Social Selling is Just Good Selling – Sales eXecution 2440

By Tibor Shanto -

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.


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




Self-Serve or Full Service? – Sales eXecution 2422

By Tibor Shanto -

stake and wine

I overheard an interesting discussion recently at the airport. Two guys talking about eating out a lot, could even have been road warrior sales types. One was waxing poetic about how is sick and tired of seeing tipping jars at staff cafeterias, or fast food places. When his buddy asked why, his reply was that the people in those place do not do anything that merits a tip. They stand at the cash, ring you out, and sometimes even muster a “thank you”. Even at a place like Starbucks, the baristas are nothing more than a short version of a short order cook.

He felt waiters deserve a tip because they create and add to the dining experience, and are often the difference between a great night out experience, and a meal eaten outside the home. He felt that waiters are with you from start to finish, making recommendations, the good ones take time to understand your preference and what you are hoping to get out of the experience and more. They also sell and upsell you from wine to desert and everything between, helping their restaurant sell more profitable items, increasing the size of the bill, their tip, and your experience. In other words earning their tips. To quote “WTF does the guy behind the counter at Starbucks add to the experience?”

This got me to think about some of the current discussions in sales, and how people are confusing roles and outcomes, sometime innocently, sometimes intentionally to drive their own agenda, even at the expense of their buyers and facts. When I read that “buyers are over 60% of the way through their buying process before they reach out to sales person”, I get confused. Sales person, really? I think not, more accurately, the person they call when they are 2/3 of the way through their “buying” process is an order taker, there is no selling taking place here, there is just taking an order the buyer by definition arrived at on their own. Looking at that experience as a sale, is like confusing a sandwich off a stand outside Penn Station with a dinner at Carbone.

Sales people seek out and engage with people who have not started the buying process, had not intention on doing anything different when they went to work that morning. That is why it is a “sales process”, not a “buying process”. Sales people are not standing at the checkout counter waiting for the next buyer to walk up. They study their territory, understand who potentially will benefit from their offering. They segment and prioritize, and develop a pursuit plan based on where they are most likely to engage with potential buyers, buyers who without the seller’s initiative would remain on the sideline, and unnoticed by sales people waiting for a call from someone who has completed 2/3 of their decision. Not to mention the pundits who promote this type of lazy order taking; how can one present an entire “sales” methodology predicated on taking orders rather than making a sale? I am with my man at the airport, let’s not call the combo meal at the local sub shop a four course dinner. Now shut down the browser, and go out and sell, the incoming orders will come anyways, look at them as you bonus, not your goal.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Join me - Return On Objectives #Webinar

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

By Tibor Shanto -

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!

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

By Tibor Shanto -


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


Trend Spotting – 201341

By Tibor

As we make our way back to work from time spent with family, friends and credit cards, we are about to besieged by a wave of articles, blog posts, tweets, and other sources touting the (new) trends for 2013.  I have been approached by a half dozen or so outlets asking for my input.  While I understand the purpose, I am not sure this type trend spotting adds much value to the discussion, or the ability of organizations or individuals to improve their execution.

For one thing, trends do not adhere to a calendar, they don’t bubble up around January 1, only to fade in time for the start of the next year.  Fashion does, this fall’s fashion trends have already been decided in Paris, and oohed and aahed on by Jeanne Beker; and while those wearing them this Thanksgiving will feel trendy, real sales trends evolve, form and take shape based on market conditions and voids, rather than being ushered in on a schedule.

Like fashion, some “trends” are manufactured, there to promote a cause, product, or other thing with an intended predetermined purpose, as with most manufactured goods, the end goal is profit.  Witness the social selling trend a few years ago aggressively promoted coincidentally by particular vendors with specific agendas.

While this type trend spotting has been around a while, it presents an added risk today when part of the daily practice and vernacular has people looking for “what’s trending?”.  Trends by definition are short term:

1. the general course or prevailing tendency; drift;
2. style or vogue;
3. to veer in a new direction:

In sales a short term focus often makes trends more of diversion than a benefit; long term success in sales evolve in response to real market conditions.  So before you jump on any January 2013 trends, take a minute and review the outcome and accuracy of some of the trends hyped last year at this time.  Give it the 72 day test, see which “trends” proved to be accurate and sustained, which delivered value to you helping you execute your sales better, and delivered consistent success;  and which were just “trending” the way of the #KimKardashianpregnant pregnancy.

Be sure that you differentiate between “trends”, and real evolution in sales and selling; the former are distractions, while the latter presents opportunity.

I suspect that some trends being presented are a blend of prediction, wishful thinking, or self-fulfilling in nature.  Take for example the one response I did provide to a request to share a brief prediction of a trend we in the industry see impacting sales in 2013.  I submitted:

“The trend I see is benchmarking.  As the economy improves, and sales improve along with them, some sales leaders will fall back into slumber riding the wave.  The smart ones will want to know how much of the gain is due to rising tides, and how much is due to specific performance by their team.  To that they will need solid sources to benchmark to, and avoid the temptation of using anecdotal sources.”

The above reflects my discussions with sales leaders who would like to have more to benchmark against than anecdotal – blind survey based – benchmarks as a means to improve the way their teams execute.

Will this become a trend, I hope so, but just in case, I do have a plan B.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Talk To Me – Not At Me!40

While it is still early days, there are some definite ways social media is impacting selling and buying; some of this is good and has helped sellers better understand and meet the needs of buyers, others, well really not worth fostering, and should be nipped in the bud now.

One specific practice brings with it some risk for sellers, especially new younger sellers targeting more mature decision makers, even those active on social media, centers around communicating.  Specifically, the real difference between connecting and communicating when it comes to selling.  To some degree this is a generational thing, revolving around long formed habits, more specifically it comes down to each group’s view of communication, and expectations from that communication.

On one level it comes down to definition or semantics if you like, many social sellers blur the lines between ‘connecting’ and ‘communicating’, some go further and fail to understand the difference, and completely confuse connecting with actually communicating with potential buyers.

Connection and connecting is important, but it is only a step towards communication. Don’t get me wrong I am not suggesting or basing my statement on the notion that communication needs to be face to face, but it does need to be mutual, interactive and result oriented. The result does not need to be defined in a sale or moving the sale forward, but in delivering an enhancement of the relationship.

For communication to be meaningful, especially between two parties , it does have to be direct, one to one. There can be effective sales communication between an individual and a group, we have all done it on webinars, presentations at conferences, etc.; but again those fall more into the connect category; there still needs to be that one to one that results out of the initial connecting effort.

Part of this tracks the ongoing evolution in sales, blending existing best practices with new evolving and sometimes better practices, a necessary process.  Where we run into problems is when the discussion takes the tone of out with the old, in with the new, rather than out with what no longer works, and in with what does, and does better.  Where we are now in sales, is that if you throw out the old, you end up throwing many of best potential prospects out too because they are not as tied into the new as you and the “prophets on the new” are.

The best approach is to use social in tandem with other mainstream methods.  As someone pointed out, will ‘spray’ your message, allowing it to touch a wider audience, creating a connection, perhaps a curiosity about your message.  This initial connection is like a seed that needs to be nurtured to grow fruit.  It is very much talking at an audience, not communicating with someone specific.  So be prepared to do both, but realize that one will bring you to the point of talking at someone, you still need to take steps, even like a follow up cold call to someone responding to or retweeting one of your tweets, to fully communicate and move the connection to a prospect.

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

LinkedIn’s impact on sales51

What’s the best way to use LinkedIn to drive sales? How are other sellers using it?

If you’d like to find out the answers, take this Sale & LinkedIn survey being sponsored by Jill Konrath, a highly respected colleague of mine. It’ll only take 2 minutes of your time.

Take the survey –>

What do you get out of it? As soon as the survey results are ready, she’ll send you a copy. You’ll find out the best way to use LinkedIn to drive sales.


Tibor Shanto

P.S. Your input is really needed. Go here to take the survey now –>

Social Reality – Sales eXchange – 14850

This past Saturday, I had the great pleasure of spending the day with some of North America’s brightest sales thinkers. You can track them through my tweet stream @TiborShanto, and there is a list below. These 20 or so sales thought leaders are a subset of a larger group that has collaborated a number of ways online and in the socialsphere, I have worked with some for years, but this was the first (of many I hope) time we got together in one room to focus on and move a common agenda forward.

Without getting into detail, we made great strides in specific areas with concrete executables. While we had done things in the past, it paled in comparison to the quantum leap in progress made around the table in a few hours. This was not a surprise, nor a shock, in fact it was predictable, it just had to happen. People with a common purpose accomplish more together.

This is true for sellers and buyers, you can accomplish way more, especially at crucial points, working directly, together, in the same space.

Now this is not a negative post about social selling vs. traditional selling, or virtual selling vs. live direct selling; this about how things work together. Many valuable relationships start in the social media, but in most instances, especially in sales, it needs to progress to a direct interaction to fully flourish. The advantages to mastering both, the social and the direct interaction are many, especially when you perfect the timing of the transition from social and direct interaction. But there is no question you need to master both to win, and relying on one over the other, limits your options, repertoire, and success.

One of my greatest take away from Saturday was the quality of the interactions. Again, not a surprise, but always great when it happens. People were open, shedding veneers and pretence, things that are easy to hide behind or get lost behind in a purely social media based interaction. People want to help people, and do that much better face o face, not that the intent is absent in social media, but live it takes on dimensions that fuel success.

So get social, but also get live, you relish the experience and success.

Thanks to:


Next Step

  • Get Social
  • Get Live
  • Get Sales

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

wordpress stat