A Passion For Life0


For many, summer is a time to take it back a notch, relax, and enjoy a slower pace.  For others it is a time to bear down and focus on things they want accomplish, they spend time preparing their next adventure and conquests.

If you’re not ready to left the summer drift by, and see it as an opportunity to reignite your passion and take things to the next level, we have good news for you.

On July 24, Legacy Mastery, is presenting a fantastic event in Toronto: A PASSION FOR LIFE, is a full day event pack with today’s EXCEPTIONAL LEADERS who will transform your BUSINESS, PROFESSIONAL & PERSONAL PERFORMANCE.

I know it sounds like a big statement, but the day lives up to it, here is the roster:

  • Tony Robbins – Peak Peformance – Entrepreneur, Author & Peak Performance Strategist World Authority on Leadership Psychology
  • Robert Greene – Keys to Mastery – Best Selling Author , The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, and Mastery
  • Chip Heath – Creativity & Branding – Best Selling Author of Switch, Made to Stick and Decisive Loretta LaRoche – Work Life Balance – Acclaimed Stress Expert, Author, Humorist and Motivational Speaker
  • Joe Plumeri – Success Strategies – Chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings (2000-2012) CEO, Citibank North America (1999–2000); Chairman and CEO, Travelers Primerica Financial Services (1995-1999); President and Managing Partner, Shearson Lehman Brothers (1990-1993)
  • Desiree Rogers – Customer Relations – CEO, Johnson Publishing Company, LLC; White House Special Assistant to President Obama; 2009-2010, White House Social Secretary, 2009-2010

A great bill no matter what you have your eye set on, you’re bound to get the inspiration and practical steps you need to succeed.

And As you would expect, as a reader of The Pipeline, you can register now, use the code RENBOR, and receive $100.00 courtesy of Renbor Sales Solutions and the good folks at Legacy Mastery.

These events tend to fill up fast, act now to get your seat, and your $100  discount by using the code RENBOR.

Enjoy and profit!

Tibor Shanto


Welcome back – How Was Your Summer?69

Well here we are at that odd part of the year, while not officially the end of summer, most consider it to be; while not the final quarter, for many, September is part of the final run up to year end. In essence, harvest time! You did a lot of planting in the months before, now you want to be in a position to realize your bounty.

Seems everyone is not only back at work, but also have a “back to work” mind set; gone are the excuses (on both the buyers’ and sellers’ part) of summer.  Buyers are expected to produce for their companies as much as you are for yours, so leverage that for your mutual success.  Get out there and engage with buyers, really dig in with your discovery.

This doesn’t equate to raking them over, or pitching hard (harder), but more to sit down and understand what they need to accomplish in the next four (or so) months for them to count their year as being successful. Again, this will require a balanced approach, while you do want to focus on those thing you can add value to, you also want to ensure that you are driven by their agenda, not solely yours. To get to that, again leverage your knowledge based on past deals, wins, losses and draws, and base your discovery questions and topics on that.

Also remember that while they may have numerous objectives, they only have so much time, so help them prioritize and narrow down what is really doable in a successful way in the next 15 weeks, and what is not.  There is no benefit to them or you, if you both go down a road that will dead-end due to deadline and priorities, and leave you without a sale (at least this year).

You also need to prioritize, look at your pipeline and ask yourself two questions:

Do I have enough prospects to help you close the year the way I need to?  Remember you will need to handicap based on your closing average; meaning if you need four more sales, and you have a 3:1 closing average, you need to be able to identify 12 prospects, no room for dead wood or wishful thinking.

If you cannot identify those prospects, what is your plan to get new prospects in your pipeline, in time?

Then it’s time to act, much like farmers at harvest time, you need to focus on systematically brining in the crop, not meander aimlessly in your fields.  Having said that, farmers are also thinking about the next season, the planting season.  Ensuring their fields are ready.

Between now and the end of the year there will be a lot of focus and pressure to “close”.  Close deals, and close the year strong.  But don’t forget that as soon as the year is done, high-fives all around, the pressure will turn to Q1.  2013 looms large, so make sure that you set enough time aside to prospect for those deals that will give you a healthy and balanced pipeline on January 1, well in reality, January 2.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

School Is In53

A reminder that there is a class this afternoon, 4:00 pm Eastern
GAP Selling – Leveraging Process and Execution

GAP Selling – Looks at how to deliver value to buyers across the entire sales cycle.
Almost every sales conversation starts or ends with the concept of value; at the same time there are as many different understandings and definitions of value as there are sellers and buyers.
This course delivers clear and actionable definition of value. Starting with that definition of value, participants will learn the five step platform to leveraging that value right through the sale, from the initial engagement to winning the client. The overarching goal of the platform is to focus on the buyer’s objectives, and delivering specific means of helping them achieve those objectives.
These include:

  1. Identifying and validating buyer’s objectives
  2. Understanding why buyers really buy 
  3. Why Buyers buy and don’t buy from you and your company 
  4. Converting the above to impact questions and quality conversation 
  5. A structured follow-through approach to maximize impact and progress Participants will learn how to use the above to create alignment with the buyer, their objectives and buying process

Join us at 4:00 pm Eastern today
Prerequisite – An open mind to learning and selling better
Test – Your weekly Pipeline Review

Strategic or Tactical Sales Training?31

A lot of sales improvement programs start at the strategic level and go light on the execution, the tactical side –  the “how do I do this?”  While this may seem to be intuitively the right and noble way to go, in reality it yields less results than approaching things the other way around; that is leading with the tactical, the tactics of “how to…”  Unless you run your sales force as a military unit – with all the command lines, discipline, and rules – you will always face the challenge around the balance between strategy and execution or tactical aspects of sales success. This challenge is even more pronounced with sales training or education, do you build your training around your strategy; or do you deliver training focused on the tactical aspects of driving that strategy forward?

Read On…

Related articles:
CRM: Culture or Technology

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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How To Stretch Your Value to the Max! – Sales eXchange – 10630

Through the mid and late 1990′s I sold an information solution, delivering live content directly into companies LANs, allowing them to create alerts. Not that big a thing today, but keep in mind this was before the Web, and while the delivery is no longer a challenge, functional and useful alerts, now marketed as triggers by many of the same folks, are still being sold, if not always bought.

The leaders of the company used to carry out a strange annual ritual that demonstrated their desperation and lack of sound business thinking. This specific product sold for $3,000 a month or $36,000 for the required minimum annual subscription. Every December the “Leadership”, would roll out the same special offer, an annual subscription for $30,000 if the customer committed before the all-important year-end, a $6,000 discount for those who bit.

The plan, theory, hope, as it was explained, was that once the service was flowing through the customers’ networks, and they had a chance to experience it, renewing them 12 months later at full price would be a mere formality.  Right!  To this day I am not aware of one client who renewed at full pop, all the renewals were all at $30,000 never $36,000. Not only did they never recover the cost of acquiring the account, but ended up paying a further $6,000 penalty for as long as the client maintained the service.

There were a couple of lessons and I learned from this, one right away, there other got clearer over time, especially as I sold more involved solutions.

The most important lesson set in after a couple of years of this silliness, when I realised how to leverage the reverse of the phenomenon.  Our losses stretched out as long as the client maintained the service, $6,000 per year, four years, $24,000.  Therefore, the same had to be true when a client was realising value from our service.

If you can get agreement from a buyer that using your service, they will save $20,000 a year; or using your service they can increase sales resulting in a $25,000 increase in net earnings, you can then extrapolate that out over the life of the service you sell.  Most sales people don’t go this extra step, they will stand their ground on that first figure.  So if your product costs $20,000 it may not look that attractive at either $20K 0r $25K return; but what if they had the benefit of your product for four years.  That changes things; they now have the potential to see an $80,000 benefit from a $20,000 investment.

It is important that you establish two basic things, first, and I mean first, the duration of the positive impact of your offering, it has to be established first, not that hard if you follow a disciplined approach to Discovery.  Second, the value gained, whether that is increased sales, reduced costs, longer asset life, reduced time to market, you name it, (well actually let the buyer name, you ask the questions that lead to that).  Armed with those two things, you are not only set to achieve full price for full value, but the elimination of a lot of daftness from the sale, for both you and the buyer.

For example, if I can get a buyer to see that my training will bring in an extra three sales a year, and he tells me that each nets $1,200, that’s $3,600.  If his average tenure for a rep is five years, that brings it to $18,000; makes the initial investment of $1,500 seem like a steal, even if we added in an annual refresher at $500, still total investment of $3,500 per rep, still leaves a return of $14,500 of the five years.  (Note to self, need to raise my prices).

The other obvious lesson learned was not to sell at a discount.  Once you sell it at $30,000, you have established the value, and all the dancing and barking you do when trying to renew does not change that fact and the value you set at $30,000.  Yes, there are arguments you can make, proof of worth you can present, but all that is just decoration, the fact is you sold it at $30,000, and that’s what it’s worth.  Some of the leadership threatened to withdraw the service, but not only did they lack the anatomical make up to do that; but they and the local rep had become addicted to the crack-revenue, and no one was going to suffer the withdrawal pains.  Besides, they would have to go out and replace what they lost, and they have shown that that was beyond their means.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Long Live The Status Quo!10

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Status Quo has been a central theme and concept in B2B sales since it has evolved as a craft. Over the last 20 plus years, people have taken camps on different sides of the Status Quo. For some it is the “competition”, encouraging sellers to focus on the buyer’s circumstance and market view rather than product. For others, the Status Quo has come to represent a segment of the market that is not ready to buy, and therefore can/should be overlooked in favour of those potential buyers who have declared their intent. This has become much more the case since the introduction of the marketing term Sales 2.0. Even more than before the words Status Quo have become synonymous with a complete lack of opportunity for sales people. They suggest that sales people focus on being “found” rather than spending time and resources on the Status Quo.

Read On…

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


Pipeline Lottery – Sales eXchange – 10112

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Being that this is the 101 issue of the Sales eXchange, I thought it appropriate to focus on an important fundamental for sales success.

I find that as I get older, fewer and fewer things surprise me, certain ideas and behaviours displayed by many people, which used to get a second look, now seem “normal” (?).  However, one thing that continues to amaze me is the number of people in North America who see winning the lottery and their retirement plan.  Seriously, over the last 20 years there have been numerous surveys that showed anywhere between 10% to as high as 50% of people are planning their retirement around winning the lottery rather than a sound financial plan.  Needless to say the end of the road for them is quite disappointing, an especially sad way for them to face their twilight years, being desperate and destitute.

But with some people, specifically sales people, you see hints of this kind of thinking early on, you can see indications of this when you meet with them to review their plans, and review their pipelines.

Like many of the folks who are waiting for their numbers to come up on Wednesday night, a lot of sales people hope that “things will come together”.  Rather than proactively planning and then executing their plan, they look to existing clients, inbound leads, and other unknown-unnamed sources of sales to meet their goal.  Two things these sales people fail to consider, first, they are paid to make things happen, so if they are not contributing to growth beyond ushering the organic, what value do they really bring.

Second, the organic deals would probably come in on their own, certainly regardless of or despite of, who the rep in the territory was.  This means they are not adding value to the process, and these days, things that do not add value, tend not to survive.  (Which will make it more of a challenge to buy those lottery tickets).

A proactive sales person looks at organic growth as a bonus, and looks to their plan, and driving that plan to deliver quota and success.

The other place you see the lottery mentality is in their pipeline.  Rather than the pipeline reflecting the execution of a thought out plan, it is more like a drum where names are collected, like tickets in a raffle, throw enough in, and one is bound to come up.  When you explore why some opportunities are in there, or what they see happening with specific ones, you get optimistic statements like “oh I know they are going to buy”, or one of my favourites, “oh, they are different, trust me, I have been working with them for a while”.  (Ya, but have they been working with you?)

One reason you see pipeline full of things that are long dead, is the hope that one will pop and they will hit quota, just like their retirement.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

The Importance of Sales Management in a Recovering Economy10

The Pipeline Guest Post – Ken Thoreson

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During the past two weeks I have been in Miami, Phoenix and this weekend I have been speaking in San Antonio.  We have met with Sales Leaders from around the world, lead workshops, presented keynotes and developed new long term relationships with our client base. It’s been a great few weeks.  I have also noticed an uptick in my own prospects and business opportunities.  Have you?   Based upon my conversations almost every sales leader is optimistic and pipelines are filling. Are you ready to participate in the recovery?

During the past 13 years I have been consulting, writing and speaking on the fact that sales management is the lynch-pin that drives successful organizations; sales leadership sets the tone, the culture and drives the organization to greater levels of revenues and profitability.  And now, during the past six months the topic of participating in the economic recovery and the impact of great sales management on the organization has been a critical and hot topic. The topics of surviving or working in a challenging economic time are over.   “Economic recovery?”.. Yes, just reading the USA Today, on Monday January 24th, the quotes are all over the paper:

  • Are you more or less optimistic than you were 3 months ago about the economic outlook this year?  91% of 46 Economists answered YES.
  • Over the next 12 months, which will have the greatest positive impact on the economy?  48% said BUSINESS, 45% the consumer
  • The US economy is expected to grow at an annual rate between 3.2% to 3.4%, that is up from October forecast of 2.5% to 3.3%
  • They expect employers to add 200,000 jobs a month-more than double last year’s rate.
  • The DOW is over 11,961 at the time of this blog

What is the role or action points for sales manager’s in a recovering economy? I listed a few steps to focus on:

  1. Build your Hiring Plan; Sales Managers should know today when they expect to add new salespeople for the next 18 months. Based upon your revenue goals for the next 24 months you should have a plan set defining what months you will need hire new sales talent to achieve those new higher sales targets. If your next hire date is March, then your recruiting plan must in effect now, is it June? October? Make sure you also plan on members your current team could leave or be fired also.
  2. Get aggressive on increasing your individual salesperson strategy sessions, winning now is critical to build momentum.  Schedule special sales team sessions or hold a small group of salesperson discussions weekly to strategize each sales opportunity.
  3. Increase the culture building and building belief in your offerings and your organization. If you want an article I published on that topic send me an email.  Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  Your sales team needs to believe and feel the change in economic conditions, you want to create their desire to participate in the recovery. “Take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime, during the life time of the opportunity”.
  4. Retool your sales compensation to ensure it is in alignment with your corporate objectives or if you have already rolled out 2011 compensation plans, create an aggressive sales contest or special incentives to win Net-New clients or upgrade existing clients or hit higher levels of revenues/margin. Drive the sense of urgency to win.
  5. Sales management must now focus, as always, but more importantly now on “Brilliant Execution”. If you and your team are 2 steps ahead of your competition during the next 4 months your summer and fall business opportunities will accelerate. Focus on increased levels of sales management planning i.e. sales training, one on one coaching and  managing the number of calls per month per salesperson and even schedule weekly telephone blitz days to find those businesses that need your solutions to participate in their own recovery.

Sales leaders are the key to success, you can make the difference and NOW is the time to take advantage of opportunity and participate in the economic recovery.

What else do you think you should focus on to grow your business during the next 18 months? Let me know your thoughts….

About Ken Thoreson

Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 12 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. Move up and move ahead!

Ken’s books: http://www.yoursalesmanagementguru.salesgravy.com

Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com   www.AcumenManagement.com
Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Are You Up To It?10

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Last week during a discussion, I was asked if some sales people felt that aspects of sales were beneath them.  An interesting question, and as I have mentioned here before, some to avoid those parts of selling that resemble “work”, some just don’t want to accept that sales is a blue collar job.  How you handle things you feel are “beneath you” could make the difference between average and triumph.

Take a view at the video, do an inventory of your habits, and then adjust to execute better.


What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Contact – Now What?11

Over the last few weeks the video posts have dealt with some of the challenges around prospecting by phone and reaching potential prospects.  We looked at the role of voice mail, e-mail, and alternative means of communication we can use to proactively reach people we want to engage.  The goal is to avoid waiting for external events to trigger engagement, to connect with buyers ahead of other sellers and before a specific event puts them in the market.  Taking a proactive approach in triggering engagement.

Today we look at what you need to do when you do in fact connect with the target of your call.  How to initiate the conversation, what to avoid, and how to deal with the inevitable objections.


As always, I encourage you to be proactive, not wait for events, and manage your own success.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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