EPISODE 341: Prospecting Expert Tibor Shanto Urges Sales Leaders to Step Up Their Subject Matter Expert Standing Right Now

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Optimal Sales Mindset Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on March 17, 2021. It featured sales prospecting expert Tibor Shanto.]

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TIBOR’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “One of the habits that people should change is how they think of themselves and how they present themselves to their customers. One of the most difficult things I face is convincing salespeople that they’re not salespeople, they’re subject matter experts. As a subject matter expert, you can actually lead the conversation in a meaningful way that actually helps that customer take insight from you. Customers are not going to take insight from a brochure carrier, but they will take insights from a subject matter expert. One of the first habits that you should work on is upgrading who you are and what you represent to your customers. Someone who’s really a subject matter expert wants to understand where that customer is trying to go, what are the objectives that are driving this decision? What are the business motivators that are driving this? Not just what problems/solutions you have.  Most reps are stuck in the present whereas progressive salespeople, subject matter salespeople, can talk in the present but also understand where the company’s trying to go because they’re focused on impacts and outcomes, not talking about strictly their product.”

Fred Diamond: Tibor, it’s great to have you here, you’ve been on the IES Stage live a couple years ago, you’re one of our favorite prospecting experts and today we’ve got you on the sales mindset show and we’re going to be talking about the mindset for effective prospecting and overall sales today.  We’re hopefully towards the end of the pandemic, it’s been a year, ladies and gentlemen.

Tibor Shanto: Good to be here, Fred and welcome, everybody. I know people are at different stages of the pandemic but I’m happy to say that I got my second job so I’m ready to go. I think as you quite accurately say, I think to some degree out mindset is influenced by a number of outside factors, not the least of which these days seems to be the pandemic and such.

I want to be clear before we get started because sales is one of those words that gets used and batted around quite a bit and there is the client lifecycle as a whole, there’s revenue. When you look at revenue, especially today when you’re looking at more and more monthly recurring models when it comes to sales and customer sustainment, you really do have to look across the cycle. I want to be clear that what I’m speaking to this afternoon primarily touches on that middle element of a wider cycle, so I don’t claim to say that this mindset that we’ll be discussing is necessarily applicable to all elements. They may or may not be and I would encourage you to experiment because anything new that doesn’t kill you will make you better.

I do want to be clear that what I’m talking about here is those people who are charged with finding engaging, persuading and then converting that opportunity into a customer. Whether we look at that or other things, if you look at the fixed mindset versus the growth mindset and so on, people try and fake out a little bit, they’ll talk about data-driven. Everybody’s a lot about data but data in and of itself I think does lock you down much like a fixed mindset because you need to find the insight within the data.

If you look at our customers, they’re overwhelmed by data, they’re overwhelmed by information but they’re underwhelmed by insight and they’re certainly underwhelmed by actionable insight. When you think about mindset and you figure you’re going to go to data, that’s the first step but it’s not the end of the journey. Similarly, when you look at people who talk about sales process, the sales process is only going to work for you if it is dynamic and continues to be evolving and influenced by the market. If you’re still working a sales process that was put together in December 2019, which probably reflects a good 50% of sales organizations, you clearly have a process that’s out of date.

If you’re an organization that took the effort to update your process during the pandemic and then figure at the next plateau we have it, then again I think that you’re going to be in trouble. If you think of process, to me process at the beginning is a fixed mindset and if you want to take it to the next level, take it to the next degree, you have to make it an evolving process and one that’s very much influenced by the market, and we’ll talk later on how to keep continuous tabs on the market so you can continue to maintain the right mindset.

That’s the premise, I wanted to lay it out there. Any questions about that at all that have come in?

Fred Diamond: I like what you just said on a couple different notes. One of the key themes that we keep hearing, and again we’re doing webinars and podcasts every single day from the Institute for Excellence in Sales, is the value you’re providing to your customers. It’s really not about information about your products, it’s about insights into the marketplace, insights to how other companies are solving problems right now. We keep talking about the need to provide more value to the customer to help them with their business or organizational challenges. I think that fits in perfectly with how you just laid everything out.

Tibor Shanto: I think from previous discussions – and we don’t need to go into it, if somebody wants to, they can listen to the old stuff – is that I think one of the other opportunities from a mindset point of view both in an individual salesperson and sales organization is to actually have a definition of value, especially one that you’re willing to share with your customers.

Part of the whole mindset discussion, how can I set the mindset for the customer to want to buy from me versus somebody else? If I can get them to share and agree that my definition and my company’s definition of value is something that they can buy into, then I have a bit of an insight track on the sale. I’m not saying that I’m winning it or I’m ahead, that on its own is not going to be the game-changer, to borrow a phrase.

But on the other hand, if all other elements are equal, then that fact may be the one that pushes me over is that I’ve defined value for them and they bought into my definition of value. At the core of all of this is that whether people like to admit it or not, about 40% of our habits on a day-to-day basis – and this applies to your selling, it applies to your day to day, how you look at sports, how you go to the gym, things along those lines, they’re all driven by habits, 40%.

Again, it’s not a question of good habits, bad habits, they’re habits and in most instances, people are not aware of the fact that much of their day to day activity, or looked at it a different way, that their fate every day is decided by 40% of activities that they’re not consciously processing. As a result of that, to a great extent, we’re the sum of our habits today. If you can get to the point where you’re beginning to actually focus on your habits and as with anything, what you have to do before you can put in something new, anywhere where you have limited real estate like Manhattan or between your ears is you’ve got to take something down before you can put up something new.

A formula, if you go out there and want to do the reading or just trust me that I did it for you. If you look at it, generally habits are that there’s a particular cue, something triggers us in our environment, we look for some form of relief. In this case, the individual goes for a bottle of wine and that gives us our reward and we get over whatever it was that was bothering us or distracting us. I know what I’m about to make is a simple statement, but that’s why we have a whole webinar to follow it up. The clue to the whole thing – and I don’t want to say that it’s easy – is to substitute what you’re looking for as the relief because the triggers, you can change.

Market’s going to come and impact you and so on, you can’t really dictate what’s going to hit you, but you can dictate how you react to it. At first, it’s going to be an effort but that’s where the mindset comes in. You can take the mindset that this is life and I’m going to let it roll over me, or you can take the mindset that this is life and I’m going to make the most of it because I’m going to be in charge. It is possible to change your habits and it does take concrete steps. Again, one of the things that you need to do is to set out a plan, it’s one thing to say I want to do things but just look at the gyms. They rake in the bucks every January and by Valentine’s Day, nobody’s using those memberships because they don’t have a plan. If they had a plan for what they wanted to achieve from that physical fitness in Q1, Q2, Q3, etc.

The other is breaking it down to basics. People have this thing that they decide they’re going to do a change, they’re going to go on a diet and they stop eating and three days later they go and binge. Break it down into doable pieces, it’s better to do small step, celebrate it, review what was successful, what you would have done differently and take those lessons and reapply them. As I say, review and adjust is big and incrementalism, don’t let anybody make you feel bad because you took too small a step, at least you took a step. It’s the guys who talk about big steps and never take them that you should not model yourself after. They talk big, see how big they step.

I want you to feel comfortable and I want you to intentionally go for small things where if you fail, it’s not going to be a terrible thing. If you succeed, you’re ahead and the more those small incremental things and if you sustain the effort over the course of the year, you’re going to change a lot. I think it was Arnold Schwarzenegger that said if you eat 10 pages a day, imagine how much smarter you’ll be at the end of the year. Don’t worry about it being small as long as it’s forward-looking and the other thing is you don’t have to do it alone.

Even if you’re on your own, there are tools, there’s free stuff in the market but again, if you put together a plan, if you get a pen and paper and say, “I’d like to accomplish this by this date” then the next question that you have to answer is, “How am I going to do it?” The answer may not be instantaneous but you’ll go out there, you’ll figure it out, you’ll talk to people, feel free to reach out to me, Fred’s got a bunch of resources but you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re in an organization, they should have things like score cards and other things, performance things to help you.

But if nothing else, then go to your metrics, see what your numbers are. What your average deal size is, how you can change that, maybe that’s the small first mindset that you change is that, “I’m going to pursue different clients.” To do that, you may go out and learn a little bit more about how people do business so you can have higher level conversation that leads to a higher level ticket. Break it down, do one thing at a time.

Anybody have any questions about that?

Fred Diamond: We do have a question that came in here. The question is, “How do applying new habits make me a better salesperson specifically?” I know we’re going to get detailed on that but maybe you can give an overview as it relates because again, everybody who’s watching today’s webinar is in sales and most likely everybody who’s listening to the podcast in the future is also in sales as well.

Tibor Shanto: You have to start with the planning. First thing is you have to look at where in your sale cycle you can start making a difference and again, you can start at a high level. Is your challenge getting in front of the right person or is your challenge saying the right things when you have the opportunity to be in front of the right person? Let’s say it’s the former where you need to shape up your prospecting. Is it a question that you’re so paralyzed by fear of rejection that you don’t do things well, or is it a question that you’re articulating too much about the product rather than the business or economic benefit that it delivers?

Again, as you break it down, don’t try and cure everything at once. Let’s say your issue is objection handling, then focus on which objections are giving you the most difficulty and then cure them one at a time. One of the reasons I’m a big fan of metrics is that with the numbers, you can begin to assess if I made a change here, what impact would it have on my results? What you’ll find of this exploration is there are probably three, four or five different things that you can impact.

The idea is to take them one at a time because if you try and do everything at once, you’re making it a bit more difficult and you’re opening the door to a larger disappointment and what happens when we get disappointed is we’re reluctant to try again, or it takes a long time before we try again. Knowing that, rather than setting yourself up for defeat and trying to be macho man overnight, go for a small thing, celebrate the success, implement the next one and so on.

Look at the game. If you’re looking at prospecting, decide what it is. Is it my objection handling? Within that, is it one of the five objections we get most commonly? Is it the way that I introduce myself? Which element of it? The effort is you have to maybe record your calls if your company doesn’t and then go back and listen. Clearly, you need to have some form of a flow or process to compare it against but it’s laborious work and I think that’s one of the reasons that a lot of people don’t take it on. They figure if they just go with the flow, the next app that their boss buys them might help them.

Fred Diamond: Like we just said, it’s about the hard work and really identifying what the big challenge is. Last question before we move onto the next slide, it’s from Denise, “How do you know which of these habits you need to change?” Do you recommend a coach? Do you recommend just sitting, meditating and thinking? What is your best advice before we move on about identifying those things?

Tibor Shanto: All of the above. I think a coach is absolutely necessary and a coach doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be someone external to your company and it doesn’t have to be another sales guru. I would argue if your goal is to figure out how to change a habit, and that habit could be about the way you hold a fork or your smoking or sales, it’s about the habit, not about sales, you might be better off for this particular challenge getting a coach not like me who comes from sales, but maybe a coach who’s more focused on individual change management. It’s a skill, once you have that skill of change management, then you can engage with someone like me to change specific things.

As I tell people, they’re always rushing out to buy sales books. Why not buy a book that tells you how your customer’s thinking? Something like The 10 Day MBA. The world is not centered around sales, just our commissions are. Changing habits is not a sales reality no matter what your vocation, but changing and upgrading habits will probably do you good so find someone who specializes in that. If they were a sales trainer before, they don’t specialize in it.

I think that the sales process and the sales flow is really important and I always specifically use this comparison. If you look at music, there are only so many notes – in Western music anyways, which I think most of our audience is. In Western music there’s only so many notes, yet if you look at those two players, what those individuals bring to playing those notes is the difference. There are people who play the flute but there’s only one Ian Anderson. There’s people who play the guitar and there’s only one Jimmie Hendrix yet it’s the same notes. Salespeople should look at it the same way.

You need that process so that when your manager talks to you about a process, it’s a good thing, not a bad thing. Once you have that process down, then bring your personal skills to it and improvise just like Jimmie did. You don’t have to go do the rest of his habits which weren’t so good, but the one habit of improvising. The other that a lot of people don’t know, since we’re on the musical thing, is I know a lot of you people may know Charlie Parker, the great saxophonist and everybody always talked about his great ability to improvise. What nobody talks about is the four, five hours every afternoon that he practices improvisation.

I have a question for salespeople that if you’d like, put your answer into the chat box. If you’re getting ready for an hour meeting, how much practice do you do in advance? And I remind you that most football players practice all week for that one hour, so I’d be interested in the answers that come back.

Fred Diamond: We’re actually getting some quick answers here and I hope people are being honest. Joe says 15 minutes, Denise says at least 30 minutes, Marcie says two hours which is a lot. We’ve got one person who says 30 minutes, another 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 15-20 minutes, somebody who says another hour. Also of course it depends on the meeting and what you’re going to be talking about, Denise just said as well.

I like what you said here about the jazz element because if you’re too rote and you’re just reading from a script, there’s no opportunity to let the customer respond because usually you’re just waiting for the next thing to say. You’ve got to get into that perspective of how’s the customer going to be giving me some insights so that I can hear them and then being able to, if the time is right, offer some type of ideas?

Tibor Shanto: To pick up on that theme, one of the habits that people should change is how they think of themselves and more importantly, how they present themselves to their customers. One of the most difficult things I face is convincing salespeople that they’re not salespeople, they’re subject matter experts and they’re not necessarily subject matter experts in everything that their customer does. But at the risk of sounding arrogant – and it wouldn’t be the first time – any VP of sales that I go and meet with will probably know more about their sales and selling within their company than I will ever or ever care to know.

On the whole, I think I know way more than any individual VP not because I’m smarter, but I spend my days and weeks and years meeting with VPs of all sorts from all geographies, from all industries, from all sizes of sales teams. My clients have included the largest wireless company in Canada to a small startup so again, I’m not saying that I’m smart, I’m just a conduit to best practices. As such, I can be a subject matter expert and if you can upgrade that habit of not being the sales guy, and most sales guys approach their prospects like Oliver did, “More soup, please.”

As a subject matter expert, you can actually lead the conversation in a meaningful way that actually helps that customer take insight from you. Customers are not going to take insight from a brochure carrier but they will take insights from a subject matter expert. One of the first habits that you should work on is upgrading who you are and what you represent to your customers. If we break that down, there are some simple things that you can look at.

When I ask people what they want to know from the customer, the people who tell me that they want to know what the pain is, I right away know that they’re your run-of-the-mill, just-left-McDonalds, first-sales-drop type of approach. Somebody who’s really a subject matter expert wants to understand where that customer is trying to go, what are the objectives that are driving this decision? What are the business motivators that are driving this? Not just what problems/solutions you have.

I realized that there are a lot of companies who are good at solving specific problems and have great solutions, but consider the fact that on average in the market, about 10% is actively looking. Those are the people crawling your website, downloading all that great content that you have. 20% are what I call passively looking, they know they need to make a purchase sometime next year so they’re somewhat interested but they’re not ready to engage yet which leaves 70% of the market that status quo, their head’s down busy in their business and so on.

If you think about the typical prospecting call, “Hey, we solve this problem, you got it?” 70% automatically say no just off the top and I’ve heard thousands of scripts, they all sound like that. The words may be different but they all go, “You want to buy?” All with politeness and social elements included, but that’s what they come down to. Whereas if you talk to that 70% about business outcomes that you’ve been able to deliver to similar companies, they might be more inclined to have that conversation with you. I make most of my money from status quo people, people who that day didn’t think about buying but did think about certain business things they were trying to achieve, which brings us to the next one.

Most reps are stuck in the present whereas progressive salespeople, subject matter salespeople can actually walk in two planes, be able to talk in the present but also understand where the company’s trying to go because they’re focused on impacts and outcomes, not talking about strictly their product. They’re also not afraid to talk price because they’re able to take the conversation to value. Even though their price might be high, they can balance it out with the value that they deliver to the company not just now but into the future.

If you want to start somewhere, start with how you think about yourself which will form some of your attitudes, which will then form some of your habits and then you’ll be surprised how companies will look at you differently. One way to do that, and this will give you a clue and it’ll answer a question that Fred touched on before, maybe you want to align with customers better. If you want to reach out to me, I have one tool that’s called the 360 Degree Deal View which will help you understand why you’re winning and why you’re losing.

When I say why you’re winning, what I want to know is I want to go back to a client of mine and understand how their workflow has changed six months after I’ve been there, because that’s what I’m going to be able to sell to the next customer. Again, the attitude is not the “How do I sell the product?” but “How do I sell the change that results from the product that I bring?” And we talked about our own metrics so the other tool that people can reach out to me for is the Activity Calculator which again, allows them to continue to align their activities with the outcomes that they need to deliver to their companies.

The other thing that salespeople need to change their attitudes about and I would say in a big way, is as it relates to our view of time. We’re not like poets and playwrights when they say silly things like time stands still when you’re having fun or time flies when you’re having fun and all that. Time, like the virus, just continues to march on at its predictable pace of 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours per day and 7 days per week and 52 weeks per year. So you can’t really do much with time and salespeople play this game with themselves about time management and they have all this time and all that. In theory, time is infinite but in reality, it comes in 24-hour chunks.

Thinking about time management is not a good idea, so a habit you might want to consider changing is rather than looking at time management, what are your priorities? What are the big things that are going to move you to your goal whether it’s personal or whether it’s with respect to sales? if you can look at what your priorities are and make enough time for them and then focus on your execution within that time, it’s a much better approach than trying to manage time because you can’t manage time. If you look at it, even Hillary and Trump agreed on the 24-hour day.

One of the things that people need to do – and again, this comes down to that breaking it down and practice and you can do this with different things, I’m going to use one element. If you want to figure out how to best use your time, how to allocate it to the right activities and so forth, before you even get to the time equation, figure out what the activities are that have to be executed through the course of a cycle for a sale to happen and what some things are that if they never take place are not going to impact you negatively.

I always start people off with this question and I say what do you have to do from a sales point of view and what percentage of your time goes to prospecting? As soon as somebody says 30%, I know that their habits are not right both in terms of telling facts and in terms of realizing what they’re doing. If you’re doing a 40-hour work week, 30% prospecting would mean 12 hours a week, which would mean over two hours a day and when you phrase the question to them, “Do you do two hours of prospecting a day?” they say no. So you know right away that their habit is not to understand what they’re doing and also not to convey the facts when they’re asked, but that’s a different thing.

Again, understand what has to be done. In the process of that, you’ll begin to also see activities that we were doing for comfort. They felt good, they felt right but they weren’t really moving things forward and this job is not about feeling good, it’s about attaining quota or exceeding quota. There’s a lot of things that we do that I don’t think are necessary.

I’ll give you one example that speaks to the heart. Salespeople tend to do a lot of research before they pick up the phone and prospect, sometimes up to 20 minutes. My numbers are 12, 6 and 1. I dial 12 people, I talk to 6, I get 1 appointment. If I did 20 minutes of research for 12 people, that’s how many hours? I could probably buy an appointment cheaper and my question is, how much information do I need to get the appointment? Not much.

I need a lot of information when I get there, if I’m successful and get the appointment, I need to know a lot about that opportunity to move it forward. But to get the appointment, I don’t need to do that much but I think salespeople do it for two reasons and again, I’ll be controversial. One is it’s a good way to eat up time without picking up the phone, and the other is it’s just a bad habit because they haven’t stepped back and asked themselves, “Is this necessary for my success?”

Some clues that you want to take in terms of how you allocate your time, they’re fairly straightforward, that’s the thing. The first one is awareness, you’ve got to be realistic about where you are, what you’re doing and more importantly, where you want to go. You want to design and organize your goals, it might sound familiar from a few slides ago. Then you do want to monitor your time and I know some people do this and I’m not questioning it, I just don’t find it to be the best practice, writing down what you do every 5 minutes of the day and so on.

I think more a general thing, start off over the course of a sale cycle. Most salespeople I ask, “What is your sale cycle? How long is your sale cycle?” They tell me it depends and then they get all upset when I tell them “that depends” is not a unit of measurement so they should know how long their sale cycle is. Then the can begin to make plans to optimize it, not necessarily shorten it but to optimize it.

As I said, the counterbalance to time is metrics so you need to know, to get one sale, how many real proposals – not spaghetti proposals – you need to submit. To get one proposal, how many people do you need to take through discovery? To take one through discovery, how many people do you need to engage and get an appointment with? In this formula which is not uncommon, 2 to 1 is probably a good ratio for most B2B salespeople.

If you needed to get three sales a month, you need to get 24 appointments which means that’s 24 hours that you’ve got to make sure that you’ve squirreled away at the beginning of that quarter, that year, that month or whatever the period is. Then these discovery meetings aren’t one event so you’ve got to figure out, okay, if I have to meet a client three times during discovery – which again, is not an unusual amount – that’s three hours and I’m not even including driving time and research time.

All of a sudden you begin to see that our habits and attitudes in utilizing time are the first thing that we can positively impact and I would argue this carries through to the rest of your life. You can’t change time so the only thing that you have flexibility around, the only thing that you really have control around is this notion of metrics and that’s what the Activity Calculator gives you. If you can understand your metrics, then you can plan which metric you’re going to change.

Let’s say you decide that you wanted to improve your numbers from the point of view of discovery to proposal, that second number that we looked at. Then you could set out a plan and say, you want to have a strategy around process, you want to hold off till all the information is complete, because a lot of times salespeople will suffer from premature elaboration, to borrow the phrase – great phrase from Michael Bosworth. You want to focus on the future state so these might be the three activities that you set out for yourself to change your habit.

The thing you have to remember is change is not overnight, so you have to give yourself a little bit of time. Same thing, if you wanted to change the deal size, you go through same exercise, work with yourself to figure out what those things are. That’s where earlier, Fred, you mentioned about mentor and so forth. As I mentioned before, there is the notion of The 10 Day MBA so learn how the person at the other side of the conversation is evaluating things, is assessing things. What are their habits? If you can understand what their habits are by virtue of what they learnt in MBA school, you might be able to present your information in a way that they’re able to assess and process it.

I’ll close on this note in terms of the coaching element whether you’re doing it for yourself or whether you’re working with a mentor to help you change these habits or evolve your habits. It’s not always about change, sometimes it’s about evolve. First thing you want to do is make sure that you’re realistic about what you’re looking to change whether it’s your role or things like that. Then if you’re leading a team, we need to understand what the expectations are. A lot of times salespeople and managers haven’t aligned their expectation and I’ll give you a simple humorous example.

If you ask salespeople what they need to do, they’ll say that they need to submit a forecast. If you ask sales managers what they expect, they expect an accurate forecast. There is a difference between the two because if I just have to submit a forecast, any number will do and time after time, when I do this exercise, that’s one of the things that comes up.

Finally, you want to make sure they understand, then you want to evolve your skills or help your team evolve their skills and then it’s a question of consistent monitoring because as the market evolves, we’re going to have to keep changing. But generally by the time you get to this state, the habit of change becomes one of the habits that you get done as you go along. Any questions at this point?

Fred Diamond: Tons have come through and I want to get to a couple as quickly as possible. Another question here from Denise, “What is your philosophy of submitting proposals? Very often I have found that people are just seeking free information and pricing.” Again, we have a bunch of people here, Tibor, who are in different types of industries, most are in complex sales, some are in tech, finance, we have some in hospitality who are watching today.

Tibor Shanto: That’s why you heard me use the phrase spaghetti proposal, because a lot of times these proposals are just people throwing things against the wall. I don’t want to be negative about salespeople, often prospects would have gone through their head and say, “If you want this process to continue, I need to see something.” There are ways to work with that, but there’s always that one customer so I want to be realistic.

When I work with people – and I’m not the only one, I know others – there are certain criteria that have to be met for a proposal to be submitted and people always are taking shortcuts. They know they’re taking shortcuts but they’re hoping, but hope is not a plan, as they say. This is based on the 360 Degree Deal View where you understand why you win and why you lose, so you can base this on fact, not whim.

If you have criteria, the right people, the right plan, the right budget, the right timeline and so forth, then you can continue to work against those. Then it really becomes a question, and it varies from time to time, of how long before you capitulate to the pressure of the customer saying, “I need to see something.” It’s not easy, but it’s doable to explain, “I want to give you something to see and in order to do that, here are some things that I need to do because…” It’s not that difficult, but it changes from day to day.

To Denise’s point, you should have a standard for what constitutes a viable proposal and then it’s just a question of how disciplined you are to stick to it.

Fred Diamond: We have another question here. The question is about when you were talking before about becoming a subject matter expert. There might have been a little bit of a confusion where people are saying, “Don’t I really need to understand the pain before I bring value?” Talk about that for a second or two.

Tibor Shanto: First of all, I push back hard against this notion of pain because only about 10% of the market has pain. COVID is giving us all pain, but if you do the research at any given time, only about 10% have pain or let’s be more accurate, 10% are willing to admit to a voice on the phone or someone at the end of an email. The only way to get past that and get out of the pain trap, because that gives you 10% of the market to talk to, that’s why people end up discounting stuff and that’s why it’s like shooting fish in a barrel but sometimes you’re shooting the other salesperson.

If you can understand how you can impact the process of the way people are doing business, then you can go to somebody who doesn’t have pain, who’s got clear objectives, every business and every businessperson has objectives. If you can talk to the objectives that you can help them achieve and do the research, go look at TrustRadius’s B2B buyer disconnect. The biggest thing they talk about is that salespeople just don’t understand what the buyers are looking for and instead of trying to figure it out, they keep throwing all these unrealistic marketing things.

Look at the research, it’s not me. They don’t believe it. What they’re looking for is client experience because been there, done that, so give them the been there, done that instead of throwing product at them. A subject matter expert has been there and done that.

Fred Diamond: One of the other key things we’ve heard – and again, we’re doing the webinars and the podcasts every single day – is COVID’s been hard but in some cases it’s been the greatest gift in the history of professional sales because we know that every company on the planet is dealing with recovering from whatever happened with COVID, lockdown, shutdown, quarantine, no going to school, all those things. Secondly, every company’s been affected financially because of the pandemic, some ways much more positive, some ways much less positive, of course.

As a sales professional you don’t need to ask the pain question. If you look at the right side of your equation there, you have enough data to know. Because of the fact that we’re all at the same place – in theory, now we’re moving out a little bit but we’re all basically at the same place and it’s pretty easy to see if you know who your customers are, you should know where they are in that spectrum.

Tibor Shanto: I did a series of videos when COVID started and you’re absolutely right. I did them every day till about Memorial Day from March 20th. One of the things I talk about is exactly that, if you’re looking for pain, everybody’s got the same pain and this was like April. But the first video I did, I did really because I was pissed off at one of our peers because people were like, “Woe is me, the sky is falling.”

Two weeks ago you all would have said that in turmoil is opportunity and now we have nothing but turmoil, you should be out there raking it in and some of us have been. There were times when people didn’t want to fly me to the UK, I’m working with two companies in the UK. It’s what you make of it, it’s your attitude, it’s your habits.

Fred Diamond: Tibor Shanto, why don’t you move ahead to your contact slide? We’re coming down to our last minute or so here. Tibor, you’ve helped tens of thousands of sales professionals along the way over the years with all the great work that you’ve done, you’re an inductee into the Sales Hall of Fame. When we brought you down to DC to speak, everybody said, “You’ve got to meet this guy, Tibor” and you’ve become a great friend. I just want to acknowledge you for the service that you’ve provided to the sales community over your years of doing this, you’re definitely a unique guy with a unique perspective and I want to applaud you for that and acknowledge all the great service you’ve provided to sales professionals in your career.

We have time for your action step. For people watching today’s webinar or listening to the podcast, you’ve given us 30 great ideas. Give us one specific action step people should take right now to take their sales career to the next level.

Tibor Shanto: It’s going to sound familiar, but it’s not really. I think that if something is really important to you, you should write it down. I’m not talking about a to-do list and that’s what I was trying to avoid, but there are times like when I’m juggling clients and this and that. There are things that have to get done but I also know that the day-to-day and other things are going to interfere, and that should sound familiar to most salespeople. I write down those things that have to get done so again, doing the big things, allocating time, and I use my calendar to do it. If I know that this piece of proposal is going to take me 20 minutes to write it, I schedule it. Write it down, set your priorities, not necessarily a to-do list but it could be beyond the day. Then make time for it in your calendar because if you don’t make time for it in your calendar, it’s always going to be a wish.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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