Hunting for dollars

Walk’a Proud!2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Those of you who have participated in my events or webinars, know that early on I encourage people who prospect for a living, to take pride in what they do rather than apologize for it. I encourage them to answer with pride next time some asks what they do for a living, by saying “I am a Professional Interrupter! I interrupt people and engage them in conversations that result in their reality being better as a result of our interaction, which by the way, started as an interruption, something I am a pro at!”

The reality is that with few exceptions, most people we reach out to without prior consent, are being interrupted. Most are trying to pack 16 hours in to a 10-hour day, meaning no matter how great our offering is, it will AT FIRST be seen as an interruption. How well we transition that interruption to a conversation determines our success.

Hunting for dollarsThis is the very reason HUNTERS are at a premium in the sales world. Because there is a shortage of people who have the ABILITY and WILLINGNESS to do what it takes to bring a Status Quo business person from being disinterested on the sidelines, to being engaged, and then a happy customer.

Sure, it is easy to engage with self-declared buyers, those who have entered the market on their own, with a specific thing in mind. After having done their research and travelled 57% of the “Buying Journey” (Notice the complete absence of the word SELL or SELLING), in stealth mode, they now decloak in time to witness the beauty contest of order takers, willing to take it all off to win the sales and discounted deals for years to come. But when it comes to prospects who can benefit from your product but are hiding in the Status Quo landscape, you need more than a smile and a pretty social profile.

Many shy away from the term hunting, saying it not a pretty picture, and says something negative to and about the prospect. Please!

First no one is saying that we are hunting prospects; it’s not like we find a prospect and impale them, (that would be self-defeating. We are hunting revenue, and the best way to deliver that revenue is to help our customers and prospects.

Once you wrap your head around the concept that you are hunting revenue, you can look at your actions in a different light, and take steps many won’t, which is probably why many fail at the sales, or more specifically new sales. Once you embrace hunting you will help those missed by average sales people. Those same average sales people, and the pundits they follow do, have the advantage of numbers, and as is the case with many crowds united in their weakness, they will turn on those different than them for no other reason than that difference. If they used a more meaningful measure, like say success, like say making quota, things look different. We all know the anecdote about the three sales people pursuing the same opportunity, one win, the other two go back to their tribe empty handed, leading to hungry babies.

Be a hunter, make a difference, don’t just blend in or exist. Take pride in your abilities and results, not your associations or social circles. As in the punch line to the old baseball joke about Joe Dimagio: Walk’a Proud! 

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Prospects Object Less To What They Want0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

In the past I, have highlighted how many sellers are limiting if not sabotaging their opportunities while telephone prospecting. The main reason for that is that they are approaching things from a deficit, they are casting a small and porous net, one that only captures a small set of buyers, those with a defined need. This would work great if a large segment of the market had needs they were willing to act on, but the reality is that most potential prospects do not. And that is where a lot of sellers get confused, and struggle to effectively connect with those potential prospects who don’t have or recognise a need.

When it comes to prospecting, especially phone prospecting, looking for need will kill your success. Many who do have the need are looking to get past it and are looking for someone with a vision beyond. While those without a recognized need, will just object to the call, leave those looking for need or selling solutions rejected and dejected. The vicious circle of events that gives cold calling a bad name.

But what would happen if you cold called and led with outcomes built around the prospect’s wants rather than needs?

So, if you’re going to be interrupted, what would you be more receptive to:

  1. Hearing about how this unknown entity can satisfy a need you do not have or recognize?
  2. Or how they may help you get to somewhere you want to get to?

For most (honest) people it is the latter. Yet most sales people, encouraged by their managers and a hoard of pundits, default to the former. Yet it is this same group of sellers and pundits who will tell you that cold calling doesn’t work, just witness the rejection level.

Rejection in prospecting is a result of two factors. One you can’t do much about, and that is the fact that you are interrupting an already busy day, and they want to eliminate the interruption and get back to work. Second, the interruption is all about a need they do not have or recognize. Often they don’t recognize it because it is all about needs described in marketing speak by a nervous fast talking squeaky voice.

Interrupting is not as bad as some would tell you, the same people who go on about interrupting with a call, embrace the concept of “disruption” just to be cool. Let’s call a spade a spade and get past that excuse for not properly prospecting. So now we are down to message.

Speak to something they want to do, and all of a sudden this interruption can be seen as insight. It demonstrates an understanding of where the prospect is, and where they want to go, and what they want at the end of that journey. Speak to their wants, they may still may not like the fact that they were interrupted, but the message around wants and impacts, is a bit compelling. Handle the objections head on with how you have helped others like them achieve their wants, and the objection is like an invitation for more details, possibilities, and engagement.

How do you know what their wants are, what they want to achieve, the impacts they seek? Just look at your past pipeline opportunities. Not just the wins, but the losses and those that are stuck in the limbo of no decision. All this is in your CRM, assuming you are using it the way it should be used. Forget ABM, focus on the individual and what they want, they will not object to any of that.

Believe me, you need to change your prospecting approach if you want to succeed in selling to the whole market.

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Achieving success with Status Quo Prospect segment

Achieving Prospecting Success by Segmentation – 32

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Thus far in this series we have looked at two prospects segments that are popular among sellers, mostly because they are likely the easier of the three. While most sales people spend 80% of their time and effort pursuing these groups, combined they only make up at most 30% of any given market. The Actively Looking, about 10%, and the Passively Looking, another 20%. So what about the big piece of the pie?

Status Quo Segment

Well in this the last of the series, we will look at the at the largest of potential buyer segments, the Status Quo, making up some 70% of most markets, what I like to call, The Play Ground of The Rich and Famous. The reason for that is that those who thrive on prospecting this segment, not only have more fun selling, they face less competition, and as a result make more sales and commissions. Famous, because people talk about them, but fail to follow them into this lucrative segment; one can argue at times infamous because those who linger with the Passive and Active, rationalize their lack of success with the Status Quo, by painting those who do as the anomaly.

There two factors that come to play here. The people in this segment are NOT buyers, they are at best potential prospects. Whereas the other segments are buyers of varying degrees, these people are several degrees removed from the market. So before you can roll out your brochures, white papers and discounts, you need to bring them into the market. Second, most sales people have been told not to “waste time” on this segment, because they are not looking, happy with where they are, and are satisfied, and therefore will not engage with a seller till their status changes, say from satisfied, to dissatisfied. This poisonous bull shit has cost reps quotas, companies millions of dollars, and no doubt contributed to slow recovery from the last recession.

Satisfaction Poor Buying Indicator

Consider this, according to Chip Bell and John Patterson, in their book ‘Customer Loyalty Guaranteed’, present that “75% of customers who leave or switch vendors for a competitor, when asked, say they were ‘satisfied or completely satisfied’ with the vendor they left, at the time they switched.” Hmm, seems satisfaction is a poor barometer for potential. This makes it clear that if you know how to engage satisfied customers, you can indeed convert them to prospects, and buyers, but you will need to be proactive rather than waiting to be found or a random event beyond your control to do the work for you.

So what does it take to engage this segment? A complete abandoning of product (or solution), and focusing exclusively on the prospects’ objectives, and how you can help them achieve them. The reason this is hard for some (well most), is that you have to understand how you have done that for some of you current customers. A thorough and detailed review of specific elements of how you have delivered specific impacts and business outcome for clients is the start of the process. Our clients take advantage of our 360 Degree Deal Review.

Understanding where the prospect is looking to be moving forward, not current pain or distractions. If you call these prospects and yatter on about what they need and why you’re the best, you are asking for a click. On the other hand, if you call and speak to specific objectives you have been able to help other achieve, they may engage. This takes work, because you will have to develop different talk tracks based on role, verticals, and other factors. But at the same time, it is not like you are looking at hundreds, but a firm dozen or so that will help you reach out to specific prospects and engage them on their terms not yours.

Objectives over Pain or Need

Simply stated these people are not looking, you need, product, solution and pain, do not resonate. Call and speak to them about a future state they have in mind, with a means of getting there, well you have a conversation, and that’s where it all starts.

Pie chart representing market segments for prospecting

Achieving Prospecting Success by Segmentation – 12

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

As we start a new quarter, it makes sense to step back a second and think about how you are prospecting f. Few aspects of sales are one size fits all, which makes it a challenge for those who are looking for that one secret to success in sales. Buyers fall into different groups, and how you sell to each needs to reflect that, this does not mean you have to reinvent your sale for each buyer, groups or segments based on their attributes. Falling to align the effort and approach to each segment can lose you sales, or almost worse, have you spend more time and energy closing sales with a longer sales cycle than necessary.

Broadly speaking there are three segments for B2B sellers, and most sales people are adept at selling to two of these groups, unfortunately not only are these group small, they have other undesirable features.

Prospect Segment One:

The first group, anywhere from 3% – 12% of a given market, let’s round off to 10%, are Actively looking. These are the buyers you read about, having completed 57% of their journey. In essence they are coming to you, informed and ready, not just ready to buy, but ready to play you off competitors, ready for buying on price. As a result, when prospecting here is more about countering preconceptions than bringing them to the market, they are already engaged in a journey, you need to engage them and getting to consider you and your market view. This is where the Challenger Sale concepts will help you, anything short of that you are destine to be an order taker, with the terms being dictated by the buyer. Your goal is to disrupt their current path, and put them on a better path to their objectives, one they were not aware of or considered.

What You Need To Know

This is less about product, as the value comes from you being a true subject matter expert. The research you need to be just about the company and the individuals involved, but more about how others have fared trying to achieve the same objectives. What are the common misconceptions leading companies and byers to pursue the wrong solution. At the same time what have you and your company been able to specifically do for other clients. To challenge is not to wag your fingers telling them they are making mistake going with a competitor, especially since the product is likely the same. It comes down to showing them why and how you have helped others achieve their end through different means, how you have accelerated their success, especially pursuing a path either not obvious to many.

Research you have to do here is in your wins, losses and deals that petered out before completion. As a subject matter expert you are not only a conduit to best practices, adding a value dimension. It is not about having a shot at the beauty contest, it is about changing their view about which contest they want to be in. If you do not change the path they are on, you are locked into the path they put you one, taking orders and cutting prices to make you quarter. Then start it all again.

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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.

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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Ready Set Go – Part II0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

competition

Last Monday, in Ready Set Go – Part II  I wrote about how to plan and execute the rest of the calendar year (for many their fiscal year). We looked at two scenarios, one for sellers who set themselves up for success. The second, and the focus for today’s post, is for those in the other group, the “Holy s#*t, there are only how many working days left in the year?” Don’t panic, that would just be a waste of your time, and time is something you don’t have in abundance; instead, get prospecting. Prospecting in two ways, first reworking all your current assets, the second is going beyond to prospects and buyers that you will need to identify, engage and move through the process. In essence what you should have been doing before the summer.

What I mean by reworking all your current assets are two specific activities. One look at all your “no decision” opportunities over the las 12 months. Opportunities that went into your pipeline, or sales process, progressed but died before coming out the other end as customers. These are not opportunities that bought from someone else, but that tested the market, then went back to the sideline having changed or done anything. In some instances this group could exceed 30% of things that go into the top of the pipe. They know you, you know them, things have changes, they may be more ready now, it certainly is worth a call. Even if they don’t re-engage now, they are likely starting the planning cycle for 2016; early bird is a good thing to be.

The other method is to crank up your referral efforts, both in your client base and, your indirect network, and your Referral 2.0 network. While I still believe in cold calling, referrals are nice too.

But you will also need to go beyond the comfort zone, and that’s where cold calling will come in. Specifically in two directions, first looking for opportunities that have a reasonable chance of closing this year. This does not have to be the proverbial lower hanging fruit, but could smaller deals for example. This may mean having more of these to sell, but that could not only mean shorter cycles, but also provide an initial entry point to accounts. The idea is to both salvage the year, and set yourself up for future growth.

Second, much like the successful group above, start hunting for things that will close next year, and close early. A challenge many sales people have is the start of year lull, often because they spend a disproportionate time “closing” late in the year. They return in the New Year only to find a neglected pipeline that takes time to build up and get back in shape. This can easily be avoided by starting early, starting now. Think of it as a variation to the above scenario, except in this instance we seed now, harvest in January. To avoid this, but you have to start now. I always find it interesting that prospects are able to hold

Look at it this way, at least if you miss quota this year, you will have given your employer a reason to keep you around for next year.

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Successful Voice Mails are like Bikinis! – Sales eXecution 3091

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Voice mail 3

They always say it is good to borrow perspectives from different fields as a means of perhaps learning something unanticipated about your day-to-day work. With that in mind, I’d like to use a perspective I learned some time back from someone in finance. This individual had an interesting view of financial statements:

“Financial statements are like bikinis, what they reveal is interesting, but what hide or don’t show is even more compelling.”

And that’s a great perspective to bring to voice mail.

There is no middle ground with voice mail, you either have those who leave no message, and at the other end are people who don’t just leave a message, but proceed to dump their brains out when leaving a voice mail.

Not leaving a message is just silly, why invest the time and effort in making the call, then listening to the target’s out going message (and most listen), only to hang up without a mark. Those who do leave a big fat message, tell me “well if I leave a compelling enough message, the prospect is bound to call me back”. Ya, because the world is such a rational place, let me guess, they probably call with a checkbook in hand asking “where do I sign?” Right.

If you listen to 90% of outgoing voice mail messages, they ask you to “please leave a detailed message”. And most sellers, wanting be liked and looking to form a relationship, comply. If you thought sales people can “spray and pray” live, they take it to an entirely different art form when it comes to voice mail messages they leave.

Why do these prospects want “a detailed message”? Because they want to protect their most precious resource, time. They want to know exactly why NOT to call you back. The more your message conforms to their request for detail, the more they know why they don’t need to call you back, and they can use that time and energy to deal with one of the other many things they are trying to cram in to their day.

Which is why you want your voice mail to be like a bikini, seductive yet not completely revealing. Seductive enough for you to say “OK, this interesting, show me more”.

Your goal or objective for voice mail is to get a call back and nothing else; a crucial point many miss. This is why we often get the Tolstoy equivalent of voice mail, rambling messages that provide every detail about the caller and the reason for the call. Detail leads to no call back. A lack of detail, where crucial elements are not revealed, think bikini, leads to more call backs, and more of the only measure of success with voice mail, a return call.

The human mind hates a mystery, and will take steps to resolve them, all relative to the context. Ever been talking about a movie with a group of people, and none of you can remember the name of the lead actor. It gnaws away until someone remembers the name, and there is a collective sense of relief.

The best voice mail are ones that create that same feel, a mix of compelling facts, and insufficient data. Info that is compelling enough, but insufficient enough to draw a conclusion. This will leave the recipient with the choice of putting the whole message out of their mind, or pick up the phone, dial the number left, in the hope of completing the picture.

For specific details of a quality voice mail, watch these videos:

youtube Understanding and Leveraging the Dynamics of Voice Mail 

 The Step by Step of a Great Voice Mail

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Proactive Prospecting — Turning an Interruption Into a Sales Conversation #webinar0

Thursday, Aug. 20 – 4:00 p.m. Eastern

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If you are in sales, you are also in prospecting. Getting in front of the right buyer is critical for sales success, yet many sellers struggle to maintain and leverage a consistent prospecting regimen. This webinar will show you: why reps are reluctant to prospect; how to help them overcome this reluctance; a proven process for prospecting success; how to deal with email and voicemail; and a means of creating sustained change behaviors in your team members. You will learn why looking for need and pain will limit prospecting success, and what you have to introduce into the call if you are going to overcome apathy and complacency in buyers. You will also learn how to deal with the most common objections you will face while prospecting.

Join me this Thursday August 20, at 4:00 pm Eastern for a webinar full of actionable insights.

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Turn Your Proactive Prospecting Calls Upside-down – Sales eXecution 3072

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

upside down key

The primary, and one can argue the only purpose of a prospecting call is to gain engagement. It is not, as some pundits will tell you, to build rapport or start the relationship, or set yourself up for the future. These latter outcomes are things we sometimes have to settle for, but there is no doubt these are a distant second place to the primary goal; the singular objective and measure of success is to schedule a meeting, (live, phone, web, what have you), anything short of that is second place, which as you know is first place for those who missed the primary objective.

Adopting that attitude is key, as attitudes influence your actions, and how you act on that initial call will determine whether you engage with your potential buyer, or join the ranks of the Also-rans. The attitude is that we need to meet because there will be a mutual advantage to both as a result of the engagement. In the long run, the buyer will be closer to their objectives, and you will have a buyer. In the short term, they will learn from you, as they would from any encounter with a subject matter expert, and that is what you are; and you will learn something from them and their business. But none of that happens if you fail to engage.

Attitude also influences the message, what you say right out of the gate, most sales people, with help from the marketing team, tend to blow this important opportunity, and as a result the call. Listen to B2B sales people make prospecting calls, as I have done with hundreds of reps, thousands of calls, and you will discover that most end up delivering the wrong massage in the wrong way.

While everyone will tell you that the call has to be about the buyer and their “What’s in it for Me”, it rarely is. Most calls start off with an introduction to the company, what “we” do, and how “we” do it, how great “we” are, and then, well into the call they finally introduce the “what” may be in it for the buyer. Something like:

Hi Buyer, I my Name is Alfred E. Newman, do you have a few minutes, I am the North East Account Manager at YetAnother Corp. We are a leading manufacturer of something you already have, our clients recognize as being reliable and customer centric. We help them reduce the total cost of production by 8% while reducing their manufacturing process by 6%.

Now that last part is good, assuming the person you called is still awake, considering the precious seconds you wasted with boring non-relevant data. I know it is hard, but on that first call, in those early seconds, no one cares about us, our awards, place in the market, how we do things, seriously, they don’t, no matter what your marketing folks tell you.

What they DO care about is “what is in it for them”, more specifically “how will this help me get to my desired outcomes or objectives?” Which is the last part of the above intro. Which is why I say “turn it upside-down”; start with the outcome, what’s the tangible for the, meaning the “the reduction of their “total cost of production by 8% while reducing their manufacturing process by 6%.” The stuff before that is just filler for you, not for the buyer who may not be awake by the time you get to it.

Lead with that last part, it is more likely that they were thinking about that before you called; but many sales people can’t bring themselves to leave out the filler, the puff-pastry that brings nothing to the call but the risk of rejection, discouragement, and a lack of prospecting success.

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