Archive for the ‘Sales Communication’ Category

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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Learn to Focus On What You Can Control in Sales Communication

Funny thing about human behavior is we humans have a tendency to focus on what we cannot control.  This is quite evident in sales communication.

For example, in today’s 24/7 “I want an instantaneous response to my email, my text or my phone call world,”many SMB owners and salespeople fail to communicate what they can control such as:

  • Hours of operation
  • Response time
  • Contact name
  • Location


Just imagine what would happen in the automated email message to an inbound email sales lead might include the following:

Thank you for your inquiry.  We will respond within 24 hours during normal business hours Monday-Friday, 8am to 5pm, Saturday, 9-12 Noon, Central Time, USA. Our offices are closed on Sunday and will respond the next business day.

A similar message could be placed in the voice mail as well as when salespeople return calls to sales leads. Also this message could be placed on each page of the website where sales leads can send an web response request. Over sales communication in today’s world is a good thing.

Sales research suggests sales leads via email get cold very quickly, in 15 minutes.  Additional research from Inside shows:

  • 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first
  • Follow up on a web sales lead within five (5) minutes increases conversion rate by nine (9) times

Human beings have short (8 seconds) as revealed through research by Microsoft. Currently a goldfish has a longer (9 seconds) attention span than a sales lead. By focusing on what you can control through all sales communication benefits you to overcome the limiting attention span of your sales lead.

Of course there is no guarantee your sales lead will read or hear your message.  However, by focusing on what you can control you have directed your actions in the most efficient and effective manner possible.  Additionally, if the sales lead does become defensive when responses are not returned promptly, this provides an opportunity for the salesperson to build the relationship through knowledge and trust by stating:

“I can appreciate you being concerned that your inquiry did not receive a quick response. As we have recently included hours of operation in all outbound messages, I want to make sure this new response system is working correctly. By chance did you save the automated message?” 

In many instances your sales communication is the first contact your sales lead has with your SMB.  Just make sure that message is clear and focuses on what you can control.  You have no control of what your sales lead thinks, reads or says. voice

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How One Word Can Change Your SMB Sales Results

Sometimes those in sales look for complex solutions to improve sales results. I realized this recently when listening to a Sunday homily and my pastor referred to the Lord’s Prayer as our Father’s Prayer.

sales-resultsBy changing the word Lord to Father gives the receiver an entirely different perspective.  The focus changes from one person to another.

In sales, there are a plethora of words that can be changed to improve sales results. What would happen if we changed the following words?

Need to consider – The word need implies judgment. This word conveys negative emotions. However, the word consider is not only more emotionally intelligent it also works with the Theory of Self-Determination.  Now the listener has the opportunity to make a choice where the word “need” removes all choice.

Sell to buy – No one likes to be sold, but everyone loves to buy so we are continually reminded.  With decision makers being more educated, by redirecting the focus to the buyer changes the dynamics of the relationship.

Think to sense – Again, the word think may imply judgment as well as authority.  When exchanging the word think with the word sense creates completely different dynamics.  Now the salesperson is working with emotional intelligence instead of working against emotional intelligence.

Have to Great – Do you tell people to have a great day?  What would happen if you said “Make it a great day?”  By changing this one word again, you have changed the behaviors from inactive to proactive.

Words do have a powerful impact within our SMB sales conversations as well as our internal thoughts. Additionally people become inoculated to certain words and ignore them.  How many times do we hear the word “help” as people share their 30 second introductions or value proposition statements? Do you mentally turn out when you hear the word “help?”

Of course to change your words require you to actively listen wit your ears, your eyes and your heart. Did a certain word create a positive or negative reaction? What word would have made your communication more effective?

When salespeople understand how to change just one word, they will be surprised by the results.  Years ago I adopted this personal mantra:

Change your words; improve your results 

Today this is so very true especially if you want improved sales results.

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary sales conversation with Leanne if you truly want to increase sales and improve your SMB sales results.

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Are These Words Hurting Your Sales Conversations?

Words are powerful. Words can make a break a sale. So what words are hurting your sales conversations?



One of the most damaging words is “need.”  This word implies judgement and suggests potential incompetence on the part of the sales lead.  What is even worse most sales training focuses on “needs” and “wants” and reinforces this word within the salesperson.

Sales Coaching Tip: The word “need” fails to be emotionally intelligent.

Then how about the word “think?” Here is another word within most sales conversations that also may be viewed as emotionally unintelligent because it implies judgment.  The salesperson who uses this word may also be viewed as too egotistical as the sales prospect may be saying to himself “Who is this person telling me what to think?”

Now we come to the word “you.”  Again another word that can imply judgement.  These three words, “in your opinion” can be substituted.

“Should” can also be added to the list of words to remove from one’s sales conversations.  Most of us probably remember our parents telling us “you should” do this or do that.  Even back then we had an emotional reaction because it removed our ability to make a choice as discussed within the Theory of Self-Determination.

There are other words that may not be judgmental, but are so overused people are impervious to them.  How many times in the B2B or B2C marketplace we hear this word “help?”  “We help people, blah, blah, blah.” Everybody is helping everybody.  Really? With all the words in the English language, another word cannot be found?

Sales Coaching Tip:  Help is how you do what you do; not what you do.

Then there is this word, “challenge.”  Within the sales process during the fact finding meeting, salespeople are encouraged to discover the challenges being faced by sales lead.  In some instances, this word may create some negative feedback because of overuse or the salesperson sounds like all the other salespeople.

Download this 7-Step-Sales-Process-ADVSYS PDF to better understand the overall sales process.

One word, a slip of the tongue so to speak, can potentially doom any blossoming relationship. This is way integrating the most emotionally engaging words in all sales conversations is essential for sales success.

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Reframing Your Sales Conversations to Feel, Know, Do and Remember

How many sales conversations leave you confused, wondering what was just said?  Maybe others may feel the same way about your interactions?



Imagine for a moment if you would embrace just these four words – Feel, Know, Do and Remember – into ALL interaction with your sales leads to professional colleagues to centers of influence. What changes would you experience?


No one likes sales pitches.  The reason is because they stir up negative feelings.

In sales, you want positive feelings because positive feelings begin to build trust and a sense of being comfortable, of knowing you. Sales Coaching Tip: People buy first on emotion; justified by logic.


You also want to demonstrate your own expertise. Not in a way that your ego takes up the entire room.  No, with a little more subtlety. Your sales leads and others want to feel and then know you know the:

  • Industry
  • Marketplace
  • Current trends


You want some “do” action to take place after the sales conversation.  This could be:

  • Having the individual commit to receiving something of value such as an article or a link via email, etc.
  • Scheduling an appointment
  • Connecting on LinkedIn
  • Making a sales referral


After each sales conversation, you want the other person to remember you because you have differentiated yourself. To be remembered suggests:

  • You have truly engaged the other person because you have worked with her or his feelings
  • You have imparted knowing
  • You have directly or indirectly implied some “doing” action

Now this remembering may happen after the initial meeting because you initiated some follow-up such as sending a personal handwritten note or because of your “doing” action as noted previously.

Sales Coaching Tip:  You may have to engage in more than one “Remember” action.

Sales conversations are becoming a dime a dozen especially this time of year when salespeople are scrambling to make those “dreaded” quotas.  By embracing the “feel,” “know,” “do” and “remember” verbs and reframing your sales communication, just may help you to be different, to be the Red Jacket in a sea of gray suits.

P.S. When you change your words, you will improve your sales results!

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The Sales Challenge of Living by Socrates’ Three Filters

Socrates as many know was a Greek philosopher. He created the Socratic Dialog which many in sales find very effective during exploring sales meetings and fact finding sessions. Socrates also developed the Three Filters which is just as important. However living by these three filters does present an ongoing sales challenge.

sales-challengeIf you are not familiar with the Three Filters, they are all about how you communicate with others as well as reinforce your own business ethics and emotional intelligence.

Is What you Say Kind?

We know words can hurt people feelings and create an atmosphere ranging from hostility to resentment. In sales especially when we are out and about, remembering to be kind in our remarks is essential. Kindness reflects emotional intelligence.

Is What You Say Truthful?

When speaking with others or even making comments, is what you say truthful.  This filter returns to the human nature of gossiping or even not validating what has been said.  Additionally by applying emotional intelligence we can be truthful without being judgmental.  Some people view telling the truth as being judgmental as “You should not say that.”

Is What you Say Necessary?

Probably for many, myself included, this third filter is the most challenging.  How many times do we speak too much during a sales conversation instead of actively listening?

We all enjoy getting our two cents in whether it is a professional or personal conversation. Here is where our ego sometimes takes over.

Socrates Three Filters is one sales challenge we confront every day.  Living consistently by these three filters is not easy.

Yesterday I had remembered Socrates wise words when being confronted by a very rude commuter passenger. Instead of engaging in non-productive conversation, I removed myself to another seat. This particular individual was 100% clueless about professional etiquette. She believed a particular train seat had her name on it along with her two companions.

In this world of people meeting people because people buy from people, one never knows who is watching.  By understanding the depth of this particular sales challenge can only strengthen one’s professional and personal business ethics, emotional intelligence and ultimately sustainable business growth.

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Deliver Empathetic Energy Not a Passionate Sales Pitch

Sometimes in sales, people confuse energy with passion.  What ends up happening is the passion sounds like a sales pitch.

sales-pitchWhen salespeople infuse emotional intelligence into their sales conversation, they now are delivering empathetic energy.  Empathy is a measurable talent and can be further developed through emotional intelligence as well as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Low energy does not sell.  Misplaced high energy also does not sell.

What does sell is energy that focuses on the sales lead (prospect) with a underlying caring desire.  President Teddy Roosevelt said it best:

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

This does not mean the salesperson must be “touchy feely.” What it does mean is to recognize that people buy from people they know and trust.  By demonstrating your knowledge and you are trustworthy, reinforces this first sales buying rule.

Of course you must believe in your solution.  However your belief, your passion must not overwhelm your ideal customer.  This is when your energy is still very visible, but is not viewed as the all too common sales pitch.

Empathetic energy can be quiet and still high.  A smile, a nod, a well placed remark all contribute to this type of sales behavior.  The goal is always to build the relationship while also demonstrating your understanding of the current situation.

Being prepared is another aspect of empathetic energy.  Anticipating what the sales lead may ask and having that document or documents ready again reflects your knowledge and credibility.

Choosing words that reinforce empathy and are not judgmental also reflects this type of energy.  Words such as think, should and especially need all contain a perception of judgment.  The last sales behavior any salesperson should strive for is verbally judging the sales lead.

In your next sales communication experience, listen to yourself.  Possibly to increase sales, you may wish to decrease the sales pitch passion and increase your empathetic energy?

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

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Value Articulation Not Defense Is the Better Sales Strategy

Selling is not easy especially with more and more entries into the SMB world.  Sales research of key executive decision makers revealed they believed only 1 out of 3 salespeople could confidently engage in value articulation.

value-articulationA recent article about technology and sales suggested defense is the better sales strategy in today’s digital world. The article highlighted the acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft.

This particular article started me thinking even more.  Value articulation is really an offensive position because the salesperson is connecting to the value drivers of the sales leads or prospects.  If key decision makers want salespeople to articulate the value of their solutions, then it makes sense to go with the sales research.

Additionally SMB owners and salespeople should be aware of the competition, why focus any unnecessary energy on the competition? If the salesperson has engaged in efficient and effective research (fact findings), then any sales conversation should be directed to confirming that research.

Another thought is value articulation could be considered strength.  Talking defensively in the sales conversation suggests a weakness.  Your position is not strong enough so a defensive sales position must be taken. Does that sales strategy make sense?  Put yourself in a defensive position?

Finally, why in any sales conversation would a competent sales professional bring up the competition?  The only time the competition has entered a sales conversation is when the prospect brings it up.  My response is to never demean the competition, but rather discover why the prospect likes a competitor.

Many in sales confuse value articulation with features and benefits. Value articulation goes way beyond the standard sales conversation. The goal is to connect with the decision maker’s unique value drivers. With multiple decision makers, those value drivers may be entirely different. By not listening to what is actually being said, the salesperson may miss those unique value drivers and ultimately lose the sale.

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Educated Buyers and Emerging Sales Sucker Questions

Today’s decision makers in the B2B industries and even now extending into the B2C markets are becoming far better educated buyers.  This change in education is starting to sprout the opportunity by decision makers to ask more sales sucker questions.



Novice salespeople may bite on these questions and then become easily derailed by these sales sucker questions. Sales sucker questions may even temporarily stymie more experienced salespeople. I realized this emerging sales conversation trend when I heard this question being asked by a corporate decision maker interviewing a young college graduate for a position in his company.

The college graduate had indicated in his resume and during the sales conservation he was very well versed about the corporate structure and market events. Then interviewer acknowledged the young man’s due diligence and then asked this sales sucker question:  “So what was our price stock share this morning?”

As one can imagine, the young man had no idea.  He was not prepared for today’s educated buyers.  After all, those who interview potential job applicants are buyers. They are buying the person in front of them.

Recently, in talking with a real estate agent who stated “the real value of a realtor comes at closing with  all the details that must be handled.”  My question in response was: “Since we have already hired a real estate attorney, what can you do that he cannot do?”

A sales sucker question is one that cannot be easily answered. The question also creates confusion on behalf of the salesperson leaving the individual looking perplexed and unprepared.

Not all decision makers will ask sales sucker questions. However, it make sense for salespeople to be prepared for them just in case.

Possibly the best preparation in meeting with educated buyers is to be careful of what is said during the sales conversation. Start making a list of possible sales sucker questions. Invest some time to research possible responses so that you as a salesperson do not intentionally or unintentionally step into that sucker hole.

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Always Be Careful of Your Sales Message – Part 2

Isn’t it amazing with all the resources at the disposal of B2B and B2C salespeople, so many still fail to do any to adequate research on incoming sales leads or sales referrals? This research allows them to tailor their sales message.  Doing the research is another sales behavior shared by top sales performers.

sales-messageBy investing the time to do the research about the sales lead, his or her company, the salesperson can discover any miss steps in her or his sales message. Possibly for some SMB owners and salespeople, research is not as critical. However if the commission is sizeable, several thousands of dollars, it would make sense to invest time to undertake the research.

For example, in real estate, most realtors can find the name of the owner of the property from the county records.  Then they can do a quick LinkedIn search because one would be surprised as to how many people are on LinkedIn.  The next step would be to do a Google search.  By better understanding the prospective seller’s work history, may help in further tailoring the message.

As we are selling our home, the sales messages have been overall quite disastrous (turn off).  Many realtors continue with the old sales presentations and advertise themselves as top salespeople.  Actually they are top listing people because 90% of all homes are sold by a realtor not associated with the listing firm.  They have failed to recognize the educated buyer.

Another example would be receiving sales referrals.  Instead of immediately calling and making that dreaded sales pitch, there should be adequate time in researching the:

  • Sales referral (This is also true for sales leads.)
  • His or her company
  • His or her industry
  • Trigger events such as economic downturns

Yes this does take time.  For me the time average is at least a couple of hours for a 30 minute first time meeting.  I review the notes several times just to have a grasp of what is happening within the sales lead’s business or industry.

With many executive decision makers saying sales meetings are a waste of time, the more you learn about the sales lead the quicker you can make those “value connections.” Sales exist because people have problems they want to solve.  If you want connect with what the sales lead values and have a limited grasp (not a know it all one) about what is going on in his or her world, you just may earn yourself the sale.

Ignoring the research just may have your sales message sounding common or even potentially insulting. The end result is you will remain pocket poor.

P.S. Believe it or not, your sales lead or sales referral probably has already checked you out.

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