To Increase Sales Learn to Leverage Your Emotional Intelligence

After listening to many small business owners and sales professionals who want to increase sales, I realize for some of those same individuals they fail to leverage their emotional intelligence.  Until these professionals understand the impact of emotional intelligence, their sales goals will remain unachieved.

increase-salesEmotional intelligence is probably one of the simplest skill sets to learn.  All one must do is the following:

  1. Recognize and understand the emotions of the other person
  2. Recognize and understand your own emotions
  3. Manage both

Yes emotional intelligence is rather simple to learn.  However where the rubber meets the road is actually doing it.

Human beings are emotional creatures.  In sales people buy first on emotion and therefor they buy other people first on emotion including the emotion of trust.  Part of emotional intelligence is embedded in most sales conversations even if it is subconscious.

To increase sales many sales professionals jump into “logic” mode or worse yet “sales pitching” mode.  They attempt to dazzle people with the features and benefits and even employ some “marketing gimmicks” to attract attention.

Emotional intelligence requires taking a constant pulse of your own emotions as a salesperson.  Additionally, the words you speak can build emotional intelligence as well as emotional trust.  As noted in a previous posting about sales conversations, salespeople may wish to avoid certain words as they do not reflect emotional intelligence.

There are numerous assessments that for a minor time and dollar investment can established a benchmark for your emotional intelligence. This investment may be one of the best ones you have ever made to increase sales.

Probably one of the best way to leverage emotional intelligence with the goal to increase sales is silence. By remaining silent and engaging in active listening, you can begin to recognize the emotions of the other person.  From facial expressions or other body language movements to syntax (speed, loudness, softness of the spoken words), you as the salesperson have the opportunity to begin to understand the emotions while being totally aware of your own reactions.

Leveraging emotional intelligence allows you better insight as to when to ask close ended sales questions instead of open ended sales questions in your quest to increase sales. Additionally, inserting one words questions such as “So…?” can further help the sales conversations.

Emotional intelligence from all the research shows to be a great predictor of leadership success.  As more and more research is conducted, it will also show to be an equally great predictor of sales success.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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How Effective is Gimmick Marketing?

One of my colleagues, Greg, shared what he believed to be a gimmick marketing message from a local real estate firm who wanted to meet with him just to ask two questions.  The handwritten note did not say anything about selling him anything and yet the message to me was:

gimmick-marketing

“A real estate group that wants me to sell their stuff.”

Over the years I have witnessed a variety of what is now called “gimmick marketing.”  From poorly worded marketing messages to unusual inclusions, there is a lot of ineffective marketing happening in the workplace.

The inherent problem of gimmick marketing is that it starts the development of distrust.  Why must someone use a gimmick to attract attention?  Would it not be better to have a handwritten note without the gimmick or better yet a personal phone call?

If you thought “He or she will not take my phone call.” then possibly you have not developed the relationship enough for taking your phone call to have value?

For those within professional service industries, gimmicks appear to have less value than those industries that cater to retail or commercial sales. My sense is the gimmick lessens the value of the person providing the marketing message.

The end result of marketing is to make a friend and be asked back for that first essential face to face meeting.  As my colleague Greg noted, this gimmick marketing stunt failed to make a friend.

What I have found to be effective marketing is personal one on one conversations along with content marketing (article writing) through LinkedIn pulse to this blog along with article directories. Gimmicks have never worked for me in developing professional relationships. Sometimes all gimmicks are is a quick fix solution by a desperate salesperson.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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The Quicksand Known as Sales Fact Finding Questions

Attend most sales training programs and the subject of sales fact finding questions will emerge. In some instances, the entire sales training may be focused on the importance of sales fact finding questions. While knowing to ask the right questions is indeed important, sometimes being so focused on these questions has you quickly drowning in quicksand before you know it.

sales-fact-finding-questionsWhen salespeople become so intent on one aspect, they may lose sight of the bigger picture. Additionally, if salespersons have memorized the sales fact finding questions as part of a sales script, general sales conversation flexibility takes a backseat to following the sales script.

Years ago I learned a very simple series of fact finding questions. These questions could not be attached to any sales training program because those questions have been heard hundreds of times before.  By asking the same questions that everyone else asks has salespeople becoming gray suits instead of differentiating themselves.

The added benefit of these questions is they were already part of my process in working with clients.  So my sales conversation was quite natural instead of forced.

My first sales fact finding question revolves around learning the desired result or results. This question is “Where do you wish to be for yourself or your business or both?”  With prompting of subtle “Oh….?” and “So….?” questions, I usually gleam considerable information.

The next question is “What is the importance to getting to where you want to be?” Now is the time to emotionalize the impact of the desired results. Note, I avoid using any questions that start with “Why” because at this point in the relationship I may not have earned enough trust to ask “Why” questions.  Why is very personal.  I have yet to find a why sales fact finding questions that cannot be turned into a “what,” “where,” “who” or even “how” question.

Question number three is simply “What barriers are getting in your way to getting to be where you want to be?” In all instances, these barriers can be placed into one of two categories:

  • People
  • Processes

After many years in sales, I recognized people feel more comfortable when they believe that have some control over the conversation.  So I have integrated this feeling of emotional control into my sales conversations. with this question:  “I have asked three questions and now have two questions left, which one would you like?”

If the ideal customer responds with question four, I ask “Is there anything additional you wish to share or any question you wish to ask, that I have not asked?” This question is open ended.

My last question is one I developed by myself and I found it usually uncovers some significant fact that had yet to be shared.  This question is:

“Imagine for a moment you are at some local business or charity event in two to three years and you are introduced to someone who recognizes your name. What are the first words you would like to hear from this person, outside of the name introductions?”

Of course, I have a few other supplemental  sales fact finding questions depending upon the overall sales conversation that are specific to certain industries or issues such as disengaged employees to failed execution.

Just remember the goal with sales fact finding questions is to learn what others may not have uncovered or heard because they were so focused on asking the “right questions” they did not notice they were drowning in quicksand.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Forward Thinking Leadership Creates a Results Driven Workplace Culture

Workplace culture continues to grow in awareness by mid-size to small business leaders.Those in  forward thinking leadership roles have channeled their efforts to creating a sustainable workplace culture.

forward-thinking-leadership

Credit www.gratisography.com

In the past, the emphasis was on organizational development to continuous improvement.  Frankly that sounded boring and like a lot of work while it established a disconnect between the desired results and the people actually performing the work.

Even though workplace culture sounds intimidating, it encompasses many of the barriers that forward thinking leaders encounter including:

  • Knowledge
  • Attitudes
  • Skills
  • Habits

The challenge in creating workplace culture is to go from the static to the dynamic. This challenge requires forward thinking leadership to look at the organization through the eyes of the employees within these nine areas:

Each of these areas is much like taking a “pulse reading” on the organisms within the organization.

When forward thinking leadership invests the time to assess the workplace culture regardless of size, they can establish benchmarks from which to move forward.  Until these benchmarks are established, the possibility exists of continued misalignment gaps as noted by the authors of Fail-Safe Leadership.

Workplace culture will continue to grow in recognition and importance because efficient and effective execution of business growth strategies is now the first priority.  Finding and keeping good employees who consistently execute the actions to secure the desired results is an inherent part of a dynamic workplace culture. Forward thinking leadership will look to grow forward thinking leaders in all aspects of their organizations.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

 

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What Wasted Time Actually Reveals

Smart devices keep us connected and reveal a lot of wasted time according to Adobe. Would you believe checking email (both work and personal) is consuming 6.3 hours per day?  As an entrepreneur and small business owner for the last 18 years, I can say my time is probably around 60 to 90 minutes per day.

wasted-time

Credit www.picjumbo.com

This email marketing and time management research also suggested that 30% of those surveyed check their email in the morning while still in bed. Some may believe this is due to the fear of missing out, my sense it may be revealing something far more serious.

When we are so preoccupied with checking email or being on the smart phone all the time, we just may not have any clarity as to what needs to be done next. We are mired in the endless activity that really does not move us forward. Yet we feel emotionally satisfied that we are doing something constructive.

This endless checking of email shows we have not properly scheduled our time.  However by checking email we do not think of it as wasted time and it justifies not doing what really needs to be done.

Checking email becomes our excuse not to work.

Email marketing agencies are probably in a dither over this time management research. With email not going away, this opens more opportunities.  For mid-size to small businesses, this spells productivity to economic disaster especially if the business factors in texting which does not appear to be part of this research study by Adobe.

Email has become part of our lives especially for mid-size to small business owners and entrepreneurs.  For me, I check email first thing in the morning at my desk (10 minutes) and several times through out the day for another five minutes each.  I have folders on my desktop and quickly file 90% of all email immediately.  Since my clients and sales leads have or can easily find my phone number, if something is really important they can call me.

If I am working on a project, I close my email.  I then open it at scheduled breaks to ensure my focus is where it needs to be.

Now some may suggest checking email is part of their multi-tasking as when watching TV or worse yet driving.  The human brain is not designed to multi-task and to engage in multi-tasking behaviors reduces overall effectiveness of all engaged activities.

Time was gone is never recovered.

Time is an investment.

Each of use have to decide how to invest our time wisely to avoid wasted time. How we do that is a personal decision and one that requires personal responsibility and accountability.

My question is if you are addicted to checking your email, then why so?  Is it because of the fear of not being connected or the fear of not wanting to do what you must do?

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

 

 

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Is Sales Professionalism in Danger?

The National Association of Realtors recently commissioned a report about the negative game changing dangers within the real estate industry. This 164 page report (D.A.N.G.E.R. Report) provides good insight into sales professionalism not only for  real estate sales professionals, but as well as by non-real estate ales professionals.

sales-professionalism

Credit www.gratisography.com

Within the first section devoted to real estate agents, there are 10 dangers listed. Of those listed, at least two are directly connected to sales professionalism.

Incompetency

Not being informed to being unethical to having only a marginal understanding of the sales process is prevalent within midsize to small business sales people. This past week in working with a client one of the client’s salespersons quit because this individual could not handle moving toward a high performance culture of accountability. During sales meetings she could not explain how she was going to prospect some new sales opportunities.

This salesperson was given support from sales coaching to direct line to the owners, but made the conscious decision to seek other opportunities.  Where she revealed her continued incompetence as well as lack of business ethics was she told her boss that her company provided for car was available at her house that was 60 miles away. My client had to make arrangements to pick up the car.

For the last couple of months my husband and I have been in the process of selling our home by ourselves. We have interviewed 10 real estate agents and the incompetency was prevalent in eight of the 10. From misstatements to outright lies, I was continually checking with other resources to discover the “actual truth.” As a side note, not one of these real estate agents were aware or had read this report about their industry or sales professionalism.

The Decline of Relevancy

There are many articles about the “death of salespeople” meaning sales people are becoming irrelevant. Personally I do not believe this to be true. What I do believe is incompetent, ego centered, lazy salespeople are becoming a dying breed and their extinction will probably happen within the next 20 years.

The residential real estate has experienced the impact of technology through Internet sites such as Zillow. Today’s home buyers are better educated than even 5 years ago. This better educated buyer is happening within all industries whether it is B2B or B2C.

Technology has raised the bar for sales professionalism.  No longer can sales professionals be content with the status quo. They must continually seek new opportunities by changing their perspective, their attitudes.

Those sales professionals who demonstrate high business ethics, solid knowledge and a willingness to do what is right for the customer will continue to be successful. For them the herd of their competitors has been culled which will allow them even greater success.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Reviewing Sales Activity From an Unique Perspective

Sales activity for many salespeople and their managers comes back to sales results specific to “How many dollars did you bill this past month?” This is a quick monthly analysis of the sales success for the salesperson or the overall sales team and potentially reflects the effectiveness of the sales manager. I call this “Sales at Sea Level.”

sales-activity

Credit www.gratisography.com

What would happen if we changed our perspective and looked at sales from an unique perspective such as “Sales at See Level?”

“Sales at See Level” is really analyzing monthly sales from the perspective of last year’s sale which is the 30,000 viewpoint.  From this perspective, there are 6 areas that can be viewed.

#1 – New Accounts

Discovering new accounts is good especially for those mid size to small businesses who wish to grow their customer base and expand into new markets. New accounts also reflect the sales activity of the salesperson.

  • Is the salesperson harvesting from existing accounts?
  • Is the salesperson hunting new accounts?

With everything being equal, new accounts work with sales growth goals and projections.  This area is a great one for quickly measuring the effectiveness of any new marketing initiatives.

#2 – Exceeded Last Year’s Sales Area

When customers exceed last year’s total sales this suggests several things. One there is now a new project, expansion or change happening within the business. Another is your marketing has been effective and you have gained top of mind awareness.  New opportunities are now present to further increase sales.

Imagine for a moment you as a customer receive a thank you card from your vendor who acknowledges your business.  In this thank you note is a gift gas card or some other small appreciation of your customer loyalty.  Would you be inclined to continue to send business to this salesperson?

#3 – Reached 50% of Last Year’s Sales Area

Depending upon the month of the current year, this is also a great metric to capture. This sales activity statistic allows you to better forecast total sales for this particular customer. You as a salesperson can also better schedule your time.  If this metric shows up early in the sales year, then it may provide some insight as to what is happening with the customer especially if you had originally forecasted less sales activity.

#4 – Reached 25% of Last Year’s Sales Area

Again, if the goal is to increase sales, then learning where the sales activity by the customer is crucial.  This benchmark helps the salesperson and the sales manager better schedule their time and see any trends that may be happening within a particular industry or sales account.

# 5 – Reached less than 25%of Last Year’s Sales Area

If the customer’s  sales activity is to buy monthly or even quarterly, by capturing this data can show when a customer may be meeting or exceeding the previous year’s sales.  Depending upon the time of year, this area may be one to watch more closely as it is a good indicator of trouble with the account.

#6 – No Activity from Last Year’s Sales Area

Inactivity by customers especially if there are marketing campaigns happening is another good indicator of potential problems. Yes, some accounts are seasonal. However, many small businesses fail to discover why customers are no longer buying their services. This is why outreach from customer service to the individual salesperson is critical. Keeping customers are far less costly than finding new ones.

For many mid-size to small businesses especially those with a large customer base, sales activity perspective can become myopic. “Sales are up from last year and that is all we care about.” This perspective creates many missed sales opportunities.

By investing the time of the sales manager and the salesperson to review each account provides new sales opportunities as noted above as well as to potential insight as to oncoming market trends. Finally, this unique perspective of “Sales at See Level” works to build customer loyalty.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Sales Conversations, Socrates and Authenticity

Top sales performers truly understand the value of establishing authenticity within their sales conversations.  They know that people, their intended ideal customers (qualified sales leads) buy from people they know and trust. Without that acceptance of their authenticity, the sale is dead in the water.

sales-conversationsYears ago a Greek philosopher, Socrates, established three filters to ensure authenticity within any type of conversation.  These three filters apply today just as they did over two thousands years ago. And what is even more impressive, Socrates’ approach to authentic conversations was also emotionally intelligent.

#1 Filter for Authentic Sales Conversations – Is what you say kind? 

Kindness demonstrates a person who cares.  President Theodore Roosevelt said it best:

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

Sales conversations that demonstrate kindness also reflect a constrained ego.  The conversation is not about you or your stuff that you sell, but about the other person.

#2 Filter for Authentic Sales Conversations – Is what you say truthful?

How many times have we encountered salespeople who boost about everything they have done? Our eyebrows might raise because from our experiences we sense something is not right.

Being truthful sometimes is difficult especially if you as the salesperson may not know the answer. No one likes someone, you know, who is full of B.S.  Our B.S. antennas are quite sensitive to exaggeration.  The truth detectors by our ideal customers or centers of influence are probably just as accurate if not more so.

#3 Filter for Authentic Sales Conversations – Is what you say necessary?

One of the ongoing problems with sales professionals is they talk way too much.  They fail to understand active listening with concise questions can reveal far more than an endless stream of chatter.

Additionally, sales people sometimes provide too much information at the wrong time.  They over answer the questions of the sales leads. This reaction may be because they failed to determine exactly what they wanted before they enter the sales meeting.

The inherent value of Socrates’ Three Filters when it comes to sales conversations is these criteria establish a foundation from which to build a dialogue or relationship through the spoken word.  This dialogue is also emotionally intelligent because you are recognizing the emotions of the other person as well as your self (kindness); understanding those emotions (truthfulness) and managing both (necessary). Possibly Socrates was not only a great philosopher, he was probably the first person to put emotional intelligence into practice as a leader.

Authentic sales conversations begin the best relationship you have with your sales leads. Your goal is to not blow it by being like all those other fast talking, non-listening and superficial salespeople.

Remember this sales golden rule:

Silence is not only golden, but green.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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The Sales Fact Finding Problem of Symptom Solving

How many times in the sales fact finding do salespeople look to solve symptoms instead of the real problems?  Probably more often than many will admit.

sales-fact-findingFor example, small business owners come to me and other sales coaches because they have a sales problem.  Unfortunately, the inability to increase sales is a shadow or a symptom of another problem usually people (executive leadership) or poor process such as customer service.

Now in some instances, the weak sales maybe because of a lack of sales skills.  Usually, for small businesses with under 20 employees (97.7% of all U.S. businesses), the real problems are:

  • Ineffective executive leadership
  • No strategic plan
  • Poor communication to all employees
  • No alignment between sales goals and strategy and operations including better sales fact finding skills
  • Isolated marketing to no marketing especially through social media such as LinkedIn

When small business owners to those in sales management look to blame salespeople, this may become a foolhardy path.  Yes, there maybe some poor sales skills require some sales training or sales coaching. However until all actions are aligned as noted by the authors of Fail-Safe Leadership, the desired results will be inconsistent to unsustainable.

The flip side to this sales fact finding problem is the willingness of the salesperson to say “your poor sales is a symptom of …”  Telling the decision maker that he or she or the overall operations of the small business is the real problem is difficult.  Additionally it may require turning down a viable sales lead because your solutions as the salesperson do not align or will not correct the poor sales problem.

Many salespeople can solve symptoms. Top sales performers are true leaders who know how to separate the symptoms from the real problems through effective sales fact finding research and interactions (asking exceptional questions) with the sales lead.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Living to Eat or Eating to Live?

Have you ever heard this question?

living-to-eatAre you living to eat or eating to live? 

This question is not just about food, but is truly about how we approach life.

Living to eat is when we focus all of our energies on consuming food.  Food becomes the driver, the motivator for our behaviors.  Possibly this explains why there is so much obesity in today’s many cultures. We are always thinking about the next meal.

Our early ancestors probably lived to eat.  Food was difficult to obtain.  Fortunately, this is no longer the case for many within today’s cultures.

Eating to live means we focus our energies only on what we need to live.  In other words, we are more concerned about living than eating.  Our motivation has changed.

As I ponder this question I thought about learning.  Life long learning is about living to learn.  This is not a bad behavior, but not the best one.

Today, we must be more about learning to live.  This behavior is truly self-directed learning where we learn what we need to learn to live in today’s fast paced and ever changing world.

Marcel Proust wrote “the true voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.”  Eating to live is a new set of eyes.  Living to eat is the old set of eyes.

Now being older, my food consumption has dramatically declined. My body does not require the nourishment that it did when I was younger and still growing.  No longer do I find myself living to eat, but more often than not eating to live.

We have the ability to choose what path of life we wish to walk.  We can be consumed by food, by other things such as money, stuff, power, etc.  Or, we can be far more in control of our lives and realize where there is real value in what we do. As we have free will, the choice is always ours and ours alone.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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