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Your Third, But Not Your Final Step to Increase Sales

Sales is a process and one that is dynamic, fluid and yet still constant. To actually increase sales requires you to execute, take action after you have engaged in assessing and clarifying your direction.

What usually happens is many sales managers through their salespeople into execution, taking action while skipping the first two steps. This behavior then resembles as a colleague called it, Captain Wing-It who sprays his or her actions all over the place and then prays something will stick.

Read this posting about failed execution – My Best Referral (Sales Prospect) Is Anyone With a Pulse

Even the best strategy will not be effective if there is poor execution.  Exceptional execution will not happen with poor strategy.  Investing the time to assess where you are, where the market is and then clarifying where you want to go, where your customers are going is essential.

increase-salesTo increase sales requires exceptional execution followed by reflection or reassessing what has happened. Through this reassessing process, then re-clarifying happens along with potentially re-prioritizing goals and even action steps.

Reflection allows you to determine what went well, what didn’t go so well and how can you improve your actions the next time.  This reflective analysis is the fourth step in critical thinking. potentially provides you with a better understanding of your own gaps.

Exceptional execution happens because of your commitment to planning, to thinking before taking action.  President Eisenhower, a military strategist, said “Plans are worthless, planning is everything.”

Even during execution, your “increase sales” brain should be in full awareness mode so that you can make any course corrections in your sales conversation.  Sometimes the sales lead is ready to buy and yet the salesperson ignores all the signs because he or she is still in sales script behavior.

Yes to increase sales is relatively simple though not necessarily easy by these three  repetitive steps:

Assess – Clarify – Executive – Repeat

Consider connecting with me on my calendar if you wish to learn how the A.C.E. can be applied to your sales culture.

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Where to Begin to Increase Sales, Your Next Step

Most sales managers to salespeople want to increase sales.  More sales equals more money and far less stress.

Yet to consistently achieve this ongoing sales goal requires a commitment to a process. After taking that initial first step to assess, then this provides a foundation for the next step – Clarify.

If you missed the first step, read this posting Where to Begin to Increase Sales.

Unfortunately again many in sales jump into the third step of execution.  These folks are observed in almost a Captain Wing It mode, spraying their actions all over the place and then praying something will stick.

Clarify is a verb and from this verb, the end result is clarity.

  • How long is my sales cycle?
  • When can I expect to earn a sales?
  • Who should are my best potential customers (think ideal customers)?
  • What is happening in my marketplace, industry and local to world economies?
  • How can I leverage my talents (from the internal assessment) to increase sales?
  • Why are potential customers interested in even considering my solution (products or services)?
  • Where do I find additional resources such as knowledge, sales training, mentors or even sales coaches?

Each of these questions are a result of the previously taken internal and external assessments. Yes there are many, many more.

When salespeople clarify, they also subsequently begin to prioritize what needs to be done first, second, third and so on.  Setting and working through a proven goal setting process also happens in this second step.

Some people will ask what does clarifying have to do with goal setting?  My response is everything.  Even though most people are hot wired toward goal setting, they fail to emotionally clarify why achieving the goal is so important to them.  This emotionalization process looks to both the positive and negative emotions regarding success or failure to achieve the desired goal.

Tomorrow the third step to increase sales, though not the final step will be discussed – Execution.

 

 

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Where to Begin to Increase Sales

Finding the beginning to increase sales is viewed as easy, but not really.  Many SMB owners, sales managers and even salespeople skip the most essential and critical first step.

Assess

By assessing where the SMB is through a thorough and well researched strategic plan should have already taken place.  Yet from my experience, the vast, super majority of SMBs do not have a strategic plan.  No, many have opted for the quick fix and hired some marketing firm to write their mission statement that is usually beyond poor and does nothing to create an engaged sales culture.  Actually what happens is just the opposite – a disengaged sales culture.

Read this article about Misguided Mission Statements

Think about a recent visit to your physician when you complained about a stomach pain or a headache.  Did your doctor immediately schedule you for surgery without taking any “vitals”?  No, what he or she did was to assess you through a series of diagnostic tests. What would have happened if the doctor scheduled you for immediate surgery?  Would you quickly running for the door seeking a second opinion?

So why in the world would you initiate any plan or action to increase sales without first assessing what is happening not only to your firm as it relates to the:

  • Outside world?
  • Internal world (think sales culture)?
  • Talents of individual salespeople?

Learn more about assessing your sales culture through – D.I.AL.O.G – a PROVEN organizational and cultural assessment.

Assessing is actual the first step to gain clarity as to why your SMB has not been successful in its goal to increase sales.  To embark upon any activity is really all about gaining clarity to ensure each action is both efficient and effective.

How often do people both in the business world and their own personal lives fail to track the right things to produce the right results to avoid misdirected actions and misguided decisions?

Possibly the rush to take action before engaging in any assessment is because people are conditioned to reactive behavior instead of proactive behavior.  They rush around like the White Hare from Alice in Wonderland.  Always late for a very important date.

If you truly want to increase sales, then start with this first step – assess. 

P.S.  Remember forward thinking doctors or leaders usually don’t self-diagnosis. It may make sense to seek an outside pair of eyes.

Reach out and grab a time to speak with me, Leanne Hoagland-Smith, to discuss how to improve your business results including sales.

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Will You Be a Casualty of the Sales Coaching or Business Coaching Stampede?

Well, it seems like everyone is now a coach, be it sales coaching, business coaching or even executive coaching.  From local Small Business Development Centers to recently unemployed executives, there continues to be a plethora of “coaches” ready to solve their clients’ problems and fill their own bank accounts.

sales-coaching

Credit www.gratisography.com

Yet most have just swapped consulting for coaching and therein lies the problem.

Coaching is not consulting or even mentoring.  Let me repeat that critical statement:

Coaching is not consulting or mentoring!

Coaching in its original intent is about having the client find the answers to her or his own issues. Consulting and mentoring is when the answers are provided by the consultant or mentor.

One of the best definitions regarding the role of for those engaged in sales coaching, business coaching or executive coaching is from Resource Associates Corporation:

“The role of your coach is not to provide answers or solutions. It is to help you develop the potential that lies within you so that your increase your capability to overcome all obstacles and achieve all of your goals…it is to help you discover for yourself where you are today and where you want to be in the future.” (Reprinted with permission)

I share this definition with all clients so that they understand our respective roles.

Great coaches also have employ a process for self discovery supported by proven tools.  The tools in many instances are not the latest and greatest technology applications, but rather tried and proven tools that have been employed for decades if not centuries.

No, not everyone is a coach. No, a coach does not have to be certified through some coaching organization.

If you are thinking of hiring a sales coach, business coach or executive coach ask about his or her process.  Ask about the results that have been achieved and most importantly are those results sustainable? If possible talk to some of his or her past clients, hear from their mouths what results they achieved.

Want to discuss sales coaching with Leanne Hoagland-Smith? Ask about your process for self-discovery. Click here to schedule a free 30 minute session.

P.S. If you want someone else to find your answers, then hire a consultant not a coach.

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Sales Numbers Matter, But Never More than People

Today there is incredible emphasis on sales numbers.  CRMs churn millions of bits of data each day for sales managers to pour over with the hope to discover what is missing in their goal to increase sales.

A past article published by Harvard Business Review entitled “Know Your Customers Jobs to be Done,” examined the gap between data gathering and improved business results.  What created this gap was this two-fold simple question:

  • Why did the customer buy from you or your organization?
  • Did the customer gain progress in working toward his or her goal?

People buy from people they know and trust because they are seeking forward progress, seeking to achieve a goal or goals. This seeking is determined by a variety of factors both external (driven by others) and internal (driven by the buying individual).

What is interesting to note in this article is the indirect reference to purpose.  When people put purpose behind data collection and data analysis (number crunching), they lose sight of the “why” people buy. Believe it or not there is a direct correlation between one’s purpose and why people buy from that person or organization.

For example, my purpose is to be a trailblazer.  This purpose attracts forward thinking people who are experiencing repetitive problems as they blaze their own trails.  My ideal customer profile is geared toward these individuals yet many of my clients do not meet this ideal profile.  And that is Okay.

Personally I believe in sales numbers.  If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

However sales numbers should never take a front seat to why you do what you do.  You do what you do because purpose as it relates to people is one of our three primary motivational drivers (Theory of Self Determination)  as noted by Deci and Ryan in their research.

Remember people buy from people they know and trust.  When you remember that sales axiom, you will be ahead of the business and sales flow.

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What Happened to Permission Based Marketing?

Each day in my email inbox, I receive many unsolicited emails from SMBs and organizations that do not interest me. These entities obviously ignore permission based marketing and rely on buying lists from other unethical firms.

When I first started developing my email lists over 10 years ago, I signed up with AWeber.  At that time AWeber recommended the double opt in option so that people would know they had signed up for being on one of my email lists. This option avoided people identifying you as a spammer and reporting your questionable marketing activities.

Even SMB owners and salespeople also appear to engage in adding names without permission. Have you ever attended a B2B networking event and exchanged business cards with another individual?  Then within a few days, did you suddenly receive via email a newsletter or a sales pitch?  I know I have and personally resented such an action.

For me by sending validated permission to add someone to an email list reflects my business ethics, my positive core values.  I am respecting them by respecting their time.

They do not have to unsubscribe from a list they never subscribed. If by chance someone else used another’s email address, the double opt in option ensures that only the physical holder of the email address is actually signing up.

Failure to use permission based marketing suggests these firms are engaged in spraying and praying.  Spray enough emails over cyberspace and pray someone will buy what you are selling.  For me that is not a viable business strategy or marketing strategy.

Now some firms will ask why you unsubscribed?  I wonder what these firms do with the response “I never subscribed to this list?” My sense it is a feel good action for the person unsubscribing and possibly may meet some marketing association or government policies.

Possibly with the expansion of social media, permission based marketing is viewed as archaic.  For me, I will still employ the double opt in and maintain my business ethics because ethics are never archaic.

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Don’t Forget Your Business Cards When You Innovate

Business cards are prime marketing space. Yet how often are they forgotten when it comes to time to innovate.   If innovation is all about change, the question is:

“Does your business card reflects your own innovation?”

Has your tagline changed?

Have your sales prospects changed (think ideal customers)?

Is the marketplace the same today as it was when you first started?

Business cards are inexpensive compared to other forms of paid marketing.  They provide an incredible catalyst for engaged sales conversations.

Where there is the opportunity for greatest innovation is on the back of your business card.  Here is prime marketing real estate.

Now some will say leave it blank to write for others to write notes.  My question is:

How do you know they are writing notes about you and not someone else?

Think of the back of your business card as an opportunity:

  • To tell a story, your story
  • What makes you different, the Red Jacket in a Sea of gray suits?

Your story should focus on what is happening in your marketplace and how you can make a difference to your sales prospects.

As I have recently moved, I am changing, innovating, my business cards.  Beyond having an address change, I have redesigned the back of the card. Gone is the QR Code that was popular in the past and now a new graphic is present – one without a title. I intentionally left off the title because I wanted an opportunity to explain the graphic.  The Formula for Sustainable Results is still present as well as a simple call to action.

(b) › [A+S+K} + (m&m)wG = PBC = IP IR

Business cards reflect you, your professionalism and even your attention to detail.  Heavier card stock, glossy paper, clean and easy to read font give others a sense of who you are.

If you are thinking of innovating, consider starting with changing your business cards.  You just may be surprised as to how much you and your business have really changed.

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What’s Your Sales Cadence?

Have you ever given thought as to your own sales cadence?  Probably not, but you more than likely have it.

sales-cadence

Credit www.gratisography.com

Cadence according to dictionary.com is the “flow or rhythm of events especially the pattern in which something is experienced.” The site provides the example of a slight decline or elevation in the pitch of one’s voice at the end of a declarative statement.

When we do not recognize our own cadence, this suggests we do not recognize the cadence of others.  In sales, not recognizing the flow or rhythm of events can lead to a no sale situation.

My sense is there is a strong correlation between sales cadence and emotional intelligence because of this key word – recognize.  When we recognize and then attempt to understand the emotions of others while at the same time recognizing and attempting to understand our own emotions, we then can manage both.  How well we manage both sets of emotions speaks to our level of emotional intelligence.

How often have we heard salespeople rattle off their unique selling proposition statements like a Gatling gun? One could almost hear the rat-a-tat-tat as the barrel spins around and around.

Have you even been in a sales conversation where the sales prospect is very slow and deliberate in his or her responses to your open ended sales questions? Possibly you thought the individual was “not getting what you were saying?” and so you repeat yourself or attempt a different sales question?

Maybe the answer is just as simple as his or her cadence was different than yours?

When to learn to actively listen, we can better understand the cadence of others.  Active listening is essential if your goal is to increase sales.

Possibly these words of Mark Twain may help you discover your sales cadence:

“If the good Lord wanted us to speak more than to listen, he would have given us two mouths instead of two ears.”

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The Spraying and Praying of Social Selling

As part of my overall social selling efforts, I regularly ask those who wish to connect with me on LinkedIn what prompted their LinkedIn invitations.  A more recent response was the following:

social-selling

“I just thought that it would boost my business so that’s why I joined hope you having a great day thank you.”

This struggling entrepreneur (yes I am presuming he or she is struggling) is engaged in the all too common spray and pray marketing behaviors.  In this particular instance, spray my name all over LinkedIn and it will increase sales.

How wrong. how sad and what a waste of resources!

Social selling is misnamed because what it really is, is social marketing.  Marketing is attracting attention and beginning to build relationships. Yet because people continue to call it social selling, some folks like this struggling entrepreneur believe it is selling.

Each day thousands of independent sales professionals believe if they spray their names all over the social media landscape, they hope (pray) to increase sales. They fail to understand the first rule of buying:

People buy from people they know and trust.

How this translates within the social selling world is through engagement. Salespeople must engage with potential sales leads, centers of influence, etc. to demonstrate their knowledge and their trustworthiness.

What would have been a better response by this LinkedIn member is something like:

“I enjoyed your recent posting (update, etc.) and possibly we can schedule a quick chat to better understand our respective businesses.”

“I am looking to expand my LinkedIn presence. Possibly we can schedule a quick chat to better understand our respective businesses.  Does (insert date and time) work for you?  If not, let me know some better times.”

The social media landscape can expand one’s market presence provided that individual understands this basic concept:

Marketing is not selling!

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Misalignment Continues to Be the True Foil Impeding Organizational Success

By now many in the US and all over the world have heard about or viewed the video of the United Airlines passenger being forcibly taken off from the airplane.  Here is a real time example of how misalignment continues to be the true foil impeding organizational success.

As someone who avoids airline travel like the plague because of the hassle, it has been a long time since I actually read the policies stated when purchasing an airline ticket. Yet it is my current understanding, the policies do state that all seats are subject to certain conditions and passengers must follow the requests of airline employees.  Airlines reserve the right to remove passengers if for example the airplane is overbooked.

Where the misalignment reared its ugly head is in the communication specific to the lottery. The lottery was not for ALL passengers as it excluded first class and rewards passengers.(Source: Radio news)

When one reads United’s commitment to its customers (via website), United Airlines the following:

“Our goal is to make every flight a positive experience for our customers.”

This statement which I am presuming is to showcase United Airlines’ commitment to organizational success does not separate customers by first class, business, rewards or coach.  All customers are supposedly treated equal. Yet we now know this is not the case.

Additionally, the CEO “doubled down” on the incident and blamed the passenger.  Yes, the passenger was at fault for not following the policies of the purchased airline ticket.

However. United is not blameless and is in violation of its own commitment to customers. This misalignment will hurt its ongoing organizational success as its recent stock drop of 3.7% resulting in a loss of $830 million.

Misalignment is continues to be one of the true foils (usually undiagnosed) that impedes organizational success regardless of the organization’s size.  For both small to large organizations, often what happens is executive leadership takes a retreating position.  In this case, the CEO blamed the customer instead of addressing the real foil – misalignment.

To learn more about misalignment and its impact on organizational success, I recommended this book Fail-Safe Leadership. It is an easy read and provides questions at the end to prompt further discussion and reflection.

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