What’s Your Sales Cadence?

Have you ever given thought as to your own sales cadence?  Probably not, but you more than likely have it.

sales-cadence

Credit www.gratisography.com

Cadence according to dictionary.com is the “flow or rhythm of events especially the pattern in which something is experienced.” The site provides the example of a slight decline or elevation in the pitch of one’s voice at the end of a declarative statement.

When we do not recognize our own cadence, this suggests we do not recognize the cadence of others.  In sales, not recognizing the flow or rhythm of events can lead to a no sale situation.

My sense is there is a strong correlation between sales cadence and emotional intelligence because of this key word – recognize.  When we recognize and then attempt to understand the emotions of others while at the same time recognizing and attempting to understand our own emotions, we then can manage both.  How well we manage both sets of emotions speaks to our level of emotional intelligence.

How often have we heard salespeople rattle off their unique selling proposition statements like a Gatling gun? One could almost hear the rat-a-tat-tat as the barrel spins around and around.

Have you even been in a sales conversation where the sales prospect is very slow and deliberate in his or her responses to your open ended sales questions? Possibly you thought the individual was “not getting what you were saying?” and so you repeat yourself or attempt a different sales question?

Maybe the answer is just as simple as his or her cadence was different than yours?

When to learn to actively listen, we can better understand the cadence of others.  Active listening is essential if your goal is to increase sales.

Possibly these words of Mark Twain may help you discover your sales cadence:

“If the good Lord wanted us to speak more than to listen, he would have given us two mouths instead of two ears.”

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The Spraying and Praying of Social Selling

As part of my overall social selling efforts, I regularly ask those who wish to connect with me on LinkedIn what prompted their LinkedIn invitations.  A more recent response was the following:

social-selling

“I just thought that it would boost my business so that’s why I joined hope you having a great day thank you.”

This struggling entrepreneur (yes I am presuming he or she is struggling) is engaged in the all too common spray and pray marketing behaviors.  In this particular instance, spray my name all over LinkedIn and it will increase sales.

How wrong. how sad and what a waste of resources!

Social selling is misnamed because what it really is, is social marketing.  Marketing is attracting attention and beginning to build relationships. Yet because people continue to call it social selling, some folks like this struggling entrepreneur believe it is selling.

Each day thousands of independent sales professionals believe if they spray their names all over the social media landscape, they hope (pray) to increase sales. They fail to understand the first rule of buying:

People buy from people they know and trust.

How this translates within the social selling world is through engagement. Salespeople must engage with potential sales leads, centers of influence, etc. to demonstrate their knowledge and their trustworthiness.

What would have been a better response by this LinkedIn member is something like:

“I enjoyed your recent posting (update, etc.) and possibly we can schedule a quick chat to better understand our respective businesses.”

“I am looking to expand my LinkedIn presence. Possibly we can schedule a quick chat to better understand our respective businesses.  Does (insert date and time) work for you?  If not, let me know some better times.”

The social media landscape can expand one’s market presence provided that individual understands this basic concept:

Marketing is not selling!

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Misalignment Continues to Be the True Foil Impeding Organizational Success

By now many in the US and all over the world have heard about or viewed the video of the United Airlines passenger being forcibly taken off from the airplane.  Here is a real time example of how misalignment continues to be the true foil impeding organizational success.

As someone who avoids airline travel like the plague because of the hassle, it has been a long time since I actually read the policies stated when purchasing an airline ticket. Yet it is my current understanding, the policies do state that all seats are subject to certain conditions and passengers must follow the requests of airline employees.  Airlines reserve the right to remove passengers if for example the airplane is overbooked.

Where the misalignment reared its ugly head is in the communication specific to the lottery. The lottery was not for ALL passengers as it excluded first class and rewards passengers.(Source: Radio news)

When one reads United’s commitment to its customers (via website), United Airlines the following:

“Our goal is to make every flight a positive experience for our customers.”

This statement which I am presuming is to showcase United Airlines’ commitment to organizational success does not separate customers by first class, business, rewards or coach.  All customers are supposedly treated equal. Yet we now know this is not the case.

Additionally, the CEO “doubled down” on the incident and blamed the passenger.  Yes, the passenger was at fault for not following the policies of the purchased airline ticket.

However. United is not blameless and is in violation of its own commitment to customers. This misalignment will hurt its ongoing organizational success as its recent stock drop of 3.7% resulting in a loss of $830 million.

Misalignment is continues to be one of the true foils (usually undiagnosed) that impedes organizational success regardless of the organization’s size.  For both small to large organizations, often what happens is executive leadership takes a retreating position.  In this case, the CEO blamed the customer instead of addressing the real foil – misalignment.

To learn more about misalignment and its impact on organizational success, I recommended this book Fail-Safe Leadership. It is an easy read and provides questions at the end to prompt further discussion and reflection.

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Fog Lines and Guard Rails on the Sales Leadership Road

Possibly you may be wondering what do fog lines and guard rails have to do with traveling the sales leadership road?  Probably more than you realize.

sales-leadershipFog lines are the outside white lines that let you know you are close to running off the paved road onto the shoulder if there is a shoulder.  These lines were not always part of the American road system, but started appearing in the late 1950s to early 1960s. Recent court decisions affirm that fog lines are part of the roadway.

For those in sales leadership, fog lines are part of your sales’ behaviors specifically your positive core values (business ethics).  When you cross the fog line, you have crossed or compromised your values. This compromise might be something as simple as a little white lie about:

  • The delivery date of your solution
  • How many people actually have downloaded your app
  • Your total number of new customers or total annual sales

Another simple crossing of the fog line could be gossiping about other employees to your competitors.

Now the guard rails keeps the car on the road especially when there is no shoulder and immediate danger lurks on the other side of the guardrail such as a steep mountain cliff.  Guard rails are the positive core values (think business ethics) each professional business person holds true and will not cross.

How many times have you failed to honor your positive core values? Did this failure impact your ability to lead as well as to increase sales?

Personally I believe one’s positive core values have a direct correlation to one’s sales leadership effectiveness. There are some who agree with me including the author of From Values to Action.

Many in sales leadership roles have not invested the time to commit to writing their positive core values. Maybe the organization’s values statement is enough for them. Yet, when we know what our own guard rails are, then we have much greater clarity when we cross that fog line and begin to compromise our sales leadership.

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Find Your Joy; Find Your Success in Doing

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Your joy is found not in finishing an activity, but doing it.” Greg Anderson. How often do we fail to find joy?  What would happen if our joy was directly connected to our doing something, whatever?  Would we be more motivated; have more enjoyment and ultimately experience more success?

All human being shared the same destination, that being death. Our journeys to that final end of the road are indeed different and unique as we are all different and unique individuals.

Far too long people have been lead to believe that knowledge is power and ultimately success. That is not true.

Only when we apply knowledge, do something, do we gain power. We now know what we know and know what we don’t know. We learn through our mistakes of doing and gain additional even more more knowledge and continued success. As John Maxwell wrote years ago “We fail forward.”

Our joy and consequently our success is directly connected to our purpose:

Why are we here right now in this moment of time?

After reading the On Purpose Person by Kevin McCarthy, I wrote my purpose statement and it hasn’t really changed much during the last 20 years.

I am a trailblazer.

For those who read this blog and some of my other writings, they will recognize how I challenge the status quo by blazing a trail that others have chosen not to take.  For example, many of my contemporaries believe salespeople create value.  I don’t and continue to write about how value is unique to each person or buyer.

Then there are my thoughts about public education, college debt and an ill equipped workforce.  Until we dismantle the current system and construct a new system based on what motivates people to learn we will still have a poorly educated and unmotivated workforce.

So what do you truly enjoy doing?

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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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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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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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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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Is Your Past Running Your Present and Future Results?

In listening to a colleague, Ray Overdorff of Overdorff and Associates, he made the simple statement about future results:

“Think beyond where we are. What’s right for the people as opposed to hanging onto the past. We live life through the moment, but filter it through the past as well as filter the future through the past.”

When you let Ray’s words truly sink in, many of us use our past and the end result is our past is running our present and our future results.

For example have you had any of these thoughts:

  • What happened yesterday that suddenly has today all in a dither?
  • Did that last unsuccessful conversation creep into your next conversation?
  • Is today a day of exceptional opportunities even thought yesterday bombed?
  • What will tomorrow be like given what happened yesterday?
  • Will my life (fill in with my career, my sales, etc.)ever get better?

Possibly by taking the time to clear the mental decks of the past may help allow each of us to focus on the future.

The author, Harry Kraemer who wrote From Values to Action, provided an fairly simple way to avoid allowing the past to run the future by investing time each night to ask yourself the following simple questions (I am paraphrasing).  The key here is these actions must be taken each night.

  • What went well?
  • What could have gone better?
  • Who did I short change in my interactions?
  • What can I do tomorrow to improve current results?

Also another way to not allow the past to control the present or the future is to remember to focus on what you can control. You cannot control the past and have only limited opportunity to control the present. Most people direct much of their energies on what they cannot control.  This behavior only diminishes the capacity to achieve future results.

So the question again remains for only you to answer and then take action:

If you are tired of your future results, how are you going to change your behavior to secure different results?

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