Posts Tagged ‘buying decision’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Realtors – Your Marketing Message Sucks – Part 02

So you open up a piece of mail in a business envelop hand addressed without a return address and low and behold you see this marketing message:

How about 3%?


You also see this is from a realtor that you do not know and who obviously does not know you.  What you also see is this is a copy of a copy and realtor thinks he is a doctor by the poor penmanship.

His marketing message reveals  he does not think enough about you to even include your name in the direct mail piece.  Doesn’t he know about technology and mail merge?

Then you read the rest of the direct mail piece and cringe inside.

“If you list with me and I represent the buyer who buys your home, you pay only 3% commission.”

Now he may be telling me instead of the 6% standard fee for listing and selling, I pay only 3%.  Yet he is also telling me he represents the buyer not the seller.

The letter goes on and states:

“No extra frees. No Transaction Fees. No Document Storage Fees.”

I guess he presumes I do not know about these fees.

The problem with this direct mail piece is the realtor fails to understand many of today’s buyers are far more educated than in the past.  Depending upon the sales research, anywhere from 20% to 60% of the buying decision is made before any emails or phone calls are made. This is why business to business networking groups work well because people learn to know and trust other people.

This realtor is engaged in traditional, product based selling instead of education based selling.  He also failed to realize the first sales objection is him as a salesperson.  To me he is a complete stranger.

Another item cited in his letter is “am among the top producers in NW Indiana.”  For me to buy that statement from a trust perspective, it probably would have been better to cite some outside source. The third buying rule is people buy on value unique to them. This realtor has not established any value from my perspective.

Finally, his closing remarks said “I’m aggressive, honest and straight forward.”  Really, given he mailed a copy of a copy direct mail piece, my personal sense was he was lazy.

My analysis of this direct mail piece sounds harsh and it is meant to be harsh.  If you are a realtor and want to Be the Red jacket, stand out away from all those other realtors, then stop with any marketing message that sucks.

Tomorrow’s blog will reveal by numbers how the marketing message for many realtors is not securing the desired results – increase sales.

* * * * *

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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Big Data Is a Big Advantage for Small Business

Earlier this year for my weekly online business column for the Chicago Sun Times/Post Tribune, I discussed what I perceived to be the up and coming small business trends. One of those trends was big data and this trend is only growing and further expanding.

big-data-small-businessThe amount of data that is being distributed every minute of every day is mind boggling as this Infographic indicates. And for any small business, big data provides a competitive advantage provided the time is invested in analyzing this data relevant to each firm.

One shared competitive disadvantage is all this content makes for a very crowded marketplace. This crowded marketplace suggests niche marketing is even more critical to your inbound marketing activities.

On the plus side, other marketing research by Crowdtap suggests user generated content (UGC) is preferred by millennials over TV.  Also, when it comes to millennials making a buying decision, 53% make that decision based upon UGC while only 44″% use traditional media in their buying decision process.

If we believe Google along with the SBA (US) and other sources 50% of all small businesses here in the US do not have a website, then these firms are at competitive disadvantage. Also from my small business coaching experiences, 75% of these firms have websites that are non-functional, boring and still are under the online brochure marketing philosophy. Worse yet many of the marketing firms that state they specialize in UGC have under performing websites as well.

What any small business can do is to analyze this big data and then synthesize it respective to its current solutions, ideal customer and business growth. Possibly now is the time to update that strategic plan collecting dust on some shelf or buried under a pile of papers in some desk drawer.

Obviously big data should not be the only tool employed when analyzing a small business competitive advantage nor be the one factor when making executive decisions.  However, to ignore big data is equally foolhardy.

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In Sales Answering the Phone Is All About Time


Years ago when I was an inside sales manager, I had this “thing” about answering the phone by the second ring.  My common sense told me if the phone was not answered quickly the potential customer or worse yet existing customer would go elsewhere to inquire and place his or her order.

Some recently released data by Ifbyphone appears to confirm my “gut” belief of many years ago. They surveyed data from these four categories of company during the first quarter of 2013.

  • “Small” companies handled less than 500 calls
  • “Medium” companies handled less than 1,500 calls
  • “Large” handled less than 10,000 calls
  • “Extra-Large” handled more than 10,000

What the data revealed was 15% of the callers regardless of business size tended to disconnect after 40 seconds into the call.  Now think about this for just a moment.  Fifteen out of 100 customers are handing up before they even speak with a salesperson or other agent for your small business such as a customer service person.

Additionally, this data suggested that 60% of the calls were answered in just over a minute. Now imagine if those calls could be answered in less than 40 seconds, how many more opportunities be it sales leads to actual orders?

Another gem from this data was small companies that handled less than 500 calls had the longest wait time of 1 minute and 47 seconds. There could be a variety of reasons for this delay. Yet, it suggests small businesses are losing lots of sales opportunities not too mention ticking off potential customers and existing customers.

So what is so hard about answering the phone in 40 seconds?

Common sense tells us sending callers to a voice mail queue is a sure fire way to disengage potential customers.

The essence of this report is about the customer’s or client’s perspective of time and how it fits into the buying decision process.  If  small business is all about the customer, then answering the phone in under 40 seconds appears to be one way to increase sales.

If you want to read more about this survey, visit

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Quality, Not Price, Continues to Come First in the Buying Decision

Years ago my father shared with me that people have three (3) significant factors respective to their sales buying decision.


  • Quality – I want the best quality.
  • Delivery – I want this solution now!
  • Price – I want the best (cheapest) price.

Father also shared that in most circumstances buyers usually can only secure two of these three factors.

  • Is the buyer willing to give up quality?  No because this is an emotional response.
  • Is the buyer willing to wait for that must have special product or service? No because this is an emotional response.
  • Is the buyer willing to give up price? Yes, because this becomes a logical response and takes a back seat to the two others.

Dad said buyers are willing to sacrifice price to ensure quality and delivery. He also stated they may be willing to pay more to realize better quality and faster delivery.

A recent report by Deloitte regarding outsourcing in 2012 revealed that price once again was not the prime reason for cancelling a contracts which is the flip side of signing contracts. In surveying 111 respondents, these were the top reasons terminating contracts before completion.

  • 77% overall quality of service
  • 33% subject matter expertise (which could be included in delivery of the solution)
  • 33% pricing

So if you believe your price is too high or price is the reason why you cannot earn a sale, then maybe it is time to rethink your own self-imposed limitation.

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Sales Tips Using the iPad Mini – My Journey Part 1

To be nimble and responsive in today’s technology driven global market place does demand finding not only the best sales tips, but marrying technology to that ever changing, 24/7 sales environment. My behavior to adopt new technology is usually behind the flow because of the new learning curve and my decision making style of thinking overtakes the emotional rush to be the first one to having something new.


Well, last week I made a decision to purchase the iPad Mini to increase my business productivity; to eliminate carrying the my old and still functional laptop when traveling and to allow me greater online responsiveness and flexibility. (Sales Training Coaching Tip:  These three are my wants and needs.)

My buying decision was made on these “value” criteria:

  1. A colleague, Mary Anne Shew, made a presentation about the business model generation canvas and yes there is an app for that
  2. Another colleague, Miles Austin, who understands technology far better than I ever will, wrote an excellent blog about the iPad mini for sales (Sales Training Coaching Tip: Miles is “The Guy” for technology and sales.)
  3. A desire to build several apps for business growth focusing on uniting people (talents) and operations (management)
  4. As the next generation of talent and management heurist lacking this technology and specifically this tool suggests I potentially also lack knowledge about business growth including how to increase sales in today’s marketplace
  5. Finally, I do love Apple products because of their ease of use and dependability (Sales Training Coaching Tip: This reason is the number two sales buying rule.)

Right now, not even 24 hours into the acquisition of the iPad mini, I have downloaded the following FREE apps from the Apple iTunes store and have created folders for them.

Business Productivity

  1. Evernote
  2. Rapid Note
  3. SuperNote


  1. Kindle
  2. Ted

MS Office

  1. Documents
  2. iSpreadsheet
  3. CloudOn


  1. Drudge
  2. Zite – Great application as it provides news on your interests, much like SmartBriefs.

Newsstand (Pre-existing folder)

  • Wall Street Journal


  • Contacts
  • Calculator

Games Folder

Last week I ordered from Zagg a keyboard for the iPad Mini and a stylus.  Until these items come, the iPad mini will stay home protected from the elements and my own clumsiness. (Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Having a stylus for my iPhone has been a blessing in disguise.)

So far what I have experienced is that my learning curve is somewhat less because I have the iPhone 4.  Also I recognized I need to invest some time to set up the iCloud account and download critical documents from my desktop into that cloud server for future access.

In the days and weeks to come, I will be updating this journey through reviews of the apps I find very functional and those I find do not serve my particular needs or meet my expectations along with the important sales tips.  For example, yesterday I attended a free webinar on this application, Contact Ready.

So stay tuned and if you have any questions or sales tips you want answered through my hands on experience, please let me know. IF I don’t know the answer, I am sure I know someone who does.

P.S. If you want to know the other two sales buying rules, then this FREE workshop, the 3 Sales Buying Rules will answer that question and provide some other information you may have not heard elsewhere.  Date is Thursday, March 7, from 12-12:30pm CST.

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Value in the Buying Decision Is Still King

Value in the buying decision is still king according to a new Nielsen Report entitled “Global Online Environment & Sustainability Survey.” Even though 83% of the global respondents believed in the importance of having environmental products only 22% would be willing to pay for those eco-friendly products.  Within the US and Canada, only 12% of the consumers would be willing to shell out extra cash for “green products.”

The results of this survey are nothing new, but only reaffirm what I call the third sales buying rule:

People buy on value unique to them

This value is determined by all of their experiences or what is called their belief system.  Within this report may be hidden the reason for this disconnect between believing in the importance of having environmental friendly products and actually purchasing them. That reason is distrust as almost 50% of the respondents are not convinced of the environmental impact of local products, fair trade products and overall sustainable practices. This distrust again is in alignment with the first sales buying rule:

People buy from people they know and trust

Two recent books, A Seat at the Table and Pitch Anything discuss value in great detail.  Today’s professional salesperson may have to rethink selling value from his or her perspective and start viewing it through the eyes of the potential customer.

By seeing or rethinking differently, may help to overcome those initial sales objections about you or your company or your solution.  Price is the fourth sales objection along with delivery being fifth sales objection.

Yesterday I spoke at a local business to business networking event.  The host of the event owns a specialty retail store.  Beyond having good prices (not necessarily the cheapest), one reason I continue to shop there is the owner, Tony, makes me feel like a queen every time I stop by whether I make a purchase or not. He actually walks me out to my car and opens the door.  Yes, this is terrific customer service, but it truly goes beyond that. My value creation belief system places great emphasis on this type of behavior especially given the fact that I can be the customer from Hades.

If value was not the determining buying decision factor, we would all be driving a Yugo, leaving in a 1,000 square foot house, eating at McDonalds for our dining night out and shopping only at Wal-Mart. The variety of products and services exist because of this one word Value.  So the first question to be answered if you wish to increase sales is not what value do your solutions bring to your potential customer, but rather

“Where does your potential customer place his or her value?”

This question will require you to actively listen and may take several meetings for you to totally understand where value is within the buying decision process. When you master how to determine how your potential customer sees value, then all you must do is to align your solutions to that value.  The end result is you no longer are selling value, but instead your customers are buying value. This paradigm shift may just be what you need to increase sales.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith
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