Big to Small Firms’ Sales Stupidity

Sales stupidity is unfortunately alive and well from the biggest firms to the smallest ones. No I am not talking about the quick fix which is stupid nor the lack of a sales strategy.  What I am addressing is the misalignment between sales and the rest of the organization’s sales culture.

sales-stupidityYesterday in speaking with a salesperson who works for a $10 billion service solution provider, she shared with me there is no alignment between the different sales channels.  Additionally, because of silos managed by self-serving leadership, there is only one way sales leads referrals. She is expected to give sales referrals to other sales channels, but they do not have to reciprocate. And worse yet the people in these others sales channels receive higher compensation and do not have to make any field calls.

Can you see the misalignment?

This firm is anticipating less revenue growth this year, by nearly 20% compared to the previous year.  I am not surprised. Yet executive leadership remains clueless.

The sales stupidity continues respective to the misalignment between marketing and sales.  Money cannot be spent for mailing thank you notes (building relationships), but can be spent for gas visiting clients to making sales cold calls.  I wonder what high priced consulting firm has been hired by this clueless billion dollar firm?

No wonder so many salespeople are frustrated with their sales jobs.  These individuals want to sell, want sales success, but the misalignment between people, processes and strategies continues to barricade them from their sales productivity. The sales culture where everyone should be working together for the same desired results is just the opposite. If you disagree, just look to the turnover of salespeople.

How many times has sales stupidity been the real reason for lack of revenue, new customers, ineffective sales training to even fewer sales leads?  Over the last almost 20 years, I have coached at least one top sales performer every six months who realized the best option was to find a new job.

Before jumping into the next unsustainable sales solution, step back and assess your culture respective to alignment between people, processes and strategies. This may be the best sales growth action ever embraced.

If you want to learn more about how you can quickly and affordably assess your sales culture,

CLICK HERE to schedule a quick phone call with Leanne.

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

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The Free Sales Training Conundrum

This morning I read a posting about “free” sales training or any other training.  Those who provide training and development services especially the solo entrepreneurs are retreating to offering free as an incentive to increase sales.  We see this with many of the e-courses now being offered. The first one is free and thereafter there is a price to pay.

free-sales-trainingOf course, free sales training does not pay the bills. 

Free does not create value.

Free may actually devalue the expertise of those providing sales training and even business or executive coaching services.

Some of my colleagues offer free psychometric assessments to attract attention.  They believe this approach will provide enough of an opportunity to at least begin to build attention.

Years ago my father told me free does not work because it presumes the sales lead finds value in the free offering. What the sales lead is usually seeking is the expertise, the knowledge, the insight behind the freebie whether the salesperson is selling products or services. Dad also made this insightful statement:

FREE HAS NO LONG TERM VALUE!

Do you really want a client who only wants free? 

Don’t you want a client who values how your solution will provide the client with sustainable results?

Think about your own buying decisions.  What does free say to you?

As it has been said before, people must have skin in the game.  With free sales training, there is no skin, no commitment to even attend the sales training session less alone to take action.

Finally with all the free sales training offerings in the marketplace, how does free differentiate you from everyone else?

Don’t you want to Be the Red Jacket, the person who stands out from all the other gray suits? If so, then possibly a new marketing strategy as well as sales strategy might be required.

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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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Your Kaizen Action Plan to Increase Sales Is…?

One of the most popular Internet search terms for my website is “action plan to increase sales.”  In reading the book Managing in a Time of Great Change by Peter Drucker, he refers to the Japanese term “kaizen” and explains it as continuous self-improvement.  How many professional salespeople have such a plan?

action-plan-to-increase-salesFrom my early college days, I adapted the old Bingo Sheet and revised it to a quarterly goal sheet. I would write down my goals and then monitor the results each quarter. One of my personal goals was to get married by my 40th birthday and stay married for a minimum of 25 years. I achieved the married part of that goal 2.5 months early and my husband and I have made it past 25 years as a married couple.

With my clients, I use this Bingo Sheet as a recap of significant business and personal goals.  These goals are taken from more detailed one page action plans for both their business and personal lives. For most the focus is usually on sales. However for some of my more forward thinking clients, they actually work several one page actions plans.

Any action plan to increase sales is indeed about self improvement and is supported by other areas of personal and professional development.  One cannot be knowledgeable about the industry without improving one’s mentality acuteness.

Another gem I have learned over the years is the importance of writing significant goals down.  When I write now what I call WAY SMART goals down, I gain greater clarity because I am truly reflecting upon where I want to go and how I am going to get there.  This action is so simple and yet extremely powerful.

The year is almost half over.  If you aren’t happy with your results, then consider investing some time to create your own Kaizen Action Plan to Increase Sales. Instead of asking yourself

“What do I have to lose? Ask yourself what may I gain?”

CLICK HERE to schedule 30 minutes to speak with Leanne

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip 02

In writing what is now the second week of these sales success tips, I realize they will not be in any particular order of importance. Many will come from interactions I have had over the past week like today’s tip of “Know Your Purpose.”

sales-successPurpose is so essential to not only sales success, but life success as well  In the book The On Purpose Person by Kevin McCarthy he compares being on purpose to the common everyday light switch.  When the switch is on, you are on purpose. Turn off the switch and you are off purpose. Pretty simple.

When working with executive coaching clients, I provide them with an audio CD published by Resource Associates entitled Investing Time Through Purpose, Vision and Values.  This CD has helped my clients understand the importance of purpose and how it is directly tied to one’s vision and values.

For me, purpose answers this simple but not necessarily easy question “Why are you here, right now?”  Our purpose changes in life from being a baby to toddler to a teenager to a young adult to a retired individual.

Another question I ask my clients when they are working through their own purpose is to identify the “gifts they bring to the table of life.”  These gifts many times are their own positive core values.

Once we have clarity around our purpose and subsequently our values we can unite them to our vision. This process does take some time and I can only add it is time well invested.

If you want sustainable sales success, being with the basic building blocks of your purpose.  Read McCarthy’s book to support you in this quest or if you want schedule a time to speak with me by CLICKING HERE

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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Being Real About the Re-Start Sales Mentality

We all know the Einstein’s definition of insanity. Maybe that is why some SMB owners to  professional salespeople favor what I call the re-start sales mentality.  This is when bumps in the business road happen a new CRM, a new sales manager, whatever is brought in to overcome or really re-start sales to even marketing activities.

sales-mentality

Credit www.picjumbo.com

Example of Re-Start Sales Mentality

One of my colleagues, Nancy Nardin, in a LinkedIn Post made this forthcoming statement:

“IF CRM HELPED SALESPEOPLE IN A SUBSTANTIAL WAY, YOU WOULDN’T HAVE TO CONVINCE THEM TO USE IT.”

When clients or even sales leads start asking about bringing in new solutions especially technology to take care of recent bumps, my question is always “Are you throwing out the baby with the bathwater?” This is followed up by these simple questions:

“How do you know with absolute crystal clarity what is not working is the real problem?” 

“What other evidence (usually slow sales) do you have that is prompting this decision?”

Usually, the client answers the first question with “I don’t know” and the second question with “None.”

A unified and proactive sales mentality is the result of reflection and studying data, information and knowledge beyond daily, weekly or monthly sales revenue numbers.  This is not the time to seek the quick fix of a new CRM, sales training or a new sales process.

Common Reactionary Sales Behaviors

I have witnessed these reactionary behaviors to marketing actions by SMB owners and salespeople:

  •  “We sent out 20 direct mail post cards and did not receive one response.”
  • “I made 10 sales calls and I could not get anyone on the phone.”
  • “The most recent trade show was a bust. We didn’t get any sales leads.”

The response by so many is to engage in this re-start sales mentality. For it is much easier to find a new, usually non-sustainable solution than to roll up the sleeves and discover the real problem or problems to poor sales.

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Want to Increase Sales? Put on Your Sherlock Hat

To increase sales requires every salesperson to be somewhat like Sherlock Holmes.  Time and effort must be directed to researching potential sales opportunities as well as lost ones.

increase-salesFor example in real estate, my sense is there are many lost opportunities to increase sales because realtors do not investigate further why someone chose not to buy a home.  Accurate (good) feedback is essential and appears not to be a priority for some realtors.

This past week we had a showing of our home and the potential buyer feedback from the realtor who showed our home was “not interested.”  Our realtor reached out to learn more and has yet to receive a response.

Possibly the realtor who showed the home did not see the importance of providing good feedback or chose not to share the actual feedback. In either instance, this does a disservice to both the listing realtor and the selling realtor.

Sales Coaching Tip:  Read The Danger Report, a must read for those in residential and commercial real estate.

The problem with giving poor feedback in real estate is in the future that listing agent or even the home owner may not be as open to having another showing. You may have lost a real opportunity to increase sales.  Also,  if you are the listing agent and are working with a home owner, you also want to receive good feedback from other realtors.

Sales Coaching Tip: Good feedback is essential in removing obstacles to sales success.

One of the key competitive differentiating factors that identifies top sales performers compared to average salespeople is the ability to research the current market, industry, potential client and the competition for that potential client. This knowledge is essential in demonstrating how to increase sales within the marketing phase of the sales process even before any wants and needs are known.

Sometimes feedback from the sales conversation or sales meeting is not possible. However emotionally intelligent salespeople can in many instances gather enough information to better understand why they did not earn the sale or close the deal.

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Want to schedule a time to talk with Leanne? Just CLICK HERE

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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Just Return Calls to Increase Sales

Again, the person on the other end expressed surprised when I returned his phone call. After several decades in selling, I learned one of the easiest ways to increase sales is to return all phone calls and answer the phone when possible.

increase-sales

Credit www.gratisography.com

One of the greatest frustrations expressed by my sales coaching clients and colleagues is the reluctance of people to return phone calls.  I am not talking about cold calls. No what I am talking or rather writing about are those phone calls where the caller knows you and you think you have a pretty good idea why he or she is calling.

Sales Coaching Tip:  Caller ID may reduce wasted time, but is potentially harmful to increase sales.

Possibly you may be thinking, I will call him or her when I have time after all I know why he or she is calling.  That may be true.

Yet in the meantime, your failure to call back just may have confirmed to the person calling you are not reliable. How do you know the person calling was wanting to share a sales referral with you or to give you a heads up so to speak

To increase sales means every opportunity must be leveraged.  There are many unknown opportunities within new relationships or even old relationships.

Possibly that call was to invite you to a business to business networking event?  How do you know with 100% clarity why the person called? Yes the voice mail said one thing, but possibly some other unknown was also present.

Not returning phone calls also showcases your lack of business professionalism and may give some insight as to your business ethics or character. With approximately 70% of all U.S. businesses being non-employed (meaning single office/home office no employees), answering the phone call at all times is not within your control. However, returning phone calls is 100% within your control.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip 1

Who doesn’t want sustainable sales success?  Of course many want it to be easy and that may be an mental obstacle.

sales-successIdeal Customer

Today’s first tip is define your ideal customer.  When we do not know who are best customers are and especially why they bought from us, we as salespeople are at a competitive disadvantage. There is also a very good possibility we are wasting some of our precious resources including time, energy, money and emotions.

Years ago in giving a keynote presentation to a group of professional executive coaches, business advisors, talent management and lean manufacturing consultants, I mentioned the word psychographics respective to my ideal customer profile.  From the puzzled looks in the audience, I realized many had never researched this critical aspect within their marketing efforts.

From my experience, understanding the psychographics is far more essential to sustainable sales success than demographics.  One of my key psychographics is forward thinking. My most successful executive coaching clients and engagements are all  with forward thinkers.  When I connect this psychographic to the demographic of “rapid business growth,” I am much more focused on who I must meet. Additionally I have far less stress working with this clients and much quicker results.

Here is a downloadable Ideal-Customer-Profile-Template sheet for your reference.  Complete it and then review your strategic plan to ensure total alignment.

Enjoy your weekend.

 

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The Sales Leads “Q” Dilemma

Most SMB people will agree that sustainable business growth relies on the ability to increase sales.  To achieve increase sales demands new prospects or sales leads.  Some business growth experts and sales coaches advise to go after the quantity (get more leads) while others look to quality (more qualified leads).  So what is a crazy, busy SMB salesperson supposed to do?

sales-leads

Credit www.gratisography.com

The first action should be to return to the strategic plan.  Review the marketing research and organizational capacity.  Update the ideal customer profile based on current customers as well as those customers who were not converted.

Then compare current marketing and selling efforts with actual results.  Quantity sales leads may and usually mean more effort for less results. Quality may generate better results, but not enough.  In the marketing and selling worlds, this is known as “know your numbers.”

Sales Coaching Tip:  Remember, people buy from people they know and trust. You may have to make more than three (3) contacts to earn the sales (close the deal).

Possibly the next action is to update your sales conversation without changing an effective marketing message. From my experience in working with executive coaching clients, how they say what they say is not as effective as it can be.

Sales Coaching Tip:  People buy first on emotion justified by logic.  When you create an emotional response there is greater likelihood, the ideal customer will want to further engage you in conversation.

Additionally you may wish to review your own community as well as to ask for referrals from existing customers or colleagues.  By establishing mutually beneficial relationships, you may receive quality sales leads (aka as referrals). Of course as in any relationship, this does require time.

Sales Coaching Tip:  People buy on value unique to them. Understand how to connect your ideal customer’s value drivers and then build upon them.

What “Q” sales leads to focus on will continue to be a dilemma for any SMB owner, executive or salesperson. By investing the time to reflect and then redirect your actions will generate improved business growth.

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Want to schedule a time to talk with Leanne? Just CLICK HERE

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth.

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Sales Leads – The Downfall of the Thrill of the Chase

For many in sales, the thrill of the chase is everything. These “hunters” love to find and chase down sales leads.

sales-leads

Credit www.gratisography.com

Within the SMB world, this thrill of the chase can present a psychological problem for the salesperson and a a business growth problem for the SMB owner, executive or sales manager. The problem for the salesperson is the activity associated with hunting for new sales leads.

Sales research suggests the super majority of earned sales (estimated as high as 80%) happened after multiple contacts, usually more than three. This same research also suggests the majority of salespeople (estimated as high as 80%) stop after three contacts.  The thrill of the chase becomes almost an aphrodisiac that requires constant drinking.

If you disagree with this sales research, then monitor your own sales numbers or those of your sales team.  From my experience in working with and speaking to SMBs, these percentages are fairly accurate.

For the SMB owners, executives or sales managers, the constant churning of sales leads is expensive.  However, possibly their belief is why waste time on “nurturing” new opportunities? Time is money. Possibly they are demanding more “closed sales” activity?

Additionally the overall sales culture may suffer from this thrill of the chase. Inside sales may have to deal with the fall out from the salespeople not following up.  The inside sales team can become stuck in the middle. I know this to be true because of my own corporate sales experience with outside salespeople.

Possibly this is why inbound marketing is so essential to this thrill of the chase. Through this marketing approach, sales leads come to the hunters and potentially the time frame to earn or close the deal is much shorter.  Now previous problems from the time to make multiple contacts for the salesperson to a smaller churn of sales leads by the SMB have been dramatically reduced.

The thrill of the chase is energizing.  Salespeople myself included love to earn the sale and increase sales.  We must remember the chase may be longer than anticipated and not to give up especially if those sales leads are qualified ideal customers.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth.

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