The road or path to sales success is not free of roadblocks, obstacles or challenges. Being a top sales performer requires clarity as to what and where those roadblocks exist.
For the sake of simplicity, these barriers to you being a top sales performer are either external or internal.
Now much is written about the external barriers such as specific sales skills, sales process, the changing buying trends, the volatile marketplace, the culture of the small business, etc. All of these may impede your forward progress.
However, far less is written and discussed with the same emphasis and priority as to your internal barriers that truly limit your potential in becoming that top sales performer.
Your internal barriers are your greatest roadblock to your ability to increase sales.
What self imposed limitations have you embraced without knowing?
For example, if your schedule is chaotic, when have you invested the time to make a decision and take action to analyze the situation? Time management is a big issue for many people. When you allow the outside world to control your inability to manage yourself, this is an internal roadblock. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Time management is an oxymoron as no one can manage a constant. Time management is really 100% self management.
Another example would be If you believe you do not need additional knowledge or that you don’t have time to learn, this is an internal obstacle.
Fears in many cases are false evidence appearing real as I noted earlier this week in a personal story. Have you mentally worked through the fear roadbloack of what is keeping you from moving forward or are you allowing it to control your life, your ability to increase sales?
Your beliefs are internal and they drive your actions (behaviors) generating your results.
To become a top sales performer demands you invest the tine to identify those beliefs; gain crystal clarity as to your own talents along with your purpose; and then construct a plan with aligned goals and detailed action steps to overcome those roadblocks. Sales Training Coaching Tip: A positive affirmation statement or what I call a positive belief statement can support you in this endeavor.
If you sales are not where you want them to be, then consider investing some time to identify your internal roadblocks limiting not only your ability to be a top sales performer, but overall sales success.
LinkedIn is a great marketing tool and works to achieve sales success. This webinar, LinkedIn Contacts, Your Competitive Advantage, on Thursday, June 27, 2013 from 10-11am CDT is designed to provide you with greater knowledge about how you know have or will shortly have your own powerful CRM system. In respecting your time, there is a small registration fee of $9.97 as seating is limited.
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Not a day goes by that another thousand plus articles are written about sales tactics. Yet, the potential damage from these types of articles is two-fold:
- The salesperson believes this is the only way to ask questions, the best closing techniques, etc.
- Presume the sales tactics are linked to specific sales strategies
President Eisenhower said “Plans are worthless; planning is everything.” If we put his words into sales speak, we might have this quote:
“Sales tactics are worthless; sales strategies (thinking) is everything.”
Selling is indeed situational. How one executes the sales strategy is dependent upon that person’s personality, experience as well as target audience and industry. Execution is another word for tactics.
When entrepreneurs, small business owners and sales professionals begin with the strategies or have invested considerable time to out think the competition, then this provides the opportunity for clarity. When crystal clear clarity is achieved hitting the target happens with greater frequency thereby increasing both the efficiency and effectiveness of all sales directed efforts including marketing and selling.
Consider assessing your sales activities and determine if you are confusing sales tactics with sales strategies. If so, then set aside some time to develop those sales strategies that will defeat your enemies (think competitors). Finally, allow your sales team to collectively or individuals determine the best sales tactics to secure those predetermined strategies.
Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who disrupts the status quo by discovering new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses; those who wish to grow beyond their current employees and executives in chaos. She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.
Leanne is recognized as one of the Top 25 Sales Influencers in 2013 by Open View Sales Labs.Share on Facebook
Have you ever met a double jointed person or someone who appears to be absent of any bone structure? These individuals can bend and twist their bodies into unbelievable positions. Many in sales also share this talent of flexibility.
In selling, these salespeople demonstrate this sales leadership talent of flexibility not with their bodies, but with their brains and minds. They can respond to change with little personal resistance as well as quickly integrate and modify new opportunities. Being in lock step or married to an idea is not how they view repetitive situations and can “change direction without significant stress or pressure.” (Innermetrix)
Top sales performers who demonstrate this sales leadersip talent of flexibility “tend to be open to change, flexible in how they approach situations and open to bending or changing direction when required. They do not become dogmatic about the approach they are taking. They can be persuaded to change approach without requiring tremendous force or causing significant stress to themselves to do so. Chaos is not the enemy to people with high scores in this area. They are not averse to playing it by ear or winging it.” (Innermetrix)
Conversely those who may not be good to even great salespeople are inflexible to change. Change is not their friend. These individuals “prefer a controlled and stable environment that allows for consistency and predictability. Constant change can be seen as chaotic and not productive. People with very low scores in this area (e.g. below 5.0) can become dogmatic about their approach. To change that approach requires either a lot of evidence to the contrary or will create higher levels of stress internally.” (Source Innermetrix)
As noted previously, the sales leadership talent of flexibility is very much related to one’s ability to manage stress. The more flexible one is to change, to dealing with chaos, the less stress that person may potentially experience. And with small business in today’s marketplace generating a lot of chaos, doesn’t it may sense to develop this sales leadership talent of flexibility?
P.S. Speaking of flexibility, being open to change, LinkedIn has updated its Contact Section. This update creates your own personal CRM system. Register for this webinar on Thursday, June 27, 2013 from 10-11am CDT, LinkedIn Contacts – Your Competitive Advantage, There is a small registration fee ($9.97) as seating is limited.Share on Facebook
A malady is an unwholesome condition (Webster’s 7th Edition New Collegiate Dictionary). In small business sales, this condition seems plentiful. And worse yet, the malady is usually misdiagnosed because the small business owner to entrepreneur to C Suite executive believes the bad condition resides in the salesperson. The reality is the malady resides in the leadership of that small business.
Poor sales, lackluster sales, the inability to increase sales, call it what you will is in many cases a symptom and not the root problem.
After observing from my 20 plus years of corporate experience and now my 15 years of being an executive coach and enterprise consultant, I can attest at least 75% of the times I am called to discuss small business sales within 15 minutes I realize here is another small business where the malady is not within the sales team.
For example, there may be poor or inconsistent marketing. Then there is always the issue of communicating the top goals of the small business. No written job descriptions or performance appraisals along with other policies usually appear. Of course we cannot forget the leader failing to take action on poor performance and creating a culture of enablement to mistrust. Rewards also may be misaligned. Finally, the lack of any cohesive strategic plan including marketing and sales is usually present. Sales Training Coaching Tip: The 5 Star Model by Galbraith is a great way to understand how to avoid misalignment and confuse symptoms as problems especially when it comes to small business sales.
To ensure the best application of your limited resources, then it may make sense to have an assessment conducted on you as the leader and even one on your small business. The organizational assessment can be as simple as one question. To proceed forward without any assessment is foolhardy.
So if small business sales is an ongoing malady for you, then consider switching your focus or perspective away from your sales team and look within yourself. Demanding your sales team to sell more will create only additional frustration and may leave you without some very good salespeople.
P.S. LinkedIn’s update to its contact feature may become your competitive advantage. Learn more about this update during this webinar on Thursday, June 27, 2013 from 10-11am CDT. This is a small registration fee of $9.97 because seating is limited.Share on Facebook
Those within the executive coaching field talk about the necessity to “push through the fear” of what is holding you back. Of course, it makes sense first to identify that fear. So let me share my personal story of how I pushed through my own fear.
This past week, I had to push through my fear of needles. Actually this fear was truly a huge phobia. Just talking about getting a shot or scheduling some blood work would quickly increase my blood pressure and heart rate. In some instances, any long discussion and the tears would begin to fall.
As a child back in the 1950s, I was quite sickly and had penicillin shots on a regular basis. In fact one Christmas Eve, my family doctor made a house call. I remember him along with my mother chasing me through our home to give me a shot.
Over the years, this phobia of needles grew and even getting a shot in my arm was traumatic. I had to mentally talk to myself during the entire process. For my brain at that moment registered a very small syringe and small needle, but my mind saw that huge glass syringe and very large needle from my childhood perspective. Here was a prime example of False Evidence Appearing Real.
So when it came time to extract an infected tooth, I received a referral from my dentist to go to oral surgery. Up to this point in time, I never had any needle near my mouth. Heavens forbid! So I called the oral surgeon to schedule an appointment and confirm the cost. Five years ago I had a tooth extracted and the cost was around $400.
When I learned the cost had jumped to nearly a $1,000 ($500 alone for the anesthetic), my common sense took hold. I realized now was the time to push through the fear. Being older, I reasoned this was probably not the last tooth to be extracted. My husband’s dentist had pulled two of his teeth with no ill effect. So I met with him and scheduled the extraction.
During our consultation, I learned my fear of needles was common and also learned there is a greater fear of dentists. To me the fear of dentists is quite ridiculous.
After wearing braces for 8 years as a teenager and again another year as an adult, fearing dentists was never a problem. All my cavities had been drilled without any Novocain due to my fear of needles. Maybe I am fortunate in that I have a fairly strong tolerance to pain. Who knows?
I figured I would have my husband’s dentist due to the extraction that way if something went wrong I would not have negative feelings about my own dentist of nearly 50 years. Beyond the fear of needles, I am practical if nothing else.
So after agreeing to place a towel over my closed eyes, the dentist who was very skilled gave me the shot and I only felt a minor pinch. I did sense the Novocain being pushed through the syringe. The dentist waited extra long before engaging in the extraction. Once again the towel went over the closed eyes and within a few minutes, though it did seem much longer, the tooth was successfully removed. And yes during the entire process I mentally talk to myself to keep myself calm especially during the waiting time for the Novocain to take affect. However the process was not nearly as bad as I had envisioned.
Now looking back through my own personal story, I realize my fear or better yet my phobia was 100% false evidence appearing real. And this was the right time to push through the fear because how could I tell others to push through the fear when I allowed such a small fear to keep me from moving forward?
Yes at some point in time many of us must push through the fear of what is holding us back. So the next time you may need to push through your fear or fears, remember this personal story. If I can overcome a 50 plus year fear, you can overcome yours.
P.S. I am still not fond of needles, but I now know I can handle them much better than in the past.Share on Facebook
Much is written about the various characteristics or traits within a particular leadership style such as servant leadership, inspirational or the more traditional ones of authoritative to transactional. However very little is written about matching those leadership styles within the different business growth stages.
For example, in the initial business growth stage, Turned On, where there are one to four employees, entrepreneurs and small business owners must be decisive. This is not the time to be afraid or to make willy nilly decisions.
As the enterprise grows to five to 19 employees, the leadership style changes and now is heuristic. Here is this second stage of business growth, Transitional, the founder or CEO must guide all employees to be the best they can be and this propels the organization forward to the third business growth stage of Transformational.
During this final stage for firms with 20-49 employees, the leadership style is inspirational. Here the small business owner or entrepreneur has the team behind him or her allowing time to inspire others in thinking about new opportunities.
Within the different business growth stages, the leadership style is not 100%. There is one primary style that is supported by two other styles.
Stage One – Turned On
Stage Two – Transitional
Stage Three – Transformational
When small business owners and entrepreneurs along with executive coaches and organizational consultants realize the business growth stages change the leadership style, then maybe more sustainable results may be achieved. For one style does not fit all in leadership especially when it comes to intentional business growth.
P.S. With 95.4% of all US businesses according to the US Census Bureau having 49 employees or less, these three business growth stages reflect that majority.
Leanne Hoagland-Smith is recognized as one of the Top 25 Sales Influencers in 2013 by Open View Sales LabsShare on Facebook
Being what some considered to be a seasoned sales professional and small business owner (translation I am old), I still find it amusing when individuals write about this subject of being full of yourself or being full of sh*t.
When examining the three (3) sales buying rules, they share these commonalities:
Who trusts anyone that is continually blowing his or her own horn?
The Look at Me, Listen to Me quickly becomes a broken record.
Social media allows you to quickly identify that record title by those always promoting their blogs or articles in discussion groups or always posting about their solutions.
Good sales people listen first, listen second and maybe around point seven they finally speak. When they speak, the other person truly listens.
Those who blow their own horn are quickly identified.
Earlier today I posted about how social media works and presented my own personal examples. Now some may think this is being full of ones’ self. However those who regularly read this blog know that is not the case. My call to action at the end of the posting is for the readers to reach out and connect with the other 24 top sales influencers.
Recently I have listened to several sales people whose conversations are peppered with the word “I.” Their egos are about 10 steps ahead of their own physical presence. Internally I am smiling when I am exposed to these individuals because I know they are like falling stars that shine brightly for a few moments and then come crashing down to earth. Ouch!
After all these years, being full of yourself in sales or life is not sustainable unless your community is full of other individuals who are also full of themselves for like minded people congregate with liked minded people.
If you want sales success, the simple advice is to be authentic, to listen and finally just be valuable. By heeding these words, you will be viewed as a person of integrity and eventually recognized as someone who is credible and worthy to earn the sale.
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Yes, social media works as evidenced by my own results for the last nine years. My first action was to become a member of LinkedIn in 2004. Then I began with inbound marketing action by posting articles on directory sites such as Evan Carmichael, Ezine Articles and Sales Gravy. Along the way, I reviewed books over at Amazon; opened a Twitter account; Facebook and several others. Finally in February of 2010, I started this blog.
During this journey, I have met incredible people and connected with many valuable resources. These connections have spawned both credibility and clients. For example Evan Carmichael wrote the introduction for my book, Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits and Jeb Blount of Sales Gravy published that book.
This week I achieved another measurable milestone by being included in this list of the Top 25 Sales Influencers in 2013. If you read the list, many of the names are instantaneously recognizable including Jeffrey Gitomer and Gerhard Gschwandtner of Selling Power magazine. I am truly honored that Open View Sales Lab included my name in their 2013 list.
Had it not been for social media, I know for a fact this would not have happened.
Of the over 27 million businesses here in the US and 97.7% of those are small businesses with 9 employees or less, so standing out is very difficult. By understanding that social media works, you as the small business owner have a channel or really many channels to attract attention and begin to build relationships.
Yes social media works for small business owners. The caveat is for it to work well does require an investment of time, very few dollars, a marketing strategy, persistence and consistency.
Over the years I have given numerous workshops to small business owners on article writing or content creation as it is now called. One of my pieces of advice based upon my own experiences is:
“The more you write, the better you think;
the better you think the more you write.”
Social media works very well with content creation. When you add emotional intelligence, a desire to share first and not sell, you can also be recognized locally, regionally, nationally and internationally all from your keyboard.
So the next time you hear social media does not work, then share my experiences along with the experiences of many others who can testify it does work and works well.
By the way, I encourage you to connect with at least one of the individuals in this list of Top 25 Sales Influencers. Their Twitter handles are all available, making those connections very easy.Share on Facebook
Out of the mouths from clients come sometimes the most revealing sales management beliefs and behaviors. Yesterday one of my executive coaching clients shared the words of his sales manager.
“I believe in managing by ambiguity when it comes to the sales team.”
This former sales specialist or super worker thinks this sales management style is good. He believes this leadership philosophy affords the the sales team the opportunity to be independent, to take risks, to be all they can be. Yet the results are not nearly where they need to be not too mention creating internal and external confusion along with distrust between the sales team, clients, potential clients and other internal employees.
The results included:
- Duplication of efforts by the sales tam
- Confusion on the part of prospects
- Internal and external conflict and distrust among the sales team
Ambiguity comes from the word ambiguous and its origins means “to wander” and “to drive.” So the sales manager is literally and figuratively driving wandering sales objectives to outcomes. Another way more common sense way to describe this sales management style is “willy nilly.”
What is even worse is this sales manager is proud of managing by ambiguity.
Selling is difficult especially within this particular industry. To create additional obstacles is beyond ridiculous and potentially creates a culture of corruption (ignoring the positive core values and business ethics) where unethical sales people will take advantage of this absence of leadership. The sad part is sales people are assessed on performance.
Sales management is not a hands off approach nor should it be all hands on.
Another sales coaching client is experiencing similar managing by ambiguity, but from a different perspective. Here the CEO who is also the sales manager changes direction at a moment’s notice because the focus must always be on her. She is just as unclear in her leadership style as in the first example.
Those in sales management in many instances are the reasons why the goal to increase sales is not achieved. And maybe it is time to address the skills sets of sales managers first before pointing the finger at the sales team. As the old expression goes, when you as a sales manager point a finger at a salesperson, there are three (3) fingers pointing back at you.
Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who disrupts the status quo by discovering new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses; those who wish to grow beyond their current employees and executives in chaos. She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.Share on Facebook
How many business to business networking events do you attend where you year every role announced except this one ” professional salesperson ?” Between all the business development to customer liaison titles, one might tend to think professional salespeople are non-existent. So last night my faith in this best of all possible roles was reaffirmed when during networking introductions a woman, Mary Jane Mannella, stood up and said “I am a professional salesperson.”
One could tell by her poise and tone of voice she really was proud to be a professional salesperson. How absolutely refreshing to hear someone embrace the role of sales instead of attempting to skirt around it, be confused by it or worse yet ignore it. You are left with a big question mark as to what does that person really do?
And afterwards, all the other 30 or so small business owners and entrepreneurs were coming up to her to exchange business cards.
When individuals are not proud of their professional roles or when they fail to be honest about those roles, their lack of confidence can be heard and more importantly felt by those around them. Unfortunately, far too many in business demonstrate a negative viewpoint about sales or selling. Hence they hide behind business development titles or something equally ridiculous and flatly deny they are not in sales.
Sales is an honorable profession. So if you are in sales, then demonstrate authentic pride in that role. By taking this action, you indeed will Be the Red Jacket and not all those other gray suits who are afraid to be identified as being in sales.
To help you further hone your sales skills, this webinar, LinkedIn Contacts Your Competitive Advantage on Thursday June 27, 2013 from 10-11am CDT may help. Yes there is a minor registration fee as seats are limited.
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