F hero

Which Of These F’s Should You Give an F About?2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Sales like many other crafts, vocations, or professions, continues to evolve, or should. Some developments come along and become the rave for a while, only to fade after a time when they are proven ineffective, this is the first F, as in Fashionable. While some completely fade away, others leave a lasting impact on how people sell, and become broadly accepted, evolve to become a mainstay of professional selling; these develop over time to become Fundamentals, our second F.

Now the third F, the one you give to one of the F’s above, is not what you may think, after all we run a family friend sales professional development outfit, it in fact stands for Focus.

F heroFocus is critical to execution, and as you all by now know, success in sales is all about execution, everything else is just talk. (And there is no shortage of talk in sales).

The challenge for many is that the fundamentals are usually not exciting or easy, especially for those looking for a short cut to success. As Fashionable as Malcolm Gladwell may be, the prospect of having to invest 10,000 hours to become a master, is not an appealing recruitment statements, even if companies were willing to lend a hand. But there is no escaping that as in other professions or vocations, practitioners require continuous and repetitive practice in order to master the craft, and elevate themselves to the point where they can execute at a professional level.

Fashion on the other hand is much more exciting, appealing, and unfortunately, fleeting. We see it time after time, hot one year, dead the next, and while those developed the Fashion prosper and move on, those who followed and were then abandoned, are left with the results, or lack thereof. Just look at all the would be replacements for cold calling; Fashions have come and gone, but those Focused on Fundamentals continue to succeed, even adding some of the Fashionable remnants along the way. Witness what happened with sales 2.0, if you missed it, look at the freshly minted, ever Fashionable Sales 3.0. In fact, I am so confident that this recycling of Fashion will continue, I have already secured the domain for: www.SalesTheOcho.com.

Focus and Fundamentals requires discipline, which is not always Fashionable in sales. The problem with Fashion is two-fold, the first an most damaging is the distraction factor. Because success does take time, effort and Focus, anything that takes these elements away from nailing Fundamentals will slow your progress towards success and professionalism. Second, Fashion is rarely created for the long term, it is meant to short term and fleeting, no sooner than you load up on this year’s model, and they bring out the next. True, many fashions do come around after a time, but you only figure that out with the benefit of experience, this is why I never throw away ties, because they will come back into Fashion again. They are designed to appeal to the masses (in sales that would be the 80% in the 80/20 rule), easy to wear, and disposable. I bet we could look at some Stacks, and find some recycled Fashions or apps.

So if you give an F about your sales success, you should Focus on the Fundamentals, and avoid the time and money sucking sound of Fashion.

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Make you own path

Objections Are Only Negative IF You Allow Them To Be4

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Objections are only negative when you allow them to be.

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Lipstick. Great Variety of Women's Lips. Set of Mouths

Difference Is In the Eyes Of The Prospect6

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

There is a lot of talk about differentiation in sales, whether that is at the product level, sales technique level or other factors. Some difference is good, some goes a bit far, unfortunately most of seems to fall short. The main reason is that most vendors and sellers spend time and effort to differentiate themselves from other products, companies, or sales people. As with other miscues in sales, the problem is that most of the effort excludes the only element that counts, the buyer.

Buying and selling are very subjective experiences. While there are reams of tools and means for capturing requirements, allowing buyers to better understand what will help them achieve their objectives, presenting a clear and objective process, there is a range of undercurrents that allows a lot of subjectivity to creep in to the decision. Who among us has not lost a deal where the we were a perfect fit based on requirements. Or conversely won a deal, where on the face of things we were deficient and less cost effective than an alternative. The reason is simple and human, people are very subjective, (and buyers are people), and as such will make decisions using more than just logic, leading to the reality that difference, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder.

While many may not like it, but one advantage to having multiple decision makers or stakeholders in the deal, is that it can naturalize subjectivity, allowing us to better present and leverage real differences we may have. I say we may have, because most leading products have very few real differences, especially in the eyes of buyers. What some vendors think is really different, may not be that important to the market, which is likely why the others have avoided it. With “sameness” rampant in products, the other difference is how you sell, and by extension your sales process. The challenge here is that most people sell in a very similar way, leading to only superficial differences that even the least experienced buyer can see through.

Once you accept that difference is in the eye of the prospect, and not something you can ram down their throat or post on a billboard, you can then switch your approach to understanding how they see themselves and their reality as being different than others they are looking at. Let’s be clear, it may not always be true that what the buyers are looking for is all that different than their neighbor’s, but, we are dealing with buyer perception, not necessarily reality as we see it.

The only option is to have the prospect articulate what they see as being different. And while most sellers will tell you that they are doing that, when observed in action, they are still very much anchored to their product, and features they feel are “solutions” for the buyer’s “pain”. Presentations are geared to highlighting the “vendor’s difference”, rather than the difference the buyer is trying to achieve in their business. Presentations limit our ability to get the prospect to help us differentiate ourselves, mostly because they are centered around the product, and things we believe we are “solving”, that in turn make us different.

Especially early in a cycle, leave you your product, presentations, preconceptions in the car; go in armed only with questions that will help you uncover the buyer’s objectives, and impacts they are looking to deliver to their business. This sounds easy, and is often met by “we’re already doing that”, until we examine the questions many sellers ask, and the reality of some first and early meetings. Remember that the “difference” starts long before you engage, so how you engage, and what happens at your first encounter is key. You may think your PowerPoint is different, but it is still PowerPoint.

If you stay focused on the impacts and outcomes, you will start to establish a difference. When you get the prospect to share their objective, avoid the instinct to map those back to your product. First, drill down on those objectives, why those, how will that change their business, what are related risks, and more. This will allow you to demonstrate your Subject Matter Expertise, and help the prospect validate their direction and means of getting there. If that direction and means are less than optimal, help the buyer reorient their thinking, reorient their direction and path. Now that’s different, especially in a world where sellers are not experts, and seek the safety of “the customer is always right” over pushing back, getting the buyer to see things differently, help them down an alternate path to alternate results. (Easy Kellyanne, it’s just sales). When prospects start their journey, they are more focused on the end than the means, which is why your product, solution, or whatever, is not that important in the early stage.

With difference being in the eye of the prospect, the more we take ourselves and our product out of the early phases of the sales, the more different a prospect will see us; the more we can make them think instead of listen, the greater the difference in experience, leading to different experience and results for both the buyer and the seller.

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

Time – To Let Go0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Let’s be clear, no white flags here, just a reminder that the most crucial thing to control in a winning sales career is time. As I have stated here in the past, “leads are recyclable, time is not”, if what you are doing now is not moving the opportunity or sale forward, you need to ask if it is time to move on to something that will. In my experience, this is most pronounced during the early stages of the cycle, prospecting.

Given that most sales people do not like to prospect, they should be thinking about how to optimize the dreaded task, so they can engage better with more prospects, and move on to what they really seem to like, building relationships. To optimize prospecting time there a number of things they can do, we’ll look at two here.

First is their prep for the time they have set aside for prospecting, in this case telephone prospecting (one of a number of methods they should use). Your call lists should be grouped or clustered around specific themes. This can be vertical, geographical, target size/type, or even role based. This allows you to develop a single talk track that can be leveraged across a number of calls. Allow you to highlight outcomes that are common to that day’s list, 3rd party referrals for voice mail, and more. Rather than having gaps between calls, taking away from momentum, and drastically limiting the number of calls you can make in say an hour, you can make one call after the other, building momentum, increasing your confidence, and achieving more in a given period of time. It has been shown that when you are going back and forth between two tasks, making the call, and readying for the call, you end up executing both less effectively. At the same time if you can focus on a specific task, uninterrupted, for about 52 minutes, you build efficiency. Separate the tasks, do your background work in low energy times, and do your prospecting during peak Prime Time hours.

The other area is the length of the call. A good prospecting call, where the goal is to get the prospect to agree to a formal meeting, be that phone, web, or face to face, really should not take any more than two minutes, three out the outside. In most instances, anything longer than that moves into the “diminishing return” zone.

Assuming your intro and Engage Statement (think of it as an effective value statement), capped off with an Impact Question, takes us to about 45 seconds; their answer which tees up the request for the appointment takes us to the minute mark, and now comes the fun part the objections. Each objection given – and then taken away by you, is about 20 or so seconds, remember the goal here is engagement, not an intellectual exchange. If you have read the Objection Handling Handbook, you know the first objection is a conditioned response, and by the time you get to the third one, the fate of the call is usually sealed, at times it takes four. So, we are looking at another minute to a minute and a half.

Anything after that is working against you. If they don’t want to play, all they’ll take away is how unprofessional you were, not only wasting and disrespecting their time, but your own, and no one wants to deal with that kind of rep, even when the time is right. Or worse, you are trying to sell them when your goal at the outset was to schedule a time for the actual discovery and sale.

I see so many sales people stay on the phone with someone for 10, 15 minutes, and have nothing when the call ends; well frustration, but you can’t cash that. Others achieve their goal, a prospect who agrees to engage, and then they stay on and talk themselves out of that appointment in the same call. If you do have someone agree, you should expect they may have questions, and you want to answer that question in a way that best moves the opportunity forward, and if that is a formal meeting, that’s what you should move towards. Next time you have someone agree to an appointment, and they start asking those “good” questions, simply say “That’s a great question Jim/Jill (I’m so PC), why don’t we make that first item on the agenda and give it full justice; look forward to our call Thursday, let me grab your e-mail and I’ll send an invite.” This sets you up for a great start to the discovery call, and allows you to move on to set the next appointment.

Remember, leads are recyclable – time is not – guard your time!

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Question Direction

Questioning The Path You Are On0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

The fate of an unscheduled call to a prospect, a cold call, is determined in the first few seconds of a call, one can argue even before that. By before that, I mean the hundreds if not thousands of practice calls the prospect has had to hone their craft and perfect their means of blowing us off. One can argue that the callers, the sales people have also had the opportunity to practice; true, but there is practice with a goal and purpose in mind. For example, the prospect, has the singular purpose of blowing the interruption, and every call they get is an opportunity to practice, unless the caller does something different.

Unfortunately, sales people make it easy by conforming to basic elements of calls that accelerate the outcome, allowing the prospect to get back to what they were doing, and the seller to be frustrated, and use it as an excuse to reaffirm their belief that cold calling does not work. The solution, is changing the way one makes the call. Unless we change the path or direction of the call, we risk falling into a familiar pattern that the prospect has practiced hundreds/thousands of time. Given that sales people do not like to practice, review the “game tapes” and make adjustments, the prospect will always have an upper hand.

Everything counts, right from the first breath, which means it has to be counter to expectations, especially those of the prospect at the other end. Starting with a rambling introduction about your company, and who you are, is just setting yourself up for failure. I mean really, does it make a difference to the prospect that you are the Mid-Atlantic Key Account Executive? I am sure your wife or mother or both are really proud. You know what the prospect thinks, “Add another title and notch to my belt.” As I have said before start with the outcomes first, outcomes tied to their objectives, and impacts you have delivered for others with similar objectives. Start with the ending, the outcome, the impact they will see in reaching their objectives, and those impacts on their business. It’s even worse when it comes to handling objections.

Most think that handling objections is somewhat like a tennis match, the prospect lobs their objection over the net, and we have to lob it back. No! If you want to change the path and direction of the call, the objection, then you need to not fall into the pattern set by the prospect to accelerate the end of the call.

Question DirectionInstead of just lobbing back a response to their objection, keep it, and throw back a question instead. In the above tennis example the prospect is in control of the flow, and therefore the outcome. One way to wrestle control away, and more importantly change the path or direction of the call is to ask a question. Questions demand answers, there is no law that they have to answer, but condition, especially social conditioning tends to kick in, and they will answer. Questions get people to think, when their mind is racing to get past the call, a good question related to something they were thinking about before the call, like their objectives, will get them to slow down, focus, and usually provide an answer.

We call these Impact Questions, for two reasons. One is that most are closed-ended, so we needed to do some rebranding. More importantly is that because they relate to specific impacts on their business, they have a direct impact on the prospecting call.

It is important to remember that what we are working with here are dynamics, including flow and momentum. You need to fine tune your listening skills, not for words, but all the other things going on in the call, think of it as nuance. When you ask a good question, not every prospect will answer the same way, giving you an opening to ask for engagement. But they will all pause, a momentary break as they digest the question, and process that indeed it does relate to them, and not just another walking brouchure on the phone.

Impact Questions, strategically place in a prospecting call, as part of the intro, as part of the reason to meet, and certainly as part of the taking away objections, will help you change the direction of a call, a sales meeting. If you find yourself on a path leading to a brick wall, use Impact Questions to change the direction, the outcome, and the health of your pipeline.

We’ll be looking at some specific use of Impact Questions, and objections in the monthly edition the Pipeline, sign up here.

Boss choosing employee

Why Make The Call2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

One reason many give me for not wanting to prospect, is the fact that fewer people are answering their phones, and as a result it is not as effective as other forms of prospecting. Part of that is dictated by what state or mode the buyer is in, Actively Looking buyers may be more prone to a call, while, Status Quo buyers, are less likely to answer or engage. But I believe the conclusion many draw from this, i.e. “telephone prospecting is ineffective”, is flat out wrong.

First having a single form of approaching potential prospects, especially “not interested” buyers like Status Quo, is just stupid. Anyone that tells you that their chosen means of reaching prospects is just stupid. There are as many effective means as there are people; not only that, but individuals’ response/reaction to approaches will vary based on specific circumstances. So having one method, be that strictly phone work, strictly referral, or strictly social, is just asking for failure. The best prospectors, who are usually the best sellers, know that their prospecting toolkit has to have as many tools as possible rather than limited to one. For example, I worked with one executive who when traveling would be more likely to respond to texts, leaving e-mail and voice mail for the hotels in the evening, while back at the office he would be much more likely to answer the phone, and hit e-mail regularly.

Now it is true that less people are answering their calls as they come in, I have not seen anyone, even the most social of sellers, present any data that suggests that people check their voice mails less. Meaning a good voice mail can still have an impact, and lead to a return call. I regularly get 40% – 50% of messages I leave, returned in about 72 hours. So don’t blame the technology, blame the user.

But let’s dial things back a little, and let’s for a moment accept a complete falsehood many sellers have bought into: “voice mails do not get returned”, there is still merit to leaving a voice mail, and making the call. Why – touch-points.

Based on different inputs, it can take anywhere from 8 – 12 touch-points to get a response from a prospect. (BTW – no guarantee that the response will be positive, we still have to work to get the appointment even when they respond). In that case, the voice mail, even when not returned, still serves a purpose. Combined with other means of communication, each touch-point compounds the ones that came before it and improve your chances of speaking to the prospects.

The same executive referenced above also shared that he specifically ignores the first three attempts by sellers, because he knows most will fall away after the first three touch-points, and the ones who really want to speak to him will continue to demonstrate that and their creativeness as they deliver the 4th, 6th or 9th touch-point.

Work out your pursuit plan, and keep a couple of things in mind. Mix things up, you have access to office phone, mobile phone, text, snail mail, LinkedIn, and more, the only shortage to variety is your imagination. Do it frequently and consistently, meaning don’t wait a week after your initial touch-point, a couple days is good. Go for eight yes 8, touch-points in the course of two business weeks. If you find that harsh, start by adding one more touch-point to your current weekly routine; in a few weeks add one more, and so on till you hit your minimum 8. (See example).

Cadence 1

Yes phone work has changed, and so should you, make the call, just know why.

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Young female scientist injecting GMO into   potato in  laboratory

What If Prospecting Were Cancer?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Not to be overly dramatic, but most people who find out they have caner or any terminal disease, will immediately seek a cure, take steps to change their lifestyle or habits to alter their fate. Rarely or ever would they ignore it or make changes to unrelated things as a means of healing the illness. Well, most except some VP’s of Sales or sales leaders.

You would not believe the number of these folks I meet with, who unprompted, without “probing” or cajoling, share with me their concerns about the state of their team’s pipelines, and the lack of new opportunities. When I ask what they attribute that to, they tell me:

  • Their people are ineffective at prospecting
  • Preferring to spend time with existing customers
  • They spend all their time researching on the web and social media – very little time leveraging the research by actually putting it to good use
  • Or just not wanting to do it at all

This of course leaves them in precarious position, while there may be good organic growth that they can coast on for a while, the new revenue coming in is only slightly ahead of their natural client attrition rate; leaving them only one breath away from a client leaving, and the whole year going pear shape.

You would think that once they examine and understand the symptoms, the risks and severity of the situation, they would address the cause as directly and effectively as possible. But no, the VP”s/Leaders in question, seem to feel that it is better to focus and deal with something else, some other element of sales as a means of addressing the issue. It sometimes reminds me of an old joke, where a farmer is suffering greatly with a tooth ache, as a cure, his friend and fellow farmer suggests that he drop a cement block on his toes, “Ya, you’ll forget that tooth ache in no time at all.” Now I have nothing against alternatives to main stream medical care, but even I know there are only so many toes you can break before you have to see a real doctor.

Seriously, they will deal with and change anything than what counts, i.e. their people’s ability to properly prospect. A popular favourite, probably due to visibility, is to focus on the “leads”; yup, “better leads”, or “more leads”. That’s the ticket, they are ignoring the leads they have now, or making at best a token effort, so let’s give them more to squander. A variation on the theme, “lets hire a lead gen firm.” So one company locally did that, and their reps came back:

“The leads suck”
Why?
‘The guy said he is not ready for at least six months”
How long is your sales cycle?
“About 4 months” (Data pulled from their CRM by sales ops showed just over 6 months)

But even if it was four months, seems like the right length of runway to unfold the sales properly at a relaxed pace. But it seemed the preferred method was to wait, till everyone is all over the buyer like white on rice, and then engage, just around the buyer has made their choice and is looking for pricing.

Another leader who after deciding that his people needed to prospect more regularly and do it better when they do, put the team through a presentations skills program. I guess his theory was that if any of the team ran into a prospect, (by mistake), they would be adept at presenting.

If prospecting was cancer, most people would deal with it directly, regardless of the effort required. Seems to me that having a continuously anaemic pipeline, or one full with names growing fungus like the orange we forgot in the back of the fridge, points to the fact that you have a cancer in your sales organization: deal with it, before it deals with your career.

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Hot and cold phones

What’s The Difference Between A Cold Call and Warm Call?2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

The simple answer is that one is scheduled, and the other is not. Some may add that in a warm call the recipient may be aware of the person calling and the reason for the call, usually in the form of a referral. Some may add that one can “warm up” a call by doing research and having something relatable for the recipient, so they don’t blow you off as quick.

But the reality is that the difference is in your head.

Any unscheduled call, be it from a referral or from an overly informed rep, is an interruption. That’s why I tell people that I work with to reorient how they think about their work. If you are calling people who do not have a call scheduled in their calendar, you are interrupting them – next time someone asks you what you do for a living, I want you to say with great pride – “I am a professional interrupter; I interrupt people in the process of helping them achieve their objectives and delivering positive impact on their business.”

Download your copy of the Objection Handling Handbook

The challenge for most sales people, and the reason the call leaves them feeling cold, is that they are unprepared for the series of events and reactions their interruption sets into process.

After having research the company in an effort to warm the call, they figure that they have something relevant to say, and fail to take into account the interruption. So they wax poetic, all the while the prospect is thinking “how can I get back to work”. This is just compounded when they are usually talking about “solutions”. Given that 70% or more of the market is not looking for a solution, the interruption just seems worse when they deem the message to be irrelevant. Add to this that they have heard this same approach a thousand times before. So what can you do, focus on Objectives, not pains or needs; every business has objectives, align with those, and you’ll go from an irritating interruption, to an interruption with possibilities. Yet few research, they continue to research for problems some may have that fit their solution, rather than the other way around. You want the reaction to be “I was thinking about this”, not “WTF is this guy talking about”, leading to a click or objection.

When the objection comes, most sales people take the rejection personally. After all, they spent all this time researching the company, the person, and god knows what else, and at the moment of interruption, it seems all for not. As soon as it is personal, people get defensive, and it’s all downhill from there.

Managing and overcoming objections on a cold call starts long before they come up in the call. We interrupt, that triggers specific reaction. As before, if the initial narrative was a “solution” based intro, most reps defend and double down on that narrative, thus accelerating their fate. But if the intro was based on Objectives, doubling down on those allows you to expand your potential value rather than limit it.

If you can accept that you are an interruption, and focus on objectives and impacts, you will be in a position to manage and take away objections, and move towards a conversation – a sales conversation about their objectives, not pains, needs or solutions.

Download your copy of the Objection Handling Handbook

Hot and cold phones
Sales_Cartoon_sales process

Never Let A Good Plan Get In The Way Of Success!2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

In some sports and other skills based endeavours, for example figure skating, you can score points for artistic merit, and you also get scored on execution. Sales on the other hand is more like hockey or football (North American), while Artistic Merit is admired, execution is key, but the only measure that counts at the end, is the outcome, did we win, or, well really, what else is there? Execution is a means to an end, not an end on to itself, which is why teams and coaches use playbooks to help their teams execute better, but better execution without the results, i.e. winning a client and the revenue that leads to, does not lead to long term sales success.

Sales_Cartoon_sales processWhile I have always been a proponent of a good sales process, and having a playbook to assist and improve execution, let’s not lose sight of the overall objective: Revenue! I worry when I see sales managers and leaders put a greater emphasis on process and playbook than results. I have seen to many mistake one for the other, where sales people who delivered results were questioned about why they did not follow the process, rather than given credit for assessing the situation and acting.

You can see the opposite of this when sales people who continue to underperform, but are maintained (and rationalized) because they were “compliant”, followed the process. Don’t be that seller who continuously achieves also-ran status with high artistic merit, and low points for execution.

A process and playbook are meant to be dynamic and evolving, the only way to improve and to ensure that it is effective in the only thing that counts, Revenue, to continue to evolve it based on market realities. The market and out prospects continue to evolve, treating your playbook and process as though they are impervious to change will only lead to more work, and over time diminished results.

Playbooks are a collection of best practices, which requires we continue to test, examine, deploy, review and execute again. They are guidelines not divine declarations, every day your process does not evolve in some way, is a day you fall behind. We cringe when prospects say “because we have always done it that way”, yet we seem to be comfortable with allowing that thinking when it comes to playbooks and processes.

Too many sales managers and organization spend too much valuable time on pipeline reviews, a deep dive of ass covering. Instead they should be doing process and playbook reviews, after all what is in your pipeline is a result of how good your process is and how well it is executed. In fact, they should be doing Pipeline Previews, this allows my clients to look ahead, and understand which elements of their playbook and process will help move the sale forward, and which need to evolve to ensure they win the sale. Good execution of a bad process or playbook means nothing at the end of the day; may look good, but little more.

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Snake oil

“Fake Sales News” Lead To Fake Sales!4

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

We here in Canada have not been spared the phenomenon of fake news, although we are still working on making it the art form it is elsewhere. Sure, you’re all thinking about the fallout from the election in the former colonies to the south, but I am speaking even closer to home, specifically the fake news making the rounds in sales circles.

Who hasn’t mistakenly (or just through sheer curiosity) clicked on a Never Cold Call Again link. The experience was usually based on the bias the person had long before they clicked. Those who have a serious fear factor when it comes to picking up the phone, felt their inaction would be validated, and those of us who have made loads of money smiling and dialing, see these sites or posts as a source of amusement in an otherwise productive sales day, selling to people we cold called.

The problem with fake news, sales or political, is it is all amusing when it stays on the web, where it can be a source of entertainment for some, or a source of excuses for others.  But when these fake posts and articles begins to ooze into the real world, it costs people sales, their jobs, drive companies to bankruptcimpacts the economy, and the next thing you know we need to cut interest rates again. As with political fake news, these posts are full of repeatedly debunked, but the peddlers of fake news, political or selling, have mastered the mantra of “let’s not cloud the issue with facts.”

For example, many “cold calling is dead” proponents regularly point to stats that suggest “social sellers” convert and close more business by a factor or XX%; while at the same time pointing to the low success rate of cold calling. Now I don’t have counter facts, mostly because I am busy working with sales people who work for people I cold called. When you live in the real world, you have the advantage of experience and the ability to evaluate facts as you see them, not vicarious stats and experiences.

Snake oilI share another recent experience as an example of fake news and fake sales. I visited a sales leader a few weeks ago, (using a combination of social selling and traditional selling, I think those of us who do not have a social selling book or webinar, just call that selling). A few minutes in to the meeting he asked what I thought about “social selling”, I told him I see it as a part of a big tool kit, and that while I do not label myself as a social seller, I was 8th on the list on forbes.com.

He then told me that he had engaged a local social selling expert, apparently, they were “world famous in Toronto”. As we explored how the two approaches may be harmonized, he told me that he wasn’t sure about social selling, but he had read so much about, the stats were impressive, and he felt he would give it a try. What he said next was the most telling. He said that he had to try because he was given ‘a real good price because” name omitted to protect the innocent, “was in the process of collecting logos, and made it real cheap.”

And so there we are, fake sales. Because there is a difference between selling it, and socializing it before you give it away. And so once again it is about the revenue, not the sale, because this fake sale, much like the fake news that are void of facts, this fake sale had no revenue.

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