Don’t Be Afraid of the Empty Time – Sales eXecution 2450

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Appointment Time

Many people seem to equate action with productivity, doing things to “move forward”. And let’s be honest, in many ways some of the things I and my peers write and serve up on a regular basis, can easily be read to support that view. But the reality is that building in some flux to your sales time is an important element of success.

Planning your day week or month is not the same as filling your time. It is important to create some empty time. More importantly it is imperative that you do not feel guilty or fully productive because “you are not doing something”. We all hate it when someone else creates “busy work” for us, so why do it to yourself.

I work with a lot of sales people who tell me exactly that, “I need to be doing something, otherwise I feel like I am not contributing”. Sure sometimes this a result of just having a bad manager who believe you can only contribute if and when you are doing something. “Don’t just sit there, pick up the phone”.

While keeping a detailed calendar is key to ensuring success, and this may result in a “full calendar”, it does not mean that you have to be active and engaged in sales activities at all times. Just as you need to set time aside for the unexpected emergencies, (Grab you copy of the Sales Happen In Time white paper, to learn more), you need to include some down time, time to step back, re-energize, regroup, and re-emerge ready to conquer more.

If you run marathons, you know the 10-1 approach, run at race pace for 10 minutes and easy off for a minute, then 10 again. This gives runners the ability to run at a faster pace because the give themselves a chance to recoup. If you watch elite runners, they do it do, it is just that their off minute is not as noticeable as it is with old farts like me.

Create some empty time, allow yourself to not “do things”, idle time is not wasted time when consumed the right way.

One way, and from a timing stand point, a good one is today or tomorrow. The start of Q2, a good time to step back and not just assess how the last quarter went, what worked what didn’t, and then recalibrate. But to think about something other than selling that will in the end help you sell more. Here are three things you can try:

  1. If my line of product did not exist, how would my customers achieve the objective they achieve with the product I sell?
  2. If a law came out that required that everybody sell my product category at the same price, how would I differentiate?
  3. How can I help a prospect without involving my product?

There others, but create some empty time, don’t be afraid of it, the key is to make the most of the empty time, just as you need to make the most of the selling time.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Share

Social Selling is Just Good Selling – Sales eXecution 2440

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Last week I had the honour of placing in the top 10 of the 30 The Top 30 Social Salespeople In The World.  But more than ever before it highlighted the need to unhyphenate sales, and focus on those things that make sales people good at what they do.  I can’t speak for the others on the list, but I do not see myself as a social seller, but as a sales person who takes the profession seriously, and as a result of that commitment use every available tool to communicate with my market, and deliver avenues and means for them to achieve their objectives vis-à-vis their business.

top30socsale

This is why I had some gentle fun with Social Selling’s predecessor, Sales 2.0. These are not just marketing terms, but limiting terms, especially in the hands of the wrong people, especially the pundits. If Sales 2.0 was the label for those who were leveraging Web 2.0 tools and opportunities in their sales, then what number do we assign to those sales people who were early adopters of the first wave of web capabilities, Sales 1.0? What about those of us who jumped on things like portals, the original BlackBerry pagers, Sales 0.0. And what of the sales people who invested in Palm Pilots and green screen e-mails, Sales -1.0. Take to the logical conclusion voice mail in the 1908’s Sales -3.0, answering services introduced in the 1930’s Sales -6.0, etc.

Silly marketing terms that pre-occupy sales people and sell products for those selling to sellers. So let’s unhyphonate sales, especially silly, potentially revenue destructive labels like “No Cold Calling”, “Referral Selling”, “Trigger Event Selling”, and others. These address one small aspect of sales in a very incomplete and ineffective way and serve only to sell a product. This may explain why some were left off the list who are in one light much more “social” than many of us on the list.

I can only speak for myself, but I suspect I was on the list because I love selling, and writing about selling and will use every available tool and means of selling better, these days that includes social. I think if you want to hyphenate sales, there should only be one Good-Selling, everything else is just packaging.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

 

Using Content Marketing to Drive Sales1

cc feb 14

The Pipeline Guest Post - Megan Totka 

Using content marketing to drive sales will certainly only continue to grow exponentially in 2014. Nearly every company, small or large, will use this tactic to increase their sales.

If you look back on content marketing, you’ll come across examples that predate the Internet. Content marketing is certainly not a new strategy, but it is one that has been made easier by technology. Several hundred years ago, content marketing was possible, but it was certainly a little tougher to get your sales message out there. A few of the examples offered were John Deere, who published a magazine offering farming tips, and the Jell-O company, who distributed free cookbooks full of recipes using their product. Both companies have obviously done quite well for themselves.

So what should you do to effectively use content marketing to drive sales in 2014? Here are a few things to consider:

Visual content – infographics, which gained lots of popularity in 2013, will continue to be on the rise in 2014. People love getting their information in a visual manner – less reading, more colors. Infographics were used by 51% of B2B content marketers in 2013.

In-person events still rule – a survey of B2B marketers showed that people still think that in-person events are the most effective way to market and sell to potential customers. While most of the time, the Internet is king, in person marketing is still very much an effective strategy.

Strategy vs. no strategy – while we can argue that anyone who is involved in marketing has needed to devise a strategy, not everyone actually records a concrete marketing plan to follow. However, the same survey as mentioned above shows that companies who have a documented content strategy think that they are successful about 66 percent of the time, compared to companies that don’t have a recorded strategy thinking that they are successful only 11 percent.

Content marketing still poses some challenges – the B2B marketing group reported that there are definitely still some challenges to be overcome when it comes to content marketing. Some of the top concerns are not having enough time to produce quality content, a budget shortfall, and a lack of vision.

We all know that sales and marketing need a delicate balance in order to work well without overwhelming your customers. Content marketing is a way to build your brand while offering useful information at the same time.

(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.

Choosing the Sales Start-Up Mentality!2

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Start Up

Every day entrepreneurs all over the country start with an idea, some resources, tons of energy and even more attitude, and jump into the deep end of starting a successful business. Those very same days there are business people in the same market segment who decide they can no longer make a go of it and go out of business. What differentiates the two?

Every day there are new sales people stepping into new jobs, often into underperforming territories, and they not only make a go of it, but thrive. In those same companies there are other, more experienced sales people (or at least sales people with more years at the company); these sales people who claim to be smarter and to know better, struggle to make a go of it. They resort to spending their time telling everyone who will listen as to how the world, their company and their customers have conspired against them, causing them to fall behind. And to prove their point, they remind everyone (who will listen), of those gone by years when they were a contributing performer. What changed, what makes them different than the rookie?

Given that both pairs have access to the same resources, information and markets, both are limited and buoyed by the same market realities, why do they end up on opposite side of the same reality? While attitude has a lot to do with it, it would be too easy, not to mention depressing, if that were the only factor. While attitude is important, and can be adopted and some say trained.

In talking to both sales people and those who have succeeded in starting competitive and thriving companies, (not necessarily serial entrepreneurs), they both seem to share a Start-Up Mentality. Rather than seeing all the reasons why they may fail, they are drawn to, focus on and act on those factors that will deliver success. This is not to say that they ignore obvious pitfalls they will need to figure out how to avoid, they just that know that they are factors in the outcome as opposed things that predetermine the outcome.

When I deliver programs for sellers, I share freely with them that there are a million reason I can point to to why the methodology I teach will not work, but there are specific reasons why when consistently executed they do lead to sales success. One group, focuses on the former (without ever trying to put it into practice). The smaller group, chooses to focus on those steps that lead them to success. When I work with the reps individually, there are those who just remind me of those who succeed in Start-Ups. It is not genetic or attitude, it is focus and the discipline of execution, but more importantly the ability and the willingness not to follow the crowd, but to follow their plan.

When they are first on-boarded, most new sales people are eager to earn, learn, and impress their manager, and the company; the best way to do that is to do that is to follow and execute the process they are given. Many companies do have proven formulas for success, all you have to do is adopt and work it. But after the on-boarding is complete, they are set loose with the herd, and with that comes the indoctrination by their peers, and with the 80/20 reality still in place, the people doing the indoctrination, are the ones who have time to do it, the 80% driving 20% of the revenue. The 20%, the consistently deliver because they know what won’t work, and rather than “wasting” their time on trying those “things that don’t work”, they have time to do something other than sell, like indoctrinate.

The top 20%, the ones with the StartUp Mentality, do care about the new guy, but they don’t have time for get involved in the indoctrination ritual, they are busy selling. They are just like the entrepreneur who is just “too stupid” to fail.

Those sales people who can start their week, their month, their quarter, with the Start-Up Mentality, approaching each week or period as greenfields. While not ignoring failures, what they take with them into the next week are the lessons learned, and they start again; their experience is not an albatross worn with pride as they go down with their ships, but as building blocks.

The one consistent lesson I learn from these StartUp sellers, is they look at every week as a start-up week. If they were starting their sales job today, if they were new to the company and or territory, how would they approach it? By approaching every week with this outlook, they can still benefit from experience, good or bad, but they benefit much more from the market view they get as a result of their StartUp Mentality, like it or not, it’s a choice, and your choice, no one else’s.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

Dear Sales Diary3

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Diary

Those of you have kept or keep diaries, know that one of the reasons it has such great value is not just because you open up about intimate secrets, but that you share everything, not just the good, not just the bad, but all that and everything in between. You were able to go back and relive the experience, and more often than not glean lesson and things you would do differently if you had to do them all again. You didn’t just look at what you did well, or things that turned out to be good, living up to and beyond your expectations. You looked at the bad things that happened and tried to understand how you might avoid similar things in the future. The more honest you were the more rewarding the experience. If you skewed or slanted things one way, you may feel better for a while, but reality comes creeping back in, forcing us to deal with the bad, and the gray.

Sales people and sales organization need to keep a diary of their experiences, all of them, the good, the bad, and the in between. Most already do deal reviews in some format, but many do not, either choosing to them selectively, or just enough to satisfy a KPI or ScoreCard requirement. Few do the real deep dive required in order to get the most out of it, in the process allowing both a learning and revenue improvement get away. To be clear, and as you will see further on, “deep dive” does not have to be a laborious time consuming exercise with minimal payoffs, it can and should be an ongoing process that helps you with deals you are currently involved in, while also allowing you to capture and repurpose things on the fly. Done right, it should resemble the old EDS add about building an airplane while it is flying, the opportunity for sales people and organizations, is to build a continuously better sales, even as they are executing current sales, and prospecting for their next one.

Specifically this involves reviewing all deals you were involved in, those you won, those you lost, and those which go to “no decision”. Note, if you are involved in ten to a dozen deal a month, I recommend you review all of them; if on the other hand you are involved in dozens of deals, you may want to review a representative sample. If you have 7 wins, 15 losses, and 6 no decisions, review 25%, or seven, and you will get good, executable output. But as you’ll see, even if you don’t formally review each one, you will produce usable output.

Now some of you reading this may be aware that I am the coauthor of an award winning book about Trigger Events. In that book the recommendation was that you focus your reviews to only those deals you win. This will allow you to continuously repeat those things that are consistently help you win deals. Sound thinking, to a point. Let me explain, coauthoring a book is a lesson in compromise, you give you, you learn, you take, and in the end you produce a book that reflects the learning of both. But as you move on, the hope is that both authors evolve, not limited by the required compromises, and we each continue down our path, shaped by or experiences.

Since the release of that book, my thinking has evolved to where I see focusing strictly on one segment of your activities and only one of many outcomes, brings an unnecessary level of risk to one’s sales success, regardless of which one of the three possible outcomes you focus on. Given that on average, wins make up less than half of potential deals, if for no other reason than to broaden you perspectives, you should review outcomes other than just wins.

This is why the 360 Deal View was developed. It allows you to capture relevant information about the sale, the outcome and specific contributors to that. As with most tools, it is less about the tool itself, and much more about the approach and behaviours it promotes, which in turn lead to the desired results in more repeatable, predictable and consistent ways. It allows you to evolve you selling along with the way your market and buyers evolve.

While there is no denying that you want to know exactly what you are doing that is helping you win, you want to know what unfolded on the buyer’s side that prompted them to engage, and what outside and inside factors accelerate your sales cycle or cause it to slow and stall. What were the buyer’s objectives that allowed you to gain traction, and how you were able to connect with those? All important things you want to leverage. But it would be dangerous if not naïve to not go through a similar exercise with the other outcomes, losses and “no decisions”. Two simple advantageous to knowing why you lose, first, it may just take a small adjustment to change some of the inputs that will move a loss to the won column. Second, you may discover that a segment that made sense on initial exploration made sense to pursue, based on practice does not. Looking at “no decisions” will often allow you to understand when would be the best time to reengage, and take the cycle to fruition. It will also help you detect tire kickers a lot earlier.

These will be fallouts if you only review wins, but there is no denying that focusing on just one area, will lead to tunnel vision, causing you to miss changing trends that are more evident in the other categories, and more importantly, leave you very open to be blindsided. If you rely on one set of data, you will continue to find others who fit the mold, but it does not speak to the size of a market, things can continue to look good in a shrinking market, and by the time you react, many opportunities will have been missed, and competitors will have made unnecessary gains at your expense.

Most CRM’s and related apps will allow you to do a complete all three, and even allow you to get more granular if need be. You can download our tool here, but the key to success is not the tool, but the philosophy, and more specifically the discipline of doing it in up, down, or sideways markets. Just as with a diary, the best ones were usually written in simple notebooks, not fancy specially diaries, what made them great was the depth and completeness of what was captured, and the consistency of execution.

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?

WIN TICKETS

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

 

A Big Thank You To All of You!10

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Thank you

I would like to thank everyone who supported me over the last month in two competitions I was involved with. As a result of your support, I was selected as a member of an exclusive list, and this blog, The Pipeline was honoured as top blog.

First, I am pleased to have been selected as one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management for 2013, in the Sales Lead Management Association’s annual election. This is the second time I have made the list, 2010 was the last time. One of the great things about being on the list, is the great company it puts me in. I want to congratulate all the other people on the list, and thank James W. Obermayer, CEO of the Sales Lead Management Association, for his tireless effort year round and for running this important competition.

Meanwhile, over at Top Sales World, my blog The Pipeline, won the Gold Medal for Top Sales & Marketing Blog, in the 2013 Top Sales & Marketing Awards. The medals were awarded based 50% on votes on the Top Sales World website, and 50% on the selection of a committee of expert peers. While I have won other awards in previous years, this is special as it recognizes the work that goes into producing quality and executable content several times a week.

I want to thank the guests who have contributed to The Pipeline in 2013, my peers, the committee, Jonathan Farrington, fearless captain of Top Sales World. AND most of all those who read, comment, and voted for my blog.

Thank You!

Tibor

The Pipeline Interview with Jeff Shore – Sales eXchange 2300

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

The Microphone

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Jeff Shore, a leading sales coach, speaker, and author. We sat down to discuss his upcoming book: “BE BOLD AND WIN THE SALE”.

It is no secret that to change the outcome in sales, you need to change the behaviour of sellers, this in turn changes their execution. The question is how do you change behaviour.  This is the focus of “BE BOLD AND WIN THE SALE”, and the focus of the interview.

Jeff highlights specific things sellers and organizations can do to to begin the transformation and win sales. Take a look, and pick up the book when it comes out January 3, 2014, and go out and win sales.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

The Art of Sales Conference -Toronto – January 28, 2014 #Contest0

Artofsales2014 The Art of Sales Conference is coming to Toronto – January 28, 2014 – and other then having me in to do a keynote for your team, probably the best way to kick of the new sales year. Check out the great line-up of speakers:

Matthew Dixon – The Challenger Sale
Daniel Pink – To Sell is Human, A Whole New Mind & Drive
Porter Gale – Your Network Is Your Net Worth
Dan Roam – The Back of the Napkin & Blah, Blah, Blah
Stephen Shapiro – Personality Poker & Best Practices Are Stupid
Jim Fannin – S.C.O.R.E. For Life

For details click here

Take advantage of this fantastic Early Bird Offer and save $100 per ticket. Renbor Sales Solutions Inc. is an official partner – and I would like to share a special promo code: RENBOR32

You can also win a ticket to this great event!

That’s right, we are running a simple easy to win contest for single tickets to this event, click here to enter.

Good Luck!

See you at this exciting event.

Tibor

PS – If you’re going to enter the contest, you may as well vote for this blog as Top Sales Blog for 2013 in the Top Sales World Awards; vote now, and vote often!

vote

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

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

slacktivism

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.

vote

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

wordpress stat