Voice Mail Week Part III – The Technique and why It Works! (#video)0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

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In Part I and Part II of this trilogy we looked at context, and how there is more to voice mail than just the message and getting a call back.  So now it is time to reintroduce the technique.  I say reintroduce, because I have shared it before, and as you may have gleaned there was some push back and even more misunderstanding of how and why to execute it.

I suspect that there will be push back again, and I invite the challenges and feedback of all quality from all sources.  The one ask that I do have is: try it before you knock it, a few times, give yourself a chance to succeed.  Try it the way it is presented, no variation, no improvisation.  If you do improvise, and it works for you, great, share what you did, we can all learn.  If you do improvise and it does not work, I refer to the small print, which basically states that we stand by our method, good luck with yours.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Voice Mail Week – Part I – Context – Sales eXchange 206 (#video)0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

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Here we are the last week of the first half of 2013, the first full week of summer, what better time to focus on every seller’s second favourite topic, voice mail.  The Discovery channel has their annual tradition of Shark Week, and now we introduce Voice Mail Week.

Because after all, voice mail is the gift that keeps on giving, when done right, and that is what we will focus on this week.  I suspect that this time round will be no different than other times that we have talked about voice mail, and that is mostly because no one really has the definitive answer when it comes to leaving voice mail for new potential B2B buyers.  What we do have however are two different things, facts and opinions.  Opinions usually come from those who have not tried the technique, mine or any, but feel compelled to share their non-experience, mostly in the form of their fears vis-à-vis the issue in question, which I think generally reflects their fear of success.  Then we have facts from those that have tried it, perfected it and profit by it.

Below is the first of three installments (2 video) looking at voice mail and how to use it to your advantage and sales success.  Take a look, take it in, take it on the road, and then let us know.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Time To Grow Up – Sales eXchange 1980

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

grow up

When my kids were young and they would wish for something not real, or as a way to avoid a task, like “I wish I didn’t have to clean my room”, “I wish I could grow up to be a princess”, their grandmother always responded by saying “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride”.  It’s interesting how that expression has great significance and application to many sales people and sales advisors, all now grown-ups.

I am speaking specially of advice doled out by some sales pundits that serves more to placate and patronize readers than help them improve their selling skills and success, delivering clichés and politically correct feel good myth, instead of proven and practical road tested advice based on experience.  While we all want to make our audience feel good, I think it is more important to provide pragmatic advice that yields measurable results, even when it requires effort on the part of the reader and will often force them from their comfort zones.  I for one do not see a problem in challenging readers and sellers, and do not apologize for creating some discomfort in helping them succeed.  Much better than some of the sugar coated buzzword riddled schmaltz others seem to be peddling in an effort to make sellers feel good and allow them to rationalize their lack of effort, inventiveness and results.  But as we all know sugar highs don’t last.

If you are wondering why I am on about this, it’s because once again I have someone taking a shot at my often debated, never disproven voice mail technique, not because it doesn’t work, it does, but because it does not appeal to their “sensibilities”, a sensibility that leads to no returned calls.  As usual the technique is misrepresented, making it easier to cast in a questionable light, they then schmear a load of subjectivity mixed with value judgment, and raising but not speaking to the specifics of words like “trust” or “ethics”.

The reality is that there are no absolutes in sales, nothing works all the time, every time, most things don’t work most the time, so when you have a technique that proves to be 30% – 50% effective, you have something worth adopting.  What’s more, while the technique may seem counter intuitive at first, those who try it, report back a consistent success rate.  Recently there was a debate in a LinkedIn group, there were many who questioned the technique, who once they tried it, liked it, mostly because it got them call backs and appointments.

Most recently, the technique was again misrepresented, and labeled asinine.  I bet I can find some internal memos at most record companies dating back to 10 years ago that called iTunes an asinine way to sell and consume music.  I bet there were some Blockbuster folks who called Netflix asinine.  Interestingly few are willing to challenge it head on.  One challenger was invited to debate the technique on “This Week In Sales” webcast, but declined, I wonder why; not the worst thing, I had the whole show to myself.

As an industry, “sales enablers”, we keep highlighting the fact that only 50% of B2B reps make quota, well what is our role in that?  If we do not push them to better themselves by trying, new, alternative, and yes at times outlandish but effective methods.  We should challenge our audience, not just dust off the edges of tired techniques that play to the emotion of the reader even while ignoring the fact that what is being peddled are just retreads with new labels.

In the end it is down to the reader, our consumer, they choose how they want to make or not make quota.  In the end the readers are like we the pundits, some know what is Shinola, and what’s not.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

It’s Your Mini Resume Dude!0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

As some of you may know, last week was have fun with voice mail on LinkedIn, with people taking different reactions to a voice mail technique that gets me a 50% rate of returned calls.  In response to comments on an LinkedIn group, I posted on Friday about a specific dynamic that makes the technique in question successful.  The piece resulted in more comments, so I wanted to take another view that may help some understand what’s behind it, why it resembles something almost every critic of the technique already does without feel they are unethical, misleading and so on.

This storm reminded me of a similar reaction three or four years ago when I suggested that sales people should use text (SMS) as a prospecting tool.  People saw the suggestion as being unethical, underhanded, and just not professional.  This despite the fact that an executive, a prospect, was the one that suggested that I would have connected with him a lot sooner had I not limited my use of his cell number on his card to strictly voice.  But the overwhelming reaction at the time was that text to prospect was déclassé.  But now four years later it is a mainstream techniques acceptable to all.  Maybe time does not heal all wounds, but it does seem to wipe memory.

So I would suggest that when something seems uncomfortable you have two choices, try it and see, or pass an uninformed opinion.  So lets take a different look at the technique in question and see if we can get you to try.

The technique, (summarized here),  is very much like a mini resume.  Much the same way we use resumes to create the opportunity to entice a potential employer to call us back and invite us in for an interview that we hope will lead to employment and a mutually profitable relationship.

Let’s look at resumes, they exist to communicate in a concise way you capabilities vis-à-vis the position, anchored in our history in similar positions with similar company.  If you have been an A/R manager with one distributor, and a position opens up with another company you want to work for, you submit your resume featuring your experience with their competitor.   The potential employer, like most, will begin to begin to sort the hundreds of resumes they receive based on who they think will fit their requirement; and one of the most common means of selecting those that make the consideration list is their experience with similar companies.

As we all have been told, it is important to keep resumes short, using highlights, and then expanding once in the interview.  Depending on the source, some will tell you to keep it to two pages or less, a small amount of space to include past experience as well as other attributes we may have that would make us a suitable candidate.

It is also often a topic of discussion, that many resumes are the stuff of fiction and or embellishment.  Very different than the technique in question, which repeatedly emphasizes the need for honesty and ethical use of past experience.

It seems interesting that in the age where people are actively participating in micro-blogging, they would find problems with micro messaging when it comes to engaging with prospect.  I suspect the reality is one that is all too familiar in sales; sales people complaining that clients hang onto the Status Quo irrationally, while they do that very same things when it comes to embracing new or alternate – non-middle of the road – sales approaches.  Almost ironic as the group professes to be the home of fresh sales ideas.

Oddly,  one very vocal opponent, using words like misleading, deceiving, and so on, has held IT sales related positions with four or more different companies in the last 10 years, I bet if we looked at his resume, we would see all the previous companies he worked for, his related capabilities, and his accomplishments prominently listed in his resume.  Where is the difference?  Why is it OK to dangle past companies in one form, but not another?  We know the answer.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Did You Get My Voice Mail?7

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Voice mail

Yesterday I got a call about a piece I wrote for Radius titled: Get More Call Backs: How To Increase Returned Voicemails By 50%.   Seems it has stirred up a discussion in one the LinkedIn groups, one I did not belong to, (since joined).

Whenever I do a piece on effective voice mail techniques, three things happen:

  1. It get a lot more hits than most other posts – telling me that this continues to be a challenge and hot button for sales people.
  2. In the first 24 hours a slew of feedback telling why the technique won’t work, it is gimmicky, unchristian and a range of other labels.  These comments come predominantly from people who do not like to cold call, don’t know how to cold call, never leave voice mail when given the opportunity, and are pissed that they are not getting return calls, when I, and those using my techniques do.  These are folks who have not studied the dynamics at play in effective voice mail, generally have a less than sufficient prospects in their pipeline, and BTW, have not tried the technique they are commenting on.
  3. Within about 48 hours, I get a bunch of e-mails from people who tried the technique, got a calls back, got an appointment with someone they have been trying to connect with for sometime without success, and they now have one or more new prospects in their pipeline.

The real difference between the two is the latter is committed to continues improvement, willing to invest time, effort and practice to integrating new techniques to their selling tool kit.  They understand it takes work to fill the pipeline, and if the state of their pipeline is going to change, it requires change in their approach and habits.

The first group, the doubters, fail to take into account and understand the dynamics involved in leaving effective voice mails.  Let’s look at one specific factor.

Most people these days are jammed, need to pack 16 hours into a ten hour day, they don’t have time to listen to your rambling voice mail, telling them about how great your something is when they already have that something.  Since at any given time, about 5% – 10% of your market is actively looking for your something, that’s the total potential of people who may have an interest in calling you back.  By leaving a conventional voice mail, chances are less than 5% – 10% may call you back, unless they already have a vendor in mind, in which case no call back.

Let’s face it, the reason most people want you to “leave a detailed message”, is so they can know exactly why not to call you back, and they don’t.  So no matter how polished your message is, the more content it has the less your chances of getting a call back.  So despite what one of my most recent critics suggested in the LinkedIn discussion, saying I “should spend some time doing research on the buyer so they can leave a message that’s in line with their expectations.”  There is an idea, waste time researching to not talk to anyone, hmm?  The most effective voice mails are those that are counter intuitive.

The mistake many make is trying to sell or get an appointment via voice mail, WRONG! Good luck if you have never spoken to them in the past.

The only purpose to leaving a voice mail is to get a call back – again to get a call back.  When that call comes, you can then proceed to getting the appointment or engagement if you are in inside sales.  GET THE CALL BACK! THAT’S IT!

I would argue that the only way to do that is to create a bit of curiosity, one that would create an environment where with little effort, the person you are calling can make a call to resolve their curiosity, THE CALL BACK, once you have them on the line, then you bring your sales or appointment setting skills to play.

The technique in question results in me getting 50% of voice mails returned.  That may piss off some people not willing to try, but really what’s the issue, the method is there, you don’t want to use it, don’t knock those who do, just because they have a healthy pipeline, and fat babies.

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Try it, and then talk!  

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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