Before You Make That Request for a Guest Sales Blog Post

sales-blogToday I received another request for a guest sales blog post.  This individual was from Chicago and said he was a salesperson.  He also indicated he would send me some samples of his writing.

Several times a week I receive unsolicited requests from complete strangers to post an article in this sales blog.  The requests are very polite and all read very similarly.  I wonder if they paid for some course on how to approach blog owners?

Making a request is in all actuality making a sales pitch.  Very few people like sales pitches out of the blue from complete strangers.

People buy from people they know and trust.  If I don’t know you, I am probably quite unwilling to give you the opportunity to use my blog platform as a way for you to gain new business (increase sales), find a job or add to your contact list.

Depending on traffic, this sales blog and website receive an Alexa ranking between 150,000 and 200,000 here in the U.S.  The Worldwide the Alexa ranking ranges currently between 800,000 and 900,000. Given its relatively good traffic with over 152 million blogs on the Internet, unsolicited requests from my perspective suggest these individuals want to use my years of effective content marketing to their advantage.

Several of my colleagues do accept unsolicited articles for their sales blogs provided the author is willing to pay $250 or more.  Their reasoning is the requesting writer wants to use their established content marketing vehicle and therefore should pay for it.

Possibly a better approach would be to reach out to me on LinkedIn and begin to develop a relationship. This is called marketing. Another marketing tactic would be to comment on this blog or some other article I have written such as this one on LinkedIn Pulse, 7 Top Tips to Hire & Keep Rock Star Salespeople.

By reaching out to the owner of any sales blog first before making a sales pitch shows that you respect her or his time. Reading unsolicited writing samples takes time. Time is something all entrepreneurs jealously guard.

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One Sales Strategy to Sell More Homes

Salespeople, good salespeople, continually seek new sales strategies to increase sales.  For realtors or real estate agents, they may be ignoring this sales strategy – For Sale By Owner.

sales-strategyWith well over 75% of all homes not sold by the listing real estate agent, realtors are selling the inventory of other realtors.  This inventory excludes the ever growing marketing of For Sale By Owner.  Yes this market has seen highs and lows as the overall real estate market has experienced.  However it is ripe for the picking as they say.

Some realtors may look at the For Sale By Owner homes as a threat to their incomes. If I was a real estate agent, I would look at these FSBO homes as a viable sales strategy being ignored by other realtors.  These FSBO homes are low hanging fruit.

The challenge is to having the FSBO pay a sales commission.  This is where being a true salesperson comes into play. Here you can share your knowledge about a particular neighborhood or type of home being sold.

My sense is the reluctance to work with FSBO is one of FEAR. What if I work with them and they use me and my knowledge?

F = False     E = Evidence     A = Appearing     R = Real

Welcome to the real world of sales. There is no guarantee in sales.  Maybe this is why the reliance on listing commissions?

A sales scarcity mentality surely will deliver scarce sales in any industry.

Here is where having a simple contract with the FSBO seller is essential.  Discussing fees up front is also important.

Of course not all homes make for a good showing. Some homeowners may require an education about what is needed to sell a house.  A good salesperson would have much of that information in a brochure along with additional resources such as a home inspector, a certified appraiser, mortgage lender, title company to a real estate attorney.

Real Estate Sales Coaching Tip:  Establish key relationships with other professionals

People buy from people they know and trust.  Become the trusted authority within the local FSBO real estate market.  This sales strategy reflects the blue ocean strategy needed to increase sales in today’s every changing residential real estate market.

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Do Realtors Really Want to Sell Homes?

Having been in the process of selling our home, I have come to realize the majority of realtors do not want to really sell a home. No they want to list and then promise how their marketing is different.  This fact is supported by current real estate sales research that suggests nearly 90% of all homes are not sold by the current listing real estate agent.

realtorsListing a home is a guaranteed income if the house sells and is for the most part all the same by all the real estate agents.  I listened to numerous “real estate marketing presentations” and they were basically all the same.

From the marketing reports I received from our realtor, the super majority of interest over 75% was from Zillow.  Percentage wise very little came from or the local real estate association or even the broker’s national multi-listing website. National real estate sales research confirmed that at least 90% of all potential home buyers find their homes on the Internet.

This realization was verified after I called five of the realtors from the direct mail marketing I .  Once I told them our decision to walk the path of For Sale By Owner, 100% of these so called “hungry sales people” indicated they wanted to list the house and were not interested in just “selling the house.”  They maintained this position even after I said we were willing to pay a commission if they sold the home.

One realtor did not realize his conversation was insulting because he presumed we were not working with a qualified real estate attorney.  He said “most of our clients will not work with for sale by owner because of the legal ramifications.”  That may be true, but my sense is his focus creates his reality.

Coming from a true sales background, I always thought selling a home was actually finding a buyer to buy the home and thus make a sale.  Yes finding listings (homes for sale) is just one aspect of real estate sales.  However selling a home from the seller’s perspective is actually finding a buyer for the home.

My advice is to realtors is be careful in your marketing message. More and more buyers recognize there is a difference between listing a home and selling a home.

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Branding, Are You Forgetting the Smaller Picture?

brandFunny thing about branding, most marketing experts work on the bigger picture. And yet where do brands fail? Yep you guessed it, on the smaller picture.

How many times do we hear your call is important to us? 

Our business is now more customer service friendly?

Then we call in and are confronted with numerous push this button or that button to be connected to one of those customer service friendly people.

In business, it is the small actions that make a difference.  This is just as true about branding as it is about every other business operation.

Peter Drucker said a business has two purposes, “marketing and innovation.”  Unless people know about you, your ability to increase sales is dead in the water.

However in today’s world with buyers being far more educated, knowing you becomes a little easier and now there are more opportunities for your brand to shine as a rising star or to plummet to the earth like a falling star.

Regardless of how much money you paid for your “brand,” all that money goes quickly down the drain with one false action of one employee. This is why the emphasis on being greeted at the door upon entering many of the local retail businesses. Or why over 75% of the grocery stores now ask “Do did you find everything?”

All it takes is one unhappy customer to spread the word about how your brand failed them. They will tell far more people about this branding failure than they will tell their friends and family about your excellent customer service.

Your challenge is to contemplate about what small actions you can take as a SMB owner, an executive or even a sales professional to make your brand shine.  When you focus on those small actions, your branding will be far more successful.


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How Boring Are You to Your Sales Prospects?

Boredom is described as the “state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.” (Merriam Webster Dictionary) Boring is the action that creates that state of boredom.  The last thing you want as a salesperson is to bore your sales prospects, yet many still do just that.

sales-prospectsOf course, these sales prospects may be more polite and not tell you they are bored. However with numerous sales leads not converting, there is some boredom happening within the sales conversations from the first marketing interaction to the actual sales presentation.

Same Boring Rapport Building Questions

Much is written about rapport building in sales.  Personally, I find that word, rapport, to be tiresome.  One can build rapport with a dog. What happens is the emphasis becomes on the behavior and not on the person.  We have all heard these boring rapport building questions and inwardly cringe when we experience them ourselves.

Same Boring Fact Finding Questions

“So what keeps you up at night?”  How many times has that boring fact finding question surfaced? Then there is the all too common “What problems are keeping you from moving forward?”

Same Boring Sales Meetings

Sales research from Forrester suggests 80% of sales meetings are a complete waste of time from the executive buyers’ perspectives.  My sense is much of that is due to boredom.

With human beings now having a shorter attention span than a goldfish (source Microsoft), keeping sales prospects and potential ideal customers engaged is truly not easy.  Yet with some due diligence, some risk taking, forward thinking salespeople can reverse that trend.  The question of the day is:

Are you ready to challenge your own sales behavior and stop boring your sales prospects?


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Just Unite Risk & Resolution to Increase Sales

After reading a quote by Tim Riesterer (Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Corporate Visions), I wondered out loud how many salespeople have the ability to increase sales by effectively uniting risk and resolution?

increase-salesAccording to Riesterer, those salespeople who create risk (think pain) and can provide a resolution message within their sales conversations positively impact behavior by 9% compared to risk messages or resolution messages only.

Just think about that statistic. Possibly you have the sales ability to create the risk, but you have failed to connect the risk directly to your resolution message. As they say, how much are you leaving on the table?

Additionally, Riestered said when pairing risk and resolution this combined sales behavior boost emotional responses by 12%.  Since people buy first on emotion, justified by logic, then pairing risk and resolution appears to make logical sales sense especially if the ultimate goal is to increase sales.

Why I found Riesterer comments intriguing was I had just recorded a podcast with David Brock about “Value Creation.” This perspective of risk creation made far more sense to me than the existing sales belief of value creation. Even though our conversation did not dwell on this topic of risk and resolution, I believe it brings a different perspective to this ongoing discussion about value creation.

Listen to our podcast on Value Creation.

The question then goes to how do you as a salesperson create risk and then connect it or pair it with your resolution message without going into the weeds as it has been said? Simplicity is probably the key in this endeavor.

Using numbers may help, dollars even better on both the risk and resolution said. Here is also where whitepapers may help. State the risk of the customer and then immediately pair it to your ROI solution.

To increase sales does suggest we may wish to think a little differently. Uniting risk and resolution is one such different sales behavior. Let me know how it works for you.

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Increase Sales By Remembering This Nugget

With 99% of sales leads not converting per Forrester or if you like 87% not converting per LinkedIn, the ability to increase sales is suffering.  Does this make sense given today’s salespeople have more tools, improved technology and even better development (forget training)?



You think you have:

  • Identified your ideal customer
  • Researched the customer’s industry
  • Kept abreast of current market trends
  • Begun to develop good to great relationships with your customers
  • Met (personally) all the key decision makers

And yet, your goal to increase sales still falls short. You must continually hunt for new sales leads because the ones in your funnel do not convert.

The Nugget

Forrester research also revealed this:

74% of buyers choose a solution provider who has worked with them to provide clarity of vision in walking a path of value

Now some believe this statement refers to value creation and I am not sure. Given the continued failed rate of execution for many business strategies, this ability to bring clarity by uniting the solution to the vision of the strategy makes sense.  From this clarity comes the ability to walk the path of strategy execution which is side by side to the path of value.

What this also means is the salesperson has actively listened to what is important to the buyer beyond the business strategies and goals. He or she can restate in simpler terms what was just said in such as way clarity comes first.  Many times in sales conversations I will say “This is what I heard you say.” Then I restate what I heard. In doing so, I have removed some of the verbal limitations and barriers within the sales lead’s conversation.  Many times, the sales lead will tell me, “Yes that is what I mean. You said it much better and simpler” or “Yes, you got it!”

Clarity or rather lack of clarity is probably the most common sales obstacle and probably the most often ignored one. Just imagine what would happen to your goal to increase sales, if you could just convert 10% more sales leads through this simple action  of clarity?

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The Human Desire to Control the Sales Closing Question

So you reached the end of the sales conversation and now, drum roll, comes the ultimate sales closing question. This one is a sure fire winner. You speak and nothing happens. No reaction, no comment. Now you are scrambling as to what to say.

closing-questionWith today’s buyer’s being far more education,, possibly the tried and true closing question requires a little adjustment?  What worked yesterday may not work today.

For me, I unknowingly applied the Theory of Self Determination within my executive coaching and sales coaching practice. This intrinsic motivational theory developed in the 1970s by Deci and Ryan has three 3 elements. The most important one is autonomy or choice. Mastery and purpose as it relates to other people are the other two.

When we provide our potential ideal customers or qualified sales leads with a choice, there is a greater likelihood for the internal motivational driver to kick in. Of course, this does presume we as salespeople have addressed all  sales objections and uncovered as many stalls as possible.  We have also emotionalized the pain for not taking action.

Now with multiple decision makers within a complex sale this may not be the best sales closing question. However with single decision makers in the SMB marketplace, I have consistently applied this question for over 10 years with a 90% earn or close rate.

What concerns me is the more we attempt to control the end of the sales conversation, the greater the chance of the all knowing ego taking over.  If “sales is the transference of feelings” as noted by Zig Ziglar, then controlling the feelings of others suggests an overly strong ego or even insecurity.

Salespeople who have dotted their “i”s and crossed their “t”s with authenticity should not fear allowing their sales leads to have control.  This attitude works with the “pull sales strategy” where the ideal customer continues to pull you close to them.

If you are having unsuccessful sales efforts, schedule a quick call with Leanne by clicking HERE

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The Only Thing You Can Control in Sales

Sales, wouldn’t it be great if you could control the:

  • Buying decision making process?
  • Competition?
  • Economy?
  • Decision Maker?
  • Sales goals?

Yet reality shows us there is only one thing you can control and that is you.  From you, you can control your:

  • Beliefs and attitudes
  • Actions and behaviors
  • Results

We cannot control how people react to us.  All we can do is control our reaction to other people.

Years ago a colleague, George Richardson, gave me a simple diagram about what was in my control. I continue to use this diagram as I work with my executive coaching and sales coaching clients.

salesWhen we look at the big picture, there is very little we can control and even less what we can influence. Most of our thoughts and actions are directed to what we cannot control.

From this behavior, we begin to experience:

  • Guilt
  • Regrets
  • Self-doubt
  • Stress
  • Weakening of our self-confidence

To restrain our natural tendency to focus on what we cannot control it helps to develop a goal driven sales action plan that is aligned to our purpose, our values, our vision and our current mission.  This way just as a map guides our forward movement toward a predetermined destination we can guide our own beliefs and actions to a destination of our choosing.

When we commit our goals to writing, something magical happens. We have gained greater control. Yes unexpected events may happen. However if we engage in deeper reflective thought, we may identify many of those limitations. When new limitations emerge, we can then reflect about how we can overcome these new barriers to our sales success.

Here is one proven goal worksheet that is unlike most others.

If you want to increase sales, then begin to focus on what you can control. Stop focusing on what is beyond your control unless you enjoy all that worry, stress, self doubt and those extra gray hairs?

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Freedom Is Intrinsic to Our Motivation

Have you ever considered freedom to be intrinsic to motivation? Many times we think of freedom in different terms such as the freedom to walk the streets, the freedom of free speech, etc.

motivationYet if one understands the Theory of Self-Determination, freedom is the authenticity to be one’s self while being responsible to ourselves and others within our community. Choice is infused within freedom.

We chose our behaviors. When we ignore others in the quest to assert our own freedom, we are no longer making responsible choices. We truly are not free.

Autonomy is the ability to make choices.  This intrinsic motivational driver is usually the most difficult one to engage because others make choices for us.  In some instances, this is necessary as with a young child.

When we understand how choices are essential to motivation, parents, managers and even individuals can further expand human potential and consequently performance.

If  you want to learn more about The Theory of Self Determination, this book, Why We Do What We Do, by Edward L. Deci, s a great read and a must read for those in any position of authority including:

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Team Leaders
  • Supervisors
  • Managers
  • Executives
  • Vice Presidents
  • Presidents
  • SMB Owners
  • Sales Professionals
  • Board Members

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

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