Do You Truly Love Sales?

Everyone is in sales.  Mothers sell eating healthy to their children. Teachers sell learning to their students.  Business owners sell their vision to their customers both internal and external. Sales people sell their products and services to potential customers.

love-salesA recent survey indicated that the number one open position within the United States business arena is sales.  Companies are looking for salespeople who are competent and want to sell.  They really want leaders who truly love sales.

With my clients, finding an performance driven salesperson is a continual challenge.  Many who sell want an annual salary and fear the commission only position.  Yet, it is in this type of selling position that a truly great salesperson will excel.  As another client has said many times “When you are hungry, you will hunt.”

Is selling easy?  The answer to that question is simply “It all depends.”  Selling products or services demands specific skill sets including: communication, creativity, decision making, goal setting, marketing and problem solving just to name a few.

Learn more about a powerful assessment that will let you know about your own selling skills.

However, the most crucial skill in selling is being able to relate to people and discover what they are not saying. Some define this ability building rapport, but it is much more.  I believe this is all about having authentic emotional intelligence as reflected through empathy. To leverage this skill demands that your energies are continually pointed at the customer and not at you.

Empathy has been demonstrated to separate top sales performers from average ones. And, yes empathy can be developed provided you are willing to let go of your ego and become an authentic leader who readily gives of herself or himself.

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How Your Sales Leads May Be Starving Your SMB

Sales leads happen in all seasons.  Without sales leads,  sales revenue is not generated to pay the vendors, the employees, the overhead, the government and most importantly you, the SMB owner.  So what type of sales leads are you hunting?



There are 4 types of sales.  First there are the rabbits.  Rabbits are small sales and can found almost anywhere during the average course of a day.  They are quick and easy, but last for only one meal or a day.  Constant effort must be expended to keep the cash box full.

Next there are deer.  These sales are seen once a week.  Being a little larger, they fill the your cash register for a week or two.

If you want a larger sale that may last a month, you kill a bear.  These sales take a little longer to track and kill because bear sightings are not as frequent as deer or rabbits.

The real big sales are elephants.  Killing an elephant may only happen yearly because they are elusive animals and are not easily killed because of their size, not too mention their tough hides and long ivory tusks.  A successful elephant kill means that you can eat for a year and your bank account is nice and healthy.  However, since elephants are only sighted once a year, you may starve to death hunting an elephant.

The lesson of this story is not only where are you hunting, but what are you hunting?  By reviewing your sales cycle (time from initial contact to closed sale), you can determine if you are hunting rabbits, deer, bears or elephants.

Just as no SMB should rely on one customer, it also makes sense not to rely on just one type of sales leads. When you invest the time to identify your ideal customer, then you can work smarter and work harder in your sales prospecting.

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Are You a Firefighter or a SMB Owner?

Are you are SMB Owner? In the book It’s Not the Big that Eat the Small, but It’s the Fast that Eat the Slow, the authors revealed that majority of executives and  the SMB owners spend less than 15 minutes a day working on their business.  Their business leadership time is mostly devoted to fighting yesterday’s and today’s fires.

SMB-ownerThink about last week and how much time you spent on small to large fires.  These fires ranged from late employees to unsatisfied customers.  The results were unproductive meetings to a lot of re-working or re-do’s.  Stress was high and you had an occasional thought questioning your sanity in starting this business as you see your profits continue to dwindle.

So how do you transform from being a firefighter to becoming a results driven, forward thinking SMB owner or even sales professional?  First thing is to make an appointment with yourself each day to think about the future of the business.  Take 30 minutes early in the morning to review current goals, assess your dashboard of key performance indicators and revisit the vision you established for your company.

Next, communicate the business goals clearly to all employees.  In the “E-Myth,” Michael Gerber looked at how entrepreneurs need to let go and not be everything to everybody. When your goals are known and expectations are set, you are empowering your people to take responsibility and accountability for achieving these goals.

Of course this communication does suggest you have engaged in a comprehensive strategic planning and thinking process. You have a written strategic plan that you revisit weekly.

Finally, make sure your people are able to handle the fires.  No employee comes to work to intentionally “mess up the business.”  However, very few employees have been developed to be excellent communicators, effective decision-makers and consistent goal achievers. Human capital is the greatest asset of any business and usually the most underdeveloped.

Yes you can turn the tide from being the reactionary fire fighter to the proactive SMB owner or sales professional.  The choice as in other aspect of life is 100% up to you.  This is not the time for excuses because losers make excuses, winners take action.

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Time to Fall Clean Your Marketing Toolbox

Fall is here.  Now is the perfect time to clean out your marketing toolbox and refresh it for the forthcoming last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year. So what is currently in your toolbox?

marketingUpon opening your toolbox, you will have a removable upper tray that contains your lightweight marketing tools. Down below is a larger compartment to hold those heavier tools.  All of your tools have a cost.

For example, your lightweight tools include your elevator speech, business cards, stationery from envelopes to letterheads, brochures, postcards, postage, promotional items or giveaways CDs or DVD’s, Costs for these tools range from pennies to hundreds of dollars.

The heavier tools at the bottom of your toolbox have a lot of variety.  There are speeches that you can deliver to local organizations or to larger conference audiences.  Printed books such as Be the Red jacket or Fail-Safe Leadership along with published articles are always effective heavy marketing tools. Paid advertising, membership in referral groups, local chambers and other B2B networking groups are other heavy tools.  Finally, there is that all important website. And let us not forget your blog or other social content marketing channels such as LinkedIn Pulse.  These heavy tools costs hundreds to thousands of dollars, but may also provide you a steady stream of passive income.

When you analyze all the costs within your toolbox, you will be amazed at the total investment. For some this may quickly exceed $50,000. Whatever the costs, the results from these tools deliver must be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure their value.

Is your 30-second elevator speech effective?  How about your 60 second and three minute elevator speeches? If no one is seeking you out after you deliver your infomercial, then it is definitely time to refresh that tool. Have you updated your website to make it search engine friendly? By being proactive now will keep you from being reactive later.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #11 Follow-Up

Simply speaking without follow-up, sales success will not happen.  To expect to earn the sale on the first meeting is rare especially in the B2B marketplace.

sales-successWhat is even worse, is the lack of follow-up by salespeople.  Hubspot shared these two damning sales prospecting or sales statistics:

  • 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up.
  • 80% of sales require five follow-ups.

The author of the posting also made this insight:

44% of the salespeople have a 80% probability of not closing the sale

Just let that fact sink in!

This past week I attended an early morning B2B networking round table event.  The venue was small and everyone had a brief chance to meet other professionals.  The event coordinator promised to send everyone’s contact information including phone numbers and email addresses.

So what I did when I received the excel file was to send a quick follow-up email to those I had not received business cards.  I also extended LinkedIn invitations to some as well.

How many SMB owners or sales professionals let all those business cards stack up in piles around their desk with the attitude “I’ll get to them when I have time”?

Sales success begins with follow-up.  Sending emails to even personal thank you cards are two ways to make that follow-up contact.  Of course, one is not usually enough.  This is why it is critical to have some sort of follow-up process aka Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Follow-up for me is not just relegated to new contacts or sales leads, but to existing clients.  When I find articles of interest, I will quickly email the link or the PDF file.  This way I stay top of mind and if a new need arises, I know I will not be forgotten.

If you are seeking sales success, understand there is no quick fix.  To be the Red Jacket in the sea of all those gray suits means you must be different than all those other salespeople who do not follow-up.


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The Essence of Executive Coaching Is…

Executive coaching is becoming a recognized sustainable solution to improve the business leadership performance of individuals.  Yet, how often are people asked to explain the essence of this powerful solution?

executive-coachingHere is a statement that I make somewhere during the sales conversation with potential ideal customers or clients:

“Coaching be it executive, business or sales is about clarity through tools and processes beginning with assessments. These provide the information to ask the right or often unasked questions to get clear answers from you, the coachee, as to what is happening around you.”

The essence of coaching is clarity.  This is the same reason people seek out mentors.  It is not just the advice they are seeking, but gaining a very sharp, crystal clear picture of:

  • Where they are
  • Where they want to be
  • How to get to where they want to be
  • What is limiting their ability to get to where they want to be

Of course, sometimes executive coaching clients do not realize they have most of the answers within themselves. All the coach does is to ask the right or often unasked questions to have the “coachee” make that self discovery.

With business coaching and sales coaching clients, clarity is still the essence however the role of the coach may step into the role of consultant by providing answers.  Many new to sales for example do not have the tools or even sales skills necessary for sales success. The coach may provide those tools, additional knowledge and offer further guidance through role playing to reviewing sales scripts to prospecting activities.

Getting to where one wants to be is not easy especially when the path is not clear. Executive coaching helps clear that path.  Theodore Hesburgh is quoted as saying “No one can follow an uncertain trumpet.” That uncertainty is a lack of clarity.

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What Would Happen to Our Sales If We Had Crystal Clear Clarity?

Funny think about sales, many people lack crystal clear clarity.  These are the salespeople that scurry around B2B networking events, who stumble when ask what they do, and who complain about the inability to increase sales.

salesMany salespeople as well as SMB owners think they lack the tools, the skills, the leads, the network of connections.  Never do they recognize what is limiting their business growth, their professional growth and their personal growth is crystal clear clarity.

Clarity Is Not Easy

The challenge with clarity is it is not easy.  We are conditioned to see the same landscape with the same eyes.  So we seek other landscapes instead of changing our eyes or our lenses to see what is right in front of us. This is quite evident by the lack of follow-up in sales.

Clarity Begins at Home

The old expression of charity begins at home can also be applied to clarity.  Finding clarity in our own lives beginning with our purpose is the first step before seeking clarity in our professional lives or SMBs.

An Outside Perspective Required

Even for the most forward thinking leaders, they have probably have reached out to mentors, colleagues and even hired executive coaches to achieve that outside perspective.  As we are creatures of conditioning, we are unable to see the forest for the trees. An outside viewpoint allows us to move up the mountain, to SEE the 30,000 viewpoint and then the impact of that perspective at SEA level or the trees.

The First Step

If you truly want to increase sales, then the first step is to gain crystal clear clarity. This begins with assessing what is happening right now in your life.  From the results of that assessments or assessments, you can gain the clarity needed for exceptional execution of your actions.  As the old expression goes, a “physician who treats himself has a fool for a patient” (Sir William Osler), the same can be said about a salesperson who assesses himself or herself.

Call or text Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.508.2859 and invest 2 hours to gain incredible crystal clear clarity that will improve your sales execution.

You can schedule a quick phone call to gain greater insight in what these 2 hours look like by clicking HERE.

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The Sales Prospecting Dilemma of Should I Stay or Should I Go

Sales prospecting presents many dilemmas for salespeople.  Some sales research suggests more salespeople are going rather than staying with prospects.


  • 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up (Source: Scripted)
  • The average salesperson makes only two attempts to reach a sales prospect (Source:Sirius Decision)

Possibly part of the reason for more going than staying with this activity of sales prospecting is because there has been no time invested in strategic planning and identifying the ideal customer.

As one of my colleagues, Bill Napolitano, said “There are a lot of Captain Wing Its out in the SMB marketplace.” I further added this statement “who spray their actions all over the place and then pray something will stick.”

Unless salespeople have sales leads they will remain pocket poor. These leads must be nurtured because not everyone is ready to buy during that first encounter.  Years ago I read that just 2% of all closed deals happen during the first contact.

By short changing the strategic planning process, one of the results is short changing sales prospecting because it leads to spraying and praying instead of targeted prospecting.  Does it not make more sense to prospect strategically with the ideal customer in mind than anyone with a pulse?

If you believe anyone with a pulse is your best sales referral, then read this posting that has gathered over 10,000 views.

Currently there are two great books to help you with sales prospecting:

High Profit Prospecting by Mark Hunter.  Mark provides some very applicable templates to catapult your prospecting efforts.

Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount.  Jeb also shares great tips and actionable prospecting ideas.

To be able to answer this question forthrightly will only happen after you have invested the time to think and plan (note both are verbs) and then determine your ideal customer.

Download this free Ideal-Customer-Profile-Template to support you in your sales prospecting efforts.



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Overcoming The Contingency Effect in Sales Meetings

Securing those necessary sales meetings with clients, sales leads and even colleagues is becoming increasingly difficult.  The reason is the “contingency effect.”

sales-meetingsJust as people buy houses on contingency, so it appears buying time to meet on another person’s calendar is also on contingency. People in business are indeed crazy busy.

How many times have you attempted to schedule a meeting and were told “I’m waiting for confirmation from another person. I’ll call you back tomorrow”?  Or possibly you were told “Ill get back to you tomorrow.”  That getting back to you in many instances was probably because your sales lead or customer was waiting to confirm another meeting from someone who was waiting to confirm another meeting.

Prospecting Tip #1

Probably one of the better ways to overcome this obstacle to scheduling sales meetings is to plan at least 3 to 4 weeks out. Even then, meeting are still subject to cancellation because of  emergencies or unforeseen events.

Prospecting Tip #2

Having a full sales funnel is another solution to overcoming the contingency effect. When the sales funnel is brimming, you can then call another sales lead or customer if a cancellation happens.

Prospecting Tip #3

Finally, taking control of your own prospecting and selling schedules by keeping contingency meetings to a minimum also makes sense. When you put off meetings because of the possibility of someone may meet with you only creates the continuation of this phenomenon.

Years ago it was far easier to schedule a meeting in the same week or worse the next week. Today that is no longer the case.  Planning your sales meetings is essential to ensure your prospecting funnel and ultimately sales funnel remains full.

As in any sales obstacle, with proper planning you can limit the negative impact of this obstacle to your goal to increase sales.  All you must do is to think ahead, way ahead.

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Please Let’s Stop Selling Buggy Whips

Yes I know buggy whips have not actually been sold in mass quantities for over 100 years. However there are some industries that need to stop selling their old business models and sales models. These are today’s buggy whips.

stop-sellingBeyond newspapers, one of the industries that is starting changing is residential real estate.  More and more homeowners are becoming educated thanks to the Internet.  These homeowners realize they can save thousands of dollars in commissions by circumventing part if not all of the real estate sales commissions.

The Danger Report authorized by the National Association of Realtors supports this movement away from real estate agents. This report revealed the number one danger at 100% in residential real estate is the incompetence of real estate agents.

Then add in the availability of additional research such as 8 to 9 out of 10 homes are not sold by the listing agent, but by a realtor not associated with the listing agent. No wonder eople are starting to question the value of having a listing realtor.

Finally, savvy home owners from their own research and engage in marketing their homes without the benefit of a realtor.  So what should today’s realtors do?

First, stop selling listings as a sold home.  Listing is not selling. In some cases listing is not even effective marketing.  People want their homes sold. They want their realtors working for them not for the buyers.

Second, stop selling your commission fee.  Consider offering a la carte menu where you charge for marketing copy, editing copy, staging recommendations, the sign, the MLS number, the lock box, etc. This way you make money even if the house is not sold.  Of course these a la carte prices would not be near the going commission, but you would get paid for your efforts.

Third, know your inventory.  Invest the time to at least talk to the homeowners and if possible review their homes.  Look to understand the benefits of owning a particular home.

Fourth, learn how to sell. Opening a door is not selling a home.  Sales is both emotional and logical.  Learn how to leverage those two aspects. Actively listen. Do your research specific to your ideal customer.

Fifth, prospect through social media and your network.  Build a community of like minded realtors where you can share each others’ listings.  Do not fear your competitors especially given it is usually your competitors who sell your listings.

Sixth, embrace For Sale By Owner.  This is low hanging fruit.  Have a contract that the homeowner will pay you a commission. See Stop Selling Tips #2, #3 and #4.

Seventh, put in a full 8 hours per day.  Selling real estate will become a full time job as the residential real estate market continues to change.

By revisiting your old buggy whip business model and sales model, you can stop selling buggy whips and actually start selling what the market wants.  Possibly you may even get even if not ahead of the flow. Wouldn’t that be a good thing?

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