pumpkin

Get Your Pumpkin Spiced Leads0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Yes, boys and girls, tomorrow being Halloween, it is the last day to get your Pumpkin Spiced Leads, come November 1, Starbuck rolls out their Christmas and Chanukah cups, and it’s all downhill from there.

Now I know you’re thinking that Shanto has gone mad, but I plead innocent.  In fact, I am just trying to fit in, using the Queens English in the most bizarre way to make a point, a point heavy on drama and embellishment, while short on meaning or accuracy. The wild nature of some of these statements, not only make them difficult to believe, but brings into question the credibility of those making them.    

I recently witnessed an “influencer” from a leading social platform, stand on stage, in front of thousands of sales professionals and leaders, and with a straight face, in fact with great conviction, exclaimed how “a change of job status, is an ‘insight’!”  Insight, seriously? Well you know, English is my third language, so let’s consult the experts.

The capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing.
“this paper is alive with sympathetic insight into Shakespeare”
‘his mind soared to previously unattainable heights of insight’

Consider that most people do not update their LinkedIn profile as soon as they accept the letter of offer, indeed, depending where you choose to look, people will wait 90 days or more before updating their LinkedIn profile, some suggest even longer.  Seems to me, that would qualify more as history, than insight, and well short of actionable insight.  But that’s the reality of “insight” becoming fashionable, rather than practical.  Any self-respecting B2B seller, targeting that individual would have known much sooner than 3 months, in fact probably would have capitalized on it, rather than waiting.

While I do appreciate the need for “drama” in selling, and the facts that certain words will embellish the message and make it more effective, there is a cost to overdoing it.  Not only in as much as it makes the message hard to swallow, but that when words are over used, people tend to start ignoring the rest of the sentence, and by extension the message.

I had a call last week from an enthusiastic rep, eager to introduce me to his company’s new and “disruptive” technology that will “change the way I present to prospects and buyers”  Hmm, disruptive, here is the definition I go with:

“Disruptive innovation is a term in the field of business administration which refers to an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products, and alliances.”

Customized snail mail is not “disruptive”, and by the way, nor is it “awesome”.

pumpkinAs usual, it is easy to blame the front-line seller, but someone put this poor soul up to this.  Those who did put him up to it, include people like me, the experts, and their managers.  We need to be careful about the words we use, and encourage sellers we work with choose.  I recently saw comments pile up on a well-known sales talking head’s video.  In it, in an effort to add some drama to the message, they expressed themselves in a way that to many undermined the message.  A fellow sales advisor commented:

“I believe that his message is relevant and needs to be repeated.
However, his delivery might put off some people.
The two phrases that triggered my BS meter were “I hear this all the time” and his claim about “99.9%” (and I stopped listening after that)
What does “all the time” mean?
Where did you get your stat of “99.9%”? Unfortunately, too many speakers (and sales people) quote unproven stats and throw out vague claims.”

To which another reader offered the following:

Here is the formula for calculating 99.9% of the time
For each observation (x) the deviation (d) from the mean () is x – .
Therefore d2 = (x – )2
Expanding this equation, we get: d2 = x2 – 2x. + ( )2
To obtain the sum of squares of the deviations, we sum both sides of this equation (the capital letter sigma, S = sum of):
Sd2 = Sx2 – 2Sx +S 2
From this equation we can derive the following important equation for the sum of squares, Sd2.
Then we find the sample variance and sample standard deviation:
And there it is …. mumbo jumbo presto chango 99.9% of the time.
Does that make sense?

As you think bout your message, ask yourself which word will cause your prospect to stop listening, and reach for their Pumpkin Spiced Latte?

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Old TV

I Don’t See What You Mean0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Some may remember the first video/song ever played on MTV, was The Buggles

Old TVVideo Killed the Radio Star.  The message was clear, we are visual creature, and prefer a visual presentation over other means. This is why some singers who were great at singing and expressing themselves via vinyl or CD struggled to make the transition to video, while others, who were so so when it came to singing, but had a great presence and could “please” the screen.  Where once lyrics and delivery determined the success of the performer, now it was down to visuals, at the cost of all else.

Close Yet Far

It seems that telephone prospecting and selling are experiencing a similar thing but in reverse, and with added risk.

As more and more of the sale goes virtual, the less we have the opportunity to leverage one of our greatest strength as people and communicators, namely the visual. While opinions may vary slightly, most experts agree that somewhere between 75% – 90% of communication is non-verbal; and the vast majority of that is body language, intonation and vocal quality and characteristics.  All good things when it comes to face to face selling, not so good for those who now need to sell without ever seeing their counterparts.

I know that many who use systems like Zoom or join.me, will say that they have and encourage the use of videos to enhance the experience, most still seem to just see these technologies as extensions of PowerPoint, and even when the video is turned on, it is less than the face to face experience.

This is why focusing on the message and the medium, as many do, still leaves gaps in their approach.  It Is important to also ensure that we compensate for the lack of immediacy and direct visual contact; and I don’t mean just talking louder.

Stepping Back

Starting with the basics of slowing down the pace and deepening your voice, and then going beyond.  You need to also focus on your intonation, what you put an emphasis on, where you place your gaps, silence between thoughts, words, and concepts, pronunciations and more.  Words count too, but not in the way many are looking for, the perfect or secret set of words that unlock the kingdom. More in using words that fit with the buyers’ expectations, words that they would use to describe the scenario, not words your company came up with to “differentiate”. Remember if they don’t understand you, they won’t understand what you sell, or why they should buy.

There are also words that work better in direct conversation that lack impact on the phone, and the other way around.  Given the ease with which calls and web meetings can be captured these days, it is worth exploring how different ways of presenting things change the sales based on the words used, when and in combination with e=what other things.

Often what counts is what you don’t say. One way to ensure engagement in a remote scenario is to create opportunities for the prospect to ask questions. As a subject matter expert, you should be in a position to know which elements to lead with, and which to leave to the end, and which to leave to the prospect to ask. This is one way to encourage the flow missing in remote selling situations, that is quite natural when two people are sitting face to face.

By using your 360 Degree Deal View, you will be able to understand what some of the key moments in a good sales call, understand what is enhanced by the virtual setting, and what is diminished, and create a flow for each type of sales meeting.  Once you have that, then comes the hardest part for many sellers, practice.

Taking it back to radio, those actors who were successful in radio drama, think Orson Wells, knew they had to make up for the lack of visuals in order to deliver a drama that worked on radio without a single visual aid.  While video may have killed the radio star, don’t let the web meeting kill your sale.

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App Vending Machine Buy Apps Shopping Download

3 Reasons ‘Choice’ is Killing Your Pipeline0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Most people think they like choice, they think, contrary to practical experience, that choice empowers them, giving them “control”, and a sense of being in charge of their own destiny.  The reality is often different, and giving prospects choices can have unanticipated consequences.  While there are some pros and cons, there are three reasons you should not give choices, especially where you don’t have to, and you’re just doing it because you ran out of ideas.  So, in no specific order or importance here are three reasons not to provide choice.

Less Revenue

Less Revenue – I have heard from many that they give a choice of product, and related cost, as a means of helping the customer feel less pressure, and the opportunity to not go with the highest priced option.  I have had professional sales people tell me they give three choices, because they know that most will go for the middle tier.

I have a client that sell components, by far his best product is the middle of the three he presents clients.  Most clients love it, and give off “buying signals” indicating they will go for option B, till pricing comes up, when and most revert to the lower priced component.  When we changed the approach to presenting the best option, one price, one decision, much easier to make than three.  Quicker sales, more revenues, no unhappy customers.

Authority

Authority – One reason the above works so well, is that his sales people now are presenting themselves as subject matter experts.  They first spend time understanding what the prospect is trying to achieve and then present the right option.  Usually it is the former middle choice, but the reps often present the lower and higher cost point alternatives, based on what they uncover during discovery.

As a subject matter authority, you build the right to make a recommendation based on your expertise, experience, and support of the company.  Imagine if you went to an expert for help, a doctor, and after they talk to you, examine you, and share their prognoses, and then offered you three options.  Would you not look to them as the expert, to make a recommendation, it should not be like going to a restaurant, given a menu, and pick you cure.  One of the upsides of conducting a good discovery, is along the way you are earning the credibility to make a recommendation; I guess when you don’t have that credibility, you reach for the menu – look out for the sales bots, they’ll do it better.

Inability To Choose

Inability To Choose – We have all been in situations where given three or four choices, we ended up leaving with none.  This is not limited to impulse buying or something not having importance.  While not all, the reality is that many of the deals that end in no-decision, do so because the buyer could not make a choice, and ‘abandoning’ was the easiest option, of course had we not started them down the ‘option’ path, they may have found it easy to say yes to one thing, recommended by an expert at a rational price.

A friend expressed it best when speaking about having his car worked on.  He hates having to choose which type of oil he should pick when he has his car service, or choosing winter tires.  He is typical of the first example.  He is convinced that the highest priced tires are overpriced, with extras he feels he does not need.  He doesn’t want to be that guy that opts for the cheapest, after all his daughter often drives the car.  So, he goes for the middle, but here is the rub.  He never feels good, always second guessing, which makes the purchase much more dramatic and stressful than need be.  As he says “if the mechanic would just tell me what I need, why, and which one best does the job, I’d buy that one, even if it was the top of the line.  But when I have to make a choice, I’m never quite sure about the choice, and I just don’t feel good about it.

Choice is yours, want to make you buyer feel good about dealing with you, don’t make it about price, make it about them, and your ability to recommend and deliver on the best “solution” for them.

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Honestly

Lie To Me Like Everyone Else Does0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Revenue, finding it, winning it keeping it, is more than sales, and certainly more than just one says. Winning growing and retaining clients (the source of revenue), may be centered around sales, but involves other key groups. Some like marketing, may not have as much direct contact with prospects/clients as customer support, implementation and others. All have an opportunity to reinforce the relationship, or blow it, making each and every interaction and exchange with a client. I know there were a number of accounts I lost because of an experience a client had with support; just as have landed bigger deals and kept them because of things others did for my clients. All this makes each encounter key, and makes one wonder why some companies have their representatives say some of the things they say to customers, and to know that they actually paid someone to teach these mistakes to their teams.

One challenge arises when there is a disconnect between what people say, and how they act, I guess one can call it incongruity

Empathy Is Not Just A Word

We all know empathy is central to interactions and by extension sales. But empathy is more than a word, it is more than an ingredient you measure and add in the right amounts at the right times during a conversation. It is very much the behavior that defines the word, not just saying it. You can’t say you are empathetic to a buyer or their concerns, and then behave in an opposite manner.

We have all had the opportunity to be screwed by a provider, I am not saying wireless, but as an example. Instead of dealing with the issue at hand they always apologize and empathize, I am sure it is like pages 27 to 32 in the work book.

“no matter what the prospect/customer says, just say ‘I apologize Mr. Shanto, I am sorry you feel, I can understand you feeling that way’ and then let them continue.”

You know they don’t mean, only because they don’t take any action to change things, just agree with your feelings, and apologize for how you feel, but not what they did to make you feel that way.

This is a challenge for sellers, because they too say things the prospect does not see them act on, which just confirms the whole mess.

What’s funny about the whole thing, is many companies, for example wireless, will do this to “how can I help – I apologize and see why you feel that way”; then do nothing, you bring up your next point, and they go right back to “yes, I can see that – I apologize and see why you feel that way”, and keep it going for a long time without resolution, until you drop the F-Bomb. Then it all becomes about that, the F-Bomb. So, it is perfectly fine for them to do it to you, but not for you to talk about it.

Honestly

The other words that cause prospects and buyers to be cautious is when a sales rep or support rep, says in response to a question the prospect/customer has says “Well to be honest,…” Hang on a minute, does that mean everything you said prior to this was not honest?

I know it is just a turn of phrase, but buyers hear these things over and over, and have come to take the words at face value, with the expectation that nothing will result of the conversation.

Why not just leave these expressions out? You want them to feel they are being empathized with, show them, act the part, don’t just talk to it because it is on page 27 of the work book. Align you actions with your words and people will see you are honest, you may not always be perfect, you may not always be spot on, but you will be perceived as being a lot more honest and customer focused, then just talking about it and then walking another way.

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Rehearse 2

What Is Your Customer Buying?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Most sales people are good at telling you what they sell, not necessarily communicating how the customer will be ahead as a result, but they are good at telling. Regularly scheduled role play in team meeting will usually help you get ahead of that. While this will help with the delivery and to ensure that they are delivering the message, it does not ensure the message is right.

This is not always the fault of the front line rep; they will usually run with some version of what they are given. The version they run with will be determined by which camp of the ever popular ‘80/20’ they are in. The 20% is not the worry, they will take what they are given, understand how it will help drive objectives, and then enhance it based on their experience and past successes. The challenge is the 80%, whose version will be altered and diluted, delivering less results, leading the 80 Percenters to say “This doesn’t work, I just gonna do what got me so far.” This is where having role play as part of your routine once a month at the minimum, will allow the sharing of best practices, and practice. This coupled with the observations made while you are riding along to real prospect calls, should allow you to lead things in the right direction.

Once you have a couple rounds of role play and practice, spice things up a bit, and have your sales people articulate what their prospect is buying and why – rather than what they are selling and why.

Don’t be surprised if what you hear is the mirror opposite of what they said “they were selling”. In fact, many managers may themselves miss that, because they grew up the same system, and have become tone deaf to the message and have fallen victim to same message related brain washing as their reps. If you have the type customer base that will indulge, I would ask one to sit in and provide feedback, and I would also have you marketing participate so they can be hands on.

Going further, I suggest coupling the role play of why someone did not buy, with an actual opportunity review of the opportunity lost. In most instances sales people will point to price or product fit as reasons for loosing. At the same time, third party companies who are paid to carry out post mortems on lost opportunities consistently find that the real reason had more to do with reps’ inability to understand what the prospect was trying to do.

The best way to help reps change is to have them articulate what their prospect is buying, if they cannot do that, you can bet they will not be able to sell them. Once you can get them to do that, you can introduce a line of discovery that encourages prospects. A continuous rotation of role play: “What we sell/What they buy” will ensure you are offering real value to buyers, and success for your reps.

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Megaphone

Sales Communication Therapy0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

There is a lot of talk about what sales is and the core skills and habits required for consistent success in all types of markets.  It has been said that “nothing happens until there is a sale”, but you do have to respect that there is no sale made without first prospecting or engaging.  Others will insist that most essential ability is the building and growing relationship; there is the group for whom it is all about product expertise; then there are those who put the ability to stay positive despite the negatives as the critical element of sale success.  For me, it is probably some shifting combination of these and other skills and attributes, but none are as important or critical to ongoing success as the ability and the art of communication.

By communication, I do not mean the gift of gab, more specifically, the ability to foster and facilitate communication, not only between buyer and seller, but internally within the buying organization or team, and internally with all the people potentially impacting the outcome of the sale.  While the gift of gab is often recognized, the other elements of communication are often overlooked by hiring managers and organizations, but if you step back, more sales are lost because communication was not fostered than by people who were not great orator.

The good news is that facets of communication are a learned skill and ability, meaning that you can take steps to better communicate in writing, when speaking to people one-on-one or as a group.  Sales people can be taught to be multi lingual, giving them the ability to speak to different people involved in the decision, all with different filters, different criteria, in effect speaking different languages to communicate important and specific information to people who view, evaluate and interpret things in their own unique way.

Mode of communication is key as well, most sales people believe the world is like them, so if they communicate predominantly by e-mail, so must everyone else, which is just false.  So in addition to being multi lingual, you need to be multi-modal as a way of ensuring that your signal can and is pick up by their uniquely individual receiver.  One reason Social Selling is not all that big a deal for many, is that they understood the importance a multi-modal approach, and view social selling as form of or communication channel.  I guess some were surprised to have a response to their communication, and felt they were on to something new.  Doesn’t matter how you get to the party, as long as you got there.

But most importantly, effective communication is when the prospect willingly shares information and insights that they would never share with lesser communicators.  What I have seen time and time again is that central to that is not how or what you say or ask, but your intent.  Yes, regardless of how you pose a question, what will determine the response will be how the buyer sees your intent, if they see it as self-serving, they will limit their response.  If they see your intent as wanting to learn and understand where they are now, where they are trying to be, and what is preventing them from getting there, then they will open up and share.  The more they share the more insight you’ll gain, giving you the ability to ask more pointed questions, the more revealing and insightful the answers.

Again, good news, this can be learned, practiced and improved over time.  Start by forgetting the product and what you and your company “do”.  As I have mentioned here in the past, leave your product in the care, and “go in” and focus on facilitating and objective setting session.  Where are they now, where do they want to be, why that, what resources, what alternative path, what will that mean for the company and them as individuals, and more.  No product safety net, no pitch, just speaking for the sake of communicating.  Master that, and you’ll always be an A player.

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hashtag

#Notafact2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

I just can’t help myself, but sport analogies are so great when it comes to making some points about sales.  You know when your team is down by some outrageous score, no hope of a come back, Jesus or not, just like the Raptors in game 5.  But still you have fans yelling “Defence, Defence, Defence” as though the louder they yell, the more times they yell it will somehow make a real difference, as though they can make the rally “trend”.  At the same time, seeing players interviewed on the side line, repeating symbolic words and well worn clichés, as though saying it will change the lack of execution on the playing field.

This came to the fore when I attended a recent sales event, where the masses gathered to hear the pundits speak.  To be honest I felt like I was at a sales revival more than a sales event, where amens and hallelujahs were replaced hashtags and internet speak.  To be clear, it is important that presenters speak the language of their audience, just as sellers need to be multi-lingual, and speak the language of their buyer, language is important after all since it is the vehicle for substance.  But when there is a complete lack of substance, language is the only take away, or the only message; Marshall you came too soon.  In this case or event, the less substance the presenter had, the more #this and #that they threw out.  It left one sitting there wondering WTF they were saying and wishing that they would just stfu.

Of course the tweets and RT’s streamed behind them on the big screen, only to be reshared and retweeted by the masses.  “Oh look Henry, we’re trending”.  No you’re echoing, it reminds one of the singer at the Holiday Inn on the edge of town, telling everyone that they are ”world famous in Topeka Kansas”, and even then, just that night.

Just because you slap a hashtag on something does not make it real, better or a fact, in many cases it just makes the message more irritating.  You can tell the crowd that the only way to succeed in sales is one#way, the one in your #book, only to be out hashtaged by the next presenter, with his #book, with more hashtag friendly words on the cover that he can get everyone in the crowd to repeat.  #Boring #Sad

As with most things in sales, the arbiter is the buyer, or in professional selling the non-buyer, those who did not come to your website and download the same thing they downloaded from five of you competitors along their 57% of the journey, a journey they started without any prompting from a sales person, because they had a need.  Professional sellers are the ones that identify, reach out to and engage with those potential prospects who were not interested in starting a “buyer” journey, because they were not “buyers”, had no perceived need, no perceived need.  With there prospects, you need to lean on substance, not colloquial expressions, or trending buzzwords. #Oyvey.

Don’t forget to join me and Michelle Schifrin is the Lead Customer Success Manager at Prezi, for a webinar today at 1:00 PM ET.
REGISTER HERE

 

THINKING PROCESS

Forget Presenting and Start Engaging #Webinar0

June 9, 2016 10:00 AM PT/1:00 PM ET

Communication is central to sales success, and communication is a multi-faceted experience.  Sure the message is key, a bad message can set you back; while a great crystal clear message, delivered on target can be a crucial to your success.  But what happens with a perfectly crafted message that misses the mark, does not land the way it was intended?  Sale lost.

Among the things you can control is the how a message is delivered, and how it is taken on by a buyer.  In a world where death by PowerPoint is the norm in selling, presenting yet another sales presentation may not be the way to go.  We all want to engage buyers, encourage a dialogue based on their objectives and business driver, your visuals should align with those, not force the buyer to align with your visuals.

Join Michelle Schifrin and I, the Lead Customer Success Manager at Prezi, to explore how high performing sellers and leading sales organizations are facilitating interactions that deliver the message to a buyer in a way that drives the dialogue, drives sales, and drives mutual benefit for both the buyer and seller.

You’ll learn:

  • How to tell your story in a visual way that engages buyers, creates value, and drives action
  • Case studies from real sales teams who have successfully implemented visual storytelling with a positive ROI
  • How to tackle the challenges that come with transitioning to a more engaging approach to delivering sales presentations

Register

good questions

Questions Should Educate Not Recriminate0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Question have for the most part have become the instrument of choice for most B2B sellers. While that’s good news, it is a mixed story. Many have switched from pitching to using questions, but they have not made the attitudinal shift to fully benefit from questions. Rather than using questions to facilitate a full and – mutual – discovery process, they serve to narrow and limit the discussion to the seller’s agenda. A pitch by any other name is still a pitch, and no matter that wrapping, the intent still come through, and buyers still step back or away.

I recently was prospected buy a provider, going in I told them I was aware of the type of service they sold, but it was not a priority, nor was it on my wish list. At this point sellers choose one of three paths:

1. Tuck and run, saying something like “well maybe I can send you some material for when you decide to consider a service like ours”.
2. Almost as popular, recriminate the buyer by pointing out how things have changed, and they are missing the point, “and let me tell you why…”, dragging out a horde of self-serving stats.
3. The lesser chosen path, educate the buyer by making them aware of things impacting their business that they may not be aware of, and showing them how their offering can help the buyer move towards their objectives.

This is a common scenario for many sellers. It is a fork in the road that separates the good from the also-rans. She chose door number 2, and being the business I am in, I went along to see where we would end up, and told her as much. Needless to say, first thing she asked is “what do you guys do?” When I told her, she still didn’t clue in, and continued by saying “that’s why you need ACME widget”.

The good will use the opportunity to help educate the buyer; the also-rans use it as an opportunity to pitch. Let’s be clear, I am all about the sale, but at this crucial stage, the vendor and product are secondary, and the focus needs to be on engagement, which means using questions as a means of educating. This education needs to be mutual, as stated above, the seller needs to be as open to learning, as they expect the buyer to be. While this may take more effort than the alternatives, it is an evolving cycle, what I learn in my current sale, I will be able to use in the next, the more I learn, the more I sell.

Our friend took the predictable path, recriminate me for not knowing what she does, and not having her world view. After a few perfunctory questions, mostly for the purpose of seeing where I fit on the product grid provided by her marketing team. like “what do you do?” Questions like “did you know..?” Followed by a scary outcome plaguing those who don’t use their product to address the “did you know”. While it may be true that I didn’t know what she wanted me to know, I knew more than she did. In the end, I learned a bit about how she sells, and I will be able to leverage it moving forward. She learned nothing, did not get a sale, and will never be able to recover the 30 minutes she spent on the call.

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video intro 2016

Prospecting Call Mistakes You Can Avoid #Video0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Making outbound prospecting calls can be challenging and stressful, for both the prospect and the rep making the call. To be more effective you need to change some things that may work in day to day life, even in a scheduled sales call, because this is not a scheduled call, so the dynamics will be different, and as a pro you have to make up for that difference. Take a look at the video below to learn to common mistakes to avoid.

Tell me what you think; and if you have doubts about what you heard, read what the University of San Francisco has to say about building credibility in prospecting calls.

Hey if you liked the segment and the ideas, join me this Wednesday, when I and dozens of other sales thought leaders share best practices during the Sales Acceleration Summit, the world’s largest on line sales event. Click here to see the agenda and to register. My session is on the Dynamics of Successful SDR and prospecting calls.

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