Archive for March, 2011

Are You A Sales Lion or a Gazelle?

There is an old anonymous proverb, probably African in its origins that speaks to everyone in sales.

Credit http://activerain.com

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.  It know it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion also wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It does not matter where you are a lion or a gazelle.  When the sun comes up, you had better be running.

Credit http://commons.wikimedia.org

The real question is not who you are, but rather what you do?

What actions are you taking to increase sales?

What sales skills are you using to realize business success?

Are you expecting sales to drop from the skies and land at your front door step?

Are you so busy attending civic meeting, chamber meetings and not walking away with at least one new lead at each of these events?

Are you confusing motion with progress and activity with results?

Sales is 24/7 especially with the advent of the Internet.  Your sales goals must be constantly in front of you.  You should reviewing these goals each and every day.  Do you set aside 12 minutes each day to review today’s results and tomorrow’s schedule? Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Most people admit to wasting 12 minutes a business day.

At the end of the week, you need to return to your sales plan, marketing action plan and if you have one an overall strategic business  plan. Do you set aside 12 minutes at the end of the week to review this week’s achievements and look to see where your goals to results are specific to your action plans?

What I have observed in working with sales professionals including financial advisors, insurance agents, realtors, real estate agents, new car salesmen to new car sales women along with a plethora of small business owners is that many of them do nothing. My first clue is that they lack the necessary plans from which to work.

Lions have a plan when they go after a gazelle.  Gazelles have plans to avoid the lion. Yet most sales people do not have an action plan.  They live by spraying their actions all over the place and praying that they will stick. This is a recipe for disaster.

Yes, they think they are doing something, but at the end of the day, they have no new sales leads, made no sales appointments and have no new commitments to purchasing their solutions ( products or services).  President Theodore Roosevelt said:

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing is the wrong thing;

and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

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The Killer Thought Obstacle to Increase Sales

Have you ever thought the following when sales were really, really good:

  • I’m soo busy; I don’t have time to follow up on new sales leads?
  • I’m soo busy: I don’t have time to keep track of all of my marketing and sales activities?
  • I’m soo buy; I don’t have time to stay organized with business and personal paperwork?
  • I’m soo busy: I don’t have time to plan my work and work my plan?
  • I’m soo busy: I don’t have time to attend any more business to business networking events?
  • I’m soo busy: I don’t have time to learn more to further my own professional growth?

If you have had any of these thoughts, just wait for in a very short time you will not be busy and wait a little longer you will have plenty of time to:

  • Follow up on new sales leads
  • Track all marketing and sales activities
  • Be very organized with paperwork
  • Work your strategic business plan and plan your work
  • Attend a plethora of business to business networking events
  • Enhance your professional and personal growth such as emotional intelligence to sales skills

Because you will not have any sales at all. Your financial bank account will be quickly dwindling and along with your emotional one.

At least once a week when speaking with small business owners’; sales professionals such as new car salesmen, new car saleswomen, insurance agents and real estate agents; entrepreneurs and even C-Level executives, I hear the I’m soo busy rationale to justify current behaviors.

This rationale is really a self fulfilling prophecy for disaster. When you convince yourself that you are soo busy, you will not focus on the other tasks at hand such as working your business growth action plan. The activity of the moment or moments will keep you in a very reactive state instead of a proactive one (think increase sales)

New sales will plummet and you will enter the sales throes of quiet desperation.

Have you even been there?

And did that feel and more importantly did you like it?

To avoid this self fulfilling prophecy means that you must be committed to taking care of those daily actions that support all of your sales. If you do not have time you can:

  • Delegate some of these activities to others if you have other employees
  • Hire a virtual administrative assistant if you are a single office/home office business owners
  • Hire a part time administrative assistant
  • Outsource other critical business operations from marketing to financial management

These actions will help to over this killer thought that is keeping you from your goal to increase sales.

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Indecision In Selling Is a Sales Decision

To be or not to be could be easily restated to decide or not to decide.  Indecision is a sales decision and will not achieve the goal to increase sales.

Credit www.anthonyfernando.com

With so much employee productivity (engagement) and sales productivity research not to mention all those small businesses to mid size businesses operating without strategic plans, the market place is teeming with indecision and costing both individuals and organizations millions of dollars in lost sales and profits.

When someone is in a decision making quandary, actions are not taken or are taken with unsure steps with potentially a lot of back stepping.   This is not helpful to the individual especially if she or he is a salesperson who wishes to increase sales.

What would happen if you as that crazy busy salesperson made a commitment to invest 15 minutes each day:

  • Planning your next day?
  • Planning your next week?
  • Planning your next important fact finding meeting?
  • Reviewing your daily, weekly and monthly accomplishments?

Would you then be less inclined to be indecisive?  Would you potentially work as they say “smarter not harder?” And would you increase sales?

From my own personal experience and working with my clients, the answer is a hands down Yes.  Of course, some may hide behind being “crazy busy” and just not having time. What is interesting to note that most of these time and usually cash strapped individuals will admit to wasting at least 12 minutes a day.  Those 12 wasted minutes translate into one hour per work week.

Yes indecision in selling is a sales decision.  The good news is that you can stop all that indecision right now by:

  • Returning to your strategic plan (and you do have one don’t you?)
  • Revisiting your core foundational statements especially your values
  • Investing some time daily to reflect upon today’s and tomorrow’s selling and sales actions and events

If indecision is still a problem, then maybe it is time to speak with a colleague, a mentor or even consider hiring a business or sales coach.  To increase sales as well as profitability does require an aligned decision making process that works with your talents, emotional intelligence and your existing strategic  plans.

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How to Win More Sales Goes Beyond Your Ears

Credit www.neoseeker.com

How many times have you heard a really great:

  • Marketing Tip?
  • Sales Tip?
  • Great idea?

What did you do?

  • Mentally filed it away with all those other great sales tips and ideas?
  • Wrote it down and then filed it away with all those other great written tips on scraps of paper?
  • Physically took action and just did it?

Taking action is change. Maybe this helps to explain why only 1 in 10 people will change as noted by Alan Deutschman in Change or Die.

If you goal is to increase sales, what actions are you taking? If you are not taking specific actions, then you must be completely honest with yourself and ask yourself why?

Right now, you could dramatically increase sales, if you did just these 3 actions:

  1. Follow-up on every qualified lead or referral first
  2. Follow-up on every lead
  3. Reconnect with each potential customer or qualified potential customer at least 5 to 12 times in the first three to six months

The reason you can increase sales just through these three actions is because:

Of course, this may create some extra work since it appears that many professionals sales people are truly not hungry because so few make the necessary contacts to earn the sale and ultimately increase sales.

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Moving Targets in Sales, Leadership and Values

The continued abandonment by Indiana Democrat legislators provides an example of what not to do as leaders. Their initial goal was to stop a piece of anti-union legislation which was achieved. Then having success, these so called leaders decided to up the ante by adding additional demands.

Many times we see this in business within the sales process.  The potential client makes one demand and the salesperson agrees to it.  Then other demands are made.  Now the salesperson is placed in a difficult situation.  Acquiesce to the new demands in hope that is the end of them and this will secure the order or to walk away from the potential sale.  Hard choices no matter what decision is made.

What is happening within the political spectrum is reflected on a daily basis by those engaged in the sales process.  Negotiations begin because in some cases sales people fail to adhere to the 3 sales buying rules and fail to put a lid on the 5 sales objections. Additionally, there is always the ever present issue of targeting your most ideal customer profile.

However the one consistent moving target is values or what are considered to be non-negotiable positive behaviors.  When leaders (think buyers) change their game plan after indicating this is the “deal breaker,” then this speaks to the lack of positive core values.  Then what happens the other side (think sellers) begins to doubt the integrity of their potential customers.

Moving targets in sales are very difficult to hit and take far more energy and resources that many in business have. This is why it is critical to identify your potential customers especially the psychographics.  Understanding the why of the buying decision helps to determine if this potential customer is a good fit.

Yes there are a lot of lessons to be learned from today’s political spectrum.  The sad thing is bottom line that the taxpayers (customers) will end up paying a lot more for what they expect and actually receive from government.

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Perfect The Real Meaning – Friday’s Editorial


In The Constitution of the United States preamble, the founders wrote:

“WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…”

The word perfect is discussed by many as to what it means. In my own research and knowing that many of our founding fathers were well versed in Latin, I believe for them “perfect” meant finished or complete.  This word today has a far different connotation.

By rereading this preamble with this synonym, “in Order to form a more finished Union,” the message being conveyed is far different than many currently believe.  The founders realized that perfection was not a state for them to achieve. They however wanted to move this experiment in government and more importantly in freedom to be more finished or more complete than any other past or present form of government.

By understanding the “real meaning” of this words provides for individuals greater clarity. Words are what we think, speak and write as we communicate with others. These words are embedded with a plethora of emotions along with biases.

Possibly this is why Gardner recognized the nine multiple intelligences especially being People Smart and Self Smart. For these two smarts are critical when communicating with others as well as what we say to ourselves. The work of Daniel Goleman takes these two smarts and combines them into emotional intelligence.

Today’s editorial is brief because maybe it is time to look at the words you are thinking, speaking and writing and the effect (emotional intelligence) of those words on others.  By possibly changing your perspective, you may change your ultimate results.

“When you change how you look at things, the things you look at will change.”

Ray Overdorff adapted from Wayne Dyer

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Tips to Avoid Inconsistency The Sales Killer

Credit http://metrics.net

  • 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
  • 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
  • 12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop
  • 10% of sales people make more than three contacts
  • Source: National Sales Executive Association

Inconsistency when it comes to business productivity is a sales killer from all aspects of the business be it the salespersons behaviors to the customer services behaviors to sales managers behaviors to C Suite behaviors.

Even though they may be some employees designated as sales or business development (still attempting to understand exactly what that is), all employees are in sales regardless if they believe or not.  Their behaviors must be consistent to achieve the goals be them:

  • To increase sales
  • To improve customer loyalty (repeat business)
  • To decrease turnover both external and internal customers
  • To maximize processes’ and systems’ efficiencies
  • To create a culture of high performance

When organizations establish new strategic initiatives or goals focusing only on the sales department (think increase sales) without aligning those new directives to the rest of the organization, this is a recipe for an inconsistent disaster.  To avoid the inconsistency sales killer, these tips may help:

  • Embed the same proven goal setting and goal achievement process within the entire organization
  • Adopt the Jay Galbraith 5 star model for organizational alignment
  • Rewrite all job descriptions to reflect actual job duties
  • Construct performance appraisals every 3 or 6 months
  • Continue to communicate the vision, mission and values statements with all stakeholders and shareholders
  • Describe the desired behaviors associated with the expectations
  • Monitor the results from these business productivity tips
  • Communicate good news and bad news to all internal customers (employees)
  • Develop proven leadership and sales competencies such as emotional intelligence, key attributes, etc.

With everyone having a full plate (even though from my experience most people admit to wasting at least 12 minutes while they are at work), developing consistent behaviors is just common sense.  Research abounds as to the results of inconsistency from total quality to lean six sigma as a sales killer.  By meeting inconsistency head on using a totally aligned and integrated approach can not only increase sales and thus avoid the sales killer, but improve overall business productivity not too mention general attitudes.

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Social Media Captain Wing-Its Continue to Crash

Are you a Captain Wing It when it comes to social media or marketing?  One of my colleagues, Bill Napolitano, coined this phrase several years ago after experiencing many small business owners, C suite executives and even those crazy busy sales people who “fly” without a “flight plan.”

Social media appears to be some of the  most recent airspace to experience ongoing marketing crashes. In this case, a marketing crash happens because the efforts fail to secure a safe landing or return on investment (ROI).

Just do a couple quick searches, anyone can read a plethora of stories regarding in how to use social media for the best return on investment such as:

Yesterday I read another article about improving ROI on social media respective to the marketing message. Yet ,this article too failed to identify the number one reason why Captain Wing Its continue to crash and burn.

That reason is simply no solid and well research marketing plan because there is usually no strategic plan.  Just like that necessary flight plan, strategic, marketing including social media, sales, customer loyalty, growth and management and financial plans are a “MUST HAVE.” For without these guides along with their accompanying goals, the desired results such as increase sales fail to be achieved and the precious resources of time, energy, money and emotions are wasted.

A while ago I wrote a posting about the necessity for having a well defined ideal potential customer to increase sales. This description comes from the strategic planning process and does require continued monitoring as market forces may change.

Social media is a marketing vehicle that allows you to:

  1. Attract attention
  2. Build a relationship

The ultimate goal is two-fold:

  1. Make a friend
  2. Be asked for the critical first time face to face appointment

Failure to have a plan to ensure the success of any social media activities is just plain “stupid.” Would you fly with any airline that was “loosey goosey” in:

  • Where it was going?
  • How high it was flying?
  • What time you would arrive?

“Of course not!”

“Loosey goosey” in social media, marketing, sales, does not deliver “loosey goosey” results, but rather no results.

Stop with the spraying your actions all over the place and praying that something will stick.

Instead construct a well integrated marketing plan that aligns both traditional marketing with social media.  Additionally ensure this plan is in alignment with your overall strategic plan as well as sales and customer service.  By taking these actions, you are no longer the Social Media Captain Wing it, but rather the Business Results Captain Focus It.

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People + Self = Sales Smart

Many have heard or have been identified as “book smart.” IQ tests become a standard practice. Individuals learned where their results ar respective to the bell shape curve.

Credit www.concordspedpac.org

Back in the early 1980’s,  Howard Gardner identified nine “smarts” or intelligences outside of the standard accepted cognitive one or IQ. His work prompted others such as Daniel Goleman to look to emotional intelligence (EI) that being a combination of interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences.  His research has suggested EI is 50% more important than actual IQ when it comes to leadership.

With sales being so much involved around people, being emotionally intelligent makes good common sense. Having those soft skills or being people smart helps to increase sales while building strong relationships with internal customers (employees), external customers, stakeholders and shareholders. Maybe this is why the term relationship selling continues to gain in popularity.

Of course, top sales performers who are engaged in relationship selling also know their own selves.  This knowledge helps with motivation as well as managing their own emotions as they work through the various aspects of the sales process.  Being self smart is a working partner of being people smart.

What this all means if the goal is to increase sales or be sales smart, then understanding your self and your those people soft skills appears to be a necessary metric.  For as it has been said, if you cannot measure it you cannot manage it. Consider investing the time to learn your emotional intelligence and then set goals to improve being even more “Sales smart” especially if you are engaged in relationship selling.

P.S. Until 3/25/2011, take advantage of a free and proven emotional intelligence Internet platform assessment. By investing 8-12 minutes of your time, you can secure knowledge about your capacity to be both people and self smart.  Your results are emailed to you within 24 hours. Just connect with me.

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EI The Missing Link in Sales Training Programs

This morning in my weekly business column for the Post Tribune of Northwest Indiana, I brought forward the idea of emotional intelligence (EI) and how EI increases business results. Having invested the last year learning about the brain and mind respective to neuro functions specific to decision making with the sales process, I realized that many sales training and sales coaching programs are missing this incredibly critical link.

Credit www.pbase.com

Now with the impact of social media and Web 2.0 soon to be Web. 4.0, improving emotional intelligence as a competency is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.  Yet with the emphasis on specific sales skills such as asking open questions to negotiating to “closing the sale” (gosh I truly detest that phrase), the urgency to include EI in sales training programs or sales coaching programs takes a back seat.

A quick Google search produced these results to confirm that EI is not as popular as other sales skills within sales training.

  • Asking Questions – 3,060,000 hits
  • Negotiating – 1, 270,000 hits
  • Fact Finding – 1,190,000 hits
  • Emotional Intelligence – 223,000 hits

Social media has truly moved emotional intelligence to the forefront, yet for so many it is encased in a fog of other priorities.  Just visit Facebook and see all the emotions being thrown onto walls whether it starts as a news feed or a comment on someone else’s wall. Or take a walk through Twitter and read many of those emotionally laden Tweets. Then there are other blogs where emotions are running rampant.

One of my colleagues, Dan Waldschmidt, wrote a blog that used a word which invoked a lot of emotion.  Even though he was quite emotionally intelligent in how he choose to incorporate this word, many who read his column believed the choice of this particular word was inappropriate to rude.

What is also interesting in the last couple of weeks when conversing with other colleagues, small business owners, executives and even those crazy busy sales people, very few of them had ever heard about emotional intelligence.  This truly surprised me in one way and did not surprise me in another way.

Yes, it is important to have specific sales skills. However if one competency can dramatically increase sales not too mention overall business results, does it not make sense to include that topic in any contemporary sales training coaching program?

Emotional intelligence is a real time behavior that can be easily learned and probably far easier to learn than many other sales skills after all emotions are something we all have.  The only obstacle as in any change event is are you ready to consider improving this competency especially if you wish to increase sales?

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