Pipeline Creation – There’s No App for That

Yesterday I was on a call with a client of ours, who is one of our C-level executive champions.  He received a call from a sales leader from one of their divisions and asked an interesting question. He said:

We’re having issues with sales pipeline right now. Our sales force is getting younger and younger, and they just don’t want to pick up the phone. I see that (our CRM) has really been exploding with apps in their AppExchange.  Is there an app that can help?

My champion, a baby-boomer 30-year executive who has been a CEO and CRO at multiple global companies – was on a video call when telling me this story. He actually rubbed his face with exacerbation and couldn’t believe what he had heard. You could see both frustration and humor in his face. I didn’t know if he was going to laugh or explode.

You’re probably laughing in silence at this story, but you know there is a dash of truth and irony in this story. Yes, global salesforces are getting younger, and their communication media and methods are different than my generation (I’m a GenX born in 1978 who didn’t have my first cell phone until I was 25!). But, there’s no app for pipeline creation—just like  there is no app to shovel your driveway. Yes there are tools (apps are tools) to potentially accelerate the shovelling process, but input of action = output of results.  You can look out the window all you want in a snowstorm and wish the snow away, but nothing is getting rid of that snow unless you take action.

No app for pipeline

Apps, and all sales acceleration tools, are tools.  You even hear marines in the military call their rifles “tools”, because they accelerate a process, not the process itself.  There is a great new sales tool evaluation company called Vendor Neutral that reviews all of the hundreds  of sales tools. You could spend a lifetime evaluating these tools, and hyper-accelerate (in the wrong way), your Cost of Customer Acquisition (CAC) by “sales stack”.

You have a sales pipeline issue. Ok – that’s like having a cavity. Don’t react and go to the drugstore in search of a $100 electric toothbrush. Take one step backwards and evaluate your daily routine and dental process:

– What do you eat?
– When do you brush?
– What is your brushing motion?
– How are you flossing?
– How are you rinsing with alcohol-based mouthwash?
– How often are you chewing gum in between meals?

From a sales prospective, ask yourself:

– How are you selecting and targeting accounts?
– How are these accounts verified “Competitive Advantages” vs. “Competitive Disadvantages”?
– What is your key account plan?
– What are your storyboarded sales plays deployed against these key accounts?
– How is the team either Activating or Replacing accounts in a defined Activation Cycle?

The best sales leaders are investors. Investors build a process first, then identify the tools that will help influence the execution of that process.


Selling with Spears: Account-Based Sales Development Best Practices with Jamie Shanks


On March 15, 2019, Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing and the host of Sales Pipeline Radio, had an exciting conversation with the CEO of Sales for Life, Jamie Shanks. Jamie is one of the masters of B2B sales, the leading voice of digital selling, and one of the world’s leading social selling experts.


When Does a Seller Use Challenger vs. Customer-Centric Sales Methodology?

There was a discussion thread on LinkedIn amongst a group of sales leaders and professionals regarding Challenger Sales methodology vs. Customer-Centric methodology and their situational use cases. One of the comments was by Tim Reisterer, Chief Strategy Officer at Corporate Visions, and a sales methodology/process authority. He said (and I’m paraphrasing):

“Challenger is key when you (the seller) receive push back on your solution, or a competitor is entrenched and you’re displacing the incumbent. For many sellers, that could represent 25% of their sales pipeline.

Customer-centric is key when you’re working with an existing customer, or referred into the business, and you’re reinforcing the pre-conceived purchasing bias the stakeholder has for you/your solution. For many sellers, that could represent 75% of their sales pipeline.”

Here are my thoughts on this:

1. Tim was really insightful in his comment. I’m almost in no position to challenge him as they (Corporate Visions) run science-based tests on their sales methodologies and against other methodologies.

2. I think the more important thing Tim is trying to say here is – there is NO ONE sales methodology that solves all sales problems. Each methodology is unique at presenting new processes, insights, tips, and tricks to the mix.

AND I’LL SAY THIS ON THE RECORD – 100% of the globally recognized sales methodologies (that aren’t Social Selling focused) are NOT strong at pipeline creation. They are all designed with the account/territory map in place, and struggle to help:

a. Map the TAM of a Territory/Market and look for Competitive Advantages/Disadvantages in that market.
b. Select accounts using Social Proximity.
c. De-Select/De-Emphasize accounts using Digital Sales Triggers.


1.The best-in-class customers we’ve worked with are investors in MULTIPLE methodologies and processes.

2.The best-in-class customers we’ve worked with are architects, and mold ALL of these methodologies into 1x “OUR WAY” system.

3.The best-in-class customers we’ve worked with are artists, and design specific sales motions for each sales archetype. They don’t lean too heavily on 1x sales methodology for every sales role.

What type of sales enablement/operations team do you want to be? The Standard operating procedure is taking an average of $1,500 – $3,000/per seller annually and giving them skills.  Best-in-class are students of the sales performance ecosystem, and have designed “their way” that increases yield-per-seller to heights that the competition struggles against.


Why You Should Include Video Marketing in Your 2019 Marketing Budget

Video marketing is getting more popular and effective every day. Marketers from all over the world are using videos to achieve a variety of different goals. Video is not only a useful educational tool, but they also help users to understand products and services. Website traffic sources show that videos not only cover a good percentage of traffic converting into leads, but also improve customers’ experience.

YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion are known as the top three video platforms to share and advertise videos for much better brand engagement and awareness, and to reach a new audience.  On the other hand, videos posted on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, video webinars) put your video marketing in a different league. 

But here is the big catch. Most advertisers say more than 87% use YouTube as the primary platform for video marketing.

Read these amazing facts about video marketing in the infographic below:

Video Marketing Infographic

Today’s Challenging State of Selling

Turning potential prospects into customers is no longer easy for salespeople.  Why? The modern buyer has transformed. Today’s modern buyer is drastically different than buyers of the past, and the buying cycle has also changed significantly.  What can salespeople do to adapt to these changing times?

A sales organization’s success is more likely if its sales reps are skilled, knowledgeable and able to outperform.

The following infographic highlights the top challenges faced by sales teams in improving the modern buyer’s purchase experience, and generating revenue today and into the future.

Key Takeaways: 

• 72% of sales reps are not able to provide solutions to business issues.
• 64% of organizations report a rise in the average sales cycle in the last 12 months.
• 27% of sales professionals are directly engaging in core selling activities with prospects.

sfl infographic challenging state of selling-1

Competitive Risk or Validating Market Opportunities?

I was recently working with one of our customers, a global market research firm, to build some account plans.

We were choosing which accounts they would target—planning their engagement strategy, and looking at key strategic accounts they wanted to win (a.k.a. named accounts). In the process, we stumbled upon an idea that worked in their market—and I am sharing this idea because it might also work in yours.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a valuable tool that monitors competitive intelligence. Simply plug in your competitors’ names into the Past Company Employment category.  This helps you identify when key stakeholders have left your competitors, which puts you at risk of ever winning those accounts.

You can also enter your competitors in the keyword section, and monitor the people who have skills, certifications, and projects that your competitors have launched, which can also be a potential detractor for your accounts.

My customer and I also discussed the risk that would be created if one of their competitors (in their case, other market research firms) had an employee that left that firm and went onto be a C-level executive or VP at another company. However, my customer believes that this also creates an opportunity.

Plugging in the competitors’ names in the keywords, and looking for people that actually have their skills, certifications, and projects launched with competitors, proved that those people were open to doing business with market research firms. This means they now have the opportunity to benchmark their businesses, monitor market trends, and network with like-minded individuals.

Many customers view this research as a way to de-emphasize accounts using competitive intelligence but, in fact our customer believes that if a company is willing to buy a solution based on certain keywords — even if they’re a competitor —  that might demonstrate that they’re more apt to change and to buying.

In the below screenshot scenario, let’s assume that you’re an Account Executive at Microsoft.  You can identify all the CISO’s that are past employees of AWS, and certified/skills/projects launched with AWS, as a competitive risk list.  Alternatively, you can also use this information at a market opportunity. These CISO’s are more amenable to Cloud computing, rather than On-premise server systems.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this tip blog.  Of course, there are no clear clickable buttons in LinkedIn that directly say, click here for competitors, click here for risks or click here for sales opportunities but these queries are possible so I challenge you to learn as as much as you can to help maximize your selling time.

Blog Infographics Sales Process

12 Stats That Prove You Need To Start Social Selling [Infographic]

Numbers don’t lie. Your buyers have changed and so must you. In fact, 57% of the buying decision is completed before they are willing to talk to a sales rep. (Tweet This!) So traditional sales methods of cold calling and email are gradually becoming less effective.