Archive for December, 2010

The Countdown – 1 Day – Until a New Business Year to Increase Sales

If you have been reading this business and sales blog for the last 5 days, you have already read about the importance of  having and taking action on the following:

  1. Vision Statement
  2. Values Statement
  3. Mission Statement
  4. Ideal Customer

Now with the New Year just ready to cross your business doors’ threshold, today is the day to look at future trends.  The constant dynamics of the marketplace ensure that conducting business especially if you are selling is never stagnant. Understanding trends is part of being ahead of the flow as I discuss in Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits.

If you sell business to consumer (B2C0, do you know some of the recognized and identified trends for 2011? Over at Trendwatching, they identified 11 trends for 2011 New Year.

The first trend according to this author is  consumers want the “real touch” after probably feeling numbed by all the technology. This trend appears to be a no-brainer.  Social media can help to demonstrate your business is kinder as long as you keep to these eight social media resolutions as advised by Steve McKee over at Business Week

Trends also may be specific to your industry and to your ability to define your ideal customer profile. For example within human resource departments and organizations overall, beginning January 1, there will be an estimated 10,000 boomers turning 65 each day.  What does that do to your leadership and succession planning if you even have one? Facebook continues to trend with higher users and reached over 570,000,000 users making it more popular than Google.

Ignoring trends can be potentially fatal to your business.  Now is not the time to play “ostrich” with your head in the sand because you are so busy working IN your business instead of ON your business.

P.S. If you wish to stop the bleeding of your small business and want a quick solution to help you, then Triage Business Action Plan may work for you.

Graphic courtesy of Bing Images –

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The Countdown – 2 Days Until a New Business Year to Increase Sales

As you look forward to 2011, who do you want as customers or clients to ensure that you achieve your vision statement and mission statement? Many small business owners and even those crazy busy sales people forget to identify and clarify their ideal customers.  Sure they may have business plans, but this step has been missed possibly because they did not have  specific marketing plans as they were focused on their sales plans.

For example, executive coaches, business coaches, sales coaches or organizational consultants look at specific target markets such as small business owners. This is a popular target market for many. In some cases, this potential market is further reduced by industry such as manufacturing, distribution or services.  Unfortunately this is where identification stops for many.

What would happen if you further peeled away the onion so to speak by articulating additional demographics and more importantly pyschographics details?  Demographics would include:

  • Age
  • Years in business
  • Geographic location
  • Gender
  • Total sales or revenue
  • Number of employees
  • Number of locations
  • Average client value

Psychographics are the “why” behind the buying decision making process.  This are sometimes a little more difficult to ascertain, but could include:

  • Being crazy busy
  • Conservative in how they approach their business decisions
  • Avoid risks
  • Embrace risks
  • Forward thinking
  • Prefer working with one gender over the other

Additionally also understanding the value they place on changing from where they are now to where they wish to be. Most people have wants and needs, but the intrinsic value they place on those wants and needs are different. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  This is Sales Buying Rule #3.

For many small business owners and crazy busy sales people, they may have 2 to 4 ideal customer profiles depending upon their solutions (products or services).  Each ideal customer profile is very detailed and helps to keep the focus on doable potential customers and away from all those suspects posing as prospects.  Another advantage is this profile helps to reduce the sales cycle time.

If you want to increase sales in 2011 and make it an even better year than 2010, consider investing the time to construct your ideal customer profile.  As someone who has benefited strongly by taking this action, I truly you will benefit as well.

P.S. Looking for a weekly accountability partner? Possibly may be of interest to you?

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The Countdown – 3 Days Until a New Business Year to Increase Sales

With only 3 days until you close the business doors on 2010 and open new ones for next year,  now is the time to consider your big goals for 2011 or what some call a mission statement.  Unfortunately, most mission statements are way too “loosey goosey” and deliver no results.

The picture above shows one such mission statment. One of my clients sent me this from a trade show that she was attending. Her comment in the email was “They need your help.”

Looking at this possibly very expensive mission statement since many are constructed within an expensive strategic planning process, the question is how do our employees know their behaviors (think effort actions) are working to achieve the mission? Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Many if not most mission statements are actually vision statements.

So if you truly want 2011 to be better than 2010, your mission statement should only contain three (3) critical measurable goals that are necessary and sufficient for you stay in business.  All other goals can be grouped within one of these three (3) goal categories or critical success factors.

#1 – How much money do you want be it sales or in the bank by the end of 2011? For without sales or revenue you will not be in business. This goal may include reference to profitability such as “maintaining existing levels of profitability” or “with a 5% increase in profitability.”

#2 – What continuing education units or professional development units (think mandated training and development) do you require to stay in business? This is critical for many engaged in professional services such as insurance agents, realtors (real estate agents), financial advisors, lawyers, engineers,  physicians and health care practitioners.

#3 – What  professional standards (including city, county or state mandated standards) must be maintained? If you are a health care facility, restaurant or business with ISO certification, you must maintain professional standards.

By embracing the well known KISS approach – Keep It Simple and Succinct – your mission statement will deliver far more bang for the book.  Yes 2011 can be the best year yet to increase sales and all you must do is put together a simple goal driven action plan to make it so.

P.S. You may find this business planning workshop or teleclass of interest.

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The Countdown – 4 Days to a New Business Year to Increase Sales

In four days, 2010 will be history.  Now is the time to gather your resources and plan for a better year.

One of the greatest challenges is execution of any plan be it small or large.  Part of the reason is because the lack of clearly defined values (business ethics) along with the expected behaviors associated with those values. What are the acceptable or not acceptable actions (behaviors) in successfully executing the plan.

When everyone in the organization understands where the organization is going through its vision statement and how (the behaviors) they will get there, then consistent execution is more easily obtained.

Numerous firms have a written values statement with their strategic plan. Yet very few of those same firms have invested the time to clearly articulate the expected behaviors within those key values.

For example, possibly the values statement includes the word timely.  For a supervisor this may mean an employee being at his or her station 5 minutes before the shift begins.  The employee may think timely is being ready for work at one minute before the shift begins.

Since the same word in this case timely means something differently to each employee, then it just makes sense to invest the time to secure 100% clarity around each word within the values statement as well as the expected behaviors.  Remember, people are judged on their behaviors (physical actions) not on their expectations (business ethics).

Today’s action item is to revisit your values statement with your strategic plan and then write several behaviors for each “value.” Share these behaviors with the employees as well as when recruiting new employees.  By taking this action will help you improve your ability to execute goals such as increase sales by reducing missteps.

P.S. If you need a quick goal driven strategic plan, then consider this business planning workshop or teleclass.

Graphic courtesy of Bing Images –

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The Countdown – 5 Days until a New Business Year to Increase Sales

Two thousand eleven is 5 days away. As the countdown continues, what are you doing to make 2011 better than 2010 (think increase sales)?

Today invest 15 minutes and review the vision for your business. Where do you see your business in 3 years? If you have not committed this vision to writing, then take the time to do so. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Within your strategic plan, your vision statement along with your values, mission and purpose statements help within the decision making process.

Theodore Hesburgh said of the vision:

“It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”

A powerful vision statement is the key to unlock the future.  This statement galvanizes you, your employees and even your customers.  Whether you are a one person shop or a thousand plus employee organization, a vision statement is required.

Tomorrow is day four to the countdown and will focus on another critical statement within your strategic business plan.

P.S. If you need a quick check up or a simple business plan, then this onsite or teleconference business planning workshop, might be of interest.

Graphic courtesy of Bing Images –

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Merry Christmas with Peace and Abundance

Just a short note to wish everyone a Merry Christmas or as my Swedish heritage would say “God Jul!” May today and every day bring peace and abundance to you and yours. Thank you for your comments to this business and sales blog and I look forward to future ones. Leanne Hoagland-Smith P.S. Yes I do have a thing about “red.”

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Brain and Beliefs Before New Year’s Resolutions Behaviors

A great article over at the Wall Street Journal on the steps to New Year’s Resolutions reaffirms what I believe and know to be true. Until one changes his or her beliefs (think attitudes) then only will the behaviors change.

The brain is a powerful instrument. Yet in many instances, the focus for change begins with the behaviors and fails to go upstream to the source of the behaviors. This is one reason why sustainable changes such as New Year’s Resolutions fail to happen.

New Year’s Resolutions are truly goals in disguise.  One reason so many fail is because there has not been enough “emotionalization” for achieving the goal or for not achieving the goal.

Another reason for so many failed New Year’s Resolutions is because the failure to identify the obstacles or the OOP$ potentially keeping the goal from being achieved.  Far too many people jump right into the action steps without thinking about what may hindered them from being successful. What happens is a confusion between actions steps and solutions.

Probably this third reason is why goal setting continually fails for so many. The goal or in this case New Year’s Resolution is not constructed using the WAY SMART criteria.  Goals must be:

  • Written
  • Aligned to not only a plan, but the person’s purpose and passion
  • Yours
  • Specific (very, very specific I must stress)
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistically set high
  • Target date, time driven

As you enjoy the holidays, consider the impact of your brain and beliefs respective to your behaviors. Construct a personal action plan and then make a commitment to “Make it so!”

P.S. You may find this forthcoming teleclass of interest – 100 Days to a New Status Quo.

Graphic courtesy of Bing Images

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Value Added Builds Loyal Customers and Will Increase Sales

Amazon is probably one of the better examples of an organization continually looking to add value to their customers. Beyond the free shipping for customer orders exceeding $25.00, Amazon has other value added strategies for both readers and authors.

Early this month, Amazon looked to provide authors with more information about their books sales using Nielsen BookScan service that had previously only been available to the publishers. Now authors have the opportunity to see how their books have been selling in specific numbers as well as in locations.

For many years, Amazon also offer the opportunity to submit book reviews allowing readers and authors the ability to showcase their expertise with actual links to their Amazon home page. Additionally, writing these reviews provide a second opportunity to market a particular book or product by direct links.

Earlier this month, Amazon offered the Kindle edition of this book, Winners Never Cheat for free. After reading it, I submitted an Amazon book review and one over at Ezine Articles not to mention making numerous references to this book within this business and sales blog.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  When you add value, it is  a reflection of your business ethics.

As 2010 comes to an end and a New Year is on the horizon, invest some time to think about how you can add value to your customers.  This is part of growth and innovation for truly forward thinking small business owners, crazy busy sales people and C Suite executives.  The best part is beyond building loyal customers, you will reduce operating costs and will increase sales.

Merry Christmas and may you have a New Year filled with incredible peace and abundance.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Chief Results Officer for ADVANCED SYSTEMS, Increase Sales Coach and author of Be the Red Jacket

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To Increase Sales Balance Required

A recent video posting by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg makes this great point “No one gets the promotion if they don’t think they deserve their success.” This statement can be easily applied to sales.  “If you do not believe you deserve the sale by doing what you needed to do, they you probably will not increase sales.”

For many believing in their own abilities presents a challenge between balancing a good, ego with a strong overbearing one. From early childhood conditioning about not bragging to the ongoing emphasis of not being that “pushy salesperson,” creates a very real self esteem gap.

As I was told by my father, “the squeaky wheel gets oiled first” you must be first in line, but in a way that builds the relationship.  You want your customers to come to you as the go to person, that incredible almost secret resource even if it is not your area of expertise. Sales Training Coaching Tip: A performance appraisal assessment instrument such as the Attribute Index includes identifying those attributes or talents necessary for a strong internal belief about yourself.

Each day I receive notifications about several hundred articles.  I will quickly glance through them and then possibly forward one or two to a client, center of influence, strategic partner or a colleague.  The goal here is truly creating balance between the ongoing need to market/sell and being viewed as that resource, that trusted advisor or what I truly believe is the buying partner. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  By thinking of others reaffirms your own personal core values or business ethics.

Balance is also required by looking forward and backward. No one should dwell on the past, but it is prudent to reflect about what worked, what didn’t work and what might work better. The past becomes the benchmark to ensure future success. An article by Tanveer Naser shared 10 questions for leaders (no matter their role) to help create balance between past and future performance.

Another way to create balance is by using the Life Wheel to create balance in your personal life. For example, if you are physically drained this will affect not only your personal relationships, but professional ones as well.

To ignore balance in life is courting disaster especially if your role is selling. With some many crazy busy sales people in the crowded global marketplace, now is the time to reflect and strike the necessary balance to not only increase sales, but to improve the quality of your total life.

First Graphic courtesy of Bing Image –

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Market Deeper Than Wider to Increase Sales

For those who fish, they understand that sometimes it is necessary to fish deeper rather than find a new fishing spot.  In the world of business, this isn’t much different.

Many small business owners, crazy busy sales people and even those C suite executives are so hungry to increase sales they spread their efforts all over the market place (fish all over the lake)  instead of focusing on one or two specific areas (fish in one or two specific areas).  Sales training coaching tip:  For some this is called niche marketing.)

Recently in speaking with a new potential customer, we looked at the opportunities for selling more to existing customers and discovered a potential of $250,000 in new sales opportunities within one established account. The added value was these new sales had greater profitability.

We are now working on establishing a marketing plan of action and a sales action plan to capture these opportunities while providing additional value.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Buying rule #3 – People buy on value unique to them – is critical when looking at niche markets.

For those who understand the benefits of strategic planning, researching the marketplace specific to market share, competition, etc. helps to further focus an organization’s presence. This data allows the business to discover their strengths, limitations, opportunities and talents both externally and internally.  Sales Training Coaching Tip: Many firms use a SWOT analysis (which I believe is a reactive tool). I prefer a SLOT analysis which is a proactive tool.

Before you decide to go after another account or industry, assess current clients to determine if you are leaving any opportunities to increase sales on the table or maybe even underneath the table because you did not invest the time to “fish deeper.” Then establish an aligned plan action between your marketing and selling activities to ensure that you continue to respect the 3 buying rules and avoid the 5 sales objections.

Graphic Courtesy of Bing Images

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