Ever wonder why so many people are venturing into being solo entrepreneurs or SMB owners? Beyond the obvious advantage of being your own boss, my sense is these folks have witnessed great salespeople who make selling look easy.
Just hop over to LinkedIn and scan a few profile summaries. Immediately you will see a difference between those who understand sales and those who think they understand sales.
Sales is simple. Someone called a buyer has a want or need and someone else called a seller has a product or service to fit that want or need. Pretty easy, well not so much so.
Social selling has only reinforced this notion that selling is easy. Sure you can buy Twitter followers or make a zillion posts on Facebook and when you measure the results, what do you discover?
People buy from people they know and trust. To create that knowing and trusting persona takes time, energy, money and emotions. Great salespeople are willing to make those investments.
Just as in leadership, great sales people are made not born. They develop over time. These forward thinking sales leaders are self directed toward continuous improvement themselves by honing their knowledge, talents and sales skills.
Through the years I have had the opportunity to meet truly great salespeople who understood “sales is the transference of feelings.” (Zig Ziglar). From them I learned what to do and what not to do.
My sense of selling is authentic, laid back and I have crystal clarity as to who my ideal target market is. Yes some of my clients do not fit my ideal customer profile, however over time more often than not they do grow into that role.
If you want to have sales success, then look to follow, listen and learn from those who have sales success. Be willing to accept their is no quick fix for sales success and you will be nearly half way to your own success.
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LinkedIn for B2B professionals does matter. For the last few years I have been conducting my own private research and learned, at least for me, the top 5 reasons why people ask to be connected.
The super majority of people (nearly 60%) send me invitations because I have engaged with them or with one of their connections. Since LinkedIn changed its groups policies, these engagements are overwhelmingly from update posts. Prior to this change, the invitation outreach was through groups.
Additionally within this reason for connection, I have included those profiles I have visited. When a second or third degree connection has visited my profile, I usually return the visit. In quite a few instances, I will then receive an invitation to connect.
#2 LinkedIn Pulse Articles
Even with all the people publishing on Pulse, my articles still continue to drive a significant amount of invitations to my In Box. Right now approximately 25% of all LinkedIn invitations are because of these articles. What I have also observed is quite a few people within this community will follow me first and then extend an invitation to connect. Content marketing for B2B is a proven marketing method for attracting attention and beginning to build relationships.
#3 Direct Outreach
Sometimes either through a personal one on one meeting, I will receive an invitation to connect or I will send an invitation. These invitations represent around 7%. Also within this group are those who are connected to one of my first degree connections and believe it may make sense to connect with me as well.
As my network has grown, I have begun to see an increase in referrals from other colleagues. Those within my existing contacts also have made suggestions for others to connect with me. Where in the past this percentage was nominal, today it also hovers around 5%.
Finally, around another 3% of my connections now originate from LinkedIn’s suggestions to connect. This is the smallest percentage. And for me has always been the smallest percentage.
For those engage in social selling or better yet social marketing, then it makes sense to be engaging on LinkedIn. Share the update posts of others. Comment on those posts. My other suggestion is to keep track of those who visit your profile, research their profile to determine if an invitation to connect is warranted.
P.S. Please make sure your LinkedIn Profile is complete and engaging. Many profiles turnoff more sales leads or prospects than they turn on. And no you do not have to accept all invitations.
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How many times do those in B2B or even B2C industries fail to understand customer service is sales. A new report just released by Astound Commerce through secret shoppers recognized seven retailers who excel in customer service through:
- Must have website
- Overall customer service
- Speed of delivery
- Efficiency of checkout
One of the top seven performers was The Home Depot. I know from personal experience this firm understands how serving the customers within the store will increase sales. Here in Valparaiso IN, the store has hired certified and licensed electricians, plumbers and carpenters to assist customers with their questions. Even though my husband is an engineer, he has been advised by these professional tradesmen of better ways to do home improvement as well as some of the new products.
For example, toilets for years had a wax ring that attached to the bottom of the toilet and closet flange. Over time the wax dries out and cracks. Several years ago through the plumber at Home Depot, my husband learned of a neoprene boot that is attached to the bottom of the toilet and then fits past the closet flange. The end result is a far better seal and one that does not not replacement. The cost of a wax ring under $5.00 versus the cost of the neoprene boot around $15.00. Husband spent $30 instead of $10 has he replaced not just one wax ring, but two.
Today I read Home Depot’s quarterly earning were ahead of expectations. Much of this was due to improved housing market and I also believe much was due to increase sales by loyal customers.
All SMBs have a 7-step-sales-process-advsys Within these 7 steps are third phases:
The third and final phase of keeping is one where both salespeople and customer service people work to keep those loyal customers.
Yes customer service is sales and if as a SMB owner or sales professional you forget this simple fact, you may be exposing yourself decreasing sales, declining profits and increasing stress.Share on Facebook
Noted sales expert Zig Ziglar said an “attitude is a habit of thought.” If we apply his definition to what makes a great sales attitude, the response will be various habits of thought.
These attitudes can be observed through sales behaviors that are supported through various talents. When these talents are combined, they turn into sales skills.
Since each salesperson is a unique individual, he or she will demonstrate a different sales attitude. For example, being able to sell is many times based upon the talent of persuading others. Two behaviors for this talent might be:
- A behavior is to have someone change his or her mind
- A behavior is to demonstrate emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence begins with a habit of thought. Emotionally intelligent people have the attitude of recognizing and understanding the emotions of others; recognizing and understanding their own emotions and then being able to manage both. These individuals do not engage in reactionary, emotional behavior.
Another talent might be personal drive. Here the salesperson completes given tasks on time and is always challenging himself or herself to learn something new. These are the salespeople who have a sales attitude to challenge the status quo.
A great sales attitude looks different for each salesperson. However what is not different are the results. These results are reflected by increase sales, high percentage of sales conversions to a continually filled sales pipeline.
Just think about the possibilities specific to your sales results if you could learn your 78 key talents and improve how you make decisions? Would you increase sales? Would you have less stress?
Now is the time early in the 2017 sales year to take advantage of this special opportunity until 3/31/2017 to not only learn those 78 key talents (Attribute Index), but your communication style (DISC Index) and what motivates (Values Index) you to increase sales.Share on Facebook
Yesterday a colleague, Mark Hunter, came across one of his articles being plagiarized by a fairly well connected LinkedIn member. He notified a group of other sales coaches, sales consultants and colleagues about this plagiarism. The group responded and not even 24 hours later, this particular article as well as all other articles under this person’s name were removed.
I too have suffered from plagiarism. A sales training company in Texas took one of my website pages one for word and copied it to their own website. When I notified the CEO, he called and said he was unaware, apologized and the copy was removed. The CEO blamed the web designer. Over the years I have discovered other blog postings copied and have called out the authors.
Individuals who plagiarize the intellectual capitol of others demonstrate from more than dishonesty within their business ethics. They also reveal they are lazy, lack creativity and are stupid to think eventually they will not be caught.
A recent study by the University of Missouri revealed the financial impact of dishonesty by CEOs. Unethical behavior does translate to the bottom line to a measurable 4.1% loss in shareholders’ value.
In today’s social selling world where content marketing has become a viable sales leads generating channel, being a plagiarist just does not make good business sense. The reason is simple, in spite of how large the world is, it is still a small world. People are connected to other people. Software programs can find duplicate content with the stroke of a few keys.
One of the more simple ways to avoid even unintentional plagiarism is to Google the title for any content marketing in quotes. This way the you can quickly determine if another person has written a similar article. Also this same tactic can be used to learn if your titles are being plagiarized by someone else.
In sales, people buy from people they know and trust. Swiping the intellectual capital of others will not increase sales.Share on Facebook
One of my colleagues, George Richardson, shared this quote by a Dr. Nancy Synderman “Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice” with me nearly 20 years ago. These words are so true especially for those in any professional role including salespeople, executive coaches, consultants, leadership and management.
How many times do those in any of these roles of sales, executive coaching, leadership training or even management prescribe a solution without a formal or even informal diagnosis? Maybe this is why so many are thrilled with the quick fix and yet are dissatisfied with the results?
Yes an effective diagnosis is an investment of time, money and energy. However the rewards far exceed the investment especially when one examines all the “redos” from bad prescriptions (solutions). Possibly the ongoing issue of failed execution is because of poor to non-existent diagnosis.
With the outsourcing marketplace continuing to expand, there is a whole influx of executive coaches and consultants. Many of these individuals hang out their hats without any formal training or the use of any formal and proven tools. They diagnosis and potentially are committing malpractice.
What ends up happening at least from my experience is other experienced executive coaches and consultants (results driven) must first undo all their poorly designed solutions. The client is now 20 yard behind where he or she started because of the previous coach’s bad solution.
Then there are those in executive leadership and management roles who make reactionary decisions based on their gut or what they think needs to be done. The authors of Fail-Safe Leadership share a great vignette about a CEO who wants to increase sales. What happens is each of his executive team take contrary actions that create further misalignment and potentially decreases sales.
When my executive coaching or consulting sales leads balk at taking a proven psychometric assessment or cultural assessment, I present this scenario.
Imagine you are going to your doctor because of a headache. You tell the doctor why you are there and he or she immediately prescribes brain surgery without any examination of you including an Xray, MRI, blood work tests, etc. What would you do? The answer usually is run out the door and seek another opinion.
So why would you engage in any solution without verifying what is really happening?
Misguided decisions create misdirected actions also known as failed execution. To avoid this all to common situation, make sure before embarking on any solution (prescription), you have taken the time to invest in a proven assessment (diagnosis). You will be glad you did.
Did you know you can measure 78 key attributes or talents? The Attribute Index is one of the most accurate and proven psychometric assessments for individuals who truly wish to know what they do well.Share on Facebook
In sales many seek the quick fixes that range from sales training, incentives, hiring new sales managers, new salespeople or some motivational speaker. Yet in a few days to a few weeks, the sudden burst of sales productivity gradually returns to its pre-quick fix levels.
In the story Alice in Wonderland, Alice approaches the Cheshire Cat sitting in a tree. At the foot of the tree are various paths. Alice asks the Cat “What path should I take?” The Cat responds with “Where are you going?” Alice states “I don’t know” and the Cat then replies “Well any path will take you there.”
Clarity is essential in sales, in business and in life. If you don’t know where you are going with crystal clear clarity, you will end up taking the wrong path.
Many SMB owners and C Suite executives in their efforts to increase sales confuse symptoms with problems. They believe lack luster sales are the problem when in reality the poor sales are usually a symptom of one or more problems. All of these problems return to a lack of clarity. Without clarity there is incredible miss direction and misguided decisions.
For the last almost 20 years I have been working with SMB owners and sales professionals. Given that most have never invested the time to determine where they are going; how they are going to behave and what they are going to do in the immediate future to get to where they are going, I am not surprised by the inability to increase sales or sustainable business growth.
The lack of clarity is the reason for executive coaching. These professional coaches look to support their clients in gaining crystal clear clarity.
Years ago I wrote an eBook entitled Triage Business Planning with this message on the front cover:
Know Exactly What to Do and When to Do It.
Track the Right Things to Produce the Right Results Avoid Misdirected Actions and Misguided Decisions.
If you have any hesitancy when reading the previous words, then you probably lack crystal clear clarity and may be subject to the temptation of quick fixes.Share on Facebook
Salespeople invest a lot of time lighting up sales prospects and yet it appears many are hiding those sales leads. We know this to be true given how few times on average salespeople follow-up with new sales leads.
44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up (Source: Scripted)
Does it make sense to do all that work especially if you are a SMB owner in a firm of fewer than 20 employees or a salesperson employed in a similar SMB? How much time and time is money is wasted?
Sales prospecting is truly about providing light to people who are in the dark about:
- Your firm
- Your solution
Additionally, these sales prospects may also be in the dark about their own problems. Many in business cannot separate the symptoms from the real problems. This becomes a competitive advantage for top sales performers.
Sometimes all those sales leads become stuck in the middle of the sales funnel or what I prefer the sales tunnel. This is also akin to putting them under a bushel basket because in the middle of the tunnel it is very dark. What helps to keep flowing through the sales tunnel is a proactive contact process. A good CRM like Pipeliner CRM works with SMB firms as it does not require a CRM administrator saving the SMB thousands of dollars in salary and benefits.
When salespeople understand their marketing is about shining a light, their light, they are able to attract sales prospects to them. Then they understand the must keep this light shining until the sales prospects buy.
Consider signing up for this monthly newsletter that continues to challenge the status quo.Share on Facebook
Most sales training programs look to the sales fact finding process. This process usually involves asking open ended questions as well as doing some research before actually meeting with the sales lead or prospect.
Today through the Internet, there is a wealth of information available to assist salespeople in this fact finding research. Yet one area that is often overlook is the “social history” of the prospect’s organization.
For current sellers looking to sell deeper into the organization, the social history is how did the seller’s firm originally connect with the buyer’s organization. A new seller would look to not only how did other firms connect with the prospect, but who else does he or she know at the existing firm.
LinkedIn can assist with some of this fact finding data. With its recent sale to Microsoft what was available for free such as advanced search now is only available through the paid subscription service. However, with some due diligence this information can be gathered by connecting with other people at the prospect’s organization.
My sense is through your fact finding quest you will probably discover the two or three people who had the first established relationship. This relationship then transcended through other people in the organization. In some instances, the relationship can be several decades old if not older.
The social history of any business is essential because it provides clarity as to what was valued by the original buyer and seller. This clarity can support further sales efforts including prospecting to keeping loyal customers loyal.
Possibly any SMB may wish to begin to construct their own social history through their CRM. This could be a simple sheet showing the various people involved in the sales buying decision directly or indirectly.
Yes sales fact finding is important. By adding social history to your fact finding process may just give you the competitive edge you need to earn that next sale.Share on Facebook
Yesterday I heard Nikolaus Kimla, CEO of Pipeliner CRM, make this very insightful statement:
“Recommendations are the sales currency of the future.”
He is so right in that people buy from people they know and trust. Recommendations or testimonials reaffirm that trust bridge between the buyer and the seller.
Just recently in working with a sales coaching client, one of the salespeople said the reason a new patient came to their office was because of the written along with the video testimonials on their website.
SMB owners, salespeople and those in the C Suite have the opportunity right now to get ahead of the flow and start gathering all those recommendations and testimonials. Yet how many in sales actively leverage this sales currency by just asking for recommendations?
Sales Coaching Tip: The third phase and final phase of the 7-step-sales-process-advsys is “Keeping” where people ask for recommendations as well as sales referrals.
The value of recommendations go beyond some positive words. In many instances recommendations generate sales referrals. This is what some in the past would call the “mother lode.”
Right now jump over to LinkedIn and look at your recommendations received and more importantly given. Do you make it a priority to give authentic recommendations?
If you think recommendations lack sales currency, how many times do you read the online product or business reviews? Those are rated recommendations. Have you ever bought or not bought because of these reviews?
To increase sales requires being ahead of the flow as well as of knowing where the flow is going. Leveraging recommendations can propel your business ahead of the flow while increasing your sales currency.
Doesn’t it make good business sense to undertake those actions now in the present?
Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Clarity Strategist 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.Share on Facebook