Archive for February, 2016

Before You Buy That Sales CRM

There is no question technology can increase sales productivity.  However for any sales CRM including other productivity tools to work requires:

sales-crm

Credit: www.picjumbo.com

  • An open attitude by the sales team
  • A sales culture that supports sustainable business growth
  • A realization that technology is only a tool because:

People buy from people!

Buying a sales CRM will not magically increase:

  • Revenue
  • Leads
  • Repeat business
  • Smoothness of operations

And will NOT reduce STRESS!

Yet there is a persistent belief probably fostered by some excellent marketing that technology is the magic pill to cure your sales ills.

With worker productivity falling sharply in the last quarter of 2015 at the fastest pace in over a year (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) supported by Gallup’s Engagement Poll of only one in three workers being actively engaged, SMBs are losing thousands of dollars every day.  Then add in the ineffective recruiting, hiring, onboarding and sales training, SMBs are bleeding additional profit dollars.

How do you feel about all those loss profit dollars?

The better question to consider is will a sales CRM consistently solve these problems?

  • Lack of personal accountability
  • Personality conflicts and/or power struggles
  • Time management problems
  • Unacceptable results
  • Difficult keeping motivated
  • Limited focus and directions
  • Cover your behind mentality
  • Communication problems
  • Can’t do attitudes
  • Misalignment/lack of coordinated efforts (Do as I say, not as I do)
  • Reactive rather than proactive thinking
  • Unproductive sales teams or teamwork
  • Duplication of effort (chasing one’s tail)
  • Inconsistency of quality work (erratic sales statistics)
  • Excessive and unproductive meetings
  • Disconnect between sales training or other solutions and results

Even though today’s sales CRM software is much improved from yesterday, it still was never designed to align, develop and nurture a forward thinking sales culture.  No that solution is not found in any sales CRM.

Want to increase sales,  CLICK HERE to reserve your 30 minute conversation and with one question to learn how truly aligned your sales culture really is before investing in any new technology.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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There Is I Love Sales and then There Is I Love Sales

Valentine’s Day is over yet for salespeople, this day is every day. In speaking with a colleague earlier this morning, he reaffirmed this attitude of “I love sales.”  Of course as we continued our discussion we both agreed not everyone who has this attitude really has this attitude.

I-love-salesThese are the salespeople who smile warmly, shake your hand firmly and yet inside no matter what they do, you sense something unauthentic.  They say all the right things, communicate in all the right ways and yet something is off.  These are the folks who have the attitude of “I love sales” along with the shadow attitude of “I can’t wait to close another deal.”

Sales Coaching Tip:  An attitude is a habit of thought. Zig Ziglar

Authentic salespeople truly do not have that shadow attitude.  They truly believe “sales is the transference of feelings” as noted by Zig Ziglar. I would take that definition one step further to “sales is the transference of authentic feelings without the pre-existing shadow attitude of “to close another deal.”  For it is that pre-existing attitude that buyers to centers of influence sense.

When those authentic feelings are received by potential buyers, amazing sales results are possible along with incredibly strong relationships that may continue for years.

So much of sales training and sales coaching focuses on the technical sales skills to even people or soft skills and yet this shadow attitude is ignored even though it probably contributes more to “earning the sale” than all the other solutions combined.

If you truly want to increase sales, then embrace an authentic attitude of “I love sales.”  My sense this is one attitude that you truly can’t fake it to you make it.

Want to “love sales?” CLICK HERE to reserve your 30 minute conversation to “love sales” even more.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Going Beyond the Increase Sales Goal

SMBs survive and thrive because of sales.  Those incoming dollars (the increase sales goal)  keep all the gears of the organization running. When the goal of increase sales is not met, things begin to slow down and for the SMB owners stress begins to pick up.

sales-goalSuddenly the focus is no longer on the increase sales goal, but rather on:

  • How am I going to meet payroll?
  • How am I going to pay the bills?
  • How am I going to keep customers?
  • How am I going to get new customers?
  • How am I going to feed my family?

Each of these “How am I going to” add additional stress to an already crazy and very busy entrepreneur. Even if the SMB owner is a solo entrepreneur, he or she still has each of these “How am I going to.” Now the focus has changed to stop all the bleeding from these “How am I going to” stressful barriers.

Then the real question the SMB owners or executive leadership should be asking is “What’s the biggest barrier standing in the way of achieving this increase sales goal?”  And unfortunately, many SMBs owners and those on the executive leadership team fail to identify the biggest barrier.

No instead they identify the smaller barriers such as:

  • Leadership
  • Sales skills
  • Management
  • Sales process
  • Sales system (CRM)
  • Quality
  • Customer Service
  • Salespeople

The list goes on and on and on with the biggest barrier never identified and therefore never broken down. Worse yet this biggest barrier continues to grow higher and higher, wider and wider while the resources of the SMB continue to shrink. In many instances these smaller barriers become the flavor of the month because the real big barrier still exists.

When the biggest barrier to achieving the increase sales goal is discovered, then and only then can sustainable solutions be developed to take down that barrier and all the other smaller barriers. And by the way, those solutions will most likely included all the smaller more popular barriers and reduce all that unneeded stress.

Want less STRESS and better RESULTS, CLICK HERE, to schedule a 30 minute phone call.

 

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Are You A Good Salesperson or Just in Sales?

Funny, how many business professionals say they are a good salesperson yet in all actuality they are just in sales. This reminds me of the commercial “I can’t believe its not butter.”

reak-salesperson
Good salespeople are butter not something that tastes and looks like butter. These individuals are not only busy, but very focused.  They know their target audience. They work hard to connect with their ideal customers or clients. Their messaging is clear, has impact and begins to build trust and credibility from the very first encounter.

Those who are just in sales or the imitators are busy, but not nearly as focused.  Their target audience may end up being anyone with a pulse. As to their messaging, well that is another sad story. Building trust and credibility may happen. However, for those just in sales this takes far more time and wastes many more resources.

Yes those who are just in sales do make money.  Possibly because they seek the easy, quick sales.  I can think of several industries where this seems to be true.

A truly professional and good salesperson makes more money because he or she is not afraid of going after larger, more difficult sales. These individuals are challenged by selling what others have failed to sell.  They understand trust and credibility take time to develop. So they continually nurture those relationships.

There are other differences between a good salesperson and someone just in sales.

  • Differentiation in all aspects including sales conversation to sales approach
  • Knowledge about ideal target audience, industry, market trends
  • Data respective to his or her own sales numbers
  • Professional ethical behavior including not talking down their competitors
  • First impressions from dress to speech

After 35 plus years in sales, I have witnessed far too many who are just in sales.  Fortunately I have also been able to connect with many who are truly an authentic and real salesperson, the real deal.  If you are a “good salesperson” congratulations and if you are someone just in sales, maybe it is time to up your game or find another role because in sales today’s educated buyers know the difference between real butter and an imitation.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Why Aren’t Your LinkedIn Connections Deep, Loyal and Strong?

LinkedIn is the go to social media site for B2B sales.  Your LinkedIn connections can reveal more than just the number or industries represented.

LinkedIn-connections

Credit www.gratisography.com

For the last several months I have been auditing LinkedIn Pulse articles written by two different groups of colleagues where we share a direct connection outside of LinkedIn.  What is interesting is for one group it receives immediate reads and sharing while the other group rarely get much traction in the first few hours of publication and rarely any additional traction after 24 hours.

I think how much time was invested in writing, editing and then placing the article into the LinkedIn Pulse stream.  With now over 130,000 published weekly (as of November 2015), grabbing attention is much more difficult.

Writing articles on LinkedIn Pulse is only one part of the marketing process in this 2.0 social media selling site.  Authors must also reach out to the LinkedIn Connections and engage them. By taking this proactive action, these authors build a far deeper connection as well as loyalty.

What this connection engagement looks like varies.  It may include a personal thank you for sharing or an actual LinkedIn in house email.  Additionally, an out of the blue phone call may be warranted.

To just publish on LinkedIn Pulse with the hope of attracting attention (the purpose of marketing) is just plain foolish and a waste of your time as an author or sales prospector. LinkedIn provides the opportunity to view your metrics regarding LinkedIn Pulse articles respective to likes, comments and shares. Additionally even your updates come with viewing statistics. Maybe this is the first place to start to understand how truly deep, loyal and strong your connections really are.

However everything comes back to this axiom: People buy from people.  Your LinkedIn connections are people.  Remember that the next time you publish a LinkedIn Pulse article or make a general posting.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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What Is Missing In SMB Growth Puzzle

Possibly after you read this headline, you may have thought, “Sales” or “Leadership” is what is missing in SMB growth.  Actually those are part of what’s missing, but not the answer I am seeking.

SMB-growthNo what is missing in SMB growth is a high engaged sales culture.  Small to mid size businesses do not have the luxury of having separate departments stacked with tens to hundreds of employees.  No each employee is probably wearing multiple hats including the SMB owner or executive leadership team.

All employees of any SMB are in sales, not just the paid or commissioned salespeople. Every interaction whether with another internal customer (employee) or external customer (paying customer) must be directed toward the desired end result to increase sales.

If sales is the transference of feelings (Zig Ziglar), then by having a highly engaged sales culture is the epitome of SMB growth.

Imagine for a moment, everyone recognizes the importance of:

  • The first contact
  • The smoothness of the sales process
  • The quality of the delivered solution
  • The timely delivery of the solution
  • The necessity of customer follow-up

All of these moments are embedded within a highly engaged sales culture.  If the goal is to increase sales, then this can only happen if these other interactions happen first.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Sales Culture Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

 

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Why Investment in Professional Development Is Essential

Do you make an investment in your own professional development?  If you don’t, shame on you. With the speed of change at rapid pace, to not work ON yourself means you are truly behind the flow.

professional-developmentYesterday I invested over 13 hours of my time attending a seminar offered by Ari Galper.  I did this to make my quarterly goal of 25 hours of professional development away from my office.

To be truthful I was somewhat cynical of this seminar on being the Trusted Authority in sales given I have attended so many similar seminars in the past.  I was truly surprised by the content and the nuggets I gleamed from this rather interesting learning engagement.

Beyond receiving some exceptional content, I also had the opportunity to meet several other professional consultants. executive and business coaches.  Listening to their experiences was also very beneficial.

So often we attend learning engagements that reaffirm our own beliefs.  I appreciated this seminar because it challenged several marketing and selling beliefs I hold very true.

In the coming days, weeks and months I will be applying much of what I learned and refocusing some of my marketing efforts based on this one quote I heard:

“Being a Trusted Authority happens before the sale; being a trusted advisor happens after the sale.”

Since I believe if marketing is done well, selling is effortless (paraphrasing Peter Drucker), then what I learned yesterday will support me to further clarify my marketing and therefore improve my sales results.

You may notice I did not share very much of what I learned and that was intentional.  We live in a B2B world filled with a lot of knowledge.  What we as business coaches and consultants do is give away much of that knowledge because of our desire to “solve” problems because we believe that will encourage someone to hire us. Maybe it is time to rethink that business model?  If you want to experience a day of professional development that will challenge some of your own beliefs and knowledge, then reach out to Ari Galper.

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

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The Hidden Sales Obstacle of “How Much?”

Have you ever had a sales conversation that began with “How much is….(fill in the blank)?  Many seasoned sales professionals recognize this sales obstacle.  Usually this questions suggests a tire kicker or someone who buys on price only while expecting the best quality, the best delivery, the best value for his or her money.

sales-obstacleBeyond the obvious sales obstacle, there is a hidden one within this question.  This hidden barrier surfaced yesterday during a master mind question posed within the South Shore Business Networking Group. One of the members suggested lowering the price was situational especially if the business was having a cash flow problem or worse yet lagging sales.

My response was “Shame of the small business owner for not knowing his or her sales data.”  Desperation is in many instances because the SMB owner or sales professional failed to invest the time to plan, to review the market and to make those necessary course adjustments.  Unfortunately reducing the price becomes the quick fix solution.

Having worked with many SMB owners, I can say at least 90% have no written strategic plan; have no or limited knowledge of their sales cycle; invest no time for reflection including data analysis. When time is invested to work the plan, to review the sales cycle and to analyze the data then this is forward leadership in action.

I will always remember speaking to a group of 150 SMB and professionals two months after 9/11.  My question was two-fold:

  1. How many of your businesses have been negatively affected by 9/11?  Almost everyone raised his or her hands.
  2. How many of you have revisited your strategic plans and made the necessary course corrections? Only five people raised their hands, and three were my clients.

When SMB owners and sales professionals start down the “How much does it cost?” sales conversation path they are failing to recognize, they are part of the reason this question continues to be asked. Maybe by investing a some time in working ON their businesses instead of always IN them will begin to reduce this sales obstacle.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership 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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The 3-Es of Workplace Culture Leading to the 3-Es of Employee Engagement

Simplicity allows us to focus on what needs to be done and this is  especially true for workplace culture.  Imagine for a moment that we simply defined workplace culture as the sum total of all:

workplace culture

Credit: www.gratisography.com

  • Experiences
  • Emotions
  • Expectations

This simple definition goes beyond many other definitions because it takes into account those past employees that may no longer be present, but their experiences still linger along with their emotions and expectations. The passage of time is very much present in the culture of any organization. Employees hear stories of how “things used to be” or how “things never change around here.”

By having a simple definition, we then can move forward to the results of a highly engaged organizational culture. The importance of involved employees also can be rendered down to these three Es of:

  • Energy
  • Engagement
  • Execution

To have highly engaged employees does demand a high level of energy.  This energy is what creates the engagement and what delivers the execution.  For at the end of the day, how much gets done and gets done well is the desired end result.

When forward thinking leadership simplifies the complex, then they as business owners to consultants to individual participants can better understand the essence within any issue.  From this essence we can make far easier connections of what we need to know and more importantly what is standing in the way from those connections happening.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership 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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Maybe It’s Time to Show You LOVE Your Employees?

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and as they say “love was in the air.” What would happen if we bring LOVE into the workplace for employees?  Possibly this would increase employee engagement and improve the overall workplace culture?

employees

Credit www.picjumbo.com

Maybe we could even unit this concept of LOVE with the Theory of Self-Determination to further motivate employees?  What would this look like?

L – Learning

According to Deci and Ryan, the Theory of Self-Determination rests upon three (3) internal and therefore intrinsic motivators unique to all human beings.  The first motivator is Mastery.  People want to master their surroundings.  We witness this motivator with young children who have incredible curiosity.

Learning is how we master our environment. The challenge is providing learning that the employees desire.  For example, research specific to millennials show they are not learning what they want, that being leadership development.

O – Opportunities

Each day we are presented with opportunities,  We can choose to do one thing or another.  Employees are far more motivated when they also have opportunities to choose.  Within the Theory of Self-Determination this is called Autonomy.  Think about it for just a moment. How do you feel when you are told to do something versus how do you feel when you have a choice?

V – Values

Your values, those key, non-negotiable behaviors, we demonstrate can be directly connected to all three internal motivators.  In today’s ever changing world, learning is a value.  We can no longer be content with the status quo. To maintain any competitive level requires ongoing learning.

Choice is another value. We can choose to behave in one way or another.  Our ability for empathy allows us to make choices specific to our purpose.  SMBs that fail to consistently communicate and enforce values are potentially demotivating their employees and creating a disengaged workplace culture.

E – Empathy

When we have empathy, we are demonstrating our ability to relate to others.  Business, leadership and sales are all about people.  By being empathetic, we show we care.  As President Teddy Roosevelt said “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Caring can be directly traced back to our purpose for not only being in business, but being a social creature.  Purpose (relatedness to others) is the third motivator within the Theory of Self-Determination.

Consider bringing a little LOVE to your employees and maybe you can turn those just engaged employees into actively engaged ones.  Who knows you may even increase your bottom line.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership 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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