Archive for August, 2013

The Sales Send Me the Brochure Kiss of Death

How many times are salespeople confronted with the “send me the brochure”  request also known as the “kiss of death?”  This happens even when considerable entry has been made into the mid size to small business via the CEO.

salesA colleague who was using a marketing strategy that I recommended recently shared with me his success and his failure.  He had sent a written note with an article pertinent to the qualified potential customer and received an email back from the CEO.  Great!

Then a telephone meeting was scheduled. Another success!

Next the CEO emailed him back and stated he may not make the telephone meeting, but he delegated his warehouse/shipping manager to be part of the call via an email. Not so great.

The warehouse manager emailed my colleague to send him some information.  Reluctantly he did as he did not want to violate the budding relationship with the CEO. Trouble!

A return email was received stating “we already have that service, but our contract expires next year.”  Once again, the kiss of death strikes in the form of “send me the brochure.” Failure, foiled again by a secondary decision maker.

My suggestion was to send the CEO an executive summary via the regular mail given the success of his initial contact.  This document would sum up the activity to date and would be another opportunity to schedule a call with the CEO. I also recommended putting in another article in the envelope.

What I do not understand is why marketing firms continue to push the glossy sales brochures that usually end up in the trash and are in most instances the kiss of death at this point in the sales process?   The only sales individuals who benefit from these ineffective marketing and selling tools are the marketing salespeople who sold the services and the printers who printed the 5,000 glossy  brochures.

Sometimes it is difficult to avoid this particular sales kiss of death. Yet, creative and innovative salespeople will work around this obstacle and with some perseverance continue to build the relationship and ultimately increase sales while gaining another loyal customer.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who disrupts the status quo by discovering new ways to guide and support rapidly growing mid to small businesses; those who wish to grow beyond their current employees and executives in career chaos.  She is recognized as one of the Top 25 Sales Influencers in 2013 by Open View Sales Labs and can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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The Rampant Virus of Spray and Pray Communication In Small Business

Effective communication in small business is critical be it an email, a phone call, a direct mail piece or a face to face conversation. Yet what I have discovered is so many small businesses  because they lack strategic action plans engage in what I call “spray and pray” communication.

commjunication-in-small-businessSince there exists no foundational clarity because there are strategic action plans with specific goals as to sales, marketing or other current initiatives, etc.,  these spray and pray behaviors actually evolve into a rampant virus that infects the entire organization. No wonder nothing gets accomplished within the expected time frame and stress levels are at an all time high.

For example, an executive sales coaching client with a Fortune 500 Global organization is looking to sell in a new vertical. Sales management admitted very little research was done within this new vertical. The result to date is the sales team is working in different directions with very little accomplished.

People are busy, crazy busy. They do not have time to read probably 1% of all their communications. This is why communication in small business must be on target, direct, aligned to other business growth strategies, emotionally compelling and worth the time from the perception of the receiver.

If you are not achieving your corporate business growth goals including sales goals, then maybe it is time for an assessment because ineffective communication in small business not only erodes profits, but disengages  your high performing employees especially your sales team.

D.I.AL.O.G.U.E is a proven organizational development assessment that uncovers not only ineffective communication in small business, but is aligned to proven business growth criteria.

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The Unused Small Business Communication Strategy

Today I received an email from a  small business owner and colleague who required some assistance with the construction of a contrite email  He had to “mend the fence” with an upset customer and wanted to know some specific words that would improve his small business communication to his irate customer.

communication-strategyWhat this colleague was asking for was a specific and often unused small business communication strategy of how to apply emotional intelligence within his written message. Of course he did not use the phrase  “emotional intelligence,” but that is what he wanted in his early email message to me.

Years ago when I was in corporate I was responsible for writing all the communications because as my boss said “I had a way with words.” At that time back in the 1970’s through 1990’s, I was not aware of emotional intelligence yet I was practicing that communication strategy on a daily basis.

Now through the research of Goleman and others we learn that emotional intelligence is the combination of these two intelligences identified through the efforts of Howard Gardner:

  1. Interpersonal intelligence
  2. Intrapersonal intelligence

This communication strategy of emotional intelligence does take time to evolve and cannot be achieved over night.

One way to immediately improve small business communication through email or other written correspondence is to write the “guts” of the message first. What important points must you make to the receiver.

Then add some softening words such as “good morning ” at the beginning of your message. Additionally in the beginning include words that acknowledge you recognize, understand and appreciate the receiver’s concern which is probably more emotionally based than cognitive.

Refraining from using words that may be perceived as being judgmental such as need, require or should. Words like “think” and “know” may also suggest judgement and create a negative conscious or subconscious emotional reaction by the receiver.

Then let the rough draft of your written communication sit for at least a few minutes.

Walk away from your desk or computer!

When you return attempt to read it from the receiver’s perspective. Depending upon the reason for the communication, share the rough draft with someone else who may not be as emotionally involved.

Emotional intelligence is a proven leadership skill and can be reflected within your small business communication.

Years ago people said “think before you speak.” Those wise words have evolved into a small business communication strategy of “think and feel about the receiver of your written (spoken) communication” before you hit the send button or slap a postage stamp on it.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who disrupts the status quo by discovering new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses; those who wish to grow beyond their current employees and executives in career chaos.  She is recognized as one of the Top 25 Sales Influencers in 2013 by Open View Sales Labs and can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Selling Is Marketing Plus A Whole Lot More!

Probably more than ever before outside of the old open air markets of yesteryear, today’s selling world is marketing plus a whole lot more. Now with the majority of organizations world wide having under 100 employees, salespeople today are indeed even more responsible for attracting attention to keeping customers loyal.

selling-is-marketingMost small businesses (97.7% with under 20 employees) cannot afford profit draining marketing departments or expensive marketing campaigns.  With the exponential growth of social media, much of the inbound marketing can be handle by individual sales team members especially with the integration of automation tools.

So what is a whole lot more?

According to one recent study by the Rain Group:

  • Connecting
  • Commanding
  • Collaborating

The Rain Group discovered what sales winners consistently did more than those who came in second place. First they connected their client with other people and resources. Then they acted in a commanding way through their knowledge and overall presence. Finally, they collaborated with their clients so that their sales solutions could be leveraged and applied beyond the initial scope. These three actions demonstrate that selling is marketing plus a whole lot more.

Top sales performers have always held the hands of their clients.  They walked with them through the adoption to installation of the purchased solutions. Now they continue to hold their hands in a collaborative effort allowing the clients to be even more profitable and more competitive.

High performing sales teams now embrace success of their clients and support their success day in and day out demonstrating that selling is marketing plus a whole lot more.

If you are having difficult keeping track of your social media goals along with other marketing goals, these two action plans may help close those gaps.

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Job Role Confusion Is Quite Common Especially in Sales

So do you know what you do in your job role?  If you had your job description in hand and read it, my guess is your current role comprises far more than the words in front of you. Welcome to job role confusion in the 21st century.

job-role-confusion

Possibly no where is there more job role confusion than in B2B sales for small businesses to even Global Fortune 500 firms.

Listen to salespeople talk and many will say they are not into marketing or marketers.

“I don’t have time for social media or all that tech stuff!”

“Just go in and sell our solutions!”

Some of those comments made sound almost derisive because marketing is  from their perspective secondary to sales or selling.

Of course salespeople who are working on a new vertical or a new product may find themselves doing far more marketing than they ever had envisioned. Researching sales leads, establishing connections through social media sites such as LinkedIn to building relationships are all part of B2B marketing. Selling in the B2B marketplace usually happens after you have an established relationship with a qualified potential customer especially if your solutions require a consultative selling approach.

Yet the job description may not be specific as to these actions or expectations.

  • Sales management is looking to increase sales.
  • Small business owners are seeking business growth.
  • Salespeople are seeking income from closed sales.

However, if no effective marketing has been implemented, this lack of specificity creates job role confusion.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Glossy brochures are not effective marketing.

With the super majority (97.7%) of all small businesses having under 20 employees, these firms have no marketing department. Salespeople are responsible for business growth beginning with marketing that being attracting attention and building relationships.  However their mindset may not recognize what marketing really is and this may contribute to job role confusion.

Today’s advice is review the job descriptions of all your employees especially your sales team.

Have conversations with them about their “marketing efforts.”

If necessary, rewrite those job descriptions to ensure they are accurate and then share them with your sales team.

Align your overall business growth strategies to both your marketing and sales goals.

By taking these actions, you will eliminate job role confusion because you have gained crystal clear clarity.

And success today requires clarity for exceptional execution.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who disrupts the status quo by discovering new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses; those who wish to grow beyond their current employees and executives in career chaos.  She is recognized as one of the Top 25 Sales Influencers in 2013 by Open View Sales Labs and can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Social Media Is Your Content Marketing Chess Board

Yes content is King or better yet Queen if you play chess.

content-marketingSocial media is the game board for your content marketing.

And remember, in case you forget, chess is a game that requires two active participants.

To win at chess demands the understanding of strategy and engaging in forward thinking behaviors.

Content marketing also necessitates the employment (think execution) of various strategies allowing you to be ahead of the flow as well as converting (think capturing) your potential customers (think other players).

Maybe by understanding that content marketing is truly about strategic engagement in the world of social media you just may capture more pieces and avoid being “checkmated” by your competition.

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Sales Leadership Talent of Gaining Commitment

Many have heard this discussion of commitment respective to an egg and bacon breakfast. The chicken was involved, but the pig was committed.

sales-leadershipIn sales leadership, gaining commitment not only from the potential customer, but from the sales management as well as other support staff is critical.

So what does this sales leadership talent of gaining commitment actually mean?

From a sales perspective, “it is the ability to motivate” others and “to provide them with concrete, practical ideas and methods by which they can achieve their goals.” (Source Innermetrix)

To demonstrate this sales leadership talent effectively suggests the employment of various other interpersonal skills such as:

  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Leadership

These skills when demonstrated consistently along with positive core values create a sense of personal motivation to be successful. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Gaining commitment is directly intertwined with emotional intelligence.

From the front line salespeople to those in sales management who lack this sales leadership talent of gaining commitment, they are unable to effectively inspire others.  These individuals may also not recognize the importance of inspiration (emotions) and may rely on direct cognitive behaviors  such as “managing the potential customer or “supervising” the salesperson to accomplish the sales goals.

To be successful in sales or in sales management does demand this sales leadership talent of gaining commitment. And when those in sales recognize this leadership talent extends far beyond the dotted line of a signed contact, they will be miles ahead of their competitors.

P.S. Have you ever had this sales leadership talent of gaining commitment measured? If not, this proven and formal assessment may help you gain clarity as to this talent and 77 other talents including:

  • Self starting ability
  • Persuading others
  • Self confidence
  • Persistence
  • Handling rejection

If you have any questions please feel free to call Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.759.5601 CDT.

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Aligning the Sales Process to the Evolution of Trust

Trust.

Much is written about trust within selling because people buy from people they know and trust. Yet how many sales processes directly align the development or better yet the evolution of trust to the sales process?  From my observation very few if any at all.

sales-process

The majority of sales processes comprise two separate phases even if the sales process has sequential steps.  Phase I is marketing and marketing is all about doing. Writing this blog is a doing action. Going to B2B networking events is doing. Marketing is the action activity or activities (doing) within the sales process.

Phase II is selling and here there are both doing and thinking  behaviors.  Doing is asking the right questions with thinking how to turn stalls into objections as two examples.

The third Phase of Keeping is missing from the majority of sales process. With some this Keeping Phase is almost a downhill step within the selling phase. After the sale is earned, the focus returns to marketing or finding that next sales lead.  Follow-up or asking for a referral is often ignored or mistakenly left to another person or department. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Over 75% of my clients failed to ask for referrals after successfully delivering the sale.

In keeping customers, as the cost to acquire a new customer ranges from five (5) to 10 times the cost to retain an existing customer, thinking is required.

What can I do to keep top of mind awareness (TOMA)?

What can I do to keep him or her loyal?

How can I just be valuable to my customers?

Just imagine the results if sakes leaders would aligned the evolution of trust to a clearly delineated 3 (3) phase sales process? Yes, imagine all those possibilities.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is the author of Be the Red Jacket and a heurist who disrupts the status quo by discovering new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses; those who wish to grow beyond their current employees and executives in career chaos.  She is recognized as one of the Top 25 Sales Influencers in 2013 by Open View Sales Labs and can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Reluctant Thorn Bush Leadership

Human beings have a plethora of examples about leadership from their actual experiences to historical literature. For example in a parable from Judges 9 (The Old Testament), the trees want a leader. The leadership discussion revealed two  trees, the Olive and the Fig, were more concerned about their own endeavors. Their selfishness turned the role of leadership to the reluctant thorn bush.

leaderHow many times are we asked in business and in life to take the leadership mantle? Yet, we back away because we are too busy. Then someone potentially less qualified fills the leadership vacancy.

What happens?

Usually the results are not what they should be.

Sometimes more problems are created than solved.

When we understand leadership is developed over time and provides the young saplings (youth) with the right tools, we may no longer have the reluctant Thorn Bush leader, but a leader who is willing to wear the leadership mantle by taking calculated risks to achieve predetermined results through the consistent demonstration of positive core values.

The Career and College Success Boot Camp develops self-leadership in young people and saves both parents and students hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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“Post and Run,” Content Marketing and Social Media

In social media, content marketing is becoming quite common place. For example within the LinkedIn discussion groups, one can post a link to an article or a blog to attract attention and begin to build relationships.This same behavior can be replicated in other sites such as Facebook or even within blogs.

content-marketingWhat appears to happen more often than not, is a “Post and Run” behavior. Sales Training Coaching Tip: “Post and Run” behavior is a strong indicator of a Captain Wing It small business mentality.

Post the link and then never engage in the discussion.

Forget about acknowledging people who comment or even like your post.

Your misguided goal is to use content marketing within social media to promote yourself or your company.

Such a behavior is similar to all those who post signs on the telephone poles advertising this yard or garage sale.

Social media provides an electronic means of effective communication.

Effective communication is a two way street.

If you truly want to maximize your content marketing efforts (think actually increase sales) within your social media action plan, then remember to actively engage  through this education based marketing approach.

“Post and Run” is not engagement.

For your goal is to Be the Red Jacket in the sea of gray suits by differentiating yourself from all those other “post and run” amateurs.

Do you have a social media action plan? If not this one page social media action plan may be the first step to help you gain clarity as to your social media marketing efforts.

 

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