In speaking with another salesperson, we were discussing the importance of vision statements. I was asked to provide a sample of a vision statement to increase sales as this small business owner admitted to not having one.
To craft a vision statement simply for increase sales does an injustice to the small business owner to professional sales person because of its narrow line of sight or vision that being only sales. The vision statement by its very definition is the where the person sees his or her small business or individual life in 3 to 5 years. Sales Training Coaching Tip: To extend the time line beyond 3 to 5 years is not wise given how much change is happening on a daily basis.
Within Triage Business Planning as well as the workbooks I have created for my small business and executive coaching clients, I share this short excerpt:
Alice in Wonderland comes across the Cheshire Cat sitting in the tree where there are several paths. She politely asks the Cat which path should I take. The Cat then replies with a question: “Where are you going?” Alice answers: “I do not know.” So the Cat quickly responds: “Well, then any path will take you there.”
An old Chinese proverb stated:
“Vision without action is a daydream, but action without vision is a nightmare.”
The vision statement comes after the purpose statement for your business. Your vision statement looks to the future and describes with specific, crystal clarity a picture of where you see yourself as ultimately heading. A well articulated vision statement clearly describes the desired future, supports consistent goal achievement and governs future decisions; thereby making the decision process far easier for each self-directed leader.
A sample of a vision statement to increase sales which in reality is vision statements for the small business or the individual might be:
- We will be the first call for customers seeking our solutions (products and services) in this small business community
- The first interaction with any customer will be so engaging and exceptional that experience will have the customer returning again and again eagerly looking forward to that next customer experience
- Once someone becomes a customer, he or she will not only be likely to make recommendations about the quality of our small business, but will be so en energized they will personally call their friends and family and share their incredible shopping experiences
To craft a sample of a vision statement to increase sales only is a poor quick fix for sustainable business growth. Invest the time to undertake even a simple strategic thinking process. You just may be incredibly surprised by the results.
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Some in small business as well in sales roles have an action plan to increase sales. What these documents look like probably varies from a couple of scribbles to numerous pages with detailed goals and other documentation. Yet, in most of these written action plans, there must be something missing because of this one ongoing issue:
Lack of clarity as to what each small business does
How do I know this? I just listen.
Think back to the last face to face business to business networking event you attended. How many of those small business professionals could clearly and quickly article what they do in such a way that you wanted to learn more?
What I continue to hear is a lot of stuttering, hems and haws, to almost complete silence or reluctance to describe what these small business owners and sales professionals actually do.
An action plan to increase sales exists for that purpose to increase sales. To be able to realize this goal begins by clearly stating what your small business brings to potential customers. This suggests your response should include:
- Call to action
If your action plan to increase sales is not delivering your desired results, then maybe it is time to step back and determine if the problem starts with how you position your small business and not necessarily your sales action plan.Share on Facebook
Many top sales professionalss to even good salespeople use a sales goal worksheet. These individuals understand the importance of writing down their SMART goal and tracking it. Also they probably have emotionalized the goal so that they recognize the importance of achieving the goal or not achieving it.
What may be missing is investing the time to think about all the known and potentially unknown of what if obstacles. This investment of time is all about applying critical thinking skills within the sales goal worksheet.
Benjamin Bloom years ago created a taxonomy for learning skills that worked with improving critical thinking skills. This can be easily applied to any sales goal worksheet.
Level #1 – Knowledge and includes verbs of action such as list, define, tell
Level #2 – Comprehension and includes verbs of action such as summarize, describe, predict
Level #3 – Application and includes verbs of action such as apply, demonstrate, calculate
Level #4 – Analysis and includes verbs of action such as analyze, separate, order
Level #5 – Synthesis and includes verbs of action such as combine, integrate, modify, formulate as in “what if?”
Level #6 – Evaluation and includes verbs of action such as assess, decide, rank, recommend
Many in professional sales work through the first three levels of Bloom’s taxonomy using a goal sales worksheet.
Where this mental process improves critical thinking skills is through Levels Four to Six.
To be able to leverage the last three levels requires including this element within your sales goal worksheet – Obstacles.
What are the obstacles (analyze) that are keeping you from your goal to increase sales?
As you list each separate obstacle and then formulate a solution may include those “what if?” type questions.
Then once you identify each obstacle and formulate a solution for each obstacle, you must decide and rank the action steps for that solution to overcome that specific obstacle.
When you extend your mental energies to these last three levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, over time you will improve your critical thinking skills while simultaneously achieving your goal to increase sales.
If you are seeking a proven sales goal worksheet, the Results Tool™ may work for you.Share on Facebook
Today if I was employed as someone in sales management, I would create and modify a hiring process that would include this one sales talent assessment tool – The Attribute Index to ensure the hiring would not cost small business sales. For my clients both executive coaching, small business coaching clients and corporate talent management clients as well as for myself, this assessment tool has been beyond accurate. The wealth of information it provides is truly mind boggling given it takes usually 10-12 minutes to complete.
As an individual who is trained to identify or write the best assessments (Master of Science in Instructional Design & Technology), I recognize the reason this particular tool is so accurate is because of its construction. Most sales assessments including personality ones are inductive and subjective in construction much like the social sciences of psychology, sociology, etc. What this means is the statistical reliability runs around .85 or potentially out of 100 people, 15 people will be misidentified.
The Attribute Index is one of the very few deductive and objective in its construction like mathematics, biology or physics. By its listing of 78 key attributes or talents I can see how this person fits within my sales team. Additionally the reliability is .92 or it has reduced by 50% the potential miss reads.
Then within that hiring process, I would give the applying salesperson, The Values Index. Even though this tool is subjective in nature, it does provide some insight as to what motivates the individual.
Next I would assess the person’s emotional intelligence through a Relationship Management assessment. People buy from people and if the salesperson is not emotionally intelligent this becomes a big red flag. Emotional intelligence is also a proven leadership skill.
Finishing up the hiring process, I would provide the DISC Index to assess the person’s communication style. This tool helps salespeople look at their potential sales leads from a different perspective by using their eyes and their ears.
One final and critical point here about hiring smart to increase small business sales.
Please and I repeat please do not just give any proven, such as the ones noted above assessment, without any feedback be it verbal or written from a professional who is certified to administer the assessment. This only sets the potential applicant up for failure as well as the small business owner or sales manager. Now you may better understand why I do not give away any proven and published assessments.
Sure I know some folks do provide free opportunities to take this or that complimentary proven sales assessment or even charge $20 or less. However, my business ethics and knowledge about how assessments can negatively impact individual’s self esteem and begin a cascade event of self doubt that begins to erode self confidence to role awareness prevent me from engaging in those marketing behaviors.
Sales Coaching Tip: Remember whatever proven assessments sales management gives, they must be consistent with all applicants in all stages of the hiring process.
If you have $47 and want a to know about the talents of your sales applicant, this talent assessment may help you increase your small business sales by hiring better.Share on Facebook
There are millions of business and sales blogs to be discovered every day. I personally know of several hundred. In fact, I support some of my professional colleagues who are sales consultants, sales trainers and sales coaches by broadcasting their blogs.
Difference #1 – Target Audience
With 97.7% of all businesses here in this country under 20 employees, my goal is to support the majority not the minority of sales professionals and small business owners. What works for much larger firms may work for smaller firms. However from my own corporate experience more often than not it is attempting to place a square peg in a round hole.
Small businesses do not have separate sales managers or marketing departments. The small business owners usually wear plethora of hats including sales manager and marketing director. Salespeople for those very same firms may often be the customer service department to even the technical department.
This helps to explain why many small business topics are covered because sales does not happen in a vacuum.
Difference #2 – Simplicity of Practical Suggestions
The suggestions as well as observations are from a doing perspective. This is why I share specific and simple examples of bad email marketing to poor sales scripts. Through these experiences, my goal is for you not to make the same mistakes.
Also when I can bring in research and share real time experiences, I bring clarity to the plethora of issues facing small business owners and sales professionals. My wish is for you to take these lessons to heart so that you will improve your own results by challenging your current status quo and then changing it.
Difference #3 – Sales Philosophy
Sales is people buying from people. When we forget that conducting small business, getting people to buy our solutions (products or services), is first and foremost about people, about mutually beneficial relationships, we have lost the sales race before we ever stepped across the starting line. Sales Training Coaching Tip: All selling and sales are social because people buy from people so social selling as some new construct does not exist.
Sure technical sales skills are important. What I have found is being quiet can be just as important. Knowing when to shut up in many instances trumps asking all those open ended questions to turning stalls into objections. Listening, not speaking, is essential because we must hear what is actually being said and probably missed by another salespeople who were so focused on their sales process.
By December 31, 2014, this business and sales blog will exceed 2,000 postings. Not bad given it will be four years old in February of 2014.
Thank you for visiting whether you are a first time reader or have book marked this business and sales blog as part of your weekly or daily reads.
I truly hope you have enjoyed the postings to date whether you agree with them or not. For if we all agreed on everything, there would be far fewer salespeople and small business owners and that would not be beneficial to the marketplace.
P.S. An earlier New Year’s Wish, may 2014 be even better for you and yours than 2013.
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Small business sales are continually pummeled because of bad hires. The small business owners or those in sales management more often than not do not have a formal hiring process. They engage in Captain Wing It behaviors by spraying their hiring actions all over the place and then praying something will stick. And possibly there exists a mentality of there are plenty of salespeople, I can always find one.
- 2009, US employee turnover cost businesses an estimated $300 billion
- The most common reason employees left included boredom, toxic supervision or management, poor cultural fit and misalignment of job descriptions
- Replacement of an employee can range from two to seven times his or her salary
When I retired after 20 years in the corporate world from my role as inside sales manager, my boss called me up one day and said “Leanne I had to hire 3 people to replace you and I still have your customers asking when will you return?”
Sometimes small business owners and those in sales management luck out, hire right and small business sales do improve. These forward thinkers unknowingly have created a proactive culture where input is valued as did my former boss who also was the small business owner. However today, the world is different and there are a plethora of proven hiring tools to help hire smarter and to avoid those bad hires that cost small business sales.
One of the most severe challenges is with 97.7% of all businesses here in the US being under 20 employees, these firms do not have the processes or people that much larger firms have. These processes include:
- Hiring including current job descriptions
- Performance appraisals
- Compensation or rewards
Smart small business owners know that one exceptional salesperson is worth his or her weight in gold. The repetitive dilemma is:
“How do I weed out the bad sales hires from the good ones?”
The next posting will answer this question.Share on Facebook
Understanding our temperaments within our sales leadership activities are just as important as knowing our sales skills or talents. Temperament can be viewed as the degree of optimism, pessimism or neutrality we tend to view the world around use. As individuals, we make choices about how we see things both externally and internally. Those choices can be overly positive (optimism) or negative (pessimism). Additionally, we can view the world with a neutral perspective and that is probably more preferable.
For almost a year through this blog (usually on Tuesdays) I have been sharing specific talents as identified through the Attribute Index. What I have come to learn is the emotional biases we have are potentially even more powerful for us if we wish to change our sales leadership behaviors. Those biases are reflected both in our external and internal decision making. There are a total of 40 temperaments (20 external and 20 internal) that have been identified. Each week I will share one of those biases and what it means.
External Emotional Bias – Pessimistic
When all three external dimensions of thought have a negative bias, the individual’s sales leadership temperament is considered to be pessimistic. What this may suggest is the individual can be “very negative towards emotions.” Possibly something has happened for the individual to have a pessimistic viewpoint. (Source: Innermetrix)
With a negative bias within the people or empathy dimension of thought may indicate “some reluctance, fear or pessimism toward others. You may set an emotional distance between yourself and others, under the guise of professionalism.” (Source: Innermetrix)
The negative bias of practical thinking suggests some “distance from society and a probable lack of motivation from material things.” (Source: Innermetrix)
From the systems judgement perspective, this bias is reflected toward “negative views toward established systems and order. This could possibly even indicate certain levels of rebelliousness. “ (Source: Innermetrix)
An overall pessimistic external emotional bias can be expressed as a general ” negativity toward the world which could results in detached or negative responses to external factors like people, tasks or systems.” (Source: Innermetrix)
Where I have seen this within sales leadership roles is when salespeople are in a hostile environment, where there is limited support from sales management and when there is significant inconsistency in the processes as well as relationships. Usually with changes to address poor management to inconsistent processes, this bias can quickly be changed.
If someone was in the process of being hired and demonstrated this bias, my recommendation would be to ensure the interview questions look to uncover the source of the bias as it could be a carry over from the previous job. Or if a current employee had such a pessimistic bias, I would recommend determining what was causing this perspective and what changes could I make as the sales manager, small business owner or C Suite executive to work with this employee.
P.S. Read this white paper of a Disuptive Employee who had an external negative bias.
To learn your external bias along with your external and internal decision making styles plus 78 key attributes or talents consider investing in this talent assessment.Share on Facebook
During birthdays and Christmas, many parents are confronted with assembling outside swings, bicycles to other toys. In many cases, frustrations and tempers increase proportionately to how poorly written or how poorly read the instructions are.
For those in sales leadership roles, following directions may also contribute positive or negatively to the ability to secure the desired results as in increase sales. One immediate example is the submission of formal proposals, request for quotations (RFQ) or what I prefer to call statements of work. Even if the request is simple, the directions must be followed.
How many sales proposals have been lost because someone failed to follow instructions or “dot the i’s and cross the t’s?”
According to Innermetrix, following directions is “The ability to effectively hear, understand and follow directions or instructions. It is the willingness of an individual to postpone making personal decisions, or taking action, until they have openly listened to do what they are being asked to do.”
The three (3) key words for this sales leadership talent are:
- Hear (effectively)
- Understand (postpone making personal decisions)
- Follow (do)
Those who consistently demonstrate this talent “will tend to complete a task with less direct supervision then someone with a lower score (depending on the quality of the instruction). It is less an indication of the person’s ability to understand or comprehend instructions, and more a sign of their willingness to adhere to the instructions as they were given…regardless of their personal opinions about how they ‘think’ the task should be accomplished.” (Source: Innermetrix)
When salespeople fail to demonstrate this sales leadership talent it may suggest “difficulty completing tasks according to the directions.” This failure revolves around a personal feelings (assumptions) that intellectually I:
- Understand the instructions
- Do not need additional input
- Can make an adequate decision
For additional clarity, failure to follow directions is about discounting “outside instructions” and relying on one’s “own innate abilities…regardless of competency.” (Source: Innermetrix) Here is where the super ego may come into play and why those in sales leadership role need to understand how this relatively simple talent can have dramatic impact of their sales effectiveness.
If you wish to increase sales, then ask yourself these three (3) questions:
- “How well do I consistently follow directions?”
- “Do I ignore instructions because I do not need additional input?”
- “Am I making the best decisions?”
The Attribute Index is a talent assessment that measure this sales leadership talent of following directions along with 77 other key talents or attributes.
If you wish to learn how this assessment changed the behavior of a disruptive employee, then visit this blog under assessments.
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Free, in marketing small business sales messages, has always been a hook to attract attention and even earn potential customers or at least secure their email addresses, roles and names of companies. For example, I provide a free leadership audit.
Effective (meaning results driven) small business coaches, sales coaches, talent management or organizational development consultants have made considerable investments of time, energy, money and emotions. They willingly share how to do something, but if a reader or a potential sales lead wants a specific tool, direct instruction or advice, then that person must pay for his or her wants. This paying is called a transaction and that is what makes small business sales.
When you walk into your local grocery store, gasoline station, Walmart, J.C.Penney or Tiffany & Co. do you expect to walk out, merchandise in hand without paying for it?
Why should small business sales especially business to business (B2B) be any different?
Recently a visitor to this blog after reading this posting on How to Write an Action Plan to Increase Sales left the following comment:
“Why do lead people to believe you help them, then want to charge for information or worksheets you believe will change their lives. Your perceived credibility does not exist, so be honest from the start. Your not helping just attempting to line your own pockets and not being clear about that from the start. Poor very poor”
If you read the blog, everything was there as far as how to write an action plan. What this individual failed to realize is there is a difference between the “How” and the “Do” of anything. My sense is he wanted someone to “do” meaning actually write the action plan to increase sales and then he could download it for free.
I did respond to this individual because he raised several points that required attention.
“Simon – If you read the page, there was a free leadership audit. Calls to action are part of any marketing. I am aware of very few marketing messages that provide free products or services.
I do not give my book away nor the tools I have created from my years of experience.
Free is not valued. People for the most part do not see the reason to take action if something is free.
There is so much free stuff on the web. So why do people continue to seek answers already present?
For my clients, they do receive far more than what I receive in payment. I am a generous person, but I am also a capitalist.
Free does not pay my bills.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and may 2014 be even better for you than 2013.”
My response addressed the real reason why free fails in small business sales because there is plenty of free stuff on the Internet. So why are people still seeking answers to what already exists?
They seek because they want the quick fix!
What was interesting to note that within 24 hours after posting the above article, I actually had someone buy the goals worksheet without any negative remarks. And I provided that individual with an added bonus.
There are no quick fixes for small business sales, for professional or personal development. Yes you can probably find all the free answers, but that takes time. So paying for the tools, the advice, the books, etc. of others is all about saving you time and time is money. That money is being earned by those who have already invested thousands of dollars and who are willing to share their knowledge with you.
P.S. This week’s business blog for the Sun Times/Post Tribune, I provide the how of determining what marketing channels deliver increase sales. I even suggested using an Excel spreadsheet. What I know to be true even though I provided the how, very few people will actually do,
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We have all heard about verbs and how to conjugate them.
- Write your SMART goals down
- Speak with positive words and thought
- Lead others
- Demonstrate emotional intelligence
- Be the Red Jacket in the sea of gray suits (I just had to throw that one in)
Yet, do these verbs really prompt action or are they more like a leadership command that is to be heard and potentially obeyed?
There is a gap between a verb and the action implied within the verb.
This is why I believe that when we add “ing” to any verb we increase the power of the verb because we have built a bridge between the verb and the implied action. For example when we add ‘ing” to the above examples we are now in specific leadership action because we are:
- Writing our SMART goals down
- Speaking with positive words and thoughts
- Leading others
- Demonstrating emotional intelligence
- Being the Red Jacket in the sea of gray suits
Sometimes it is the most simple actions we undertake as leaders that have the most profound and significant impact.
By changing how we look at life, what we look at does change. And those changes support us in our daily leadership roles.Share on Facebook