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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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A Discussion with Stu Heinecke (#podcast)0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Some of you may be familiar with Stu Heinecke, a Hall-of-fame-nominated marketer and Wall Street Journal cartoonist, see example above. Last year I had the opportunity to speak with Stu while he was working on his book “How to Get a Meeting with Anyone”. More recently I joined Stu, for extended conversation on not just on how to get a meeting with right prospect, how to position and extend initial engagement. This was part of a podcast series Stu has been producing. Have a listen, and more importantly, let us know your thoughts.

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

Their Only Pain is You6

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Ask a group of sales people what they want to know about their prospect, and the majority respond “I want to know about their pain or needs”. In theory a good concept, in practice highly over rated and ineffective. As discussed before, at any given time, only a small percentage of your total potential market is in play. The various estimates range from as low as 3% to 15%; so if we go with 10% for the sake of this piece, we are likely very generous. Of that 10%, almost all will recognise or admit to a need, and for some that need is in fact driven by or rooted in pain. So even when you perfect uncovering the pain and need, you are playing with a very narrow slice of opportunity. Not to mention a very visible and highly sought after slice, one that every sales person is pursuing, much like a lazy wild cat targets the weak of the herd.

A further 20% or so, don’t have an immediate pain or need, but they recognise that they will need to make a purchase decision 12 – 18 months out. Extremely good sales people, may be able to get a few of these folks to accelerate the need or heighten the pain, and thereby accelerate the purchase decision. But in the vast majority of instances, these people are future business, i.e. not this quota cycle. Having said that they are a good group to work with, as you have lots of runway to build a “relationship” and set yourself up as the obvious favourite when they going into buying mode.

This leaves the 70% plus, of the target market, the status quo, the complacent ones, the ones with no pain, no need, and no desire for a solution. Probing for pains or needs here gets the familiar “all set, we’re good, no need now, not interested” response; sometimes they’ll make you feel good and ask you to send them something. When was the last time you got paid for that?

For many of these buyers, the only immediate pain is the sales person sitting across from them, and the way that many of those sales people sell. While many pride themselves on having “evolved” from asking silly questions like “what keeps you up at night?” From the buyer’s stand point many of the techniques used by many are no better even though they changed the wrapping.

Some fall pray to pundits who will have them go in and try to “create” pain or make the buyer feel inadequate by asking things like “wouldn’t you agree that ….?” or “What would it be like if you could….? But buyers are hip, they see when you snap on the rubber gloves and “probe”.

One pain many buyers complain to me about is the complete unpreparedness they experience when meeting with reps. Rather than truly understanding the buyer, doing a bit of work in advance. Actually research the industry and current and future trends, how those impact the buyer’s company and the buyer, exploring more than just their social stream and LinkedIn profile. Absent pain, you need to look forward, the “value” you bring as a seller is helping the buyer face and win in that future, kicking them in the shin or higher brings a pain that does not lead to sales.

So if you want to use pain to win sales, it needs to be the “pain” of the effort you put into properly engaging a buyer who left to their own devices feels no pain, and is more like in search of something that will help them achieve their objectives, while avoiding the pain that is bad selling.

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Two Shades of Sales #podcast0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Radio Renbor the pipe

One good thing about the end of winter and the coming of spring, is that time seems to go by faster when it is a little warmer and brighter.  I say that because it seems like only yesterday that I was sharing my monthly segment with Michele Price and BREAKTHROUGH radio.  Last week Michele and I tried to unclutter some of the discussion around the various forms of  selling, and bring it down to two clear categories, good selling and bad selling.

Have a listen and then have your say, do you agree or did we miss the point?

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May 15 Dorg

Crystal Balling 2015 – Sales eXecution 2790

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Magical Fortune Teller

Here we are at the height of the holiday season, a season filled with family gatherings, good cheer, forgotten poverty (please donate to the Salvation Army), and loony tune predictions and resolutions. And why not, what’s the risk when we live in an ADHD addled society that explores grand ideas 140 characters at a time; who will remember to check 12 months from now. I mean really, is anyone reviewing what they predicted last year, hell no, it is easier to double down and make new predictions.

Sales is right in there like a, a, a, “wanna go play outside?” Sure some are sticking with their predictions, because if you say it enough it may come true one century, and there will always be those lost souls who are so deathly afraid to pick up the phone to prospect who wish with all their hearts that this is the year that clod calling does die. Sorry Virginia, there ain’t no Santa Clause, and cold calling still works, deal with this, you can even “cold tweet”.

So what does 2015 hold for sales?

Apps for sales and sellers will continue to grow, as will the confusion around them. Meaning that the more of something there is, the more confusion that may result. The victim will be clarity, are we seeing the outcomes we see because of the improved economy, the apps we use, or improved execution. I suspect (ok predict) , that much of the uptick in results for many will be much more due to the economy, very little with improved execution, and even less with their feel good apps. According to a recent press release from Accenture titled: Mediocre Performance by a Majority of Sales Representatives Cost Companies 3.2 Percent in Potential Revenue, Accenture Research, shows, “Just 59 percent of sales representatives are expected to achieve his/her quota in 2014, down from 67 percent in 2013.” This despite the rise in “social selling” and related apps. At the same time “(72 percent) are raising their revenue target by 5 percent or more in the coming year, only 14 percent of chief sales officers (CSOs) are very confident that they can achieve increased revenue goals.” Something has to change, and it is execution, I’ve said it before, a fool with a tool is still a fool; more tools by and for more fools. Execution, everything else is just talk.

Data will continue to make its impact on quality selling, call it big data, actionable data, or a term Miles Austin recently introduced me to “fast data”. Call it what you like, data will help you make the decisions you need as a sales person to execute. About the only positive from the proliferation of apps is the data they provide. The key is how you action the data, better data with unchanged thinking does not drive improved execution or results.

One bold prediction, there will be an app that will take a traditional approach to client engagement, and deliver it in a way that will make it easy for everyone to consume follow and succeed, as long as they, you guessed it, they execute, because, yes, everything else is just talk.

Well that’s my crystal ball gazing, anything more would be foolish. As a stock broker friend of mine said when asked about predicting where a stock will go “If I had crystal balls, I’d make noise when I walk!”

Merry Christmas,
Tibor Shanto

3 Ways The Beatles Will Make You A Better Cold Caller – Sales eXecution 2652

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

The Beatles Is On The Phone – by NowhereGirl17

If you ask sales people why they hate/fear cold calling their response always revolves around them, their feelings, and rarely the buyer’s. Even when they mention the buyer, it is very much through their own filters, “I wouldn’t like that”, or about the buyer’s reaction to the call. It is important to remember that the reaction is exactly that, a response to what you said or did, so if you change the input, what you say and do, and you can change the outcome.

Get Your Cold Call-Flow Now!

This is where the Beatles come in – stop making the call about “me”. The real big downfall in cold calling is that it’s never about “me”, “my company”, “what we do”, etc. Make the call about “YOU”, the buyer. I know many are thinking they already do that, but only in thought, when you listen to cold calls, you hear a lot more “me” than ‘YOU”. “I am calling from ACME Corp, a Fortune 500 company, specializing in BLAH BLAH BLAH”. He didn’t hang up, he dozed off and fell on the phone. It is usually well in to the second act before their world is even mentioned.

Start with YOU:  Of the top 100 words used by the Beatles in their songs, the word YOU, was a distant first, 2,262 times, second was I, but only 1,36 time, and LOVE, was eighth at 613.

Not only did they use it often, but used it early, think of all the Beatles songs, especially early hits that had the word YOU, right in the first line. “Love Me Do”, their first hit: Love, “love me do You know I love you”; twice. “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, “She Loves You”, “All My Loving”, and more.

You have always been told that buyers live by WIFM, give it to them:

Stay with YOU:  Don’t go from the introduction about how great you are and all the great things your company does. Talk to the buyer in context of their world. “What YOU will get out of it”; how it will help YOU achieve YOUR objectives”. Doesn’t matter how cool, new or nifty your offering is, unless they called you, and it’s a cold call so they didn’t, they seem to be doing just fine, thank YOU! Warm the call up by speaking to direct impact and outcomes for them, moving them closer to their objectives, if you don’t, the call gets real cold – real fast.

Close with YOU:  When you close for the appointment (live or virtual), it needs to be about them. “YOU Will…” I hear a lot of sales people say what they are going to get out of the meeting, why they want to meet. But I rarely hear “as a result of us meeting YOU will be able to …..”

The reason many calls are cold, is that there is more in it for and about the caller than the buyer, leaving the buyer out in the cold, and then having the same effect on the caller.

Make it about the buyer, talk about “YOU”, and not only will things be warmer, but more appointments to boot.  It worked for the Beatles!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

(Photo: http://nowheregirl17.deviantart.com/)

It Is About The Realization Not The Need – Sales eXchange 2290

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

change

I had some interesting feedback to a recent post on my blog The Pipeline, titled Is BANT Helping You Lose Sales?   The gist of the piece was that many put an over emphasis on “need”, and thereby limit their success. (There is so much more to it, you really should read it).  Two in particular stood out, one gave the argument I was making further context, and the other added a layer that provides clearer focus to those willing to apply the line of thought.

First was the feedback relating to a point I touched on, specifically the role of BANT in the sale, I mentioned that it is a means of qualifying a buyer or opportunity. But the reader took it further in an important way. They pointed out that many forget that BANT is for qualifying, and instead use it as means of selling. By doing that they fall into the trap outlined in the piece, specifically, since BANT is focused on needs, it limits one’s ability to sell to those who don’t immediately have or perceive a need. For qualifying it works because it highlights areas that must be present if you are to achieve a sales. While a buyer may have budget, authority, and has a record of acting in a timely way, but may not have a real or perceived need. They will always have objectives, but not always have a realized need associated with those objectives. Without that need, BANT fails as a means of selling, even while helping you qualify (or disqualify).

That’s where the second comment picks up, it highlighted the fact that by taking the focus off the need, and putting it squarely on the buyers’ objectives, the conversation will inevitably lead back to need. For successful sales people it is about the realization, not the need. By focusing on the buyer’s objectives, you open a line of discussion that surfaces what those objectives are, and people love talking about themselves, their plans and aspirations. Remember to explore both the ‘personal’ and ‘organizational’ objectives.

A simple and proven way to start this is to simply ask: “If we were sitting here 18 months from now and you were telling me that you and the team had hit a grand slam, what would that look like?” In framing the question that way, you not only introduced a timeframe, but allowed them to look beyond their current state, and describe their ‘ideal’ state. Once they have completed telling you, ask, “So I am curious, why aren’t we there now?” And that is when the realization comes, as they tell you what stands between them and their stated objectives, the obstacles and gaps, in essence telling you and them what they “need” to get there. That’s the realization takes someone from status quo, the majority of the market, to engaged prospect. Not the need, but the realization, the acceptance, and the energy in realizing that they can in fact achieve their objectives, and achieve them with your help. Without realization, there is no need.

vote

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

If You Have To Wonder – – Forget It!4

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Crossed Fingers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

After and Before2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Note pad

In a business that emphasizes relationship as much as sales does, it is sometimes interesting to see the degree to which sales people, and buyers, tend to ignore, overlook and at times avoid some basic components of human interactions, and way to enhance those interactions and the impact of that on business and sales outcomes.

Michael Jordan once said:

“…You have to monitor your fundamentals constantly, because the only thing that changes will be your attention to them”

This statement is as true in sales as it is in basketball. Sometime those fundamentals seem simple and inconsequential, but in the end it is often those little things that make the difference. Remember that your product is often indistinguishable from those of your competitor’s, so the way YOU sell may often be the differentiator that clinches the deal. So let’s focus on two seemingly small things, that when executed consistently and well, after and before meetings with buyers, will win you deals, no matter other factors. And while these may seem small, do them and then judge the results.

After:

After every meeting you should send a note, what most will call a thank you note, but done right it can be so much more.

Few send thank you notes anymore, I know that when I am the prospect, if I get a thank you note, it is so rare, I take notice, and mentally give the sender bonus points, points that may take them ahead of the other vendors. A hand written note, will just blow their mind. But more than a thank you note, it is an opportunity for you to recap what you took away from the meeting, action items everyone agreed to, and most important, what you propose the Next Step to be.

If you and the buyer synch on all of these points, then the note will just cement things in their mind, along with you being the vendor who helped them do that. If you took away different understandings, it is to your advantage to find that out now, and make any course adjustments you need to make. Better to correct things now than go into the next meeting with different ideas; if you can’t correct them, better to find out now than after investing more time and resources.

As well by introducing what you think the next step should be, you get them thinking about it, and again, if they don’t disagree, you are on the right path, but if not, you can deal with it now, not later.

Before:

About a business day ahead of the next meeting, send in a n agenda, nothing deep or heavy, three or five points (odd numbered lists are better), AND, what you would propose as the Next Step, if things unfold according to the agenda. As above, if things are on track, you can go in with some sense of confidence that you are on the right path. If not, better to know well in advance of the meeting than at the end when it may be too late to do anything about it. Same goes for the Next Step, if they can’t live with your suggestion they’ll speak up, and while it may not be what you had planned, better again to know early than after the fact.

While neither may appear to be all that and more, when you first read them, execute them consistently and it won’t be long before you attribute deals directly to executing these steps.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto  

It's time to get Bricked!

How Much Revenue Did You Lose at Quarter End?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Impact Question

There is an all too familiar ritual that unfolds at the end of every fiscal period, for some it is monthly, for most it is quarterly, and at year end. Being that Monday was quarter end, I was reminded again. A friend who is a rep with a technology company, cancelled a meeting we had set for this afternoon, and you know it, his voice mail this morning at 8:00 simply said, “Man, I need to change our meeting, last day of the quarter, you know how it is.”

On the one hand I do, on the other hand I don’t. I am sorry if your quarter comes down to the last day of the quarter, a Monday of all days, there is a whole bunch of things you are doing wrong, and a bunch of money you are leaving on the table.

To start with, a good number of the deals that are “Driven in” on the 30th of September, will happen because of some concession made by the seller to the buyer. Sometimes these are small things, baked in specifically so they can be “conceded”, often not. These can be a price concessions, either in the form of a price adjustment, or the inclusion of goods or services that normally would have had a price tag, but being the last day of the quarter, “and we need to bring in the numbers”, they are thrown in to secure the deal “today”. Although once you offer it, it’ll be there October 2, or even next week, the buyer has seen weakness and will not give it back. And – it will be the first of many to come, you’ve set the precedent, both you and the buyer have been conditioned.

Not only do you never see that money again, but there is the lost momentum and opportunities as you deviate from your routine, stop prospecting for a few days as you focus on closing. May not seem that bad, but if you don’t prospect for a few days, you’ll create weakness in your pipeline, and when the next quarter end comes around, guess what. So now you are out the revenue you gave away in concessions, and the revenue from prospects you will either never have, or will closer later than they could have.

The alternative is requires a bit more discipline, but results in less of a roller coaster ride and more money! It comes down to owning your time and being accountable for your actions, (grab this e-book for details). If you know your conversion rate at critical stages of the cycle, you can focus on executing the key tasks you have to throughout the cycle, and not sweat the days. Some things in sales are straight forward, if you have a three month cycle, and you close one of every five deals you qualify into your pipeline, it doesn’t take much to see how this quarter end dance will hurt. If you don’t prospect from the 27th to the 30th (of any quarter), then your next sale will be delayed by so many days. Sure you can make up for it in some ways, but then you’ll have other distractions, the ones you can’t help, but this one you can.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

 

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