.  But if you set a series of doable goals, each building on the other, you can truly evolve your sales game.  As you succeed  at the first goal, you can celebrate your success, reap the benefits of their progress, and have the confidence to move to the next goal/challenge.

This allows one to evolve through the year, through their career without the shadow of a big resolution, and the disappointment of not achieving it.  The approach can be applied to a number of aspects of sales, not just sales techniques or skills.  You can look at market trends and evolve your product or message to leverage the trend, buyer habits or practices and more.  The key is to make sure that you set yourself up to win, not just to play and be disappointed.

BTW, there is nothing wrong with resolving to do big things, just make sure that you have also set to evolve in small ways.  If you achieve both, great; but if you miss on the big resolution, you still benefit from your new year evolution.

What’ in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto
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