It Is About The Realization Not The Need – Sales eXchange 2290

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

change

I had some interesting feedback to a recent post on my blog The Pipeline, titled Is BANT Helping You Lose Sales?   The gist of the piece was that many put an over emphasis on “need”, and thereby limit their success. (There is so much more to it, you really should read it).  Two in particular stood out, one gave the argument I was making further context, and the other added a layer that provides clearer focus to those willing to apply the line of thought.

First was the feedback relating to a point I touched on, specifically the role of BANT in the sale, I mentioned that it is a means of qualifying a buyer or opportunity. But the reader took it further in an important way. They pointed out that many forget that BANT is for qualifying, and instead use it as means of selling. By doing that they fall into the trap outlined in the piece, specifically, since BANT is focused on needs, it limits one’s ability to sell to those who don’t immediately have or perceive a need. For qualifying it works because it highlights areas that must be present if you are to achieve a sales. While a buyer may have budget, authority, and has a record of acting in a timely way, but may not have a real or perceived need. They will always have objectives, but not always have a realized need associated with those objectives. Without that need, BANT fails as a means of selling, even while helping you qualify (or disqualify).

That’s where the second comment picks up, it highlighted the fact that by taking the focus off the need, and putting it squarely on the buyers’ objectives, the conversation will inevitably lead back to need. For successful sales people it is about the realization, not the need. By focusing on the buyer’s objectives, you open a line of discussion that surfaces what those objectives are, and people love talking about themselves, their plans and aspirations. Remember to explore both the ‘personal’ and ‘organizational’ objectives.

A simple and proven way to start this is to simply ask: “If we were sitting here 18 months from now and you were telling me that you and the team had hit a grand slam, what would that look like?” In framing the question that way, you not only introduced a timeframe, but allowed them to look beyond their current state, and describe their ‘ideal’ state. Once they have completed telling you, ask, “So I am curious, why aren’t we there now?” And that is when the realization comes, as they tell you what stands between them and their stated objectives, the obstacles and gaps, in essence telling you and them what they “need” to get there. That’s the realization takes someone from status quo, the majority of the market, to engaged prospect. Not the need, but the realization, the acceptance, and the energy in realizing that they can in fact achieve their objectives, and achieve them with your help. Without realization, there is no need.

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What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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If You Have To Wonder – - Forget It!4

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Crossed Fingers

We’ve all heard that communication is 60% body language, 30% intonation, and 10% the words we use (give or take). While this is an important statistics for sellers to keep in mind, it means nothing to those who sell or set appointments by phone, where there is no body language, and it’s down to intonation and words; and as we have said before, words may not break your bones, they could hurt your sales.

People can’t separate themselves from who they are just because they are selling, which means many of speech patterns they have developed over the years are present when they are selling. As a result they tend to use words that are just not all that effective when selling by phone, without the benefit of body language and limited by straight up intonation.

This is especially an issue while prospecting by telephone, or (dare I say it) cold calling. Now if you are a post-modern seller who does not cold call you’ll find the rest of this piece less than compelling. But if you are prospecting by phone, even if only those leads you sourced via inbound marketing, there are some steps you can take to have more success in a world void of body language.

Beyond the words you use, you also need to change your assertiveness or intensity, here are a couple of examples. I often hear people on the phone say “I was wondering if we could set a time to meet”, or “I was hoping to schedule an appointment”; really, I would have thought you knew you want to set a meeting. The above is a result of our social conditioning. In an effort to be polite, a good thing, we fail to compensate for the lack of body language. When you picked up the phone you weren’t wondering, or hoping, you wanted to meet. If you were standing in front of them, you can settle for wondering, but on the phone you need to compensate for the lack of body language, and not only clearly state your intent but go further by accentuating and asserting your desire to meet.

Note I am not saying be aggressive or rude, but you need to cut through the din created by other sales people Not a big change, but an effective one, “Mr. Brown, I am calling you today to specifically set a time to meet… or … schedule a time … arrange a meeting”. The words are down to you, it is more about the confidence and attitude you project. Who would you rather spend time with a wishy washy person hoping for something, or a confident professional clear in intent, abilities and direction? They say hope is not a plan, well it’s not very attractive in sales either.

Along the same lines, don’t say things like “I’m just calling”, “just following up”, or just anything. And please don’t combine two weak words: “just wondering”, “just hoping”.

There is in fact one thing you can do to leverage aspects of body language even when you are on the phone. Stand up, speak in a natural state, get a mirror and have a conversation with “a person” in the mirror. I know of one sales person who has a full length mirror in their office, and their prospecting calls consist of them conversing with the prospect, and the person in the mirror. You can step in to key words you want emphasise, you can catch yourself about to interrupt, and more. Sounds awkward, most things do at first, but the payoff is real and lasting.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

After and Before2

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Note pad

In a business that emphasizes relationship as much as sales does, it is sometimes interesting to see the degree to which sales people, and buyers, tend to ignore, overlook and at times avoid some basic components of human interactions, and way to enhance those interactions and the impact of that on business and sales outcomes.

Michael Jordan once said:

“…You have to monitor your fundamentals constantly, because the only thing that changes will be your attention to them”

This statement is as true in sales as it is in basketball. Sometime those fundamentals seem simple and inconsequential, but in the end it is often those little things that make the difference. Remember that your product is often indistinguishable from those of your competitor’s, so the way YOU sell may often be the differentiator that clinches the deal. So let’s focus on two seemingly small things, that when executed consistently and well, after and before meetings with buyers, will win you deals, no matter other factors. And while these may seem small, do them and then judge the results.

After:

After every meeting you should send a note, what most will call a thank you note, but done right it can be so much more.

Few send thank you notes anymore, I know that when I am the prospect, if I get a thank you note, it is so rare, I take notice, and mentally give the sender bonus points, points that may take them ahead of the other vendors. A hand written note, will just blow their mind. But more than a thank you note, it is an opportunity for you to recap what you took away from the meeting, action items everyone agreed to, and most important, what you propose the Next Step to be.

If you and the buyer synch on all of these points, then the note will just cement things in their mind, along with you being the vendor who helped them do that. If you took away different understandings, it is to your advantage to find that out now, and make any course adjustments you need to make. Better to correct things now than go into the next meeting with different ideas; if you can’t correct them, better to find out now than after investing more time and resources.

As well by introducing what you think the next step should be, you get them thinking about it, and again, if they don’t disagree, you are on the right path, but if not, you can deal with it now, not later.

Before:

About a business day ahead of the next meeting, send in a n agenda, nothing deep or heavy, three or five points (odd numbered lists are better), AND, what you would propose as the Next Step, if things unfold according to the agenda. As above, if things are on track, you can go in with some sense of confidence that you are on the right path. If not, better to know well in advance of the meeting than at the end when it may be too late to do anything about it. Same goes for the Next Step, if they can’t live with your suggestion they’ll speak up, and while it may not be what you had planned, better again to know early than after the fact.

While neither may appear to be all that and more, when you first read them, execute them consistently and it won’t be long before you attribute deals directly to executing these steps.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto  

It's time to get Bricked!

How Much Revenue Did You Lose at Quarter End?0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Impact Question

There is an all too familiar ritual that unfolds at the end of every fiscal period, for some it is monthly, for most it is quarterly, and at year end. Being that Monday was quarter end, I was reminded again. A friend who is a rep with a technology company, cancelled a meeting we had set for this afternoon, and you know it, his voice mail this morning at 8:00 simply said, “Man, I need to change our meeting, last day of the quarter, you know how it is.”

On the one hand I do, on the other hand I don’t. I am sorry if your quarter comes down to the last day of the quarter, a Monday of all days, there is a whole bunch of things you are doing wrong, and a bunch of money you are leaving on the table.

To start with, a good number of the deals that are “Driven in” on the 30th of September, will happen because of some concession made by the seller to the buyer. Sometimes these are small things, baked in specifically so they can be “conceded”, often not. These can be a price concessions, either in the form of a price adjustment, or the inclusion of goods or services that normally would have had a price tag, but being the last day of the quarter, “and we need to bring in the numbers”, they are thrown in to secure the deal “today”. Although once you offer it, it’ll be there October 2, or even next week, the buyer has seen weakness and will not give it back. And – it will be the first of many to come, you’ve set the precedent, both you and the buyer have been conditioned.

Not only do you never see that money again, but there is the lost momentum and opportunities as you deviate from your routine, stop prospecting for a few days as you focus on closing. May not seem that bad, but if you don’t prospect for a few days, you’ll create weakness in your pipeline, and when the next quarter end comes around, guess what. So now you are out the revenue you gave away in concessions, and the revenue from prospects you will either never have, or will closer later than they could have.

The alternative is requires a bit more discipline, but results in less of a roller coaster ride and more money! It comes down to owning your time and being accountable for your actions, (grab this e-book for details). If you know your conversion rate at critical stages of the cycle, you can focus on executing the key tasks you have to throughout the cycle, and not sweat the days. Some things in sales are straight forward, if you have a three month cycle, and you close one of every five deals you qualify into your pipeline, it doesn’t take much to see how this quarter end dance will hurt. If you don’t prospect from the 27th to the 30th (of any quarter), then your next sale will be delayed by so many days. Sure you can make up for it in some ways, but then you’ll have other distractions, the ones you can’t help, but this one you can.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

 

What if you could defeat the Status Quo0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

All this week I have posted clips from a recent interview with Ago Cluytens, for his Coaching Masters Series.  We dealt with a number of issues around selling to buyers who are traditionally referred to as being Status Quo.  Being the weekend, I thought it a good time to post the whole interview for your weekend lounging pleasure.

Always interested in what you think, and whether you are more prepared to go forth and sell where many sellers and pundits fear to go.  Take a look, and let me know.

If you enjoy this there are more on Ago’s site.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

Selling In The Right Time Frame – Sales eXchange 1962

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Time Frame

One common theme here and at other quality sales sources, is the need to cover the entire buying organization, top down, bottom up, and all sides.  This not only eliminates the need to go around or over someone, but delivers a number of benefits and opportunities to sell and establish contacts and relationships.    Over the years there has been a lot written about the need for sellers to be “multi-lingual” in order to properly communicate with all levels of the buying organization.  Executives/decision makers/VPs in your target organization speak a differently than say the implementers or users of the product even when they are talking about the same thing.   If one or both do not understand what you are saying it is a problem.  When you call a on a VP, and deliver your message in implementer speak, you risk being banished down in the organization, because that is what you sound like, where you may be stuck for a while, extending you sales cycle, or forever, and never getting the sale.

Understanding how to communicate with the different groups, what their specific drivers, issues and hot buttons are, is a must, especially when they have viable alternatives to your offering, and they always do.  As you master this you will learn that not only do these groups speak different languages, they function in different time planes, which means you will also need to learn how to exist in multiple time frames.

VP’s will tend to have a longer time horizon than implementers.  In a very general way, there are those focused on strategy and the strategic direction of the company.  Once those strategies are decided and set, and things begin to move to the tactical execution of the strategy, as a result the time horizons of the implementers is shorter.  If you fail to manage this, it could be much more fatal than the language issue.  In fact mastering the different time frames will directly help with language, if you know where they are focused, you can speak to it, but if you are positioning for a different time than they are looking at, you are bound to miscommunicate.

If you look at the continuum of a purchase, it is likely that someone had an idea for a product or an initiative at the executive level.  They will then gauge support among their peers, while helping to shape the big picture.  They may then have some of the team leaders scope things out, costs/benefits, challenges, etc.; this may include consulting with outside parties, a great opportunity to introduce your company long before vendor selection process starts.  Once the project gets the go ahead, the implementers take centre stage.

Goes without saying that if you can insert yourself in the process at the scoping stage or before, you would have a great advantage, one reason to call high in the organization.  But if you speak the wrong language, and talk about feature/benefit, you in the wrong time frame, and in the wrong “country”.

Another advantage to getting in early, will be your ability to influence and impact their strategy, and with that done, you will be in a much better position when it comes to vendor selection, after all, you’re “a safe choice” vis-à-vis the executive, and while price will always be an issue, you will have set the standard much earlier in the process, or if you will time frame.

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

Online Sales and New Sales Tax Regulations29

Guest Post – Megan Totka

Some Internet sales regulations, and subsequently sales tactics, may be about to change. Is this a good change or a bad change? It really depends on who you ask.

For quite some time now, most online retailers have been able to avoid charging sales tax to customers that are located outside of the state that the company’s headquarters are located in. Online shoppers use commerce sites to find better bargains than can often be found in brick and mortar stores. Even holiday season shopping has been changed by internet sales. This is because of the lack of sales tax, and often, free shipping.

Many states, however, are now starting to wise up when it comes to shoppers taking their business to online-only companies. Because most states are still feeling a big pinch from the ongoing economic recession, they are noticing the loss of revenue from these uncollected taxes.

The state of New York is pushing the hardest to be able to collect taxes on online sales. Amazon, likely the biggest online retailer, is actually suing the state. New York has passed a new requirement that online companies must charge sales tax on any sales that are shipped to consumers located in the state. The governor of New York even wants to tax internet downloads, such as those from iTunes.

Many people are turning to the Internet more and more for not only specialty products, but everyday goods as well. If you own a brick and mortar store, you may be thinking, how can I compete with that?  The first step is to start your business online.  Did you know that Amazon will ship toilet paper and snack products alongside your Kindle downloads and electronic orders? Some people certainly do, and these purchases are exactly what is up for debate as far as charging sales tax.

So how will this effect online sales tactics? Well, it could and should encourage online companies to lower their prices, if at all possible. However, many online shops are already undercutting their physical-location counterparts. Should they be expected to lower costs even more? Is that even possible?

The other way that companies could combat having to charge sales tax would be to offer free shipping all the time. Some online retailers already do this with a purchase over a certain amount of money. Amazon offers their Prime membership, where for $79 a year, a shopper gets unlimited 2 day shipping. Again though, this may cut into a company’s bottom line. Probably the best answer at this point? Wait it out. New legislation regulating what online purchases can or cannot be taxed is likely forthcoming. When the decision is made, you can talk with a tax consultant to see what the best move for your company is.  In the meantime, research what products would continue to be less expensive to purchase online, even with the addition of tax, and see what you can do to have consumers buy from you instead.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of sales. 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.

Yes, and…37

Sometimes it is not what you say but how you say that help the buyer get engaged.  Take a look and give it a go.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

More Information ≠ Better Informed90

Last week I got an e-mail from one of the traditional providers in the sales enablement business.  It seems they have discovered social media, Sales 2.0, and felt they had to let the world know.  Further, they shared a couple of “big reveals”; one was that “buyers” will go to the web and the social web long before they will “call a sales person or company”, in fact completing over 60% of the buy cycle.  Second, that there is a whole lot more information available to buyers than ever before; according to these oracles of sales, a customer can access some “20 times more data about you and your competitors than they could 5 years ago”.

Let’s deal with the first one, for those buyers who have completed over 50% of the buy cycle before engaging, it is more accurate to say that the seller involved is an Order Taker, not a Salesperson.  You can tell your friends and family that you are in sales, but if that’s you, you’re an order taker, end of story.  I am sure order takers need training too, may I recommend George Clinton.

The second, is mistaking data with information, and information with knowledge and action.  There is no arguing that there is a lot more data out there, but I would argue that rather than that being an impediment or reducing the role of the sales person (real ones), it offers the prepared sales person an opportunity to succeed further.  With that fire hose of information/data, comes confusion, misinformation, and the opportunity to misdirect.  Real decision makers are seeking clarity and judgement above all.

I see it as an opportunity for a seller to bring clarity, advice and recommendation and direction based on the buyers’ objectives rather than the buyer’s digital footprint.  Sellers have to rise above the data, but many seem to feel more comfortable swimming in it, hoping it will lead them to a sale.  Good sellers will filter the data, and present actionable advice to decision makers looking to change where they are as opposed to getting more information, real sellers provide better and more actionable knowledge.

More is not better, clarity and action are!  In the last couple of weeks we have had concrete examples of this.  Apparently on Monday night there were millions of tweets about the storm, great, were you better informed?  There was also a whole lot more water out there too.  Did you know more?  During the presidential debates, there were millions of tweets, one media outlet counted how many tweeted out #bindersfullofwomen, it was in the millions, lots ha, but were people better informed?  Knowledge and the ability to act on it have value, data is sold (or given away) by the pound.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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