Archive for June, 2016

Sales Fears Will You Fight or Flight?

Salespeople even some of the top sales performers will tell you that they have experienced some sales fears. And truth be known they may have had that initial instinctive flight reaction. Yet, for some reason they chose to fight.



One observation from my perspective is those who chose to fight had faith in themselves and in their future.  Even for those salespeople who were “newbies,” they decided not to let the common sales fears distract them from their desired and predetermined dreams and goals.

How many people truly do not have faith in themselves?  Possibly this lack of faith is because these individuals do not know what they do well? They almost instinctively (subconsciously) know what they don’t do well. After all, they have had years of negative conditioning focusing on their weaknesses instead of their strengths.

Why so many look to improve their weaknesses first and not look to leverage their strengths defies any logical explanation.

Faith in oneself also suggests some clarity around one’s individual purpose.  Sometimes sales fears can be directly connected to not knowing one’s purpose.  When this happens, behaviors are disconnected from the desired end results and the status quo is unintentionally strengthened instead of being challenged and changed.

Years ago I heard this acronym for FEAR False Evidence Appearing Real.  In working with sales coaching clients to SMB owners and executives, I can attest to the truth of this acronym.

One time I wrote down this acronym for SALES Subjective Analysis Leveraging EmotionS – when working with a sales coaching client in discussing his sales fears.  When we looked at the false evidence appearing real, the client realized he had made a subjective analysis leveraging his emotions.  Human being are indeed emotional creatures and this is very true respective to fear.

Sales is all about making choices.  We can allow our fears overtake our daily behaviors and huddle in the corner or we can confront and fight those fears and take control over our own emotions.

 If you want to know what you truly do well,

CLICK HERE to schedule a quick call with Leanne.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing (sales stupidity) gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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Not All Sales Referrals Produce Revenue

Sales referrals are an excellent revenue producer.  A loyal client refers one of his or her friends to you. A meeting is set and information is exchanged.

sales-leadsSome, not all,  executive coaches or business coaches in the first 15 minutes  of the sales conversation can usually determine the problem or problems keeping the sales referral from the attainment of his or her goals.  Some of these barriers can be overcome while others are totally beyond the control of the sales referral. Sales Coaching Tip:  The more due diligence on your part increases the likelihood of recognizing these barriers.

Usually the executive coach can also determine if the sales referral is an ideal customer during this meeting.  Sure he or she may be the decision maker, definitely has the wants and needs and appears to have urgency. This two fold question remains:

  • “Can he or she pay you?”
  • “Is he or she committed to taking action?”

Budget is one of the ongoing challenges for many of the sales referrals I receive.  Even though I can easily demonstrate the return on investment, if the sales referral does not have the budget, there is still no sale.

For example during this meeting, I easily quantified the impact of my solutions.  If executed correctly, the sales lead would have had at least doubled her current monthly new client acquisition and probably tripled those numbers. However even with this demonstration, she still was reluctant to invest in herself.

The other tidbit learned is the risk factor for the sales lead.  More forward thinking SMB owners to sales professionals are willing to take a risk while those who are not as forward thinking are less likely to take that risk.  Sales Coaching Tip:  Risk factor is a psychographic when it comes to profiling an ideal customer and is directly related to the commitment to take action.

Many times when we receive sales referrals, we know going in if the meeting is going to be successful meaning a next meeting would be scheduled. However because of loyalty to existing clients or colleagues, we schedule the meeting.  For me, these meetings are just another opportunity to further improve my sales conversation by learning how to connect to the value drivers of the sales referral.

Yes not all sales referrals produce revenue. This is a fact. What we can do is to continue to educate our clients about who are our best ideal clients while remaining true to our own personal core values.

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Big to Small Firms’ Sales Stupidity

Sales stupidity is unfortunately alive and well from the biggest firms to the smallest ones. No I am not talking about the quick fix which is stupid nor the lack of a sales strategy.  What I am addressing is the misalignment between sales and the rest of the organization’s sales culture.

sales-stupidityYesterday in speaking with a salesperson who works for a $10 billion service solution provider, she shared with me there is no alignment between the different sales channels.  Additionally, because of silos managed by self-serving leadership, there is only one way sales leads referrals. She is expected to give sales referrals to other sales channels, but they do not have to reciprocate. And worse yet the people in these others sales channels receive higher compensation and do not have to make any field calls.

Can you see the misalignment?

This firm is anticipating less revenue growth this year, by nearly 20% compared to the previous year.  I am not surprised. Yet executive leadership remains clueless.

The sales stupidity continues respective to the misalignment between marketing and sales.  Money cannot be spent for mailing thank you notes (building relationships), but can be spent for gas visiting clients to making sales cold calls.  I wonder what high priced consulting firm has been hired by this clueless billion dollar firm?

No wonder so many salespeople are frustrated with their sales jobs.  These individuals want to sell, want sales success, but the misalignment between people, processes and strategies continues to barricade them from their sales productivity. The sales culture where everyone should be working together for the same desired results is just the opposite. If you disagree, just look to the turnover of salespeople.

How many times has sales stupidity been the real reason for lack of revenue, new customers, ineffective sales training to even fewer sales leads?  Over the last almost 20 years, I have coached at least one top sales performer every six months who realized the best option was to find a new job.

Before jumping into the next unsustainable sales solution, step back and assess your culture respective to alignment between people, processes and strategies. This may be the best sales growth action ever embraced.

If you want to learn more about how you can quickly and affordably assess your sales culture,

CLICK HERE to schedule a quick phone call with Leanne.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing (sales stupidity) gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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The Free Sales Training Conundrum

This morning I read a posting about “free” sales training or any other training.  Those who provide training and development services especially the solo entrepreneurs are retreating to offering free as an incentive to increase sales.  We see this with many of the e-courses now being offered. The first one is free and thereafter there is a price to pay.

free-sales-trainingOf course, free sales training does not pay the bills. 

Free does not create value.

Free may actually devalue the expertise of those providing sales training and even business or executive coaching services.

Some of my colleagues offer free psychometric assessments to attract attention.  They believe this approach will provide enough of an opportunity to at least begin to build attention.

Years ago my father told me free does not work because it presumes the sales lead finds value in the free offering. What the sales lead is usually seeking is the expertise, the knowledge, the insight behind the freebie whether the salesperson is selling products or services. Dad also made this insightful statement:


Do you really want a client who only wants free? 

Don’t you want a client who values how your solution will provide the client with sustainable results?

Think about your own buying decisions.  What does free say to you?

As it has been said before, people must have skin in the game.  With free sales training, there is no skin, no commitment to even attend the sales training session less alone to take action.

Finally with all the free sales training offerings in the marketplace, how does free differentiate you from everyone else?

Don’t you want to Be the Red Jacket, the person who stands out from all the other gray suits? If so, then possibly a new marketing strategy as well as sales strategy might be required.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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Your Kaizen Action Plan to Increase Sales Is…?

One of the most popular Internet search terms for my website is “action plan to increase sales.”  In reading the book Managing in a Time of Great Change by Peter Drucker, he refers to the Japanese term “kaizen” and explains it as continuous self-improvement.  How many professional salespeople have such a plan?

action-plan-to-increase-salesFrom my early college days, I adapted the old Bingo Sheet and revised it to a quarterly goal sheet. I would write down my goals and then monitor the results each quarter. One of my personal goals was to get married by my 40th birthday and stay married for a minimum of 25 years. I achieved the married part of that goal 2.5 months early and my husband and I have made it past 25 years as a married couple.

With my clients, I use this Bingo Sheet as a recap of significant business and personal goals.  These goals are taken from more detailed one page action plans for both their business and personal lives. For most the focus is usually on sales. However for some of my more forward thinking clients, they actually work several one page actions plans.

Any action plan to increase sales is indeed about self improvement and is supported by other areas of personal and professional development.  One cannot be knowledgeable about the industry without improving one’s mentality acuteness.

Another gem I have learned over the years is the importance of writing significant goals down.  When I write now what I call WAY SMART goals down, I gain greater clarity because I am truly reflecting upon where I want to go and how I am going to get there.  This action is so simple and yet extremely powerful.

The year is almost half over.  If you aren’t happy with your results, then consider investing some time to create your own Kaizen Action Plan to Increase Sales. Instead of asking yourself

“What do I have to lose? Ask yourself what may I gain?”

CLICK HERE to schedule 30 minutes to speak with Leanne

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip 02

In writing what is now the second week of these sales success tips, I realize they will not be in any particular order of importance. Many will come from interactions I have had over the past week like today’s tip of “Know Your Purpose.”

sales-successPurpose is so essential to not only sales success, but life success as well  In the book The On Purpose Person by Kevin McCarthy he compares being on purpose to the common everyday light switch.  When the switch is on, you are on purpose. Turn off the switch and you are off purpose. Pretty simple.

When working with executive coaching clients, I provide them with an audio CD published by Resource Associates entitled Investing Time Through Purpose, Vision and Values.  This CD has helped my clients understand the importance of purpose and how it is directly tied to one’s vision and values.

For me, purpose answers this simple but not necessarily easy question “Why are you here, right now?”  Our purpose changes in life from being a baby to toddler to a teenager to a young adult to a retired individual.

Another question I ask my clients when they are working through their own purpose is to identify the “gifts they bring to the table of life.”  These gifts many times are their own positive core values.

Once we have clarity around our purpose and subsequently our values we can unite them to our vision. This process does take some time and I can only add it is time well invested.

If you want sustainable sales success, being with the basic building blocks of your purpose.  Read McCarthy’s book to support you in this quest or if you want schedule a time to speak with me by CLICKING HERE

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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Being Real About the Re-Start Sales Mentality

We all know the Einstein’s definition of insanity. Maybe that is why some SMB owners to  professional salespeople favor what I call the re-start sales mentality.  This is when bumps in the business road happen a new CRM, a new sales manager, whatever is brought in to overcome or really re-start sales to even marketing activities.



Example of Re-Start Sales Mentality

One of my colleagues, Nancy Nardin, in a LinkedIn Post made this forthcoming statement:


When clients or even sales leads start asking about bringing in new solutions especially technology to take care of recent bumps, my question is always “Are you throwing out the baby with the bathwater?” This is followed up by these simple questions:

“How do you know with absolute crystal clarity what is not working is the real problem?” 

“What other evidence (usually slow sales) do you have that is prompting this decision?”

Usually, the client answers the first question with “I don’t know” and the second question with “None.”

A unified and proactive sales mentality is the result of reflection and studying data, information and knowledge beyond daily, weekly or monthly sales revenue numbers.  This is not the time to seek the quick fix of a new CRM, sales training or a new sales process.

Common Reactionary Sales Behaviors

I have witnessed these reactionary behaviors to marketing actions by SMB owners and salespeople:

  •  “We sent out 20 direct mail post cards and did not receive one response.”
  • “I made 10 sales calls and I could not get anyone on the phone.”
  • “The most recent trade show was a bust. We didn’t get any sales leads.”

The response by so many is to engage in this re-start sales mentality. For it is much easier to find a new, usually non-sustainable solution than to roll up the sleeves and discover the real problem or problems to poor sales.

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Want to Increase Sales? Put on Your Sherlock Hat

To increase sales requires every salesperson to be somewhat like Sherlock Holmes.  Time and effort must be directed to researching potential sales opportunities as well as lost ones.

increase-salesFor example in real estate, my sense is there are many lost opportunities to increase sales because realtors do not investigate further why someone chose not to buy a home.  Accurate (good) feedback is essential and appears not to be a priority for some realtors.

This past week we had a showing of our home and the potential buyer feedback from the realtor who showed our home was “not interested.”  Our realtor reached out to learn more and has yet to receive a response.

Possibly the realtor who showed the home did not see the importance of providing good feedback or chose not to share the actual feedback. In either instance, this does a disservice to both the listing realtor and the selling realtor.

Sales Coaching Tip:  Read The Danger Report, a must read for those in residential and commercial real estate.

The problem with giving poor feedback in real estate is in the future that listing agent or even the home owner may not be as open to having another showing. You may have lost a real opportunity to increase sales.  Also,  if you are the listing agent and are working with a home owner, you also want to receive good feedback from other realtors.

Sales Coaching Tip: Good feedback is essential in removing obstacles to sales success.

One of the key competitive differentiating factors that identifies top sales performers compared to average salespeople is the ability to research the current market, industry, potential client and the competition for that potential client. This knowledge is essential in demonstrating how to increase sales within the marketing phase of the sales process even before any wants and needs are known.

Sometimes feedback from the sales conversation or sales meeting is not possible. However emotionally intelligent salespeople can in many instances gather enough information to better understand why they did not earn the sale or close the deal.

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Want to schedule a time to talk with Leanne? Just CLICK HERE

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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Just Return Calls to Increase Sales

Again, the person on the other end expressed surprised when I returned his phone call. After several decades in selling, I learned one of the easiest ways to increase sales is to return all phone calls and answer the phone when possible.



One of the greatest frustrations expressed by my sales coaching clients and colleagues is the reluctance of people to return phone calls.  I am not talking about cold calls. No what I am talking or rather writing about are those phone calls where the caller knows you and you think you have a pretty good idea why he or she is calling.

Sales Coaching Tip:  Caller ID may reduce wasted time, but is potentially harmful to increase sales.

Possibly you may be thinking, I will call him or her when I have time after all I know why he or she is calling.  That may be true.

Yet in the meantime, your failure to call back just may have confirmed to the person calling you are not reliable. How do you know the person calling was wanting to share a sales referral with you or to give you a heads up so to speak

To increase sales means every opportunity must be leveraged.  There are many unknown opportunities within new relationships or even old relationships.

Possibly that call was to invite you to a business to business networking event?  How do you know with 100% clarity why the person called? Yes the voice mail said one thing, but possibly some other unknown was also present.

Not returning phone calls also showcases your lack of business professionalism and may give some insight as to your business ethics or character. With approximately 70% of all U.S. businesses being non-employed (meaning single office/home office no employees), answering the phone call at all times is not within your control. However, returning phone calls is 100% within your control.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip 1

Who doesn’t want sustainable sales success?  Of course many want it to be easy and that may be an mental obstacle.

sales-successIdeal Customer

Today’s first tip is define your ideal customer.  When we do not know who are best customers are and especially why they bought from us, we as salespeople are at a competitive disadvantage. There is also a very good possibility we are wasting some of our precious resources including time, energy, money and emotions.

Years ago in giving a keynote presentation to a group of professional executive coaches, business advisors, talent management and lean manufacturing consultants, I mentioned the word psychographics respective to my ideal customer profile.  From the puzzled looks in the audience, I realized many had never researched this critical aspect within their marketing efforts.

From my experience, understanding the psychographics is far more essential to sustainable sales success than demographics.  One of my key psychographics is forward thinking. My most successful executive coaching clients and engagements are all  with forward thinkers.  When I connect this psychographic to the demographic of “rapid business growth,” I am much more focused on who I must meet. Additionally I have far less stress working with this clients and much quicker results.

Here is a downloadable Ideal-Customer-Profile-Template sheet for your reference.  Complete it and then review your strategic plan to ensure total alignment.

Enjoy your weekend.


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