Unavoidable – Sales eXecution 2380

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca


One of the most frequent questions I am asked all start with “How do I avoid…?” Many are surprised when I respond “Why do you want to avoid it?” The answer is obvious, they either don’t know how to deal with something, so they look for ways to avoid it. Or the know how to avoid it, but don’t want to do what it takes for number of reasons.

The former is easily fixed, they can be taught, they put things into practice, and over time they don’t even remember that they were trying to avoid it, and now speak like experts. The latter is a bit of a challenge, all too common challenge.

Some things you can avoid, in Renbor’s Objection Handling Handbook, I talk about specific way to present things to prospects, especially while prospecting that allows us to steer the discussion in a certain direction, or better yet, initiate the conversation in a way that eliminates a specific objection. For example, (and there are others in the book), when you follow up on information you sent a prospect, and they say “Haven’t gotten around to reading it yet, give me a call next week”, you can take that away and avoid the objection by starting your call like this:

“Bob, it’s Susie, I am following up on the information I sent you as you requested last week, you probably haven’t had a chance to read it yet, have you?” Just the nervous laughter is worth the call alone, but you have avoided the response by taking it away.

But there will be things in sales, unpleasant things, which not only you can’t avoid, but should not want to avoid. People want to find a way to avoid the most common objections while telephone prospecting. I can understand why, but I would argue that there is more upside in learning how to deal with it, and benefit from that, and benefit in a much more profitable way than if you were able to avoid the objections.

For the sake of full disclosure, there is one proven sure proof way to avoid objections faced in telephone prospect, works every time, but it does have big risk associated with it, really big risk. The method is not to make the call. Works every time, and oddly the chosen method of many. One just needs to look at some of the “be found” stuff being offered as practical ways to generate engagement and prospects.

The side effects, are fewer opportunities, and missed quotas, in my view, infinitely worse than any punishment faced while prospecting. Just today I got a note in my inbox from CSO Insight, that only 58.2% of reps attained quota. Give me a stern “not interested”, or “I am good, all set”. That I can deal with, take away the objection and drive engagement.

The other dark side of trying to avoid things, is that you fail to set in to motion other practical elements of a sale. Sure you avoid the discomfort of one thing, but that prevents you from getting to what is behind it. Does the old expression, “you need to crack a few eggs”, remind you of anything? You need to hit that first domino

The biggest down and dark side, is that failure at times is the cost of growth. None of us learned to ride a bike, play hockey, or ask someone on a date without falling a few times. You may succeed in avoiding some unpleasantries, but mostly you’ll avoid success.

Note – someone pointed out that I have been deliver the Sales eXchange for the last 200 plus weeks, and while there is information exchanged, the topics and the themes are more around sales execution. And with their input I have introduced a slight change to the series, and moving forward it will be called Sales eXecution! Because after all in sales, it is about Execution – everything else is just talk!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto



Your Own Sales Kick-Off with Dan Pink and Matt Dixon – Toronto – January 28th0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Yes Small

While experiences vary, there is no denying that sales kick-offs can be effective on a number of levels.  Beyond creating focus and setting the theme for the year, it was at times an opportunity to take in a speaker who brings a unique, or perhaps new view on sales and sales success. But the reality is that not everyone has an opportunity to participate in such an event. Whether it is because your company is too small, or other reasons.

But if you are in Toronto on January 28, you can attend The Art Of Sales Conference, and not only have your own Sales Kick-Off, but take in six great speakers to help set your year off to a great start.

I had the opportunity to speak to two of the presenters just before the holidays, Dan Pink and Matt Dixon. I asked both how things have evolved since they each respectively wrote their books. More to the point what you can expect if you attend the event.

I started by asking Matt Dixon, what can people who have read “The Challenger Sale”, expect at the event. “While I will be reviewing the findings and implication of The Challenger Sale, expanding on some areas we have seen in practice. Those who have read it can expect to learn more about how people have implemented the concepts in the book. Their successes, challenges, and discoveries they made about themselves and their teams as a result.” Dixon went on to say “one thing that reinforces what we found and shared in the book is that it takes time and work to put things into practice, there is no silver bullet in sales”. I couldn’t agree more, we are hunting revenue not werewolves, we need a sound approach, not silver bullets or other superstitions. As for people who did not yet read the book, they can expect to hear the key findings directly from one of the author of the book that has caused if nothing else, great debates among sellers and pundits.

Dan Pink, shared that he will not only be reviewing and expanding on core concepts presented in “To Sell Is Human”, but sharing new research, and how to take advantage of that when putting it into practice. “For those who have read the book, we will be discussing the reality of the perception of sales people”, with the perception running at 4:1 negative, I think we can all get some insights from Dan. For those who have yet to read the book, Dan will be sharing “how not only that we are all in sales, but sales itself is not what it used to be.” Dan went on to assure me that he will be highlighting “practical tips to effectively leverage and make use of the research presented in the book.

These are only two of the sales leaders presenting at the conference. Now if your company had these guys in for your kick-off, maybe you have a reason not to attend, but if not, don’t you think you can kick some sales ass by attending this event?


Not only will I see you there, but you also have a chance to enter to win tickets to this event, just click here to learn more and enter.

See you there,
Tibor Shanto


Cold Calling is “IN” Again! – Sales eXchange 2346

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

frozen calls

Sadly I am at an age where I find myself saying “I remember the first time that was cool”, I have seen thin ties come and go enough times enough time to know not to throw out any ties, because it is only a question of time before someone says, “wow, that’s a cool tie, is it new?” The only thing I can’t remember if it was 1987, 1993 or 2007 when I actually first bought it.

Well it seems that cold calling is coming back into fashion. Not only do you find people dropping euphemisms when referring to the activity, companies popping up all over the place to perform a service many are needing but forgot how to execute. Many closet callers are coming out and proudly proclaiming not only that they regularly part take in cold calling, but that it producing results that exceed the expectations many, and helping many exceed quota.

Amazing what an Arctic Vortex will do.  Here we are less than two weeks into the New Year, and the signs are all over that cold calling is cool again. Just last week I had a notice for a webinar from one of the original Sales 2.0 gang, inviting me to a webinar on cold calling.  BTW, if you want to attend a webinar from someone who never wavered from cold calling, click here.

Other pundits who not so long ago wrapped themselves in the Sales 2.0 cloak, before dawning top layer of social selling, are now shedding their load, and freely speaking about the virtues of cold calling.

What is truly refreshing in some of their proclamations, is not so much their embracement of this staple and age old tool of sales success, but more importantly their abandonment of the “Us vs. Them” dribble that often dominates the debate.  The former stance that cold calling is dead, and it is all about the new thing, is now more reasoned and tempered, and sounds more like those of us who were out in the cold for a while.  Namely that it is about a blend of approaches and means of engaging with potential buyers, not one means vs. another.

Maybe it has more to do with the fact that the economy is showing some life, revenue expectations by Wall Street and companies themselves, are causing people to realise that they will need to be more than found if they are going to make quota, they’re actually going to have to go out and find some potential buyers who are not currently in the market or expressed that they may care to be.

In a recent LinkedIn group discussion asking if cold calling is dead or not, the comments were absent of the usual posturing about how cold calling was bad or dead.  The tone was more logical, again, putting cold calling alongside social selling and other techniques and tools that make up a successful tool kit.

LinkedIn itself, seems to be leading the charge back.  Despite a recent article “Cold Calling is Dead, Thanks To LinkedIn”, seems to have jumped on the band wagon.  As with most leaders and pundits, the measure of their commitment lies in what they do, not always in what they say.  Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, let me point to a recent advert for a sales position at LinkedIn, promoted on LinkedIn. When it comes to Responsibilities, just look at what is number one on the list:

LinkIn CC wr

About the only thing that could make cold calling more fashionable is to call it Zombie Calling!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Cold Calling: How to get from Interruption to Conversation #Webinar0

laser phone

Having a pipeline of good prospects is important at any time, but that much more at the start of the year. What with the year-end rush to close deals, the holiday break, sellers often find their opportunities deplete, leading to a lull.

The answer is a solid, proven, road tested methodology that will help you fill any gaps you may have in your pipeline, and keep you on track moving forward.

To help you, I am will presenting a webinar on January 30, at 3:00 pm Eastern, for Fearless Selling, titled “Cold Calling: How to get from Interruption to Conversation”. Hosted by Kelley Robertson, I will be presenting and sharing the key elements and practices of a proactive prospecting approach that can be put into practice by most B2B sales professional.

Contrary to what pundits tell you, cold calling is not dead, it is thriving and delivering sales opportunities for those willing to include it in their broader prospecting tool kit.

We will cover core elements of telephone prospecting success, including:

  • Developing client/prospect objectives (this is critical yet most sales people don’t do it)
  • How to allot and best manage your time
  • Mastering the language of sales
  • Understanding the role of conversion rates and how to improve them
  • Develop an effective approach for engaging with prospects and setting appointments
  • Create company and individual opening approach (Talk Track)
  • How to effectively manage common and recurring objections
  • Master voice mails that get return calls (this topic alone could be worth your investment!)

Learn more and register now by clicking here.

One of the biggest obstacles to sales success is procrastination, beat it now by signing up for the webinar!

First Post 2014 – Let’s Cut The S*#T – 14

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

No Shite

Buying Vs. Selling

As the first post of the years, I thought I would set the tone for the blog and hopefully sales in 2014. Let’s start by setting straight some unadulterated shit that has made its way into main stream sales over the last few years. It came out of the impact of the 2008 economic realities and the rise of social media in its sales form, commonly known as social selling. A cute marketing term that elevated the noise created by Sales 2.0, which just further drowned out reason in sales, and allowed people with social selling products to sell more, and pretend sales people keep their jobs.

History has taught us that when faced with a challenge you really only have three choices:

A. Get creative, apply your skills, and find a way to overcome the challenge
B. Redefine things in a way that allows you to avoid the challenge – not resolve or deal with it – but by changing the premise you mask the reality
C. Hide from it

Sadly, too often we opt for options B and/or C. Option B happily fueled and supported by pundits selling products or advice to sellers.

Let’s look at one of the biggest slices of crap peddled in sales these days:

slideshare attribute“60% of the sales cycle is over before a buyer talks to a sales person”, as quoted by James Wood, on Earnest About B2B Blog, Slide number 5, attributes the quote to Kieran Flanagan, Hubspot.  But when you follow the links to a slideshare presentation: Inbound marketing your secrets to success,  Kieran, on slide 9,  attributes it to the Corporate Executive Board.  The link in that attribution leads to a page on Latvian TV, featuring an interview with a musician on a bus, I don’t speak Latvian, and therefore not sure if he in fact stated the above (I’m betting not).  I am pretty sure he is not the one that set the absurd notion contained in the quote.

So we don’t know where it came from, but a whole bunch of people in the selling business are reciting it as though it was gospel. Problem.

What is described/discussed/contained in the quote, does not talk to a sales process, but a buying process! Big difference. The person a self-declared buyer talks to is not a sales person, but rather a quote/price dispensing order taker. It’s true, it doesn’t matter what it says on the business card, what it says on the web site or org chart, these are not sales people, they are process facilitators, and the process they are facilitation is the buying process, not a sales process. How can I tell, because order takers deal with buyers, buyers who on their own decided to explore a purchase, started defining their requirements on their own, unprompted by a (a real) seller. As they were at about 60% of their buying process, they needed some comparisons, some additional data that was not available on the company’s web site or the common social outlets, and some quotes so they could make their choice, So they reach out to the facilitator, happy to spew stats and facts, and quotes, that they are willing to negotiate.

This is not selling, it is order taking, and if it sounds like selling to you, well, I feel for you and I am here to help you.

Selling involves professionals who engage the best potential buyers based on criteria they, the seller, researched to identify the best opportunities for mutual success, their own and their buyers. This often leads to the reality that the best potential buyers, those will benefit and deliver revenue as a result, are not in the market. They are doing what they do until they are approached by the seller, which by definition means that the seller is likely about 20% – 25% through their sales cycle when they talk to a potential buyer who they are looking to convert to a prospect; and that potential prospect is at 0%, because their journey start when the seller calls.

Facilitators have no control over their success and destiny, as they are dependent on the buyer, who according to the pundits is in control. Scraps anyone?

Sellers not only control their success, income and destiny, but have more loyal clients, willing to pay full value, and rely on the seller based on their contribution to the customers’ success. You decide, not so much which you are or want to be, but how much work you are willing to invest to be the seller you ought to be.

Happy New Year!
Tibor Shanto

#Slacktivism in #SocialSelling and Impact on Revenue – Sales eXchange 2270

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca


I recently read an article about Slacktivism.  A growing trend where people will click away on social media, getting behind a cause or a product, but only a small few will actually act on their sentiment.  Its one thing to “like” the Facebook page for an upcoming cause based rally, it’s another to actually show up.

A recent study from the University of British Columbia found that “Research shows that if people are able to declare support for a charity publicly in social media, it can actually make them less likely to donate to the cause later on,” UBC PhD student and study co-author Kirk Kristofferson said.  They went on to say that the more public the initial show of endorsement was, the less like participants were to provide meaningful support later on. ‘Liking on Facebook may mean less giving. Giving public endorsement satisfies the desire to look good to others, reducing the urgency to give later.

Hmm, what’s the implication to sellers, do you suppose that may describe the social buyer?  Does social media activity translate to buyers buying, or does it fall into the pattern above.

People don’t change their habits at different times of the day, if they interact “socially”, and then fail to follow through with action in their non-business life, it is a safe bet that they will interact and act the same way vis-à-vis social media in their business pursuits.

This is not to say that social selling is not real or important to B2B sales success, more of a reality check, and a reminder not to throw all your eggs in one basket.  Social selling is one component of many important component of an effective sales pursuit program.  Just as it would not be wise to rely strictly on cold calling or referral selling, it is important to resist urge to be post-modern and rely strictly on social selling as some (with financial interests) would encourage you to do.

One has to be conscious of the difference between clicking and doing.  In a recent LinkedIn group discussion about the “value” of social selling, there were a lot of good opinions, anecdotes, and rehashed opinions, but there was only one or two measurable.  The best advice was those advocating an integrated approach.

Looking to the broader social experience, as a guide, “Only a tiny subset of a subset of a subset uses Twitter or Facebook or any other social media platform to engage in social change. Mining these data for insight — so-called social media analytics — does not “engage the unengaged”; quite the opposite.”  Those unengaged in sales are the Status Quo, those busy doing business and not involved in social “buying”, and the biggest segment of any market.

“To glean insight into the opinions of the real crowds, we need online and offline tools to engage the unengaged and move them to social action. “Clicking” on Facebook to save the life of a child in the poorest regions of the world, language that seeps in to pricey corporate social responsibility campaigns online, encourages clicktivism and slacktivism. For any important issue, such as electoral reform, clicking on a petition or ‘liking’ a YouTube clip doesn’t cut it.”

And so it is in sales, I leverage social selling, but I “Like” results even more.


What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


3 Things Some Pundits Won’t Tell you about Cold Calling – Part 34

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Ice Call

 It Actually Works

I am a terrible dancer, I make Elaine from Seinfeld  look like Ginger Rogers, and so as a courtesy to myself, and others at weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, or funerals, I don’t dance. But at the same time, I don’t so anything to spoil other people’s fun with dancing, especially those who do it well. Just because I don’t like it or do it well, does not mean that it cannot be done and enjoyed by others. It also doesn’t mean that those who do it well need to get off the dance floor. You don’t see me running around saying that dancing is an outdated tribal custom, outdated and beneath dignity in today’s socially advanced society.

But it seems that that’s exactly what some of the “never cold call again” crowds are suggesting, no insisting. They don’t cold call, they don’t like to cold call, they don’t get results, meaning they can’t cold call, and therefore cold calling does not work; and that’s that, no one should do it, it is outdated and anti-social; as though everyone who practiced the craft was somehow déclassé.

The problem for me and the no-callers is that dancing is fun for those who enjoy and know how to do it, and I don’t; and cold calling works for those willing to and can do it, which clearly the no-callers can’t. If they could do it right they would find that it help fill and round out the opportunities in their pipeline, and help them make more sales and money. And I have to assume that they want to sell and make money, otherwise they wouldn’t want to sell you their “don’t cold call” stuff, and they would just give it to you.

The fact is that cold calling works, especially in the hands of those who know how to use it. The reason it works is that there as many type of buyers as there are sellers. Each have their own characteristics, which in turn dictate their preferred mode of communication. Some prefer calls, others e-mail, magazine ads, etc. Study after study show that cold calling is only second to referrals in effectiveness for engaging with potential buyers. Factors such as timing, buyer’s current market view, and other inputs will determine what may work when, even with the same buyer. A survey presented in Businessweek showed “referrals from clients or partners (22%), general referrals (16%), and cold-calling or telephone prospecting (13%).” Sure I would prefer to have all warm referrals, but even then, why not add to those with a few well-placed intelligent cold calls.

DiscoverOrg, recently surveyed 1,000 IT decision makers at Fortune ranked, small and medium-sized companies. It showed how outbound sales calls and e-mails affect and “more importantly disrupt vendor selection.” “Seventy-five per cent of IT executives have set an appointment or attended an event as a direct result of outbound email and call techniques.” Further, “nearly 600 said an outbound call or e-mail led to an IT vendor being evaluated.”

I know cold calls can be irritating, but no more so than the endless stream of completely irrelevant, often cheesy e-mail I receive from the hub and Mecca of inbound marketing. At times I am even interested in what they have to say, but they never follow up.

Which leads us back to the central theme of the series this week, the need for a balanced and well thought out pursuit of the right prospects for the right reasons. A combination of strategies, tactics and delivery mechanisms to achieve maximum results and return on effort. Just as I would not give up content marketing, blogging, my social efforts, it is equally silly to ask me or any successful seller to abandon one of the most proven means of engaging with real buyer, specifically cold calling. Maybe it is because I am in Canada, and winter is coming, but combined with other efforts, cold calling works, if you do it right.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

3 Things Some Pundits Won’t Tell you about Cold Calling – Part 20

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Old Phone

On Monday, in the first post of this series, we defined “cold calling”, and looked at overlooked real opportunities for sales and revenues one misses when not including cold calling in their biz dev routine.

Whether by fate or chance, the following definition was contained in a marketing piece I received in my inbox yesterday:

“By definition, “Cold Calling” is the marketing process of approaching prospective customers or clients, typically via telephone, who were not expecting such an interaction. The word “cold” is used because the person receiving the call is not expecting a call or has not specifically asked to be contacted by a sales person.”

I guess I am not alone.

On to number two!

2.   They may not do it now, but they used to!

I’ll start by asking a variation on the question about the tree falling in the forest:

If one outsources their cold calling or delegates it to someone else in his/her company, are they still cold calling or could they claim to be pure?

In all the years I’ve been selling, I have only met one person who claims never to have made a cold call during their career (let’s qualify that, successful career), and while I believe that the captain of commerce in question, I also suspect that he is the exception that proves the rule. The rule being that cold calling is a key and necessary (evil) part of successful B2B selling.

I usually start my Proactive Prospecting workshops by asking “Who here can make quota strictly from their base and referrals from that base?” On average less than a third put up their hands; usually not the top third, and I am usually distracted by their manager’s shaking head.

At the start of their career or new job, most sellers make cold calls. Then we change, more accurately, the market and success changes us. We build a base of clients, service and support them, do all the things we are supposed to. In the process of doing that, our work habits and attitudes change. That change usually involves a slow shift from being primarily a hunter, we slowly morph to being hybrid hunter/maintainer. Our work continues to bear fruit, we stop sharpening our cold calling skills and sharpen our referral skills, and completely stop exercising our cold calling muscles, and let’s face we are all happy not having to do the dreaded task.

Some can sustain their career from harvesting their base, even as their companies are starving for new customers. Pundits can live off their reputation, and declare cold calling dead.

But then reality comes to call, in the form of a lost client, or the economic climate of 2009 – 2011, the base no longer spins the rewards it used to, no choice but to find some new streams of revenue. I see this pattern play itself out at my gym, some keener who was on the high school football team but has not picked up the ball, weights or ran in the last 12 years. He now decides it’s time to shed some pounds by hitting the gym, sweat band and all. After five minutes on the elliptical, they are breathless, soaked and declare “this doesn’t work”; they dash off to the nearest pharmacy for a bottle of Hydroxycut Special, because it really works.

As with fitness, what really works is a balanced approach, I worked with a successful banker, loans to small and medium businesses, he had a great book after 17 years in the business, easily leave off it for the remainder of his career. But he would cold call several times a week, when I asked why, he said:

“First, if I bring on one new client a month, I will generate five more in the form of referrals from that one over the next year, and more off those in the coming years. Second, like it or not, I will lose some clients, retirement, acquisition, failure, or what have you. Adding new companies to my book, allows me to continue to grow it.”

Ask yourself what your attrition rate is, and more importantly, how much upside is there in replacing them with new networks of revenue.

I often ask the cold calling is dead crowd, what advice they would give a young and/or new territory rep, new to a copier, transport, wireless, telco, MRO, or other similar company, not the 10 years veteran, but brand new rep: cold call or not? I don’t often hear back, mostly because a balanced, well thought-out action plan has to include cold calls, referrals, LinkedIn, and every available and effective tool. To exclude one, is to limit your success. Just like they used to.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

3 Things Some Pundits Won’t Tell you about Cold Calling – Part 1 – Sales eXchange 2186

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Keyhole and Telephone - Key to Success - Locked Out - Communicat

There is no hotter topic in B2B sales than cold calling, does it work, and is it necessary in today’s social environment, call screening, voice mail, and “inbound” universe. Well I am here to tell you it does work in 2013, and will continue to work in 2014 and beyond. And I am not alone in that conviction, not only are other experts with me on this, but so are the facts; I know many don’t like confuse the issue with facts, but I just feel the need (see below).

Definition: To start we need to define “cold call”, there are almost as many meanings as there are pundits. When I say cold call, it simply means that you are not on the targets agenda for that day. You could have encyclopedic knowledge about their company, the prospect personally, industry, all the real success you have delivered to people like them in similar scenarios; if you are not a scheduled event – you are a cold call. I am not talking about just picking up the phone, start dialing at A, and keep going, saying “Wanna buy?” That’s not cold calling, that’s just dialing for dollars, not effective from a time and resource view point, especially given the time demands sales professionals face these days.

But if you do your homework, prepare for the call in every way, expose yourself on social media, whip up a the best posts, etc., it does not change the reality that your targets are trying to pack 16 hours into a 12 hour day, just like you. Unless you are scheduled, you are a cold blast of interruption. That’s what makes the call cold, no matter how strong the content, they are reacting to their schedule, which does not include you or me. It is a dynamic that needs to be dealt with, and mastered, otherwise you are a socially correct, smart beyond belief sales person with a phone in their hand, a dial tone in their ear, and no new opportunity in your pipeline, now that’s cold. So as we look at three things they don’t tell you about cold calling, keep this definition in mind.

  1. Opens Up Untapped Overlooked Markets:

Above I spoke about facts supporting cold calling as a key component of any prospecting success, one example is a recent WSJ article “Cold Calls Still Help the Bottom Line”.  Notice how social media such as LinkedIn and others play a role in their prospecting success, as does cold calling. Nothing can be truer than the comment about how by less people making prospecting calls, has created a reduction in competition for prospects by phone. This same concept pans out in a couple of other ways. First, those depending on inbound only, without outbound cold calls, are limited to that narrow segment of the market that initiated the “buying process” on their own, and as such see you in a different light. You read a lot about how many buyers are some 60% through their buying process before reaching out to a seller. I believe that, but what does that say about the role of the sales person involved:

    • They are usually reduced to providing data to validate buyer’s research
    • Rather than playing the role of thought leader and advisor, they are reduced to price discussions and negotiating with their own company
    • In effect, the true logical conclusion of an inbound sale is for someone to take the order, that’s not selling

I know one can argue that these sellers can challenge the buyer’s thinking and change direction, but if they had the wherewithal to do that, would they have waited or allowed the process to be 60% executed without being in the game? No, they would have prospected them, and by not doing so, allowed the process to get away from them.

But where does that leave the other segment of the market, those who have not initiated the buying process, those who have something like what you sell, but could benefit from what your offer specifically; what if you can help them achieve their objectives better than they are now, but are just not calling in? Seems to me that to get to them, you’re going to have to pick up the phone (along with other actions), and if you are not on their schedule, you have to deal with being an interruption, a cold call, and deal with their reaction to the interruption not the quality of content.

This means learning to deal with the response, the objection, the rejection, the horror; well not if you are prepared.

Now – Download the Objection Handling Handbook
Wednesday Part 2 – They used to cold call – what’s changed?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Author #Interview – Josiane Chriqui Feigon – Smart Sales Manager0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Smart Sales Manager

If you are not familiar with Josiane Feigon, you should be, and if her predictions come to be you will be soon enough.  As you’ll read below, she boldly predicts that by 2015 inside sales will overtake field sales, as that unfolds, she will be in greater demand.  Josiane heads up TeleSmart Communications, and is leading practice and thought leader in the area of inside sales and management.  A recognized consulting, she has designed and delivered coaching, and training solutions for world class companies such as companies, including Cisco, Autodesk, Citrix Systems, Adobe, and others.  She is also the author of two books on inside sales, Smart Selling on the Phone and Online: Inside Sales That Gets Results, and her most recent, and a complement to the first book: Smart Sales Manager: The Ultimate Playbook for Building and Running a High-Performance Inside Sales Team.

It was this book that was the focus of a recent conversation I had with Josiane, below are exerpts of that conversation.

TS:  You say that inside sales is going to overtake field sales by 2015. How can that be? And how does that affect how companies sell?

JF:  Today’s inside sales organizations are growing rapidly – for every 15 inside salespeople being hired, only one field person is being hired. The traditional sales organization structure is changing to meet the needs of today’s elusive and busy customer who is mobile, connected, independent, and wants everything NOW. Inside sales can build more – and often better – relationships virtually in much less time than it used to take face-to-face.  TS: In your book, you start out by saying customers these days are “mad as hell.” What are they mad about? What is going on with them these days that’s affecting their buying decisions?

JF:  Customers have become incredibly intelligent and assertive- they are putting their foot down and saying “they are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” They are tired of outdated sales techniques, hundreds of powerpoint slides to make a point, being stalked and chased by desperate salespeople. They are also very independent AKA “elusive” and like to self-educate.

TS:  Many of today’s inside sales managers were promoted out of the cubicle into management. How is managing in today’s digital world different than when they were selling?

JF:  Most of today’s managers were once individual contributors. Many of them manage with the old, brutal sales blueprint of success: aggressively chasing down customers and holding them in a headlock while they present and coerce them into buying. They keep doing it today, even though it no longer works, on the theory that it has to work sometime! But managing a high-performing inside sales team in the dynamics Sales 2.0 ecosystem is completely different. This new world is digital, diverse, and connected. Customers do their own research, and talent expects works to be F-U-N.

TS:  How do organizations identify great inside sales managers?  What are the primary attributes successful managers need?

JF:  I believe a good manager must first be a good coach and in my book, I outline Ten Qualities of a Compassionate Coach

  1. Be a good listener. Use the same active listening skills that make you a good salesperson. Give the rep your full attention, and listen without interrupting. Be empathetic and compassionate, and don’t get defensive.
  2. Be observant. You can learn so much about your team members just by paying attention to the way they present themselves, the objects they choose to have around them, the friends they hang out with, whether they speak up during meetings, how they listen when you talk, how they interact with others . . . the list goes on and on….
  3. Be patient. Some people are quick studies, but not everyone. Behaviors can change; everyone has his or her own unique rhythm. Give them time to develop.
  4. Be supportive. Make sure that even the least skilled know that you believe they have what it takes to improve and get ahead. Some team members may just be waiting for permission to be seen as the top dog on the team. Treat them as if they deserve to be in that spotlight.
  5. Be flexible. Change can be effected in a number of ways. If one approach fails, try something else. Be creative. Keep an open mind, and become sensitive to differences and different ways of doing things.
  6. Be interested and aware. Take time to get to know the salesperson you are coaching. What do they like? How do they live? This will give you insight into what motivates them.
  7. Be perceptive. When your intuition kicks in—and it will! —trust it.
  8. Be energetic. A good coach has energy that is contagious and persuasive. Model the kind of positive energy you want to see.
  9. Be focused. As a coach you must detach yourself from your own pressures and focus on the person you are coaching.
  10. Be trustworthy. Above all, coaching must take place in an atmosphere of safety and trust. Your team must trust that you are working in their best interests. Your team members are your potential superheroes. Treat them with respect and confidence.

TS:   Some people think cold calling is dead. But in your book, you introduce the concept of potent prospecting. Can you explain what that is?

JF:  New tools have eliminated the cold call and redefined prospecting: The days of robo-dialing and making cold calls without any information are gone – there’s no excuse for it. Potent prospecting works more holistically. It brings together the rest of the Sales 2.0 ecosystem – the customer, the talent, and the tools – and a working alignment with marketing. Prospecting efforts are strategic and sophisticated: they’re all about the best practices of engagement, collaboration, education, application, and social activity.

TS:  Why do so many inside sales managers insist on tracking dials & talk time as a primary metric of productivity? Is that lazy management, or just lack of knowing where else to look?

JF:  Metrics are definitely overdue for a metrics makeover because many metrics are outdated stereotypes of how to measure success. Managers must also redefine what productivity means so instead of saying “it’s awfully quiet out there, no one’s on the phone” they need to listen for the virtual, the digital and the social conversations and measure the new sounds of silence.

TS:  What are two takeaways from the book for finding and hiring new sales talent?

JF:  Every inside sales organization is unique. That’s because they each have different go-to-marketing strategies based on their individual provide/service, price points, sales cycle, direct/indirect purchase channels, target audience, sales locations, and talents. These are living, breathing micro businesses that are constantly in flux. But they all have one thing in common: the never-ending quest for good talent. Managers must develop an “always-be-recruiting” strategy that includes a referral network, and strong screening and interviewing techniques that help qualify and identify inside sales superheroes. Managers must also structure their inside sales organizations with the right roles and match them with people who fit those job functions. This is the first step in defining a “multicareer” ecosystem that attracts ambitious talent on a career trajectory.

That was just a bit of a great conversation. You can find more at TeleSmart Communications, and you get both books at Amazon, they make a good set.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


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