businessman on the beach

Dog Sales Of Summer1

Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Given that we are right in the middle of summer, and that today is a holiday long weekend here in Toronto, my mind naturally drifted to a summer theme, no doubt helped by things I’ve consumed by poolside. Looking around the water’s edge, you begin to see things here that remind one of sales. I was going to start with bikinis, but I got tagged by the Politically Correctness Police (PCP) last week, so we’ll save that for below.

There is no denying that vacations and other factors lead to summer slowdowns, but that may be just what you need on deals that may have stalled in Q1 or Q2. It’s important to remember that this has internal implications for your prospects as well that you may be able to leverage to restart discussions and the stalled deal. First thing to understand is why is it stalled, at a high level what changed if anything. If their objectives have changed, then any decisions related to that objective will be put on hold. The good news is that many long term objectives do not change as often as some tactical plans. The stall is usually in the how “we get there”, not “where we’re going and why”.

It is entirely possible for objectives to remain steady while tactical plans change. At times the initial path considered may not prove to be optimal, and while they review or adjust, everything gets put on hold, but not everything gets changed or replaced. In fact, it is during these “stalls” that you can step into the void and take on the role of a Subject Matter Expert. When you do, you can circle back with more than “I’m just following up”.

Instead of looking for the deal to be back on, you need to first help them recommit to their objectives. This allows you to be a resource to help them get “unstalled”. In my own practice I had a client that acknowledged they wanted to use my services, but had a number of obstacles that had to be dealt with, and it was clear that they weren’t going to do it on their own, given the number of people and strong opinions. Changing gears, I worked with their VP of Strategy to set up a meeting at a hotel around the block, the meeting was advertised as an objective review session, seemed like the right time of year for an “off-site”.

It was clear that not only had their objectives did not change, they were all still committed to them. But there were some lesser “departmental things that loomed large when they each sat in their office, but paled when on the whiteboard with the bigger more important objectives. This made it easy to not worry about the lesser things and refocus on the bigger objective. Without this I would still be working the deal.

Once you confirm that the objective(s) has remained in place, you can pivot to helping them unclutter things, refocus them on the impacts on their business they set out to achieve, and how that is only a gateway to further success. This approach is often more likely to be considered during the summer lull rather than when the pace is hectic. What else you gotta do?

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Get It Together! Marketing and Sales Collaboration That WORKS0

Dec 15

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

Once upon a time, the business world operated in silos. The accounting department worked in its own silo, while the human resources department worked in a separate silo. Sales and marketing teams also had unique silos. Everyone worked independently and everyone seemed happy – until conflict arose.

Today, more businesses recognize the distinct problem with this setup: each department is working toward a common goal, yet no one is communicating.

The problem with organizing your business in silos goes deeper than lack of communication (although that’s a pretty big deal in any organization). When conflicts arise, the other departments are quick to point fingers. This is especially true of sales and marketing departments. Too often, teams hear the rallying cry of, “but the others don’t get it!” Sales teams fail to see the value in marketing, while marketers see salesmen as lazy.

Instead of listening to what the other department has to say and then collaborating toward a solution to benefit both people, the two teams bicker.

Sales and Marketing Don’t Have to Go Head to Head

All this bickering is stealing from your company’s bottom line. Instead of finding a positive solution to honor the common goal of growing the company, the two teams debate who is right. It’s unproductive…but it doesn’t have to work this way.
Smart companies today realize the problems of communication breakdown between sales and marketing teams. It’s costing them money. If your company is tired of hearing the two teams whine about the other’s performance, it’s time to bring these groups together. Here’s how:

Clarify Qualified Leads

Many sales teams believe the leads coming through aren’t qualified so they’re a waste of time. This is an easy fix. To help the marketing department bring in higher qualified leads, ask each department to define what a qualified lead looks like.
Then, pair the results side by side and consolidate the information. Where is there overlap? Where are the gaps? Whittle away until you reach a consensus between both departments about what a qualified lead looks like.

Collaborate on Content

Sales teams pound the pavement talking to potential customers. They hear more objections than anyone else in the company and they know what the market is looking for.
This is valuable information for marketing teams.
When sales teams can express these objections and define current market trends, the content created for marketing materials becomes far more compelling. The sales team’s job becomes easier and your business starts attracting more people because you “get it.”

How to Get Buy In From Both Departments

The trick to break away from the silo mentality and encourage healthy collaboration between these two departments is showing the benefits of working together.

For sales teams, working together means:
● Higher qualified leads
● Better resources to attract new customers
● More opportunities to reach potential leads
For marketing teams, working together means:
● Having an ear to the ground to know what people are saying instead of having to guess
● Ideas for content creation that drive success by overcoming objections before the customer voices them
● More successful marketing campaigns based on improved communication

Bridging the Gap

It’s time to say “so long” to outdated business concepts. To succeed in business today, your company must bridge the gap between sales and marketing. When you use your CRM to manage collaborative teams, you make it easier and faster to share information. Break away from the silo approach in your business. Start seeing bigger results with stronger teamwork across departments.

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.

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Website: www.chamberofcommerce.com

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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The Difference Between Sales Pros and Amateurs – Is The Silence4

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Thinking man

Everyone knows that the prospect should be doing most of the talking during a sales call. Knowing it and doing it, well you know. That is one of the big challenges in sales, everyone knows what they have to do, but do they do it?

So ya, active listening, always in style, ever the fashion, but it means so many things to many different sellers, but there is more to the whole thing. It’s not just the listening, it’s what you do with it.

Buyers are practiced too, they can see when it is real, and when it’s shtick, even when it’s good pundit shtick. Sales person makes eye contact, does not interrupt, nods almost on cue, and takes copious notes to preserve every word the prospects utters. Then as soon as the prospects stops, bam, jump on the next thing.

That’s where pros differ from the pack. Watch effective sales people conduct a sales interview, and what you’ll see is that they not only talk less, but revel in the silence. Specifically the silence between when the prospect stops speaking, and when they start their next sentence. They take the time to not only take in what the prospect was saying, but more importantly time to digest and reflect.

If you jump right on the prospects sentence, you may convince them that you were listening, but do little to make them believe you took in what they said, considered it, and incorporated it into the rest of the interview. That’s where the silence comes in. Those precious seconds where you actually think about what they said, not just wrote it down for later, when you need fodder for the CRM.

I know that seconds seem like hours, especially in the heat of the sale, but if the buyer does not buy that you are understanding them and incorporating it into to you flow, the confidence and trust will diminish. After all, if you do not take the time to fully digest what you just heard, it is valid for them to ask if you are focused on them and their direction, or just pitching; one takes time, the other does not.

Part of the challenge is we tend to think faster than we listen or people speak, making it easy to race along, and instead of fully listening and digesting, just consuming things they say. So every time they say something that fits your script you jump in, or move to confirm a data point rather than taking in the whole point, said or implied. Remember, an agenda is not a script, you can change up the sequence and direction of things based on what the buyer is saying. And what they are saying is not always right, which give you the opportunity to explore why they see it that way, take in their explanation and use it as an opportunity to educate the buyer, and have them change direction. And the will, if they see that you are taking into consideration what they present, something you can do during the silence. One method I was taught is to base a question on what they just said that also introduces new elements you feel need to be part of the discussion. Stop, think, one steamboat, two steamboat….., and as the silence fills the room, ask away.

Tibor Shanto

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Salesman #Podcast – Sales eXecution 3170

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Radio Renbor the pipe

A few weeks back I wrote a post Just Wondering… about a question I was asked during a podcast about who I felt were the best sales people I ever worked with.

Below, in its entirety, for your listening and dining pleasure, is the whole podcast.  We explored other topics including how some of the concepts in the award winning book I coauthored may be out of date, how my thinking has evolved, and a host of other sales subject.  Take a listen, share with friends, hold some town halls, hell, ask Trump to comment on it, he can tell us how it might play in China, cause Trump knows China.  Whatever you do with it, enjoy, and leave us your thoughts.

Now it’s your turn, have you say below.

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Tibor Shanto

Are your Open Ended Questions Leading to Closed Ended Results? – Sales eXecution 3160

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Question ball and chain

Often the best sales books are not about sales or by sales experts. Case in point Dorothy Leeds’, the The 7 Powers of Questions: Secrets to Successful Communication in Life and at Work. If you haven’t read this and you’re in sales, you are at a disadvantage to any rep that has. While the importance of questions has been explored by many, I keep coming back to this because she does not limit questions to being a sales tactic, but as a means of facilitating real communication and opportunities.

A key point in the book is that questions make one think. So true, yet so underutilized in sales. Rather than using where the buyer is as a starting point, and using question to go beyond, sellers use questions to bring the buyer to a space where the seller needs them, where their value proposition resides. Salespeople use question to box people into a space where they feel they can demonstrate their product and their perspective of value. You can hear it when they “wouldn’t you agree that if….., then you would be able to ….. better (faster, cheaper, etc.)…. Odd how the biggest proponents of Open Ended questioning, end up using questions to create a Closed Ended buying environment. The result is that these questions lead the prospect to in the opposite direction, leaving sellers to wonder why their great questions fail to inspire the buyer.

Want to inspire buyers, get them to think, to engage in a way that they don’t with sales people who use question to coral them? Get them to think. Not about their situation, their hip to that, they live it. Get them to think of their objectives, about the path forward, and the possibilities those objectives Open Up. To do that you need to demonstrate being a subject matter expert, and brave enough to explore the unknown, using question to find possibilities not limit them.

Being a subject matter expert does not mean being a “know it all”. But having enough knowledge, confidence and curiosity to help your buyer navigate uncharted territories to get to their objectives.

All those probing questions fall on deaf ears, they have heard it all before, the have been disappointed before. What they are looking for is a trusted advisor, again, that is not an oracle all knowing all saying, but someone with the skills and expertise to help them figure out how to bridge the gap between where they are now, and where they want their business to be.

Now when I say trusted advisor, I don’t mean their friend, or a relationship type, but someone who demonstrates enough expertise in the areas the buyer is trying to understand that they are willing to trust them enough to first take input then advice. You do not need to have a relationship to do that, you need to have and demonstrate expertise. You can do that and establish yourself as the go to source, as the one who can cut through the noise out there trying to bring them into a closed ended discussion, and you can become the supplier of choice long before the relationship that will evolve after.

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Un-Complicating Their Buy at #CEBSummit0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Richtung Pfeil

While there are a range of relevant topics relating to sales, selling and marketing presented at the CEB Sales and Marketing Summit, the one recurring theme is the power of simplification.

When you step back and see how selling have unfolded over the last for years, what a neutral observer would see is an exercise in layering. People would see an opportunity or a challenge and they would bolt something on to fix or “enhance” their current state as a means of improvement. This could be to their sales process, or their sales enablement technology or platform; the term “There’s an App for that”, was embraced by sales long before all sellers bought iPhones. This wasn’t lost on marketing, they joined the party and loaded on more. This often led one to wonder whether the sale was complex to begin with, or it was complicated by the participants.

Which brings us to the buyers, they further added to the complications, leading to challenges so well presented in CEB’s current book “The Challenger Customer”. As the authors spell out in detail, the dysfunctional buyers and buying process triggers a reaction in sellers, usually in the form of adding more, and just driving the problem further.

Much of discussion at the Summit, speaks to how simplifying the buying process could lead to a number of benefits for buyers and by extension sellers, and the role sales/marketing organizations can play in helping buyer simplify things and progress as a result. “Empowered Customers are Overwhelmed”, turns out “too much information, too many options, and too many people involved in the decision are grinding things to a halt, with 81% or respondents saying their sales cycles have gotten longer over last five years.

The Ease-O-Meter – So how can you make buying easier? You start by focusing on the buying process. This does not mean the traditional approach of imposing you sales process, your time lines, your market view on the buyer, but truly helping them with their purchase as a means of helping them achieve their business goals and objectives.

This is not easy for sales and marketing types, as evidenced by one exercise that had us focus on the buy side of life. Even with all the great knowledge and experience about, this proved to be a real task. Adding to the challenge are two factors detailed in the Challenger Customer”, the combination of the “5.4” and the “good enough”. 5.4 being the number of people/groups involved in a buy decision, hence the dysfunction; “good enough”, the reality of buyers recognizing your value, but not willing to pay for it when there is a “good enough” lower cost alternative.

Another way to simplify things is to minimize options and choices, as stated above, too much choice is not working, as Barry Schwartz, Ph.D author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, choice is just killing buying, which is killing sales. While this may seem counter intuitive to many in sales, there were numerous example of why and how too much choice can lead to no choice, not what sellers want when they give choices. As Schwartz pointed out “the best way to avoid regretting a decision is not to make one!”

Not to be glib, but the choice is there, you can keep on the path you’re on, or pick up the book, focus on executing the the concepts and implementing elements to make your buyers’ journey easier and simplify your sales success.

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Q&A at Plug and Play #video – Sales eXecution 3130

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

In September I had the opportunity to meet with some up and coming companies at Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale.  After the meeting, I was asked to share some specifics about selling and our approach to driving value from prospecting call to growing your clients.  Take a look below, and feel free to reach out if anything strikes a chord or close to home.

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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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