Is Your Sales Management Relevant?

Imagine for a moment you, as a member of a sales team, receives a message from sales management asking if you are “relevant to the company?” Then the message lists the  3 top sales performers and their accomplishments to date with a closing sentence of “So and So is relevant.”

How would this make you feel if you were not one of  those mentioned?

Then knowing sales management has:

  • Only gone on one joint sales call with you yet you have invited her or him on several key calls yet routinely she or he goes out with the top performers
  • Berated you publicly for non-performance even though your task was to open a new vertical without any sales leads, contacts and without any support from other sales people as well as sales management
  • Expected a sale in 6 months even though with established businesses the sales cycle is 18 months
  • A daily schedule of in between 9-10 am out by 2pm

Possibly you may begin to ask yourself is sales management relevant?

To receive such a demotivating and obviously biased email message from sales management is insulting to all sales team members. There was so much wrong with this message I truly did not know where to start. Unfortunately I could not share more because it just might reveal the person who wrote it.

This communication is a prime example of not only poor sales management, but unbelievably bad leadership.  The executive leadership should take this sales manager to the woodshed and then have him or her rewrite the message from an supportive sales management  position that would include something like:

sales-managementHow can I support you to be more relevant to the company?

Would you like me to make joint sales calls with you?

Possibly we can engage in some role playing?

Everyone here is relevant to our company and I want to make sure the company knows how hard you are working to achieve our current sales goals.

As the old expression goes, people do not leave companies, they leave managers. This particular firm probably has more than one sales team member looking for a new job.

 

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Are You a Sales Giver, Taker or Matcher?

Cultural wisdom from a Judea-Christian perspective has always suggested that it is better to give than to receive or take. In business and in sales this may be counter intuitive because to give away solutions (products or services) does not move the business forward. Small business owners to sales managers do not want their sales teams giving away the store.

sales-giverYet according to Adam Grant author of Give and Take, the givers in sales started with 6% lower revenue than takers and matchers, but achieved 68% greater revenue by year’s end.  (Note:  Givers are those who give without selfish motivation. Takers are those take without giving in return. Matchers are those who seek equal trade.)

If this business research holds true, what does it mean for your small business and especially those who sell your solutions?

Or in other words, how does one approach sales or business growth without selfish motivation?

Is such an approach actually possible?

I believe those in sales can be givers provided they know themselves and have control of this one word – EGO.

We all need a good ego to survive. However a strong ego where it is all about me (selfish), does not set well with many folks.

Social media is a good example of givers, takers and matchers.  I am connected with some great people many of whom would be viewed as competitors and they retweet my postings as I do theirs.  Their giving is done freely and without any compensation. Our goal is to help each other and be supportive.

Then there are those in social media, the takers, who want their Tweets or postings shared and yet will not reciprocate. And occasionally there are some who are the matchers where for example they follow you only if you follow them.

Another part of this answer is to understand that to give does not mean to give away for free.  When some small business owners and sales professionals hear or read the word “give” they immediately associate that word with free. And free means a loss of profits directly through the sale of something or indirectly through time.

Personally for me, I adopted this belief of “just be valuable” several years ago. What this means for me is to share information, resources, ideas with others freely and without any thought of compensation. By having this internal belief, I still maintain a good ego.  From a small business perspective, my profitability is up, I enjoy my business with greater enthusiasm and I have far less stress.

As in all aspects of life, we can choose how we want to behave and ultimately this choice begins with our beliefs, our thoughts our internal motivational drivers. So two questions remain:

  • Are you a sales giver, taker or matcher?

  • And how is that role working for you?

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Sales Leadership Talent of Respecting Policies

Organizations from the very small to the largest of the large run by rules. These rules are both internally and externally imposed. Failure to adhere to the rules can bring disastrous results to all involved and this is why respecting policies is a sales leadership talent.

sales-leadership-talentWe have all seen the results of failure to adhere to policies and standards from Bernie Madoff to the the recent tragedy with the South Korean ferry boat. There are very good reasons that business affairs must be conducted within certain policies and standards.

Everyday examples are the No Cell Phones to No Talking to all the traffic signs that are really the signage of policies, rules or regulations for our culture.

Many of us have also experienced what happens with sales people fail to adhere to the policies of the business.  Profits suffer. Customers become angry and go elsewhere.  Other employees scramble to take care of the problems created by not appreciating the policies.

Innermetrix Attribute Index defines this sales leadership talent of respecting policies as the general understanding of  “the philosophies of the corporate structure.” Additionally the employee “will strive to conduct business according to those standards.” He or she “will honor the concept of doing things according to the rules and regulations of the company.”

Individuals who lack this talent or score low in the Attribute Index talent assessment do “not have a clear picture, or concept, of the function of rules and regulations.  They may feel that a company policy is only to be utilized when they are practical and functional, but whenever a policy hinders the effective and practical execution of their job, the policy can be ignored or broken.  This does not mean that they actively seek to violate company policy for the sake of breaking rules, but rather that they may honestly feel that the policies are only guidelines to be used in the execution of their responsibilities, not laws always to be obeyed.” (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Of the 78 key sales leadership talents, this one is probably not given much emphasis until the salesperson violates the policy or is given conflicting instructions regarding internal policies. Sometimes others within the much larger organizations such as the finance department may inadvertently change the policy without any notice to the sales department or may push back the sales team even though the sale or pending contract was negotiated within current policy parameters.

Respecting policies is not a usually one of those sought after or glamorous sales skills, but it probably can negatively impact the bottom line just as much as:

If you have not taken the Innermetrix Attribute Index talent assessment, you may be missing your key sales leadership talents and not leveraging all of your potential.

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Monday’s Marketing Mayhem or Magic?

Monday morning and once again your small business marketing resumes.  You glance at your calendar and see all the networking events, meetings and all the other activities required to keep your small business name in front of your target audience. Mayhem or organized chaos call it what you will seems to be your middle name.

marketingYou are tired before you even begin the week. Then you discover someone bought something off your website.

Now your tiredness is quickly reversed because you think to yourself, the marketing is working. It’s like magic. You pulled a rabbit (think sale) out of the hat.

Of course you know it isn’t magical because of all the hard work you have invested between your inbound and outbound activities. Yet seeing that purchase gives you the boost you need to keep moving forward, through the daily, weekly and monthly mayhem.

Marketing is for small business owners and even sales professionals the single biggest daily to weekly challenge because unless people know about you and your firm, you will never have the opportunity to share your solution.

The second biggest challenge is what works for one small business may not work for another.  You have discovered this have spending countless hours and hundred to thousands of dollars on past marketing actions.

However what does work to overcome both challenges is consistency.  By taking daily actions you can determine what works and what does not work.  Of course this does mean to give it a try for more than a couple of days or weeks.

To further reduce the daily mayhem is to have a calendar not only of your outbound activities such as business to business networking, chamber luncheons or just get to know you meetings, but your inbound actions as well such as:

  • Social media posts such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest
  • LinkedIn discussion groups and updates
  • Blog – yours
  • Micro blogging – commenting on other blogs
  • Emails such as newsletter

Also monitoring the results of your marketing on a daily basis also reduces the mayhem.  Some of these metrics may originate from the key performance indicators that you determined within your strategic action plan.  Additionally there are FREE websites that may also help measure your social media influence such as Klout or a new one called SumAll.

By investing the time to schedule and monitor the results of your outbound and inbound marketing, you will have less mayhem and more magic.  And possibly no longer dread Monday mornings?

This social media one page action plan may help you organize your inbound marketing goals.

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Our Behaviors Mirror Our Beliefs

Even after all of our evolution, human beings are still creatures of behaviors.  We cannot read the minds of others or look into their thoughts to see their beliefs.

behaviorsOur thought processes determine what we do, how we behave. In the behavior model, this concept is captured in the term “Knowledge.” Knowledge is the sum total what we know to be true, as we perceive it (perceptions).

When we observe the behaviors of another person in any given situation, our perceptions of what happened is added to our knowledge base of that person. From this knowledge base we make assumptions or presumptions regarding how we expect that person will behave in similar situations in the future. These assumptions or presumptions lead us to develop certain beliefs (attitudes) toward that person. These attitudes translate into our own behaviors when we interact with that person.

Now, our behaviors as the other person perceives it, then become part of the other person’s knowledge base of us.  That person them makes assumptions or presumptions; develops beliefs (attitudes) and behaves n certain manners when interacting with us. Thus the behavior cycle continues.

At what point can we change this cycle of behaviors if I want to do so? My behavior. Why? Because only behavior is observable. Other people cannot see what I think. They cannot see my beliefs (attitudes). They can only see what I do – what I say – my behavior.

If I would like another person to change their behavior can I make them change? No, not directly, But I can change my own behavior, which as the behavior model shows, may influence the behavior of another person.

No one makes me do anything, behave in any certain way. I always have choices. I behave the way I choose to behave. I can change my behavior if I so choose. Therefore, from a behavioral perspective, I really am the person I choose to be.

 

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I Receive What I Believe

In the never ending quest for self improvement, many individuals look first to behaviors.  Yet if we understand that 80-90% of all behaviors are unconscious or at the subconscious level, then maybe there is a better place to start. And that is with what we believe or our beliefs.

I-believeBeliefs are those foundational, internal thought processes that determine what I do. In the belief model, this concept is caught in the term “attitudes.” Attitudes are habits of thoughts m(Zig Ziglar) that have evolved from the sum total of what I know to be true and what I believe to be true.  Attitudes are observable behaviors.

Before I interact with another person, my beliefs begin to act as “filters” as to what I will be potentially experiencing. If what I experience is in alignment with my beliefs, I will consider my interaction with that person as positive or potentially positive.  However, if my experience is not in alignment with my beliefs, I will consider the experience as one of disbelief (skepticism) or even negative. Simultaneously, the other person is observing my behavior and may reinforce his or her beliefs about me.

To change behaviors begins by changing those internal beliefs or belief systems that I am quietly or in some cases not so quietly broadcasting during every waking moment. I must accept that I cannot change any individual. All I can do is change those foundational beliefs that may be affecting my interpersonal interactions.  Hence, these changes influence the other person’s belief and ultimately her or his behaviors toward me.

Beliefs extend far beyond my behaviors and the behaviors of others.  These foundational thoughts or attitudes set path for the rest of my life.  If I believe that today is a great day, full of abundance, achievement and joy it will be such a day.  Conversely, if I believe that today is a poor day, full of scarcity, failure and misery, it will also be such a day.  Each day I have a choice of what beliefs to embrace. The choice of my beliefs will determine what I receive that day and how others receive me.

For I receive what I believe.

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When Did Welcome Become A Small Business SEO Strategy?

Funny about Internet searching, one can learn a lot. Earlier this morning I was searching the Internet specific to local marketing firms here in Northwest Indiana who provide solutions from SEO strategy (Search Engine Optimization)  to online marketing for small businesses.  A couple of my small business coaching clients had been approached by some of these firms and wanted my advice.  Much to my surprise several sites began with this word:

SEO-strategy

Now maybe the small business world or marketplace has changed and people are  really searching for the word “welcome?”

Yet we know this is not the case.

Why any marketing firm starts its home page or any page with this word “welcome” only demonstrates this small business is totally clueless about any SEO strategy as well as online marketing solutions.

Having invested thousands of hours in learning about marketing both traditional (outbound marketing) and Internet or social media (inbound marketing), I know with a simple few actions most websites can be far more search engine friendly.

  1. The title page that is seen on the top of the Internet browser should be under 80 characters and include at least one keyword for that page, your company name and geographic location
  2. Description of each page should be unique to the content of that page
  3. Keywords or meta tags for each page should be unique for that page
  4. The first several words of each page should contain at least one keyword
  5. Pictures with a tag of the keyword are also important
  6. Keyword concentrations should not exceed 3% and recent updates to Google suggest a maximum 1% saturation rate. (Every 100 words, the key word only appears one time.)
  7. Long tail keywords are essential for each page
  8. Weekly if not daily updates are also essential as the robots are seeking new content
  9. Internal links to other pages within your website as well as external links must be relevant to the content

If you as a small business owner or sales professional want to improve your Internet marketing and are seeking a specific SEO strategy, then interview any local marketing firm that professes to deliver improved Internet traffic or online marketing. Request at least 3 references and then call those references.  Ask about the results such as increased web traffic, more sales leads, etc.

And remember to visit that small business marketing firm seeking your hard earned profits because they can deliver just the SEO strategy you need provided you are willing to fork over some of your hard earned profits.  If you see the word “Welcome,” be careful unless your clients are searching for “Welcome.”

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Got Leadership or Still Looking?

The advertising campaign of “Got Milk” has recently been retired.  This is not the case with small businesses to professional practices who continue to realize “got leadership” is necessary for them to stay at least with the flow of the marketplace and their competitors.

leadershipNow some of these forward thinking individuals believe they have leadership. In fact they have invested thousands to millions of dollars in developing the leadership within their organizations.

So if this is true, why is this one word still surfacing as the number one challenge being faced by these very same organizations?

Execution

Possibly, the leadership training  is just on the surface because it was delivered from an outside in.  Sustainable leadership is developed from the inside out and includes this one essential talent – realistic personal goal setting.

Possibly if you think you “got leadership” and still have execution has a daily if not weekly challenge, they you may to consider “still looking.”  Also, if you are experiencing some of these conditions in your small business or professional practice, you may wish to rethink how you are currently training and developing your leaders.

  • Excessive meetings including conference calls
  • Way too much consensus driven decision making  (a.k.a. cover your behind)
  • Inconsistent or lack of personal accountability
  • Questionable performance evaluations (Everyone wins a trophy!)
  • Communication gaps
  • Short tempers
  • Stressed out compliants
  • Power struggles between departments or within teams
  • Poor to unacceptable results
  • Time management problems
  • Mico-management
  • Can’t do attitudes
  • Duplication of workflow
  • High staff turnover
  • Unacceptable results

As the authors in Fail-Safe Leadership state:

” If any of these conditions exist in your company, this does not mean you, the reader, are in ineffective leader. It simply means that your company has leadership problems.

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An Often Ignored Open Ended Sales Question

Open ended questions are excellent ways to find out the wants and needs of the sales lead or prospect. Yet if people buy first on emotion then justify that buying decision with logic justified, where is the emotional open ended sales question?

open-ended-sales-questionBeing  “just the facts, ma’am, just the facts” Joe Friday salesperson may be leaving incredible opportunities on the table. Additionally you as the salesperson could be viewed as impersonal and uncaring.

During a recent executive coaching session with a sales manager in the healthcare industry, she was sharing some of her open ended fact finding questions.  The questions were extremely well crafted.

As I listened to her give me a preview of her sales questioning approach, I stopped her after one particular question and asked “So what do you ask next after your sales lead has shared some significant and potentially harmful fact finding information?” My client then shared her next question.  The question was another open ended sales question.  She had been trained to focus on these type of fact finding questions.

My response was “Good question, but not the one I wanted to hear.”

We then went through a discussion about what could have been a better open ended sales question.

Finally, I had to return to the 3 Sales Buying Rules those being:

  1. People buy from people they know and trust.
  2. People buy first on emotion; justified by logic.
  3. People buy on value unique to them.

We had agreement the sales lead knew and had established a level of trust with my client as this was not the first meeting.  As to the second sales buying rule, the executive coaching client realized she was not emotionalizing the fact finding step within the selling phase of the sales process.  I asked her what would happen if she asked the following open ended sales question at the appropriate time because timing in sales as in life is everything:

How does that make you feel?

Suddenly there was silence on the other end for several minutes. My client said very quietly to me “I have been missing out on incredible opportunities.  This question would have the sales leads  potentially sharing far more. It is a flood gate question!”

Care should be taken when using an emotional open ended sales question.  Too many can turn off a sales lead because the questions can be viewed as too personal especially any questions that start with the word “Why.”

Also after asking “How does that make you feel?” and receiving a response, sometimes the next best question is the “And….?” or the “So….?” You, as the salesperson, say the word “And” in a trailing voice and the sales lead usually continues with more critical information. The question is still a very much open ended sales question, but far less threatening and leading.

So if you are not receiving the facts you need to present your solution, then review your fact finding questions and determine if  judiciously by adding a little emotion into your sales conversations would yield even better results.

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Sales Leadership Talent of Surrendering Control

We have all heard of control freaks and probably experienced them as sales managers, fellow sales team members, vendors or even customers or clients. These types of individuals lack this sales leadership talent of surrendering control.

sales-leadershipWorking with individuals who want to maintain control at all times except when they must be responsible for their results challenges the best sales professionals.

The Innermetrix Attribute Index defines this sales leadership talent of surrendering control as the:

Ability of a person to surrender control of a given situation, or outcome, over to another person or group of people.  The ability to be comfortable in a situation where a significant portion of the responsibility for achieving a goal lies in the hands of others. 

Did you notice how surrendering control is directly connected to “outcome” (think result) or “a goal?” This makes logical sense because why would anyone want to control something if there was not something to control?

Top sales performers or any other individuals who have a good score in this talent “will be comfortable with trusting other team members with the success of a mutual objective.” (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Then again those salespersons who have a low score surrendering control “will have difficulty turning responsibility over.  When the results of a task will impact them…they want the control.”

Surrendering control especially during negotiations within the sales process either with internal customers or external customers can be very difficult.  With so many internal customers wanting to either assert their roles or departments while also claiming some of the success for winning a major deal is unfortunately a daily battle for some salespeople.

Of the 78 sales leadership talents, surrendering control is probably one that is not viewed with the same importance as handling rejection or self starting ability, yet this talent probably causes more stress to the sales organization than any other one.

If you wish to know your own ability for surrendering control. the Innermetrix Attribute Index is a quick talent assessment that will provide more information that you think is possible in under 12 minutes.

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Sales Gravy Interviews Leanne Hoagland-Smith


Leanne Hoagland-Smith
cited by Get Base CRM as one of the top 50 Sales Pros to follow on Twitter.

Sherpa in its 2014 Executive Coaching Survey cited Worldwide Coaching Magazine as one of the Top 3 publications for executive coaches. Leanne Hoagland-Smith has been a contributing author since its inception in Jan. 2013.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith included among the Top 25 Sales Influencers by Open View Sales Lab.

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