Archive for the ‘Sales Prospecting’ Category

Uncovering Buying Criteria Takes Times

Wouldn’t it be great if all your sales leads had the following buying criteria checklist somewhere on their bodies?

  • Decision maker
  • Want or need
  • Allocated budget
  • Urgency
  • Commitment

Boy you could really increase sales by focusing on those sales leads that had all five.  Yet reality is each criterion is probably uncovered as the buyer-seller relationship develops unless of course the sales lead shared all five with you during the first sales conversation.

Since most buying decisions happen between the fourth and 12th contact, then during the first three to four contacts is probably when the first three buying criteria surface.  As the sales conversations continue, you as the salesperson can sense or develop a further sense of urgency to take action.  Possibly you may actually spur the sales lead to become more committed as you continue to develop the case to take action.

When salespeople rush the sales process (marketing, selling and keeping), they also may trip over or ignore these five buying criteria.  Sales leads in many instances will not share information with people they don’t know or trust.  Getting to know you and to trust you as a person takes time.

What is so sad is much of the sales training or sales coaching hype looks to the quick fix and ignores these fundamentals that have been true for decades. 

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Buying-Criteria-Check-List

Sometimes in sales as well as in life, we fail to take the small steps. Remember we learn to walk first before we learn to run. When we invest the time to walk by following the sales process, we can learn to avoid tire kickers and those not in a position to buy.  This doesn’t mean that at sometime in the future they cannot become buyers, but at this moment in time they are not ready to buy.

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The Continuing Sales Leads Dilemma – Quantity or Quality

Sales leads are the life blood for any person selling.  For without those potential buyers, there would be no one to sell one’s solutions.  And we all know without sales we remain pocket poor.

With the recent emphasis on social selling, there appears to be a presumption that quantity is now more important than quality.  This belief is put enough sales leads into your sales funnel and eventually gravity will pull at least a few of them through. We can see this belief is real time when we hear this questions being asked:

  • How many followers do you have on the social media networks?
  • How many contacts do you have on LinkedIn?
  • How many social media sites do you actively engage in to reach more potential sales leads?

My personal sales philosophy has always been quality over quantity.  Since I believe sales is 100% first about relationships, developing key authentic relationships is essential for me to increase sales.

Additionally the quantity tactic is more than likely to catch a lot of unqualified sales leads (tire kickers) and it does take time to sort through all those leads. Being a people and process clarity strategist, I cannot afford to waste time sorting through all those tire kickers.

Imagine for a moment if you took all those business cards you have accumulated and started calling three to five people each day.  Then you could begin to sort them based upon some buying criteria including:

  • Decision maker
  • Want or need

Further contacts with each person may allow you to further sort them into:

  • Allocated budget
  • Urgency

Finally between the fourth and 12th contact, you may secure this final buying criteria: Commitment

When you have completed this process, you will probably see your pile of qualified sales leads is much smaller.  Possibly by redefining your sales prospecting process, you could have avoided a lot of those calls and redirected your limited time to quality sales leads instead of quantity ones.

Schedule your time, by CLICKING HERE, to speak with Leanne if you wish to increase sales.

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Want to Increase Sales? Just Answer Your Phone!

Local small businesses continue to clamor for more sales.  Continued calls to increase sales resonate from social media to one on one conversations.  Yet, if these sales hungry SMB would just answer their phones, I am sure they would find new sales leads, new customers and continued opportunities.

increase salesYesterday morning I made 12 calls to local small businesses and only two SMBs answered their phone with a real live person..  The other 10 calls went to voice mail.  Even after 18 hours no returned phone calls or even text messages.  Really, how sales hungry are these SMBs?

Several of these SMBs had ads placed in the local newspaper.  One would think if they placed a paid advertisement for sales prospecting, they would answer their phones.  Wrong presumption.

A long time friend and colleague, Rick Gosser of Gosser Corporate Sales, continues to harp about small businesses that don’t answer their phones. He answers his phone, emails, voice mails and texts all the time unless he is already on the phone.  Then he quickly returns the voice mail if one is left. This sales behavior or rather sales attitude continues to increase sales for him.  Rick has shared how often people comment about him actually answering the phone as they expect voice mail.

Technology in this case is a sales prospecting tool and only a tool.  How SMBs use that tool is up to them. The misuse of that tool or tools in this case a phone, voice mail or text appears to be rampant.

Remember, people buy from people they know and trust.  (Sales Buying Rule #1).  By not returning phone calls sows the seeds of distrust. In today’s competitive market, can any SMB afford to create distrust?

Just like I shared last week, one can increase sales by committing to taking these three actions with the first one being a better communicator.  Communication is a two way street.  If you don’t answer your phone, you are communicating the wrong message.

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Hiding Your Sales Prospects Are You?

Salespeople invest a lot of time lighting up sales prospects and yet it appears many are hiding those sales leads. We know this to be true given how few times on average salespeople follow-up with new sales leads.

sales-prospects

Sales Fact:

44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up (Source: Scripted)

Does it make sense to do all that work especially if you are a SMB owner in a firm of fewer than 20 employees or a salesperson employed in a similar SMB? How much time and time is money is wasted?

Sales prospecting is truly about providing light to people who are in the dark about:

  • You
  • Your firm
  • Your solution

Additionally, these sales prospects may also be in the dark about their own problems. Many in business cannot separate the symptoms from the real problems.  This becomes a competitive advantage for top sales performers.

Sometimes all those sales leads become stuck in the middle of the sales funnel or what I prefer the sales tunnel.  This is also akin to putting them under a bushel basket because in the middle of the tunnel it is very dark.  What helps to keep flowing through the sales tunnel is a proactive contact process.  A good CRM like Pipeliner CRM works with SMB firms as it does not require a CRM administrator saving the SMB thousands of dollars in salary and benefits.

Sales Fact:

63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months – and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy.   (Source: Marketing Donut)

When salespeople understand their marketing is about shining a light, their light, they are able to attract sales prospects to them.  Then they understand the must keep this light shining until the sales prospects buy.

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2017 New Sales Behaviors Replace Help with Facilitate

How many times have you heard salespeople say “I help” when engaged in sales prospecting at B2B events? Then they go on and on and on about how they help.  When words are overused, they are like water off a duck’s back. To increase sales means you must differentiate yourself from your competition and all the other salespeople. This differentiation starts with finding new sales behaviors.

sales-behaviorsWhen we examine the word help, there is an implication that the other person is helpless otherwise why would you be offering to help.? This implication may be subtly unconscious, but it is present nonetheless.

Now the word facilitate creates no implication of helplessness.  Instead from its Latin origin and French revision the word means to render easy.  Now in sales aren’t we supposed to make the sales conversations easy, to render them down for better understanding?

Even though help is a word that carries positive emotions so does the word facilitate.  The advantage again to thinking, speaking and writing the word facilitate is two-fold:

  • Not heard so differentiates you from everyone else
  • Does not imply subconsciously the other person is helpless

Also I believe there are two others advantages, though somewhat more subtle.  Since facilitate is to make easy, then it creates a top of mind awareness on the part of the seller to be more conscious of non-verbal communications as well as to his or her own communication style. Tools such as DISC can provide additional insight as how to better communicate.

The fourth advantage is emotional intelligence.  The word facilitate I believe has greater emotional intelligence because it does not make a subconscious judgment of helplessness.

The words we speak, think and write are a window to how others observes our sales behaviors.  To increase sales in the next year or quarter may require for us to look at our own sales behaviors and what actions we may wish to  take to secure those desired sales results.

CLICK HERE to schedule a time with Leanne and learn of a special opportunity if you wish to take the DISC.

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Being Comfortable Is Not for Top Sales Performers

Top sales performers who I know are the least comfortable people.  They are always going beyond their comfort zones, stretching themselves especially when it comes to sales prospecting.

top-sales-performers

Credit www.gratisography.com

I was reminded of this consistent characteristic when I read Mike Weinberg’s posting, Stop Over Analyzing Your List and Get in Front of Your Strategic Target Prospects Now!.  Mike explained how many salespeople waste time over analyzing their sales leads instead of getting our and having sales conversations with strategic target prospects.

This over analysis is really a disguised comfort behavior.  These salespeople wrap themselves in a comfort blanket of data and are lulled into non sales activity.

The other key point in Mike’s posting is in the title “strategic target prospects.”  Numerous salespeople do not have a crystal clear definition of their ideal customer.  Nor is this definition aligned to any strategic organizational goals.

Strategic comes from the word strategy.  The origins of the word strategy are Greek and mean for a general to deceive his enemies.  Staying in the office analyzing a list is not strategic.

Sometimes there is confusion between an ideal customer and a qualified sales lead.  With most sales leads not being ready to buy, going into analysis paralysis only helps to explain why many salespeople do not meet their sales goals.  Being behind a desk is far more comfortable that potentially facing a ‘No” or a “Not now.”

There is an old African proverb about how every morning a gazelle wakes up and knows it must outrun the fastest lion.  The lion wakes up knowing it must outrun the slowest gazelle.  So come morning it does not matter whether you are a gazelle or a lion. What matter is you must start running.

When you are comfortable, you aren’t running. You are snuggled in the blanket of the status quo.  If you want to increase sales, then get up, get out and start meeting your strategic target prospects as Mike calls them. Who knows you actually may enjoy this spurt of energy and eventually join the ranks of those top sales performers as well.

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Where Realtors Are Missing Sales Opportunities – Part 3

As we are in the process of selling our home, one of the first actions I take when I receive outreach from a realtor is to go to LinkedIn.  I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am as to how many realtors are ignoring LinkedIn specific to sales prospecting and sales opportunities.

sales-opportunitiesNow many of these realtors have Facebook pages.  And that is not a bad sales prospecting strategy. However given so many B2B professionals are on LinkedIn, here is an opportunity to learn potentially a little more about your sales lead especially if he or she is selling a high worth home.

Top sales performers do their homework when engaged in sales prospecting.  They know the more they know the greater likelihood they will convert those sales opportunities into actual earned sales.

Also having an extensive network is also essential within sales regardless of industry.  People buy from people they know and trust. An extensive network provides additional sales referrals and ongoing sales leads.

For example in speaking with the receptionist of my dentist, I shared we were moving. She asked if my husband was a veteran because one of the dentist’s patients was a realtor who mentioned she is now working with veterans.  I received the realtor’s name and number.

Upon returning home, my first action was to look her up in LinkedIn. She had less than 100 contacts and a weak profile. I was pleased to see she had a professional picture.

Then I called the realtor. We talked and I learned she had sold homes in the $250,000 to  $750,000 price range. If she is selling homes in that price range, there is a good chance the homeowner is on LinkedIn. To ignore LinkedIn she among many other realtors is missing sales opportunities.

The real estate marketing continues to evolve. Sales prospecting for realtors is also evolving.  To not take advantage of all sales prospecting channels is foolhardy and will work against the goal to increase sales.

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Don’t Tell Me You Are in Sales…

Being in sales for over 40 years, I am continually surprised by the SMB salespeople who tell me they are in sales and want to sell.  Yet upon questioning, I hear all these self-imposed, self justification excuses as to why they are not achieving their sales goals.  These years of sales experience afford me the opportunity to quickly tell if a salesperson really knows:

are-in-sales

Credit www.gratisography.com

  • The sales process
  • Relationship selling
  • Social selling
  • Marketing through social media and B2B networking event
  • Prospecting

How can I tell? Because I listen for some of these excuses:

  • I haven’t updated my LinkedIn profile in the last six months
  • I am not on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
  • I am in business development not sales
  • I don’t market myself, that’s for the SMB owner to do
  • I am on LinkedIn, but don’t use it
  • I’m not prospecting for sales leads because I should receive them from the SMB owner, sales manager or website
  • My sales skills are great
  • I am not getting any sales referrals
  • I have under 500 contacts on LinkedIn
  • I don’t know my inventory (real estate, retail associates, etc.)
  • I hadn’t heard that about my industry (current industry trends)
  • I don’t have time to answer the phone
  • I am too busy to respond to emails
  • I’m not seeking low hanging fruit (easier sales)
  • I really want to increase sales, but…

If you are in sales and want to increase sales, then listen to your own excuses.

Schedule a phone call by CLICKING HERE with Leanne Hoagland-Smith to discuss what is currently limiting your sales success and receive a FREE self-assessment.

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Be Selective Before You Send that Prospecting LinkedIn Email

How do you tell a potentially clueless or desperate LinkedIn member?  One potential identifier is a prospecting email sent by a professional colleague from over a 1,000 miles away to attend his workshop for executives just like you.  Gee, you think he would have known better. Of course with the extensive sales research regarding prospecting on LinkedIn, maybe he thought he could take a short-cut?

prospectingEmbracing the send all approach is a sales prospecting loser.  Yes going through your LinkedIn contacts one at a time is more time consuming.

Additionally what your LinkedIn email message says reveals a lot about your overall sales process (marketing, selling and keeping).  For example in a more recent LinkedIn email here is the first line:

“It may have been a while since we have connected but that does not mean I have not been thinking of you in some way!”

Really if this was true, why not pick up the phone and give me a call?  Even if I believed this first statement, the rest of the email shows me this is a 100% sales pitch. The email continues:

I have spent the better part of the last year focused on some of the biggest challenges that middle market businesses face on a regular basis and thought the result of that effort might interest you or I would appreciate your introducing this e-mail to someone that would benefit.

Given I am not this person’s target market, he thought his sales pitch would be of interest or I would willingly share it with my contacts.  I do believe in developing communities to expand one’s marketing efforts.

Using LinkedIn email in this manner is probably not the best tactic.  Additionally, we belong in a LinkedIn group which would have been a much better vehicle to share this event.

LinkedIn is a great marketing tool to prospect. As in the use of any tool, it must be used continually honed and used wisely.

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Are You Sales Prospecting in All the Wrong Places?

Do you remember the song “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places?” Many SMB owners and sales professionals may have this as their theme song because they are sales prospecting in all the wrong places. These three gaps appear quite frequently.

sales-prospecting#1 – No Ideal Customer Profile Gap

Part of the reason for this misdirected activity is the lack of an ideal customer.  This profile is the result of some intensive research that developed from the strategic plan.  I have found “plan” as a verb is a four letter dirty word within the SMB marketplace.

The inability to have an ideal customer creates a Captain Wing It behavior.  Actions are sprayed all over the place with a prayer that something sticks. This is reminiscent of the line “looking for love in too many places.”

#2 – Bad or Outdated Business Model Gap

Another reason is a bad or outdated business model.  With the marketplace continually changing, so must business models adapt to these changes.

#3 – Dismal Marketing Messages Gap

Then there is the dismal marketing messages within their sales prospecting. These crazy busy people focus on the how of the solutions (products or services) being delivered and not the what (the results of those solutions).

Additionally, these messages are not emotionally compelling and usually lack a call to action.

This past week I delivered a 90 minute seminar to executive coaches and consultants on some key aspects within the book To Sell Is Human by Dan Pink.  One of the activities was the one word sales equity. All participants were asked to share what they do in one word. This is not an easy activity.

  • When you think of yourself in your current business role what one word comes to mind?
  • When you want sales leads to think of you in just word word?

I encouraged those in attendance to return to their purpose and values statements to see if there was any one word.

Sales prospecting is a process that begins within the strategic plan.  This process or the steps within the process may change as the market evolves. Technology has prompted many of those changes such as email, texting to content marketing.  If you want to increase sales, then revisit your sales prospecting and see where you may have any of these gaps.

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