Inventory Clearance B2B Style0

By Tibor Shanto –

This time of year is an interesting time for the retail trade.  As memories of the holiday season begin to fade and the last of the Boxing Day (week, month) sales come to a close, retailers begin another annual ritual, the “Inventory Clearance Sale”.  Makes sense, retailers want to clear old and non-selling inventory, freeing up cash, so they can reinvest it in more profitable inventory. In the process the can also open up shelf and storage space, again to make way for newer more salable goods; not so much out with the old in with the new, more like out with lower potential goods and in with better margin and turnover potential.

There are some lessons here for B2B sales people as well.  Consider your pipeline as your inventory of prospects and opportunities, add to that the notion of time representing your shelf space, both finite, both needing active management.  As such, applying the concept of inventory clearance could be very beneficial for B2B sellers.

When you look at your inventory of prospects, the reality is that no matter how much potential they had when you first decided to carry them, over time and as a result of a number of factors, the likelihood of that inventory turning over changes, usually diminishes, often to a point where they have a negative impact on your pipeline and success.  Prospects are similar, in as much that some will close, many more don’t.  Either way they need to be removed from the pipeline, or else you can’t bring in new inventory.

This is why sales people need to develop rules for purging their pipeline of bad prospects.  Sales people hang on to bad inventory, many look at their pipelines emotionally, the fuller they perceive their pipeline to be, the lesser the propensity to prospect for new opportunities, fresh inventory, confusing a lot of inventory with quality salable inventory.

Bringing shelf space into this in the form of time, you can begin to remove bad inventory before it hit “best by date”.  Prospects and opportunities time out, if 80% of your sales close in 75 days, what’s the point in keeping it in the pipeline on day 121; if 80% of the time you can complete the Discovery stage in 3 weeks, should you really continue the Discovery into its 10th week?

It is important to remember that these concepts also apply to your account base, not just prospects.  How many low margin accounts are using up resources that if applied to other accounts or new ones would make for better revenues, margins and all around customers.  Putting those accounts on the clearance list would allow you to achieve more, be happier, and probably have a better attitude towards new opportunities.

Clearing out bad inventory, be they clients or prospects, should be an ongoing process throughout the year, but even for where it is not year-round, doing it at least once a year, at the start of the year, can bring immediate and yearlong benefits.  So good ahead, develop your policies, and hold that “Inventory Clearance”

The Art of Sales Contest Winners!

Congratulations to:
Kristin Geenty and Alan Hart, they are the winners of the tickets to the Art Of Sales, in Toronto next Tuesday January 29.

Enjoy and profit!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto




Stop Selling For Your Competitor!59

Many sales people and their managers feel that a good sales person is one who is moving forward. This is fine, so long as you don’t move so fast that you miss or pass opportunities along the way.

Remembering that your buyers are moving at just a fast a pace, and are dealing with many of the same realities you are, namely greater demands on their time and resources, less people and resources to get things done; leaving them, like you, having to fit 16 hours of work into a 10-hour workday. Behind the eight ball, before the day even starts.  And it’s in that environment, that we as sellers are trying place and raise our offering on an already jammed agenda or ‘to do’ list.

To succeed in getting and climbing that list, you will need to employ at least two things, first, creativeness, to stand apart from other (lots of other) sales people; the second is persistence.  These two are not the only things you’ll need to succeed, but they are two core components that go hand-in-hand.  While many sellers can score well on the creative part, many also fall short on the persistence side.

Persistent is different from stalking, and that is the fear for many, they don’t want to seem as though they are stalking someone, fearing an injunction order will be issued against them.  While I don’t want to see an injunction either, I do believe that many can go further than they are now without risk, but greater success.

For example, it has been shown that most sellers will abandon a lead after three attempts; while most buyers will require 4 to 7 touch points before the engage, some will say even more.  A clear recipe for failure, just as the buyer is getting warmed up, you disappear. Then your competitor comes along, connects with the client on their second call, 5th touch point from the client’s perspective (3 from you + 2 from the competitor); you just set them up, don’t do that!  Unless you are persistent and make it a habit to plan at least six touch points with each lead before you put them back for more nurturing and future contact, you are working for the competition.

The touch points can be any combination of things, e-mail, phone, voice mail, snail mail, text, or get creative, send a video on a jump stick, greeting card on a delivered pizza, keep it clean, and the sky is the limit.  Just touch them with something more meaningful than a Facebook ‘Like’, “no Virginia, a tweet is not a touch-point.”  Oh yes, those six touch points are in the course of two weeks, 10 business days, not over six months.

I know for some that much contact in such a short time may seem a bit much, but remember, engaging with a buyer, a specially a Status Quo buyer, involves more focus and effort.

One reason I am given for not being persistent, goes something like this: “I don’t want to bug them, I wouldn’t like if that approach was used on me.”  Which is fine, except the buyer is not you, and since selling is about the buyer, let’s start looking at things from their perspective. To start with, talk to people in your company who do what your target does, and talk to them about what would make a seller stand out for them, you’ll be surprised how different roles see things differently.  Ask how many times and the type of touch points they respond to, and then adapt.

One more thing, people say they wouldn’t like the level of persistence I describe, but when asked about certain discretionary or course of business purchases, they discover that they do end up buying from the persistent seller, assuming all other things were more or less equal.

Next Step

  • Schedule one more call for everyone you called this week
  • Lay out your six touch points and time line
  • Commit to it in your calendar

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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