Make you own path

Objections Are Only Negative IF You Allow Them To Be4

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Not everything prospects say that does not align or agree with your view is an objection, and more importantly, you shouldn’t react to everything as if it was. On the other hand, you also know that there will be some specific objections that are going to come up, and how one deals with that often separates the high performers from the also-rans.

One advantage of reviewing deals, as we do with our 360 Degree Deal View, is that you become much more aware hot how things turned out, why they turned out that way, and what you need to change in your approach to change the results in your favour.

As you continue to make the review central to sales approach you will also better understand which “objections” tend to come up at specific points in the cycle, and you see the impact those objections and how you handle them, have on the turn out.

As you begin to accumulate data, you will be in a much better position to know which are real objections, potentially derailing the deal, and which are not objections, as much as say questions the buyer has that are not well articulated, the prospect thinking out loud, almost reassuring themselves in the process. Other times, especially when the individual you are dealing with is part of a buying group or committee, they think through the reaction they anticipate from others on the team, and as they work through them, they may come across as an objection.

Some objections/questions, especially when you know when and where they will appear, are actually good. Yes, good, because as you get better at anticipating them, you can begin to leverage your response to move the sale forward further than if the objection had not come up. If you know that most new buyers don’t fully understand how something works, handling their objection and giving them knowledge goes much further to lower resistance than if they had not come up. Knowing this, you can steer the conversation in a way that almost forces the objection to come up. When it does, look at it like a fastball down the middle, you just need to hit it out of the park.

Make you own pathKnowing which objections/questions are going to come and when, allow you to elevate your status as a subject matter expert. Again, with the most common objections, some are best when left to the prospect to throw out, but some you should put out before the prospect does. Doing this will right off the top confirm that you are a pro and have does this before, validating your status, and allowing you to set expectations. While most of the also-rans try to avoid or hide from specific hard objections, thanking god when they don’t come up.

But you know the bridge will have to be crossed if you are going to make the sale. It has come up in every deal, when managed well, you have won, and when mismanaged you’ve lost. With that reality, it best to get it out, and over with. Timing is crucial, but again, with reviews you can quickly know when to put the objection out there before they do. It does not have to hard or dramatic. It can be as simple as “in my experience, most prospects are thinking about (insert topic), which makes sense in light of the facts, so here is what you need to know/consider/explore/change….”

Objections are only negative when you allow them to be.

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Closing Is Easy0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

One of the most common things I hear from sellers is “Get me in front of the right guy, and I can close them”. Big deal, so could any monkey dressed in the right suit, that’s why the big money in B2B sales is made by those who can actually get in front of the right guy long before the closing monkeys show up, those who can OPEN.

Closing opportunities that were initiated by the buyer themselves is cute, but is it enough? When asked if they can meet or exceed quota relying strictly on deals that were initiated by the buyer, most admit the answer is no. In addition to those who come to them, they have to identify, qualify, prospect and engage with potential buyers who left on their own, would not have stayed out of the market in the current timeframe.

When A Tree Falls In The Forest

When you ask sales people or organizations, whether they could make or exceed quota by closing only opportunities initiated by the buyers themselves, and most admit, no. Meaning they have to go out and prospect buyers, who left to their own, would stay on the sidelines, and remain oblivious to any social activity, messaging, or any other on line activity. It is very much like the tree falling in the forest. If the buyer is not online, but instead in their businesses, their shops, trucks, or offices, doing their thing, then they can’t see or interact with anything you may dangle out there. This, by the way, represents about 70% of any defined market, if not more.

Sure, one alternative is to double down, increase your efforts to entice and succeed with those buyers who are interacting with what you’re dangling. But we also have to remember that these buyers are rarely monogamous. They are visiting all your competitors’ sites, and playing footsie with all they’re dangling. In a “good enough” world, you all begin to look the same at about the 67% – 70% marker in the journey, leaving price as the big differentiator.

Back To The Start

Openers, know how to identify and speak with those 70% who are entrenched on the sideline. They can shape the thinking of the buyer much more so than one could at the 67% marker. While any intelligent buyer will compare you to others, Openers know how to frame the opportunity in ways that will directly influence how those buyers will filter your competitors.

The risk these days is that everyone is so fixated on closing, they overlook the need for Openers, placing all their early cycle success in means that are not delivering. While many bought into the SDR wave, stats about SaaS sales success can be scary by any standard. One reason again is that the emphasis is not opening the opportunity, creating a base for success, and without that foundation, it is hard to build.

Unfortunately, the discussion has eroded into a question of style, social vs. traditional. But impact has been deeper, as many who shun traditional prospecting, say telephone prospecting or cold calling, also abandon the skill of opening, as that step is left entirely to the buyer. Time to focus on why we do something, not just the how. For real sellers, the why is about the Open.

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IDeen

Resolve to be a Contender Not Column Fodder0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

If you are in B2B sales, you have, knowingly or not, been column fodder. I often ask sales people if they know what that means, and for the most part most do not. While some of you may know what I mean, others may not so let’s define. It is a situation where a buyer has decided that they will give the business to a specific, usually favoured, vendor. These same buyers, also know from experience or set expectations, that their boss (or the owner), will want to see some comparables before approving said purchase. So they set things up in a spreadsheet for presentation.

Column A – This has all their requirements
Column B – The chosen vendor, the one that will get the deal short of divine intervention (bad news for atheist sellers).

But they know the boss is going to ask to see options, so this buyer engages with two other vendors. Asking very specific questions, questions matching the requirements in Column A. This line of questioning often fools sales people making them believe that the interest is real due to the specificity of the questions, and the degree of engagement by the prospect. (I know earlier I called them a buyer, but that is only true for the vendor in Column B, if you’re in C or D, they are and will only ever be prospects.) In the end the buyer presents these in a way where Column B is all but assured that they win the deal, and you and one other rep serve as column fodder.

But it does not have to play out that way. You can take steps to either avoid playing the game, or play it to disrupt and win. Contrary to what some may think, I think the prudent course is to avoid playing the game, and spend the time and energy prospecting for potential buyers who are willing to engage based on merit, not the need to justify a purchase from someone other than you.

First thing you can do is to ensure that you are interviewing the prospect as much as they interview you. While it is the prospect who should be speaking more, it is the seller who should set that into motion with good questions that not only bring light to the issue, but challenge the prospects pre-conceptions, and direction. With Fodder calls, not only is the rep talking more than the prospect, but the prospect is driving the direction, asking the questions, and keeping the discussion in predetermined petametres that deliver the desired result, fodder, not knowledge.

IDeenIf it is a real curiosity, you could get to the root of things by asking a combination of:

Where they are now?
How they measure the situation?
Where they had planned to be?
Why the Gap?
Quantify the impact of addressing the Gap?
Quantify the impact of inaction to address the Gap?
Extrapolate Rewards over entire the course of ownership/benefit?

If you can’t change the path the conversation is on, you need to seriously think about walking away. If the conversation is nothing like the ones that lead to closed deals, you have to ask why, and then react accordingly.

I have some reps tell me that they “play” along, believing if the chosen vendor drops the ball, they will be “next in line”. Problem is even if that happens, human ego often prevents the buyer from coming back Column C or D, a new search is much simpler for them.

Last thought, that time you wasted playing Fodder, not only could have been spent with a real prospect, but you’ll never get it back.

Be a Contender in 2017!

See you next year!!

script

Scripting Prospecting Success0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

There are a lot of things sellers say in the course of telephone prospecting. But given the nature of the call, the reality that we need to get to engagement from an interruption in a relatively short time, it is important to think about what you’re going to say and why. One way is to actually use a script, yes, script, maybe it would help if we called it a plan you can follow to ensure success in an endeavourer, in this case engaging with a potential prospect. One reason to have a script is to ensure that What you say in the call is always tied to a Why, a Why for the prospect, and from the prospect’s perspective, not yours.

scriptI know many don’t like scripts, they see them as old school and limiting, when in fact the opposite is true. They not only help you stay up to date, and when you are good, forward looking (sounding), but done right and used right they expand the possibilities rather than limit them. A well developed script is a template, it ensures that your message is delivered in the way you planned and want to deliver it. Those who want to succeed at prospecting without a plan, (a script) remind me very of actors without a script. Now some actors may do improv very well, some will in fact go and practice improv to sharpen certain skills, but for the money, the best actors use scripts. Name your last Oscar winner that went at the part without a script; yet to the audience, they nailed the role. Well if you want to nail a call, you need a script.

Much like in the movies, you don’t see the script, you just see the results. Unlike the movies, where actors rehearse their parts, make changes based on how it went. They work with the screen writer to adjust it so it works in the context of the scene. I don’t see many sales people rehearse, and even less do it out loud; or work with their colleagues, be they from product development, marketing or elsewhere in the process. Nor do I see them going back and listening to the recordings so they can see what works for the audience (read prospect), and what is turning the audience off.

Much like many plays or movies get dated fast, so do calling scripts. You need to continuously update them based on who you are calling, what their objectives may be, or in different economic conditions, and at times even based on location and local slang. You need to prepare different iterations based on the changing facts on the ground. When I say prepare, I mean just that. Sit down and write out your scripts, each version, each change. It has been show that we retain more when we write it down.

Once you have written it, let it sit overnight, think of it as the prospecting version of marinating. Then go back to it, and if you like, you need to do two more things. First, read it again, (out loud), and then see how you can make it more conversational, not read, like the telemarketers you hate. Use a friend to tell you if it sounds like you, or a telemarketer, keep rehearsing till it’s you. Second, and more important, once you are happy with it, and have it down, put it away when you are on the phone. If you have practiced/rehearsed, then you don’t need it out, you’ll turn to it and read it on the first bump, instant death. You may stumble, but that’s human, and they like it when you are scripted and human, not so much when you are winning it, and sound desperate.

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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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3 Ways to Stay on Top of Your Sales Calls0

The Pipeline Guest Post – Elizabeth Dupont

How many calls do you handle on a daily basis?  If you’re in sales, you probably make at least 50 calls a day, and that’s not even counting how many you calls you receive. You spend most of your day making connections and engaging customers, but it would be impossible to remember the minutiae of every conversation. So how do you keep track of who you’ve spoken with and when?

The answer is call tracking.

The Basics and Benefits of Call Tracking

When you were in college, no doubt you spent a lot of time taking notes. It was tedious work, but it always paid off when you were able to remember information for your exams. The same concept holds true with phone calls.

Call tracking is essentially “taking notes” on each call you make and receive. You record details on the person with whom you spoke, what type of call it was (i.e., outbound or inbound), and the time and date of any follow-up calls or meetings you may have scheduled. When you save information about the call, you set yourself up for better communication with the customer as well as practical statistics of each call. This way, not only are you gaining critical information on how much phone traffic you receive, but you also make it easier to keep track of your customers and where they are in your sales process.

An added (and very important) benefit that sales tracking provides is that it allows you to create a better overall experience for your customer. Your customers are individuals, and they want to be appreciated and treated with respect. Remembering important snippets and details from previous conversations shows that you understand your client’s needs and want to provide them with solutions, not just make a sale. By logging such details about each sales call you make, you can make each call personal and relatable for your clients.

On the more technical end of the spectrum, call tracking also has the benefit of revealing certain metrics about your business. For instance, you can see at a glance how many outbound and inbound calls you’re making and receiving on a daily basis. You can also view statistics on how many calls you’re missing versus how many are answered, so you know exactly what area of your business needs the most attention.

Top Sales Tracking Methods

Now that you’ve seen the importance of call tracking, the next bridge to cross is implementation. There are several ways to keep track of your calls, but here we’ll go over the three most-used methods that make logging easy and effective.

  1. VoIP Call Tracking: If you’re logging calls mainly for the metrics, then this is the route for you. VoIP systems digitally and automatically track your inbound, outbound, and missed calls, providing you with detailed reports on each area. This allows you to see which hours and departments received the most phone traffic, so you can tell whether you’re staffed accordingly or whether you need to be making more sales calls.
  2. CRM Software: When your CRM software is linked to your VoIP system, the two can work in tandem to give you the best possible tracking available. Place a phone call using your VoIP system, and your CRM will automatically pull up specifics on the customer and your previous calls. When you’ve finished the call, your CRM will prompt you to log the call, and you can add more notes on the call and save it for future. This not only gives you the bare-bones metrics (i.e., whether the call was inbound or outbound, the duration of the call, etc.), but also allows you to add in your own details so you can give a better customer experience.
  3. Call Report Templates: This is the manual, DIY method of tracking calls if you don’t have VoIP or CRM. Call report templates are basically worksheets with areas for you to fill in the particulars of the call yourself. You can make your own template using a program such as Excel, creating a spreadsheet with individual columns for date, time, inbound/outbound, customer name, notes, and any other information that you wish to provide on each call.

Call tracking may seem superfluous, but in an age where businesses are dealing with larger call volumes, it’s critical to have some way of monitoring your call info. Call tracking is the key to keeping tabs on your leads in a systematic, organized manner, so you and your customer will both benefit.

About Elizabeth:

Elizabeth Dupont specializes in various fields including business, marketing, and technology, and regularly writes for Fit Small Business and other publications. When she isn’t writing, she’s wrangling her four kids, working on art projects, or reading fiction. Connect with her via LinkedIn or via email at [liz.dupont09@gmail.com].

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surfing

Riding The Prospecting Wave0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

There are many things that influence a sales cycle, some within our control, others not.  Often we spend too much time, energy and emotion worrying about the things we can’t control, while deliberately ignoring and not attending to things we can control, and would make a difference if we did.  Some elements or factors are not that back and white, while we may not control them, we can ride and leverage them to help us succeed.

One example of this maybe momentum, we can’t directly initiate or ensure momentum, there are things we can do to leverage momentum to help us sell.  As with other forms of black art, sales people can best leverage momentum by grounding their sales approach in routine and discipline, this in turn helps you put you in the right place more often to create and increase momentum when it is with you, and to neutralize it when it is against you.

According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, “40% to 45% of what we do every day sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit.”  Start by reviewing the things you do every day and through the sales cycle.   The first challenge is recognizing the habits that are holding you back, and then replacing them with habits that leads to success.  Then it gets a bit harder, actually replacing bad habits with good, this can be harder than quitting smoking, as someone who has done both, I know this first hand.

Funny thing about momentum, it seems to follow your habits, the more of the right basics, the more other elements fall into place.  We see this time and time again, when we work with people through the initial 12 weeks of the Proactive Prospecting Program, participants adopt and execute new practices and disciplines, i.e. change their habits, resulting in more opportunities in their pipeline, and they see momentum going their way.  Whereas before, when their habits kept them from having a healthy pipeline filled with choice, momentum seemed to be always against them.

surfingSo here is a simple example.  I repeatedly see reps commit to say an hour of prospecting a day, not that much in the scheme of things, but I would argue one of the most important hours of the day.  Usually this is based on their specific time range based on their individual output from The Activity Calculator.  Some have the habit of doing a whole bunch of things related to prospecting, without ever actually prospecting, this includes research, prep, BS, you name it; at the end of the hour, few if any new prospects.  So while they have built momentum for “getting ready”, they have added to the momentum keeping them for success, cause their ain’t nothing new in their pipeline.

Even when they get an appointment, they see it as an opportunity (excuse) to stop.  What a waste!  If you set aside for prospecting, do it for an hour; most people get more relaxed after they succeed, in this case secure an opportunity, so why not keep going, and have momentum work for you.   Same can be said for the rest of their pipeline, as soon as they get a few opportunities to Discovery, they figure that good times are here to stay.  They are but only for those who have developed the habit of making prospecting part of their ongoing routine.  Maybe it’s just me, but I do my best prospecting when my pipeline is full, and do the worst when my pipeline is depleted.  I would rather face having an overflowing pipeline offering choice, than the desperation an empty pipeline brings.  By seizing momentum when things are going my way, usually as a result of habit and execution, I can ensure that my pipeline and opportunities will always be sufficient.  Just as the reality of no pipeline, no opportunities, bring a momentum that is hard to reverse.  The right habits consistently applied, will help you build you momentum and ride the wave.

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There Is No App For That0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

There is no doubt that we have more tools to choose from in sales than ever.  Making things more interesting are the number of tools and apps available to buyers, and the direct impact that has had on sellers and their craft.  One can argue that the gains available to buyers have more than negated any advantages sellers gained with their adoption of technologies, leaving sellers no further ahead.  Witness the dreadful stats around the number of people in sales making quota, and the even sadder state of affairs when it comes to saas reps and quota.

Technology has definitely stream lined some sales processes, and has automated many tasks that unnecessarily consumed sellers time and energy.  One would think as a result sales productivity would have gained., but clearly not the case.  While we can talk about how and why there has been no or little gain in productivity, the bottom line remains that while we do things “more efficiently”, do them “faster”, and have greater visibility than ever into what is happening; just one thing, there is not that much more happening than before.

Many of the apps have ended up doing things that many reps just refuse to do, even when they have to be done to succeed, or menial tasks, that expensive professional resource are too valuable to have do.  But this concept only works if the freed up time and resources are reapplied to higher value activities which they are not.

Where apps and even social selling cannot help you with is that last inch, that moment where buyer and seller engage, that human to human connection.  In case of commodity sales, be that consumables, toner, nails, IT components, and more, where developments in IoT and other areas, make it easy, in fact more efficient for buyers to leverage tech and apps to keep things humming.  The Amazon Dash Button, will quickly eliminate “sales people” (Well, order takers, social, but no longer required).   This is why it is not surprising that Forrester forecasts 1 million US B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce by 2020, accounting for 20% of the B2B sales force.  Fear not, because someone still has to sell that first button, and for that they’ll need a sales person.

Don’t get me wrong, automation is key, but in most instances, it just levels the playing field, any advantage you are going to have will still come down to how you sell, not how you automate.  For example, I have a client who was able to triple the number of outbound dials by introducing a power dialer, and as a result doubled the number of conversations, and number of conversions to opportunities.  Impressive, but nothing their competitors couldn’t replicate with a similar number of dollars.  The real pay-off was in the investment in the last inch, how his reps handled the call to actually increase the percentage of conversions.  This led to a 30% increase in conversions, leading to a combined impact of 200% increase in engaged opportunities.

Ah, the human factor, there is no app for that.

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Time questions concept as a group of floating clocks and timepieces shaped as a question mark as a metaphor for deadline or business schedule confusion or corporate appointment information as a 3D illustration.

Are You Too Busy to Succeed?8

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

While it may not always seem that way, sales is not that complicated, notwithstanding what pundits and also rans will tell you. That’s not to say it is easy to execute, and we all know that success in sales is all about execution, everything else is just talk, but in terms of complexity, not that much. The size of the deal, or the number of people or moving parts involved, do not make it complex, people who claim to be doing “complex sales”, make complex. Especially when you consider all the tools we have at their disposal than ever not only to reduce complexity, but to get ahead of it, simplifying things even more. What makes it complex is when you leave out things that have to be done for success, and then have to do a whole bunch of things to make up for what you didn’t (want to) do. Like prospecting.

It’s hard to keep a straight face when a rep tells me that they were “too busy to prospect.” Excuse me, too busy to do a core part of your job?

Let’s simplify it here a bit, let me quote an old timer who taught me a bit about sales: “sales come from prospect, and prospects come from appointments” (Or any engagement, live, phone or web). Sure we can dress it up, complicated with a bunch of words borrowed from IT, but I challenge you to show me the flaw in that? The complexity happens when you try to succeed in sales by leaving out one of the above, yup, prospecting. Proactive hands on prospecting, not waiting for “lead?” from someone who like your latest infographic.

Yet regularly sales people tell me they were too busy to prospect. Often these sales people were also too busy to make quota. While many will hide behind customer service, or some other thing that someone else could do much better than them, but if they did, they would have no excuse to not prospect. Like the rep who rather than prospect, drove a $12 part across town to a client, “I am very customer focused”, he told me. I told him so is UBER, and they could have gotten it there for $20, and you could have prospected for new clients needing more $12 parts.

It starts with understanding ALL the things that have to be done during the course of a sale cycle, not just the stuff we like, and then doing them, including prospecting. Say based on you experience, you need to dedicate 10% of your time to prospecting. Given a fifty-hour work week (I know you work so much more), that’s five hours, and hour a day. The best sellers I have met look after the building blocks first. They go into their calendar and block out the time for the winning activities. While actual specific client meetings will be hard to pinpoint in advance, you do know how may meetings a week you will need to succeed based on your conversion rates across the stages of the cycle. Say your number was
eight a week, and your clients are usually a drive away, it is not hard to carve out 16 hours in a week to ensure that when the meeting is secured, you have the “inventory” to fulfill.

Using the example above, if you need an hour of prospecting a day, and your best time to hit your targets is 10:00 am to noon, then go into your calendar today and block an hour a day, you have choice, you can vary it up, but go in there today, and block that time off through to the end of your fiscal year. This will ensure that you have the time needed to get your next opportunity. No matter how good your pipeline looks today, even if you close every opportunity, you will need new opportunities after you celebrate. By blocking off that hour in advance, you will always be prospecting. What I find telling, is that I have never had a rep blow off a client meeting because their pipeline was anemic, and they wanted to make sure that it was healthy again.

Stop making excuses for why you are too busy to succeed, and start making an appointment with success.

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target

Priorities vs. Objectives3

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

If you read this blog regularly (and why wouldn’t you), you know that I put a lot of emphasis on understanding and selling to a prospect’s Objectives, a much better area of focus than pains or needs.  One of the positive elements of Objectives is that they are generally long term, and they continuously evolve.  This provides with a number of opportunities to succeed, but it needs to executed right and in the right sequence.

Many sales people I speak to are always in a hurry, looking to short cut things.  You can’t blame them, every time they go “Home”, they are asked, what did you close?  As old as time, the tribe sends out their hunters, and they expect that hunter to come home with a kill, not “progress”, a “next step”, or any intangible gains.  This drives a certain behavior that limits focus on the buyers’ long term, in favour of the seller’s immediate focus of quota.

I recently had a rep tell me that they would rather focus on the prospect’s priorities than their objectives, his reason being that priorities “paid off quicker than anything long term like objectives.”  Well maybe.

Sure you are more likely to have short term gains with helping people with priorities, what they see as their immediate burning issue.  But what I have seen is that priorities, or series of priorities are part of an overall plan, an overarching Objective, eventually success will be measured in not how well you accomplished any given priority on route to the Objective, but how well the Objective was achieved, and did that in turn drive the impacts and results the business was looking for.

Many sales people will opt to service the priorities because working on the whole Objective may take work and time.  After all, the company may not realize their Objectives for some time, but may buy the first piece now.  The challenge with that is that servicing their immediate purchases without aligning it with Objectives will often leave vendors exposed to the next flash or discounter who comes along.  But if you can focus and sell to Objectives, it does not preclude you from servicing some of the steps along the way.

In addition, there is the question of influencing and shaping their Objectives and means of achieving.  It is the familiar posture in sales, one where you would prefer to be a “trusted advisor” rather than a “supplier” or “vendor”.  Keep your focus on what they are trying to achieve and why, not what they need to buy.  There may well be alternative means of achieving their Objectives, ones you can introduce by virtue of being a Subject Matter Expert, picking off smaller projects along the way will not give you that.  As well, if you are not aligned to their Objectives, any vendor who delivers a priority can come along and displace you.  It is also OK to not win every small project along the way, as long as you are the one they look to for validation of the work, and further direction.  The best sales people will win both priorities and Objectives by focusing more on the latter than the former.

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