Archive for July, 2012

Is Your Sales Challenge You Can’t Handle the Truth?

You can’t handle the truth is from the movie A Few Good Men and maybe it is for some small businesses owners to sales professionals their unstated sales challenge.

Can you handle the truth?

Of course the answer to that question may require for you to determine what “truth” means for you for your specific sales challenge.

Are you doing what you need to increase sales?

Are you eating those frogs so to speak?

Are you putting off what you need to do because there is another excuse or justification?

Are you seeking the quick fixes to your goal to increase sales?

Are you failing to invest in your own sales professional development?

Until you are honest with yourself, you may continually face the same sales challenge of You Can’t Handle the Truth and potentially engage in Einstein’s definition of insanity.

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Sales Leadership – The 7 Power Up Sales Skills

Credit www.sxc.hu

With all the focus on the technical sales skills of negotiating, fact finding, overcoming stalls, sometimes the most obvious and most critical ones get placed on the back burner. In working with many sales professionals and C Suite executive, I have discovered these seven (7) powerful sales skills since everyone is in sales. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Everyone is selling something to someone; only sales people get paid to do that.

#1 Power Up – Personal Accountability

The ability to be responsible for the consequences of one’s own decisions and actions; taking responsibility for these decisions, and not shifting focus on blame or poor performance somewhere else, or on others.  This derives from an internal responsibility to one’s self to be accountable and this internal willingness to own up will tend to be exhibited outside in one’s actions. (Source Innermetrix)

#2 Power Up – Self Management

An overall capacity comprised of multiple factors, which involve a person’s ability to manage his or her own “self”.  Similar to a person’s ability to manage others, which involves empathy, understanding, the ability to gain commitment and various other leadership qualities, this capacity measures a person’s ability to marshal similar abilities toward managing themselves. (Source Innermetrix)

#3 Power Up – Results Orientation

The ability to identify actions necessary to achieve task completion and to obtain results.  This ability will be manifested in a person’s ability to meet schedules, deadlines, quotas and performance goals. (Source Innermetrix)

#4 Power Up – Consistency and Reliability

This is the capacity to feel an internal need to be conscientious in their personal or professional efforts.  The need to be both consistent and reliable in their life roles.  This is an internal motivation, as opposed to being motivated by external forces such as job, peer or supervisory pressures. (Source Innermetrix)

#5 Power Up – Relating to Others

The ability to coordinate personal insights and knowledge of others into effective actions.  The ability to make use of accurate interpersonal skills in interacting with others. (Source Innermetrix)

#6 Power Up –  Realistic Personal Goal Setting

The capacity for realistic personal goal setting is inherent within all human beings.  However, some have developed that attribute or capacity better than others. (Source Innermetrix) Sales Training Coaching Tip:  This is one attribute when even further developed can have a dramatic impact on the majority of all the 78 core attributes as identified by Innermetrix.

#7 Power Up – Diplomacy

The ability to balance personal emotions with the needs of the situation, to not allow one’s personal emotions or feelings to interfere, cloud or inappropriately affect their response to a situation. This attribute is looking at how clearly someone can keep the feelings and concerns o others in mind while dealing with emotionally charged situations. (Source Innermetrix) Sales Training Coaching Tip: Emotional intelligence has been determined to be a key skill for successful leaders and especially within sales leadership.  Within the Attribute Index, the talent of Diplomacy directly reflects the application of emotional intelligence. The application of this talent can begin to power start overall progress.

Just imagine if you could work on these seven power up sales skills with in overall sales leadership and start to realize immediate results. Yes technical skills are important, however those soft or people skills are even more important because people buy from people.

P.S. If you wish to have these talents assessed along with the other 71 talents as identified within the Innermetrix assessment, you can find more information here on performance appraisals. If you are still unsure, then consider this webinar Sales Leadership – Got Talent being delivered on August 28, 2012. (Scroll down to that date.)

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Maybe You Are Too Personal Too Soon in Your Sales Communication

Sales is a personal experience if we believe as Zig Ziglar said “Sales is the transference of feelings.”

Credit www.sxc.hu

Yet that emotional transference of feelings happens in stages and to jump to quick or to presume the personal relationship is solid may be one reason for the inability to increase sales.

A posting over at LinkedIn asked the following question specific to sales communication:

“You are at an exhibition stand, a visitor approaches and you are only allowed to ask one question to him/her? What would it be?”

There were many good answers and some of then were indeed situational. One that caught my eye was this response:

“Mr. or Ms. prospect, if you could change one thing in your business today, what would it be and why? “

What caught my eye was the word “Why.”

This word, “Why,” is very personal in nature.  Sometimes I have watched sales people and small business owners engaged in sales communication at business to business networking events using this word with newly met professionals to actual prospects.  A negative emotional reaction is usually present from a slight shift in body language to a major defensive reaction.

There are other words to get the same answer, but this requires using a few more words and demonstrating emotional intelligence within the sales communication process.

The reason people use the “Why” word is to get as they say to the prospect’s pain.  This helps the salesperson qualify the person in front of them and there is nothing wrong in qualifying folks.

What may not make sense is to use a word that may disqualify you.

Probably it makes more sense to communicate using the word “Why” after you know and have confirmation that the relationship with the potential customer or prospect is solid.  In some cases, you still may be required to ask permission when using the “Why” word.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Even with my executive coaching clients, I still ask permission to ask a significant question.

By remembering people first buy from people they know and trust, you may wish to consider investing just a little more time in your sales communication for your potential buyers to trust you before you spring the “Why” question on them.

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Timing Counts to Increase Sales

Timing, when to ask that next question to when to be quiet, counts when seeking to increase sales. Yet timing now extends far beyond the traditional sales skills and marketing activities with its move  into social media.

Credit www.sxc.hu

A recent report released by Yesmail Interactive revealed the disconnect between social media and email campaigns specific to buyer’s patterns. With so many small business owners and entrepreneurs being non-employed according to the US Census Bureau, time is even a more precious resource and so it is imperative all marketing and selling actions are in alignment with the potential buyer’s activity.

Just like knowing the best times for listening to the radio as reported by Arbitron or watching TV per Nielsen to increase sales, there are the best times and worse times for social media.

What this report by Yesmail suggested is the following times and days are the best for social media engagement:

  • Facebook – 10pm to 12am EST
  • Twitter – 5am to 8am EST
  • YouTube – after 6pm EST

Additionally based upon marketing research, Tuesdays are the best days for Facebook specific to engagement and yet this days ranks fourth specific to when campaigns begin. Many Twitter campaigns start on Friday, another bad day for social media engagement.  YouTube receives most interaction on Monday’s, but again the least utilized day for any marketing initiatives.

If you are actively using social media to increase sales, then it just may make sense to create a marketing calendar or if you prefer a communications schedule to ensure you are hitting those most engaged tines by your potential buyers.  Using automation tools such as Hoot Suite can assist you in putting that marketing calendar together.

P.S. If you want to improve your sales skills and increase sales, consider registering for one or more of the 30 webinars being delivered by 17 sales experts and coaches (myself included) over at the Sales Summer School.

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Social Media Marketing Influence or Inflation?

Social media marketing can certainly attract attention and influence buying decisions as proven by many research reports one of the most recent Wildfire as posted over at Media Post blogs.

Yet there appears to be a growing inflation due to many sales people who fail to understand the purpose of social media marketing as Shel Israel noted in one of his recent posts entitled: Will Marketing Muck Up Social Media.

Influence and inflation are clearly not the same and it does appear some small business owners have a great deal of confusion surrounding this relatively cheap marketing channel.

The origin’s of the word influence are Latin and mean “to flow in.”  Now inflation comes from the word inflate meaning “to blow.”

Influence = Flow In Is Good versus Inflation = Blow Out Is Bad

In today’s society, influence is usually considered to be a good attribute, while inflation is viewed far more negatively. From our experiences, inflation results in higher prices and lesser quality.  Many of us have suffered from the inflated egos of those business people who talk and talk and talk because they want to sell, sell and sell so you buy, buy and buy.

The concern expressed by Israel and many others is the absence of building long term relationships because of the desire for the quick increase sales to the all too often get rich schemes.

Possibly this is why having an integrated marketing plan using an education based marketing approach versus the traditional or sales based one is necessary. Aligning this written action plan to the positive core values (business ethics) is a must.

Social media marketing is still in its developmental stage to even infancy for some businesses who have yet to integrate this marketing channel into their overall strategic plan.

By remembering the purpose of marketing and then the two fold goal (to make a friend and to be asked in for that first meeting) may support you to continue to influence your potential customers to strategic partners and keep inflation to a minimum.

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How to Increase Sales – Invest in Your Professional Development

Given that buyers are people and people are unique, there is no special magic sales skills that are the answer to how to increase sales. Now there is one answer that is not magical, but requires a commitment on your end as the professional salesperson and that is invest in your professional development.

To take this action to heart does require some planning on your part.

President and General Eisenhower said “Plans are worthless; planning is everything.”

What planning for professional development looks like for each salesperson will be different and should be different.

However each of these sales training coaching professional development action plans will have some shared goals or objectives such as:

  • Read a book on selling, marketing or business
  • Subscribe to several blogs
  • Read online journals and articles
  • Attend free seminars
  • Hire a professional sales coach
  • Pay for some sales training whether face to face classrooms or webinars

Now is the the last shared professional development goal that I wish to expound upon.  Many webinars are about 15% promotions and 85% content and some I have attended are at 50% promotion and 50% content.

Yuck! 

Finding a series of webinars where 95% of the time is focused on relevant content is difficult.

Whether the webinar is free or pricey, no one wants to pay to hear someone engaged in self promotion especially when they have paid some greenbacks to attend. What they want to hear is the facts, just the facts sprinkled with personal experiences and a touch of humor.  Having attended free, pricey and reasonable fee based webinars (reasonable being under $50 for me), I too was tired of wasting my time and in some instances my dollars.

Recognizing this challenge, I have been able to unite with 17 other top notch sales consultants, sales trainers and sales coaches to deliver 30 different, one hour webinars on sales.  Topics are in several different areas including:

  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Selling

These webinars are all listed at the Sales Summer School and each sales training webinar has an expanded description.

Of course attending any webinar should be aligned to your sales training coaching professional development.  For example, if you are thinking about your own sales talents or thinking about how to measure the effectiveness of your sales team, it may make sense to make a nominal investment in this workshop “Sales Leadership – Got Talent?”  I will be key facilitator for this webinar on August 28, 2012 at 4pm est assisted by Miles Austin who is also an expert in the field of sales and technology.

In this webinar, participants will be able to define the differences between these four basic assessments and when better to schedule them for their sales team:

  1. Attribute Index – The What of Talents and Decision Making Styles
  2. DISC – The How of Communication
  3. Values – The Why of Motivation
  4. Emotional Intelligence – The Who, The Where and the When

Sales Training Coaching Tip: By the way, did you know the Attribute Index is one of the very few formal assessments that is totally objective in construction? What this means for the respondent is the accuracy of the results are far greater than the Myers Briggs, Strength Finders, 360s or even DISC.

Another sales webinar I will be conducting the following day on August 29 also at 4pm est  is “I Hate to Sell, But I Need to Pay the Bills.”

With the majority of new small business owners not having any employees along with the downsizing of many sales departments, more and more sales people along with support staff are being asked to sell. Yet, the idea of selling conjures a negative reaction of that pushy “used car” salesperson. This webinar is designed to provide you with a better understanding of how to change that “I hate to sell” belief along with some tools to allow you to go beyond just paying the bills.

Participants who attend will be able to define and utilize:

  • The Formula for Sales Success
  • Clarification about marketing, selling and the overall sales process
  • Simple and adaptable sales process flow chart
  • The Results Tool™ allowing to turn goals into results
  • Points to Success Tool providing a way to progress and results
  • Sales One Page Action Plan and Marketing One Page Action Plan

These tools along with concepts from the webinar will allow attendees to immediately apply them and within seven (7) days begin to see positive changes in their own sales results.

So if you are seeking how to increase sales,

what is that worth to you is the question you should be asking yourself?

So invest 15 minutes, check out the 30 offerings and invest your time and dollars in your own professional development through the Sales Summer School webinar.

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To Increase Sales Maybe It Is Time to Dig Your Own Walden Pond?

So many times to increase sales, small business owners, C Suite executives to those front line salespersons seek outside sales training coaching programs. Possibly these consulting to training solutions may close the performance gaps.

Credit www.sxc.hu

Yet, maybe the answer is to embrace a well known American figure, Henry David Thoreau, solution by digging your own Walden Pond?

Thoreau’s Walden Pond was a place away from the hustle and bustle of life. Here he could engage in self-reflection without distractions of the 1850s.

In working with clients, the majority (well over 90%) lack any planning as to the future.  The excuse I hear is “I don’t have time.”

Bull Feathers!

What the real reason is “I don’t want to take the time to think, to reflect upon what happened today. Rather I choose to continue to live a life of reactionary behaviors being on someone else’s agenda while falsely thinking I am my own person.”

Harry Kraemer, author of From Values to Action, shared how he reflected at the end of each day and this has been a consistent behavior. Now this individual, the former CEO of Baxter International, obviously was quite busy.  So if Harry can make the time, so can you.

Your Walden Pond does not necessarily have to be a cabin in the woods.  Possibly it can be when you are engaged in some physical activity such as running where you have the opportunity to clear your thoughts. One of my close colleagues, Dan Waldschmidt, has found running to be quite therapeutic for his business as well as for himself.

Wherever you establish your Walden Pond, the key is to visit it with discipline and consistency. Have some self-reflection questions to ask yourself each time when you visit your sanctuary or enclave.

In today’s uncertain and tumultuous economic times, the ongoing goal to increase sales is always top of mind. By investing some time on you through self-reflection, on what you are doing well, on what you may think about doing better, is more important than ever before.

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The Plastic Customer Service Phenomenon

Walk into most financial institutions to departments stores to telecommunications businesses and you will have that now all too common “plastic customer service” experience.

“Welcome to …” or

“Hello and how are you?”

Are they really interested in how you are feeling right now?

Do they really care you are coming into their place of employment?

Do you feel special and of value when you hear these lame attempts to demonstrate caring customer service?

These plastic sounding attempts at delivering even noticeable customer service are as insincere as the teenager with the “sorrieee” response when being chastised for some typical teenage behavior.

Yet some consulting and training company probably sold a bill of goods that the employees must be more customer service friendly or some C Suite executive thought customer service was the problem and failed to take the 30,000 foot viewpoint to critically determine all the gaps within the organization.  Now many brick and mortar stores have adopted that greeter at the front door along with some call centers.

Initially it probably made a difference. However now that more and more companies have adopted this quick fix customer service tactic, it truly is old hat and even an annoyance especially when you are just running in and out.

I would prefer employees who are working just taking the time to provide a genuine smile (not a plastic one), a sincere statement or question than does not sound like some training mill constructed script.

With all the hoopla around customer loyalty specific to the  net promoter score, one key fact is never discussed and may be one of the underlying factors for this phenomenon of plastic customer service.

How many of your customers actually took action by making that critical sales referral to your business?

And more importantly, how do you know this to be true?

What tracking process or mechanism do you have in place?

How do you reward those loyal customers who actually took the time make a solid sales referral?

There is a big difference between “How likely are you to make a recommendation to a family member or friend” and actually making one.

Leave the plastic for the credit and debit cards and start creating an authentic customer service experience.  Remember these two facts:

  1. People buy from people they know and trust.
  2. People can spot a phony a mile off!
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5 Warning Signs You’re Sabotaging Your Business By Amandah Tayler Blackwell

You wouldn’t intentionally sabotage your business. Would you?

Think again!

Subconsciously, you could be putting the kibosh on having a successful business for a myriad of reasons. The biggest reason is fear. It’s a powerful four-letter word.

What is it that you fear?

Believe it or not, you most likely fear success because you’re unsure of how to handle it. You may not be ready for the spotlight or income bracket you’ve dreamed about for years.

Another fear is that success will change you not for the better, but for the worse. You’ve convinced yourself that if you’re successful, you won’t be the same upbeat, fun loving person you’ve always been. Instead, you’ll become a miser or lose your compassion for people.

To quote Dr. Wayne Dyer, “How true is this?”

What you may fear is that those you’ve known your entire life will no longer associate with you. So be it. You have no control over others. You can only control you.

Let’s further examine the warning signs you’re sabotaging your business and how you can stop it right now.

5 Warning Signs You’re Sabotaging Your Business

#1 – You make excuses

Making excuses such as “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “Something’s come up” won’t catapult you and your business onto the success highway. It takes you on a detour that can last a long time. Instead of making excuses, make up your mind to toss out every excuse you’ve spoken or written. It will set you free and is the first step towards success.

#2 – No schedule

If you don’t have a calendar, how can you stick to a business schedule?

Schedules are your friend. They you accomplish day-to-day tasks such as marketing, writing blog posts, answer emails, networking, etc. Without a set schedule, you’ll run amok and your business won’t grow.

#3 – Time seems to evade you

Do you ever find yourself looking at the clock wondering where the day went? You’re not alone. Many business owners often wish they’d had more hours a day. However, you may want to review how you spend your time. Do you constantly check emails and your social networks? Do you read blog posts for hours? Do you watch TV instead of tending to your business? Time suckers like email checking and social media can kill your business. Check these once or twice a day and you’ll find you have more time to focus on generating more business.

#4 – You’re surrounded by negativity

If you’re familiar with the law of attraction, you understand that ‘like attracts like.’ If you fear success, chances are the people around you fear it. If you find yourself worrying that you won’t be able to pay your bills, chances are the people around you worry as much as you do. The more your worry, the more you’ll attract worry to you. Take a deep breath or two and relax. Release your worries. Hanging onto to them isn’t healthy for you or your business.

#5 – No risk taking

Taking a ‘calculated’ risk here or there could pay off. But you won’t know unless you try. Do your due diligence before rushing into business decisions. If the answers you find point to a success, go for it! You won’t be successful at something if you don’t try.

Are you ready to stop sabotaging your business?

If you answered “yes,” give yourself a round of applause.

Start over with a new attitude and set a course for success, which can be reached with dedication, determination and perseverance.

Take it one day at a time and don’t be in a hurry. Sometimes, patience can be a blessing in disguise. You never know who or what will cross your path that will help you and your business take-off.

Have faith, believe in you and stay the course.

About the Guest Blogger:

Amandah Tayler Blackwell, your “Savvy-Writer,” is an adventurous freelance writer, ghost writer, and creative writer. She’s an avid blogger and collaborator on writing projects and is developing her own projects.

Follow Amandah on Twitter @ savvy_writer

Connect with Amandah on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/amandahblackwell and http://www.linkedin.com/company/savvy-writer—amandah-tayler-blackwell?trk=cws-cpw-coname-0-0

Google+ at https://plus.google.com/u/0/113610300205128602598

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Be Valuable First and Foremost

In a discussion with Lynn Hidy and Dan Waldschmidt yesterday about how to increase sales, the conversation started off about value creation. Somewhere within the first 20 minutes, Dan made the following statement as he was processing the conversation (soon to be broadcast):

Be Valuable!

Such a simple statement and one that is so powerful.

How can you be valuable if your goal is to increase sales, improve customer loyalty or decrease costs?

To be valuable requires you to know yourself first, to even love yourself self, allowing you to lead yourself first.

To be valuable is not about you creating value, selling value or value creation.

What this means you must dig within you to know yourself or as Shakespeare said “To thine own self be true.”

You cannot be true to yourself unless you know who you are.

One of the challenges is our society does not encourage self reflection allowing people to know who they are.

Reflection takes time and people “got no time” or so they believe.

So again how can you be valuable?

Simple truths has a great 3 minute DVD, Johnny the Bagger,  that showcases how one young man answered that question.

Each and everyone of us can be valuable to our family, our friends, our clients, our colleagues and our fellow community members.

What action steps we take to “be valuable” are individual choices based upon our own goals, ethics and beliefs and experiences.

Just remember, Be Valuable first and foremost and the rest of life will have greater value for others and even yourself.

 

If you are facing significant issues in your organization and need some clarity, Leanne Hoagland-Smith will provide a one day on site visit to start crystallizing those clarity issues so that you can have that high performance organization you are wanting.

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