Posts Tagged ‘Be the Red Jacket’

In Sales, the Problem with the Word “Help”

How many times in the course of a sales day, do you read or hear “I help…?” In reviewing visitors to my LinkedIn profile, I can say over 50% of the headlines use this common verb of help.

The problem with this word is it does not differentiate you or your business from all the other people and businesses helping other people and businesses. With the very crowded marketplace and where 97.7% of all businesses have under 20 employees, differentiation is key to growing any SMB.

Sales Coaching Tip: Differentiation is essential to attracting sales leads

When any word is used too frequently, people become immune to the word.  It does not take hold in their minds and in some instances creates a negative, emotional reaction. Your sales goal should Be the Red Jacket in the Sea of Gray Suits.

There are a plethora of verbs that can be substituted for this word of help such as:

  • Facilitate
  • Build
  • Expand
  • Connect
  • Strengthen
  • Work
  • Align

Additionally a goal statement could be equally effective as in “Our Goal” is to:

  • Connect you with the right decision makers to increase sales
  • Strengthen your internal customers to reduce high, costly turnover
  • Align your people and processes to ensure efficiency, effectiveness while increasing profits

The goal statement demonstrates not only what you do, but the desired end results of your solutions. How many salespeople fail to include the results in their messaging be it their 30 second infomercial, their positioning statement or their value proposition statement?

Sales Coaching Tip: Potential customers want the end results of your solutions.

Sometimes we must rethink what we say and how what we say is received by our intended audience (think ideal customer). Words do matter and even more importantly the impact of those words really matter.

So if you are determined to use the word help, then connect it to the results of your solution.

Reach out and schedule a call with Leanne by CLICKING HERE.

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Sales Commitment Attitude Starts with You

Funny many salespeople believe they have a sales commitment attitude and consequently behavior.  However if this was true why do so many in sales fail to achieve their sales numbers as well as dislike marketing or prospecting such as cold calling.

Years ago I read something written by Zig Ziglar who stated “attitudes are habits of thought.”  I agree with Zig and would add the following “enmeshed in a plethora of feelings.”

Zig also defined sales as the transference of feelings.  To transfer feelings one must have feelings and be aware with crystal clarity of those feelings.

Additionally a sales commitment attitude can be traced directly back to someone’s personal core values (ethics and beliefs).

  • Do you say you will do what you said you would do?
  • How committed are you to honoring your word?
  • Are you willing and ready to do what you need to do no matter the difficulty?
  • Is what you do the right thing or the quick fix because you don’t have time to do it right?
  • Do you find yourself making excuses for not doing something you promised or you know you should do?

When I wrote Be the Red Jacket, the second chapter was devoted to creating a personal values statement.  By investing the time to write this statement, ensures the salesperson is truly committed to her or his own values.

People buy from people they know and trust. Those salespeople with an authentic sales commitment attitude are easily distinguished from others who lack such authenticity.

In the book From Values to Action, the author shared each night he invested  5-10 minutes to reflect on what happened during the previous 16 hours.  This was his way of ensuring his leadership commitment attitude.  I believe it would work equally well for those in sales.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #16 – Authentic

One of the most consistent attributes for those wishing to have sustainable sales success is “be authentic.”  Today’s far more educated buyers or decisi9on makers can spot a phony a mile off.

sales-successPart of the problem is the constant stream of poorly designed sales pitches within all sales communications from text, telephone, voice mail to email. Social media continues to foster this tsunami of sales pitches.

To be authentic begins with an individual’s positive core values. What behaviors do you demonstrate 24/7? When I wrote Be the Red Jacket, the second chapter was all about one’s positive core values, business ethics.

Possibly the next step is to be who you are and not someone else.  Sure listen to other sales experts; read books on sales, business and leadership.  Then take those key points and integrate them into your own “being.” One question to ask yourself is “Do I really know my key talents, what I do really well?”

There is only one you.  When we embrace who we are, one of the results is we realize that we have no competitors. Sure there are people who do similar things, but there is only one you who does things the way you do them. Yes you can improve upon who you are, but never lose site of your own uniqueness.

Sustainable sales success is comprised of many beliefs, actions and results. Within this mixture are you experiences, your talents and your commitment to be the best you can be, to be you.

Today being authentic does come with challenges.  Some of those challenges may require you firing a client; turning down a sales lead to telling a client or sales lead the real problem that others have failed to acknowledge or may even have fear of speaking.

Remembering the wisdom of Socrates also helps to achieve and maintain sustainable sales success.  Through the three Socratic filters, you can still be authentic.

  • Is what you say kind?
  • Is what you say truthful?
  • Is what you say necessary?
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Reframing Your Sales Conversations to Feel, Know, Do and Remember

How many sales conversations leave you confused, wondering what was just said?  Maybe others may feel the same way about your interactions?



Imagine for a moment if you would embrace just these four words – Feel, Know, Do and Remember – into ALL interaction with your sales leads to professional colleagues to centers of influence. What changes would you experience?


No one likes sales pitches.  The reason is because they stir up negative feelings.

In sales, you want positive feelings because positive feelings begin to build trust and a sense of being comfortable, of knowing you. Sales Coaching Tip: People buy first on emotion; justified by logic.


You also want to demonstrate your own expertise. Not in a way that your ego takes up the entire room.  No, with a little more subtlety. Your sales leads and others want to feel and then know you know the:

  • Industry
  • Marketplace
  • Current trends


You want some “do” action to take place after the sales conversation.  This could be:

  • Having the individual commit to receiving something of value such as an article or a link via email, etc.
  • Scheduling an appointment
  • Connecting on LinkedIn
  • Making a sales referral


After each sales conversation, you want the other person to remember you because you have differentiated yourself. To be remembered suggests:

  • You have truly engaged the other person because you have worked with her or his feelings
  • You have imparted knowing
  • You have directly or indirectly implied some “doing” action

Now this remembering may happen after the initial meeting because you initiated some follow-up such as sending a personal handwritten note or because of your “doing” action as noted previously.

Sales Coaching Tip:  You may have to engage in more than one “Remember” action.

Sales conversations are becoming a dime a dozen especially this time of year when salespeople are scrambling to make those “dreaded” quotas.  By embracing the “feel,” “know,” “do” and “remember” verbs and reframing your sales communication, just may help you to be different, to be the Red Jacket in a sea of gray suits.

P.S. When you change your words, you will improve your sales results!

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #12 Disqualification

One would think disqualifying sales leads would be something most salespeople would do especially if they want sales success. However from my experience with SMB owners and sales professionals, this simple step of sales lead disqualification as well as sales leads qualification is one often overlooked.

sales-sucessMost of the reason for not qualifying sales leads returns to the lack of a strategic plan.  What happens is these hard working business professionals work even harder and set themselves up for even greater falls.

When there is crystal clarity around the ideal customer, then disqualifying sales leads is much easier.  When I wrote Be the Red Jacket, I shared these 4 qualifying or disqualifying criteria depending upon one’s perspective.

  1. Is the person the actual decision maker? Does he or she have the authority to write the check?
  2. Is there a want to need?  What problem must be solved that others may not have solved or better yet identified?
  3. Is there an allocated budget?  Many SMBs have money.  The real question returns to having dollars allocated to solve the solution.
  4. Is there urgency to take action?  Can you build a case for taking action right now instead of later?

Since I wrote that book, I realized there is a fifth criterion:

  • Is there commitment to take action? What I have learned is sometimes all of the previous criteria are present, but the person does not have the commitment, the resolve to take action.  Change is hard.

When a salesperson adopts an understanding about disqualifying sales leads, this allows him or her to work both smarter and harder simultaneously. He or she is honing their sales skills in asking the right questions. Additionally, this is a sales strategy that works to ensure sales success because now the salesperson is working with the right customer and not one that is high maintenance.

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Time to Fall Clean Your Marketing Toolbox

Fall is here.  Now is the perfect time to clean out your marketing toolbox and refresh it for the forthcoming last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year. So what is currently in your toolbox?

marketingUpon opening your toolbox, you will have a removable upper tray that contains your lightweight marketing tools. Down below is a larger compartment to hold those heavier tools.  All of your tools have a cost.

For example, your lightweight tools include your elevator speech, business cards, stationery from envelopes to letterheads, brochures, postcards, postage, promotional items or giveaways CDs or DVD’s, Costs for these tools range from pennies to hundreds of dollars.

The heavier tools at the bottom of your toolbox have a lot of variety.  There are speeches that you can deliver to local organizations or to larger conference audiences.  Printed books such as Be the Red jacket or Fail-Safe Leadership along with published articles are always effective heavy marketing tools. Paid advertising, membership in referral groups, local chambers and other B2B networking groups are other heavy tools.  Finally, there is that all important website. And let us not forget your blog or other social content marketing channels such as LinkedIn Pulse.  These heavy tools costs hundreds to thousands of dollars, but may also provide you a steady stream of passive income.

When you analyze all the costs within your toolbox, you will be amazed at the total investment. For some this may quickly exceed $50,000. Whatever the costs, the results from these tools deliver must be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure their value.

Is your 30-second elevator speech effective?  How about your 60 second and three minute elevator speeches? If no one is seeking you out after you deliver your infomercial, then it is definitely time to refresh that tool. Have you updated your website to make it search engine friendly? By being proactive now will keep you from being reactive later.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #11 Follow-Up

Simply speaking without follow-up, sales success will not happen.  To expect to earn the sale on the first meeting is rare especially in the B2B marketplace.

sales-successWhat is even worse, is the lack of follow-up by salespeople.  Hubspot shared these two damning sales prospecting or sales statistics:

  • 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up.
  • 80% of sales require five follow-ups.

The author of the posting also made this insight:

44% of the salespeople have a 80% probability of not closing the sale

Just let that fact sink in!

This past week I attended an early morning B2B networking round table event.  The venue was small and everyone had a brief chance to meet other professionals.  The event coordinator promised to send everyone’s contact information including phone numbers and email addresses.

So what I did when I received the excel file was to send a quick follow-up email to those I had not received business cards.  I also extended LinkedIn invitations to some as well.

How many SMB owners or sales professionals let all those business cards stack up in piles around their desk with the attitude “I’ll get to them when I have time”?

Sales success begins with follow-up.  Sending emails to even personal thank you cards are two ways to make that follow-up contact.  Of course, one is not usually enough.  This is why it is critical to have some sort of follow-up process aka Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Follow-up for me is not just relegated to new contacts or sales leads, but to existing clients.  When I find articles of interest, I will quickly email the link or the PDF file.  This way I stay top of mind and if a new need arises, I know I will not be forgotten.

If you are seeking sales success, understand there is no quick fix.  To be the Red Jacket in the sea of all those gray suits means you must be different than all those other salespeople who do not follow-up.


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In Sales Thinking You Are Different Does Not Mean You Are Different

Sales differentiation is not an easy task.  With the Internet and all the experts in marketing (branding), having a unique message requires considerable work as well as having the ability to change as the market changes.



Yesterday I received a handwritten postcard from a realtor.  I was impressed by this direct mail marketing effort.

In today’s busy world, sending a handwritten piece of correspondence is sales differentiation.  I have received dozens of direct mail postcards during the last several months, but this was the first hand written one. However, the message was not different even though I believe the realtor thought she was being different.

This realtor wrote “Let me prove to you that I’m the realtor who will take care of you and get your house SOLD not just listed.”

First, this realtor failed to do her homework.  Had she invested a few moments of time in doing some quick sales lead online research she would have learned of my background in sales.

Second, before I responded I did my research and learned she was not even on LinkedIn. Most of the realtors who had contacted me in the past were either not on LinkedIn or not active.

Sales Coaching Tip:  Most sales professionals in B2B along with many in B2C are on LinkedIn.

Third, the business model for this particular realtor is the same as the super majority of other realtors.  Listing the house is the priority not selling the house.

Given this realtor said she found the house on Zillow and if she read the information, she would have noticed the following statement “We will cooperate with realtors.”  This statement means we are willing to pay a sales commission if a realtor brings a qualified buyer who makes an offer.

Fourth, possibly the most serious sales marketing (messaging) mistake is not recognizing that today’s home sellers are more educated than in the past.  The sales data in the real estate market suggest anywhere from 80-90% of all homes sold are sold by another real estate firm not the listing firm.  With much of the marketing being free, receiving 50% of the standard 5-6-% commission does not make sense to the educated seller.

Thinking you are different in sales is not the same as being different. To truly Be the Red Jacket in a sea of gray suits requires any salesperson to be ahead of the market flow not in it or worse yet behind it.

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Are You Being Too Comfortable with Your Content Marketing?

B2B buyers are becoming far more educated and astute. A 2014 DemandGen reported:


  • 65% of the buyers shared the winning vendor’s content marketing had a significant impact on their buying decision
  • 68% indicated they increased the amount of content used to research and evaluate their purchases

Of course it is easy to be comfortable about writing posts on building rapport, asking open ended questions, to what CRM tools a salesperson should have. Then there are all those comfortable postings about attitude, motivation and the necessary talents.

The necessary  question to ask yourself is “Does this content make the sales lead think differently about you, your company or your solution?”  To think differently make require your perspective to challenge the status quo.

For example, I do not believe in value creation.  This goes against many of the recognized experts.  I do believe top salespeople connect to the value drivers of the sales leads, the ideal potential customers. This column has discussed this issue numerous times and does make other uncomfortable.

Listen to the podcast “Can Salespeople Create Value” between David Brock and Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Uncomfortable content marketing makes the reader think and take notice.  For example, discussing risk does make most people uncomfortable.  People especially salespeople want control because they want to “close the deal!”.  The more risk results in lesser control.

Have you ever thought about risk from the perspective of dissonance?

If the goal is to increase sales through content marketing given how much content is being consumed by sales leads and the ultimate decision makers, then shouldn’t your content Be the Red Jacket by standing out among all the other gray suits?

The status quo also applies to your state of being comfortable. And if writing the content makes you a little uncomfortable, this probably means you will be making the reader also uncomfortable. Of course, always be mindful of being respectful to the reader by applying emotional intelligence to your word selection.



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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip 09 Gratitude

Sales success demands being busy.  However none of us are too busy not to say thank you, not to show our gratitude.

sales-success-gratitudeIf people buy from people they know and trust, the demonstration of genuine gratitude will help to build that needed trust from sales leads to centers of influence to colleagues.

Two weeks ago I received a book from a colleague, Mark Hunter, entitled High Profit Prospecting. After I started reading the book, I sent Mark a short thank you for sending me the book.  Mark did not ask for any book recommendations. His book was a simple gift.

Earlier this week, I met with a local colleague who I had just connected on LinkedIn.  He said he had read about my book, Be the Red Jacket, and would like to purchase an autographed copy.  I gave him an autographed copy as a gift. He was truly appreciative and sent me two different thank you notes via email.

Some say gratitude is an attitude. I read something by Zig Ziglar that said an attitude is a habit of thought.

For me, it is a little deeper than just an automatic response or thought. I genuinely appreciate when people are kind to me or to others. This appreciation is part of my sales success.

With my business coaching, executive coaching and sales coaching practice, I encourage my clients to buy thank you notes and to send one out on a daily basis. These notes can be sent to current clients, colleagues, family or friends.

Writing these thank you notes, keep us grounded as human beings. We are far less likely in our quest for sales success to take our own success for granted.

Another colleague on Facebook, asked if “Did you make someone smile today?”  A genuine smile is a physical thank you note because what happens is you give the gift of a smile and usually a smile is given back to you.

Yes sales success is not always easy. Genuine gratitude is.

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