Coulda

Are You Shoulding All Over The Place?2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

In every walk of life, you hear people saying “I should have done this” or “should have asked that”, and a whole bunch of other should haves. We all have moments of realization after the fact, you leave a meeting and just as you get on the freeway, you remember you should have asked a question of the prospect, or you should have highlighted something. Worse is when you are sitting in the room, know you should ask or state or do something, but you don’t, only to rationalize later with the familiar tune of the “shoulda coulda woulda” blues.

So beyond the obvious question as to why didn’t you, there is the more important question of when are you going to? This question applies to both moving forward, and to recent events.

I often have sellers tell me they should have… something, usually in a way that suggests that they can’t change or remedy things. It is true that you can’t turn back the clock, but there is nothing that says you can’t go back and fix or redo. There is nothing preventing us from going back and asking for or just creating a do over. The fact is that unless you were rude and asked not to come back, not you right, you can go back, and often going back could be the difference.

If you do find yourself singing the “shoulda coulda woulda” blues, try this. Callback the prospect (or prospects) and tell them the truth, “you know Henry, I was thinking about you and our meeting yesterday, and I realized that I was remiss in …not asking, not discussing, not presenting, in rushing…” It never ceases to amaze me how responsive people are when you take this approach. First you are flattering them by not only telling them, but demonstrating that you were in fact thinking about them, their objectives, and how you can positively impact them. At the same time, you have an opportunity to introduce new ideas, and extend the conversation, and show how you are not like the others.

A slightly more fatal version of this is when sales people tell me that they know they should do something but don’t do it. This could be for any number of reasons, but it is usually fear or ego. While ego is important in sales, it should not get in the ways of success, a little humility not only goes a long way, but opens doors others don’t even see. If you know you should do something, be that something with a current buyer, or make a prospecting call, or anything, do it. As long as it is legal and ethical, the worst thing that can happen is the deal does not move forward, which no worse than not winning a deal because you should’ve. So stop shoulding all over your success, and do it, you’ll either win a customer or learn a useful lesson, and learning is something you should always be doing.

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A Sales Viewpoint – Sales eXecution 3250

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

With the election cycle in full swing in the USA, many (some) are reflecting on what their point of view is on key aspects of life to be impacted by the outcome of the election. This includes things like economic viewpoint, free market or centrally controlled economy; global viewpoint vs. protectionist, and more. The key here is not function or discipline in question, it is more that most people will have a viewpoint, and that view point drives their actions, and the result and impact of their action.

This fact is true for sales and sellers as well. A seller’s view point on sales, their market, their customers, and their sales methodology, will drive how they execute their sales, their success, and most importantly their impact on the success of their customers’ ability to achieve their objectives.

Unfortunately, as with political viewpoints, many in sales don’t ever develop and hone their own viewpoint. It is much easier to abdicate the work required to have a valid viewpoint, and they end up plugging into an outlet for their viewpoint and resulting action. Once they find one that is comfortable, fits well, they just go with it until it lets them down, be that the wrong guy getting into office or a loss of a big sales or significant existing client.

But when you take a close look you discover is an aspect of the old Pareto principle, where a large percentage of sales people, maybe even 80%, don’t really have a viewpoint. There is a large segment of this group that don’t see sales as their final destination, so why develop a viewpoint, “I’ll do that when I am in the role I really want.”

On the other hand, you do find the smaller group, let’s go with 20%, that have a specific viewpoint, and you see at the centre of everything they do in sales. This view point allows them to take the buyer and discussions with buyers to areas and depths that a viewless seller would not dare go, even if they were aware of them.

The important thing is that usually the person most aware of the difference is the buyer. They know when they are working with someone with a clear and centred sales viewpoint. Sellers with a viewpoint, one based on their standing as a subject matter expert, are in a much better position to not only help their clients achieve their objectives, but more importantly to influence the buyers’ objectives. Without a clear and strong viewpoint, you are left feature, benefit and groveling, oops, I mean relationship selling.

As a hiring manager you can begin to look for this in the interview process; are they telling you what you want to hear, or are they articulating a clear viewpoint on sales and how they execute on that viewpoint?

Given an equal set of skills and opportunities, the seller with a clear and thought out sales viewpoint will always outperform the one with out.

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How Do You Start Your Day? #FireStarters0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

FireStarter

Some of you are familiar with Miles Austin, if you are looking to learn about the latest tools and technology for sales and selling Miles is the source.  As a result, Miles is always trying out and introducing those of us in sales to new tools and apps to make selling more fun and profitable.

This month Miles is leveraging a new tool, Blab, and he is using it to help share ideas and best practices from people from all corners of sales.  What makes the whole process cool is that he is focused on a single theme, by asking all of us who participate the same question: How Do You Start Your Day? 

You can watch my segment below, including a technical glitch I had right at the start, and thanks to Billy Bob Brigmon, who was nice enough to jump in for the first 30 seconds while I got my act together.

Take a look, watch all the #FireStarter segments for some great insights on how to start your day.

Tell us what you think.

Tibor Shanto

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4 Ways Social Media Can Help You Sell3

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The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

An essential part of the sales process is getting to know your prospects and building relationships – and social media is the perfect avenue to help you accomplish this effectively. Social media is a really powerful tool to help you accomplish your business goals and can open you up to new markets you may otherwise not have the ability to reach. It’s also an inexpensive way to market your products, services and brand – and small business owners always want to know ways to build a business on a budget.

So how can you use social media to make sales and increase your bottom line? Consider these four ways to help you leverage social media as a way to build relationships and make more sales.

Determine the best way to connect with prospects.
Prior to using social media to make sales, you need to know your client base. Social media is only a smart selling tool if your clients and prospects are using it. I they are spending their time somewhere else, social media is a waste of your time.
It’s likely your prospects are using at least one of the popular sites though, so try to identify which is the best for connecting and interacting with them.

Consider Instagram and Pinterest to increase visibility and sales. Do more than simply post about your products. Engage with the community, present products in fun ways and offer images and posts that appeal to the lifestyle of your prospective user too.

Build relationships.
Everyone wants to know some ways to get more appointments in less time. Salespeople need to always remember that they need to develop relationships more than to develop leads. Good relationships foster sales. Statistics from the National Sales Executive Association show that only 2 percent of sales are made on the first contact, while 80 percent are made on the fifth to twelfth contact. People share information about themselves, and if you truly listen to what they are saying, you will eventually engage in a meaningful conversation with them.

Engage in conversation.
If you write a message with a generic pitch and a link to your website hoping for a sale, you better not have all of your eggs in one basket. People aren’t interested in sales pitches. They want to know you care. Explain some solutions to their problem and suggest that maybe your product or service can help them. Let people know you genuinely care about their problems.

Another way to do this is by creating a Facebook group related to your product or service and invite prospects to join. You can engage in conversation on your page and talk with members who are active in your group. Always share good content, it will spread easily and increase your visibility with new leads.

Create a persona.
Make sure you are active within your community. Identify who you are and make sure you show others that you are likeable and trustworthy. If people think you are rude or not helpful on social media, they won’t do business with you. Don’t misuse social media. Show your network that you are a loyal and helpful resource and engage with your customers and the expectations of the community.

Remember that in order to succeed, it is key to cultivate relationships. Social media platforms are an excellent place to share more about your business and engage your prospective customers. Take time to listen to and engage your audience and watch your conversions grow.

How do you use social media to increase your bottom line?

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for ChamberofCommerce.com, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and contributing to a number of publications on the web. Megan can be reached at megan@chamberofcommerce.com.
Website: www.chamberofcommerce.com

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LOI – A More Effective ROI – Sales eXecution 3155

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Risk return

The challenge with Return On Investment or ROI calculations and calculators is that they are only truly effective with a small segment of buyers. Part of the challenge is that many of these calculations are based on the most idyllic circumstances, leading many to doubt the projected returns. Even for those who accept the projected benefits, they don’t always see how those will apply to them.

I remember in the late 1990’s, during the dot.com boom, my employer seized on a stat that showed that about 30% of white collar workers’ work time was spent searching for information they need to do their work. Based on this data, which completely lacked context, the number crunchers in marketing came up with a calculator where you can put in the number of white collar workers at your company, their average salary, and presto, instant profits and returns. If you had 100 employees making an average $60,000 per year, that’s $1,800,000 in savings right there. Wouldn’t you want to spend $250,000, just once so you can lock in that annuity? Even if the numbers were half accurate, still a great ROI; yet there were no lines around the block looking to buy the product.

Having an overly aggressive ROI calculation is more likely to be ignored and lead to a credibility issue than accelerate the sale in a way realistic calculation will. Remember most business people will take a reasonable say 5% uptick, while big numbers will seem unattainable or carry hidden and unnecessary risk.

The challenge is that most ROI calculations fail to drive action on the part of the buyer. One reason is they do not always align to buyers objectives, thereby failing to address the real issue, “what will I do with the ROI?” I remember watching a rep present the above ROI with great gusto. When he was done, one of the buyers asked “how can you ensure that the recaptured time would be put to company use and benefit, and not for an extra smoke or more time surfing the web?” Had the rep been able to demonstrate how the product would address that next step, there could have been a sale. But like many ROI calculations, they usually demonstrate a false affordability for the product, but not the return for, or impactful outcome for the business.

Without the alignment to objectives, and how the return is not in the form of dollar savings but objectives achieved, and the impact or return on those objectives, the ROI measure will continue to be a decorative piece. The sad part is that it would not take much to modify the calculation to reflect the above, and deliver actionable insight that drives positive results for buyer and seller.

Another overlook factor with traditional ROI’s is risk, most people are more likely to take action to avoid risk, than take action for a questionable return. Studies suggest that 70% of the population are ‘away’ people, meaning they will move away from risk. The remaining 30%, will move toward realistic risk for a measurable return on the risk.

Given this, it is probably better for sales people to spend time developing and presenting Loss On Inaction, or LOI calculations. Left to their own devices, people will usually opt “keeping on as is”. It is always easier to rationalise not doing anything, than doing even the slightest thing. Leaving you with one choice, raising the risk factor of where they are. You need that ‘away’ hormone to kick in, where level of risk crosses and rises above the line of inaction. Until then, the alternatives we offer are interesting but not compelling enough to drive action.

An LOI calculation can quantify and graphically demonstrate the risk and cost of inaction. That allows you to then initiate and facilitate the cycle, and as a bonus, when that gets started, you can still go back to your ROI, with much more impactful effect.

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A Lead Is A Terrible Thing To Waste – Sales eXecution 3140

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Garbage

Every day around the globe thousands if not hundreds of thousands of leads are created. Some are created by nice marketing folks, others by sales, some at trade shows, probably a few on your site, some are inbound, many are outbound, and frankly some are nowhere bound, but there is nothing but hope and blue skies at the point they are created.

But many of these leads never have the opportunity to grow into viable leads, delivering their full potential, evolving into prospects and finally full blown sales. No, many leads are wasted, ignored, sadly forgotten, and like so many before them, end up being another “might have been”, the latest addition to a pile of unrealized business cards.

Waste is never good, especially when what’s being wasted has real potential. It is especially sad when many sales people are begging or Jonesing for leads. Normally people are careful with a resource in shortage, in this case leads, and the ultimate finished good, sales and customers, sellers should be working leads full out, not wasting them. While leads may be a renewable resource, that’s no reason to waste or be casual with them, if you don’t want to work them, someone else will. Each of these leads has the opportunity to reward you now, and pay dividends well into the future. So why do people in sales allow, and at times deliberately set out to, waste and squander leads. After all, a lead is a terrible thing to waste.

Some have told me that they are not wasting these leads, but allowing them to “fully develop”. Why just last week, during a review with an IT sales rep, he told me that the lead was “not real, they are not looking to buy for another six months.” The sales version of the glass half full routine. Where I saw a good runway to build rapport and understanding, he only saw something wasting his time. “What’s a good lead?” I asked, “Someone ready to buy now, not next year.” I followed up and asked how long his sales cycle normally was, he told me six months. I tried explaining to him, but he insisted that there was no point in engaging with them for another six months.

While you can forgive the stupidity of the above, what is not forgivable, are those know what they have to do but don’t do it. Follow up once, twice and then punting, is wasting. But it takes effort to develop and execute a good pursuit plan. On the other hand so does whinging about the quality of leads you get from marketing, I mean how many times can we hear the same story.

Better use of that energy is to develop a plan for maximizing every lead. The plan should take the emotion and guess work out of maximizing a lead. Outlining the specific steps to take in converting a lead to a prospect will take the emotion and the effort out of it. You will be there early, you will do things to build rapport as time moves forward, and you’ll be the right person at the right time. Not late because you were were waiting for the perfect time, trying to get that right is a waste of time and leads. And you know what they say, “A Lead Is A Terrible Thing To Waste”.

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Just Wondering…3

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Haa2

So it is a holiday up here in Canada, Thanksgiving, we do ours early so we get all the good turkeys, and it is a holiday in the States as well, Columbus Day, a day to celebrate a guy who gets credit for discovering something long after it was discovered, and not what he set out to do to begin with. Sounds like sales already. But with the holiday mode, I thought it is a good day to ponder those things we may not have the luxury to think about when we are not luxuriating.

Here is one, I was recently interviewed for a B2B sales podcast. The host, a nice fellow, asked me a series of questions he said are put to all who appear on the podcast. “Go for it” I said; “Who is the best sales person you have ever known?” I gave him the name of two active sales people working for large sales organizations, and what I thought made one of them great. What he said next got me wondering. “Of all the times we asked this question, you are the only one who actually named real sales people”. Really, “What did the others say?” I asked.

“Some said Jesus, others Obama, or Steve Jobs”.

So I am not here to argue about these as being sales people, although if you’re gonna go biblical, isn’t the serpent a better choice, I mean did he not sell Eve like big time.

What really got me wondering is why the other pundits couldn’t name real sales people. We all put ourselves out there as making a difference for sales people and sales organizations. You would think in the course of that you may have met some great sales people, or better yet, been a significant factor is creating at least one great sales person. Why would they have to go for feel good bullshit choices like those?

Most of them I am willing to bet have not met Obama or Jobs, and certainly have not worked with them close enough to assess their selling skills. I mean what criteria would they have used? I am not even going to bring JC into this, I am sure that many pundits will have felt that they have met the son of God, but again, was he selling at the time? Looking at some of the sales people who have come out of that school, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart or Ernest Angley, you gotta wonder.

Hmm, what’s the deal then, are they working with sales people, are they selling? Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a learned observer, the theoretical side of sales is important in ensuring improved execution. But there is a difference between talking about and talking to, between talking about and doing. I mean when someone asks who the best boxer was, you’re more likely to say Muhammad Ali than Howard Cosell; just wondering.

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Which side of risk are you on? #BBSradio #podcast0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Radio Renbor the pipe

Risk is a big factor is sales success and sales failure.  Being that people most people are risk averse, the traditional approach in sales has been to try to minimize risk associated with one’s product, the risk of change, and risk of the unknown inherent in a new vendor or product.  But as with many things the internet and social media have brought some balance and greater ability for buyers to better gauge and measure risk of vendors, product and switching.

But for those reps willing to do a bit of work, you can leverage risk in a slightly different way that will lead to action, rather than the usual inaction.

Take a listen, then let me know you thoughts.

Check Out Marketing Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Breakthroughbusiness on BlogTalkRadio

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3 Reasons To Get Prospects to Look Back Drivers Future Sales2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Now Past Future

People are creatures of habit, and while we do change over time, most often these are gradual and incremental evolutions, only occasionally radical and sudden change. There are several way this can help sellers perform better, not only in terms of quota, but helping clients achieve their objectives, leading to more business as a result.

The goal in this piece is not to compare one type of buyer to another, but to help you adjust your approach to better align with the buyer, their habits, and expectations to help you be more effective with the type of buyer at hand.

While there may be other reasons, here are three in no particular order, that if you incorporate into your sale, will help you achieve better results for all involved.

  • Propensity to change
  • Why they buy
  • How they buy/make decisions

Propensity – In the past we have spoken about the market breaking down to three general groups, buyers who are Actively looking, Passively looking, Not looking (status quo). No matter which group they are in, there will be different levels of willingness to change. Even in the Actively looking group there will be those who are looking because there are external factors forcing them in to the market, without those external factors they would be status quo. Others are always looking to be leading edge and are looking on their own volition. Clearly the latter have a greater propensity to change and act, while the former will require more reassurance, more motivation, and at times more work. Again more work is not a bad thing, it’s just good to know up front. Don’t forget, that some will never change and take pride on going down with the ship, which means it is OK to disqualify and move on.

Why – Once they do make the decision to act, you need to understand why they chose the product or supplier they chose having decided to act. This will give you a lot of insight not only about the individual but the organization. Was there decision tied to a specific set of objectives, and is that consistent across a number of decision, or was it a result of “Me Too” at play. If we extrapolate out from the technology adoption lifecycle, how we sell to buyers at the left end of the curve will tangibly differ from those on the right end. It doesn’t matter which methodology you use, knowing why the buyer has made the selections they have in the past will give you clear guidance as to how to align with their current purchase decision.

How – This should be the most straight forward, once they have decided to make a change, and are comfortable with the reasons as to why, how they go about things will help you maximize the current purchase. You will understand who is involved in decisions; here you want to look for names that may have popped up in the “WHY” discussion. How those same people relate, influence or ignore the individual you are working. It will also give you a clear picture as to how (sometimes if) the organization makes decisions. If in exploring the last three or four purchase decision they made involved specific steps, inputs, and people, you can bet that these will be present and required to get the decision you are looking for.

The key in all this is to do this sort of questioning early, when it can seem informal, not central or pertinent to anything specific at the time. The close you get to the decision point, the more layers there are and some buyers will not share as freely. Everyone’s posture changes, and the information that flows, and how it flows changes. It is never too early to gather the above, but there could be a point where it may be a bit too late.

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How Much Pain Can You Take? – Sales eXecution 3110

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Sales people are always looking for “the pain” or “pain point”, I get it, not sure it’s always the right thing, but it is what it is. One I am often given for the search for pain is the response they anticipate. Many tell me, supported by a string of pundits, is that people will do more to avoid pain, than the steps or actions they will take to achieve pleasure. Theory being, if one can touch a nerve, a painful nerve, the Buyer is more likely to act, and therefore potentially buy the “fix” for that pain from the seller. On the other hand, potential pleasure is not as likely to drive action, therefore lead to less engagements and sales. Given the choice, they believe that focusing on pain yields better results than focusing on pleasure.

This piece is not meant to debate that, but rather explore how it plays out with sales people when the theory is applied to their own reality, specifically their own success.

I work with a lot of sales people, and have seen how willing or unwilling they are to take on new skills and practice’s. I know that when I carried a quota, the biggest pain I was trying to avoid, was the pain of not making quota. I did so by focusing on the pleasures my successes and resulting commissions would allow me to experience (vacations, good food, and more). Always seemed a better alternative to not making quota and having to tell the kids they can’t eat this quarter. But let’s pander to the masses and go to the pain side for a minute.

Given that less than 60% of B2B reps make quota, you have to wonder why those suffering the reality of not making quota don’t do much if anything to avoid that pain. They are ready to prescribe that very thing to their prospects, but refuse to apply it to their own success. Just the incongruity of that must be a daily challenge, adding more pressure to the pain point of not making your number.

Forget the financial reality, there is the tribal reality of being more of a burden than contributor. The percentage of companies achieving their financial goals is greater than the number of reps doing the same, meaning, if you are part of the 40% or so already suffering the pain of not making goal, there is the added pain of being a burden on those who driving their numbers and making up for yours. How does one live with the pain?

So with all that pain, why is it that a seller would not take steps to improve the outcome, take steps to change what they are doing. What they are doing is clearly not working, but a large number continue to choose to do nothing different.

OK, so the pleasure of making more money, achieving Presidents Club and the perks it brings, the pleasure of being able to hold your head high as a contributor, are not enough to encourage change. But what about the pain of having to come up with new excuses, having to settle in so many ways, and just not being able to say you are a successful sales professional. Why does that not motivate these sales people to change? And then they wonder why their lame attempt at pain is not working on their prospects either.

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