Archive for the ‘Sales Coaching’ Category

Do These Limitations Unknowingly Restrict Your Sales Success?

In sales, there are many limitations to sustainable sales success. What I have discovered through years of experience reinforced by actual data from the Attribute Index, there are four somewhat hidden limitations that restrict sales success as well as in life in general.

Sales Success Limitations

Self Esteem (Self-Acceptance) – How do you appreciate your own unique self worth? Additionally one bases these feelings on “internal factors, as opposed to external ones.  This internal feeling of value allows them to appreciate themselves based not on what they do, what role they occupy or what success they attain, but rather how they judge themselves based on who they know themselves to be inside.” (Source: Innermetrix)

Remember Sally Field when accepting the Academy Award said “you really like me.”  She was revealing her own self-esteem with those four words.

Role AwarenessHow aware are you of your role in the world? Each role has specific expectations.  If someone does not understand those expectations, they may have further lack of clarity as to what he or she should be doing.

Self Direction How well are you excelling in your chosen career path? People who set personal goals, operate with a passion in this endeavors, be open to change and have a strong sense of duty to their own ideals and goals do not experience this limitation.

Possibly you have heard the statement “realizing your potential?”  When there is a lack of clarity with self-direction, potential is not realized.

Internal Temperament What is your degree of optimism or pessimism?  Our internal temperament is how we tend to view our lives either overly positive or overly negative through our biases.  Some individuals have no biases and are neutral.  I have come to call this potential limitation our “internal passion indicator.” 

Until we have absolute, clear, crystal clarity, we will continue to face our own internal limitations.  Now is not the time to meet the enemy and discover the enemy, the one keeping you from sustainable sales success is you.

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Buzz Words Don’t Sell

Believe it or not, some believe that adopting the most current buzz words will dramatically their increase sales.

Right now the most popular buzz word is sales enablement.  Before that we had trusted advisor, consultative sales,  development specialist, relationship expert, you get the drift.

In many instances, buzz words tell others how you do what you do and not what you do.

In sales, what sells are the results outside of the relationship.

What your sales leads want to know is results do you, your products or services deliver?

The Fallacy of Buzz Words

When a particular buzz word is adopted, sometimes the salesperson believes others know what that word or words actually mean as in sales enablement. Additionally there is a presumption by using a particular flavor of the month moniker, it will reveal the salesperson is ahead of all those other salespeople.

Possibly in selling to much larger organizations (500 employees or more) which represent less than .5% of all U.S. business (source U.S. Census Bureau), their decision makers may know and may embrace these words.  However, at the end of the day, regardless of business size or industry, results are what matter.

Results usually show up in the value proposition, but not always.  Again, many in sales lose sales leads by going into the reeds along the bank.  They stir up a lot of mud and any initial clarity regarding their value proposition is lost.

If you want to adopt any current buzz word, go ahead.  Just remember, buzz words do not sell.  People buy you first. Next they buy on emotions justified by logic.  Finally they buy on value that is unique to them.

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Let’s Stop Selling to the Quick Fix Need

A great friend and colleague, Dan Waldschmidt, wrote an outstanding blog about the charlatans who provide success advice and are liars. What Dan was addressing was those in sales who sell to the quick fix need.

Read Dan’s blog posting – Why Most Success Advice Is Bullshit and What to Do About It.

These salespeople be them executive coaches, organizational consultants to even instructional designers, look to the quick fix need of a sales lead.  They usually know their sales solution is not effective (doing the right thing) and therefore not sustainable.  Maybe this is why so many salespeople hide from return on investment (ROI).

My History of the Quick Fix in Sales

I first saw this for me unethical sales behavior when I was involved in instructional design.  As a subcontractor I was tasked with writing sales training (instructions) for retail salespeople to sell through a series of computer prompts.  The way the training was scheduled was not going to be sustainable.  Additionally, these salespeople were not being trained on the entire sales process.  This sales training was all about selling without any solid establishment of a relationship.

Later as I established my own executive coaching and consulting practice, I had numerous sales opportunities where the client wanted a quick fix.  I knew that a one time learning event provided very little long term cognitive retention.

How can anyone change his or her behavior when he or she forgets the knowledge to change that behavior?

When the client insisted on a one time learning event and wanted “loosey goosey” outcomes such as “improve communications with customers” or “be better leaders,”  I respectfully declined and stated my sales solution would not be sustainable.

Every potential client told me “well, so and so” said he or she could do it.  I would respond with “Then I would reach out to that individual. I know from my education and experience, what you want will not happen in a one day or two day training event.”

Many people will always be attracted to the quick fix for a variety of reasons.  The only way to provide sustainable solutions is to stop selling to the quick fix.  Take the hit in your sales.

And before you hear some internal response such as “this is what the client wanted” to justify selling to the quick fix, remember your sales solution should be effective (doing the right thing) and sustainable.  You should be able to quickly provide a measurable return on investment (ROI).

As Dan said:

“Success is you doing the right thing. When no one is watching. When it’s hard to do.”

Dan goes on by saying:

“It’s the mindset and the actions created by that mindset that lead to the outward evidence of your success. Stop buying into other people shortcuts.”

The last sentence could be easily rewritten as “Stop selling into other people’s quick fixes.”  For the “quick fix” is a shortcut and truly not sustainable.

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Have You Considered Your Sales Solutions to Have These Two Qualities?

Sales solutions that are both efficient and effective have a far greater probability of turning customers into loyal customers or continued sources of sales referrals.  What happens is in the hurry to “close the sale,” some salespeople focus on the efficient and not the effective.

Efficient Sales Solutions

When the sales solution meets all the criteria as in investment, delivery, etc., it suggests it was efficient.  Things were done right.  The right answers were given to the right questions.

Effective Sales Solutions

To be an effective sales solution means doing the right thing.  Possibly the salesperson knows even though his or her solution is efficient, it may not be effective.  For example, sales training during the holidays usually lacks short and long term cognitive retention.  People have their minds elsewhere.

Another no effective example might be given 2 – 8 hour days of training knowing full well the “brain only absorbs what the butt will endure.”  Such a schedule may be efficient and yet it is not effective.  A better sales training solution would be 2 hours a week over 8 weeks.  Sometimes there is push back on this scheduling, yet a good salesperson can demonstrate how such a sales solution can deliver far better results.

Losing the Sale

Many salespeople are not willing to lose the sale for a variety of reasons. Several times in the past I have been asked to deliver one or two day sales leadership training.  Given the behavioral outcomes the clients wanted, I had to turn down the sales because I knew the attendees would not change their behaviors. The clients were convinced this type of sales leadership training could be achieved.  I suggested to the clients to reconnect with their past vendors because given my knowledge and experience I could not secure those desired behavioral changes.

Sales solutions that are both efficient and effective may take a little longer to earn or close, but the results are far more sustainable from loyal customers to more sales referrals.

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Isn’t It Time to Stop the Must Have Leadership or Sales Skill?

Is it just me or are you as tired as I am about all the postings about having this must have leadership or sales skill?  Do this or learn that and “wala” you will be a top sales performer or authentic leader.

Please give me a break!

This desire to find the magic number one skill, trait, quality, call it what you will, regardless of role is complete and total hogwash. Fact – There is no number one top sales skill.  Those seeking the “must have” are really seeking the quick fix to cure what ails them.

Many sales coaches, marketing experts or leadership consultants who write about this or that being the must have or top sales skill recognize the never ending desire for the quick fix.  They are meeting a need, but their solutions are potentially unrealistic for their clients.

Human Beings Are Unique

When we look to find the must have sales skill or leadership skill, we are forgetting this basic premise about human beings.  We are all unique.  We have different experiences.

From those different experiences, our brains are wired differently.  We may be intrinsically motivated by Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose as it relates to people (Theory of Self-Determination).  However, how those motivators are connected to each other is unique based upon his or her own life experiences. This uniqueness can be further identified through the work of Dr. Spranger and Allport.

Take Advantage of this Labor Day Special Opportunity (until 9/5/2017) to

Learn What Motivates You as well as Know Your Talents and Behaviors

If there truly existed a must have sales skill or leadership skill, doesn’t it make sense that everyone who have this skill would be able to increase sales?  So why do so many sales professionals still fail to meet annual sales goals? Why do we keep reading about a new must have sales skill?

Human beings are unique and complex. Our brains co-exist with our minds where all our experiences reside. Add in our emotions and we realize there is not just one “must have” sales skill.

If you disagree, then take this free 170904-Short-Sales-Self-Assessment and identify the one must have top sales skill. Then have another salesperson take the same assessment. Do you both share the same top sales skill?

May you enjoy a most prosperous and enjoyable Labor Day.

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Possibly Your Email Automation Messages Are Killing Sales?

Most of us have experienced those email automation messages.  We download something and then we get an automated message for some follow-up or worse yet a direct sales pitch. Yuck.

Email Automation Reality

These  automation messages probably kill more sales than people realize.  Today I download some sales enablement research for an article I was writing.  I received the following message:

Leanne, I noticed you have downloaded the CSO Insights Sales Management Enablement study. What triggered your interest in this paper? Would you like to arrange a call to see if there is a fit for me helping you with your objective?

Now this was not someone from CSO Insights, but another firm that had access to this particular study. Did you notice the not so subtle sales pitch?

I did respond with the following:

Thank you, I write a column for the Chicago Tribune as well as other publications. I am quite fine with my objectives, thank you.

The return personal response was “Okay.”  Do you think this salesperson gave up too easily?

Now here was the perfect opportunity to do some further research before responding.  This individual could have checked out my LinkedIn profile or undertake a Google search.  He might have realized I am a possible sales influencer.  Instead he let this sales opportunity pass because he saw my response as a sales obstacle.

Email automation messages serve a purpose. They are the first step to discovering unqualified sales leads, qualified sales leads or centers of influence.  The next step is to make a second outreach to confirm the initial discovery.  This second step is the one many people fail to undertake.

What happens is salespeople are busy and in some instances truly crazy busy. All this being busy becomes an excuse not to do any additional research.  Possibly this is why most salespeople only make two contacts and then go onto the next sales lead?

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In Sales Conversations The Fine Line Between Inspiration and Intimidation

Most salespeople truly believe in their sales solutions especially entrepreneurs and single office/home office small business owners. They want their sales conversations to be full of inspiration and yet sometimes just the opposite happens.

We have all heard about pushy salespeople.  These are the folks who make their sales pitches within a few moments after shaking your hand.  I am not talking about those salespeople.

What I am talking about is the salespeople who so firmly believe in their solutions, their sales conversations are full of passion that comes from the heart. Sure they want to close the sale, to earn the business, but first and foremost they want their prospects to share their passion to have that “V8 moment” so to speak.

Salespeople full of inspiration realize it takes more than one contact.  They will make numerous efforts to reach out to their sales leads or prospects and to share their “inspirational” sales solutions.

For some sales prospects, eventually they lose the feeling of inspiration and it is replaced with intimidation.  They don’t want to hurt the feelings of the salesperson, but the constant focus on the sales solution turns them off.  The mistake made by the inspiring salesperson is one also shared by those other pushy salespeople – failure to listen and observe.

Recently I observed an inspired SOHO entrepreneur who was attempting to sell his solution to another individual.  The “sales lead” was polite. His body language told me he was being polite.  However, he had been turned off by the sales conversation quite earlier. Yet the salesperson failed to pick up these non-verbal clues and continued with what he thought to be an inspirational sales solution.

The passion that inspires salespeople to have those sales conversations can easily intimidate especially if the salesperson is not actively listening and observing the non-verbal behavior of the sales prospect.  Top sales performers understand how easily it is to cross the fine line between inspiration and intimidation.

The DISC tool helps to better understand sales conversations behaviors.  To learn more click here to take advantage of this special Labor Day offer by

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Why Do We Fail to Understand Salespeople Are Multi-Dimensional?

Salespeople are human beings.  Yet so often those in business fail to accept that human beings are not just one dimension but rather multi-dimensional.

In working with organizations as well as with top performing sales performers, I hear about how one assessment was used to determine the salesperson’s potential. Using just one assessment especially one that is neither statistically reliable or valid is a disservice to the organization and especially to the salesperson.

As in life, one size does not fit all when it comes to clothing, assessments or salespeople.

For example, the DISC Index is a great tool to understand how the individual communicates and reflects his or her behaviors.  For salespeople who understand DISC, they can leverage that knowledge to improve their relationship building as well as sales conversations with sales leads to centers of influence.

The Values Index is another tool that looks to what a person values or what intrinsically motivates that individual. This psychometric assessment tool helps both the salesperson and those in sales management to align the sales job description to the salesperson’s motivation.

Today there is much discussion about emotional intelligence.  Again, this is another dimensional of each salesperson.  Salespeople who are top performers leverage their emotional intelligence to increase sales.

Read Jeb Blount’s book, Sales EQ, to understand emotional intelligence within the sales process.

Finally, knowing the talents of the individual is also necessary.  What I know is most people know with far greater clarity what they don’t do well instead of what they do well. My favorite psychometric tool is the Attribute Index which utilizes the work of Dr. Hartman and the science of Axiology.

Possibly now is the time to expand one’s beliefs about people and recognize each human being is multi-dimensional.  Remember one size does not fit all in clothing or when it comes to measuring salespeople.

Take Advantage of this SPECIAL 2017 LABOR DAY Offer – CLICK HERE to learn more.

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Improve Your Sales Soft Skills

Soft skills are absolutely necessary and critical to be successful in sales. You can ask all the open ended questions, work through the sales process flawlessly and if you lack the ability to connect with your sales leads, all your efforts will be for naught.

salesMuch of the sales training and sales development including some sales coaching focuses on the technical skills.  However years ago one of my coaches, David Herdlinger, crafted a simple quadrant.

He asked what causes failure?  Is it knowledge (K) and skills (S) or attitudes (A) and habits (H)?

Most agree it is attitudes and habits.  Some call this mindset.

Mindset is supported by soft skills or people skills.

So what skills would you rate and how would you rate them?

During the last 20 years, I have recognized these five skills as critical to sales success. Below is a quick chart for you to assess yourself.  Then determine based upon the results of rating each of these skills, prioritize them to chart your own personal development.

Skill Rate 1 for low; 10 for high Priority
Communication especially active listening
Delegation (follow-up)
Decision Making respective to type of sales leads; sales conversations, etc.
Leadership (including personal accountability, self starting ability, persistence, goal setting/goal achievement)
Time Management

If people buy from people they know and trust, doesn’t it make sense that people skills should be equal in importance to technical sales skills?

For SMB owners and salespeople, marketing is the first step in demonstrating those soft skills.  Peter Drucker believed a business had two basic functions, marketing and innovation. He also contended if marketing is done well, then selling is effortless.

People must buy you first before they can buy your solutions.  My father shared this hierarchy respective to sales obstacles:

  1. You
  2. Your business
  3. Your solution
  4. Your price
  5. Your delivery

If you want less sales objections, make sure your sales leads buy you first. By taking the time to rate your soft skills, might be the next step to moving you closer to sales success.

Consider reaching out to Leanne and schedule a quick phone call by CLICKING HERE.

 

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Are Your Sales Results Suffering Because of this Confusion?

“I have plenty of lists, daily, weekly and monthly” said an acquaintance.  My next question was “How are your sales results?”  The not so surprising response was “they could be better.”

This acquaintance and many of my sales coaching clients share this confusion about list making and goal setting.

List making is very much like a simple mini action plan.  Each item on the list is an action based upon an objective to be achieved.  In some instances, having lists works on the smaller actions and usually fails on the bigger ones.

A goal is a predetermined objective to be undertaken with the desired end to be a positive result.  Sometimes especially if the goal is to increase sales, the goal must be thoroughly “thought out” or what I call “flushed out.”  This thinking or flushing requires some additional time.  Critical thinking skills such as integrative ability must be applied along with:

Lists work with goals, but lists alone will not achieve the desired sales results.

Consistent goal achievers are excellent critical thinkers.  They identify what they want to achieve and then look to the what is limiting them from achieving their goal.  These limitations may be also considered as challenges or obstacles.

The confusion between list making and goal setting may also explain why there are misguided decisions that create misdirection.  If the item on the list is more complex or must work with another action that has not been clearly articulated, then the ability to achieve the goal especially if the goal is to increase sales is severely limited.

Another tell tale sign of this confusion is the answer to this question:

Have you invested the time to create a strategic thinking plan with specific written daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual goals?

Again, the answer over 95% of the time is NO! What this answer tells any sales coach or business coach is there is considerable misalignment happening which helps to explain miss guided decisions creating miss directed actions.

Yes, lists are great, but written goals aligned to an overall strategic thinking plan will consistently increase sales and far better sales results than lists alone.

Schedule some time to talk with Leanne by CLICKING HERE to improve your sales results.  Yes it could be as simple as just embracing a proven goal setting and goal achievement process.

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