Archive for December, 2015

The Failed Last Chance Marketing Messages for 2015

Has your email in box been overloaded with “last chance” marketing messages. For the last week, numerous SMB retail businesses along with a couple of service providers (executive coaching and consulting firms) continue to send “this is your last chance” or “take advantage of this last chance.”

marketing-messagesMy little brain goes Really?  How many last chances in life do you have?  One is okay, but any more than one is over kill and literally turns me off to this constant stream of “sales pitches.”

The essential problem is all of these “last chance”  traditional marketing messages focus on product and price. They are sales pitches first and foremost.

For today’s educated buyers be they homeowners looking for a realtor to executives seeking solutions to repetitive workplace culture and operations problems price is usually not what is going to make or break the sale for the top sales performers.

Last chance marketing messages make price the primary motivation for buying even though top sales performers never allow price to be the fallback position

When SMB firms resort to “last chance” marketing messages they ignore the value drivers of their customers. Years ago my father shared with me that all customers share three basic value drivers. There are others unique to each customer, but generally speaking the following are shared by all buyers:

  • Delivery
  • Price
  • Quality

Dad also said for the most part buyers place far greater importance on two of those value drivers (when all conditions are equal). Believe it or not price was usually not one of those two.  What my father shared is just plain common sense.

As buyers, are we willing to give up quality?  Do we want to have to return the item or buy a solution that does not solve the problem? I think not. Remember the old acronym for Ford cars: Fix or repair daily.

Also as buyers are we willing to give up delivery?  Usually buyers want the purchase now not later. Are you willing to wait a few days less along weeks or months?

So price becomes less of an issue when push comes to shove.  Of course educated buyers have done their research and are not willing to totally ignore price.

Marketing messages are all about attraction, getting noticed, establishing expertise.  They never should be sales pitches.

Marketing is not selling; but selling is marketing.

When price enters the marketing message, these other aspects are ignored and this can be a very big barrier to achieving the two-fold goal of marketing of positive attention and building a relationship.

If you have engaged in “last chance” marketing messages, be authentic and send out only one of these email to direct mail messages. Also consider working more on attracting attention and building relationships the first 11 months of the year instead of waiting until the last two (2) weeks of the calendar year.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Are Your Real Estate Marketing Messages Missing the Sales Target?

Selling our home has exposed me to a variety of Realtors. What I have learned is 90% or better of the real estate marketing messages we have received are missing the sales target.

direct-mail-postcardsProbably because these real estate marketing messages have worked in the past with less educated sellers, realtors continue to engage in the same marketing channels such as direct mail postcards, advertising banners on Internet real estate for sale websites. The messages are all pretty much the same, bland, boring and all about them.

For example, I have receive several direct mail postcards asking the same question about running out of time.  Had these real estate agents made any personal outreach they would have learned this card is not for us.  No we are not running out of time, but you have with these poor real estate marketing messages.

Then there are the mailings about guaranteed programs to sell our home.  Sure if we both agree to a price. Therein is the kicker. I already know many real estate agents will not agree to a price that requires them to:

  • Actively sell not market our home
  • Accept a selling price higher than the comparables

From my experience, many real estate agents want the quick sale to showcase their numbers.  This is called ego selling it is all about me the Realtor and not about you my customer.

Finally there are also the price real estate marketing messages.  “How about 3% commission?” stated one such direct mail piece.  Again knowing what we want for our home, knowing we do not have to move and knowing the ideal buyer for our home is probably 10% of all home buyers in this price range, I really could care less about your commission. Personally if you sell our home at the price we want, you deserve a 5% commission. Heck, if you sold our home above our asking price and we walk away with our bottom line, I would be willing to pay even a higher commission.   Price is should never be a fallback position for any salesperson.

Time are changing. Today’s homeowners are far more educated. Outdated marketing messages remind me of people attempting to sell buggy whips in the 21st Century. If you want to increase sales, make sure your real estate marketing messages are connecting with the value drivers of today’s marketplace and not yesterday’s.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Realtors, Time for a Reality Check, Direct Mail Postcards Increase Sales for the U.S. Post Office

Possibly direct mail postcards work for some realtors to increase sales. Yet from the quality of the marketing messages I have received from numerous local real estate agents and the absence of follow-up,  I truly do not know how postcard increase sales except of course for the U.S. Post Office.

direct-mail-postcardsMy question is “What is keeping these salespeople from physically knocking on doors of potential listings?” In the back of my mind, I can hear all the excuses for not knocking on doors.

Excuse #1 – Another Realtor’s Sign Is Still in the Yard

If another agency still has its for sale sign in the yard this may present a small sales barrier. The real estate agent has the name of the homeowner and with a little Internet searching probably can find someone who knows him or her. However if the sign has been removed, they can knock on the door unless there is a No Trespassing sign posted.  Very few residential homes have those signs.

Excuse #2 – I Don’t Have Time

Really you don’t have time to increase sales?  What are you doing all those other hours and minutes of the day? When this excuse pops up for anyone in sales I have them do a time study as to where they are spending their time. What is amazing is how much wasted time this assessment reveals.

Also embedded in this excuse is “I don’t have time to follow-up.”  Funny I have received well over 50 direct mail postcards and letters and not one Realtor as I hate to use the term salesperson has followed up with a phone call or actual visit.  What I have discovered is the marketing messages are still for the most part old school or work with less educated home sellers.

One would think that after 5 to 7 direct mail postcards somebody would take the initiative to follow-up and not with another direct mailing. 

Excuse #3 – Direct Mail Postcards Have Worked in the Past

Times are changing. Soon more and more educated sellers will replace the not so educated sellers.  What worked in the past will not work in the future. Remember the buggy whip if you doubt me.

There is a time and place for direct mail postcards and letters. Yet to increase sales possibly another one or two marketing and sales strategies must be incorporated for the maximum results.

Sitting in the office is always easier than actually going on the road.  Sure social media and Internet are great marketing tools.  However people buy from people.  This simple concept appears to be lost in selling especially among real estate agents.

If you want to increase sales in 2016, then recognize direct mail postcards are first and foremost making the U.S. Postal Service wealthier as well as those firms that sold you the direct mail pieces as well as inaccurate lists. Even if you have had success with this marketing approach, consider how much more real estate sales success you could have if you went beyond the mailbox?

Get out of your office; knock on some doors and do selling the old fashioned way – People to People – not postcard to mailbox.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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How These 7 Steps Will Increase Sales in 2016

With the New Year of 2016 just 5 days away, now is the time to begin to increase sales.  Actually much of this probably should have been started 30 to 90 days ago, but there is still time to make 2016 far better than 2015.

increase-sales

Credit www.gratisography.com

Here are some steps to ensure your path to a better 2016 sales year.

Step #1 – File, Purge and Clean
First, step is to clear off your desk.  File away what is needed, purge what is not needed.  Clean your office area. This filing, purging and cleaning includes all printed publications as well as email. Oh yes and do not forget to clean up your calendar as well.

Step #2 – Update Financials
The next step is to get all your financials in order. Enter all bills, make payments if possible, record all receipts. When end of year bank statements arrive, then within a couple of hours you should have 2015 financially closed and ready to go to your accountant. To increase sales for 2016 means you must focus on present and the future not the past.

Step #3 – Review Your Outstanding Sales Leads
Exactly who is in your sales funnel or pipeline? What sales leads require immediate contact or follow-up?  What prospects did not end up as customer and why?

Step #4 – Identify New Sales Leads
Based upon the new clients you secured in 2015 and existing clients prior to 2015, what new sales leads do you wish to have enter your sales funnel? This is also the time to discern how to make contact with these decision makers who will propel toward your goal to increase sales in 2016. If you are in B2B, prospecting within LinkedIn may prove to be a valuable marketing and sales strategy.

Step 5 – Hone Your Tools
Your sales tools from your business card to your value proposition speech to your knowledge of your target market industries to even local to global trends affecting business all must be honed to the finest edge possible. To attend the first B2B networking event of the year without business cards, stumbling over the question who is your best sales lead (anyone with a pulse is not the correct answer) to having sales conversations with you sounding like a dummy will not increase sales.

As you have already cleaned out your portfolio or briefcase (see Step 1), now refresh it with your honed tools. Be prepared for that next phone call where you may have to dash out of the office. Knowing all your sales tools are in order and properly sharpened will have you looking and sounding like a top sales performer.

Step 6 – Schedule Your Calendar
Since you have already cleaned out your calendar (see Step 1), now is the time to schedule your calls.  Block out time each morning to take care of administrative work before your actual production time usually 8 am to 5pm. If you need more time, get up earlier.

Block out time to make first contact phone calls or follow up ones. Tuesdays and Thursdays from most sales research suggest to be the better days for calling.  Make a sales goal and commitment to yourself to make a minimum of 20 calls per week. Based upon your own sales numbers, you should know how many calls it will take to increase sales.

believe-in-youStep 7 – Believe in YOU
If you do not believe in yourself, the ability to increase sales is even more difficult.  Sales as Zig Ziglar said is the “transference of feelings.”  You must believe in YOU.

Some salespeople attempt to become someone else because that other person is more authentic (meaning make more money).  Each of us brings a unique perspective to the business world.  You are YOU and no one else.

When you believe in YOU, others sense that belief and it becomes like a force field of attraction. Your authentic self-leadership style attracts sales leads and centers of influence to you. Of course, a belief in YOU does not mean let your ego run while or just as bad a flow of endless sales pitches.

Remember the words of President Teddy Roosevelt, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

By following these first seven steps before midnight on December 31, 2015, you will increase sales in 2016.

SPECIAL OFFER FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

If you want some additional support, give me a call at 219.508.2859 CT and take advantage of my 30 day special sales coaching package that includes:

  • The most reliable and valid psychometric assessment in the marketplace
  • MAP – My Action Plan for Sales Success (printed and snailed mail to you if you are in the continental US) otherwise emailed via PDF
  • Proven goal setting and goal achievement worksheet that works with you to increase sales
  • A review of your LinkedIn profile along with a checklist to help you refresh your profile
  • 4 Hours – 1 hour per week – of one on one sales coaching via the telephone

Your investment is probably far more affordable than you realize. By the way, that first 20-30 minute phone call is at no cost to you except for your time. If you are not happy with your 2015 results, then what are you waiting for?

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Top Sales Performers Never Allow Price to Be the Fallback Position

How many times have I heard anxious SMB entrepreneurs to young and even somewhat experienced salespeople quickly use price as the fallback position. Top sales performers never allow price to be brought into the sales conversations during the first few moments.

top-sales-performersYears ago my father shared two great pieces of wisdom.

#1 – What Buyers Really Want versus Reality

All buyers want price, quality and delivery.  However when reality strikes, they are willing to give up price because they are unwilling to give up quality and delivery.

The lesson from this piece of wisdom is to ensure the quality of your solution connects to what they value along with the delivery. Price becomes secondary and sometimes never even enters the conversation.

#2 – The Two Sales Buying Rules

People buy from people (you) they know and trust. Top sales performers are knowledgeable about the sales prospect, his or her industry, his or her company as well as local to global trends. This knowledge is not making sales pitches, but actually connecting to the buyer.  Trust within the sales prospect begins to develop from being exposed to this knowledge.

The second sales buying rule is people, your sales prospects, buy first on emotion; justified by logic.  This is why your marketing message must be emotionally compelling.  When messages are emotionally compelling, they stir up the emotional buying triggers within the potential idea customer.  Top sales performers know more often than not what is triggering those emotional responses.

Over time I have added a third sales buying rule that being people buy on value unique to them. This rule flies in the value of many sales experts who believe sales people can create value.

What top sales performers do is to connect, not create, to the value drivers of the sales lead.  This happens because trust has been established and an emotional connection has been made.

If salespeople actually created value, then how come sales referrals are probably the best way to increase sales?  When being referred, the salesperson has no part in the actual conversation. There was no time to create value.  The value and trust already existed between the existing person who made the sales referral and the person being referred.

Price Suggests Transactional Selling

When salespeople fall back to price, they are probably engaged in transactional selling. Possibly such sales behaviors may work for retail such as grocery stores, yet over time quality and delivery will resurface and price may lose.  I know this to be true from my own grocery shopping experience. The cheapest meat is not the best meat. We usually pay more for our meat because we prefer quality over quantity.

Top sales performers recognize price is just one part of the sales conversations and in many instances plays a far smaller part than knowledge, trust, emotions, quality and delivery. Consider in the future making sure your sales leads trust your knowledge and expertise as well as you knowing the value drivers of your sales leads.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Living Your Personal and Corporate Values

Earlier this week I received a Christmas Letter from a local small business owner. What was interesting is this letter reflected both his personal values as well as the corporate values.

corporate-values

Credit www.picjumbo.com

Today with so many fearing offending a potential customers (translation means losing a potential sale because you made an enemy), this small business owner had no such fear. He wrote the following:

“…cannot protect us from tragedies such as what happened at San Bernardino. May this be a reminder that as we celebrate Christmas, we turn to the one who Christmas is all about, who created us and upon whom we can find comfort and hope!

The letter was signed by all 14 employees.

Sharing such a sentiment does reflect the corporate values of this small business.  I know the small business owner is a practicing Christian and an active participant in the local community.

What this letter suggested to me is this business leader has courage.  He is not afraid of sharing his personal values and showing those values are also embedded into his workplace culture.

Possibly if more small business owners shared their personal values along with their corporate values then maybe some of the unethical behaviors and practices might be reduced.  The quote I shared yesterday again is appropriate:

“You have enemies? Good. That means you‘ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Sir Winston Churchill

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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What Makes for Ethical Leadership?

There have been many leaders who have demonstrated less than ethical leadership.  Yesterday I received an email and it started my brain thinking about what really makes for ethical leadership.

ethical-leadershipDoes the recipe for ethical leadership begin with the leader of any group or organization?  Maybe it starts with each individual within that group or organization?  Possibly it is a combination of both?

If an individual believes he or she is ethical and others believe the leader of the group is not ethical, what does that really mean? By participating in that group are you as an individual contributor supporting unethical leadership?

Being ethical goes far deeper than saying you are ethical.  All of your behaviors must be in alignment with your personal and professional ethics. For some this is called being congruent.

When the leadership of any organization is questioned, then each member must reflect and determine if that criticism is valid or not valid. However if the member believes the leadership of the organization has sometimes crossed the ethical boundary lines, then continuing support of that organization suggests someone who is more self-serving in nature.  What then happens is the “wink and the nod” behavior takes over.

Yes it is difficult to sit on the sidelines and not join the chorus clapping their heads in gleeful joy.  No one wants to be intentionally disliked. However, when does “walking the talk; talking the walk” kick in?

I am reminded of two quotes that directly reflect what it makes for ethical leadership (positive core values).

“You have enemies? Good. That means you‘ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Sir Winston Churchill

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” Alexander Hamilton

P.S. I don’t pretend to have the answer. I thought the question required awareness and possible discussion. Please feel free to leave your comments.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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In Marketing Time Is Relative

Time is short or at least business people believe it to be.  Time has not changed as we still have 24 hours, 1,440 minutes and 86,900 seconds in each day. What has changed in marketing is the amount of messages being received by ideal customers and target market.

marketing

Credit www.gratisography.com

According to Laura Henderson of Mondelez at a ClickZ Live event she stated “The current average attention span of Web and mobile users is less than eight seconds.” Tubular Labs analyzed 24,000 YouTube and FacebookVideos with more than 10,000 engagements and shared the average Facebook video was just under 90 seconds at 81.22 seconds while on YouTube the average video was near 14 minutes.

Marketing people including salespeople learned this past July that the average persons spends more than 20 minutes a day on Facebook (Business Insider) while checking their phones 150 times a day (Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Buyers). However even with shorter attention spans, what is the best marketing times is still “relative.”

Over on LinkedIn Pulse from my ongoing research and the research of others, longer articles receive more views, likes, comments and shares than short articles.  LinkedIn members want quality content and will invest more time to read a 1,000 plus word post while potentially ignoring the shorter posts.

What this research on time and marketing has revealed is you have just a few seconds to grab someone’s attention and up to 25 more seconds for them to be engaged in your marketing message. If the average human speaks at a rate of 150 words and reads at around 300 words per minute (WPM), then you have 75 words if speaking and 150 words if reading before they tune out.

Understanding the importance of time and marketing is essential especially for small businesses that cannot afford high price cable, television, radio or print advertising. This is why social media and mobile marketing continue to gain traction while traditional marketing channels continue to lose audiences.

The critical point to learn is if you have an emotionally compelling and quality message that sounds and maybe even looks different than your competitors, you will attract attention even with the short attention spans.  Time in marketing is relative.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

 

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Visionary Leaders or Forward Thinking Leaders, The Same or Different?

Some may contend visionary leaders and forward thinking leaders are one in the same. I believe there is a significant difference between these two types of leaders.

forward-thinking-leaders

Credit www.gratisography.com

Visionary leaders see the vanishing point on the horizon.  They have a purpose, a passion and a commitment to get to that vision.  These individuals are strategic and conceptual in their focus.

Forward thinking leaders focus on thinking how to get through the next 6 months, the next year, the next 3 to 5 years.  They are more geared toward execution of the vision than just thinking about the future.

Both types of business leadership are necessary in any organization.  The CEO may be both a visionary leader as well as a forward thinking leader.  He or she may also designate the forward thinking execution to another leader such as a Chief Operating Officer (COO).

In the 21st century, what is keeping many organizations from getting to where they want to be is execution of the business strategy, vision and purpose. There is a lot of excellent strategies, great visions and dedicated purposes, but far less consistent execution.  This is why it is so important to have forward thinking leaders who can bridge the gap between where a business is and where it wants to go.

So much emphasis is placed on visionary leadership and continues to ignore forward thinking leadership.  Then what happens is execution suffers. Poor execution is like a leak that continues to drain resources.

There are many visionaries in the business world and far fewer forward thinkers.  This is evidenced by the number of business failures and the inability of visionary leaders to just “get stuff done.”

Today SMB owners, entrepreneurs and even salespeople may wish to consider how truly forward thinking they really are instead of being overly obsessed about that vanishing point on the horizon.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Success Today Is Embracing What Is Not Taught

One the extreme benefits of being an entrepreneur is making connections to other forward thinking entrepreneurs.  One of my colleagues, Jim Keenan, just published a book entitled Not Taught. What is so great about this book is Keenan must have been a fly on the wall when I have conducted one on one executive coaching or group sales or leadership development training. Humans love to be validated by another person.

not-taught

Credit www.gratisography.com

Keenan’s book reflects what research continues to tell us about what employers want and what colleges along with high schools are not delivering. Today’s young high school and college graduates are not taught what it takes to be successful.  They have been unfortunately led down some primrose path of enablement and entitlement.

What happens is in many cases they look like ‘Jack Asses” so full of themselves and totally clueless.

This book blends what is not taught about practical applications specific to achieving professional success with what is not taught about personal success (self-leadership: leading yourself).  For example, the first chapter is all about your reach and the value of your reach. Making connections through your professional network such as LinkedIn or through the establishment of communities with like minded individuals is extremely important.  Who you know and more importantly who knows you will have a significant impact on your professional success. I connected with Keenan because of my reach.

Another reason I find this book to be particularly helpful is it works with the Theory of Self Determination. This is an intrinsic motivational theory built upon 3 elements of Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose (Relatedness).  When all 3 elements are engaged, there is a high level of internal motivation. However if any of these elements face barriers both external and internal without the right Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills and Habits (KASH-Box-for-Sustainable-Change), then motivation decreases.

Keenan also recognizes the importance of critical thinking skills and results.  Without the ability to think critically, sustainable results are much more difficult to achieve.  He also makes some other great points including “Everyone is in sales.” (I have been saying that for years!)

If you want to achieve both personal and professional success, then grab this book and read it.  Then re-read it. After each chapter invest some time for self-reflection. Your next step would be to close the gaps between what is not taught and what you need to know to be the successful person you want to be.

P.S. Remember knowledge is power was never true because applied knowledge has always been more powerful.

If you want your daughter or son to get ahead of the flow, then check out this 2015-ADVSYS-Boot-Camp where your student will learn more about what is “not taught” to be successful.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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