Deliver Empathetic Energy Not a Passionate Sales Pitch

Sometimes in sales, people confuse energy with passion.  What ends up happening is the passion sounds like a sales pitch.

sales-pitchWhen salespeople infuse emotional intelligence into their sales conversation, they now are delivering empathetic energy.  Empathy is a measurable talent and can be further developed through emotional intelligence as well as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Low energy does not sell.  Misplaced high energy also does not sell.

What does sell is energy that focuses on the sales lead (prospect) with a underlying caring desire.  President Teddy Roosevelt said it best:

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

This does not mean the salesperson must be “touchy feely.” What it does mean is to recognize that people buy from people they know and trust.  By demonstrating your knowledge and you are trustworthy, reinforces this first sales buying rule.

Of course you must believe in your solution.  However your belief, your passion must not overwhelm your ideal customer.  This is when your energy is still very visible, but is not viewed as the all too common sales pitch.

Empathetic energy can be quiet and still high.  A smile, a nod, a well placed remark all contribute to this type of sales behavior.  The goal is always to build the relationship while also demonstrating your understanding of the current situation.

Being prepared is another aspect of empathetic energy.  Anticipating what the sales lead may ask and having that document or documents ready again reflects your knowledge and credibility.

Choosing words that reinforce empathy and are not judgmental also reflects this type of energy.  Words such as think, should and especially need all contain a perception of judgment.  The last sales behavior any salesperson should strive for is verbally judging the sales lead.

In your next sales communication experience, listen to yourself.  Possibly to increase sales, you may wish to decrease the sales pitch passion and increase your empathetic energy?

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps of people and process that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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Write with Care in Your Sales Presentations

Sales presentations can earn the sale or sink it.  These written documents can build trust or erode trust.

sales-presentationFor example, I received the following in a written documentation explaining the real estate brokerage listing fees:  “to pay for advertising,…computer equipment and time…, sales meetings …, print media…”

Since I also provide executive coaching and sales coaching services if I ever delineated in my deliverables I was charging for computer equipment and computer time I would never secure the sale.  There are some costs that are fixed and understood by the buyer.  As another example, I would never include “office rent” as part of my deliverable cost.

In thinking of my past corporate sales management life, I would have love to have charged for sales meetings.  However, that was part of the cost to do business.

My sense is this particular realtor was attempting to be upfront and even transparent. In this world where so many people are attempting to be transparent, this behavior can be counter productive especially in sales.

By listing deliverables that are part of the cost in doing business appears to be more of a rationalization why the fee is what the fee is.  This type of listing in the presented documentation ignores value articulation.

Possibly most people would not be taken back by what is probably somewhat standard language. However with buyers becoming more educated, I believe such wording in sales presentations will be viewed negatively.

The marketplace is changing for many industries including real estate.  Until real estate firms recognize this change and work with it instead of fighting it, they will not have the opportunity for significant sustainable business growth. Right now realtors, media publications, financial advisors and many other service industries are in the red ocean instead of the blue ocean.

Sales presentations are an opportunity to differentiate you, your SMB and your solution.  The last thing you want is to reveal you are like everyone else and worse yet, potentially insult the sales lead.

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Sustainable Sales Success Tip #10 – Be The Best You Can Be

This past week at a regular B2B networking group, South Shore Business Networking, the question was asked about sales success specific to what makes you different?  Everyone shared his or her personal and professional experiences when answering this question.

sales-successOne member, Marti Masterson of Masterson Alliance (independent insurance agency) shared this simple thought:

Be the best you can be!

Marti begins each day by telling herself to be the best she can be.

Wow, what a simple sales success tip that is probably overlooked more often than not.

We as human beings are negatively conditioned. Unfortunately we gravitate to the negative energy instead of making our own positive energy.

By sending a energizing, positive message to her brain every morning, she is now far more proactive than reactive in her sales behaviors. Marti realizes every action must be the very best from answering the phone to meeting with clients and colleagues.

Imagine what might happen to your day if you began with a similar positive belief statement or affirmation of:

Be the best you can be!

Would you attempt to change your behaviors to model this positive self-talk?  My sense is you would.

Would you also gain greater self confidence, self esteem and a feeling of self-worth. Again my sense is you would.

Being in sales, sometimes it is easy to be derailed, to go into a corner and have a private pity party.  Positive self talk of be the best you can be works to counter that human inclination.

Take a lesson learned from Marti Masterson and embrace each sales day with this positive bolt of personal energy.  You just may find some sales success much sooner rather tan later.

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Sales Prospecting in the 21st century – Part 4

The last reaction salespeople want from their sales prospecting efforts is to ignore the requests of a sales lead. This week I received this unsolicited email:

sales prospecting


Hi Leanne,

I was just reviewing your site and generated SEO analysis report. (Kindly refer attachment)

Your site received a score of 46 out of 100, based on key factors like

  • SEO – Search engine optimization
  • Mobile friendliness
  • Usability
  • Social Media and local presence

I would like to highlight a few thoughts about where you may be losing customers.

How is your schedule Wednesday morning between 10-11 am, for a quick phone call?

As I only buy from people I know and trust, I responded with this email:

I buy from people I know and trust. I do not know you. Please remove this email address from your database.

Within 3 hours after I requested removing my email from this company’s database, the salesperson ignored my request and sent me this reply:

Hi Leanne,

I truly believe we should chat for 10 minutes to see and explore the report together and make this actually work for your website.

I’ve tried to contact you through email. Having not received any reply from you, i thought you did not notice my previous email or the report. In any case, I’ve attached the report for you that i generated for your website about a quick call Thursday morning between 10-11 am?

I returned the following email message:

Since I don’t know you, I would not buy from you. Please remove this email from your database.
P.S. You may wish to secure some different inside sales training as a follow-up email after I requested removal is really very, very annoying.
Sales prospecting is the first phase of the sales process. The goal is to make a friend, not annoy someone!
Additionally, I did a quick and found the website had no traffic rank in the US and was at 24.6 million globally.  Yes is not necessarily the most reliable tool, but it does give a sense of the potential of traffic this site is generating.  According to Alexa, my site is receiving far more traffic.

Also maybe I am old school, but using a lower case i for the pronoun I was also a turnoff.

This company is clueless about sales prospecting through email marketing.  The reason I shared this experience is to discourage other clueless salespeople from annoying potential sales leads. And the next part will dive into another blatant mistake I observed.

Here are two previous blog posts you may wish to read:
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An Unconventional Solution to Reduce Sales Stress

Sales stress happens to many salespeople. Gotta make those monthly or quarterly sales goals is a continual conscious and usually unconscious thought.  Yet it is amazing how many salespeople ignore this somewhat unconventional solution.


Embrace a written goal setting and goal achievement  WAY SMART process both personally and professionally.

Possibly the reason this solution is not implemented is there is an existing presumption that people including salespeople know how to set and achieve goals.  Reality is they don’t.

What happens is people look at daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly sales goals. Then they start frantically dialing for dollars; attending as many B2B networking events or engaging in some other energy draining sales prospecting activity.

If they only had invested the time to clarify their own goals and then put them down in writing, the inevitable sales stress would have been dramatically reduced.

Research by 3M suggested individuals who write things down have a 42% greater likelihood of finishing that task.

What would a 42% reduction of your current stress do for you?

Consistent goal setting and goal achievement is a process.  It is not something individual learn through osmosis or some quick fix sales training seminar.  The process must be supported with a goal worksheet that reinforces the overall goal setting and goal achievement process.

Let us not forget for the most part stress is a reactionary behavior.  Yes there are some things in life that create immediate and uncontrollable reactions such as ill health. However much of life we can control provided we are willing to make the effort.

In working with executive coaching and sales coaching clients, I have them work through a goal setting and goal achievement process.  This is one of the first coaching discussions we have.

Yes it is a time consuming process to begin with. However over time what happens is the process becomes embedded as a critical thinking skill. Clients then becomes mentally engaged in how to achieve the goal.  They are now more in control of their desired end results.

Sales stress is not fun and not all sales stress can be 100% eliminated. What you can do as a SMB owner or sales professional is to reduce as much of that stress both personally and professionally just by writing your goals down and then working through a proven process.

Learn more about  proven goal setting process reinforced by a great goal setting worksheet.

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With Sales Pitches the Season Never Ends

The baseball season is coming to an end.  Too bad the same can’t be said about sales pitches.

sales-pitchesHow many clueless salespeople continue in their prospecting by offering bad sales pitches without understanding this number one buying rule?

People buy from people they know and trust.

This buying rule is especially true for B2B services.  Sending out sales pitches via emails, cold calling or text messages without having established any credibility is frankly a waste of time.

Of course there will always be exceptions, your prospecting marketing message came at exactly the right moment in time when all the buying stars were aligned.  However, these buying opportunities will always be far and few between.

Even during the marketing phase of the sales process, eager beaver salespeople begin their windup and start throwing sales pitches.  It seems they can’t help themselves or their sales training told them to do it.

Now if this is considered a one meeting close sale as Robert Terson discussed in Selling Fearlessly, then those throws across the strike zone should be carefully timed and placed.

Sales Coaching Tip: Bob’s book is an excellent read and should be added to your sales library.

For the most part, sales pitches that happen too soon may reveal desperation on part of the salesperson.  These early pitches may also be an indicator respective to lack of understanding how the sales process or the time frame to actually earn the sale. This time frame begins with the first known contact and concludes when the sale is closed or earned.

Sales Coaching Tip:  Keeping track of all contacts as through a CRM program helps to determine this time frame.

Of course with many executive decision makers already up to 50-60% through the buying decision before outreaching to any vendors, salespeople have less immediate knowledge of when the actual first contact with the prospect or sales lead was made.

With the baseball season nearly over, maybe it is time to take a hint and stop with all of your sales pitches within the marketing phase of the sales process.  Finally, to earn the sale remember even a baseball game has nine innings.

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Sales Prospecting in the 21st century – Part 3

If people buy from people they know and trust, then it seems reasonable all sales prospecting should build upon that fundamental buying rule.  Yet, salespeople in their hurry and up sales pitch behaviors send duplicate messages that fail to acknowledge any previous conversations.

sales-prospectingIn yesterday’s mail I received a direct mail piece from a realtor with whom I had an extended conversation. His latest direct mail marketing message which was a duplication of the first direct mail piece totally ignored that sales conversation. Now I am wondering if somewhere down the road I will receive a triplicate marketing message.

His marketing and selling behaviors are why customer relationship management programs exist.  Had he inputted our conversation into his CRM he would have realized that we had already communicated.

Now my initial somewhat favorable reaction to him has turned south because his sales prospecting behavior shows me he is disorganized and possibly even desperate for sales.  The good news is his mistake became another blog on sales and ultimately leadership.

How can I even consider buying into the solutions he had to offer when his sales behaviors are sloppy? He could have sent me the duplicate and add a handwritten P.S. to show he acknowledged our previous conversation.

Whether it is real estate agents to financial services providers to marketing firms, sales prospecting is a skill set that many in sales or SMBs that requires drastic improvement. For example, how many LinkedIn invitations (electronic direct mail) have been customized instead of the basic template?  I really love it when a marketing person sends me the template invitation.  This behavior does not build within me any knowledge or trust for that individual.

Sales prospecting is comprised of strategies and tactics.  Your behaviors are the tactics or execution of those strategies. When salespeople send duplicate marketing messages and fail to acknowledge past sales conversations with sales leads, this reveals both poor strategies and even worse execution of tactics.

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Value Articulation Not Defense Is the Better Sales Strategy

Selling is not easy especially with more and more entries into the SMB world.  Sales research of key executive decision makers revealed they believed only 1 out of 3 salespeople could confidently engage in value articulation.

value-articulationA recent article about technology and sales suggested defense is the better sales strategy in today’s digital world. The article highlighted the acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft.

This particular article started me thinking even more.  Value articulation is really an offensive position because the salesperson is connecting to the value drivers of the sales leads or prospects.  If key decision makers want salespeople to articulate the value of their solutions, then it makes sense to go with the sales research.

Additionally SMB owners and salespeople should be aware of the competition, why focus any unnecessary energy on the competition? If the salesperson has engaged in efficient and effective research (fact findings), then any sales conversation should be directed to confirming that research.

Another thought is value articulation could be considered strength.  Talking defensively in the sales conversation suggests a weakness.  Your position is not strong enough so a defensive sales position must be taken. Does that sales strategy make sense?  Put yourself in a defensive position?

Finally, why in any sales conversation would a competent sales professional bring up the competition?  The only time the competition has entered a sales conversation is when the prospect brings it up.  My response is to never demean the competition, but rather discover why the prospect likes a competitor.

Many in sales confuse value articulation with features and benefits. Value articulation goes way beyond the standard sales conversation. The goal is to connect with the decision maker’s unique value drivers. With multiple decision makers, those value drivers may be entirely different. By not listening to what is actually being said, the salesperson may miss those unique value drivers and ultimately lose the sale.

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Educated Buyers and Emerging Sales Sucker Questions

Today’s decision makers in the B2B industries and even now extending into the B2C markets are becoming far better educated buyers.  This change in education is starting to sprout the opportunity by decision makers to ask more sales sucker questions.



Novice salespeople may bite on these questions and then become easily derailed by these sales sucker questions. Sales sucker questions may even temporarily stymie more experienced salespeople. I realized this emerging sales conversation trend when I heard this question being asked by a corporate decision maker interviewing a young college graduate for a position in his company.

The college graduate had indicated in his resume and during the sales conservation he was very well versed about the corporate structure and market events. Then interviewer acknowledged the young man’s due diligence and then asked this sales sucker question:  “So what was our price stock share this morning?”

As one can imagine, the young man had no idea.  He was not prepared for today’s educated buyers.  After all, those who interview potential job applicants are buyers. They are buying the person in front of them.

Recently, in talking with a real estate agent who stated “the real value of a realtor comes at closing with  all the details that must be handled.”  My question in response was: “Since we have already hired a real estate attorney, what can you do that he cannot do?”

A sales sucker question is one that cannot be easily answered. The question also creates confusion on behalf of the salesperson leaving the individual looking perplexed and unprepared.

Not all decision makers will ask sales sucker questions. However, it make sense for salespeople to be prepared for them just in case.

Possibly the best preparation in meeting with educated buyers is to be careful of what is said during the sales conversation. Start making a list of possible sales sucker questions. Invest some time to research possible responses so that you as a salesperson do not intentionally or unintentionally step into that sucker hole.

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The One Question Salespeople Fail to Ask

Being in sales can be either extremely enjoyable or just the opposite.  With so many SMBs to larger organizations needing salespeople if not preferably top sales performers, then maybe it is time to ask this question:


Do you really WANT to sell?

Last night I talked with James Muir, the author of a soon to e released book, The Perfect Close. In listening to James, one could hear he truly WANTS to sell.

One of my coaches and mentors, David Herdlinger, developed the KASH Box.  Through reflection I revised it to the KASH BOX for Sustainable Change.  This revision was because of a statement/question my husband had made after seeing David’s initial graphic.

The question is not one of “Do I know it?” but rather one of “Do I WANT to do it?”  If I WANT to do it, I will learn how to do it.

The WANT is what drives my husband to do almost anything. He built all new kitchen cabinets and never had built one before. He is now building a kitchen table. Again never having built one before.

kitchen-01Yesterday I also read a piece by Townsend Wardlow sharing the old chicken and pig story with a twist. However the essence remains the same.  The chicken was involved, but the pig was committed. This is also true with salespeople.

How committed are you to wanting to sell?

Do you devote at least one hour each day to improving your own knowledge as well as sales skills?

Are you abreast of current market trends, economic trends and industry trends?

What due diligence (sales fact finding research) have you engaged in before meeting with new sales leads or prospects?

Many people in the workforce expect their employers to advance their knowledge and skills (training).  They fail to take the initiative for their own personal development and self improvement. I read a report that many millennials are leaving organizations because the organization failed to give them leadership development.

This expectation is also true for many salespeople especially in the SMB marketplace.  Top sales performers are consistently working to improve their game with or without support (sales training) from their employers.  If they are self-employed, this WANT is what makes them successful or not successful.

Answering this question of “Do you really WANT to sell?” goes far beyond the normal, reactionary response of “Of course” or “Yes.” This is a question that must be answered by looking at your behaviors through the lenses of your attitudes and habits. Then and only then can you learn the true answer to this sales question.

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People buy from people they know and trust.
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Leanne Hoagland-Smith
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