Our special guest on this week’s episode of Conversational Selling is Tibor Shanto. He’s the Chief Value Officer of Renbor Sales Solutions, helping B2B companies translate sales strategy to reality, as well as a brilliant sales tactician who’s obsessed with execution. Tibor is also the author of two books: Shift!: Harness the Trigger Events that Turn Prospects into Customers and Sales & Consequences and is a well-known expert of sales prospecting.

We chat with Tibor about his keys to sales success, as well as:

  • Choosing to either fall for excuses or execute a strategy
  • Evaluating metrics, and what type of measurement is best
  • Utilizing voicemail effectively
  • The best attitude to make your prospects feel at ease
  • The dynamic of challenging a customer
  • And more

Mentioned in this episode:


Voiceover: You’re listening to the Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.

Nancy Calabrese: Hi, it’s Nancy Calabrese, and this is Conversational Selling. The podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today. And as always, it is always starting with the human conversation. Today we speak with Tibor Shanto. He’s the Chief Value Officer of Renbor Sales Solutions. He helps B2B companies translate sales strategy to reality. Tibor’s been called a brilliant sales tactician, obsessed with execution. He developed sales people who understand that success in sales is about execution, and everything else is just talk. He’s the author of two books, you can find him on Amazon, and is also a well known expert of sales prospecting. And Tibor, you know that prospecting is music to my ears. You know, no appointments, no sales, right? And it’s all about prospecting. So welcome to the show, and I can’t wait to get started.

Tibor Shanto: Oh, pleasure to be here, Nancy, thank you for having me.

Nancy: No, it’s, it’s our pleasure. And everyone listening, you’re really going to be in for an interesting conversation. And, you know, why don’t we start with why execution is so important in sales success?

Tibor: Well, I think for a couple of reasons, the obvious one is, you know, things have to get done. And we’ve, you know, we’ve all lived in environments where there’s been maybe a little bit too much emphasis on the academic and the theoretical, all correct, all well, and good. But at one point, you know, things have to be put into motion, if they’re going to have the effect that we’re looking for. So I think a lot of times people tend to overthink things, people tend to, you know, I used to make as a joke that people come with the X chromosome, you know, it’s either execute or make excuses, but either way, you’re going to have one of those.

Nancy: I love that! I’m gonna steal that! Go ahead.

Tibor: Go for it. So you know, you’re still on the domain. Nobody ever died, because, you know, used to ask people to do things, and they look at you, as though you’re asking him to do something dangerous. So you know, it’s pointed out, no one ever died picking up the phone. I like that. So I think that, you know, there’s a lot of talk in sales, and we’ve seen it, we’ve heard it, I’ve probably contribute to some of it. But at one point, you really do have to just do it, like Nike said, to borrow a point. 

Now, the advantage is, if you execute, you can, you know, you can examine, you can see what you did well, you can see what you need to change, and you can measure the results. And you can then compare it to the next time and to the time after that, and through the time after that. But if it’s on the whiteboard, it’s going to stay theoretical. And I’ve worked with a lot of companies of all different sorts. And the ones that seem to do better are the ones that limit the opportunity for the for the excuse side, and make everything available to those people who want to execute.

Nancy: Share some good models of execution.

Tibor: So I think most of the good models that I’ve seen are specifically tied to expected outcomes. Now those could be one of two things, the obvious ones are, you know, quota. Right, so did you attain quota. And I think that’s important than I understand why it’s the main measure. But we all have to admit that that’s lagging indicators. So once you know what the number is, you really can’t change it. You can take lessons into the next cycle as it were. 

So I think people need to look at leading indicators, you know, so I like to look at what’s your quota, how many deals do you need to hit quota? How many, you know, how many proposals do you need to get the number of people saying yes, in order to achieve that quota, and then continue to work all the way back to the number of leads that you’re going to have to have in hand in order to be able to dial the number of numbers that you need to talk to the number of people to get you the appointments that lead to the sale? And as you said at the beginning, you know, no appointment, no story.

Nancy: You got it. And so for those listeners that are thinking of really tightening their process up, and maybe they don’t have the metrics in place or the systems in place. How long do you think they should evaluate the metrics before they really create that plan. How much time do you think it takes to, you know, properly say, well, we need X amount of appointments because we’re in close a certain amount or, you know, and so on. Do you have any advice on that?

Tibor: So I think, to establish, it probably takes a couple of cycles. But I think if I could take a step back, one of the one of the challenges with that question is that if I say six months, people get discouraged. Because, you know, they’re very impatient, right? That’s two whole quarters, right? I think, more importantly, is how do I put a system in place that consistently allows me to examine the metrics that I need to examine to continue to succeed, because, you know, the numbers today are going to be different than the numbers tomorrow, and those are driven by my own ability, the market, you know, let’s face it, our numbers were different in February than they are now because of the obvious events that we’ve all together experienced over the summer. 

So I think rather than figuring out how long it takes, I think the initial one might take you longer to establish than people anticipate, because I do think it takes a cycle or two, because you need to have just some raw inputs to measure. But I think people should look at the dividends that it will continue to pay once it’s up and running, you know, then it continues to pay dividends, and it continues to evolve with you. So I think the question is, you know, how long does it take to get going? And then forget about it, in terms of trying to rebuild it.

Nancy: Yeah, yeah, now, I also, I also read somewhere, which is really interesting, I love the way you put it, that people in sales have to become professional interrupters. And I love that statement. It’s an interesting interpretation of what we have to do when we prospect. Tell us more about that.

Tibor: Well, I think if you look at the marketplace, and I think you know better than most that, you know, most of the people that we’re going to call what, you know, whether we feel they’re fit for our product or not, at that particular moment, probably have their, you know, attention elsewhere. So generally things that they think are important to them based on their business based on their priorities. So chances are pretty good that 70 to 90% of the time, we’re interrupting something that they at the time were immersed in. 

And so I think that if we don’t take that into account for this, I want to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with that we’ve all, you know, we all like the term disruption. We all like the fact that we use Uber and iPhones and things that we consider to be disruptive, because those things once a disruption, you know, occurred improved our lives improved our ability to do things. So, you know, that’s why I say people shouldn’t shy away from the fact that we interrupt people, because I think, you know, take a different phrase in English, we are disrupting them. But the end result is going to be that they’re going to be better off as a result. So since we’re not Uber, and we’re not Apple, then we have to go to them. 

And that’s why I say that people have to accept the fact that we do interrupt these people, I think pretending otherwise is going to undermine the craft. But once you accept that you interrupt them, there’s a whole bunch of things you can do to offset that and be a professional in a way that the experience for the prospect even if they don’t engage with you, is not going to be negative.

Nancy: Yeah, yeah. And and so, you know, keeping in line with that, and I love that I find that very, a unique way of looking at what we do, you know, people won’t pick up the phone, just simply because they think they’re interrupting. And maybe they use that as an excuse to not do it. How do you get past that?

Tibor: Voicemail. So you know, it’s, it’s the missing link in prospecting. Because the interesting thing is that if you look, even people who hate cold calling, right, will admit that when you add the telephone to the mix, the conversion rates go up. So you have this paradox, right? People aren’t answering the phone, and I’m one of these people that uses voicemail for triage, right? So it’s not like I don’t think it’s uncommon. I don’t think they’re being evil or communists. 

They’re just protecting their time, right. But I use it too. But as a result, the other habit I develop is I check my voicemail probably every 90 minutes or so. Right? So telephone is still an important element because yes, think of it as being now part of the asynchronous element, part of communication used, telephone used to be very synchronous, I used to talk to you and we went back and forth. Now with voicemail, we can actually move the sale forward without speaking for a couple of weeks, right? 

Through voicemail, email and other things. So I think you need to have an effective voicemail, and we’re talking in the context of prospecting, not once you’re a known commodity to your buyer, but in getting them to call back, you need to have a voicemail approach. And I have a voicemail approach that I learned a long time ago, that works really well. And you know, but people, you know, it leaves people in a very, there’s two camps, they love it, or they hate it. So you know, because it’s very cryptic, and people feel uncomfortable being cryptic these days.

Nancy: I think lesson is more. And when you go into a dump on voice message, unless you’re sitting there in a panic mode, because you need exactly what they have. It’s not likely they’re going to get back to you.

Tibor: No. The purpose of voicemail is to get a call back. But most people, most sales people because they’re nervous, and they’re wound up that when they’re making cold calls are very compliant. So whether the person is live or not, but in this case, Memorex on voicemail, it says, Please leave a detailed message. And most salespeople go, I could do that, and boom, they fill out the voicemail. Right? Right. So but it should be, as you say, you know, less is more, right. 

You know, there’s this whole thing this, I have watched this, and I hope people take this in the humorous sense, but those who remember, Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street Week. There was a guy there who’s who’s a financial analyst, and he said, you know, the thing about financial statements is they’re like, bikinis. What they show you is great, but what they hide is even more mysterious. So, for voicemail should be like that, right? Is that what it shows you should entice you, but what it’s keeping from you, is what should get you to pick up the phone.

Nancy: So my guess is you have a plethora of those one liners, huh?. In your arsenal.

Tibor: You have to keep yourself amused.

Nancy: Yeah, well, you know what, again, I think this is something you and I share in common, I read that it’s so important to have fun in in selling, I’ve got my thoughts. But why is it? Why do you think it’s so important, especially as it relates to sales and prospecting?

Tibor: I think, for a number of reasons, and I would put it all on, you know, if you’re, if you can have fun, then you’re relaxed. And I do believe very strongly that our emotions, our feelings, our whole intonation, and everything does carry across the phone. So if you think of most salespeople, I’m not being negative, but it’s reality that, you know, most of them I wound up in nervous. 

So what’s going to carry across the phone, you know, what’s the intangible energy that goes across the phone? You know, it’s that tension, that nervousness and actually, you know, why is this guy wound up? I should be one that, you know, it is right. But I think that if you if you’re relaxed, and you’re comfortable, and you almost have fun with the fact that hey, you know, I know, I’m interrupting you, dude, but you’re going to be better off as a result, you know, that, that calmness is going to solicit the same there and, and you have a slightly and I emphasize slightly better shot of getting your message across. And if your message was good to begin with, that, you know, things are beginning to go your way.

Nancy: Right. I think it’s safe to say that I in any career, any position, it’s so important to have fun. And that usually I think stems if you have passion in what you do, it’s easier to have fun, wouldn’t you agree?

Tibor: 100%. And I think whether you look at it as an advantage or disadvantage, I always tell people that every conversation I have, I’m the demo. So you know. So you have to if you’re not, you know, if you’re not gonna like it, and it’s gonna be a bad demo every time which doesn’t make for good dinners.

Nancy: Well, I think my next question will be very interesting. You, you have a lot of backup behind you and your one liners. Is there a story that you think the audience would find interesting?

Tibor: In what sense, I think, you know, rather than a story, maybe a storyline that sort of carries through that I will point to sort of present in a lot of my successes. I think that you know, not in a brash way, but in a, you know, much like I was saying humorously that I do believe that when customers, you know, interact with me, there’ll be often some, there’ll be better off in some way. So I think this notion of, you know, not giving up and going an extra distance, or maybe even challenging a customer, and, you know, challenge doesn’t have to be negative, right? You know, like, if, if you and I were both smoking cigarettes, and we challenge each other to quit, you know, that wouldn’t be a negative, right? 

So I think I sometimes look at challenges somehow being us and them, as opposed to can we together overcome something? So I think that if you can, the more experience you have in the more comfortable you are, and your skin, you know, based on our last exchange about being relaxed, the more that I think you can challenge customers, because, again, you’re subject matter experts, you’ve done this before you’ve overcome certain things before and so on. I think that every time I think back about some successes that I’ve had, have always done something that I wasn’t supposed to do if I read the rulebook, or I pushed it and challenged the customer in some ways that, you know, maybe in proper circles at the cotillion wouldn’t have been seen as proper approach. 

But I think that as long as you’re ethical, polite, and legal, I think you should try everything. And I think that maybe is the one storyline that goes through is I could share a number of you know, and I think that that’s led to if I can maybe exemplify I did have the privilege of closing Xerox for a six figure deal on 9-11. So, you know, that came about, I think, because of just, you know, yeah, there’s things going on, but we’re here for a reason.

Nancy: Yeah. Tell me something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Tibor: Well, I mean, in context, well, first of all, cold calling is not dead. I did an article for one of the local papers, you know, and I called it Cold Calling Zombies every time they say we’re dead, we come back. Now, I think the other is that, again, it prevents a lot of conversation. So I’m not trying to be provocative. I’m trying to remove barriers to conversations, I think the customer is not always right. I think they’re trying to do the right thing for their company. 

But that doesn’t mean that the route or the method that they picked is necessarily right. And most salespeople have been through more similar transactions than the customers that have, so 9 times out of 10, the salesperson probably has greater knowledge. They’re not smarter, they don’t know better, but they have greater knowledge. And I think, you know, buyer should take greater advantage of that.

Nancy: Interesting. Give us a takeaway, a final comment that you want the audience to walk away with.

Tibor: I think and I learned this somewhere, so I could say I live by it, but I didn’t come up with it. But I would encourage it is that, again, unless it’s a question of a deeply personal nature, whenever you were the buyer, and the question comes to mind, you’re always better off asking it even if it seems trivial, even if you even if you worry about well, if I asked this question, you know, it might, you know, make me seem, you know, it’s an ego thing, like, what do you feel you’re not complete enough and so on. 

But I would bet, I would bet 9 times out of 10. When we look at deals that we lose, we can always point back to something we should have known better or differently. So, again, unless it’s, you know, why would you wear that color tie? Any other question, even if it seems trivial, but it relates to the business, you should ask.

Nancy: Okay, so how can my people find you? And what would they be experiencing right now, that would make them pick up the phone and engage with you.

Tibor: I think it would be an experience if I look at what my clients are telling me is a sustainable systematic approach to prospecting, you know, heavily leaning on the phone, but recognizing that there’s still success to be had with email, LinkedIn and other forms, but I think most people struggle as much with the messaging and how they engage as opposed to sort of the medium whether it’s telephone this that but I do, I do lean on the telephone because I still think it’s the most direct route. So they can expect a more consistent approach to filling their pipeline in a measurably better pipeline.

Nancy: Okay, and how to get to you. Where do they call? How did they find you online?

Tibor: Well, the easiest is tiborshanto.com. That’s T I B O R S H A N T O.com. LinkedIn is always good. This year in North America, you can call toll free at 855 25 SALES.

Nancy: Okay 855 25 SALES. Well, a very relaxed conversation with Tibor Shanto. And, you know, I want to leave everyone with this something that Tibor shared. When you sound relaxed in a conversation, it definitely relaxes the person on the other end and my other takeaway Tibor is, becoming different, right? That’s, I think, the essence of what you were sharing with us, don’t be afraid to be relaxed, and go in with the mindset that you can genuinely help them.

Tibor: Yeah, and I think if you go in with that mindset, people will share with you because they want to be helped. And again, that’s not to say that they’re crippled or whatever. But people generally want to work with somebody that’s open to working with them.

Nancy: Yeah, yeah. So thank you so much for being on the show. I’m hoping you’re going to come back in the near future.

Tibor: It was fun. I definitely would come back.

Nancy: Thank you so much, everybody. Happy hunting. Pick up the phone.

Voiceover: The Conversational Selling Podcast is sponsored by One of a Kind Sales. If you’re frustrated that you don’t have enough leads, or your sales team complains that they just don’t have enough time to prospect, we can help. To work with Nancy and her team one on one to help you manage your sales team, install her proven outbound sales process and create more bottom line results, email her now at Nancy@oneofakindsales.com. To learn more about Nancy and her outbound sales secrets, grab your free copy of her book, The Inside Sales Solution at oneofakindsales.com/book