Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sales Is All About Facilitating the Angst of Change

Sales is all about change.  You want your sales prospect to change by buying your solution.

How will you facilitate that change will speak to your sales success or failure.

Facilitate is an incredibly powerful word and one that many salespeople tend to ignore. The roots of facilitate are Latin in origin (facere) and translates as “to do” or “to make.”  From facere, the word evolved to “facilis” or translated to “easy.”  In other words, facilitate is simply “to make easy.”

How can you as a salesperson make the change transition to buy your solution easy?  Does this question change how you think about sales obstacles?

Aren’t sales obstacles resistance to change? Possibly you viewed sales obstacles are objections to your solutions?  Yet if you dig a little deeper, they are objections to change and with that change is a lot of angst.

Sales stalls are the surface angst to change. These are usually easy to see and with a little practice can be turned into real sales objections which are deeper reactions usually negative to change.

When we understand we as salespeople facilitate the angst of change, we can then also increase our emotional intelligence because we are now even more aware of the emotional exchange happening or not happening between our prospects and ourselves.

There is enough research about how people react to change.  A good read is Change or Die by Alan Deutschman to understand the far reaches of change.  Our experiences many times reveal change is good, you go first.

The angst of change helps also to explain why some people are risk takers.  Their angst is far less than those who are reluctant to take risks.

And as we enter sales conversations with the goal to make this interaction as easy as possible for the sales prospect, we indeed differentiated ourselves from all those other grays suits.

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Look Beyond the Keystrokes to Build Key Relationships

Having those key relationships is essential in our personal to professional lives. Yet with technology, it appears we are being limited by how we communicate and interact with others.  Suddenly we become conditioned to stroking the keys instead of actually speaking with another human being.

key-relationships

Credit www.pixabay.com

How often do we hear about people eating either in public or at home busily typing on their keyboards and ignoring everyone else at the table?  Some businesses and families now require the smart phones to be placed in a basket or in the center of the table with severe penalties for anyone who touches his or her smart device.

The Irony of Human Behavior and Key Relationships

Isn’t it ironic that human beings who are social creatures in their efforts to be even more social have isolated themselves through the stroking of the keys? They desire key relationships yet keep those very same people at arms length through today’s technology.

This goes to this essential question: What are we afraid of?

Now some may say they aren’t afraid, but this is a matter of convenience, of saving time.  Really?  How many times are texts not read or emails not returned?

Social media has probably exacerbated this problem of not physically talking with others.  We can say we have a thousand Facebook Friends or LinkedIn connections and yet how many have we personally communicated with? How many real, key relationships do we truly have?

Are we using these numbers to reinforce our own self-esteem, self-worth while insulating ourselves from potential emotional harm?

Staying personally in touch with others is very difficult especially as our communities expand regionally, nationally and globally.  Yet it can be done through the very same technology that is limiting real human interactions.

Years ago we heard these words from a telecommunications provider “Reach out and touch someone.” Possibly it is time to heed those words, make a phone call, meet with a friend, colleague and truly connect with another human being one on one.  Who knows, you may actually enjoy the experience?

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Sales Leadership and Sales Culture Partners in SMB Sustainable Growth

Probably for SMB, sales leadership and sales culture are more critical for sustainable growth than for larger firms.  With fewer people and in many instances the same operations being performed as in larger firms, everyone must embrace a sales leadership role and foster a sales culture of high performance.

sales-cultureUnfortunately, for a variety of reasons, SMB fail to recognize the partnership between sales leadership and sales culture.  People being people are allowed their own “turfdoms” where no one can venture without permission.

What would happen if all employees would ask the following questions?

  • Who pays my salary?
  • Who pays the bills to keep the doors open?
  • Who pays my retirement and other benefits?
  • How does this company grow financially?
  • What can I do to make this company profitable?
  • What can I do to contribute to the sustainable growth of this SMB?
  • How can I help others make this company profitable?
  • What can I do to help others contribute to the sustainable growth of this SMB?

A forward thinking sales culture begins from the inside out. Systems, strategy and people are united together to create and strengthen internal customer satisfaction or better yet active engagement.

From this internal perspective, points of connection are made with external customers leading the way for improved customer loyalty.  This way everyone is rowing toward the same direction and with the same energy.

As in any organization, executive leadership must take the helm.  However in some instances, executive leaders may require assistance to further develop their talents.

By the way, would you agree that most leaders do not know what they do well?  Think about your recent efforts toward self improvement.  Did you focus on further developing your strengths or were you focus on your weaknesses.  If the later was your focus, does this make sense?

Sustainable SMB growth happens through assessing, clarifying and executing and then continually repeating this three step process.  If you want to increase sales, then consider the existing partnership between sales leadership and your sales culture.  Remember, each and every employee is in sales, not just the paid salespeople.

Want better results, more sales with less stress?

CLICK HERE to reserve a time to speak with me.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her

 

 

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Is Leadership Misalignment What Ails Your SMB?

For SMBs there is plenty written about marketing and sales alignment as well as to what happens when marketing and sales are misaligned.  However maybe it is time to recognize leadership misalignment is probably what is causing the marketing and sales misalignment problems.

leadership-misalignmentIn the book Fail-Safe Leadership: Straight Talk About Correcting the Leadership Challenges in Your Organization, the authors bring two ideas to the leadership table.  The first idea is a leadership audit that truly looks to identify the symptoms caused by leadership misalignment problems. Here is a brief sample of those issues.

  • Lack of personal accountability
  • Time management problems
  • Unacceptable results
  • Preponderance of consensus-driven decision making (i.e. cover your behind mentality)
  • Communication problems

These are all symptoms of leadership issues. Unfortunately many in executive coaching and consulting roles attempt to solve the symptoms while not recognizing the real problem because solving the real problem requires more expertise.

The second and even more important idea is a results driven leadership development model instead of the traditional competency based leadership model.  By identifying these two different leadership models and their impact on results, leaders can begin to change how they see things.  As it has been said by others, “when we change how we look at things, the things we look at will change.”

Both of these ideas help to better understand the impact of leadership misalignment within any SMB or even much larger organization.  The authors also describe the three types of alignment present in all businesses from the smallest to the largest.

Level One Alignment- Leadership writes strategic vision. Result: Research shows 60-70% of employees don’t know the vision and are clueless as how to align their behaviors to that vision.

Level Two Alignment – Leadership shares strategic vision. Result: Each department goes in separate directions to achieve that vision.

Level Three Alignment – Leadership creates a strategic vision based upon developing leaders in the organization and that development starts first with the executive leadership team. The graphic below reflects what Level Three Alignment looks like. Result: The results are achieved in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

leadership-misalingmentJust as when the wheels in a vehicle or the gears in machinery are misaligned, the performance (think results) suffer.l  If you want to correct the marketing and sales alignment, then make sure your forward thinking leadership team has created a workplace culture of alignment.  Otherwise, you will continue to have all departments rowing in different directions toward different results while thinking they are rowing in the correct direction.

Download this Leadership-Align-Audit-ADVSYS at no charge to you except maybe a sense of being uncomfortable.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Realtors Is Sales Lead Research Part of Your Marketing Plan?

The purpose of any marketing plan is to attract attention and begin to build a relationship.  To achieve this purpose works far better when some time is invested in researching sales leads either inbound or outbound.

marketing-planToday I received the second mailing from a local real estate agent. This realtor did not answer his office phone after 6 rings or his mobile phone after 8 rings when I called him after receiving the first direct mail marketing piece.  If someone asks me to call and I call at 9:30am on a weekday morning, I expect at least the office phone to be answered. And no I should not have to leave a voice mail. Remember, you interrupted me with your direct mail piece. I did not contact you.

Researching sales leads takes very little time thanks to the Internet.  Here is what I found using Google and my name “Leanne Hoaglund” and my address of “508 Sunshine Dr., Valparaiso, IN.” Note: By placing the terms in quotations, the search  is restricted to those words in that specific order.

  • 305 Hits
  • ADVANCED SYSTEMS at the same address with a phone number
  • Various references to Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Then seeing the discrepancy between the names, a competent salesperson probably would undertake additional research using these keywords of   “Advanced Systems” Leanne Hoaglund. Suddenly the hits have climbed to over 22,000 including:

  • Corporate website
  • A blog
  • Various websites

All hits on the first 3 pages were for the same person.

My marketing plan has several embedded processes including research. When I receive a sales lead, the very first thing I do is research.  I place the name of the sales lead into a search engine and then start reviewing the hits delivered.  Also I go to LinkedIn and check the sales lead out through this powerful social media site. This information is then added to my intake client profile form and saved to my hard drive.  Also I transfer key information into an excel spread sheet for easier tracking.

Marketing is the start of the overall sales process. Not researching your potential sales lead is just plain stupid especially when one does not have to even leave his or her smart phone.  Using the excuse I do not have time is even more stupid and insulting.

A competent realtor sales professional probably may have noticed this individual is not the typical home buyer. She is a somewhat savvy sales professional in her own right. Maybe the standard sales pitches just might fall on deaf ears?

Any realtor who fails to do sales lead research as part of his or her marketing plan is wasting his or her time by going the direct mail piece route “Captain Wing It” with ineffective “sales pitches.”  By investing just even 5 to 10 minutes a lot of information can be quickly gathered to ensure the marketing message is on target.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn

 

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Sales Training is Not Just for Big Business – Part 04

The absence of sales training is directly and firmly placed at the feet of leadership.  These are the same leaders who took the dedicated employee from customer service, gave him or her a business card and told to “go sell.” Then when his or her performance is not at the same level as in his or her past role, the small business owners complain about the results. Give me a break!

sales-training

Credit www.gratisography.com

For any organization, problems are either people or process or a combination of both.  When leaders fail to train and develop their people especially their sales team, then only they can be held for the lack of results.

The usual reason for not providing any sales training is money.

“I can’t afford to train these people.” 

How many times have I heard that?

My response continues to be:

“You cannot afford not to train your salespeople.”

Today’s business world is different due to technology and the availability of information.  Buyers are more educated. For the 97.7% of all U.S. businesses that have under 20 employees, today’s salespeople must understand both marketing and selling along with how to keep existing customers.

Yes, small businesses cannot afford expensive marketing firms with a chance of getting some business and lose those opportunities. When these sometimes very expensive sales leads come in, the sales team must have both the strategies in how to approach these new sales leads and the skills to move the sale forward.

Some leaders will place their sales team in adversarial roles intentionally or unintentionally creating even more misalignment. This is just plain stupid especially if everyone is salaried.

Fail-Safe Leadership Is A Basic Primer on Leadership for Small Business Owners

When there is no sales training, this also strongly indicates leadership has no strategic plan.  In this small businesses, Captain Wing It is alive from the small business owner to the salesperson.  The philosophy is “spray your actions all over the place and then pray something sticks.”  What happens is:

  • Resources are depleted
  • Cash flow is irregular
  • Over time sales decline

If you are a small business owner and have not invested in your people, shame on you.  The first action is to Assess where your team is including communication of corporate sales goals; sales skills; ideal customers; buying history of clients; just to name a few areas to be assessed.  Then from these metrics, greater clarity is achieved as to what goals needs to be established.  From those goals, action steps can be created for exceptional execution. (Note: The ACE Model™ works in alignment with any strategic plan or any strategic initiative.

As I noted earlier, you as a leader for a small business cannot afford not to train and develop your sales people because one of your forward thinking competitors already has taken that action and you are now behind the flow instead of in it or better yet ahead of it.

The fifth and final part of this series will provide some suggestions in how to develop good sales training for your small business.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn

 

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Sales Leadership Temperament of Reluctant Part 27

In the hundreds of Innermetrix Attribute Index talent assessments I have delivered this internal temperament has surfaced only two times.  What is interesting to note, both individuals did not want to be in sales less alone any sales leadership role. Their current positions were choices of necessity.

sales-leadership

Credit: Gratisography.com

Individuals with this internal temperament of reluctant have these biases:

What this suggests these individuals are potentially in a state of confusion or uncertainty due to their negative self esteem. They are attempting to determine “who they are, how they are.” This confusion currently has them holding a less than positive viewpoint of themselves. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

The neutral bias in role awareness suggests they do not identify themselves too much with their primary social or work roles in life. This reluctance keeps these individuals from fully engaging in their chosen role or career; hence why any sales leadership role is probably not a good fit for such persons. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Finally, the negative self-direction is because of the neutral role awareness. There is a lack of “personal achievement” from the individual’s career. In sales leadership, success is centered around personal career achievement. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

By understanding these internal biases before the job is offered helps any firm to avoid miss hires and all the costs associates with a bad hire. For small businesses, hiring the wrong person in sales can be a profit disaster and one that can be avoid through this talent assessment.

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Push Your Brains, Not Your Brawn in Sales

There is a lot of pushing going on in small business to Fortune 500 sales.  Hungry, sales starved small business owners to others use their brawn to push their business cards, their elevator pitches instead of using their brains to push toward their desired end results such as increase sales or sustainable business growth.

salesFor the sake of argument, I am defining brawn as those common, repetitive sales activities where non-thinking energy is applied.

Brawn is automatic pilot (conditioned response) doing while brain is intentional thinking (unconditioned response).

In talking with an executive sales coaching client who was sharing her meeting with a potential client, she asked a question about what was happening within this particular organization. The sales lead jumped all over her by saying “you should know what is going on here.”  Keeping her cool, she used her brain not to overreact but to demonstrate she had done her research and was just attempting to learn were there any additional challenges.  In our executive coaching debriefing conversation, she realized that in the future, by placing a clause before her question to indicate she had down her research might possibly avoid a repeat of this particular situation.

Sales is far more about thinking than even speaking or picking up the phone to talk to a sales lead. Engaging in industry or company specific research is an example of pushing one’s brain. Reading and self improvement are two others examples of pushing the brain. Thinking what you will say to that sales lead before you pick up the phone so you do not sound like all those other vendors wanting the same business.

Having a written sales action plan is another example of pushing the brain.  Far too many sales people are in the role of Captain Wing It pushing their brawn by spraying their actions all over the place and then praying something will stick.

Yes doing is needed in sales, no doubt about that. However without intentional forward thinking, the brawn will almost always lose to the brain.

If you truly want to increase sales, then scheduled a no risk 20 minute Business Growth Accelerator Session with Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.759.5601 CST where you will receive:

#1 – Quick assessment of your current sales process

#2 – One business growth strategy to increase results by 20% in 60 days

Consider giving her a call especially if what you have tried has not worked and you are ready to challenge and then change the current status quo.

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What Those In Small Business Sales Must Know First and Foremost

So you have the best small business sales skills.

small-business-salesYou can sell an ice to an Eskimo.

You can dazzle them with your brilliance or baffle them with your b__s__t.

And yet you may be 100% clueless about this critical must know advice if you are in small business sales.

Marketing is not selling.

Attending small business to business networking event; making comments in LinkedIn discussion groups; setting first time appointments through discovery calls or cold calls are not selling behaviors. Yes they are part of the sales process, but they are marketing behaviors.

Big difference!

The problem is most of what is learned in how to increase sales comes from the big guys, those firms with dedicated sales teams and marketing departments. The marketing departments generate the sales leads and the salespeople in turn get those sales leads and then the sales team is off to the races.

The business world has changed!

According to the US Census Bureau, 97.7% of all businesses in the US are small businesses with under 20 employees. These firms do not have marketing department and in some cases invest very little into outside marketing firms. Their sales people are responsible for marketing and selling. This brings in the next challenge. Most sales people do not know the purpose or the goal of marketing. They believe the sales leads should be generated by the small business.

What usually happens is one of two things:

  1. The word marketing is never mentioned because marketers have a negative connotation.
  2. The sales person starts selling during the marketing phase of the sales process and usually loses the sales lead.

The advice is to hone your marketing skills and stop with the sales skills until you at least have a relationship even a somewhat budding one. Look to relationships building and for heavens sake make sure you your discovery calls do not insult your sales leads.

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Another One – Email Marketing Message – Bites the Dust

email-marketing

Credit www.sxc.hu

Every day my inbox is crowded with poorly constructed email marketing messages with everyone looking to sell me something. These folks are still engaged in product based or sales based marketing instead of education based marketing.  My advice for today is to read Jill Konrath’s book, SNAP Selling, specific to Chapter 12, page 101.

S = Simple – Your message cuts through all the noise, the busyness

iN = inValuable – Your did your homework and know about the challenges facing your potential customer

A =  Aligned – From your homework, your message focus on key business drivers

P = Priority – The use of trigger events is essential and works to unite the entire message

Here is the email marketing message I received with my  initial gut reaction in red.

RE: Checking In(The subject line attracted my attention as I thought it was someone I knew or something I was expecting.)

Hi Leanne, (This suggested the person knew me compared to all those emails with Hi, etc.)

Flat Fee Hiring Guaranteed(I am not hiring anyone.)

Are your internal hiring managers overwhelmed with finding and prequalifying high-quality candidates? Our Flat Fee Hires guarantees qualified candidates in less time for less money, at a fraction of the cost of using outside staffing agencies. We guarantee high quality candidates who have been prequalified and pre-screened, saving your hiring managers substantial time & effort, by hand delivering them candidates who are hire ready. (I am a sole proprietorship; I have no sales managers.)

Features & Benefits (I could care less and this is old school marketing,)

We deliver a Flat Fee Hire guaranteed
We deliver pre-qualified candidates guaranteed
We have highly trained and exceptionally skilled recruiters
We source/network active candidates from multiple sources
We source/network passive candidates from multiple sources
We maximize social media, open web, and business networking
We provide an account manager, optimizing the hiring process
We encourage hiring managers to actively participate
We provide HR related documentation
We specialize in hard to fill placements

Cost: 2200.- (This could have been $.02 to $2,000,000 and it is 100% irrelevant.)

Here is my very quick response:

Name – Good morning I found your email interesting as I cannot find where or how I know you. (Note: I had previously checked my CRM database as well as LinkedIn contacts.)

It appears you did not do any research about my firm, being a sole proprietorship or non-employed as the US government identifies it.

Please remove my name from your database.

Marketing is about attracting positive attention and building a relationship. Any email marketing message that fails to recognize this two-fold purpose of marketing will as the song goes be “another one bites the dust.”

Jill’s book, SNAP Selling, is available over at Amazon and is a very good investment.

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