What if you could defeat the Status Quo0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

All this week I have posted clips from a recent interview with Ago Cluytens, for his Coaching Masters Series.  We dealt with a number of issues around selling to buyers who are traditionally referred to as being Status Quo.  Being the weekend, I thought it a good time to post the whole interview for your weekend lounging pleasure.

Always interested in what you think, and whether you are more prepared to go forth and sell where many sellers and pundits fear to go.  Take a look, and let me know.

If you enjoy this there are more on Ago’s site.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto



Is It Ever A Good Time? – Sales eXchange – 14957

One common objection sales people face when making prospecting calls, is when the potentially prospect says “now is not the right time”.  While timing is important, and understanding how specific triggers can help improve your timing, the fact remains that perfecting your timing will only help you in a very (very very) small way, in a very narrow part of you potential prospect segment.  Here is why.

Timing is only important with two buyer groups, Passive, those who have realized the Status Quo no longer meets their requirements, and have decided to learn or check out “what’s out there”.  Not actively looking, but getting feelers out, looking at some web sites, information, getting acclimatized, hence Passive. The other group are those Active buyers who have decided to buy, even what to buy, is now just down to where and from whom; this is where the order takers thrive.  But together these two groups are a small part of the market, maybe 30%, but the remaining 70%, the Status Quo, timing, will by definition always be off.  As a result, you have two choices, the popular choice for many whose business cards say Sales Representative, is to avoid prospecting and fully engaging with these potential buyers; taking the advice of some questionable experts who will encourage them to “nurture”.  “After some nurturing, when they are ready, they will call you, since you stuck with them.” OK

So if you want to really change the outcome, read make more sales and generate more revenue, you need to work on the Status Quo, the 70% where you will always be too early, the 70% where other fear to tread.

The reality of timing is it will ALWAYS be either too Late or too Soon.  If they are Passive or Active buyers, it will always be too late, and if they are in Status Quo, it will always be too early, because they do not perceive a “need”, until something changes and it needs to be NOW.

That being said, it is not as difficult to overcome the challenge as some will make you believe.  First resolve to engage the entire market, including those currently removed from the market.  Because you not only know that their circumstance will change, and what may seem too early becomes, “I need it now”, but given your experience you know what is likely to be the catalyst for that change, the challenges they will face and the solution they will need to resolve it.

How?  By studying and understanding what led to that moment in the past with existing clients, prospects, and deals that did not go your way.  Once you know this, by tracking deals you’ve won, lost and those that ended in no decision.  You will understand what events led up to and caused the change, with that you can prepare, position and act.  It takes work, sometimes boring work, but with the right tools, and right approach, you can take timing and turn it your way.

By studying past outcomes and inputs, you can take proactive steps to ensure that you don’t enter the fray too late, and always capitalize on opportunities other sales people and prospects will say is too soon.

It is never the right time if you relinquish control, and always the right time if you are willing to put in the work, and ask, “is it ever the right time?”

Next Step

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

What’s in Your Pipeline? – Attitude10

What’s In Your Pipeline?  A question I have been asking of sales types of all sorts for years,  a question that most should be able to answer with relative ease and conviction.  Sadly this is not always the case, and I get almost as many different types of answers as there are people who respond to it.

Recently someone turned the table on me asked me why I ask that question and what my view is on what should be in your pipeline.  Today is the first of a few videos where I answer the above.

As usual, I invite you to have your two cents, and view all our videos at Renbor’s You Tube channel Sell Better.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Don’t Wait – Initiate! – Sales eXchange – 9411

Last week I was involved in two on line events that looked at selling today and reconfirmed a basic fact of sales that does separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to professional B2B selling.  At its core, the discussion comes down to being Proactive vs. Reactive and passive, the latter describing the efforts of the majority of sales people today.

On Wednesday, I had the privilege of participating in a Top Sales World Roundtable, answering whether Selling is Getting Soft.  The answer was that indeed sales was, but it was interesting to see how the real question and discussion turned to whether sellers were being to passive, reactive and readily abdicating part of their mandate, letting the buyer dictate the outcome good or bad, because relationships are more important than sales.  Becoming the client’s “favourite”, these days being more important than being a value based resource, proactively delivering that value through a proper sale and execution, thus putting the seller in waiting mode based on the buyers’ travels and whims.

On Thursday I presented the second in a series of webinars for Social Selling University; in March we did part 1, Triggers 101 – Events, and this week, Advanced Triggers – A Proactive Approach to Client Acquisition.  The second presentation built out on the core lessons learned in leveraging events, now extending them in a way that does not limit you to waiting for an event to dictate your fate and success, or having to spend time making oneself “a favourite” while waiting for something to happen that is out of your control.

In both events, the key take away for sales professionals is that “you are in charge of your success”.  You can take steps and make the effort to not only benefit from arbitrary events, but that the same actions that help you leverage events when they eventually take place, can and should be used in a proactive way to help buyers take action based on the impact rather than the cause.  Get buyers to be motivated by the opportunity to be better, the impact of their actions; achieve the same responses that an event may cause, but we in advance of the event.  Motivate buyers using the solution not an event.  Done right, this will leave you to act and execute well in advance of all the other sellers who are all waiting for the same event.

Once empowered with the understanding that it is the reaction not the event that counts, you can focus on creating the reaction rather than suffering the softness caused by inaction and waiting.

As Anthony Iannarino pointed out during the Roundtable, “There is no sales metric for waiting!”

Initiate – Don’t Wait!
Tibor Shanto

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Social Selling University – Webinar15

Triggers Fundamentals (101) – Events

Today – Thursday, March 31, 2011
1:00 pm Eastern Time /10:00 am Pacific

Register here

We are all familiar with the “domino effect”, one domino falls, causing the others to fall in a predictable way, the thing that causes the domino to fall in the first place is the “Trigger”. In sales there are many types of triggers, some simple and visible, others more intricate and not always in plain view.

Events are the simplest and most obvious form of triggers in sales, something happens, and this event sets things in motion, the dominos falling. How well prepared you are in advance will help determine how well you can leverage events when they come to your advantage. Events can include change in personnel in an account, a competing vendor; change in regulation; mergers and acquisitions; regulatory; economic and more. How well you plan, recognize and react to a given event will have direct impact on your success in winning more customers, penetrating and retaining existing clients; all with greater predictability and in shorter time frames.

This session will present the basics of buying modes, strategies and tactics on how to prepare for and act on key events that will advance your sales. You will learn specific steps to execute that will help you identify key events, and execute your plan to take full advantage of and to ensure that dominos fall your way.

About Social Selling University

Social Selling University: the industry’s first collaborative program designed to educate sales professionals on how to leverage social media technologies and methodologies to increase sales productivity and drive revenue throughout the entire sales cycle.

Social Selling University features on-demand and live content, which has been developed by thought leaders, authors and analysts.

About the classes:

  • Classes are designed for all levels of sales professionals (reps-execs)
  • Classes include entry-level social media instruction on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, best practices for managing personal online brands
  • Classes teach how to accelerate the sales cycle by leveraging recent business events, social conversations and social relationships (aka “social intelligence”)

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Land Mine Questions – Sales eXchange – 8123

By now no one will argue that questions are the instrument of choice among sales “Artisans”.  They get the customer to think, they help you to mutually define requirements and value, and ultimately drive the impact you need to close the deal.  When it comes to fully engaging with a buyer, questions are indeed the way to go.  But while the buyer is the focus of the sale, there are other participants in the play who can impact the outcome who also need to be managed, not the least of these are your competitors.

Well those same questions you use to engage with the buyer and get them to openly discuss their objectives, frustrations etc.  The reality is no matter how god your product is, how great of a sales person you are, and what a great job you have done in the cycle to this point, few buyers will not also look at other potential providers of your product.  Knowing that, why not plant some questions with the buyer that will cause your competitors some real difficulty.

First step is to fully understand what is really important to the buyer, not features and specs, as much as the impact of your product on their objectives, the means of achieving them.  This is one reason to always utilize your “Right Client Profile”, it will help you understand what those critical factors are.  Based on your interview you will be able to focus in on the specific ones relating to the specific buyers in question.

Next, learn and understand your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the factors identified above.  You are now in a position to ask questions that allow you to highlight your understanding of the buyer’s requirements and in the process leave land mines for your competitors.  For instance, let’s say you knew that there three specific things that your product did that buyers demanded.  You know your competitor can only deliver on two.

Focus a lot more questions around the area you have the advantage in.  Build up the importance and benefit of that one.  Using questions, at the same time highlight the risks and downside of not having that one element in place.  Through this process you can solidify the importance and ensure that the buyer will ask related questions of your competitor.  When the buyer does ask and the competitor is unable to respond favourably, it will raise doubts in he buyer’s mind, and make your product more desirable as a result.  In effect you have used a question as a land mine that your competitor steps on.  The more areas of importance to buyers you can use this line of questions with, the more land mines and the more dangerous you can make the terrain for you competitors.

As with most things in sales, this is a two way street, and your competitors could do the same to you, leave mines for you to step on unless you are prepared.  I remember visiting prospects, and knowing that a specific competitor had been there recently just because of the questions the buyer was asking.  First couple of times I thought “gee I wonder why they keep asking this?”  But once I figured it out, and developed a response, I was back on track.

So go ahead, arm yourself with some killer questions, and go mine the field.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Socially Proactive!31

I had the opportunity to present at Salesforce.com‘s Dreamforce this past Wednesday, thank you to InsideView for inviting me.  I was one of a number of people talking to social selling (as opposed to anti-social selling of yesterday, still my favourite, I am actually thinking of doing a Gordon Ramsay style sales show, get right in the faces of sales reps, stripping their last ounce of confidence away while yelling “you call that a f%#*ing sales call…).  Being that I co wrote a book about trigger events, that was the topic I was asked to cover.

The further I got into preparing the presentation, specifically in the context of social selling, the clearer it became that triggers, by definition should trigger a reaction, which in turns leads to action, which makes them proactive.  Events, are defined by time and space, and have to take place before one can act and benefit from them.  While one can prepare, and anticipate, and position themselves, whatever results is still a reaction to the event.  As a result one question kept coming up: is selling based on events, be they compelling events, critical events, or trigger events, reactive by nature?  Unless you are in a position to cause them, which is triggering the event, the answer seems to be yes.  Then came the next question, does putting the two together do anything to change the event side of the equation, or does it dilute the triggers side?

Now those of you who read this blog regularly (thank you), know that I do have some hang ups, two being my preference for proactive approach to selling, the other my lack of shame in describing sales as a hunting exercise.

When I say hunt, I am not referring to hunting prospects, but to hunting revenue. After all, when there is one opportunity to close, and three companies send out their respective warriors, one comes home with the deal, the other two, well, as Anthony Iannarino say, have skinny babies.  So whether you are hunting big game or big revenue, you’re much more likely to succeed by being proactive, rather than taking a reactive stance wait for something to happen.

There is no doubt you can take a number of proactive steps in positioning and readying your self for an event and the actions you will take when the event occurs, it is nowhere as proactive as developing a plan that and action that causes the actions and reactions that bring about the event.  Better yet, create the interaction and engagement with a potential buyer that leads to a sale without the impending event.

Thee are a number of ways to achieve this, much the same way as you would prepare for a trigger event, know what lead to success in the past; knowing understand and articulating the impact your offering will have on the buyer.  The difference being that rather than waiting, as you would for a bus, you open the client’s eyes to the possibilities not an event that other sellers can also leverage, which just makes for a crowded bus when it finally arrives, late or on time.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Please Vote

If you look to the left, you’ll see that I am also a nominee for two categories in the annual Top Sales Awards. Please take a minute to vote. Thank you in advance.

Things You See While Selling – Sales eXchange – 7027

I don’t know if it was the after effects of Halloween, the mid-term elections, or something else, but it was a bit of a weird week last week, nothing earth shattering, just a number of things people said, silly things, and some things I witnessed that got me thinking.  I am hoping maybe by sharing, some of you can shed some light on them, or explain them, or just be as bemused as I was.

The first set up is a bit long but stay with it.  Here we go:

Last weekend I found myself at someone’s house who I did not know, a friend of a friend type of thing.  He was an avid outdoors type, I am not, my idea of camping in the summer is opening the window instead of air conditioning.  This guy was a big time hunter, no doubt a Platinum Plus shopper at Bass Pro Shop.  When we got there, he was watching some great Canadian outdoor show, hunters, or that is what they called themselves.  I am sorry, but these guys were anything but hunters, or what I see as hunters.  They got all this high tech equipment, super tech ladders to climb up in a tree, and all kind of camouflage clothing and covers, not to mention some Big Time Ultra Fancy Bear Lure.   With all this, these big time bwana hunters, poured the lure on a tree stump, ran up a tree about a hundred yards away, up on their ladder to sit on a branch, cover themselves with the camouflage, grabbed their big gun, (there’s got to be some symbolism at work there), and waited.  When the unsuspecting and unfortunate bear went for the lure, he shot him from the safety of his perch.  Not really hunting, more sucker shooting, hunting would be if he did from the ground, hey if he confronted the bear, I was thinking, let see you do that by going after the bear instead of luring him with scent, hiding and shooting, not very manly.  But that’s not the point.

As I thought about it, it struck me that there are those in sales who call themselves hunters who were not all that different than our friend bwana above.  They go out there load themselves up with all kinds of high tech tools and toys, some on their own, some provided by their companies.  As you know I am the co-author of a book on Trigger Events, just look at how many tools are out there to help sales people with leveraging triggers, all good tools, the question is how they are used.  Much like our friend the hunter, once they have everything in place, they sit back and wait, and wait, until their target shows up, and then they pounce.  The difference in sales and the game hunters is that there are usually many sales people pouncing on the same prospect at the same time, while only one bwana shoots the bear, there is no competition for the same prize.  What you have is a bunch of reactive sales people reacting and sometimes scaring their target.

Much like I said about the hunter, I would be much more impressed if theses same sales people would be proactive.  Real sales hunters use the tools and techniques to proactively seek out and engage with potential buyers, well before the buyers are “out in the open”.  To hunt you need to use trigger action on the part of a buyer, not wait for the buyers action to trigger your reaction, by that time it is too late.  Rather than understanding what a buyer looks like and then waiting for one to pass by, understand their priorities, habits and motivations so you can engage with them before they go looking, rather than hoping they call you first, demonstrate the value of acting before they had intended.  Once they declare their intention, they “are out in the open” and a target for all.

Understand how they define value vis-à-vis their objectives, and use that to trigger action, takes a bit of work, you have to climb down from the tree and enter he fray.

Here is the Spin

The other thing that struck me odd this week was around words and he images they convey.  Watching the result of the midterm elections, you can’t escape the spin and the spin doctors.  One friend commented on how the spin doctors work so hard to spin the facts their way, with only a passing regard to facts.  Just then another turned to me and said “isn’t that what they teach sales people, SPIN?”  Hmm, never thought about that.

While we all know that there is a world of a difference between SPIN the selling program, and spin political pundit style.  On the other hand words and labels are important from a perception standpoint.  While I was amused by the notion of the two being mixed up or lumped together, I was also a bit concerned.  How many others make the same mistaken connection?  On the other hand how many sales people do sound and behave like spin doctors in the process of engaging with prospects.

While I would not at all suggest that Neil Rackham or Huthwaite change the name of their process, but I do think sales people should work at executing the questioning technique in a way that does not make the prospect feel like they are being spun.

You May Have Noticed

If you look to the top of the column to the right, you will see that I have been nominated for one of the Top 50 Influential People In Sales Lead Management 2010.  Please take a minute to vote, you can vote for up to three people, so in addition to me, you select two others.  Thank you in advance.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Selling Before Not Just After22

Do you remember when you discovered a great restaurant before the mainstream crowds descended upon it?

Do you remember how you were able to relax, take your time and fully enjoy the whole experience?

Do you remember how disappointed you were last time you went to an advertised Thanksgiving day sale, only to find a huge crowd all trying to get their hands on the limited supply?

Do you remember the last time you did a great sales job and the prospect chose someone else? Do you know why?

One big reason for the let down was that you got there at the same time as everyone else, because you all “saw the same ad”. Chances are every other seller/competitor knew the buyer was in play, after all they advertised it like a Thanksgiving Sale! Wouldn’t you have rather had the opportunity to do your shopping in a relaxed methodical way, no hurry, being able to pay attention to detail, rather than becoming column fodder alongside other sellers who “saw the same ad” for the same prospect?

Read on…

Don’t Forget today’s Free Webinar       

Today is the first of a three part webinar series on Mastering Trigger Events to Increase Sales.  Today’s focus: Landing Your Target:
4 Ways to Win More Deals Using Company-Based Sales Triggers

1-2PM Eastern (10-11AM Pacific, 6-7pm UK)    


Three Part Webinar Series27

Master Trigger Events to Increase Sales

With the imminent release of my book on Trigger Event Selling – Turning Prospects Into Customers by Harnessing Trigger Events, my co-author Craig Elias and I will be presenting a three part webinar series hosted by OneSource, an Infogroup company, that will show how to:

1. Exploit Untapped Opportunities: 3 Strategies for Using Executive Sales Triggers
2. Land Your Target: 4 Ways to Win More Deals Using Company-Based Sales Triggers
3. Shorten Your Sales Cycles: 5 Keys to Accelerating Sales with Industry Sales Triggers
The webinars are being held from 1:00 – 2:00 pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00 am Pacific, 6:00 – 7:00 pm UK) on the 2nd Tuesday of July, August, and September (July 13, August 10, September 14)
The link to learn about and register for all three webinars is: TriggerEventWebinars.com

The link to register for just the first one is: TriggerWebinar.com
Here is your opportunity to learn how to leverage and use Trigger Events to increase your prospect base, increase sales and now to shorten you sales cycle in the process.
This first of three webinars in the series will focus on 3 Strategies for Using Executive Sales Triggers.
Look forward to having you join us for all three webinars.
Please feel free to contact me at (+1 416 822-7781), or email me at Tibor.Shanto@SellBetter.ca should you have questions or comments.
Tibor Shanto
Renbor Sales Solutions Inc.

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