Archive for February, 2013

Am I Cut Out for Sales?

am-i-cut-out-for-sales

How many times do we as small business owners, entrepreneurs and even salespeople have this one single  question  floating around in our heads especially with the continued economic uncertainty:

Am I Cut Out for Sales?

To support and answer this question for myself and my clients,  I employ several performance appraisal or psychometric tools including the:

These tools provided greater clarity when attempting to answer this repetitive question “Am I cut out for sales?”

So what makes a great salesperson? Truly I do not know the answer to this question because each human being has different talents and what works for one may not work for another. Being in sales is definitely not a one size fit all suit nor a list of core competencies.

One thing I do know are the absence of these talents contribute to poor sales results:

If anyone truly had the all encompassing answer to the question “Am I cut out for sales?” then there probably would be only one sales training coaching company in the marketplace.

Even when individuals have all the right talents, this does not guarantee sales success in today’s marketplace for the majority of salespeople. Why, because sales is so much more than just “closing the deal.” Sales is truly about:

  • Marketing
  • Selling
  • Keeping

So many in sales professions lack sustainable marketing skills as well as keeping the customers. When these two areas are neglected, sustainable business growth and profits suffer even in spite of the goal to increase sales being achieved.

Everybody is in sales from the warehousing department to the C Suite table. So from the 30,000 viewpoint, the answer is yes to “Am I cut out for sales?”  The better questions to be asked are:

  • “What are my beliefs about sales, marketing, selling and keeping?”
  • “Where do I need to re-frame, revise or even remove those beliefs?”
  • “How do I align my talents to my beliefs?”
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What Is the Purpose of Sales in Today’s Marketplace?

Zig Ziglar defined sales as the transference of feelings. His definition is very accurate and still extremely relevant.

From a broader perspective, the 30,000 viewpoint as some say, sales goes beyond the transference of feelings. With the majority of businesses (98.2%) having 99 employees or less, the purpose of sales has come to be defined in terms of:

  • Marketing – to attract potential ideal customers
  • Selling – to have qualified prospects buy your solutions (products or services)
  • Keeping – to maintain those relationships and be top of mind when future wants and needs happen as well as to provide referral resources

purpose-of-sales

Sales Training Coaching Tip: Maybe this expanded expanded viewpoint of sales is why so many sales training coaching programs fail to deliver the desired results of increase sales?

When we render sales down, then sales is truly about business growth. 

If the firm has a desire to grow from a couple of employees to 10 or 20 employees, then sales becomes just one business growth strategy. Unfortunately for so many small businesses, sales is the only business growth strategy.

Business growth is the purpose of sales. 

This growth extends beyond the dollars on the spreadsheet or the sales goals met. For when the company grows so should its internal customers (employees), external customers (paying clients), vendors, strategic partners and other stakeholders not to mention the community.

With greater clarity regarding the purpose of sales comes the development of people (talent) and operations (management). This action is also ignored because of the single and somewhat misguided focus on sales being the only business growth strategy. From my experience this explains why the inability to increase sales is not because of poor sales skills, but usually because of poor leadership; a lack of business growth strategies beyond how to market and increase sales; and inconsistent application of processes to actually no processes.

If you as a small business leader or sales manager want to increase sales, then consider reviewing how you think about the purpose of sales and begin to expand that definition so that you truly experience consistent business growth.

The 3 Sales Buying Rules work with the bigger business growth strategies of marketing, selling and keeping. On Thursday, March 7, 2013 from 12-12:30pm cst consider investing 30 minutes to learn these 3 sales buying rules in this free webinar along with some of the necessary talents that work with this rules.

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Is the Traditional Business Growth Strategy the Square Peg in the Round Hole?

Traditional business growth strategy usually focuses on how to increase sales (revenue) while reducing costs to improve profits. [S-C=P] Yet this solution or approach may be wrong within today’s technology driven, warp speed small business marketplace. Old paradigms regarding marketing are being replaced by social media through mobile technology.

business-growth-strategy

Isn’t it time to change how we think about business growth strategy?

What would happen if we expanded the traditional mindset to include these three (3) elements present in all organizations from the single office/home office entrepreneur to the Fortune 500 firms?

  1. Profits
  2. People
  3. Growth Attitude Culture

Profits = People + Growth Attitude Culture (P=P+GAC)

If profits are the desired end result, then why is their such a focus on how to increase sales? In many cases this single focus actually reduces profits because:

  1. No profit model has ever been established
  2. Bad decisions are made because of the emotional desires and pressures to increase sales
  3. No forward thinking involved in how to stay ahead of the flow when it comes to innovation and sustainability

If organizations are comprised of people working and united together for a single purpose, then why is this element never part of the initial business growth strategy? Usually when people are included, they are viewed as a cost and not as an asset. This is the wrong way to work with business growth and a mindset definitely that needs to be changed if not eliminated.

Finally, having a growth attitude culture goes again beyond S-C=P. Here is where the culture is united through a growth attitude; is supported by a common shared language and is accepted by one and all. How many times do employees resent business growth because it makes more work for them?

Now is the time to start implementing a new business growth strategy and leave the square peg in the round hole for those who wish to stay behind the flow. This solution should work with the constant change of today’s marketplace along with the inevitable chaos that seems to envelop most small business leaders.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith by being a heurist looks to discover new ways to support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their 10 employees. Her business growth strategy approach is not the common traditional solution and may just surprise you how truly simple, not necessarily easy, it may be for you and your enterprise. She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Sales Tips Using the iPad Mini – My Journey Part 1

To be nimble and responsive in today’s technology driven global market place does demand finding not only the best sales tips, but marrying technology to that ever changing, 24/7 sales environment. My behavior to adopt new technology is usually behind the flow because of the new learning curve and my decision making style of thinking overtakes the emotional rush to be the first one to having something new.

sales-tips

Well, last week I made a decision to purchase the iPad Mini to increase my business productivity; to eliminate carrying the my old and still functional laptop when traveling and to allow me greater online responsiveness and flexibility. (Sales Training Coaching Tip:  These three are my wants and needs.)

My buying decision was made on these “value” criteria:

  1. A colleague, Mary Anne Shew, made a presentation about the business model generation canvas and yes there is an app for that
  2. Another colleague, Miles Austin, who understands technology far better than I ever will, wrote an excellent blog about the iPad mini for sales (Sales Training Coaching Tip: Miles is “The Guy” for technology and sales.)
  3. A desire to build several apps for business growth focusing on uniting people (talents) and operations (management)
  4. As the next generation of talent and management heurist lacking this technology and specifically this tool suggests I potentially also lack knowledge about business growth including how to increase sales in today’s marketplace
  5. Finally, I do love Apple products because of their ease of use and dependability (Sales Training Coaching Tip: This reason is the number two sales buying rule.)

Right now, not even 24 hours into the acquisition of the iPad mini, I have downloaded the following FREE apps from the Apple iTunes store and have created folders for them.

Business Productivity

  1. Evernote
  2. Rapid Note
  3. SuperNote

Library

  1. Kindle
  2. Ted

MS Office

  1. Documents
  2. iSpreadsheet
  3. CloudOn

News

  1. Drudge
  2. Zite – Great application as it provides news on your interests, much like SmartBriefs.

Newsstand (Pre-existing folder)

  • Wall Street Journal

Utilities

  • Contacts
  • Calculator

Games Folder

Last week I ordered from Zagg a keyboard for the iPad Mini and a stylus.  Until these items come, the iPad mini will stay home protected from the elements and my own clumsiness. (Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Having a stylus for my iPhone has been a blessing in disguise.)

So far what I have experienced is that my learning curve is somewhat less because I have the iPhone 4.  Also I recognized I need to invest some time to set up the iCloud account and download critical documents from my desktop into that cloud server for future access.

In the days and weeks to come, I will be updating this journey through reviews of the apps I find very functional and those I find do not serve my particular needs or meet my expectations along with the important sales tips.  For example, yesterday I attended a free webinar on this application, Contact Ready.

So stay tuned and if you have any questions or sales tips you want answered through my hands on experience, please let me know. IF I don’t know the answer, I am sure I know someone who does.

P.S. If you want to know the other two sales buying rules, then this FREE workshop, the 3 Sales Buying Rules will answer that question and provide some other information you may have not heard elsewhere.  Date is Thursday, March 7, from 12-12:30pm CST.

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Just Pack Up Your Business Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile

My husband is a great fan of Laurel and Hardy. When there is nothing good on television which is quite often he will take out a Laurel and Hardy film from his extensive DVD collection and play it. Recently, he played Pack Up Your Troubles and I was reminded how many times in  business leadership we fail to do just that.

business-troubles

Within our small businesses, there appears to be a tendency to justify these business troubles and share  them with others as to why:

  • A delivery was not made?
  • A phone call was not returned?
  • We are abrupt on the phone?

Personally as a buyer I could care less you have to work an extra hour, you were too busy to call me back or why a promised shipment was not honored. What I care about is having my delivery made on time through a prompt and polite phone call.

In the song “Pack Up Your Troubles,” the old kit bag was the name given for a knapsack during WWI.  This is where soldiers packed everything they needed in the field.

  • Yes the bags were heavy
  • Yes the bags were probably uncomfortable
  • Yes it took effort to smile, smile, smile

In today’s high velocity marketplace, customers and colleagues do not want to listen to your business troubles.

So suck it up and leave the Willie Whiner role!

The Old Kit Bag can be our capacity to deal with misfortune or through another filter is our motivational reserve. Here is where we can place those life or business troubles and accept business or life will not always be what we want.

By smiling we are recognizing these misfortunes and channeling that negative energy into positive energy. This does not mean we are being a Pollyanna, but displaying emotional intelligence because we are dealing and managing our own emotions.

Sometimes by listening to the wisdom of past generations even when it is in a song, we can adapt and truly move forward, closer to our overall personal and business leadership goals.

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Is Your Sales Pitch the Same Old Pair of Shoes?

Does your sales pitch look like a new pair of shoes or is it worn, shabby like an old pair of shoes? Does it scare people or worse yet having them tune you out?

sales-pitch

Today’s market place is ever changing and dynamic. New small businesses are opening shop, hanging out their shingles.  Unless you are nimble and quick and this includes your sales pitch you may just be pulling down your shingle and closing up your small business.

So what does your sales pitch say about you, your company and your solutions?

Is it brand new and still displays some quality and substance?

Maybe it is comfortable like an old pair of shoes?

How many answers to the question of what do you so begin with these two words:

  • I help?
  • We help?

Doesn’t this sound like everyone else?

Maybe what you might wish to consider is to change your sales pitch to a buy me pitch?

People buy from people they know and trust. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  This is the first sales buying rule.

If this sales buying rule is true, how does your sales pitch encourage others to want to know more about you, your company or your solution while developing trust?

This might sound like “Forward thinking leaders work with me to avoid those dreaded and costly people and operation silos created by traditional business growth solutions.”

In the book The Challenger Sales the authors discussed how many sales pitches are all about you and not your potential customers?  The answer is to begin with the customer by educating them.

As in the example as noted above,  this sales pitch is more about the customers and provides some education as to what the “seller” does. The response starts with the customer in mind and describes one of the frequent repetitive problems that some potential customers might not realize come from a traditional business growth strategy.

Your sales pitch is really a series of single statements that when told sequentially build a compelling story while stirring the emotions of the listener. If you are having trouble achieving your goal to increase sales, then consider rethinking your business growth strategy during that initial conversation with a potential ideal customer.

Learn the two other sales buying rules on Thursday, March 7, 2013 from 12-12:30pm cst in this free webinar The 3 Sales Buying Rules.

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Is Your Business Growth Strategy Just Coasting Along?

Business growth strategy for many in business leadership roles is looked at through this one factor how to increase sales. The more sales I have made my business is growing. This viewpoint may be narrow (even if you have grown 10%) and may just have you truly coasting along instead of truly reaching that next level.

busiiness-growth-strategy

For those small businesses who truly wish to expand not only their revenue, but their people, then maybe it is time to stop the coasting and truly begin to understand business growth strategy and then put together unified plans of action to execute that strategy.

In reading a book, Navigating the Growth Curve, the author not only provides different stages of business growth, he also simplifies many of the accepted business definitions and beliefs that are tied to the traditional way of thinking about business growth strategy.

One of the best simplifications is his definition of business success:

  • The money you make
  • The money you keep
  • The value of your business

To energize your business in today’s 21st century marketplace demands you begin to think differently including strategically what that means for you in business leadership, your employees, your vendors and other stakeholders.

In the days and weeks to come, I will share more about how you can stop just coasting along and truly begin to embrace a different business growth strategy provided you still want to be in business in three to 10 years.

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The Sea of Missed LinkedIn Opportunities and Scarcity Thinking

linkedin-endorsements

Is your scarcity thinking preventing you from capitalizing on the many LinkedIn opportunities?  For example, you may view the recent LinkedIn endorsements feature as:

  • A nuisance?
  • Meaningless?
  • Time waster?
  • Lacking any real quality?
  • Benefit for only LinkedIn?

If you have had any of these thoughts, then you are potentially locked into scarcity thinking and drowning in the sea of missed LinkedIn opportunities.

First, endorsements can only be from your first degree connections. If you are receiving LinkedIn endorsements from people you do not know, then this suggests the quality issue is on your end not LinkedIn’s.

Second if you have more than 100 first degree connections, how do you regularly communicate with them?  If you are not actively using this powerful “Rolodex,” then why are you on LinkedIn?

Third, why are you worried about how this will benefit LinkedIn and fail to recognize the opportunity for yourself?

In working with clients, I ask them to consider what they can control or influence and stop thinking about what they cannot control.

I cannot control the business model for any other organization. So I do not invest one cent of my time or energy thinking about the business models of others or their motivations.

Frankly who cares provided the opportunity is not contrary to my business ethics? In the case the potential LinkedIn opportunities, I actively participate and use their other features such as updates and discussion groups along with making endorsements for those people I know.

What I can control is how I capitalize on those opportunities:

  • Where I can reap some benefit
  • Where the business model from another enterprise can provide new sales leads opportunities
  • Where I can strengthen my own marketing actions

When I receive a LinkedIn endorsement,  I quickly enter the name into a daily activity book along with the endorsement.  Then usually the next day using a message that I copied from a master LinkedIn word document for endorsements and invitations, I send a thank you message for the endorsement.  If we have not connected recently via the telephone or a personal meeting, I suggest that we may wish to consider taking that action. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  If gratitude is part of your business ethics, then not thanking people because you viewed the LinkedIn endorsement as negative suggests you are selective as to how you apply your business ethics’ behaviors.

This approach can also be used as a springboard to outreach to first degree connections who make comments on your updates or in your discussion groups.

From this proactive, abundance thinking mentality, I have received one new client and several referrals along with some positive additional marketing not to mention reconnecting with colleagues.  These new sales leads opportunities would not have happened if I thought like everyone else and viewed the LinkedIn endorsements as “meaningless” and not worthy of my time. My mindset does indeed support me to Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits.

Do you know the 3 sales buying rules along with the talents to support these rules?

If not, join other sales professionals and SMB owners on Thursday, March 7, 2013 from 12-12:30 pm CST for this Free Webinar.

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The Sales Challenge of I Need Prospects Part 2

For most to overcome this sales challenge of “I need prospects,” begins with marketing. Yet there still is so much confusion about what is marketing; how to define marketing and what marketing actions deliver the best results especially with the influence of social media. Earlier this week I wrote about this sales challenge from a prospecting perspective.

sales-challenge

Today I would like to address a primary false belief that generates another false belief.

False Belief #1 – Marketing is advertising.

Advertising is a channel or an activity. There is more to marketing than just advertising. As noted earlier, marketing is about:

  • Attracting attention (preferably positive attention)
  • Building relationships

The goal of marketing is also two-fold:

  • Make a friend (new sales lead, center of influence or strategic partner)
  • Asked back for that coveted face to face meeting (B2B) or to have the person walk through your doors (B2C or B2R)

False Belief #2 – Marketing is a cost.

This belief probably stems from the first believe that marketing is advertising and we all know advertising costs.

Marketing just like sales training coaching or even self improvement is an investment. When marketing is  done correctly meaning there is a plan with predetermined results, stated goals and sequential steps.  To think this action to attract attention and build relationships is a cost reaffirms scarcity thinking and not abundance thinking.

My suggestion is by changing how we think about this sales challenge of “I need prospect,” we can begin to improve the results from our behaviors and truly move closer to securing the bigger goal to increase sales.

If you are free on Thursday,  March 7, 2013 from 12-12:30pm, you may find this free webinar the 3 Sales Buying Rules of interest.

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Friday’s Favorites – Fail-Safe Leadership A Critical Book Review

Being a notorious bookworm, my office is filled with hundreds of books both hard and electronic copies. Over the years I have written critical book reviews for some of my favorite business books along with other genres. What I have decided to do on each Friday is to share one critical book review with the readers of this blog.

critical-book-review

Back in 2001, I was exposed to this book, Fail-Safe Leadership, authored by Linda L. Martin and Dr. David Mutchler.  As one of my manufacturing clients said, “This is the best book on leadership I have ever read.” He was currently reading John Maxwell’s 21 Laws of Irrefutable Leadership. After reading it I wrote a critical book review over at Ezine Articles.

Now in its ninth printing, the book is still as relevant today as it was over 10 years ago and probably even more so.

Laid out in a very easy to read font and format, the authors bring a straightforward and common sense discussion about results,  leadership, individual and organizational development.  Possibly in Chapter Two, A Quick Temperature Check, the simplicity of the book is summed up through a series of questions to determine if there are leadership problems in your organization be it of one or many.

Other chapters include intriguing titles such as:

  • The Old Gray Mare, She Ain’t What She Used to Be
  • A Round World Makes for Better Sailing
  • To Lead or To Follow – That Is the Question!
  • United We Stand Divided We Fall
  • The Little Engine That Could
  • Treating the Symptoms

At the end of each chapter are a series of questions that allow the readers to apply the just read information to their organizations or even their selves.

This book is really a self help guide for those forward thinking leaders who want to get down to the “nitty gritty” without a lot of extra verbiage or business speak that wastes their precious time.  As the book is less than 140 pages, readers can digest the major key points rather quickly.

The marketplace is filled with many excellent books on leadership. However if you want a primer, a key start to determine why you are not securing the sustainable business results you want, this book may support you in discovering the answers to your current business growth challenges.

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Coaching Tip

People buy results or rather people buy the feelings the results deliver.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith
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Office located near Chicago, IL

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