Archive for March, 2017

3 Simple Actions to Take Today to Change Your Sales Results Tomorrow

sales-resultsOver the course of nearly 40 plus years in business, I have been fortunate to meet many much smarter people than myself. One of those individuals is Ray Overdorff who recently shared three (3) simple actions to change one’s sales results.

#1 – Commitment to be a Better Communicator

Sales regardless of all the hype by so called experts is 100% about people buying from other people.  To buy from you, you must talk to your sales prospect.  Communication both verbally and written is the key in making that happen unless of course you are telepathic.

What this means is no sales pitches during the first to even third conversations. People must buy you first, before they can buy your company and your solution.

#2 – Look for Ways to Get People More Involved

Remember the old adage, “no one wants to be sold but everyone wants to buy.”  Getting people involved in your sales process is a significant key to improved sales results.  To be more involved returns to the #1 action, being a better communicator.

Getting more people involved is also the essence of a high performance sales culture.  It is not just the salespeople responsibility to increase sales.  Everyone in your SMB must be 100% committed to both external customers (paying customers) and internal ones (other employees).  If your salespeople cannot secure the involvement of the order department to the delivery department, then the external customer ultimately suffers.

#3 – Get a Coach (Results Driven, Ethical)

When salespeople get a good coach who is results driven and highly ethical, then they will see improved sales results.  Depending upon the industry and the limitations facing the salesperson, these results may materialize as quickly as 24-48 hours or may take longer.

Not all sales coaches, executive coaches or business coaches are cut from the same cloth.  One suggestion is to ask about how the coach, coaches, his or her process.  Read the reviews and if possible talk to one or two of the coach’s clients.

Yes just by taking these three (3) simple actions, you can change your sales results.

P.S. Always remember to give credit to whom it is due.

If you are considering hiring a sales coach, schedule a complimentary session with Leanne Hoagland-Smith by clicking here.

 

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The Hourly Executive Coaching Fee, Ego and Ethics Collision

Sherpa Coaching continues to update executive coaches (focus on behavior change) about the hourly executive coaching fee. This update also includes hourly fees charged by business coaches (focus on knowledge and skills).

executive-coaching-feeIn having various conversations with colleagues, I have begun to wonder if there is a collision happening here between the executive coaching fee, ego and ethics?  For some, how much one charges reflects the worth of that particular individual.  More dollars, more worth.

Years ago I revisited my fees and adjusted them to reflect marketing conditions and my own personal financial goals.  As the economic motivating driver is not in my top 50% of my motivating values, charging high fees was not of particular interest. I preferred working with forward thinking business leaders who saw the value in my solutions.

I have listened to some executive coaches talk about their fee structure.  Their egos do appear to get a boost when they state “Well, I charge $500 an hour and my clients gladly pay.” My first thought is good for you and my second thought is “Hmm, ego have we?”

Then there is this issue of business ethics or positive core values.  Is what you are charging ethical?  Of course, some might say I charge what the market will bear.  And I can appreciate that position. Please understand, I believe in capitalism, 100%.  My issue is how higher executive coaching fees may be a reflection of ego and a potential lack of ethics.

What concerns me is those executive coaches who say they work with struggling entrepreneurs or SMB owners and their fees only add to those struggles.  There is a movement to bill for monthly executive coaching retainer services which may lessen the hourly rate impact. I actually employ that strategy with some of my executive coaching maintenance clients.

Since my fees come from the profits of my clients as well as from their own discretionary funds, I am very cognizant of the impact on their bottom line. Yes as some colleagues have encouraged me, I could charge much more given the results my executive coaching and sales coaching clients quickly experience, but then I would be having a collision between my business ethics, my personal core values and the executive coaching fee structure.

So if you are considering or revisiting your own executive coaching fee structure, please take a moment to think about if your fees are in alignment with your business ethics, your values and not a reflection of your own ego.

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Another New Sales Tool? Really? Why?

Almost every day I am solicited to try this or that new sales tool.  All promise incredible results.  Really?

sales-toolHow many sales tools does a salesperson really need?

How did top sales performers years ago manage before the creation of all these new technology based sales tools?

Will the adoption of a new sales tool really increase sales?

Do you suddenly become captive to the newest latest technology and lose sight of what you as a sales manager or salesperson are supposed to be doing?

Here are some other questions to ask before adopting any new sales tool:

  • Are you taking this action proactively or reactively?
  • Is the justification to “monitor” or control your salespeople?
  • Will the technology build trust both internally and externally?
  • Will the tool actually improve individual sales performance?
  • Will there be more time spent on entering data instead of making calls or meeting with sales prospects?
  • How much time is involved in the learning curve?
  • What is the actual return on investment including dollars and time?

I remember reading on numerous occasions the greatest complaint about most CRM tools was:

The salespeople don’t use them!

Technology is great when applied correctly and for the right reasons.  As the old saying goes, “one does not need an elephant gun to kill a fly.”  Just make sure you have the right tool for the right purpose.

Remember time is money and adding any new sales tool starts as a negative drain on profits and productivity.

Consider investing a few minutes to speak with Leanne Hoagland-Smith about how to increase sales. CLICK HERE to schedule your free session.

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What’s So Wrong with this LinkedIn Invitation?

LinkedIn is a great social media site to increase business contacts and when done well will increase sales. Yet there is a correct way to write a LinkedIn invitation to connect and so many wrong ways to write a LinkedIn invite.

LinkedIn-invitationThis morning I received this invite (I have deleted any specifics to ensure the sender’s anonymity):

Please accept my connect request. I will then scan and send you a VIP $200 **** Savings Card. Activate and it comes with 110% lowest cost guarantee on ***** and all other ***** needs as an intro to a new ***** search engine. It can become a huge fund-raiser.

Beyond not having this specific need, I am not into any fund raising activities.  After reading this poorly pitched sales pitch, I thought “what a dolt!”

This LinkedIn invitation lacked being authentic outside of the obvious sales pitch. I wonder what LinkedIn training she had that even suggested this was an appropriate message to send with the invitation?

Personalizing the standard, boring invite of “Hi (insert your name) I’d like to join your LinkedIn network,” makes good relationship building sense. However using that same invite as an obvious sales pitch stinks to high heavens.

People buy from people they know and trust.  I may not know you, but I can check out what shared connections we have as well as your profile.  Sometimes I will accept LinkedIn invitations from people I personally do not know. However, I do have a process to ensure the invitation was authentic and not just an attempt to expand the other person’s database.

When will people recognize that marketing even social marketing is not selling?  Marketing is all about attracting positive attention.  LinkedIn invitations such as the one I just shared do not in any way meet that first desired end result of marketing.

With all the emphasis on social selling, I believe it is time to redirect those efforts to social marketing because unless people buy you and your company, they will never even consider your social selling solution as exemplified by this great example of what not to do with a LinkedIn invitation.

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Simply Speaking Sales Referrals Are Priceless

Sales referrals are like gold, actually more valuable. When trusted colleagues or friends either make a sales recommendation or provide a name when asked, this action usually means increase sales for the beneficiary of the sales referral.

sales-referralsHaving just relocated 1825 miles away from where we lived for 30 plus years, finding new service personnel who deliver high quality work truly hasn’t been much of a challenge.  First, the Internet through reviews which are indirect sales referrals helped locate the Internet provider.  Then I also learned the previous owner had also subscribed to this provider.

We required an inspection and potential repair to an old built in Tappan built inn oven.  Again, doing Internet research I discovered a local appliance shop that repaired Tappan ranges and sold appliances.

Their service personnel were both efficient and effective.  I truly love it when service personnel show up on time.  The end result of this experience was $2,000 in sales for this local appliance firm.

Also, we had an unexpected plumbing issue on a Sunday afternoon.  I called our realtor who provided the name of the only local plumbing firm she has used.  We called and the plumber solved our plumbing issue. Also because of his efficient and effective service, we took his recommendation about another serious and potential plumbing. He came back the next day and fixed that issue. Again, between the two service calls and the parts we purchased from a local hardware store, another $1,500 was added to the local economy.

Finally with two fenced acres of land, we decided it was time again for a dog. Another text to our realtor and she recommended a local human society.  Within 72 hours, we adopted a rescued three month old puppy. This was our less expensive cash outlay, less than $2o0 for adoption fee and food.

Sales referrals are indeed priceless.  Money cannot buy authentically given sales recommendations. Note the key word is given.  Even with the rampant use of the Net Promoter Score (how likely are you?), unless people actually take action and make a sales referral such scores are really useless.

Of course, one must also be willing to give sales referrals and that includes writing online reviews or even better yet, sending written letters of testimony.  I know I have several I must write in the next few days.

If you want to increase sales, make sure every contact with potential customers and existing customers is exceptional so you too can benefit from those priceless sales referrals.

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Truly Priceless, The First Customer Service Experience

In relocating from NW Indiana to NW Arizona, we have had to outreach to several businesses.  Once again I realized how truly priceless the first customer service experience really is.

first-customer-service-experience

Credit www.pixabay.com

Must Have Internet

My business depends on the Internet.  Having a reputable Internet firm is essential. I did my research and discovered Data-Max Wireless. The frontline person who opened the account and scheduled the service call was incredibly friendly and competent.  Then the service technicians also demonstrated outstanding professionalism from being on time and making recommendations for a better wireless router.

Must Have Working Oven

When we purchased our new home, we knew the built in oven was not working.  Again, doing Internet research product and reviews, I called Attwoods Appliance and scheduled a service call.  The serviceman was on time and again very professional. He only reaffirmed my first customer service experience with the Repair Department at Attwoods.

Unfortunately, the part needed for the 35 year old Tappan built in oven was no longer made.  So based upon our first customer service experience, my husband and I visited the store and ordered not only a replacement oven but a freezer as well. So a $75 service call turned into an over $2,000 sale. This is why the experience is priceless.

Must Have Working Plumbing

One of the challenges in buying a 35 year old home is there will be unforeseen problems.  We had an outside sillcock that would not shut off on a Sunday afternoon.  My husband did a temporary fix and  I called our realtor, Elise Harron of Dirt Road Real Estate for a recommendation. She recommended Truelove Plumbing.

Again, the first customer experience of scheduling the appointment and the subsequent actual service was exceptional.  Having 22 plus years in the plumbing industry, I recognized someone who understood plumbing.  The plumber also reviewed our pump and pressure tank (water storage system) and made some significant recommendations.  We took those to heart and he is coming back to install a new pump and pressure tank along with the necessary cut off value and pressure gauge.

Each of these local small businesses made that first customer service experience delightful and then backed up that experience with competent service personnel.  Unless these firms demonstrate some significant negative behavior, they have earned my customer loyalty and hence my business as long as we live here.

So far we have infused thousands of dollars into the local small business economy.  And these expenditures have all been fostered by that priceless first customer service experience.

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A Sales Maxim To Be Held True

What sales maxim do you hold to be most true?  This past week I had the opportunity to personally witness how the violation of this code of sales behavior turned me away from one vendor to another. Let me explain.

sales-maximAs we have just relocated from 1/3 acre home with no fence to two acres totally fenced, we decided it was time to find a dog. Our new home is out in the country where there are plenty of coyotes.

Believing in adopting a rescued dog from the local animal shelter, I stopped by and looked at the available dogs.  The executive director told me there were a couple of 3 month old puppies at a national pet chain store. This national pet chain store works with local human societies and allows them space to showcase dogs and cats for adoption.

So I decided to stop by and saw a puppy that appeared to met our breed and size criteria. I went to the car to call my husband to see if he approved and was met by another human society just outside of the store.  Their puppies were an acceptable breed  and I was almost ready to pick one up when one volunteer said “We are the better human society.” I smiled and continued to my car where I called my husband.  He said “It’s up to you” and I went back in and adopted the 3 month old puppy.

Years ago my father shared this sales maxim with me “Never, never knock the competition, no matter what you know.” Dad went on to explain his reasoning with “By engaging in this sales behavior, you as a salesperson will begin to establish distrust and turn potential customers or clients away.”

Then I had the opportunity to visit a local veterinarian as one of the technicians had a dog kennel for sale.  I asked her what made this clinic different?  She responded very positively with “All our vets are men and we spend more time with each patient.”  We then talked a little more about a vaccine against rattlesnake bite and she presented me with a card for a free visit.  What this wise lady did was to be positive and not knock the competition.  She earned my first visit.

Knocking the competition is a dangerous behavior and one that should be avoided at all costs. Let others fail to heed this sales maxim as plenty do.  Be above the fray.  Remember the Socrates Three Filters if you are ever in a discussion about your competitors:

  1. Is what you say kind?
  2. Is what you say truthful?
  3. Is what you say necessary?

 

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Finally a Sales Expert Took Zig Ziglar To Heart

Years ago I read the following definition for sales by Zig Ziglar: “Sales is the transference of feelings.”  As someone who consistently writes about the impact of emotions in sales, I was so glad to read one sales expert who took the time to write a book about how to transfer those feelings through emotional intelligence.

sales-expertJeb Blount’s new book, Sales EQ, should be immediately ordered, read and committed to memory.  Blount has provided those in sales with a road map to understanding how to use what Ziglar recognized so many years ago.

Emotional intelligence is the missing key within most sales training programs.  The inability to apply EQ might help to explain why 50% of salespeople miss quota.

Just this past week I wrote about how certain words such as “need” should be eliminated from the vocabulary of salespeople.  The use of need in a sales conversation reflects emotional intelligence or the lack there of.

As a noted sales expert, Blount provides many more tips and strategies in a well written and well crafted book.  Even though the book is to help with complex sales, this book will help the SMB salespeople  to earn more sales because people buy first on emotion justified by logic. (Sales Buying Rule #1)

The application of emotional intelligence works with any sales process and must begin within the first phase of attracting attention otherwise known as marketing.  For those in sales who resist the word marketing, then call it prospecting.

Still, an elite group of top 1 percent of sales professionals are crushing it. These Ultra-High Performers are acutely aware that the emotional experience of buying from them is far more important than products, prices, features, and solutions.  As Jeb Blount wrote in another book, People Buy You.

As someone who is considered by some to be a sales expert, I look forward to your thoughts about Sales EQ. Please share your thoughts here or post them on your social media site.

 

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Need, a Word to Be Banished from Your Content Marketing and Sales Conversations

Just this morning in my news feed, I read a content marketing and sales headline “These are the skills you need to have.” The following thoughts quickly surfaced in my mind:

marketing and sales

  • Really, I need to have these skills of (leadership, sales, management, etc.)?
  • What if I don’t have these skills?
  • Will I be less successful without these skills?

The word “need” is filled with judgment and is probably one of the least emotionally intelligent words people in sales and marketing use on a daily basis. One can’t blame salespeople after all they are trained to “uncover wants and needs” in most sales training programs.

Return to a moment n your childhood and think about your parents or an adult telling you any of the following:

  • You need to go to bed
  • You need to make straight As
  • You need to go to college
  • You need to find a good job
  • You need to visit your relatives
  • You need… (the you need list is endless)

Every time I read about “you need” to do this or have this when it comes to SMB, sales, marketing to leadership, I inwardly cringe.  For the last 10 years, I have attempted to remove this word, “need,” from my own executive coaching engagements, content marketing and sales conversations.  I also encourage my clients to replace this highly emotional word with other phrases such as “Have you considered?”

Emotional intelligence is critical to successful marketing and sales.  Jeb Blount founder of Sales Gravy is releasing on March 20, 2017 a book, Sales EQ: How Ultra High Performers Leverage Sales Specific Emotional Intelligence to Close the Complex Deal, dedicated to emotional intelligence specific to sales and one I recommend purchasing.

Of course changing an existing behavior is not easy. And for time strapped marketing and sales people having to speak a few extra words may prove frustrating. My advice is just remember how you emotionally felt years ago when you were told “you need” to do whatever.  That memory should be enough to prompt you to change your behavior.

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Lies Do Not Inspire Customer Loyalty

When will customer service people from wait staff to store clerks to everyone else in between realize lies do not inspire customer service loyalty. No lies do exactly the opposite. Lies build distrust and turn existing loyal customers into finding other solution providers.

customer-loyaltyRecently we had breakfast at a national chain that features home cooking.  When the waitress took my order, I asked for extra syrup. The waitress replied “Absolutely.”  Another waitress brought our breakfast and again I had to ask for extra syrups. This waitress replied “No problem.”

Our waitress stopped by when I was halfway through my meal and I mentioned the extra syrup. She replied “Of course.” Finally when I was finished with my breakfast, she brought the extra syrup.

Then told my husband and myself the reason for the delay was she was attending a mandatory staff meeting.  She apologized when I told her to forget the syrup as I was finished with my meal.  Again, she apologized and mentioned the mandatory meeting a second time. As a sales and management consultant, my first thought was “Talk about stupid management having a meeting during a prime time” and my second thought was “Hmm I wonder if the waitress lied to cover her own bad customer service?”

At checkout I was asked “How was the food?”  I replied the food was great, but the customer service not so much so.  The clerk asked me what happened and I responded.

She then asked me to tell the manager directly which I did.  The manager was nice enough not to charge us for the pancakes and said the meeting was not a mandatory staff meeting.  In other words, the waitress lied.  Requesting an item 3 times is not the fault of management, but the fault of the wait staff. And yes there was plenty of wait staff as this was the usual busy Saturday morning

Customer loyalty especially for service industries such as restaurants, grocery stores, etc. where there is low profit margin is essential in today’s highly competitive B2C marketplace. Losing one customer can equate to hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the customer.

Very few people will fess up and acknowledge when they are at fault. This is human nature. Yet to lie to customer is not the answer for ongoing customer loyalty that is built upon expectations based upon past customer experiences.

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