Help 1

I Need Some Help0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Despite the state of discourse in general these days, in a one on one settings, like a sales meeting for instance, most people are helpful by nature. As a sales professional, we need to walk the line of leveraging that to help us make a sale, while not taking advantage of it.

I know some days it is hard to convince you that people are helpful, especially when someone just hung up on you, or you’ve run out of ideas how to get a response from someone who said thy were ready and would have the order ready a month ago. But, when you can put those moments aside, there are things you can do to help both the prospect and you succeed.

As with many elements of sales that are more subjective in nature, how effective we are will be influenced by personalities, and how you approach things.  People who naturally social, who draw attention the minute they walk in the room, find soliciting help much easier than another rep who may take a more cerebral style; the difference is in how they solicit help, not their ability to leverage people’s helpful nature.

A simple example is one used by many in prospecting into companies they have not dealt with before, ya, cold calling.  One lady I worked with does this extremely well, she pours her maternal self into every call, and with the warmest and “lost voice” she will call her intended target, and start with the following:

Seller: Is this Mr. Chapman?
Prospect: yes,
Seller: I am hoping you can help me.

Help 1

She then goes on to introduce what she sells, not a product riff, but as a true graduate, she speaks to objectives and outcomes she and her company have delivered to other similar buyers.  She ends her intro by asking:

“Who should I be talking to about that?”

When the person identifies themselves as the right party, she continues:

“Wow, that was fortunate, ….”  She then continues to close on the appointment.

It is important to remember that this does not guarantee an opportunity, people will still evaluate the premise of the offering, timing, and more.  But she does have more conversations, and is able to explore further than in scenarios where the call does not start with a call for help.

The main reason for this, is that by asking for help, we help the mind focus and understand that they are looking for an answer to the caller’s “dilemma”.  When they get a plain cold call, it is perceived as an interruption, and the mind listens and weighs their perception of the call vs. being interrupted. As soon as it is labeled an interruption, the mind shifts to “we gotta get rid of this disruption, and get back to my work.”  When we start by asking for help, the mind shifts to “I gotta listen and see if and how I can help.”  Again, I am not suggesting that asking for help will lead to an instant prospect, but it will lead to a more attentive one, and by extension, and better shot.

Hope that helped!

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Old TV

I Don’t See What You Mean0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Some may remember the first video/song ever played on MTV, was The Buggles

Old TVVideo Killed the Radio Star.  The message was clear, we are visual creature, and prefer a visual presentation over other means. This is why some singers who were great at singing and expressing themselves via vinyl or CD struggled to make the transition to video, while others, who were so so when it came to singing, but had a great presence and could “please” the screen.  Where once lyrics and delivery determined the success of the performer, now it was down to visuals, at the cost of all else.

Close Yet Far

It seems that telephone prospecting and selling are experiencing a similar thing but in reverse, and with added risk.

As more and more of the sale goes virtual, the less we have the opportunity to leverage one of our greatest strength as people and communicators, namely the visual. While opinions may vary slightly, most experts agree that somewhere between 75% – 90% of communication is non-verbal; and the vast majority of that is body language, intonation and vocal quality and characteristics.  All good things when it comes to face to face selling, not so good for those who now need to sell without ever seeing their counterparts.

I know that many who use systems like Zoom or join.me, will say that they have and encourage the use of videos to enhance the experience, most still seem to just see these technologies as extensions of PowerPoint, and even when the video is turned on, it is less than the face to face experience.

This is why focusing on the message and the medium, as many do, still leaves gaps in their approach.  It Is important to also ensure that we compensate for the lack of immediacy and direct visual contact; and I don’t mean just talking louder.

Stepping Back

Starting with the basics of slowing down the pace and deepening your voice, and then going beyond.  You need to also focus on your intonation, what you put an emphasis on, where you place your gaps, silence between thoughts, words, and concepts, pronunciations and more.  Words count too, but not in the way many are looking for, the perfect or secret set of words that unlock the kingdom. More in using words that fit with the buyers’ expectations, words that they would use to describe the scenario, not words your company came up with to “differentiate”. Remember if they don’t understand you, they won’t understand what you sell, or why they should buy.

There are also words that work better in direct conversation that lack impact on the phone, and the other way around.  Given the ease with which calls and web meetings can be captured these days, it is worth exploring how different ways of presenting things change the sales based on the words used, when and in combination with e=what other things.

Often what counts is what you don’t say. One way to ensure engagement in a remote scenario is to create opportunities for the prospect to ask questions. As a subject matter expert, you should be in a position to know which elements to lead with, and which to leave to the end, and which to leave to the prospect to ask. This is one way to encourage the flow missing in remote selling situations, that is quite natural when two people are sitting face to face.

By using your 360 Degree Deal View, you will be able to understand what some of the key moments in a good sales call, understand what is enhanced by the virtual setting, and what is diminished, and create a flow for each type of sales meeting.  Once you have that, then comes the hardest part for many sellers, practice.

Taking it back to radio, those actors who were successful in radio drama, think Orson Wells, knew they had to make up for the lack of visuals in order to deliver a drama that worked on radio without a single visual aid.  While video may have killed the radio star, don’t let the web meeting kill your sale.

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Time allocation

It’s Not A Race0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

It is easy to see why people in sales, at all levels, are infatuated by speed, or as the hipsters say, velocity. You have a specific target, with a defined time line, or more accurately, an end point, which drives many to approach sales like they were the winners of a local grocery store contest. You know where they crown a winner, who runs through the store, filling their cart with as much as they can in 60 seconds, and when they time is up, they keep what they gathered. The faster you are, the better you’ll do. Not so in sales. Sales people and their leaders have fallen into the habit of over relying on velocity as a means to sales success.

Sure, if you are selling a commodity, or a single purpose or use product, you can gain benefit from speeding up the sale, or shortening the cycle, but as discussed in the past, even there, you do hit a point of diminishing returns; the only benefit of speed in that scenario, is you fail faster and get to move on. Once you find the optimal length of a cycle, you need to leverage other things to increase sales.

The obvious may be to look at technology, or skills training to help, but there is one low tech approach that works for many, regardless of sales church they claim allegiance to, namely, slow down!

Many of the people who are on a constant quest to shorten their cycle, when asked about other aspects of sales, would tell you that they are firmly in the Quality Over Quantity camp.  But by putting an emphasis on duration, in essence they are putting quantity above quality, in this case, the quality of deals they win, and more importantly the quality of deals they lose.

Building a base of knowledge and understanding with a given prospect, their objectives, hurdles, etc., takes time, with some more than others.  Unfortunately, if you are on a quest for “fast”, the easiest place to gain time and speed is during discovery, and in many pipelines, this is painfully obvious.

I recently sat in on an opportunity review, for what I would describe as a bit of a complex sale, but not rocket propulsion stuff.  The rep in question was a solid B player, knows the product, market, and there were years he actually made quota.  There were also critical questions he could not answer about multiple opportunities.

Mostly because he felt the pressure to move the deal through, and felt he could do it based on minimal information, rather than complete information; and complete will always take longer than minimal. As a result, he like many of his teammates, end up cycling more opportunities through the cycle, with the goal of landing more deals.  In essence, quantity over quality.  Many of the “rushed over” deals, could in fact have been better, not just in immediate revenue and quota retirement, but upsells, referrals, and most importantly, margins and price integrity.

While it would be easy to blame reps, they are being led by their managers to do this.  Driving their teams to drive more lower quality deals for the sake of time.  This may work in the short run, but leads to challenges down the road, most specifically at the time of renewal.  Deals that are rushed through, propelled by price concessions, are much less likely to renew without further concession, leading to a higher than necessary quota next year, when the cycle begins again.

Time allocation

I understand what’s driving this, it is important to remember it is not a race, December 31 shows up the same time for everyone.  So rather than managing the clock, sellers should manage the individual opportunities.  How long those take to close should be understood, but not the driving factor.  Success for consistently A sellers is not based on closing as many deals as we can – and – fast; but on closing enough of the right deals.

If you want to put your fingers on the scale, don’t use time, use prospecting instead.  Once you know how long a deal usually take to unfold organically, not “artificially accelerated”, more often to a “no” than a “yes”, and you know what your own individual close ratio is, you can proactively know how many deals you will need in a given year, and how many opportunities you’ll need to drive those deals.  As long as you bring sufficient opportunities to the top of the pipe, you’ll make quota, even if you have an 18 month cycle.

So rather than putting all that energy towards shaving hours or days off your cycle, why not invest the time in prospecting.  Getting the right number of the right prospects, is a better use of your time, than trying to hasten a bunch of questionable opportunities through the cycle fast.

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Reach for goal

Who Is Your Best Prospect?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

On Monday, I posted about understanding and knowing the very next thing that needs to happen if a specific opportunity is to move forward to becoming a client.  Because I wanted to focus on a specific question, I glossed over the question I am sure many had as I set out a scenario, specifically when we ask sellers:

“Who is your best prospect?”

Talk about a loaded question inviting interpretation and misinterpretations.  If you do this with a group, you will get all kind of answers, about the only thing most have in common is the overload of subjectivity most have.  Once they finish describing the opportunity, ask:

Reach for goal“Why did you pick or go with that prospect or opportunity?”  To which I hear:

“It is the largest opportunity in my pipeline” (Be that dollars, units, etc.)

“They are the furthest down the pipe”

“I have been chasing them so long that…”

“They were a customer once, then they left”

Here is a challenge for you, what is the most bizarre response you get to that question.

At first glance you may put this off to different companies, but I got the above from people on the same team.

For the moment, it really does not matter which I, or anyone else, thinks is right or wrong.  What’s scary right off the top, is that there are multiple definitions of what is a “best” or a good prospect.  What I found that unless you get a uniform answer to that question, you can bet that they don’t even know what a prospect is.

That lack of definition is rarely the reps’ fault.  If based on your process and onboarding, and related training, there is still a divergence around this core issue, you need to stop, step back and plug this hole.

Not knowing what a prospect is, is a common problem, and it not only leads to pipeline full of crap instead of opportunities, that crap drowns out the few viable opportunities that do exist.  Definitions are important, they are not like some like to say, limiting, they help you utilize your time in the best possible way.

I was taught early that we need to call things what they are, and if I referred to someone or an opportunity as “Prospect”, it clearly stated that the “Prospect” was fully engaged, and if they were fully engaged, my manager should be able to see a clear Next Step relating to the opportunity in CRM.  Next Steps also need to be defined, you can see mine here, but to summarize, they need to be clearly agreed on by both you and the buyer(s), needs to move the opportunity forward, and be tied to a specific time.  I continue to be amazed at how many sales people have things at various stages of their pipeline without any clear next step, or in some cases plan.  Even worse, these are the things that go into your forecast, an opportunity sitting at 60% communicates something to the manager, sales leadership, finance and the entire organization.  So when a rep has something sitting at 50%, all because they had a good phone call, and the buyer told him to call back after vacation, what’s that going to do to you quarter, especially since they have not called them back yet.  I had a pipeline review with a rep once, he had 42 opportunities coming in.  Before getting to the nitty gritty, I asked which of these there were formal next steps with, only 2.  I know this is an extreme, but you need to go through your pipeline and ask how much an extreme, how many opportunities do you have a proposal stage without a next step?

This lack of definition why sales people’s time is consumed creating a narrative for their pipeline, rather than working their pipeline, especially when a manager’s idea of a pipeline review is having a story for their review with their superior. This is why many managers, never trained in finance, become experts at factoring.  When your time is spent adjusting forecasts up or down based on past experience with a rep, forcing you to live in your spreadsheet rather than that expensive CRM, you are not leading from the front or adding value to your team, just revaluing worthless numbers and forecasts.

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girl by phone

Social Ends When The Phone Rings0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

The reason you need to integrate social selling, traditional phone work, and other elements of prospecting, is to ensure that you are covering all bases the process of converting a stranger, into a bonified pipeline opportunity. This means using the right tool at the right time, not as some would have you believe, using one tool “über alles”; but rather using the right tool for the task at hand along each step of the process.

Social selling, and the use of social media is key to learning about the target industry, the specific company, certainly for understanding the individual you are pursuing, or more accurately the image your target is projecting on social media. Remember the lessons learned from Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are. There is no shortage of materials available on how you can leverage LinkedIn, ABM and more, on how to smooth the path to first contact. But for most, especially in outbound sales, there is the point where we must pick up the phone and go direct.

When the phone rings, we enter a different realm, where based on the reality of the situation, “being social” does not play as well, and in fact can be deterrent for the prospect. Whatever interaction we may have with someone prior to the phone, it is usually on their terms, they choose to interact, they set the ground rules, and ultimately pause a conversation, or take it further right away. But when we call them, especially an unscheduled call, at a time we picked, not the target, a different set of dynamics kick in. As discussed here in the past, we are an interruption, and as such, a set of events are set into motion, usually leading to an objection, the bane of telephone prospectors everywhere. Being aware of what we are in the eye of the prospect, we need to take steps to make it easier for the prospect to stay on the call, rather than making it easier for them to blow us off.

There are two things sellers can do, with focus and practice, to avoid being victim of dynamics. Two questions that many feel compelled to ask at the start of the call, that if left out, would help them be more successful on more calls.

girl by phoneThe two questions:

  • How Are You?
  • Is this A Good Time?
    (or any variation of either of the above)

We ask these questions because we have been conditioned to do so from day one; our parents, teachers, and others, have drilled into us that social norm is for conversations to start with one of the above. Well telephone prospecting is different than other conversation we usually have.

I am not suggesting we need to be rude, unsocial, or unconventional for the sake of unconventional, but to take an interruption, where the other party just wants to get back to finishing their seemingly unending days, to a genuine conversation, we need to manage the dynamics of the moment.

The reality remains that the prospect wants to understand “What Is In It For Me”, and that is what we need to lead with. Knowing they are feeling great, or like shit, does not get us any closer to that. Leading with the outcomes they can expect based on your ability to help them achieve their objectives, is more likely to. Being an interruption, and then asking, “Is this a good time?” or “Do you have a few minutes?”, or any iteration, is just stupid by definition.

Of course it is not a good time, they have a ton of stuff to finish, and there is a 90%+ chance they were not thinking about your product or marketing speak. On the other hand, if you lead with specific outcomes, they may recognize their own objectives in the mix. Lead with that, and ditch the “Social Norm” questions, to conversations based in that norm, a cold call is not that.

To close, I know that years of conditioning is hard to shake, so here is a way to transition from the silly questions above, to starting help them understand what is in it for them in your call. Remember, the problem with questions, is that you have to stop and wait for an answer, which relinquishes control of the flow, you are now completely dependent on their answers. If you get a positive response, great. But if you get a negative “I’m busy”, “Not a good time”, “What do you want?”; you now have to deal with that objection, rather than one based on your real value to the prospect. Rather than a question, make a statement, one that allows you to get rid of that social steam you have pent up. Once you introduce yourself, just name, not your whole resume, say “Thanks for taking my call”. You acknowledge that you have interrupted their day, but unlike a question, you can keep going to your outcome statements.

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iStock_000001908289Small

Prospecting Dynamics0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Proactive Prospecting Summer – Part 6

In this segment of Proactive Prospecting Summer, we look at the importance of the unspoken in prospecting calls.

Telephone prospecting, after all, is an exercise in communication. If we take the experts at their word, communication is roughly 60% body language, the one thing we don’t have working for us on the phone, or e-mail, or LinkedIn; 30% intonation and expression, and only 10% the words used to communicate. Yet most of the effort by sellers in prospecting is focused on words “the messaging”, and little effort to compensate for the 60% not available to at the time of the game. Which is a lot like getting the best warhead, then placing it on a delivery mechanism that is bound to miss the target.

When we call someone unexpectedly, unscheduled, we need to ensure that we are cognizant and balancing for environment, on both ends of the call. What’s gone on before the call, going on during the call, and things likely to happen as a result of the call? Managing all that, is managing the dynamics of the call, take a look.

Next Step

How to prepare, manage and execute is dealt with in much greater detail in the Proactive Prospecting Program available on-line at Sales Gravy University.

 

Close-up Of Businessperson Holding Stopwatch With Stack Of Coins At Desk

An Endless Supply Of Tomorrows0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Proactive Prospecting Summer – Part 2

A common question I am asked is “What are the characteristics or attributes of great sellers?” While there are a number, one key one for me is their view and utilization of time. Generally speaking you can put folks into two groups, the larger 80%, those who view time as a unending commodity, and as such can be frittered away with little thought or concern. The minority 20%, the more consistently successful, see time as a precious resource that is to be maximized and fully exploited, understanding that once an hour passes, it can never be regained or reclaimed.

When it comes to prospecting, time is the silent killer. This why it is a core component of the Proactive Prospecting Program on Sales Gravy University. Many don’t want to do it, afraid to do it, and will willfully and by design waste their time on “other important things”, and thus run out of time to “prospect today, but I’ll do two hours tomorrow”. Bullshit, they couldn’t do an hour today, what makes the manager think that they do two tomorrow. The only truth in that is that they do in fact do twice as much: 2 X 0 = 0!

The thing that strikes me (and maybe it’s just me), is what can be more important than prospecting? Sure, we got to keep current clients happy, work on sales that are mid-stream, getting training on that new app you’re not going to really use, and of course, completing the football pool. But are any of those truly more important than prospecting, starting the next cycle, the next source of excuses for wasting prospecting time.

The best prospectors, allocate specific time to all of the activities highlighted above and others that are critical to winning and keeping happy customers. With the exception of the football pool, each of the above have to have time allocated and dedicated to completing. Based on what you sell, the nature of the buy/sale cycle, and other factors, the amount of time you allocate to each will vary, but there is no escaping that they all have to be completed throughout the cycle, and will require a specific time to complete.

To get a sense of how much time you need can be determined in a number of ways, none will be exact, but close enough to allow you to be in control of your time and your success. We use an Activity Calculator, (you can download it here). It works backwards from your goal, and uses your individual conversion rates from one stage the sales to the next, to close. Once you arrive at how many new prospects or meetings you need a week, you can then block off the time(s) in your calendar.

And that’s the hard part for most, blocking the time, as you would for a client meeting, and then actually doing it in the time allocated. Almost every sales person will tell me that they would never blow off a scheduled client meeting, yet they’re happy blowing off the activity that got them in front of a client to begin with.

It is not new, do the big important things first, there will always be room for the smaller things. What’s bigger than filling your pipeline with opportunities and future clients (who will make demands on your time)?

Sales people use their most precious resource to sabotage their most important activity – prospecting. To help you work through the time issue, download the white paper SALES HAPPEN IN TIME.

Feel free to e-mail me directly as you take advantage of the many things you’ll learn in your Proactive Prospecting Summer and the Proactive Prospecting Program on line.

PPP On Demand
Biz On The Beach 3

Proactive Prospecting Summer – Part 10

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Many in sales look at summer as a time where they can slow down a bit, reflecting what they believe to be the pace of things around them. That’s just wrong on so many levels, that we’ll leave it to others to analyze, our focus is Execution, improved Execution. So rather than following the 80% of your peers who go into summer mode, I instead invite you to use the summer to improve your prospecting skills so can remain in that 20% that drives the economy, the 80% is piggybacking on.

Every Thursday in July and August, the posts in the Pipeline will focus on a specific element in Proactive Prospecting. While this in itself will put you on the path to better prospecting, meaning a fuller pipeline of better opportunities, you can take it a step further by enrolling in the Proactive Prospecting Program on Sales Gravy University. Consisting of instruction by me, exercises, and tools, the same program clients have used to increase conversions and pipeline by over 25%. Enroll in the program today, and use the Thursday Proactive Prospecting Summer series to keep you on track, and filling your pipeline. By the end of the summer you will have both more opportunities in your pipeline than the 80% who “took the summer off”, but the skills that will keep you ahead.

Today we will look at two important sometime related often confused fundamentals, Objectives and Execution.

Objectives

As you know I am not a big fan of pain in selling, not because I am squeamish, but because buyers in pain are a small part of the overall opportunity, they are pursued by everyone and as such feel entitled to “a better deal” instead of the right deal. The largest pool of opportunity professional sales people have are those buyers not impeded by pain, but are focused on achieving their business Objectives. If you change your narrative from pain to Objectives, you will be communicating to, and heard by a greater segment of the market, a segment ignored by the 80% who are “jonesing” for pain; let’s look at that for a sec.

Every business and business person has Objectives. Some will run into a problem along the way, usually about 10%, and they will seek to relieve that pain, but then get back on track to achieving their Objectives. So to engage more meaningfully with a greater segment of the market, you need to forget pain, and embrace Objectives. The best way to do that is to actually set your own Objectives, and experience the opportunities and challenges in achieving them. This will give you the ability to empathize with others who are focused on Objectives, not just pain.

Here’s what you do, right now: write down your objectives for this program, no more than three, you gotta be real. Make them specific, “I want to be better at starting the call”; “Communicate value more effectively”; “Have my voice mails returned”, you name it, but set a clear, realistic Objective based on where you are now, and where you’d like to be by Labour Day.

Execution

We all know success in sales is all about Execution, everything else is just talk; so while setting Objectives is a step in the right direction, actually doing it is another. Some of you may be familiar with the old riddle:

Five frogs sitting on a log – four decide to jump off, how many are left on the log?
While most answer one, the answer is five.
Deciding to do something and doing it are two different things!

You Have To Jump

No matter how good a set of Objectives we set, they are worthless till executed. I’ll challenge you with an Objective: Focus on correcting what you did wrong, rather than waiting for perfection to try.

Feel free to e-mail me directly as you take advantage of the many things you’ll learn in your Proactive Prospecting Summer and the Proactive Prospecting Program on line.

PPP On Demand
Slow and low

Slow & Low – The Right Recipe For Great Prospecting0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Next week both Canada and the US celebrate their respective independence days, which means barbecues galore, and as you may have guessed, an opportune lesson for cold callers everywhere. Most cold callers, carnivores and vegetarians, make the same common errors in executing their telephone prospecting calls, many of these mistakes contribute to their lack of success, making the whole thing a further mess.

Part of the negative cycle revolves around the fact that they are way too nervous, anticipating the worst, as a result many rush the call, leading to the outcome they feared. There are a couple of specific things telephone prospectors do that if approached differently would help overcome the challenge, alter the results and their view of cold calling; once mastered, they will find the whole thing much more productive and profitable. This is where the barbeque lesson comes in, making a good prospecting call is like making a good southern brisket, slow and low.

First thing that happens to nervous callers is they speed up their speaking, going faster than they normally would, and way faster than what makes for an effective prospecting call. This triggers a similar response from the buyer, they get nervous at the barrage of words coming at them, and they look for the exit even quicker. Ever deliver you into (at a nervous pace) only to have the prospects ask, “I’m sorry, who is this, what’s this about?” And before you can answer, you’re on your heels, and the call ends without engagement.

Slow and lowSlow down Man, it’s not a race. I know most want the call to be over more than they want the appointment, but is not about completing the activity (fast), it’s about engaging with potential prospect. Slowing down takes practice, repeated and out loud. Slow down your breathing before you pick up the phone and maintain the pace through the call. If you’re not too macho, get a metronome, and stick to the rhythm. I know sounds silly, till you start connecting with prospects and getting appointments.

The low part has to do with voice and pitch. When callers get nervous their voice gets higher, I’ve heard grown men sound more like their sisters than themselves. This makes it harder for the buyer to comprehend what the caller is saying, and obscures their message. Think about some of the great radio voices or TV voice overs, think about James Earl Jones famous “this is CNN”. As with slowing down, this comes down to practicing, and again out loud.

In a tension filled call, any element of distraction can be a negative and work against you, when you sound squeaky and speak fast, the two just compound in a way that makes it hard to achieve your objective.

One overlooked way to help with these two factors is to have a well prepared script, this will reduce the nervousness, and with practice limit the speed and pitch. Get over the self-imposed fear of scripts, and you’re a long way towards overcoming this and other prospecting roadblocks. Next time you pick up the phone, think brisket, slow and low.

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Frayed

Success Breeds Prospects0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Most sales people tend to ease off on their prospecting when they have a healthy pipeline. They feel that there is plenty to work, they have a number of prospects on the go, and tell me, that their time is better used to drive the opportunities in the pipeline, and figure that they will prospect for more opportunities once the current pipeline solidifies. While the disjointed thinking of that logic is obvious to most, like “lemmings“, many sales people follow a path that ultimately leads less success.

Let’s say you close all the deals in your pipeline, let’s say; what will you work on the next day? We have all been on the pipeline roller-coaster. All kinds of opportunities to close at the peak, desperately prospecting (praying and hoping), at the bottom. Sure, it’s absurd, but sales pros choose to repeat it over and over, even though changing their habits is less stressful in the long run. So, what’s the alternative?

We have all heard the expression, and many of us have experienced first hand that Success does indeed breed success. In sales, the reality is that pipeline success leads to more success. Prospecting when your pipeline is “overflowing”, is one of the most fun things you can do. Sales professionals who take a balanced approach to their pipeline, meaning prospecting, finding new opportunities, is as important as closing any opportunity in your pipeline.

FrayedMost people don’t like prospecting because of the stress of having to add an opportunity sooner rather than later. That pressure is amplified when you have depleted all the opportunities, the emptier your pipeline, the more that silence reverberates the further your quota is out of reach. This pressure is very apparent to your prospects, even when you are hiding behind a phone, e-mail, or LinkedIn. They can smell a desperate seller a mile away in a storm. Mistakes come easier, frustration surfaces faster, and most seller’s results are much worse than they have to be; accelerating the downward spiral.

On the other hand, when your pipeline is full, you can truly forecast a successful month or quarter, there is hardly pressure at all. Every day you are focused on things that are driving deals, allowing you to leverage not just the energy in your prospecting, but the things your buyers responding to positively are the very things you can use in your prospecting. Just as they can smell fear, they can sense and respond to success. The way we carry ourselves when things are good, is positive and attractive. Buyers want to deal with successful professionals, something we can’t claim to be when our pipeline is low, when our energy is drained before we even pick up the phone or send an e-mail.

I suspect one reason people leave dead opportunities is so they can fool themselves out of prospecting. “I don’t need to prospect, look at all the things in the pipeline I can work on”. Right.

The solution is simple, make prospecting a habit. Base on your metrics, how many “meetings” do you need to generate to have enough coverage to get you to goal. Once you calculate that, you can have a good sense of how much time you will need to allocate to the activity each week, all through the cycle. It is usually less than you would think, it is only because we let it build up in our mind that it seems ominous. (Well, that and the rejection). I know how long it takes me to get an appointment, and I know how many appointments I need to succeed. But there is no denying that I am much better when the pipe is full, frankly because the state of my pipeline gives me the confidence to relaxed, focus and successful, which in turn gets me more prospects.

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OBS Sales Experts

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