Archive for the ‘Sales Training’ Category

Going Beyond Sales Obstacles to Increase Sales

Most of us who have attended any sales training or read any sales book have experienced this term: Sales Obstacles.  However I believe now is the time to rethink this term and replace it with this one: Sales Limitations.

The reason for this possibly heretical change is one of truth.  Limitations are far more restrictive than obstacles if the goal is to increase sales.  Obstacles are viewed in many instances as something far more tangible than a limitation. They are top of mind.

Limitations are often ignored, shrugged off or put to the side as minor inconveniences. The SMB owner, sales manager or salesperson look to those big sales obstacles, those roadblocks that are keeping them from sustainable business growth.

Marcel Proust wrote “The true voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.” Maybe it is time to see the sales training and development landscape with new eyes?

Success in sales is far more about subtly than an all out attack.  Through active listening, the salesperson can hear what other salespeople have missed.  What was missed from my experience were the limitations not the obstacles.

Sales limitations in many instances are the small things, the inconsequential things.  However when all those limitations are uncovered, they probably are much larger than the known sales obstacles.

Additionally, sales limitations reflect the overall sales culture.  For example when someone in accounting fails to send the correct invoice, this is not viewed as a sales obstacle.  However it is a sales limitation when the salesperson seeks a second or third sales from the same customer.

Others have made this statement which is really an update of Proust’s words: “When you change how you look at things, the things you look at will change.” I truly believe now is the time to change how we look at sales obstacles.

P.S. Sales prospects have been conditioned to the word “obstacle” or even “what is keeping you from…?”  You then sound like all those other salespeople. However by using the word limiting or limitations you are prodding your sales prospects to think differently and better yet to think differently about you.

Reach out to schedule a short conversation with me if you want to change your sales results.

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Maybe The Answer Is Not An Action Plan to Increase Sales

Funny how many people each month come to my website seeking an action plan to increase sales, an action plan to improve sales or action plans to increase sales.  Yet maybe the answer is not to be found in this search because these individuals are failing to understand the foundation for any action plan.

action-plan-to-increase-salesAction plans happen because there is a desired result to be achieved. This desired results is called a goal. Having any plan to achieve that goal would suggest having a thorough understanding of the goal setting process is a requirement before constructing said plan.

From my 20 years of experience in working with SMB owners and salespeople, most, probably close to 90% do not consistently achieve their personal goals less alone professional goals.  Also most sales training never looks to incorporating a proven goal setting process within the plan of action. Having any plan either professional or personal therefore is frankly illogical because it is doomed to fail from the very beginning.

Years ago I realized this disconnect when engaging in strategic planning with executive coaching and small business coaching clients. We would work through their Purpose, their Vision, the Values and even the Mission statements. Then when it came to critical success factors and actually constructing the goal, all forward progress would come to an immediate and screeching halt. We then would invest one to two sessions on how to actually set goals and then incorporate them into a plan of action.

I believe human beings are naturally goal setting creatures. They want to improve themselves however this one factor appears to exist:

There is a presumption that goal setting happens through osmosis (doesn’t require any training)

This presumption is why an action plan to increase sales falls short.  Unless the professional person has learned how to consistently set and achieve WAY SMART goals, any action plan to increase sales will not be sustainable.

My suggestion is if you are seeking any action plan to increase sales then before you invest any dollars embrace and consistently apply a proven goal setting process using a proven goal setting worksheet.  Once you have established this habit, you will be over half way to achieving your goal to increase sales.

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Finally a Sales Expert Took Zig Ziglar To Heart

Years ago I read the following definition for sales by Zig Ziglar: “Sales is the transference of feelings.”  As someone who consistently writes about the impact of emotions in sales, I was so glad to read one sales expert who took the time to write a book about how to transfer those feelings through emotional intelligence.

sales-expertJeb Blount’s new book, Sales EQ, should be immediately ordered, read and committed to memory.  Blount has provided those in sales with a road map to understanding how to use what Ziglar recognized so many years ago.

Emotional intelligence is the missing key within most sales training programs.  The inability to apply EQ might help to explain why 50% of salespeople miss quota.

Just this past week I wrote about how certain words such as “need” should be eliminated from the vocabulary of salespeople.  The use of need in a sales conversation reflects emotional intelligence or the lack there of.

As a noted sales expert, Blount provides many more tips and strategies in a well written and well crafted book.  Even though the book is to help with complex sales, this book will help the SMB salespeople  to earn more sales because people buy first on emotion justified by logic. (Sales Buying Rule #1)

The application of emotional intelligence works with any sales process and must begin within the first phase of attracting attention otherwise known as marketing.  For those in sales who resist the word marketing, then call it prospecting.

Still, an elite group of top 1 percent of sales professionals are crushing it. These Ultra-High Performers are acutely aware that the emotional experience of buying from them is far more important than products, prices, features, and solutions.  As Jeb Blount wrote in another book, People Buy You.

As someone who is considered by some to be a sales expert, I look forward to your thoughts about Sales EQ. Please share your thoughts here or post them on your social media site.

 

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Moving Beyond Inspiration to Perspiration

Many people are inspired.  They listen to a Ted Talk, read a good book to attend a sales training event.  Yet at the end of the day or a couple of days later, that inspirational message is like dust in the wind.

inspiration

Credit www.pixabay.com

Some firms look to sales training to inspire and fail to move beyond inspiration to what really makes the difference – perspiration.  Did the sales team, the sales management and even the Chief Executive Officer turn those inspiring thoughts into actions?

Recently I did a one day sales training event for a rapidly growing local small business with multiple locations.  The morning session was for the call center team and in the afternoon I repeated the training with the sales team. Both sessions included over one hour on how to use DISC Index for better communication and sales results.

The reviews of the learning engagement from all contacted were all eight or higher on a scale of one to 10. All call center team members told me the sales training was informative and inspiring. Two of the sales team used the work inspiring to describe the sales training.

After one week, I conducted a follow-up as each session as each employee was asked to set a professional sales goal either as an individual or team. What I learned was the call center team had set a pretty BHAG. Yesterday in speaking with the very happy CEO in our follow-up meeting, he shared the call center was on target to achieve this goal in possibly half the established time frame.  Their united progress was exhilarating.

As to sales team, their efforts paled in comparison.  A couple of team members never returned my voice mail follow-up call.  None of those in the sales team had set a goal.

Until people take action, inspiration remains that just words that feel good.  Taking action is where the perspiration happens and what makes sales training, sales coaching or leadership development worth the investment.

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The Lack of Clarity Is the Unseen Shadow Behind Many Sales Objections

One of the most important sales skills top sales performers can have is to bring clarity to sales objections.  This lack of clarity by the buyer is usually evident when stalls surface during the sales conversation.  For example a sales stall could be “your price is too high” without any supporting rationale or facts.

Trees-Shadows

Sales Objections Surface Because Many Buyers Lack Clarity As What Is Truly Important to Them

Sometimes buyers do not have crystal clear clarity as to what is important to them.  A recent commercial for financial investing demonstrated how to bring clarity this sales objection of “I don’t have time.”  The salesperson asked if the buyer was available at 10 am the next day and she responded no and offered what was happening.  Then the salesperson continued to ask about different times of the day and each time the buyer said no and shared what she was doing.  Finally, the salesperson said (I am paraphrasing) “Wouldn’t you like your investments to work for you as hard as you work each day?”

The buyer physically stopped to indicate she was processing the question and then said “yes.”

Of course this is a commercial, but probably one of the best examples to show how to bring clarity to those sales objections we all experience.

In many sales training programs to sales training books, sales objections are covered. Yet I have not heard or read where this term “clarity” or the “lack of clarity” is included in these resources.

Much of our sales lives and even personal lives revolve around clarity or the lack of clarity. When people have crystal clear clarity about what they believe, they know and they expect sustainable forward progress is possible.  Unfortunately, the lack of clarity is truly one of those shadows in our lives, in the background, obstructing our view and hence our thinking and doing.

Speaking of clarity, do  you know what you do well? Do you know how you communicate or how your behaviors are viewed by others? Do you know what motivates you to move forward? If not, take advantage of this special opportunity until 2/28/2017 by experiencing these three (3) dynamic psychometric assessments (Attribute Index, DISC Index and Values Index)  that will begin to bring clarity to you.

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CREATE Powerful Sales Conversations

Building upon selling or sales being the transference of feelings, the question then becomes how to ensure those feelings are transferred? In working on some sales training for a new client, I discovered this acronym to do just that – CREATE powerful sales conversations.

sales-conversationsFirst, create means to come into existence where nothing else existed before.  This is especially true for those in sales who may cold call or for inside salespeople who receive inbound sales leads.

People have one chance to make a good first impression and for salespeople this first impression will either open the sales door of opportunity or close the door for good. In realizing the importance of those first sales conversations, this acronym may just help to support crazy busy salespeople in their goal to begin to transfer those feelings between themselves and their buyers (think sales leads or ideal potential customers).

CREATE Powerful Sales Conversations

C – Communicate with clarity and intention.  Be deliberate and cohesive in your communication. Make sure to actively listen because good communication is far more about active listening than active talking.

R – Respect your buyer.  Respect goes beyond normal common manners. Here you showcase your business ethics such as by active listening, not interrupting and honoring any promises you made during your interactions with your sales lead. Also this is where you don’t presume you know more than the buyer.  Leave your ego at the door.

E – Empathy.  For those who understand emotional intelligence, empathy is an intrinsic human characteristic.  Can you identify and understand the other person’s feelings?  Remember, do not confuse empathy with sympathy.

A – Authentic.  Be who you are authentically.  People can spot phonies a mile off.  Anymore it appears buyers’ phony radar system is on HIGH ALERT.

T – Timing. Understanding the timing of your words, your non-verbal body language is also essential.  Great comedians had exceptional timing. They watched their audience.  Rushing through the sales process because of some sales script is foolhardy.

E – Energy.  Being confident, not overly, displaying positive energy all support those transference of feelings. Just think about how many times you purchased from a dull, low energy person?

Powerful sales conversations go beyond the words.  Possibly this acronym of CREATE may assist you in your selling endeavors. Let me know if it works for you.

CLICK HERE if you wish to schedule an appointment on Leanne’s calendar.

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The Reality of Selling Has Always Been This

So what is the reality of selling?  If you listen to many of the sales trainers, sales consultants to sales authors, the reality is 100% focused on the salesperson.  Ask this question, make this comment, etc.

sellingHowever, the reality of selling hasn’t changed since man began exchanging something for something else. Zig Ziglar said “Sales is the transference of feelings.”  Each of those exchanges between seller and buyer resulted in the transference of some feelings.

Doesn’t it make sense to redirect sales training to the buyer instead of the seller? Some sales training programs and sales consultants do focus on the buyer as through the application of the DISC psychometric assessment (talent assessment).  Those who understand the behavior principles behind DISC can apply those principles through their sales communications with their buyers.

The Selling Myth That Distorts Reality

Possibly one of the the greatest selling myths that distorts reality is sales people create value.  The reason this is a myth is because value is unique to each buyer because each buyer is a unique individuals with unique experiences and expectations.

Of course people can be easily fooled since the human ego likes to be front and center with internal thoughts of “Look what me!” Then what happens “Watch me go! I just created value!”

The ego takes over the sales conversation. Now the focus is on the salesperson and not on the buyer because the salespeople believes he or she knows best based upon his or her experiences.

Selling is rather simple thought not necessarily easy for probably 97.7% of the small businesses in the US as they have under 20 employees and for the most part do not engage in buying decisions with multiple decision makers. Complex sales usually require a larger workforce probably with the exception of technology and software programs.

When we remember to keep the selling authentically focused on the buyer and look to create those transference of feelings (relationships), then possibly sales success has a greater chance of actually happening. Just remember sales is a process and one or two calls don’t make for a relationship.

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What Is the Purpose of Sales Skills?

Good sales skills are essential.  Yet with all the emphasis on the more technical skills like discovering wants and needs; asking open ended questions or turning stalls into objections, I sometimes believe we are forgetting the two fold purpose of these skills:

  • Communication
  • Engagement

I just finished reading a well written and very results driven article by Tony Hughes about the secrets in how to use LinkedIn Sales Navigator more effectively.  The key takeaways reaffirmed the incredible power of communication and engagement for those within sales leadership roles.

sales-skillsSales research also reveals how much of today’s sales skills return to communication and engagement.

  • 44% of salespeople give up after one contact (Source: Scripted)
  • The average salesperson makes only two attempts to reach a prospect (Source: Sirius Decisions)
  • 80% of sales require 5 follow-up phone calls after the first meeting (Source: The Marketing Donut)

Yet when most of the sales training is reviewed, how much time is actually spent on communication from phone calls, to voice mails to emails to other forms?

Check out Mark Hunter’s book – High Profit Prospecting. He provides some great communication and engagement templates.

Then when we examine engagement, the focus again returns to technical sales skills and yet skills associated with engagement are either ignored or briefly discussed.

21st Century Selling Goes Beyond Typical Sales Skills

Possibly part of the reason communication and engagement are not considered priorities within sales training is because most sales training focuses on selling and not on marketing.  Herein lies the problem.

Peter Drucker said a “…business has two basic functions, marketing and innovation. Everything else is a cost.”

Marketing is rarely ever included within sales training because most sales training is model on what works for the big firms with over 500 employees. Unfortunately in today’s marketplace, 97.7% of all U.S. businesses have under 20 employees. These firms do not have the luxury of having departments devoted to marketing. No it is the salespeople who are the first contact with potential sales leads. This is why communication and engagement are the first sales skills salespeople demonstrate.

If you missed the reason for the this new sales leadership model and an explanation of the other four points,  you can learn more through these posting:

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2017 New Sales Behaviors Replace Building Rapport with Building Trust

How many sales training programs focus on “building rapport?”  Shouldn’t our sales behaviors be more intentional? Shouldn’t we be building trust from the first handshake, the first exchanged words?

building-rapportWhen we look to the origin of the word rapport, we discover it is French and means to “bring back.”  I am not sure how one can bring back something that has yet to exist.

Now the word trust is from the Old Norse language and means “strong.”  To be successful in sales, one must have strong relationships with sales leads, prospects, customers, vendors and others.

In spite of all the hype about technology and salespeople becoming obsolete, people in the marketplace be it B2B or B2C still buy from people they know and trust.

Have you seen those billboards with the realtor or physician or salesperson smiling from ear to ear? Do you sense some lack of authenticity, some insincerity in their sales behaviors? Do those feelings build trust?

By building trust, we establish a more solid relationship that goes beyond just building rapport.  One can have rapport without trust.

In reading some data collected through Marketing Sherpa of 2400 consumers, highly satisfied customers top response was by 56% “I consistently have good experienced with it” and the bottom response at 18% was “It puts my needs and wants above its own business goals.” Yet for highly unsatisfied customers, the top response at 35% was “[insert Company name] does not put my needs and wants above its own business goals.”

Finally, some other research Professors Soutar and Sweeney for brick and mortar stores can be applied to B2B marketplace. Their findings suggested salespeople should not be too pushy at the point of sale or worse yet be artificially enthusiastic when following up after the sale.  These actions are anti-building trust because they are not authentic.

Building trust comes from being authentic.  You truly care about the other person first and foremost.  You are not putting your sales quota or desire to increase sales at the front of your mental imagery.

Consider removing the phrase building rapport and think about building trust from your sales behaviors.  Possibly this simple action will be just what is required to increase sales in the New Year.

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2017 New Sales Behaviors Replace Create with Connect

The last couple of years in the word of sales training there has been a focus on sales behaviors specific to how salespeople create value.  I find this word “create” to be misleading and very much ego centered (All about me!).  What I suggest to my sales coaching clients is to replace “create” with this more emotionally intelligent word of connect.

sales-behaviorsNow I must admit to my own negative bias. I believe no one in sales can create value because value is unique to each decision maker, each buyer.  Why does one person like blue and another like red? If salespeople could create value, then the person would be sold to like red.  And most of us know no one wants to be sold. We could literally live in a world where everyone drove a Yugo, ate at McDonald’s and shopped at Walmart.

When we think, speak and write the word connect, we are actually engaged in more authentic sales behaviors.  As salespeople we are looking how to bridge the gap between the buyer’s position and our position.

Another advantage of the word connect is it implies a more level relationship where a good ego is present.  Create is a word that suggests a very strong ego and strong egos are not necessarily beneficial when it comes to the ability to increase sales.

Finally, the word connect works with the sales buying rule people buy from people they know and trust.  When salespeople work to connect with the other sales prospects, they are actively engaged in employing those essential soft skills as well as emotional intelligence.

The last several days this leadership and sales blog has focused on changing sales behaviors by replacing existing words with different words to enhance the sales relationship.  If you missed any of these postings, you may find them below:

2017 New Sales Behaviors: Replace Plan with Campaign

2017 New Sales Behaviors Replace Help with Facilitate

2017 New Sales Behaviors Replace Obstacle with Limitation 

My own personal mantra is “Change your words; improve your results.”  Please let me know if you have changed your words and if your new sales behaviors have improved your sales results.

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