Archive for the ‘Sales’ Category

Your First Rule of Sales Is Probably Not This One

Have you ever read a article about selling that discussed the first rule of sales? I know I have. These articles usually refer to one of the following such as:

first-rule-of-sales

  • People buy from people they know, like or trust
  • Ask open ended questions
  • Research your sales prospect
  • Understand your solution
  • Know your market

Yet even these are great suggestions, I contend the first rule of sales is to know yourself.  Knowing yourself is not as easy as one might think.

Over the last 10 years, I know that 98.2% of salespeople do not know what they do well. So if you don’t know yourself, what you do well, how can you improve?  How can you leverage your talents or strengths to actually increase sales?

Not knowing yourself is nothing new to the human endeavor. Thaleus (620BC) one of the Seven Sages wrote:

“The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.”

Aristotle (384BC) said:

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

Later, even Shakespeare recognized the importance of knowing oneself when he penned these words:

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

When you do not know yourself, you can appear to be false (unauthentic) to others including your sales prospects, your customers as well as to family and friends.

So where does one begin to know the first rule of sales or one’s self?  Reflection is one simple activity.  By writing down what has happened, reflecting on daily events allows you to gain greater clarity as to your own individual behaviors and beliefs. This activity can increase sales.

There are some proven assessments (psychometric assessments) that reveal information regarding how you:

  • Make decisions (Attribute Index based on the works of Dr. Hartman and Axiology)
  • Communicate (DISC Index based on the works of Dr. William Marston)
  • Are motivated (Values Index based on the works of Dr. Spranger and Allport)

Yes there are others, but these three provided a fairly reliable picture of the How, the What and the Why of who you are.

So as you move forward, remember the first rule of sales probably begins with you knowing who you are.

P.S.Why not schedule a short call to learn more about these assessments with me, Leanne Hoagland-Smith? CLICK HERE to find a convenient time or just call 219.508.2859 MST.

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Seeking a Question to Boost Your Negotiations and Sales Results?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was just one question that could boost your negotiations and sales results? No longer would you have to remember all those other opened ended sales questions that have you so focused on remembering what to say next, you lose sight of the desired end result – successfully negotiating or closing the sale.

sales-resultsIn a conversation with one of my colleagues, Viveka von Rosen, she shared how this article, Women Make 87 Cents on the Dollar! Seriously? at LinkedIn was creating a plethora of private messages from women seeking a negotiation specialist. Many of these women recognized they were not as successful as they thought they could be in negotiating and closing sales.

Nearly 20 years ago I learned one powerful question that has continued to increase my negotiations and sales results.   I wish I could say it was my creation, but is wasn’t. My continued thanks to Tammy Kohl who is now President of Resource Associates Corp for sharing this simple question.

The reason this question is so powerful is in its simplicity as well as how it subtly changes the dynamics of the sales conversation.   Additionally, this question is quite emotionally intelligent in that it is incredibly authentic by being sensitive to the sales prospect’s thinking process.

This question does presume you have asked the right questions up to this point.  The question also presumes you have done your research and your questions showcase you as the Red Jacket not all the other gray suits who have asked those common open ended sales questions that potentially reveal their sales training program.

Of course, there is one behavior that must accompany this question or the question will fall flat on its face and leave you pocket poor.

Can you be silent? 

I mean can you remain totally silent for 5, 10 to even 20 minutes after you ask the question because the next person to talk must be your sales prospect.  Silence in this instance is very green.

So the question to boost your negotiations and sales results is simply:

Where do we go from here?

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Another New Sales Tool? Really? Why?

Almost every day I am solicited to try this or that new sales tool.  All promise incredible results.  Really?

sales-toolHow many sales tools does a salesperson really need?

How did top sales performers years ago manage before the creation of all these new technology based sales tools?

Will the adoption of a new sales tool really increase sales?

Do you suddenly become captive to the newest latest technology and lose sight of what you as a sales manager or salesperson are supposed to be doing?

Here are some other questions to ask before adopting any new sales tool:

  • Are you taking this action proactively or reactively?
  • Is the justification to “monitor” or control your salespeople?
  • Will the technology build trust both internally and externally?
  • Will the tool actually improve individual sales performance?
  • Will there be more time spent on entering data instead of making calls or meeting with sales prospects?
  • How much time is involved in the learning curve?
  • What is the actual return on investment including dollars and time?

I remember reading on numerous occasions the greatest complaint about most CRM tools was:

The salespeople don’t use them!

Technology is great when applied correctly and for the right reasons.  As the old saying goes, “one does not need an elephant gun to kill a fly.”  Just make sure you have the right tool for the right purpose.

Remember time is money and adding any new sales tool starts as a negative drain on profits and productivity.

Consider investing a few minutes to speak with Leanne Hoagland-Smith about how to increase sales. CLICK HERE to schedule your free session.

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Simply Speaking Sales Referrals Are Priceless

Sales referrals are like gold, actually more valuable. When trusted colleagues or friends either make a sales recommendation or provide a name when asked, this action usually means increase sales for the beneficiary of the sales referral.

sales-referralsHaving just relocated 1825 miles away from where we lived for 30 plus years, finding new service personnel who deliver high quality work truly hasn’t been much of a challenge.  First, the Internet through reviews which are indirect sales referrals helped locate the Internet provider.  Then I also learned the previous owner had also subscribed to this provider.

We required an inspection and potential repair to an old built in Tappan built inn oven.  Again, doing Internet research I discovered a local appliance shop that repaired Tappan ranges and sold appliances.

Their service personnel were both efficient and effective.  I truly love it when service personnel show up on time.  The end result of this experience was $2,000 in sales for this local appliance firm.

Also, we had an unexpected plumbing issue on a Sunday afternoon.  I called our realtor who provided the name of the only local plumbing firm she has used.  We called and the plumber solved our plumbing issue. Also because of his efficient and effective service, we took his recommendation about another serious and potential plumbing. He came back the next day and fixed that issue. Again, between the two service calls and the parts we purchased from a local hardware store, another $1,500 was added to the local economy.

Finally with two fenced acres of land, we decided it was time again for a dog. Another text to our realtor and she recommended a local human society.  Within 72 hours, we adopted a rescued three month old puppy. This was our less expensive cash outlay, less than $2o0 for adoption fee and food.

Sales referrals are indeed priceless.  Money cannot buy authentically given sales recommendations. Note the key word is given.  Even with the rampant use of the Net Promoter Score (how likely are you?), unless people actually take action and make a sales referral such scores are really useless.

Of course, one must also be willing to give sales referrals and that includes writing online reviews or even better yet, sending written letters of testimony.  I know I have several I must write in the next few days.

If you want to increase sales, make sure every contact with potential customers and existing customers is exceptional so you too can benefit from those priceless sales referrals.

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Great Salespeople Make Selling Look Easy

Ever wonder why so many people are venturing into being solo entrepreneurs or SMB owners?  Beyond the obvious advantage of being your own boss, my sense is these folks have witnessed great salespeople who make selling look easy.

great-salespeopleJust hop over to LinkedIn and scan a few profile summaries.  Immediately you will see a difference between those who understand sales and those who think they understand sales.

Sales is simple.  Someone called a buyer has a want or need and someone else called a seller has a product or service to fit that want or need. Pretty easy, well not so much so.

Social selling has only reinforced this notion that selling is easy.  Sure you can buy Twitter followers or make a zillion posts on Facebook and when you measure the results, what do you discover?

People buy from people they know and trust. To create that knowing and trusting persona takes time, energy, money and emotions. Great salespeople are willing to make those investments.

Just as in leadership, great sales people are made not born. They develop over time.  These forward thinking sales leaders are self directed toward continuous improvement themselves by honing their knowledge, talents and sales skills.

Through the years I have had the opportunity to meet truly great salespeople who understood “sales is the transference of feelings.” (Zig Ziglar). From them I learned what to do and what not to do.

My sense of selling is authentic, laid back and I have crystal clarity as to who my ideal target market is.  Yes some of my clients do not fit my ideal customer profile, however over time more often than not they do grow into that role.

If you want to have sales success, then look to follow, listen and learn from those who have sales success. Be willing to accept their is no quick fix for sales success and you will be nearly half way to your own success.

 

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What Makes for a Great Sales Attitude?

Noted sales expert Zig Ziglar said an “attitude is a habit of thought.”  If we apply his definition to what makes a great sales attitude, the response will be various habits of thought.

sales-attitudeTop sales performers have more than one habit of thought, more than one attitude when it comes to selling.

These attitudes can be observed through sales behaviors that are supported through various talents. When these talents are combined, they turn into sales skills.

Since each salesperson is a unique individual, he or she will demonstrate a different sales attitude.  For example, being able to sell is many times based upon the talent of persuading others. Two behaviors for this talent might be:

  • A behavior is to have someone change his or her mind
  • A behavior is to demonstrate emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence begins with a habit of thought.  Emotionally intelligent people have the attitude of recognizing and understanding the emotions of others; recognizing and understanding their own emotions and then being able to manage both.  These individuals do not engage in reactionary, emotional behavior.

Another talent might be personal drive. Here the salesperson completes given tasks on time and is always challenging himself or herself to learn something new.  These are the salespeople who have a sales attitude to challenge the status quo.

A great sales attitude looks different for each salesperson. However what is not different are the results.  These results are reflected by increase sales, high percentage of sales conversions to a continually filled sales pipeline.

Just think about the possibilities specific to your sales results if you could learn your 78 key talents and improve how you make decisions?  Would you increase sales? Would you have less stress?

Now is the time early in the 2017 sales year to take advantage of this special opportunity until 3/31/2017 to not only learn those 78 key talents (Attribute Index), but your communication style (DISC Index) and what motivates (Values Index) you to increase sales.

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Quick Fixes in Sales Often Ignore This Reality

In sales many seek the quick fixes that range from sales training, incentives, hiring new sales managers, new salespeople or some motivational speaker.  Yet in a few days to a few weeks, the sudden burst of sales productivity gradually returns to its pre-quick fix levels.

quick-fixesThe reality is 99.9% of all quick fixes ignore this reality. The reality is clarity or rather lack of clarity.

In the story Alice in Wonderland, Alice approaches the Cheshire Cat sitting in a tree.  At the foot of the tree are various paths. Alice asks the Cat “What path should I take?”  The Cat responds with “Where are you going?” Alice states “I don’t know” and the Cat then replies “Well any path will take you there.”

Clarity is essential in sales, in business and in life.  If you don’t know where you are going with crystal clear clarity, you will end up taking the wrong path.

Many SMB owners and C Suite executives in their efforts to increase sales confuse symptoms with problems.  They believe lack luster sales are the problem when in reality the poor sales are usually a symptom of one or more problems.  All of these problems return to a lack of clarity. Without clarity there is incredible miss direction and misguided decisions.

For the last almost 20 years I have been working with SMB owners and sales professionals.  Given that most have never invested the time to determine where they are going; how they are going to behave and what they are going to do in the immediate future to get to where they are going, I am not surprised by the inability to increase sales or sustainable business growth.

The lack of clarity is the reason for executive coaching.  These professional coaches look to support their clients in gaining crystal clear clarity.

Years ago I wrote an eBook entitled Triage Business Planning with this message on the front cover:

Know Exactly What to Do and When to Do It.

Track the Right Things to Produce the Right Results Avoid Misdirected Actions and Misguided Decisions.

If you have any hesitancy when reading the previous words, then you probably lack crystal clear clarity and may be subject to the temptation of quick fixes.

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You May Wish to Add this to Your Sales Fact Finding Process

Most sales training programs look to the sales fact finding process.  This process usually involves asking open ended questions as well as doing some research before actually meeting with the sales lead or prospect.

Today through the Internet, there is a wealth of information available to assist salespeople in this fact finding research. Yet one area that is often overlook is the “social history” of the prospect’s organization.

For current sellers looking to sell deeper into the organization, the social history is how did the seller’s firm originally connect with the buyer’s organization.  A new seller would look to not only how did other firms connect with the prospect, but who else does he or she know at the existing firm.

LinkedIn can assist with some of this fact finding data.  With its recent sale to Microsoft what was available for free such as advanced search now is only available through the paid subscription service. However, with some due diligence this information can be gathered by connecting with other people at the prospect’s organization.

My sense is through your fact finding quest you will probably discover the two or three people who had the first established relationship.  This relationship then transcended through other people in the organization.  In some instances, the relationship can be several decades old if not older.

The social history of any business is essential because it provides clarity as to what was valued by the original buyer and seller. This clarity can support further sales efforts including prospecting to keeping loyal customers loyal.

Possibly any SMB may wish to begin to construct their own social history through their CRM.  This could be a simple sheet showing the various people involved in the sales buying decision directly or indirectly.

Yes sales fact finding is important.  By adding social history to your fact finding process may just give you the competitive edge you need to earn that next sale.

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Time to Leverage the Sales Currency of the Future

Yesterday I heard Nikolaus Kimla, CEO of Pipeliner CRM, make this very insightful statement:

“Recommendations are the sales currency of the future.”

He is so right in that people buy from people they know and trust.  Recommendations or testimonials reaffirm that trust bridge between the buyer and the seller.

Just recently in working with a sales coaching client, one of the salespeople said the reason a new patient came to their office was because of the written along with the video testimonials on their website.

SMB owners, salespeople and those in the C Suite have the opportunity right now to get ahead of the flow and start gathering all those recommendations and testimonials. Yet how many in sales actively leverage this sales currency by just asking for recommendations?

Sales Coaching Tip:  The third phase and final phase of the 7-step-sales-process-advsys is “Keeping” where people ask for recommendations as well as sales referrals.

The value of recommendations go beyond some positive words.  In many instances recommendations generate sales referrals.  This is what some in the past would call the “mother lode.”

Right now jump over to LinkedIn and look at your recommendations received and more importantly given.  Do you make it a priority to give authentic recommendations?

If you think recommendations lack sales currency, how many times do  you read the online product or business reviews?  Those are rated recommendations. Have you ever bought or not bought because of these reviews?

To increase sales requires being ahead of the flow as well as of knowing where the flow is going.  Leveraging recommendations can propel your business ahead of the flow while increasing your sales currency.

Doesn’t it make good business sense to undertake those actions now in the present?

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Clarity Strategist for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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Suffering from the Retreat Sales Mentality Are We?

Sometimes when the going gets tough instead of the tough get going what happens is the retreat sales mentality sets in.  This way of thinking attacks the self-confidence, self starting ability and overall personal accountability on two fronts:

sales-mentality

Credit www.pixabay.com

  • Conscious
  • Subconscious

A pending sales lead suddenly changes course and leaves you wondering why should I continue?  Retreating and seeking another sales lead appears to be a better route.

If you disagree, then how do you explain sales research that 44% of salespeople give up (retreat) after one followup? (Source: Scripted)

Possibly another reason for the retreat mentality is the salesperson has different expectations than the sales lead.  These expectations may be a quick sale to an easy sale (less decision makers).  However reality in the B2B marketplace runs contradictory to those self-imposed expectations.

  • 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)
  • 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy.   (Source: Gleanster Research)
  • Firms with 100-500 employees, an average of 7 people are involved in most buying decision.   (Source: Gartner Group)

Another example of retreat sales mentality surfaces during the selling phase of the sales process.  Far too many salespeople are quick to reduce price to get a sale instead of being able to demonstrate the value of their solution respective to the desired end results for the potential ideal customer.

In sales having a strong and positive mental attitude is a prerequisite for success. Giving up when the first limitation arises only reinforces this sales mentality to retreat instead of to persevere.

I believe the words we use and think are critical to overall sales success as well as success in life.  Maybe the next time you become discouraged, ask yourself are you retreating?  What does it mean to retreat?  Is there another way to win this sale for you as well as for your customer?

Curious if your talents of self confidence, self starting ability and personal accountability are strong?

Click Here to take advantage of a special offer.

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