In Sales Are You Doing the RIGHT Math?

Doing the math is essential in sales. What I have learned is sometimes salespeople fail to do the “right math.”

salesWhat is the right math you may be thinking?

Actually the right math involves these 3 factors and 3 separate computations:

  1. Return on investment (ROI) for the customer or client (financial impact of the solution compared to the dollars invested)
  2. Impact on customer’s and vendor’s short term profitability
  3. Impact on customer’s and vendor’s long term profitability

Return on Investment (ROI)

From my experience, ROI is not difficult to compute. In many instances, the issue is the desire by the salesperson to make that computation. Sometimes, the inability to do this ROI math is the direct result of not having enough fact finding information or crystal clarity regarding the desired results to be achieved.

Impact on Short Term Profitability

Beyond the ROI, there is impact of any solution on short term profitability. Some salespeople will do the “profit math” for their customers as well as themselves, but will forget about the vendor, their own firm that signs their paychecks.  Additionally,there are businesses both super large and small that tell salespeople to do anything to get the order even if it means losing profits.

Impact on Long Term Profitability

In 2003, McKinsey released some valuable information regarding pricing and discounting.  Their research revealed that a 1% increase in price increased profitability by 8% while a 1% increase in sales volume increased profitability by only 3%. Salespeople must be cognizant of the impact of pricing on profits for their own firms. Additionally, a 5% decrease in price required an additional18% sales volume just to maintain current profit levels.

Sometimes salespeople only look at the surface impact on profitability because they again failed to do their fact finding research. By investing the time to take a broader viewpoint may yield additional math impact. What may happen is the smart salesperson may actually up sell beyond the original proposal.

Additionally, pricing impact for the customer extends beyond the hard math numbers. For example, what “good will” has been created through the solution? Customer loyalty based upon current buying history is another factor to consider. What is the long term profit value of a client?

Yes doing the “right math” is essential in today’s business world. And does require a greater commitment on the part of each sales team member. Now is not the time for the quick and easy if you are in sales.


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Sales Leadership Temperament of Compulsive Part 25

If you want to hire a top sales performer, then probably from my experience this internsales-leadershipship temperament of compulsive is your best bet.  All of the six figure salespeople I have coached without exception have this same temperament.  These individuals all share these internal biases:

What these biases tell us is these individuals are “driven to achieve.” In sales or in any other role, if you are not “driven to achieve” then you will be left behind. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

The negative empathy or people bias reflects an undervaluation of the individual’s “own unique self-worth.”   This negative feeling bias (people) when combined with the positive practical thinking (doing) and positive systems judgement (thinking) allows those in sales leadership roles to redirect their efforts to “achieving and getting things done correctly” and in accordance with their own expectations as well as the expectations of others. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Salespeople with this compulsive internal bias are good doers and thinkers.  Additionally the negative people bias does not restrict these individuals from being very “comfortable in social situations.”  They will still display self confidence even though they may undervalue their own unique self-worth. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

In today’s very busy sales environment, those in sales leadership roles must be also very well organized. This internal temperament of “compulsive”  suggests these individuals are for the most part well organized.

By having clarity around our decision making styles and the biases (our temperaments) associated with those decision making styles along with the 78 key attributes, is probably the best first step to take when looking to improve the results of your sales team or your own.  Not knowing this information is very much like shooting an arrow blind folded. The question to be answered is:

How many opportunities are you missing?

If you want to know if you have this sales leadership bias of compulsive, then take this quick 10-12 minute talent assessment. You will definitely be surprised by the amount of information and more importantly by the accuracy.

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Does Your Content Marketing Smell?

The sense of smell is incredibly powerful.  Have you considered this sense respective to your current content marketing efforts? By the way, did you know the sense of smell is the only sense that goes directly to the brain without passing through the thalamus? ((Thanks to Brain Rules for that tidbit.)

content-marketingSure, literally no one can smell your attracting efforts via the various social media channels. Yet, with all the self-promotion, repetitive, poor to actually painfully boring content marketing there appears to be an odor something akin to Limburger Cheese or dead fish wafting through cyberspace.

With a little effort, this smelly marketing can be reversed.  The first action is to understand marketing is not selling. Your goal here is to attract attention and begin to build a relationship.

The second action requires some pre-planning and research. Consider subscribing to some content aggregators such as Google Alerts or Smart Briefs. These resources provide a plethora of  fresh content to infuse into your writing efforts.

Third, write what you know about. Educate your intended ideal customer or target audience in an emotionally engaging and fun style.  Sometimes it may make sense to take a contrary position and give a different perspective. For example in this  LinkedIn article, The Madness of Fads in Sales and Leadership,   I noted how the current fad of the Ice Bucket challenge may cause some long term harm.

Fourth, remember to include a picture as people reads words, but think in pictures. Your picture should reinforce the overall message of your writing. Additionally from my limited understanding of SEO, the robots love pictures.

Fifth, keep your message short so it may quick read or scanned.  Articles over 500 words on a regular basis may be too much for your readers.  We live in an on the go society and your target audience prefers quick, short and informative information. Look at many of the popular books. They can usually be read during a two hour plane trip.

Sixth, build a community of quality content marketing contributors. Share each others’ efforts. You do not have to agree with their positions because not everyone will agree with yours and that is okay. Through this sharing you are building even more credibility and revealing your knowledge and understanding extends way beyond your own nose.

Seventh, do not sell.  Yes I know I said that before, but it bears repeating.  Feel free to include a call to action at the end of your marketing message or better yet ask your audience “How do they feel?” or to “share their experiences” about a certain topic.

By the way, how do you feel when you are continually being pitched?  Why would your readers or subscribers be any different? If your content marketing is exceptional, addresses one or more of their current challenges, they will reach out to you.

P.S. Remember, no one likes day old fish. Your efforts need to be fresh and your own.

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Discover Your SLOT for Self-Improvement

Many have heard of the SWOT analysis for organizational development or improvement. This is a quadrant where one looks for the:


  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Imagine using this approach for your own self-improvement?

How about taking one step further and really push yourself by changing just one word?

When we swap limitations for weaknesses, we have an entirely new perspective. A limitation can undermine self-improvement because of our own perspective. We do not recognize a limitation in the same manner as a weakness and may unintentionally ignore it. By changing this one word allows us to dig deeper into our own beliefs, experiences and skills.

Intentional self-improvement is not easy.  The SLOT analysis provides much greater clarity as to where you are right now and what is getting in your way to where you want to be.  What I have observed is the lack of clarity probably undermines more forward progress than any other barrier.

If you are looking to establish a personal growth action plan,then before you take that action conduct a SLOT analysis on yourself.  The results just may surprise you.

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Nothing Is Sometimes the Better Path for Small Businesses

Taking action, doing something is usually touted as the better path for growing small businesses. However some research from Contact Monkey suggests when it comes to email subject lines nothing wins the open email rate.

small-businessesThis data runs against the prevailing attitude being sold to small business owners about having an emotionally compelling subject line by many marketing experts.  Even I, though not a marketing expert, always believed some  emotionally charge words were more effective than no words. Guess I was wrong.

This research about nothing being better than something came from analyzing over 30 million emails sent through Outlook and Gmail. The #1 subject line with a 92% email open rate was blank leaving only the already prepopulated “RE.”

Can you believe that?

All those email headlines small businesses paid  high price marketing firms while draining both their cash flow and  profits had far worse email open rates. I wonder how many of those marketing firms will share this research?

What was also interesting to note is the fifth most email open rate headline at 87% was “Checking In.” Many sales  experts will contend that “checking in” is a lame conversational starter for small businesses.  What this email suggests that busy professionals (your potential small business sales leads) like to keep their email communication short and sweet.  When sales leads read “checking in” they already have a sense of the purpose of the email and potentially are better able to categorize it within their own daily email reading demands and other ongoing initiatives.

Now I am unsure how this data compares with information gleamed from auto responder companies like AWeber or Constant Contact. What I do believe is this information is worth reviewing for all small businesses and probably may stir the pot as to prevailing best practice for small business emails.

What you can do as a sales professional or small business owner is to run your own test.  Send out 50 emails with a mix of using the top 3 email subject lines and your own most popular ones.  Monitor the results and maybe you too will discover that when it comes to email open rates, nothing is better than something. Then take all that money you saved and treat your employees and yourself.

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The Surprisingly New, Yet Very Old Leadership Skill

Possibly as you read this title, you may be thinking of one of the current fads moving through leadership training and coaching such as agile leadership? If so, you may be disappointed because this leadership skill is one that is very old and yet never really discussed in any detail. Maybe there is a presumption that leaders already have this skill?

leadership-skillThink for a moment of past leaders and all of their leadership skills.  What one skill has stood the test of time?

From my perspective, that one skill has been the ability to write. If we look to history, we see Moses writing the 10 Commandments to George Washington’s Farewell Address to Congress to contemporary leaders.  The ability to communicate through the written word is essential to all of these leaders and the millions of  other unsung leaders.

Technology has further embolden this very old leadership skill.  This newer communication channel of technology started with email and now has spread through social media and content marketing.

More and more communication is being channeled through electronic mediums. Forward thinking leaders must learn how to communicate succinctly as in 140 characters in Twitter to emails to sharing organizational initiatives through the company’s newsletter or blog. Given that the super majority (97.75) of businesses here in the US have under 20 employees, the ability to hire out copy writers is dramatically reduced. Business leaders will need to be able to communicate even more frequently through the written word than ever before.

Effective writing that is emotionally compelling  and engaging is not new.  We only have to go back to the US Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution. The gentlemen who wrote these words agonized over the right word to convey the right, emotional message.  Each word was scrutinized to ensure the reader would have absolute clarity.

The other reason this old skill is a new skill has to do with the ability to have clarity of thought.  During a radio broadcast, Sales Coaching Over Coffee,  hosted by Lynn Hidy of Up Your TeleSales, the panel of Dan Waldschmidt, Fred McMurray and myself invested over 30 minutes of the 60 minutes radio show discussing the lack of critical thinking. There appeared to be agreement that solid, reflective, critical thinking was absent because there was too much energy being devoted to the current minute as well as a general reluctance to think.  “Thinking is hard work” as Henry Ford observed years ago.

What I know to be true is those who have honed this leadership skill of writing are for the most part far better thinkers. The more one writes, the better one thinks. The better one thinks the more one writes.  Something magical happens when the pen or even the keyboard is touched.  A connection is made between the fingers and the brain.  Thoughts flow like water provided the brain is continually being pumped.

If you are considering investing in a leadership development program be it through training or executive coaching, you may wish to confirm there will be some writing happening during this learning engagement. Failure to develop writing as a critical leadership skill may become the next Achilles Heel in your small business.



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The Often Overlooked Sales Skill

Just read another article about the top 3 sales skills.  And this one like many of the hundreds of other articles not too mention dozens of books I have read all overlook and even ignore this critical sales skill or capacity.  Possibly,there is an assumption everyone knows this and hence we do not have to mention it or  maybe we just can’t see the forest for the trees?

sales-skillMy sense is like all assumptions, you know making an ass out of you and me, this can be very dangerous.

What I know to be true is the crystal clear clarification of one’s goals; the writing of one’s personal goals; the commitment to take action on one’s goals and the flawless of execution of one’s goals is what separates top sales performers from everyone else. These are indeed the individuals ahead of the flow.  Now there will always be exceptions and if you are one of the top sales performers who does not write your goals down, then congratulations.

Yet I know when I take a written grocery list to the store, I am far more successful. This is also true for people who dutifully plan that coveted 2 week vacation or that impeding wedding.  Planning, the act of thinking, creates far greater success than being Captain Wing It who sprays his or her actions all over the place and then prays something will stick. Sales Coaching Tip:  Using a proven goal setting worksheet along with WAY SMART goals supports you in your forward progress.

So why would sales be any different?

  • Do not salespeople have a sales goal either set by their sales managers or even themselves?

  • Do not salespeople plan their calls?

  • Do not salespeople do their research to overcome sales objections?

Consistent goal planning, setting and achievement is a critical sales skill and not one that should be overlooked. However, because goal setting is not glamorous or even sexy, it is ignored by the many sales coaches, sales experts  and sales trainers.

If you want to increase sales, to experience consistent and possibly even dramatic growth, then consider adopting and sharing a proven goal setting and goal achievement process supported by a proven goal setting worksheet (tool).  You just may be surprised how this one often overlooked sales skill can really improve your bottom line.

Believe it or not!



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Sales Leadership Temperament of Impressionable Part 24

Are you seeking a salesperson who will be influenced by your organization or who may stick around for a while?  Salespeople with this sales leadership temperament of impressionable may fit that bill.

Years ago, people left college and went to work for one company. They became “company men or company women.” Possibly by being impressionable, the organization was better able to enfold them into the corporate culture.  Firms like IBM, GE and the auto industry come to mind.

Individuals with this internal temperament have these biases:

sales-leadershipJust as a quick refresher, the internal temperament is the level of optimism (positive bias) or pessimism (negative bias) people view themselves or their lives.  Even though having an internal neutral bias is preferred, this is not as common as having either a positive or negative bias.

From a sales leadership perspective, individuals with an impressionable temperament may become easily “involved in activities on an experimental or impulsive basis.” This tendency to become quickly involved is because this individual is unable to crystallize his or her own direction or objective. Being unable to have clarity may create some self doubt and uncertainty on the best way to achieve her or his objectives. For example, new hires such as college graduates just entering the job market may have this specific temperament. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

The lack of clarity may result in placing more emphasis, “more importance in how others think of you and your accomplishments since your own guides are unclear.”  This emphasis allows the individual to be influenced or “impressed” by those around him or her. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Just as the words impressionable suggests, individuals with this sales leadership temperament “have  not yet formed clear, definite rules for self-organization.” Additionally given all the uncertainty and lack of clarity, those who are impressionable may have questions in how they want to proceed in life at this moment in time.  All of these factors make such individuals more prone to being influenced by their surroundings.  (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Understanding the internal biases associated with the various decision making styles along with key talents as identified by the Innermetrix Attribute Index does provide greater insight into hiring the right candidate in sales or any other position. To not employ such proven and statistically sound tools when miss hires are so expensive truly does not make sense.

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Muddled Content Marketing Misses the Mark

The 21st Century has changed how people market their businesses. To attract attention today requires this new channel of content marketing.  Yet as in the previous century when paid advertising was King, many of those messages miss the mark and worse yet continue to miss the mark.

content-marketingToday’s customers or clients want not only relevant content, but engagement as well. This can be very time consuming for the single office/home office small business or the small business owner with under 20 employees.

Unfortunately, according to Demand Metric’s Lead Generation Benchmark Report for 2014 released in July of 2014 suggested the most frequent problem (cited by 58% of the participants) with content marketing is “content doesn’t create enough opportunities for interaction and engagement.”  Those firms that use interactive content such as apps, assessments or quizzes have the capacity to generate conversions around 70% compared to passive content at 36%.

Then there is the mark of relevance.

Is your audiences’ value drivers connecting to your message?

Are you writing the same stuff as everyone else especially within B2C or B2B?

The simple question to ask yourself is:

“Why would anyone read my content marketing day after day?

One of the metrics to see if your efforts are worthwhile is to track your number of visits and pages per visit. Back in March of 2010, one month after this blog debut, this site received 1.91 visits per visitor with 2.89 visits per page on 43,700 pages .  Over time, and yes time is a factor, these statistics increased to 6.36 visits per visitor with closer to 4.0 visits per page on 154,078 pages. Additionally during that same time frame, conversions increased as well.

Probably the best way to avoid the muddle of content marketing is to establish an education based marketing  philosophy where you will educate your potential audience.  Education creates attraction because others will want to read what you have written and you can go ahead of the flow by becoming a thought leader in your area of expertise. This approach does require you not to make a sales pitch in your content, but to give, to share your knowledge and perspective with others. If they want a  sales pitch, they can turn on TV, the radio, read the newspaper or get one of those darn pop-ads on the Internet.

Understanding how the channels to attract attention and begin to build relationships has changed can support business growth for your small business. Ignoring how the channels have changed may have you capsized, out of the sales flow and on the bank, high and dry without any new businesses.

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My Balanced Plate

Each day we start fresh with the opportunity to do something, do nothing or do less than something if it is the weekend or our day off. Subconsciously we are pulled in many directions with the “do this” or “don’t do that.” All of this pulling impacts the balanced plate we have mentally constructed in our heads.

balanced-plateJust like the jugglers of the past, we juggle to do items, people, and thoughts what seems like 24/7.  We attempt to keep our plates in balance. Unfortunately even in our sleep we are interrupted with dreams that  may awaken us because we forgot to do something.

Our balanced plate is really more like a piece of pie with special pieces or sections pre-labeled. When we become off balance, we may focus more on one section (intentionally or unintentionally) than another.  (Note: The first person I have discovered who talked about having a balanced plate  or life wheel was  Buddha.)

For example, yesterday I was not feeling well. My headache (physical health) prevented me from reading (mental), answering emails (career) and even took time away from chatting with my husband (family). My plate was indeed off balance.

This past week during a workshop on sales skills, I shared how almost 15 years ago I wrote a goal about going to church.  At that time I was traveling much more than today and weekends were my down time.  Getting up early on Sunday was not something I wanted to do,. Yet, I knew from my past experiences church was important to me. So I wrote a WAY SMART goal, emotionalized it and then applied the necessary critical thinking skills to uncover what was keeping me from going to church.  By taking this action, I have regularly attended church for the last 15 years and miss very few Sundays.  (Using a proven goal setting worksheet helps to keep my life in balance.

Yes we are our own worst enemies or as Pogo said “I meant the enemy and he was me.” By being more intentional about our thoughts and our behaviors along with the actions we do or do not take, we can have a more balanced plate. This does not mean that life  will be smooth. What it does mean we are better equipped to handle many of those off balanced moments.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith
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