Posts Tagged ‘business to business networking event’

Are You Suffering from Marketing Malaise?

Marketing can become quite routine, almost boring especially for small business owners.  Each day turns into another one where you may write a perfunctory blog; send out some social media updates; go to a business to business networking event to uncover some more sales leads;  make those necessary phone calls; or meet with a new ideal customer.

marketing-malaiseSoon you feel you are tired and marketing becomes difficult.  You have a general sense of discomfort and uneasiness.  Yet you cannot place your finger on the exact cause.

If you are suffering from marketing malaise, then it is time to get moving.  Change your routine if possible. Establish some new goals, preferably personal ones.

Probably most importantly take a walk or a run.  Your body especially your mind needs physical activity, new input.

By walking or running, you are bringing fresh oxygen into your system.  You are invigorating all those brain cells. This is the time for innovation, to think differently.

You are refreshing your entire system.

If you are a sales road warrior, buy some audio books. Listen and then record your thoughts using your smart phone (hands free of course).

Another tactic is to schedule some time to read the marketing efforts of others.  Attend a webinar.  Read a book. Think how you can infuse some of that energy into your own marketing actions.

Yes, marketing can become a routine just as any behavior.  Your goal is to keep it fresh, keep it moving forward to your desired end results. So what are you waiting for?  Get going!

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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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Increase Sales with Your First Impression

American humorist Will Rogers said “You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Rogers’ truism is one that I regularly think when meeting people along with why many in small business fail to increase sales.

increase-sales

Dress Professional

How your present yourself is essential.  In today’s more casual business world, having clean clothes as well as matching attire should be just plain common sense. However, there are still far too many small business professionals who are clueless about what it means to dress professional.

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet a real estate person, Elise Harron, in Kingman, Az. Even though much of her real estate small business was selling rural property, she had an embroidered logo wear polo shirt, clean jeans and polished nails.  Also, her vehicle made a great first impression, a bright yellow Jeep Wrangler.

Listen

First impressions go beyond your professional dress. Those who actively listen versus those always talking have a competitive advantage to increase sales.

Follow-Up

How many times have we met someone at a business to business networking event who promised to take some action and then failed?  A first impression extends beyond that initial contact and is not fully solidified until any promises are honored. Additionally just sending a handwritten card acknowledging a recent meeting may be the stimulus to increase sales.

Smile

Believe it or not, having an authentic smile makes a great first impression.  People buy first on emotions and a warm, enthusiastic smile generates a positive emotional response in the other person.  This is true even when talking on the phone. People can sense a smile.

Behave Professional

Your overall behaviors reflect the first impression you are sending to others.  These behaviors extend into etiquette and general conversations.  Here is where it may sense to leave your ego at the door especially if you wish to increase sales.

Yes, you may never get a second chance to make a great first impression. In today’s competitive small business marketplace, that first impression just may be that first step to increase sales.

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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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Are You Shooting Yourself Before You Open Your Marketing Mouth?

Today I read an infographic about Why-Customers-Choose-You?  What was interesting is the collected data presumes there already exists some positive attraction through the initial marketing interactions.

marketing

Credit: www.gratisography.com

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Past and ongoing research suggests that people make judgments about you before you even open your mouth to share your value proposition statement.  Within the first 10-20 seconds, others have considered your education, your economic, social levels and if you are trust worthy.

The purpose of marketing is to attract attention and begin to build a relationship.  This is especially true in business to business networking events. So I am still at a loss as to why some small business people just don’t get this especially if they are business coaches or executive coaches.

Last Friday I attended a business to business  networking event sponsored by Growth Pod  in the western suburbs of Chicago. As I watched some of the attendees I noticed several dressed less than professionally.  One was dressed as a cleaning lady and I am being kind.  Baggy pants, bandana, along with hair disheveled.  I recognized her and knew her small business to be one of business coaching.

Other women dressed extremely casual in jeans and cowboy boots minus the cowboy hats and flannel shirts.  Now they were not owners of horse stables, ranches or farms. For the most part, men were professionally dressed given their roles and industries.

Yes women do have a tougher time finding the right clothes.  Men can wear polo shirts with an imprinted logo, khaki pants and even deck shoes.  Women unless they are in construction usually cannot wear such attire. Much of their believability and therefore credibility comes from how they look.

You only have one opportunity to make a good first impression. Why blow it and look like something the cat drugged in?  People buy from people they know and trust.  The marketing question you should be asking yourself is:

How does my professional attire project trust and a desire for someone to reach out to talk to me?

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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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The Road Not Taken; How to Make Incredible Differences for Your Business and Yourself

“Two roads diverged in the yellow woods” begins the poem, The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. The poem ends with:

road-not-taken

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Conventional thought suggest this was the least traveled road and I agree. Where I diverge from conventional thought or the status quo is I believe the road not taken is so because this is the path of purpose.

So many people in business and in life do not know their purpose for being in business or even why they are living at this moment in time. This lack of knowing one’s purpose diminishes the vision they have for their businesses and more importantly their values, the guiding behaviors to execute their vision statement and current mission statement. Additionally, not knowing one’s purpose in business is also an indicator of not knowing one’s own purpose.

When we have crystal clarity about our purpose, we then know when the light switch is on. In the book, The On Purpose Person, the author (Kevin McCarthy) describes being on purpose like a light switch.  When the light switch is on, our purpose is on; when the light switch is off, so is our purpose.

Purpose is the essence of your business and yourself.

Purpose goes beyond your solutions, your products or services.

Purpose reaches down deep into the “why” behind starting your business and “why” you are here right now.

Further Explanation

How many times have you attended a business to business networking event (B2B) and observed one of these two scenarios?

road-not-taken

#1 – The White Rabbit

This is the small business owner or sales professional who is running from person to person like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

#2 – The Flower Girl

Here is the business professional who throws business cards like rose petals.  Sometimes she or he will ask you to take several to share with others.

Neither of these individuals know his or her purpose.  Their behaviors are a reflection of not knowing and are sometimes mistaken for being unprofessional to even stupid.

If you want to improve your business or even yourself, then read the book The On-Purpose Person and then invest the time to write your own purpose statement so you are more inclined to travel the road not taken.

P.S. Yes I have a written Purpose Statement hanging in my office.  And  I am more than happy to share it with you.

My purpose on this earth is to be a TRAILBLAZER ~

One who unites the gifts of creativity, curiosity, determination, faith, intelligence, intuition, patience, reflection, risk taking, and thoughtfulness.

 

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A Real and Authentic Voice Required

In this age of social media, content marketing, the endless pecking of the keyboard,  people  are sometimes surprised to hear real and authentic voice when they pick up the phone.  For small businesses, the opportunity to connect with the other person is the first step to build a relationship with an ideal customer or even friend you did not know.

Real, What Is That?

A real voice is a live, breathing human being and not some auto-dial voice.  I am still at a loss of how any of these automatic voice marketing systems actually attract positive attention.  For me, the first reaction is to hang-up, quickly followed by some internal swear words.

Authentic, What Is That?

Authentic is someone who is not spewing a sales pitch, but truly wants to know about you and your small business. Even though the person on the other end of the phone may not be an ideal customer, he or she may become a center of influence, a colleague or even down the road a friend.

Clarity of Values

An individual with a real and authentic voice demonstrates her or his clarity of core values. These individuals recognize the importance of others as individuals and not just another “closed sale” or connection on some social media site or through some business to business networking event.

Years ago, there was a commercial with this key statement:

Reach out and touch someone

For small business owners to sales professionals, these words still ring true today. I would just add the following:

with a real and authentic voice

If you have a moment, please check out Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits to begin to develop and demonstrate how to stand out in the crowd with authenticity.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals in the key areas of strategic growth, people development and process improvement. She speaks and writes specifically to small businesses under 50 employees whose challenges are more unique and resources more limited. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Make Time To Pat Yourself on Your Back

Read the majority of social media posts and many are blatant self promotions from “read my blog” to “buy my solution.” However, if you do not make time to pat yourself on your back, who will?

make-timeThis past week I was awarded Small Business Journalist of the Year by the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center. The award will be given at the E-Day luncheon on November 12, 2014 at the Radisson in Merrillville, IN.  Networking Tip:  Tickets are $40 and this is a great business to business networking event here in Northwest Indiana.

I am particularly honored by this award because of all the articles I have written have focused on small business.  What I mean by small business is 98.2% of all businesses here in the US with under 99 employees. Unfortunately, the larger publications along with the noted business experts and sales experts focus on the minority of businesses those with 100 employees or more.  What works well for the Big Guys does not always work well for the smaller firms.

What is interesting to note is even though we are in a global community, our local communities may not know the extensiveness of our endeavors.  For example, I learned the selection committee did not realize I have contributed to the following publications:

be-the-red-jacketThen when I attended a business luncheon on Friday, one of the local speakers was not aware I wrote a book, Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits, the Keys to Unlocking Sales Success.

No one likes someone who is continually patting himself or herself on the back.  However, we as professionals must invest some time to let others know of our accomplishments especially when we receive noteworthy awards or recognitions.

Yesterday I made time to pat myself on my back by updating my website and putting a notice on this blog. Later today I will update my LinkedIn profile. I also have scheduled to make time to send some PR to be sent to the local newspapers.

When we make time to acknowledge our own accomplishments in a professional manner, we are also building our credibility, keeping our name in the news stream and modeling positive marketing behaviors. Be proud of your accomplishments, share with others and remember to still be modest.

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Marketing Mindset Is a Must Have

Salespeople are many times told to have a sales mindset, yet with super majority (97.7%) of all US businesses having under 20 employees, having a marketing mindset is probably even more critical.

marketing-mindsetPeople buy from people they know and trust.  If people do not know about you or your small business, they will probably never know about your solutions.

Marketing that being attracting attention and building relationships is more important than ever before especially for small businesses to even those mid size firms. And developing a marketing mindset is not easy because so much focus is on selling or closing the sale.

This weekend I spoke with a small business realtor who talked to me about international real estate given she has many US friends who are of German and Irish heritage. These individuals are seeking one month international stays and do not want to belong to any time share programs.  I suggested for her to use LinkedIn, other social media platforms or her family contacts and find reputable realtors overseas. These folks could become strategic partners who she could engage in cross referral sales leads and shared commissions.

Her response to me was “I never thought of that” and she thanked me.

A marketing mindset does not happen overnight.  There must be some strategic thinking about:

  • Current ideal customer profile
  • Industry specific market trends
  • Economic trends
  • Technology trends
  • Internal capacity of your organization

Additionally, past marketing efforts may not get your small business to where you want it to go. The world is changing. People are reading your posts; seeking third party content; engaging in organic searches; and talking to other people. Marketing is no longer buy an ad; attend a business to business networking event; or email everyone on your list.

Those small businesses owners and sales professionals who have embraced a marketing mindset will outperform others in their respective industries especially as more and more millennials becomes decision makers. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of bad advice being offered by experts about Internet and marketing specific to retail (B2C)  and services (B2C) and (B2B).

Years ago I read, “selling is marketing and marketing is not selling.” Today, this is still very true.

When you are selling yourself, you are marketing to people because you want them to know and trust you. However when you are marketing, it is all about attracting attention and building those critical relationships. This is not the time to sell your solution because your ideal customer still has not bought you.

Yes, a marketing mindset just may be your competitive advantage to Be the Red Jacket especially if your current market is very crowded with a lot of gray suits.

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Limit Your Marketing Resolutions; Unlimit Your Resolve

The New Year has many small business owners to sales professionals listing all their New Year’s marketing resolutions or goals including:

marketing-resolutions

  • Blog postings from consistency to quality
  • Networking
  • Social media especially LinkedIn
  • Email marketing
  • Direct mail marketing

Then within a few months, this plethora of marketing resolutions starts to slip away because the small business owners and sales professionals again become mired in the day to day grind and can’t see the forest for the trees.

Consider making only 3 marketing resolutions for the first quarter only. Then make a promise to yourself or in other words resolve to complete these 3 marketing goals.

Here are my three suggestions to support you in your resolve:

  1. Write one, relevant, informative blog post per week if you have been inconsistent with your writing
  2. Invest 20 minutes per day prospecting through LinkedIn if you are engaged in B2B
  3. Locate and attend one new quality business to business networking event each week (this is beyond your standard Chamber of Commerce,  civic organization meetings or formal networking group such as BNI)

Then be unlimited in your resolve (your commitment) to achieving those marketing resolutions from actually executing them to monitoring them.  At the end of the first quarter reassess these goals. If need be, change them or increase your frequency. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Do not confuse motion with progress and activity with results.

As in any action be it marketing to increase sales, your resolve will always triumph your goals for it is your resolve that will achieve your desired end results.

This one page social media plan may also support you in your marketing resolve.

 

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What Is Missing in Your Action Plan to Increase Sales?

Some in small business as well in sales roles have an action plan to increase sales. What these documents look like probably varies from a couple of scribbles to numerous pages with detailed goals and other documentation. Yet, in most of these written action plans, there must be something missing because of this one ongoing issue:

action-plan-to-increase-sales

 

Lack of clarity as to what each small business does

How do I know this?  I just listen.

Think back to the last face to face business to business networking event you attended. How many of those small business professionals could clearly and quickly article what they do in such a way that you wanted to learn more?

What I continue to hear is a lot of stuttering, hems and haws, to almost complete silence or reluctance to describe what these small business owners and sales professionals actually do.

An action plan to increase sales exists for that purpose to increase sales.  To be able to realize this goal begins by clearly stating what  your small  business brings to potential customers. This suggests your response should include:

  • Results
  • Emotions
  • Call to action

If your action plan to increase sales is not delivering your desired results, then maybe it is time to step back and determine if the problem starts with how you position your small business and not necessarily your sales action plan.

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The Collision of Emotional Intelligence and Texting

Collisions happen every day. Some are very physical from people bumping into each other to cars careening on icy, snowy streets to stars colliding in the depths of outer space. Other are far less physical but equally powerful and potentially damaging. Today there is a new collision that is much closer to home and to business:

emotional-intelligence-and-texting

The collision of emotional intelligence and texting

Many human beings love, absolutely love being connected to each other. Then add in the element of everyone being busy, texting becomes the way to get pass the email barrage.

And wham the collision happens!

You can physically observe  these collisions of emotional intelligence and texting every day.

Attend any business to business networking event and observe all the people grabbing their phones to “quietly” respond to an incoming text. This would not be so bad, but they engage in this behavior when talking to potential sales leads.

Then what about all those seminars to sales training workshops?

Have you witnessed some attendees using their phones or smart devices and you can tell some are texting and not just taking notes?

To be emotionally intelligent suggests that you engage in the following three behaviors simultaneously

  1. Recognize and understand the emotions of others
  2. Recognize and understand your own emotions
  3. Manage both

When small business people, sales professionals even C Suite executives engage in texting in the presence of others, it is hard to rationalize how they are recognizing and understanding the emotions of others as well as managing their own emotions and the emotions of others.

Let us not forget sales and small business were conducted prior to the advent of smart devices not to mention computers and fax machines.

So maybe now is the time to stop the collision of emotional intelligence and texting. Who knows? You just may Be the Red Jacket in the Sea of all those gray suits texting away and not realizing they are losing business.

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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