You Can Play Nice or You Can Play To Win0

By Tibor Shanto – 


There are times when you hit a wall in a given sale or opportunity, where you have some though choices to make: do you walk away, do you take a different approach with the buyer, or do you abandon the person you have been working with and go around or over them.

As interesting as the choices that people make in these situations, what’s even more interesting and noteworthy from a learning standpoint, is why and how the make those choices.

Not a negative, but a reality is that many sales people positive nature and disposition, a ray of sunshine buyers will be drawn to, a “can do” attitude spiced with plenty of optimism. This drives them to look for positive outcomes, which is often different than the right or profitable outcome.

As an interesting side note, according to recent Harvard Business Review article by Steve W. Martin, What Separates the Strongest Salespeople from the Weakest, the best sales people as measured by performance, are in fact inwardly pessimistic. Questioning the buyer, motives, aspects of the sale, etc. This allows them to qualify/disqualify and be more effective sales winners (as opposed to the large group of relationship starved professional visitors who are in sales). While “possibilities” are endless, reality comes down to fewer choices, some harder than the others.

Of the choices above, abandon, change the facts or change horses, most sales people will be most reluctant to changing horses, going around or above the person they have been dealing with. Odd, because it is generally the most effective, both in terms of outcomes and best use of time.

It all hinges on how you view one fact, what are the potential consequences. The most optimistic relation types see negative consequences (now who is pessimistic), they say “If I go around or over them, it may upset the person I am dealing with, and the deal won’t happen”. The best, high performing sales people say “If I stay on the current path, the deal ain’t happening, I need to engage someone who can make it happen”.

One major difference is that the high performers look at it from the perspective of what’s right and best for the buyer and their company; they look at deal, not the people. Most importantly, they look at the situation as being “who else can I engage”, not necessarily going around or over someone. If that’s what you are looking for, that is what you’ll find.

At it’s core the question is a common one in sales, are you reactive or proactive, do you put more faith in hope or action?

It is not a question of the cup being half full or half empty. What differentiates these two types of sales people is that they both see the half glass, they both aspire to have the glass full. One is hoping that being genteel, nice and smiling will hopefully fill the glass. The other group knows they need to take proactive steps to fill the glass.

Tibor Shanto

Live Cast

How to Relieve Workplace Stress3

CC Nov 13

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

Let’s face it – stress in the workplace is pretty much unavoidable. Even in the most relaxed office setting, stress can happen. Whether it is conflict with a coworker or a strict deadline that you are behind on, stress will creep up. Stress can affect your work habit, which is why you should make combating stress a priority.

The sales industry in particular can be very stressful, particularly to those who are new to the business. So how do we deal with stress? Everyone copes in different ways. Some people choose to eat right and exercise to try to combat stress. Others may internalize it and lay awake at night worrying. There are definitely healthy and not healthy ways to deal with stress.

Here are a few tips on how to handle stress in the workplace:

  • Self-talk or self-hypnosis – we all know that our brain is the most powerful tool that we have. The way that we think will always affect our attitude towards the people and things around us. One of the things that I personally find really powerful is to have a mantra of sorts. If you are stressed at work, repeating a mantra to yourself like “I will finish this project and it will be great” throughout the day can help you to calm your mind. Self-hypnosis is similar but instead you talk yourself into a state of calm.
  • Get up and moving – even taking a short walk mid-workday can help you to get your blood flowing. Research has shown again and again that exercise is as good for the mind as it is for the body. If getting outside isn’t an option, take a brisk walk around the inside of your building. You can also consider swapping your chair for a balance ball. Some offices have even implemented treadmills instead of chairs! Workouts outside of work can help combat stress as well. Try boxing for exercise, it can help you get some of that stress and anger out in a useful way.
  • Take off your shoes – I know this sounds strange, and when I first read about this stress-release strategy, I thought it was strange too. But if you really think about it, it makes sense. In some Eastern cultures (think Japan) taking off your shoes is the norm. Letting your feet rest or even using foot massage or manipulation techniques can help you to feel more relaxed. According to this Forbes article, Finnish gaming company Supercell insists upon its employees removing their footwear upon entering the office. Even without shoes they’re making over $2.5 million per day.  Women in particular are apt to wear uncomfortable, confining shoes. Think about that great release you get when you take your shoes off at the end of the day. Try it in the office!
  • Make your space zen – whether you have a cubicle or a big office, take the time to make the space around you calming. The Forbes article mentioned above suggests a bonsai tree on your desk. I personally had a mini sand garden on a desk that I used. It was very calming and fun to rake the sand and arrange the rocks when I was having a hard day. Think of other things that can calm you down; maybe photos of family and friends, or flowers. Keep things on your desk that remind you of why you’re slaving away at your desk.
  • Cry, scream, or laugh – let it out! If you are having a hard time at work, take the time to just let yourself feel it. Often, expressing the way that you feel can help you work past it. While I’m not suggesting that bursting into tears at your desk is a great idea, processing through your feelings at home and letting yourself feel your emotions can help to relieve stress.
  • Build relationships with your coworkers – yes, relationships can be stressful, too. But having an open line of communication with your office mates can help you to have less stress in the long run. You don’t have to be BFFs with everyone, but being able to express your feelings to those around you can help you to work through your stress.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to reducing workplace stress and making more sales in no time.

(Photo Source)

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.


If You Have To Wonder – – Forget It!4

By Tibor Shanto –

Crossed Fingers

We’ve all heard that communication is 60% body language, 30% intonation, and 10% the words we use (give or take). While this is an important statistics for sellers to keep in mind, it means nothing to those who sell or set appointments by phone, where there is no body language, and it’s down to intonation and words; and as we have said before, words may not break your bones, they could hurt your sales.

People can’t separate themselves from who they are just because they are selling, which means many of speech patterns they have developed over the years are present when they are selling. As a result they tend to use words that are just not all that effective when selling by phone, without the benefit of body language and limited by straight up intonation.

This is especially an issue while prospecting by telephone, or (dare I say it) cold calling. Now if you are a post-modern seller who does not cold call you’ll find the rest of this piece less than compelling. But if you are prospecting by phone, even if only those leads you sourced via inbound marketing, there are some steps you can take to have more success in a world void of body language.

Beyond the words you use, you also need to change your assertiveness or intensity, here are a couple of examples. I often hear people on the phone say “I was wondering if we could set a time to meet”, or “I was hoping to schedule an appointment”; really, I would have thought you knew you want to set a meeting. The above is a result of our social conditioning. In an effort to be polite, a good thing, we fail to compensate for the lack of body language. When you picked up the phone you weren’t wondering, or hoping, you wanted to meet. If you were standing in front of them, you can settle for wondering, but on the phone you need to compensate for the lack of body language, and not only clearly state your intent but go further by accentuating and asserting your desire to meet.

Note I am not saying be aggressive or rude, but you need to cut through the din created by other sales people Not a big change, but an effective one, “Mr. Brown, I am calling you today to specifically set a time to meet… or … schedule a time … arrange a meeting”. The words are down to you, it is more about the confidence and attitude you project. Who would you rather spend time with a wishy washy person hoping for something, or a confident professional clear in intent, abilities and direction? They say hope is not a plan, well it’s not very attractive in sales either.

Along the same lines, don’t say things like “I’m just calling”, “just following up”, or just anything. And please don’t combine two weak words: “just wondering”, “just hoping”.

There is in fact one thing you can do to leverage aspects of body language even when you are on the phone. Stand up, speak in a natural state, get a mirror and have a conversation with “a person” in the mirror. I know of one sales person who has a full length mirror in their office, and their prospecting calls consist of them conversing with the prospect, and the person in the mirror. You can step in to key words you want emphasise, you can catch yourself about to interrupt, and more. Sounds awkward, most things do at first, but the payoff is real and lasting.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

To Err is Human – and When It Sells It’s Divine!0

By Tibor


Too many sales people spend way too much time and effort trying to be or look perfect.  Whether it is refining that radio voice for telephone selling, or the right look for the call, using the fashionable buzzwords, or a host of other things sellers do. An awful amount of energy and resources go into image and looking good, to the point where the polish detracts and distracts from the purpose at hand.

The reality is that people are not perfect, at least not in the real world, and the perfection some seek could be at odds with the expectations of the buyer. Take the popular notion and adhered to buzz-phrase, popular among sales types is that “people buy from people”, implicit in that is that people by from people like them.  Being too polished to the point where we resemble the cover of GQ more than we do the people the buyer is used to dealing with on a daily basis, may lead to the opposite outcome to the one desired.

Being human, including the frailties and blemishes may put a seller in a better stead than trying to be the Madison Avenue or Hollywood version of a sales professional.  In fact imperfections can often work in your favour by making us look and feel human rather than something artificial.  Trying to be something most of us are not, that is perfect, can distance a buyer.

A common attribute of good sales people is being genuine, and one buyers appreciate and look for in a seller, if they sense a seller is not themselves or disingenuous they begin to question the seller’s intent.  Intent counts for a lot, and many will tell you that intent trumps skill, product knowledge, and certainly outranks polish, image or smoothness.

No matter how experienced or good you are as a sales person, it is better to focus and demonstrate that in the quality of your selling, your ability to gather the right information about the right issues, than relying on strictly polish.  To this day I do not have or use a radio voice when cold calling, I stumble and stutter at times in the same way I did 20 years ago, but he content of my talk track, the underlying intent helps me content with buyers and set appointments.

We have all been in meetings where you may dropped something, or something goes wrong with technology you are relying on, but instead of the meeting going south, that awkward moment removes a layer of the barrier between buyer and seller.  I remember a meeting where the buyer was cold, tough, hardly engaged, and while reaching for something the sales person spilt a bottle of water on the conference room table and on her pants.  The buyer sprang into action, genuinely concerned for and her dilemma, and remained very engaged for the rest of the meeting, and ultimately bought.  The spill changed the dynamics and I would say the outcome of the interaction and the meeting.

Time and time again, common unintended errors, lead to an instant human connection that facilitates the connection between buyer and seller.  While I am not suggesting you go out and look to err on purpose, I am saying that the energy and time we spend trying to be perfect or avoid looking or being human, can be better invested in understanding the buyer, their objective and how you can help them.  If we do that in a genuinely human way, warts and all, rather than a superhuman way, we’ll see a much more genuine response from prospects, and achieve better results faster.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Shared Mediocrity – Sales eXchange 178 – A Question To Sales Leaders38

Sports have trade deadlines, sales organizations have trade season, usually at the start of the year, just after bonuses are paid. What I never understand is why companies, and sales leaders  participate in this silly ritual.

You see this in almost every industry,  employees, specifically sales people, move from one market player to another.   Doesn’t matter if I am working with software companies, wireless, service providers, you name it, it is much the same.  I ask people to tell me about their sales background, and inevitably, they’ll tell they have been in the business 12 years, four with one company, five with another, and three at their current place of employment.  I once had someone who was on their third tour with the company I was training and had done stints with three other.


Unlike sports, there is no free agency where top players can go to the highest bidder.  In fact I would argue the opposite exists, the journeymen sellers are almost always B or C players.  The rock star sellers, the real proven A player are not very inclined to move, and companies who thrive on cultivating and keeping A players go out of their way to do everything they can to keep them happy and rocking.

Companies hiring the journeymen rarely understand the error of their ways, and as in sports when things go wrong they go after the coach, in the case of sales the front line manager.  The poor soul who is supposed to deliver results with other companies’ discards.  I am not saying that the managers don’t share in the blame, they do, but senior leadership should know better.  They pressure the manager to perform, fair demand, and the manager succumbs and hires an available body; not just any body, but an “experienced” body with a “book” of clients.  Right!

These sellers rarely become big hitters, some become “80 per centers”, but most continue to be lack luster performers, doing no better than they did at the last company that discarded them.  At time they manage to get out of Dodge before they are booted, but their ineffectiveness does not, it is something they carry from place to place.

Just go on LnkedIn and you can see it clear as day.  One seller I trained at two different companies in the same vertical has had five sales positions with four different companies in the same industry.  Never fired, always managing to jump before their employer’s suspicions were confirmed.  The only reason they got a second stint with their current employer was because a buddy was promoted to hiring status.

What I have also found is that rarely are these journeymen counter offered by their current employers, sure there is feigned regrets, “sad to see you go” as they hold the door open.  Whereas with the rock stars, everything is done to avoid the situation at all.

In the end I think it comes down to a lack of conviction on the part of sales leadership.  While they always talk about quality over quantity, when it comes to hiring, they seem to favour quantity over quality, preferring to have a body in a territory vs. the patience to wait for the right body.  As for the argument that at least having a performing body is better than an empty territory, I am not sure.  The journeymen will underperform, as will the territory, but a bigger cost is opportunity cost.  Who will the journeymen turn off during their stint, how much money will they leave on the table or discount in deals they do get, and how many deals will they miss just because who they are.  Their book never follows, but their bad habits that got them their do, and now instead of forging forward, you are left to deal with their mediocrity.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Book Review – Emotional Equations – Chip Conley26

Reviewd by Linda Beck – MBA, EQi Coach, Chief Learning Officer, Pillar Performance

Tibor Shanto asked me to review the book Emotional Equations by Chip Conley because he knows I have been studying the topic of emotional intelligence (EQ) over the past 10 years and have incorporated the importance of understanding one’s EQ into my corporate training business.  The title of Mr. Conley’s book intrigued me.  As I read it, I liked the idea of attaching equations to emotions to add meaning and to help manage the hold our emotions can sometimes have on us.  From an EQ perspective, labeling our emotions is the first step in being able to manage them effectively.

Despair = Suffering – Meaning

The above equation is the first one Chip (I’ll use his first name now as we are getting a bit more intimate with his story) uses to illustrate how this equation helped him rise above some extreme hardships he was experiencing in his life.  Within about a 2 year time span Chip lost 5 friends to suicide (one close friend who was also named Chip), his son was wrongly convicted and sent to prison, and his business was close to bankruptcy.  During this difficult time Chip turned to a variety of sources that inspired him to overcome his despair. One was Abraham Maslow’s theory of motivation which inspired a previous book Chip had written, Peak. The other was by psychologist Viktor Frankl who wrote the compelling memoir Man’s Search for Meaning which documents Frankl’s daily life in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.  I have read Frankl’s book and it is a powerful read.  If you or anyone you know is currently feeling sorry for themselves, have them read this book.  It illustrates the extremes human beings can endure and it is that perspective that led Chip to attach the above equation to his current experience.  As Frankl postulates in his psychological analysis of his 3-year concentration experience, man can endure virtually anything as long as he can find meaning to the suffering.  Chip applied this idea to his own situation and created the equation Despair = Suffering – Meaning.

Once Chip created this equation, he continued his research and sought out various experts in different disciplines including mathematics and psychology, and found that equations were used in a number of different ways.  Chip continued his research by going to the Kingdom of Bhutan to study happiness where Gross National Happiness is an indicator of the country’s success.  Chip clearly conducted a substantial amount of research prior to writing his book and cites many experts in a variety of disciplines.

Shortly after I finished reading Emotional Equations, my mother was hospitalized and while undergoing a procedure she experienced a heart attack on the table.  I was with her in the hospital before and after the procedure and as her only daughter wanted to do whatever I could to make the situation better.  My mother can be difficult, from her daughter’s perspective, at the best of times and while I was trying to do everything to assist her, it was very stressful for both of us. From my perspective, I felt I was bending over backwards to meet all her needs yet it never seemed to be enough.  My emotions were being taxed. So this is where I tried to incorporate the main focus of Chip’s book and that is to attach an equation to a difficult situation in order to potentially see it in a new light and diminish the overall stress.  The equation that developed for me over the stress with my mother is as follows….

Duty  =  Compassion  –  Resentment

In analyzing the situation, I felt I had a sense of duty to do all I could for my mother.  She, again from my point of view, did not seem to appreciate my efforts, so while I was trying to be compassionate about her situation with respect to her poor health and the dynamics of working our way through hospital administrivia, I was feeling some resentment that I could not be fully appreciated by my mother.  Once I documented my own emotional equation I did feel that it added a higher level of understanding to my situation and I was able to continue to perform my duty, by increasing my compassion and lowering my resentment.

Because of my personal and business interest in the topic of emotions and emotional intelligence, I did enjoy Chip Conley’s book.  The timing with my personal situation with my mother, added a practical application which made it that much more meaningful.

Please connect with Linda Beck,;; for dynamic learning workshops on the Many Faces of Emotional Intelligence; Engaging Employees; Critical Decision-Making; Dynamic Teams; Exceptional Customer Service; True Colors; Leadership is a Choice….

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