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12 Is a Costly Number to Every Sales Leader

Do you waste 12 minutes a day as you are conducting your daily sales activities?  Be honest.  If you are honest with yourself, the time wasted each day probably exceeds just 12 minutes.  Ongoing workplace time use and workforce productivity research suggests employees continue to waste a lot of time.

What is all that wasted time costing your ability to increase sales?  Maybe you are thinking, it’s just 12 minutes a day, not much.

By doing some simple math, 12 minutes a day equals 1 hour a week and this translates into 52 hours per year or over a solid week of productivity.  Now that the picture is much bigger, what is that costing you?

If you are a sales leader and value your time, then you should be worth at least $100 an hour or $5,200 annually given all that expertise.  Even if you believe you are only worth $50 an hour that still adds up to $2,600 each year. If you know how much time it takes to close a sale, then do that math.  How many more sales could you achieve in 52 hours?

What can you do as a sales leader for yourself to reinvest those lost minutes into productive ones? Here are some simple strategies from which you can take action:

  1. Eliminate unnecessary conversations and time wasters including social media. Be intentional in all your actions.
  2. Review your sales goals daily, weekly and monthly.
  3. Set a schedule and review your schedule daily. Use a CRM tool as you review your activities.
  4. Use agendas for meetings with your sales management or other colleagues. Without agendas, meeting time becomes a lot of lost minutes.  Do not allow any new items that come from the discussion. Table them for the next meeting.  Keep personal issues out of the meeting. This one strategy helped one of my clients consistently increase revenue by 20-25% annually.
  5. Model as a sales leader the desired behavior. Respect the time of your colleagues and your customers. For example, let your sales prospect know that you only want 30 minutes of his or her time.
  6. Align your time to your sales goals. If you goal is to secure one new sales lead from your regular chamber to civic meetings, then make sure you achieve that goal.  Do not waste time visiting with people that you know. You must first be accountable before you expect others to be accountable.
  7. Have a  sales action plan. As a sales leader, you should be an overall Strategic Business Growth Action Plan© reinforced with Marketing, Sales, Customer Loyalty, Management, Innovation and Financial sub plans. Stop the praying and spraying mentality and behaviors that are time wasters.
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Time to Take HOLD of Your Business Results

To improve business results, many organizations use the SWOT analysis.  For many years I have used a revised SLOT analysis when it comes to ensuring people secure the desired results.

Today, the word disruption is very much in evidence through the business and even personal worlds. The combination of algorithms and technology continue to disrupt how business has been conducted.  Maybe it is time to move forward and look at business results through a different analysis tool.

HOLD – A New Analysis Tool

When people within organizations start engaging in improving business results, the ultimate goal is to take HOLD of the entire organization.  Individuals within the organization must also take HOLD of their own results.

H Health – What is the health of the organization or individual?  This allows the organization as well as the individual to assess beyond the financial records to other critical elements especially attitudes, emotional intelligence and organizational culture. More and more research confirms emotional intelligence and organizational culture have far greater influence than many executives realize.

OOpportunities – Where are the current and future opportunities for sustainable, profitable growth?  With the qualified labor pool continuing to shrink, now is the time to look at opportunities to keep loyal employees and loyal customers.

LLimitations – What limitations are restricting the health and opportunities of the organization or the individual?

D Disruption –  What disruption has happened in the marketplace and its impact on the organization or individual?  Where is there a possibility for more disruption such as artificial intelligence?

Yes the SWOT analysis is a good tool.  The inherent problem is people are conditioned to the tool and in many instances viable data, facts and information are overlooked.

Change in the marketplace continues to happen at what appears to be the speed of light. To stay at least with the flow and hopefully ahead of the flow demands new ways of thinking for those who wish to change and improve their business results.

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Procrastination the “I’ll Do It Tomorrow” Mentality

Almost two weeks into the New Year and is procrastination starting to rear its ugly head?  You know what I mean those  “I’ll do it tomorrow” thoughts.

Years ago during a workshop, one of my clients shared that her greatest obstacle to business success was her inability to:

  • Honor her commitments,
  • Do what she know she needed to do
  • Put things off until tomorrow

Her greatest obstacle to business success was consistent with the other responses that I have received during the last 20 years.

From my perspective, to procrastinate reveals a victim mentality belief rather than being a behavior.  Of course, many might bristle when I suggest that such behavior is an excuse, but in reality is it not?

The word procrastinate has Latin origins. “Pro” means forward and  “cras” means tomorrow.  Ultimately, this means to defer to taking action now and taking action tomorrow.

Sometimes to procrastinate might be a good thing. For example, a person lacked the necessary time to think through a current decision at hand.  Yet for many, the issue of procrastination is more about the unwillingness to take action and then to make an excuse for this belief.  For indecision is a decision and is totally within the control of each individual.

For example, how many people in business procrastinate (take no action) because they have no plan?  Most small business owners fly by the seat of their pants or by the spray and pray mentality (spray it on the wall and pray it sticks).  And if they do have a plan, they leave it on the shelf or in the desk drawer and think about getting to it later.

Procrastination becomes the excuse not to build your business.  Don Wilder once stated that:

“Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.” 

For example, I know of many small business owners to sales professionals who actively attend chamber of commerce events to local civic organizations’ meetings.  Anywhere from 1.5 hour to 3 hours are spent several times a week at the same meetings with the same people.

Yet, how much new business did they secure? How many new leads have they uncovered?

For these individuals would rather procrastinate about doing what they really need to do to grow their businesses rather than take action to schedule a solid business appointment with a prospect.  Business networking is great provided you are realizing measurable results that turn into sales.  If not, then you need to fish in some new ponds.

TAKE ACTION procrastination is one of your business issues. Look to supporting beliefs. Listen to the excuses that you are making for your behaviors. Ask yourself are you being a victim to your own thoughts?

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A Loyal Customer Is Your Revenue Generator

Many small to mid size businesses cannot answer this question:  What is the total value of each loyal customer? For these SMB owners are so busy working on yesterday’s issues and today’s issues, they fail to invest the time on tomorrow’s opportunities.

To calculate this very important number begins by understanding your average revenue per order and knowing the total number of orders per year per customer.  By multiplying these two numbers creates your total revenue opportunities per year for your average customer.

Next take your total revenue opportunities multiplied by the average tenure of your customer and you now have your total value of a loyal customer.

For example, you are a small, locally owned restaurant and the average breakfast meal is $6.00 and your customers visit you 2 times a week or 104 times a year for annual total revenue opportunity of $624.  Your average tenure or lifetime for your customer is 10 years.  Total value of that customer is $6,240.

When that customer stops coming, you have not lost $12 a week, but $6,240.  This is why building loyal customers is so critical to your bottom line.

Here is another real world example. My husband and I go out for dinner usually once a week.  Twice a month we frequented a locally owned restaurant that consistently delivered good food. During one of our visits, my husband visited the men’s facility and observed a cook not washing his hands. Upon returning to the table, he quietly shared with me the incident and we left.

On our way out, my husband took the manager outside and politely explained what had happened.  Even though the manager did try to resolve the problem, we both know that individuals who fail to wash their hands will not change their behaviors.  Impact to that restaurant was easily $25,000 over the course of 10 years because usually once a month another couple joined us.

TAKE ACTION to make sure that everyone from the executive team to the frontline workers understand all points of connection. Demonstrate the financial impact when just one loyal customer is lost because a simple point of connection such as the staff not washing their hands was not maximized.

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The Quicksand of Customer Loyalty Those Nasty Complaints

Building customer loyalty must address unsolved problems aka customer complaints. Take a moment to think about a problem that you had with a product or service provider such as a hospital, a retail store or a new car dealership.

Was your customer complaint or problem resolved to YOUR expectations or was it resolved to the provider’s satisfaction?  How did you feel when the complaint was resolved within your expectations?  Probably, pretty good and you may have even told some of your friends.

If that problem was not resolved to your expectations, how did you feel?  Just the opposite, angry, frustrated and can’t wait to share this miserable customer service experience with the first person who will listen and commensurate with you in your misery?

Now think about your customers and their unresolved problems.  When those problems are not resolved, they can become like quicksand.  You don’t know the quicksand is there until you step down and suddenly your entire body is being pulled into this gooey mire.

Unresolved customer complaints, for the most part, can be easily solved provided that everything from policies, procedures to systems are in alignment. What causes unresolved problems to stay unresolved is that employees do not have

  • Customer loyalty attitudes
  • Authority to resolve problems

If employees truly believe that their attitudes will either make or break customer loyalty while knowing the overall corporate goals, they are more inclined to create incredible points of connection.

For example, I attend a conference at a hotel three times a year. This conference brings at least $100,000 annually to the hotel. Each morning there is a breakfast buffet to quickly serve the 150 guests. I do not like the breakfast buffet. The hotel could force me to take it or leave it (that’s our policy, you have heard that before), but the morning waitress remembers my special breakfast order even though I am only there 3 times a year. A potential unresolved problem is immediately solved.  Am I a loyal customer? Absolutely!

CUSTOMER LOYALTY TAKE ACTION ITEM: By setting a goal to resolve 100% of all problems to your customers’ expectations during the next 90 days.  Measure the results. You should find an increase in revenue because you have dramatically increased customer loyalty.

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How Do You Develop Customer Loyalty?

To develop customer loyalty means that you must know what to do and probably change your paradigms.  Loyal customers have different expectations than just satisfied ones.

Customer Loyalty Coaching Tip:  The digital disruption will impact your paradigms about loyal customers.

To learn your customers’ expectations begins with the management team.  Senior management needs to identify the points of connection within the customers’ experiences. Points of connection are anything that customers can see, feel, smell, taste or hear. Literally walking through the organization is a very simple way to locate the many points of connection.

Also, management needs to determine what a loyal customer is worth over the average customer lifetime.  For example, a satisfied customer visits a local retailer four times a year and spends an average of $50. This customer is worth $200.  A loyal customer visits the same store, spends $50 weekly and her value climbs to $2,600 annually.

Now consider those customers shop the same store in the same manner for 10 years. The satisfied customer has a total customer value of $2,000 while the loyal customer is worth $26,000.  This calculation quickly demonstrates how just a 5% retention in customers can create a 25 to 100% increase in profitability.

Some retail stores such as automotive to industries such as lodging have extensive data about their customers and understand the overall value every potential customer brings to their establishment.

Then a customer service survey can be created to reflect these points of connections as well as other issues such as unresolved problems.  When this information is compiled, then a customer loyalty strategic plan can be developed to ensure that all actions are aligned to the goal of developing loyal customers.

Of course, employees also need to be trained and developed to embrace a customer loyalty philosophy while shedding the old one of customer satisfaction. This customer service training should have them also identify points of connection and understand the critical goal of problem resolution.

TAKE ACTION to make every customer experience is the best.  Begin with a organizational assessment that is aligned to a continuous improvement process. Then take time to identify the critical points of connection.

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Customer Loyalty So You Have It?

The 20th century business model focus was labor intensive. Creating satisfied customers was the goal.  However, the 21st century has changed the marketplace forever.

With the click of a mouse thanks to the dramatic impact of ever changing technology, your satisfied customer can leave and become easily satisfied by your competitor. What will you do then?  Continue the same practices, policies, and procedures through archaic customer service training?

Customer loyalty is truly about your bottom line.  Did you know that a 5% increase in customer retention can have a 25% to 100% in profits?

Take a moment to think about the impact of this figure to your bottom line. You already have satisfied customers.  By converting them, you save money by not acquiring new customers which is far more costly.

But the real power is that these loyal customers become your greatest marketers. They are singing your praises to everyone through Word of Mouth (WOM) advertising. And everyone in business knows that you cannot pay for a referral.

So what is keeping you from building loyal customers?  In many cases it may be your policies, procedures and customer service training.

For example, some organizations focus on timing the interactions between associates and customers.  Speed becomes the driver of the customer experience.  The customer cannot complain that the transaction took too long, but they will complain about being treated like a number, like an empty bag, like less than a human being. Have you ever had that experience?

Smarter salespeople are coming to realize that unresolved problems are keeping them from loyal customers.  If a customer has a problem and that problem is resolved to the satisfaction of the customer, repeat sales happens.  In other words, resolved problems create loyal customers who want to come back and spend or invest their dollars with you.

TAKE ACTION to think about your customers.  What can you do to build loyal customers?  If you do not have a customer loyalty strategic action plan, then construct one is where to begin.

And remember, the digital disruption will impact your customer loyalty strategies.

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To Increase Sales Telling Ain’t Selling and Neither Is Educating

Possibly you read this headline and thought I was speaking blasphemy. What do you mean educating will not increase sales?  All those sales experts provide advice about educating your customers. What about education based marketing?

Before your head potentially explodes, let me explain.  Sometimes in order to sell our solutions (products or services) we have a tendency to over educate our sales leads.  We give them way too much information. By over educating, we can potentially lose the ability to increase sales.

What would happen if you in educating your customer told him or her only what he or she needed to know?  Just answer the question with a little education instead of reciting the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Thousands of leadership to sales blogs are written each day with the goal to educate the reader and hopefully all the education will entice the reader to pick up the phone can make that coveted first contact.  So how is that working for you? Do you find all this educating has achieved your goal to increase sales?

For example, yesterday I received a sales referral.  In speaking with the sales referral, she shared some personal information including the absence of a will by her father.  She is looking to move to Arizona. I told her Arizona believes you know the inheritance law that being without a will your estate goes to AZ and AZ determines who gets what.  The sales referral truly appreciated that education tidbit.

When we actively listen, we can educate discreetly or even indirectly without engaging in telling ain’t selling sales conversations. Additionally, we are not over educating, giving away our solutions.  Why would people buy your solution when you just gave it away in your educating interactions from sales conversations to social media postings?

Yes telling ain’t selling is very true. Educating, too much of it, ain’t selling either.

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The 12 Days of Increase Sales Leadership Questions – Day 12

Today’s question regarding how to increase sales leadership results is a very personal and simple one:

Do you truly love yourself?

I am not asking this in any narcissistic or egocentric way. What I know to be true after executive coaching and sales coaching hundreds of individuals, many do not love or even like themselves.

Years ago when Sally Fields accepted an Oscar she said in a very loud voice “You really like me.” My sense is she didn’t truly like or love herself.

One of the ways to know if you truly are comfortable in your own skin  as they say is to spend time alone. Turn off the all the distractions. Enjoy the peace and solitude. Possibly contemplate:

  • What went well?
  • What can go better tomorrow?
  • Are you internally happy with your own actions?

Maybe all those people so wrapped in their smart devices, social media exchanges are doing so because they can’t stand their own silent company. By being engage with others, they don’t have to face the solitude of their own existence?

To increase sales leadership results begins within each and every individual. This is why this question is last.

Possibly I could have started with this question first, but then the other questions would have not had the emphasis or importance.

Answering this simple question is not easy.  It requires contemplative time and being honest with yourself.

And that authentic, time consuming honesty is not something many people find comfortable.  It is far easier to quickly point out the dishonesty in others than recognizing the dishonesty within ourselves.

The New Year is now just seven (7) days away.  Imagine the possibilities as you review this question as well as those other 11 questions and how those answers could increase sales leadership results for you and for others.

To realize success, one must be comfortable in one’s own skin.  I believe it is the ability to love and accept yourself with all your pluses and minuses.

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The 12 Days of Increase Sales Leadership Questions – Day 11

The ability to increase sales leadership begins from within. Outside resources from sales training to sales books to attending motivational speaking events support all those internal desires and emotions.

If your one action action to increase sales leadership was realized, how would that make you feel?

So often we ignore our feelings, our emotions. We are encouraged to seek more knowledge and skills. Yet it is our emotions that more than often contribute to our successes or failures.

Henry Ford said:

“Whether you think you can or you think you cannot, you are right.”

My sense is a better quote would be:

“Whether you feel you can or you feel you cannot  you are right.”

How often do we allow our feelings of discouragement, fears and negativity to keep us from moving forward?

We appear to gravitate towards the negative potential outcomes instead of the positive ones.

Feelings must be balanced with logic. However for that balance to be present, feelings must be acknowledged. Possibly this is why emotional intelligence in sales leadership is becoming more and more prevalent.

Our feelings is what makes us unique.  We can share those feelings in a positive, professional and sincere manner without being viewed as unauthentic or if you prefer “brown nosing.”

As I have shared before President Theodore Roosevelt said:

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

How can you increase sales leadership results if you are viewed as not caring?

When we apply emotional intelligence to our responses, we are not only recognizing and understanding the emotions of others, but we are simultaneously recognizing and understanding our own emotions.

In the play Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote “To thine own self be true.” However the verses before this quite famous quote as far more telling respective to individual feelings.

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