Calendar 2016

Time To Get Around To It0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Michael Jordan was quoted that the only thing that changes is our focus on the fundamentals, a great lesson for those who tend to be distracted by shinny objects promising “easier” way of achieving or exceeding quota, or, to avoid doing things we don’t like. One of the core fundamentals for successful selling is how we view and utilize time, right down to the minute. It is always important to remember that time is the only non-renewable resource we have. Leads are recyclable, lost deals can be revisited and won. But once the next 60 seconds go by, we don’t get to replenish or redo.

This leads us to the importance of allocating time, not managing it; once time is allocated to specific activity, then focus on executing and managing the activity you actually designated the time to. But many sales people cherry pick time, and use it to avoid things that have to be done, like prospecting for example.

Regularly when I ask buyers why they didn’t prospect, or when they plan to prospect, I hear “I’ll get around to it when I have time”.  As though some rich uncle is going to pull up with some extra time in the trunk, and give it to us.  Time is something you have to commit to in advance.  If you don’t commit time in advance in your calendar for important activities, like prospecting, you will not do it.

“I’ll get around to it when I have the time.” Is the very opposite of what it should be.

I understand that there a lot of demands on a sales person’s time, the importance of focusing on current customers; I understand the importance of finishing that proposal, doing a demo, and all the things we signed up for as sales professionals.  As professionals, one of the key skills we are paid the big bucks for is prioritizing, be that targets, opportunities, accounts, but most importantly, our activities.  While maintaining current customers is important, it’s as important to remember where the current customer base came from, and having that influence how and what we prioritize.

No Distraction

It is interesting to work with new sales people, when they have no distractions, no base, no proposals, nothing to do but identify and pursue pipeline opportunities.  These newbies have nothing else to focus on but that.  Then their success begins to chip away at not only the available time for prospecting, but their willingness to prospect.

It’s the latter that surprises me. There is no taking away from the fact that prospects have to be sold, and clients have to be serviced, but at what point does a quota carrying rep decide that they “have earned the right not to prospect”. An actual quote from a 12-year veteran has made quota in about half those years, but only twice in sequential years.  When something is important, you make time for it. This is as true for business as it is personal wants.  Which may lead one to conclude that they do not want to prospect.

Calendar timeBut for those who do want, and are genuinely struggling to pack everything they need to do into a work week, the only option is to get ahead of it, and commit to it in advance by blocking it out in your calendar.  Studies have shown that we are less likely to blow-off an activity that is in our calendar, than those that not, despite best intentions.  Most reps only have client meetings and team meetings in their calendar, important, but no more important than prospecting.  Real pros I work with, set appointments in their calendars to do research, to segment their opportunities, and time to prospect.  They also build time into their calendar for legitimate distractions, this way when they do need to be sidetracked while prospecting, they have time “banked” away to make sure they can complete their task, prospecting.  If the distraction or “client emergency” does not happen, then you have time in the bank for other high-value activities, like maybe prospecting.

Those who plan their prospecting times in advance, avoid the peaks and valleys that drain so many sellers.  The emotional rollercoaster, the misspent energy, all avoided by setting an appointment with themselves to secure appointments with their next big client.

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

The Best Sellers Are Cheaters0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

You can slice it six ways from Sunday, the best sales people are the ones who maximize and do most with their time. Success in sales is all about Execution – everything else being just talk, and given that all of us are allocated 24 hours at the stroke of midnight, what and how one choses to execute becomes a critical difference. Execution takes time, a non-renewable resource, finding ways to stretch and bend that time in your favour is critical; and doing that will usually involve cheating. Not cheating like when a company cheats a rep out commissions, or by deceit, but cheat as in:

“to elude or thwart by or as if by outwitting – “cheat death” (Merriam-Webster)
I would suggest the sales equivalent being time – “cheat time”

To begin with, top sellers spend much less time talking, and a great deal more time executing. That does not mean that they get everything right, but since they spend more time doing than, thinking, planning or talking, they are bound to get more things right. More importantly, they will have more mistakes to review and learn from. A big unspoken consequence to waiting for perfection before taking action is you are not making enough mistakes to learn from, and as the end of the month quarter or year draws near, we revert back to doing things they way we always have, the same way that leads to almost half of B2B reps missing quota.

In order to ensure that our clients get maximum bang for their training dollars, we put a great deal of focus and effort on adoption, changing people’s habits. No matter how great a sales methodology you introduce, if you don’t change the habits of the team you are working with, you will not change the way they sell. The book of the last trainer is clearly on display on the shelf of each rep, just absent from the way they execute, because their habits remain the same, they are just applied using a different story.

In this process, we work closely with teams over time, and have come to see specific things recur time and time again across different teams. One being how they value and deal with time, not just their own, but that of the buyer.

Time Question Concept

Using our Activity Calculator, each rep calculates approximately what percentage of their time they have to allocate to high value activities across a period of time, ideally a sales cycle, or if we have to a week or month. (I really prefer sales cycle, but many sales people don’t know how long their sales cycle is, their default answer is “Depends”) Once a rep makes a commitment to how much time they will allocate to critical sales activities, the challenge is to stick to it.

The best sellers cheat time by ensuring that they complete the most important high value activities. Their view is that the most important thing is attaining quota, so they cheat by ensuring those things that drive quota get done before and above all other things. The less successful sellers, cheat themselves by doing everything but what drives their quota. They find it more important to do things their customer support or product people can and are paid to do, eating up valuable time, eating away at their ability to win.

I understand the need to be customer focused, which is exactly why your company hired support teams better equipped to do that than you; they hired you to sell. So stop cheating yourself and your customer, yes, by stepping between them and the right resource you not only risk resolution, but risk losing customers as a result.

So if you’re gonna cheat, do it in a way that helps your customers, company, and you; go out and sell, don’t waste time on things that don’t lead to revenue.

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deadline

Deadlines Drive Deals0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

People generally have one of two relationships with deadlines, they either love them, and use them to be more productive. Or they hate them, ignore them, avoid them, or are terrified by them. The former is usually the more productive group. While productivity is normally defined as more units of output with the same or less units of input, the only thing we’ll mess with or alter in this post, is we will look at the units of input as being time.

I have spoken about time in the past, time being the only non-renewable resource we have in sales, squeezing more out of each second, leads to more sales success. The other things I have spoken a lot about here is the importance of next steps, real next steps, not wishful planning. Think of these two critical elements as the two lines you want to paint your sales between.

While there are the obvious deadlines that sellers deal with, month, quarter or year ends. I think it is important that sellers set more immediate and shorter deadlines. Many will worry about the whole sale, which often prevents them doing all the things or key things that need to today, now (as soon as you’ve read this). Break down your sales to specific points that have to be accomplished along the way, things without which there will be no sale, not big things, but things that have to be in place.

This is where next steps are key. They allow you to break down big steps, into much more bite sized, read doable steps, without the distraction of what’s looming beyond the next step, because let’s be real, if you don’t achieve this immediate next step, there ain’t no sale beyond. While there should always be an overarching strategy and plan for the opportunity/account, there should also be one for each step along the way. Most sales people find it easier to articulate their big plan, but find it difficult to articulate what HAS to be done next, and how the will actually do to make that happen.

deadlineDeadlines force you to focus. Setting deadlines for small incremental steps, lead to not only an action plan, but an execution plan; and we all know that success in sales is all about execution, everything else is just talk, and in the absence of action, there is always a lot of talk. The ticking of a clock does amazing job of either turning talk in to action, or missing the deadline when time rolls over you.

Once you master self-imposed deadlines, you will see that they not only are effective for the driving success in individual sales meetings, but you’ll begin to actually set deadlines within meetings. If you know you need to have three things in place with a prospect for them to agree on your next step, and you have a 60-minute meeting scheduled, set deadlines for that within the meeting. You’ll find that this will help you focus on only those things that drive that point, and usually makes your prospect much more engaged because you are focused forward looking, and forward moving.

Deadlines drown out distractions. It is amazing the clarity of thought many experience when they set specific timeline and deadlines. While deadlines imposed by others are not always pleasant, self-imposed deadlines, will make you more productive in the way outlined at the top of this post.

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Time allocation

Enough With The Time Management BS – Please!0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Time is the most valuable resource sales people, or any people have, it is the only none renewable resource, once it is spent, it is gone forever, except for the memories, and for many in sales the memories are not that happy, and not worth reliving. How we choose to utilise it will determine our success.

This is why I think time management is such a dangerous concept in sales success. Let’s be real, time already comes managed. You got 60 minutes to an hour, 24 hours to a day, 7 days to a week, and so on. Looks very well managed to me, in fact so well managed, that even Netanyahu and Abbas can fully agree. So managing time is not the issue. What can or should do with time to maximize results? You can allocate it, and then focus on managing the activity you allocated the time to, in the time you allocated for it – plain, not simple.

Allocation

Step one – figure out all the things you have to do during the course of typical sales cycle in order to win the sale. Not all the things you can do, currently are doing, see others doing, no – just those activities without which there would be no sale – nothing else, no matter how appealing, fun or cool. Then look at what percentage of your time you typically need to spend on each during the course of a SUCCESSFUL sales cycle. Not every day, but throughout the cycle, as some activities may be more intense in the middle, others at the start.

Currency of Sales

Now I want you to look at your time as money, specifically $1,760, which is the number hour of face time available to sellers annually (220 days x 8 Hours per day). How you spend and invest that money will determine your success. Much like a wealth manager will allocate portions of your money to stocks, some to cash, derivatives, all aligned to your retirement or other goals; in this case, it’s sales goals. That is how you allocate based on the activities highlighted above. What percentage to account management, how much to selling new opportunities, to admin, to training, and oh ya, prospecting.

Time allocationWhich is what got this whole thing started.

I am truly tired of lame sales people using the lame excuse of time management. Whenever I speak to under-performing reps, who only have dust in their pipelines, the number one excuse they give me is time, “oh, I guess I have to do a better job of time management Tibor” Flip off man, that’s just bullshit!

The same reps who give me that line, like I was born yesterday, seem to always find the time to complete their Brackets or football pools, because there is so much riding on those things right? Lame. I bet you don’t feel sorry or compelled to help those who squander their money on foolish things, (I saw you walk by that panhandler), so why should I feel sorry for you when you squander your time.

And don’t give me this “Well I had to get back to a client” or some other lame iteration of “I’m slack”.

Do you let others dictate how you spend your money and on what? Your money, your time, you should determine how it is spent or invested, does your friend or client do the work it takes for you to make your money, do you let others spend your money, why do you let them spend and waste your time?

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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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pipeline-insurance

Pipeline Insurance2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Insurance is one of those things that everyone has but nobody really wants. In some ways, we feel that we are throwing money away, until that rainy day or unforeseen event arrives, and we are all too happy to have the insurance. As much as we hate the experience, we do it because we know that it’s the best way to ensure that we don’t have a sever disruption, financial or other, that will negatively impact our lives.

Rich people are always over insured, the rest of us have to be more selective, what do we need to ensure, and can we afford to leave “exposed”, risking come what may. When times get tough, cash-flow is squeezed, most people pull back on discretionary spending, then less discretionary spending. This includes things we consider “good to have”, but when the immediate expense is greater than the perceived risk, or having to go without, we cut back on those things. When you’re feeling good in your 40’s, but tight for cash, you may feel you have to make choices; you’ll likely forgo disability coverage in favour of car insurance, as you need to drive to work daily. As cash becomes tighter, you make more choices, not always in line with your long-term goals, but just enough to get you through the here and now.

It is a lot like prospecting, we all hate to do it, especially the traditional type, where we have to engage with prospects who are not lined up at our door, or downloading the latest ditties of wisdom your content teams pinches out. But oh we like prospect when we have them, there is nothing like a full pipeline brimming with opportunities. Assuming they are all real opportunities, some will close, some won’t, but one way or the other they all have to be replaced; and replaced by a multiple of your close ratio. Simply, if your conversion rate of opportunities that go into your pipeline is 4:1, every time you close one client, you will need to replace it with four prospects. The condition is that they have to be real, a lot of sales people keep opportunities in their pipeline even when the chance of the closing are low and declining, because the illusion of opportunities allows them to make choices, similar to insurance choices above. In this case, it is forging prospecting in a regular and disciplined way.

But as you work your magic, and close the deals in your pipeline, which I know takes time and effort, giving you plenty of reason to make choices about how you use your time. The consequences of not prospecting are off in the future, if you have a 3 month cycle, and you have “a lot” of opportunities, you’ll tell yourself that you can afford not to prospect. “Look at all the money in the pipeline, I need to focus on that, I can prospect next week, or when I close all this.” But by the time you do close them, it will be too late to replenish without a gap in income.

Time to get insurance to avoid this void, in the case of your pipeline, the best insurance you can get, is prospecting!

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

Are You Too Busy to Succeed?8

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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GR 948-29-2

It’s A New Year – Let’s Go Backwards4

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Assuming your fiscal year started on January 1, you probably have your new targets or quotas by now. Although I did sell for a company once that did not give us our quotas till mid-March. Among the many things you should do is start by going backwards, not in how you sell, but how you plan and set yourself up for success.

Specifically breaking down your success into manageable components. Manageable meaning things that need to be done – and are also in your control. Things beyond your control, well, are beyond your control, instead of worrying about it, plan ahead, and when the time comes, react if you have to, or harder for many, ignore them since by definition, you cannot manage them.

What you can control are activities that lead to specific and planned results, like exceeding quota for example. As discussed in Monday’s post, detailing the high-value activities in each stage of your cycle is crucial. But to know which activities and in what proportion, you will need to start at your goal, and work backwards from there. Understanding what that quota looks like in the real world beyond a dashboard will help you not only to exceed that quota, but create a detailed plan for the journey.

For simplicity, let’s say you closed 2015 with $1.05 million in revenue, and your 2016 quota is $1.2 million, a 12.5% growth. Making your monthly goal a $100,000.

What you need to know:

  • What is your average deal size?
  • Average length of your cycle(s)
  • Some core conversion rates:
    – Number of proposals that close
    – Number of real prospects required to generate a REAL proposal
    – Number of people/companies you’ll need to engage to land one REAL prospect

There are other important conversion rates, like number of connections to appointments (live or virtual) or engagements, and others, plug in those that drive your results. What I find interesting is the number of sales people that do not know any or all of the above, when you ask, they respond: “depends”; on what?

The one thing that does not change year to year, is the amount of time you have to sell to prospects. (Well you do have one extra day this year, and every Leap year). If you don’t know the above numbers, how will you chart the course to 12.5% increase?

Those that do know them, and they are not hard to track these days, given all the data available, can begin to make choices.

Will you increase your average deal size; some have that option some don’t. Will you focus on improving your proposal to close rate, or one of the others? This could involve being more diligent in Discovery and rushing to proposal, allowing you to work with less prospects but with greater results, how will that impact your time allocation mix?

While there are a number of moving parts, it has to be done, our clients use our Activity Calculator Tool, to ensure efficient execution and continuous improvement. This not only helps reps take control of their activities and success, but also serves as a great coaching tool if you lead a team.

The key is to execute a well-planned strategy, rooted in the real numbers to drive real results. With that in hand, you can get creative and unleash your god given sales skills; without it, you are going to work harder than you really have to, and looking to god about 12.5% more than you did last year.

Tibor Shanto

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Give Your Buyers The Gift of Time – Sales eXecution 3190

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

collo papillon  camicia

I have written several times about the importance of time in sales, how time really is the currency of sales; while everything else in sales may be variable, success will be determined by a number of unique and individual factors. Time is the only standard element we all share, what we do with it is the differentiator.

Download our “Sales Happen In Time” e-book

Time is also the only non-renewable resource that sales people deal with, everything else can be replayed, retried or redone, not time, once spent, it’s gone. And while this is a fact that sales people have to deal with every day, we often forget that our buyers have to deal with the exact same limitation every 24 hour day.

In prior posts I have presented our Actionable Definition of value:

Those services and/or products that remove barriers, obstacles, or help bridge GAPS between where the buyer is now – and – their OBJECTIVES!

In breaking down the elements or underpinnings of Objectives, we learn that shifting time, extending the life of an asset, shortening the time to revenue, etc., are common objectives for buyers. Therefore one of the best value adds you can deliver is bending time in favour of your buyers.

Recent Research released by CEB, show that buying cycles are often twice as long as the buyers themselves anticipated. This insight can help sellers a couple of ways. First, just understanding that things will not happen as fast as you “forecasted”, will help you in better managing your pipeline and delivering quota. I have seen many sales people give up because the buy did not take place in a timeframe that suited the seller.

Given that sales people are usually over optimistic about how long a sale should take, they often give up on a sale way too early. This requires them to prospect more and harder, and completely throws off the pipeline and success. Seems to me that whatever the answer is when you ask a buyer about their timeline, it is good to validate and add time to those expectations.

This reinforces the need to implement a sales process that is aligned to the buyer’s buying process. But again, this is one step, given that many buyers aren’t truly sure how long their buying cycle is.

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The other opportunity is to understand why buyers are so bad at estimating their timelines around a buy. The more you understand this, the more you can help buyers go through the full buying journey, but introduce some short cuts along the way, reducing the cycle time in the process.

The hard part for many sales people, is that much of this will have little or anything to do with their product or them, and almost entirely with the buyer. This leads to another piece of advice we have given before, and that is “leave your product in the car”, and make it about the buyer. Not how the buyer uses your product, but how the buyer buys.

By thoroughly reviews your successful cycles, and looking at it from the buyer’s view. Not what it took for you to get the sales, but what the buyer had to do to make the buy. These will vary from product to product, but with a disciplined approach to reviewing all opportunities, won – lost – no decision, will allow you to see where buyers linger, or get detoured, and where they make clear strides towards a decision.

Sharing these findings, not the features of your product or ROI, will give them the gift of time, and you more and better customers.

Tibor Shanto

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