Why Can’t You Increase Sales?

Are you frustrated, really frustrated by the inability to consistently increase sales?  Have you tried a lot of different inexpensive to expensive solutions, but still have unacceptable results.  If you could quickly achieve more sales, what would that do for your business?

increase-salesThe lack of consistent sales is one of the top complaints that I hear from SMB owners.  Generating that constant flow of marketing traffic to telephone calls is an ongoing challenge.

To increase sales require that you may have to change your existing paradigms about selling and sales culture.  Within our decision making and problem solving skills, we have certain paradigms or models that we use each and every day.  For example, what is the logical sequence of these numbers:

8, 5, 4, 9, 7, 6, 3, 2, 0?

See hint below.

One paradigm that needs to be changed is sales training.  Many SMBs send their people to a one or two day seminars for $59 to $199 on sales to leadership to even time management.  Their belief is in the quick fix. Their people will learn incredible sales skills and begin to make the cash box explode! The quick fix paradigm is another one that should be deep sixed!

Unfortunately, the exact opposite happens.  The cash box is drained because a one time exposure to a learning event after 16 days results in 2% cognitive or memory retention. So save your profits and not send them to those sales training seminars unless there is a strategy to apply what was learned and to reward your salespeople.

Another paradigm to be changed revolves around leadership and management.  Some managers believe that to get more productivity from their sales staff requires daily to weekly meetings.  Unless these meetings are scheduled around the old KISS principle, keep it simple and short, the result is wasted time especially if your sales people are on commission.

The lack of sales is far more about the productivity of your sales team.  It is really about the sales culture you have created under your SMB leadership.

HINT:  The solution is not about math for that is the paradigm you are using. Remember, if you change how you look at things, the things you look at will change.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #12 Disqualification

One would think disqualifying sales leads would be something most salespeople would do especially if they want sales success. However from my experience with SMB owners and sales professionals, this simple step of sales lead disqualification as well as sales leads qualification is one often overlooked.

sales-sucessMost of the reason for not qualifying sales leads returns to the lack of a strategic plan.  What happens is these hard working business professionals work even harder and set themselves up for even greater falls.

When there is crystal clarity around the ideal customer, then disqualifying sales leads is much easier.  When I wrote Be the Red Jacket, I shared these 4 qualifying or disqualifying criteria depending upon one’s perspective.

  1. Is the person the actual decision maker? Does he or she have the authority to write the check?
  2. Is there a want to need?  What problem must be solved that others may not have solved or better yet identified?
  3. Is there an allocated budget?  Many SMBs have money.  The real question returns to having dollars allocated to solve the solution.
  4. Is there urgency to take action?  Can you build a case for taking action right now instead of later?

Since I wrote that book, I realized there is a fifth criterion:

  • Is there commitment to take action? What I have learned is sometimes all of the previous criteria are present, but the person does not have the commitment, the resolve to take action.  Change is hard.

When a salesperson adopts an understanding about disqualifying sales leads, this allows him or her to work both smarter and harder simultaneously. He or she is honing their sales skills in asking the right questions. Additionally, this is a sales strategy that works to ensure sales success because now the salesperson is working with the right customer and not one that is high maintenance.

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Your Greatest SMB Asset Is…?

What is the greatest SMB asset?  Your solutions (products or services)? Your building or location? Your customer base?  Your bank balance? Yes, these are all great assets. However, your greatest SMB asset should be your people.

SMB assetToo often SMBs fail to protect this greatest asset.  For people are not view as capital, but as liabilities.  For example, when sales lag or business slows down, people followed by the marketing budget are the first to be cut.  People are view as too expensive given the current economic downturn.

Businesses exist to make money and more importantly to make a profit. To achieve this goal requires people because even with the advent of current technology, people are still required to stock the shelves for orders, process the orders, ship the orders, reconcile the receivables and handle all customer service inquiries.

From the smallest to the Fortune 100 companies, the investment in human capital through talent management should be next to marketing as the primary business building strategies. For example, if you have long term salespersons who regularly bring high sales and are low maintenance, do you affirm their contributions or are you resentful of their salaries?

As a business coach and sales coach, I have observed many in business leadership roles creating toxic sales cultures , directly and indirectly, in hopes that the high salary and high productive sales person will quit in order to replace him or her with a lower salary person.  Management will take action from changing accounts to showing special treatment to the new hire while ignoring the productive salespersons.

Remember, your people will make or break your company. When you view them as an asset instead of a liability, you may see your balance sheet in an entirely different perspective.

Give Leanne a call at 219.508.2859 if you are interested in protecting and growing this greatest SMB asset or schedule a brief call on her calendar by clicking HERE.

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Do You Truly Love Sales?

Everyone is in sales.  Mothers sell eating healthy to their children. Teachers sell learning to their students.  Business owners sell their vision to their customers both internal and external. Sales people sell their products and services to potential customers.

love-salesA recent survey indicated that the number one open position within the United States business arena is sales.  Companies are looking for salespeople who are competent and want to sell.  They really want leaders who truly love sales.

With my clients, finding an performance driven salesperson is a continual challenge.  Many who sell want an annual salary and fear the commission only position.  Yet, it is in this type of selling position that a truly great salesperson will excel.  As another client has said many times “When you are hungry, you will hunt.”

Is selling easy?  The answer to that question is simply “It all depends.”  Selling products or services demands specific skill sets including: communication, creativity, decision making, goal setting, marketing and problem solving just to name a few.

Learn more about a powerful assessment that will let you know about your own selling skills.

However, the most crucial skill in selling is being able to relate to people and discover what they are not saying. Some define this ability building rapport, but it is much more.  I believe this is all about having authentic emotional intelligence as reflected through empathy. To leverage this skill demands that your energies are continually pointed at the customer and not at you.

Empathy has been demonstrated to separate top sales performers from average ones. And, yes empathy can be developed provided you are willing to let go of your ego and become an authentic leader who readily gives of herself or himself.

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How Your Sales Leads May Be Starving Your SMB

Sales leads happen in all seasons.  Without sales leads,  sales revenue is not generated to pay the vendors, the employees, the overhead, the government and most importantly you, the SMB owner.  So what type of sales leads are you hunting?


Credit www.gratisography.com

There are 4 types of sales.  First there are the rabbits.  Rabbits are small sales and can found almost anywhere during the average course of a day.  They are quick and easy, but last for only one meal or a day.  Constant effort must be expended to keep the cash box full.

Next there are deer.  These sales are seen once a week.  Being a little larger, they fill the your cash register for a week or two.

If you want a larger sale that may last a month, you kill a bear.  These sales take a little longer to track and kill because bear sightings are not as frequent as deer or rabbits.

The real big sales are elephants.  Killing an elephant may only happen yearly because they are elusive animals and are not easily killed because of their size, not too mention their tough hides and long ivory tusks.  A successful elephant kill means that you can eat for a year and your bank account is nice and healthy.  However, since elephants are only sighted once a year, you may starve to death hunting an elephant.

The lesson of this story is not only where are you hunting, but what are you hunting?  By reviewing your sales cycle (time from initial contact to closed sale), you can determine if you are hunting rabbits, deer, bears or elephants.

Just as no SMB should rely on one customer, it also makes sense not to rely on just one type of sales leads. When you invest the time to identify your ideal customer, then you can work smarter and work harder in your sales prospecting.

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Are You a Firefighter or a SMB Owner?

Are you are SMB Owner? In the book It’s Not the Big that Eat the Small, but It’s the Fast that Eat the Slow, the authors revealed that majority of executives and  the SMB owners spend less than 15 minutes a day working on their business.  Their business leadership time is mostly devoted to fighting yesterday’s and today’s fires.

SMB-ownerThink about last week and how much time you spent on small to large fires.  These fires ranged from late employees to unsatisfied customers.  The results were unproductive meetings to a lot of re-working or re-do’s.  Stress was high and you had an occasional thought questioning your sanity in starting this business as you see your profits continue to dwindle.

So how do you transform from being a firefighter to becoming a results driven, forward thinking SMB owner or even sales professional?  First thing is to make an appointment with yourself each day to think about the future of the business.  Take 30 minutes early in the morning to review current goals, assess your dashboard of key performance indicators and revisit the vision you established for your company.

Next, communicate the business goals clearly to all employees.  In the “E-Myth,” Michael Gerber looked at how entrepreneurs need to let go and not be everything to everybody. When your goals are known and expectations are set, you are empowering your people to take responsibility and accountability for achieving these goals.

Of course this communication does suggest you have engaged in a comprehensive strategic planning and thinking process. You have a written strategic plan that you revisit weekly.

Finally, make sure your people are able to handle the fires.  No employee comes to work to intentionally “mess up the business.”  However, very few employees have been developed to be excellent communicators, effective decision-makers and consistent goal achievers. Human capital is the greatest asset of any business and usually the most underdeveloped.

Yes you can turn the tide from being the reactionary fire fighter to the proactive SMB owner or sales professional.  The choice as in other aspect of life is 100% up to you.  This is not the time for excuses because losers make excuses, winners take action.

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Time to Fall Clean Your Marketing Toolbox

Fall is here.  Now is the perfect time to clean out your marketing toolbox and refresh it for the forthcoming last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year. So what is currently in your toolbox?

marketingUpon opening your toolbox, you will have a removable upper tray that contains your lightweight marketing tools. Down below is a larger compartment to hold those heavier tools.  All of your tools have a cost.

For example, your lightweight tools include your elevator speech, business cards, stationery from envelopes to letterheads, brochures, postcards, postage, promotional items or giveaways CDs or DVD’s, Costs for these tools range from pennies to hundreds of dollars.

The heavier tools at the bottom of your toolbox have a lot of variety.  There are speeches that you can deliver to local organizations or to larger conference audiences.  Printed books such as Be the Red jacket or Fail-Safe Leadership along with published articles are always effective heavy marketing tools. Paid advertising, membership in referral groups, local chambers and other B2B networking groups are other heavy tools.  Finally, there is that all important website. And let us not forget your blog or other social content marketing channels such as LinkedIn Pulse.  These heavy tools costs hundreds to thousands of dollars, but may also provide you a steady stream of passive income.

When you analyze all the costs within your toolbox, you will be amazed at the total investment. For some this may quickly exceed $50,000. Whatever the costs, the results from these tools deliver must be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure their value.

Is your 30-second elevator speech effective?  How about your 60 second and three minute elevator speeches? If no one is seeking you out after you deliver your infomercial, then it is definitely time to refresh that tool. Have you updated your website to make it search engine friendly? By being proactive now will keep you from being reactive later.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #11 Follow-Up

Simply speaking without follow-up, sales success will not happen.  To expect to earn the sale on the first meeting is rare especially in the B2B marketplace.

sales-successWhat is even worse, is the lack of follow-up by salespeople.  Hubspot shared these two damning sales prospecting or sales statistics:

  • 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up.
  • 80% of sales require five follow-ups.

The author of the posting also made this insight:

44% of the salespeople have a 80% probability of not closing the sale

Just let that fact sink in!

This past week I attended an early morning B2B networking round table event.  The venue was small and everyone had a brief chance to meet other professionals.  The event coordinator promised to send everyone’s contact information including phone numbers and email addresses.

So what I did when I received the excel file was to send a quick follow-up email to those I had not received business cards.  I also extended LinkedIn invitations to some as well.

How many SMB owners or sales professionals let all those business cards stack up in piles around their desk with the attitude “I’ll get to them when I have time”?

Sales success begins with follow-up.  Sending emails to even personal thank you cards are two ways to make that follow-up contact.  Of course, one is not usually enough.  This is why it is critical to have some sort of follow-up process aka Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Follow-up for me is not just relegated to new contacts or sales leads, but to existing clients.  When I find articles of interest, I will quickly email the link or the PDF file.  This way I stay top of mind and if a new need arises, I know I will not be forgotten.

If you are seeking sales success, understand there is no quick fix.  To be the Red Jacket in the sea of all those gray suits means you must be different than all those other salespeople who do not follow-up.


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The Essence of Executive Coaching Is…

Executive coaching is becoming a recognized sustainable solution to improve the business leadership performance of individuals.  Yet, how often are people asked to explain the essence of this powerful solution?

executive-coachingHere is a statement that I make somewhere during the sales conversation with potential ideal customers or clients:

“Coaching be it executive, business or sales is about clarity through tools and processes beginning with assessments. These provide the information to ask the right or often unasked questions to get clear answers from you, the coachee, as to what is happening around you.”

The essence of coaching is clarity.  This is the same reason people seek out mentors.  It is not just the advice they are seeking, but gaining a very sharp, crystal clear picture of:

  • Where they are
  • Where they want to be
  • How to get to where they want to be
  • What is limiting their ability to get to where they want to be

Of course, sometimes executive coaching clients do not realize they have most of the answers within themselves. All the coach does is to ask the right or often unasked questions to have the “coachee” make that self discovery.

With business coaching and sales coaching clients, clarity is still the essence however the role of the coach may step into the role of consultant by providing answers.  Many new to sales for example do not have the tools or even sales skills necessary for sales success. The coach may provide those tools, additional knowledge and offer further guidance through role playing to reviewing sales scripts to prospecting activities.

Getting to where one wants to be is not easy especially when the path is not clear. Executive coaching helps clear that path.  Theodore Hesburgh is quoted as saying “No one can follow an uncertain trumpet.” That uncertainty is a lack of clarity.

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What Would Happen to Our Sales If We Had Crystal Clear Clarity?

Funny think about sales, many people lack crystal clear clarity.  These are the salespeople that scurry around B2B networking events, who stumble when ask what they do, and who complain about the inability to increase sales.

salesMany salespeople as well as SMB owners think they lack the tools, the skills, the leads, the network of connections.  Never do they recognize what is limiting their business growth, their professional growth and their personal growth is crystal clear clarity.

Clarity Is Not Easy

The challenge with clarity is it is not easy.  We are conditioned to see the same landscape with the same eyes.  So we seek other landscapes instead of changing our eyes or our lenses to see what is right in front of us. This is quite evident by the lack of follow-up in sales.

Clarity Begins at Home

The old expression of charity begins at home can also be applied to clarity.  Finding clarity in our own lives beginning with our purpose is the first step before seeking clarity in our professional lives or SMBs.

An Outside Perspective Required

Even for the most forward thinking leaders, they have probably have reached out to mentors, colleagues and even hired executive coaches to achieve that outside perspective.  As we are creatures of conditioning, we are unable to see the forest for the trees. An outside viewpoint allows us to move up the mountain, to SEE the 30,000 viewpoint and then the impact of that perspective at SEA level or the trees.

The First Step

If you truly want to increase sales, then the first step is to gain crystal clear clarity. This begins with assessing what is happening right now in your life.  From the results of that assessments or assessments, you can gain the clarity needed for exceptional execution of your actions.  As the old expression goes, a “physician who treats himself has a fool for a patient” (Sir William Osler), the same can be said about a salesperson who assesses himself or herself.

Call or text Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.508.2859 and invest 2 hours to gain incredible crystal clear clarity that will improve your sales execution.

You can schedule a quick phone call to gain greater insight in what these 2 hours look like by clicking HERE.

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