Sitting

Don’t Just Do Something – Sit There!0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

All too many people confuse activity or action with productivity or results. Think of how many times the best thing you can say about a movie or a game is that it was “action filled”. In sales, many often confuse activity with moving the sale forward or execution, bringing to mind the saying about the deck chairs on the Titanic. And while action is at times better than no action at all, it is not always the case. The difference would be in the intent and purpose.

Execution should be the tactical manifestation of a strategy, or more accurately strategies. An overall corporate sales strategy, territory and account strategies, and then a strategy for every encounter with a laser focus on logical next steps. Execution is not, or should not be, a means of formulating your strategy by trial and error. It is often those sales leaders who rely on the trial and error method that complain that their sales cycles are too long, and are looking for a way to shorten the cycle. Well, start by not doing unthought-out things that don’t directly support your goal, and more importantly that of the buyer.

Now don’t get me wrong, more often than not, it is good to put (new) skills into practice or action. This way we can review and adjust, and bring improvement over time. The key is the action being taken is in context of specific goals, one supported by a strategy (or at minimum a plan), and the execution is driven by a clear process.

Now before your roll your eyes – Anderson Style, like many do at the mention of process, consider how a dynamic process can make selling, if not easier, more straight forward. The challenge is that most confuse process with a series of predesigned steps.

While there may be a logical path or sequence in well thought-out sales processes, it is not the end all and be all, but a start. A process should allow you to best engage your buyer around their objectives, leading to the business impacts they were looking for, or more when they deal with a good sales person.

A good sales process is one that evolves with your market, one that is dynamic and reflects the market, rather than a static process that expects the market to bend to your view, which it usually does not.

As such, a key feature of a process, is not in telling you exactly what to do in each circumstance. This leaves one exposed when circumstances change, which is daily, or when we encounter circumstances our process, and the folks who designed it, did not take into account.

SittingThe best processes are those that encourage people to think about the specific situation they are facing. The means and steps with which to evaluate, and then respond or act, rather than many of the processes that send people off to do something and then try to figure out why things went wrong, after the fact.

The best sales processes are those that encourage you to stop, step back, evaluate, come up with a course of action based on the here and now, and then act. Ones that allow you to not do something for the sake of doing something, and instead execute those actions that drive value for the buyer, and move the process forward. It’s OK not to do something, and sit back and think instead.

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Pensive businessman sitting at the table with ball in office. Looking away

March Sadness0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

I recall reading Skip Miller’s “ProActive Sales Management”, where he states: “If you, as a sales manager, do not know if you are going to make the year after the first quarter, the battle is over. Now you better be lucky.” I should think we can include front line sales people. Given the “advancements” in sales technology since the above statement was made, there is no reason why sales people should not be in a position to know how their year will turn out and what they have to do to make sure it turns out above quota. But based on numerous sources, many do not have a clue where they are at the end of Q1, and are destine to continue to travel the rest of the year in the same clueless bliss.

Well, whether you’re a manager or a rep, Q1 ends this Friday, where are you going to be come Monday?

Reps need to have much greater control of things in their pipelines than they do over events in their brackets, where they have no direct control. There are two key things reps need to do to avoid March Sadness, have a clear positive view of the path forward, and exceed quota.

 

Your Quota Is Not A Plan

Part of the challenge is that many do not take the time to plan, either in a big picture way at the start of the year, quarter, and each month. Sure everyone has a strategy, but your architects aren’t gonna build your building, you need construction guys to do that, with their tactical plan and skill to translate the architect’s output to a viable structure.

Too many sales people see their quota as a plan, it is not, it is a destination, and should be leverage as such. It is still up to you to plan your step by step success and execution that leads to it. Despite the talk of ABM, many reps do not extend that work into a territory execution plan or account plan. Activity based on KPI’s is not execution of a plan, sure things get done, sometimes even according to “plan”. Given that the prospect/client is yours, the quota is yours, should not the execution plan and actions taken also be yours? If you answered yes, then why are so many sellers achieving less? Sure a paint by numbers painting is a picture, but it is hardly art. Hitting KPI’s set by someone else, is not selling.

Who is the Villanova in your Pipeline/Base?

I had a number of conversations with reps last week looking at the end of Q! and forward. One common factor is the lack of a viable pipeline. I know people don’t like to bring numbers in to sales, seems to confuse the issue with facts, but it is not hard to look at people’s pipelines to see that much of their sorrows can be addressed with a bit of prospecting. But there is no shortage of excuses as to why they can’t or won’t prospect at sufficient levels to drive quota. If you have a close ratio of 4:1, it is not hard to know what you should have in your pipeline, and if you’re short, you gotta prospect.

Instead many tell me that they can make up the gap from existing clients, or they have a big opportunity they are working on, “a sure thing”.

You know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, just substitute brackets with pipelines, and then take a look at yours:

brackets tweets

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Red closed door behind open doors, isolated on white background.

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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antiker Koffer voll mit antiken Gegenstnden

Odds & Sods0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Every year I jot down different ideas, always with the goal of fleshing them out and building decent post. For a myriad of reasons, sometimes these ideas don’t get developed, but unlike previous years, I am resolved not to let them evaporate with time. As a result what follows are ideas I think people in sales should be thinking about, but rather than waiting to polish them up, I am putting them out their in their raw state, and set them free to grow and evolve with you. Let me know what you think, push back, evolve the ideas, let’s see where they go, or not.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking is a good idea, but only if you are benchmarking for the sake of making progress. Set out to improve an element of your game, set a goal, measure where you are, develop an action plan, then execute. Going a step better, one can benchmark against another entity doing a similar thing, and see how you are doing vs. them in specific measures. In sports, it could be measures like goals against, team batting average, or in our favourite sport, average deal size, time to recover cost of acquisition or leads to opportunities converted. Many sales organisations are not as adventurous as others in what they choose to compare (benchmark), or who they benchmark themselves against.

So why is it that only the best choose to benchmark themselves against the best, or at the least, better than they are. While the weak and also-rans, always benchmark themselves against people “behind” them. What’s the point in measuring how well you are doing against someone who has figured out less than you, why not mark yourself, be you a rep or sales organization, against the best, or better than you. Sure you can pat yourself for being ahead of the lesser competitors, why not look forward and make gains, rather than maintaining an easy lead.

antiker Koffer voll mit antiken Gegenstnden2017 The Year Of Sales Enablement

Seems the marketing cooks in Salesland are whipping up something “new” for 2017. Top on the list is rebranding, because you know what they say, if you can’t innovate, rebrand. Just like the New Improved Tied, often the only thing new is the wrapping and the hype. Just look at the recent rebranding of Key Accounts to the new look Account Based Marketing, a brilliant twist emphasising something that really isn’t there.

While traditional product marketers may test the “new” in a limited way, do consumer surveys, and the occasional focus group. In Salesland, they are more prone to doing soft launches, and when enough people jump on, they go full hog, and ride that wave till it runs out of power.

But the big thing in Salesland, percolating a while now, shaping and defining itself, but now ready to be painted over the previous Sales 2.0 veneer, is Sales Enablement. Despite efforts, Sales 2.0 didn’t plant roots, there were those who tried to keep it alive well past it’s “good through” date, but the savvy in Salesland jumped ship early and went social. So now it’s time to rebrand and try to peddle the same old with a new twist and new tweets, well at a minimum new hashtags.

For those who doubt this make over, one need only consider “The Sales Enablement Society (SES, really close to SOS)”. Their stated goal “is to better define and ultimately solve, the vast disparities that exist in sales enablement roles and functions in organizations today.” A worthwhile exercise indeed – a good start would be a definition.

But I would imagine that if sales enablement continues to be different for those who sell services, from those who sell technology applications, it will suffer the same fate as Sales 2.0 and the Sales 2.0 Alliance, remember them? Can’t wait for the line up at the Sales Enablement Echo Conference.

Salesland needs to stop following false idols and embrace the one reality in sales, success is about Execution – Everything Else Is Just Talk!

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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!!

Think outside the box concept on a white background

Getting Out Of Your Sales Box2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Given today is Boxing Day here in Canada, and that I am off enjoying the holiday (the bargains), I thought it was a good day to reprise a piece from 2010 about thinking out of the box. Enjoy!

There is a lot of talk in sales and in marketing about ‘thinking out of the box'; this is big with me because I am sure that when they put me in a box I’ll be dead, and that’s not good. But all too many in sales people are stuck in their boxes, they may say they think out of the box, even when they are too afraid to come out of the box. It’s so warm and cozy, easy to explain, not like outside the box.

Now being in sales, and having the ego to go with it, you’re probably sitting there thinking “phew, can’t be talking about me, I always think out of the box, hey even that sales tech said so last week before I bought her lunch.”

Well let’s test things and find out, shall we?

Answer the following question: What’s one and one?

Waiting

Waiting

Waiting

Write your answer here: _____

One more, what’s three and three?

Waiting

Waiting

Waiting

Write your answer here: _____

So, what did you put down, 2 for the first one, and 6 for the second?

You’re so in the box!

The first one is obviously eleven; and the second is thirty-three.

Absolutely it is a right answer, look, just step out of your box a minute, yes you can keep one hand on it for security if you need to.
Look here man, 1 and 1, or 11, it’s eleven. Again, 3 and 3, 33, thirty-three, right?

Of course it is, if you said two, you choose to only partially listen to what I was asking. Thought you heard one plus one, right? This was amplified by the echo chamber that is your box, and bam, an answer that misses the opportunity presented. How many times do you faced this same risk with customers, thinking you understood what they were saying only to blow it?

In sales, you must float on or ride your experience, not be weighed down by it; like a surfer on a big wave, you can use it to be propelled forward, or be crumbled by its power. You need to interpret and react according to the specific situation, be creative in responding, not predictable with your comebacks.

You need to use and leverage language and imagination in moving sales forward. But if you insist one and one is two not 11, then you need to relax and open the lid a bit more, a lot more. By leveraging language and imagination you will not only challenge yourself to creatively resolve challenges, but also encourage your buyers to step up and step beyond their limits, especially in how they limit their view of their challenge, and things that limit their perception of “a” solution.

It is one thing to say you think or act out of the box, another to execute. Many talk beyond their box and then be as conventional as ever in their execution. Selling is about change, step out of your box if you expect the buyers to abandon theirs.

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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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edge-pipe

Time To Get Over Your Funnel Vision1

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Many sales people I work have Funnel Vision, they focus more on the state of their pipeline or funnel than the specific opportunities in their pipeline. It is yet another example of quantity being more important to sales people than quality of the opportunities in their pipeline, and as result they underperform in a number of ways. Some are forced to take this view by their companies, especially those that tell their reps they to have 5-times quota for the 30 days; 10 times for 60 days, etc. That’s what they ask for, and that’s what they get. Theory being that the level of coverage will ensure success. Problem is that with many of these same groups, quota attainment is not that great. What’s the point of having X times coverage of a quota most don’t make? Click To Tweet

Having a lot of opportunities is a good theory, but it also leads to the very problem they are trying to solve, i.e. more sales/revenue. Mostly because the illusion of plenty distorts facts, and more importantly, activity. The reality is that what sales people emotionally believe their prospect base to be, triggers their urgency to prospect. Having a load of a “load” of names in your pipeline, just for the sake of meeting the coverage KPI, chokes off activity that actually lead to sales. This requires that you have rules as to what constitutes a real prospect, defined in a way that makes it easier to disqualify them, not in a way that anything that looks good qualifies.

In the past I have spoken about one basic threshold, that is a Next Step. Let’s be straight, if the prospect is not willing to give you a next step, especially as outlined in the post linked to above, what do you have? You have potential, a potential opportunity, not a real opportunity. It could indeed have great potential, but if you do not have a path to actualizing it, then what’s it worth? Yet many pipeline I review are loaded with opportunities that not only is there not a next step, the buyer in question is not even aware they were forecasted to buy.

edge-pipeOne friendly fellow, nice guy, but could not sell a banana to a monkey, had 42 opportunities in his pipeline, many at mid to late stage of the pipe, 39 of which had no plans that included the prospect. When I asked about some, he had hoped to do this, or was looking to do that, and all without the prospect’s idea. As someone once said hope is not a plan, nor should it be a stage in a pipeline.

Pipelines need to be activity based, the best funnel management process I have worked with is where we removed all stages from the sales process and pipeline, no weighting, no probabilities, no misleading labels. Nothing that would allow subjectivity to be the driving factor, and put the focus on activities; which need to be done, and which have been completed. This forced sales people to focus on how to best execute the activities that have consistently led to success. Activities that when not completed, with the prospect, were a clear indication that this opportunity was not real, and needs to be replaced with one that is. No need to deal with sales people’s optimism, pessimism, or their stories, no subjectivity, no sunshine, no other matter filling or clogging the pipeline.

If you want to avoid the downside of Funnel Vision, focus on activities instead, do, measure, review, adjust, and go and execute again, only better. This forces sales people to practice their activities, not stories.

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Customer Service Support Solution Assistance Aid Concept

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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