Archive for September, 2013

One Sales Quarter Left and the Score Is?

The first three sales quarters for the 2013 Increase Sales and Business Growth Game are gone as of today only one sales quarter remains.

sales-quarterSo what is your score?

Where do you stand respective to:

  • Marketing?
  • Prospecting?
  • Qualified sales leads?
  • Proposals or statements of work?
  • Actual sales to date?

Before tomorrow morning comes around, you may need to schedule some time to answer the above questions.

This change in your schedule may require you to return to your marketing and sales action plans and make the necessary course corrections or revisions. You do have written marketing and sales actions plans, don’t you? If not, this may be part of the problem your business growth is not where you want it to be.

Now is the time to identify where, when, how and why you made the:

  • Fumbles
  • Out of bounds
  • Failed conversions
  • Wrong team selection
  • Penalties
  • Best plays
  • Recoveries

Sales success and business growth is just as much about knowing what you did not do as well as possible as to what you did well.

Taking time to reflect is critical to future personal, professional and business growth. For without reflection, individuals may be bound to repeat the same mistakes, over and over again. This is truly living Einstein’s definition of insanity.

If you want to increase sales, if you want improved business growth, now is the time not only to plan for the last sales quarter of 2013, but for the next 4 sales quarters of 2014.

P.S.Triage Business Plan is an affordable tool to support you in your desire to increase sales and business growth.

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How New Entrepreneurs Can Improve Their Sales Introductions

New entrepreneurs are in a hurry because they want to get their small businesses off the ground. So when they meet new people, their sales introductions potentially leave a lot to be desired and may create a negative impact.

sales-introductionsRecently I attended a business to business luncheon charity event and was introduced to a new, budding entrepreneur. Immediately, before she even heard my name, she handed me a marketing postcard and then went on, and on, and on about her business. She was so proud of her new small business and wanted everyone else to know.

Jeb Blount of Sales Gravy called these sales introductions as  “show up and throw up” or what I named in my book, Be the Red Jacket“spewing the 3Ps Virus, price, product or proposal.”

I truly do not blame this new entrepreneur because she was not taught about effective sales introductions and more importantly the two-fold purpose of marketing:

  1. Attract attention
  2. Begin to build a relationship

Nor did she understand the two-fold goal of marketing:

  1. Make a friend
  2. To be asked back for a one on one appointment 0r for that person to walk through the brick and mortar store or visit the website

In small business to big business, people buy from people they know and trust.  Sales introductions can be the path to building that knowing and trusting bridge or the obstacle to ending that budding new customer or center of influence relationship.

To improve sales introductions begins with not immediately handing a marketing message, but by showing you care about the other person through your active listening skills.

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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How Sustainability Is the Shadow Result for Small Businesses

Today with the emphasis on the “green movement,” the word sustainability has increased in prominence within the small business community. And yet, has not sustainability been the shadow result of any business growth, leadership or even personal effort?

sustainabilityThe inability to maintain sales, business growth,  leadership, sales training to even personal weight is 100% about the lack of sustainability. Entire industries have arisen because results from all of these ongoing efforts are not sustainable.

For example, how many times do companies hire sales training firms that essentially cover the same learning objectives?

And we have all heard the plethora of diet commercials to take care of those returning pounds.

Executive coaching is an outgrowth of the lack of sustainability within the sales training and organizational development industries.

If actions are not sustainable, then additional small business resources are drained. The goal of any small business is not to reduce resources because a recurring problem cannot be solved.

Maybe by defining the results and then ensuring alignment through the Jay Galbraith 5 Star Model is one small business growth strategy to ensure sustainability.  Regardless of the solution taken, every organizational initiative must begin with sustainability being front and center because sustainability is 100% about being green as in greenbacks.


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Start with Social Marketing in B2B, Stop with Social Selling

If people buy from people, then all selling is social unless we have robots buying from robots.

social-sellingSo let us stop with this current catch phrase of social selling just to sell some webinar, book, etc, you get my drift.

Now social marketing specific to B2B is a subset of marketing just as direct mail, advertising, business to business networking and promotional items all are. For some social marketing is considered inbound marketing activities where the more traditional marketing of advertising,  direct mail, B2B networking, etc. are now considered outbound.

I just read a blog about how social selling is on the increase from a well known sales training and consulting firm. Yet all the examples they cited are marketing.

  • Prospecting
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
  • Cold calls

This article went on to specifically state “social selling is prospecting.”

This is not the first time I have read or heard this false sales statement.

Wrong, wrong, very wrong!

No wonder so many people in B2B are selling when they first connect with someone.

Prospecting is marketing!

The other day I attended a webinar and the well known sales training expert did everything she could to avoid this word of marketing as she cited the very same examples as noted above especially prospecting.

For a quick review, marketing is 100% about attracting attention (positive) and beginning to build a relationship.

Marketing is not selling!

Marketing is the first phase of the sales process with selling the second phase and keeping the third phase.

If you want to turn off potential sales leads (aka prospects), then by all means embrace this false concept of social selling and start selling your heart out.

Or if you wish to be truly a smart salesperson, small business owner or sales manager, emphasis that marketing is not a dirty word to be shunned and ignored, but rather the beginning of a process to establish a mutually beneficial relationship that may eventually lead to increase sales and business growth.

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Corporate Sustainability Goes Beyond Green

Corporate sustainability is because of the “green movement.” Yet it is not reaching its full potential because of this one often overlooked element in most business initiatives – the human factor or people.


How many times do employees hear or read from executive leadership one of the following:

  • “We are a green company?”
  • “We are engaged in corporate sustainability best practices?”
  • “We are socially responsible?”

Yet, has there been any discussion with the people who will actually drive corporate sustainability?

For any corporate sustainability initiative to be 100% effective requires a 100% emotional buy-in from all of your:

  • People
  • Employees
  • Customers
  • Shareholders
  • Stakeholders
  • Community

Without the buy in from people, your corporate sustainability is viewed as another magic quick fix, a silver bullet, a fad that will quickly die like a falling star plummeting to the earth on a clear summer night.


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I Am a Weak Salesperson Is a Self-Imposed Limitation

i-am-a-weak-salespersonMany times I have heard this statement from my small business coaching clients to just general business to business conversations: “I do not like to sell” or “I am not a salesperson.” What these individuals are really saying is “I am a weak salesperson” and these thoughts are dead end streets to increase sales, personal and business growth.

When we have clarity regarding those self imposed limitations, we then can begin to construct an action plan to turn these negative, internal thoughts around. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Written personal affirmations are effective tools to overcome any self-imposed limitation.

First everyone is in sales.

  • Parent are selling school to their children.
  • Teachers are selling learning to their students.
  • Ministers are selling their faith to their congregational members.
  • Politicians are selling their messages to their voters.
  • Employers are selling high productivity to their employees.

The only difference is between these just mentioned individuals and small business owners, salespersons, etc. is small business owners, salesperson, etc.  are actually getting paid (receiving direct monetary compensation) for their sales efforts.

If you want to increase sales, generate business growth, then possibly the first step is to remove this self-imposed limitation of “I am a weak salesperson.” Remember by changing the words you think, write and speak, you can improve your results.

P.S. Do you have a personal action plan to increase sales?

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The Continue Cry to Blame Customer Service

Yes by all accounts the cry to blame customer service is increasing. Outsourcing customer service to regions unknown where the native language is not shared by the customer and the customer service representative or where technology seems to rule appear to be the standard operating procedure for many businesses.

blame-customer-serviceAlso, there are exceptions to this blame customer service mentality. Those exceptional companies recognize customer service is what propels business growth from just surviving to thriving.

One of my small business clients who recognized how easy it was to blame customer service has this acronym hanging from the ceilings, on walls and on desks:

  • C
  • A
  • T
  • E
  • R

For Customers Are The Entire Reason (CATER) for his firm being in business. By being proactive and communicating this message every day because employees are people with short memories he has maintained a culture of high performance and removed the cry to blame customer service.

If there is a cry to blame customer service, then this is truly a symptom of the real problem that being poor executive leadership through the misalignment between strategy, structure, processes/systems, rewards and people as noted by Jay Galbraith in his 5 star model.

P.S. Sign up to receive a free customer loyalty assessment.

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Communication Consistency, So Needed, So Often Overlooked

One of the biggest challenges for those in sales management is communication consistency.  When communication is inconsistent, the results are inconsistent and contribute to poor morale and a dysfunctional sales team.

communication-consistencyRecently in speaking with an executive sales coaching six figure client, she shared her frustration about the lack of communication consistency with her sales manager. Finally, after six (6) months she had her second sit down, one on one, meeting with him and he told her “the best way to communicate with me is to send me an invite through  our internal email system.”  Too bad he had not shared this tactic with her when she had started. She had left voice mails, emails and very rarely would he respond.

During their conversation, the sales manager was mostly in didactic, lecture, monolog where she had very little input. However she recognized once again communication consistency was not something inherent within this sales manager.

Beyond this large firm having no united sales strategy to enter a new vertical, this sales manager epitomized the “super worker to supervisor” syndrome. He was a top sales performer promoted to supervisor (sales manager). The sales skills he used as a super worker are not the people skills he needs as a supervisor.

Poor communication reflects the lack of communication consistency as well as the inability to look within and be open to constructive criticism.  This also suggests not only personal communication issues, but more importantly corporation communication challenges.

  • To ensure communication consistency if you are a sales manager, please stop with the monologue approach to coaching your sales team. We know this does not work with customers and your salespeople are your internal customers.
  • Leave your super ego, “I was the top sales performer” at the door!
  • Ask for feedback every 5 minutes. A simple question of “Does this make sense to you?” will ensure communication consistency.
  • Allow the other salesperson, your direct report,  to speak.
  • Activate your active listening skills as you did with your potential customers.

Remember, this is not the time to showcase your sales achievements, but to truly support and help your sales team member to be better producer and eventually a top sales performer.

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Are Your Sales Goals Just Pie in the Sky?

Sometimes sales goals are just unrealistic and may become “pie in the sky” to the sales team. When this happens, morale plummets, salespeople start questioning their own sales skills and sales managers may have to continually justify the inability to increase sales.

pie-in-the-skySo how do you know if the sales goals or quotas are pie in the sky?

The first  red flag would be no solid sales strategy.  Salespeople to be successful must receive a basic sales strategy from sales management. This strategy or strategies when in alignment with the 5 Star Model remove many of the internal barriers encountered by the sales team. Sales Training Coaching:  Salespeople execute the basic sales strategy; adjust it to their sales style; and then provide feedback as to what is working and not working to sales management.

Another red flag might be the sales goals are externally directed without any communication between the executive team and the sales management less alone the sales team. When any goal is externally created and lacks buy in from the individual, this does not inspire the individual to reach beyond his or her own potential.

Unrealistic timelines are also pie in the sky. If the sales cycle especially for complex sales is 18 to 24 months, then expecting a new salesperson who is working a new vertical to earn a sale within 12 months is simply ridiculous.  This disconnect between reality and desires plays out everyday.

Possibly the best way to determine if your sales goals are pie in the sky is to adopt a proven goal setting achievement process along with a goals worksheet. Then work through not SMART goals, but WAY SMART goals to determine if the goal is truly realistic and doable within the known sales cycle time frame.

P.S. The Results Tool™ (a goal worksheet) helps to reverse pie in the sky sales goals or any type of goal.

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The Answer to the Madness of Myopia for Sales and Small Businesses – Part 2

If myopia is the inability to see clearly where distortion becomes part of the visual process, then the madness of myopia is adhering to that distorted image.  Possibly no where is this more evident than in personal development where sales professionals and small business  leaders focus their attentions on the organizations or others such as customers or sales leads instead of looking within to themselves.

madness-of-myopiaTo answer this madness of myopia begins with assessing for clarity as to where those small business leaders are.

Until you know exactly where you are, it becomes increasingly difficult to see where you are going.

Upon receiving the beginnings of clarity and then working to further clarify those necessary actions to execute the purpose, vision, positive core values and mission creates a pathway for sustainable business growth along with personal leadership growth.

Maybe you are thinking I do not suffer from the madness of myopia?

So do you know with absolute crystal clarity what you do well?

What talents support you in your efforts to  executive your purpose, vision, positive core values and mission?

Unless you have taken a proven assessment such as the Attribute Index, the answer will be no.  By not investing in such an assessment, you are probably not leveraging the best of your talents and more than likely focused more on fixing your weaknesses.

Consider this question: Why do winning teams win?

Do they win because of the weaknesses of each individual contributor?

Did Vince Lombardi look to find the quarterback or defense end with the worst skills?

Human beings are creatures of conditioning. Those conditioned behaviors are mostly subconscious and result in unplanned, undirected behaviors that generate unintentional (usually poor) results.

Just imagine if you could have clarity around these critical issues, where your personal achievement as well as your small business or sales could be taken:

  • Your external decision making style (How you make decisions about the outside world)
  • Your internal decision making style (How you make decisions about yourself)
  • Your external temperament (How you view the external world)
  • Your internal temperament (How you view yourself)
  • 78 Key Attributes or talents
  • Six basic key motivators
  • Your capacity for stress
  • Inclination as to your application of emotional intelligence

By investing the time to identify the aforementioned key elements within your personal development will help to inoculate you against the madness of myopia.

P.S. The Attribute Index is an online assessment that in less than 15 minutes provides clarity for the above key elements.

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