Posts Tagged ‘ideal customer profile’

The Real Problem with Social Selling

Let’s stop with the Naked Emperor and speak the truth about social selling.  It isn’t selling. I repeat it isn’t selling. Now for some this is considered heresy.



Social selling or social media selling whatever you want to call it is marketing using social media channels to deliver the message. This entire get on the band wagon for social whatever is sales quick sales fix for some and a quick opportunity to make fast bucks for others.

I will return to Peter Drucker who believe and said a business has essentially two functions:

  • Marketing
  • Innovation

He also said when marketing is done well, selling becomes almost effortless. (paraphrasing)

Yesterday I saw a social media post about “how to develop a social media strategy.” None of the answers went to the heart of the problem.  No one asked “Do you have a strategic plan?”  If so, then it is from that document you derive your marketing strategy.

Short cutting the strategic planning process is a proven recipe for failure.

This individual was confusing strategy with tactics as many do.  The strategy comes from a comprehensive strategic plan that looks at both internal and external strengths, limitations, opportunities and threats.  From this data another result is the completion of the ideal customer profile or profiles.

Whatever social media channels are selected (tactic) is based upon where the company can find their ideal customer.  Of course with all the data about the traffic and deliverables about social media, no wonder people can get easily confused.

The best analogy is fishing. Those who successfully fish go to where the fish they want to catch are not vice versa.  One doesn’t go to the ocean expecting to catch a walleye pike or one doesn’t fish a mountain stream looking for red snapper. Also one doesn’t use a fly to catch a sunfish.  The bait is your message.

Fish Where The Fish (Sales Leads) You Want Are

Use the Right Bait (Message)

I understand all the hype about social selling.  I also know a lot of SMBs have spent lots of profit dollars with little results.  Yet they are “sold” this lie that social selling will increase sales.  No good marketing will increase sales provided you have the right message and use the most effective channels.

P.S. There are no quick fixes in sales, leadership or success.

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Sales Numbers Matter, But Never More than People

Today there is incredible emphasis on sales numbers.  CRMs churn millions of bits of data each day for sales managers to pour over with the hope to discover what is missing in their goal to increase sales.

A past article published by Harvard Business Review entitled “Know Your Customers Jobs to be Done,” examined the gap between data gathering and improved business results.  What created this gap was this two-fold simple question:

  • Why did the customer buy from you or your organization?
  • Did the customer gain progress in working toward his or her goal?

People buy from people they know and trust because they are seeking forward progress, seeking to achieve a goal or goals. This seeking is determined by a variety of factors both external (driven by others) and internal (driven by the buying individual).

What is interesting to note in this article is the indirect reference to purpose.  When people put purpose behind data collection and data analysis (number crunching), they lose sight of the “why” people buy. Believe it or not there is a direct correlation between one’s purpose and why people buy from that person or organization.

For example, my purpose is to be a trailblazer.  This purpose attracts forward thinking people who are experiencing repetitive problems as they blaze their own trails.  My ideal customer profile is geared toward these individuals yet many of my clients do not meet this ideal profile.  And that is Okay.

Personally I believe in sales numbers.  If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

However sales numbers should never take a front seat to why you do what you do.  You do what you do because purpose as it relates to people is one of our three primary motivational drivers (Theory of Self Determination)  as noted by Deci and Ryan in their research.

Remember people buy from people they know and trust.  When you remember that sales axiom, you will be ahead of the business and sales flow.

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Great Salespeople Make Selling Look Easy

Ever wonder why so many people are venturing into being solo entrepreneurs or SMB owners?  Beyond the obvious advantage of being your own boss, my sense is these folks have witnessed great salespeople who make selling look easy.

great-salespeopleJust hop over to LinkedIn and scan a few profile summaries.  Immediately you will see a difference between those who understand sales and those who think they understand sales.

Sales is simple.  Someone called a buyer has a want or need and someone else called a seller has a product or service to fit that want or need. Pretty easy, well not so much so.

Social selling has only reinforced this notion that selling is easy.  Sure you can buy Twitter followers or make a zillion posts on Facebook and when you measure the results, what do you discover?

People buy from people they know and trust. To create that knowing and trusting persona takes time, energy, money and emotions. Great salespeople are willing to make those investments.

Just as in leadership, great sales people are made not born. They develop over time.  These forward thinking sales leaders are self directed toward continuous improvement themselves by honing their knowledge, talents and sales skills.

Through the years I have had the opportunity to meet truly great salespeople who understood “sales is the transference of feelings.” (Zig Ziglar). From them I learned what to do and what not to do.

My sense of selling is authentic, laid back and I have crystal clarity as to who my ideal target market is.  Yes some of my clients do not fit my ideal customer profile, however over time more often than not they do grow into that role.

If you want to have sales success, then look to follow, listen and learn from those who have sales success. Be willing to accept their is no quick fix for sales success and you will be nearly half way to your own success.


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Isn’t It Time to Let Go of the Hope Sales Fallacy?

Have you ever heard this hope sales fallacy from a SMB owner or salesperson “I hope to make this sale?” or “I hope sales improves?” Many years ago before the book Hope Is Not a Strategy, my 4’10” Swedish grandmother told me “Hope did get me to America.”  No she planned for it and then worked her plan for 20 years.



For these SMB owners and salespeople hope becomes a sales fallacy to increase sales. They pin their sales forecasts on hope, on maybes, on wishes and not on reality.

Have you ever walked into a business to business networking event with the “hope” to meet one person?  Or do you attend these events with a specific goal or goals?  Then did you reflect upon your success or failure to achieving these goals?

Part of the reason for this ongoing sales fallacy is these same professionals lack a well thought out written strategic plan.  Instead they engage in Captain Wing It Behaviors where they spray their marketing and sales activities all over the wall and then pray something will stick.

Because of all these Captain Wing It behaviors, there is usually no:

  • Ideal customer profile or profiles
  • Marketing plan
  • Sales plan
  • Customer loyalty retention plan
  • Financial plan
  • Innovation plan
  • Leadership (personal development plan)
  • Forecasting based on past numbers beyond P&L statement
  • Weekly or monthly reflection except for sales numbers

Hope is a thought, a desire, a wish. Unless there is a well thought of plan with specific action steps, measurable outcomes and built in accountability, the goal to increase sales will still allude most SMBs. Possibly the first step to change this counterproductive behavior is to learn through these 78-core-talents-self-eval-dl  what you do well so you can stop hoping.

If you are still engaged in hope, click HERE to schedule a quick phone call with Leanne to learn how you can stop hoping and start doing.

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The Sales Prospecting Dilemma of Should I Stay or Should I Go

Sales prospecting presents many dilemmas for salespeople.  Some sales research suggests more salespeople are going rather than staying with prospects.


  • 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up (Source: Scripted)
  • The average salesperson makes only two attempts to reach a sales prospect (Source:Sirius Decision)

Possibly part of the reason for more going than staying with this activity of sales prospecting is because there has been no time invested in strategic planning and identifying the ideal customer.

As one of my colleagues, Bill Napolitano, said “There are a lot of Captain Wing Its out in the SMB marketplace.” I further added this statement “who spray their actions all over the place and then pray something will stick.”

Unless salespeople have sales leads they will remain pocket poor. These leads must be nurtured because not everyone is ready to buy during that first encounter.  Years ago I read that just 2% of all closed deals happen during the first contact.

By short changing the strategic planning process, one of the results is short changing sales prospecting because it leads to spraying and praying instead of targeted prospecting.  Does it not make more sense to prospect strategically with the ideal customer in mind than anyone with a pulse?

If you believe anyone with a pulse is your best sales referral, then read this posting that has gathered over 10,000 views.

Currently there are two great books to help you with sales prospecting:

High Profit Prospecting by Mark Hunter.  Mark provides some very applicable templates to catapult your prospecting efforts.

Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount.  Jeb also shares great tips and actionable prospecting ideas.

To be able to answer this question forthrightly will only happen after you have invested the time to think and plan (note both are verbs) and then determine your ideal customer.

Download this free Ideal-Customer-Profile-Template to support you in your sales prospecting efforts.



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You’re Standing on Whose Sales Ground?

Have you ever thought about this concept of “sales ground?”  I hadn’t either until just recently when someone said “they don’t want to sell on your terms?”



Salespeople have two grounds where they travel in their selling activities.

Territory – The Most Common Ground

Years ago a trusted colleague by the name of Michael Sleppin said for “you must have a Sherwood Forest large enough to hunt in and small enough to defend.” This observation is quite true for many SMB salespeople who for the most part sell locally.  Of course with social media and depending upon your solutions (products or services), that sales territory may be much larger than just local.

Buyer’s Terms – The Less Common Ground

Each buyer has her or his own sales ground or terms.  You as the salesperson must meet them initially on their terms especially if the sales lead is truly qualified and meets your ideal customer profile.

Sales Coaching Tip:  Terms extends beyond payment, delivery to attitudes and beliefs.

Probably some professional salespeople have never considered the sales lead’s terms in this context.  Yet to ignore their terms initially may be a reason why personal and business revenue are not growing.

My father, a professional salesperson, said to me “Always meet your customers or potential customers on their terms first… Your goal is to have a conversation, the opportunity to develop a relationship… Remember not to have tight shorts because the person said something that struck a nerve and you took offense…”

His words helped me as the first inside saleswoman in the Chicagoland area selling pipe, valves and fittings nearly 4 decades ago. Had I been offended when male customers told me “I want to speak to a man” (his terms) I never would have been successful in sales.

If you are having unsuccessful sales efforts, schedule a quick call with Leanne by clicking HERE

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip 1

Who doesn’t want sustainable sales success?  Of course many want it to be easy and that may be an mental obstacle.

sales-successIdeal Customer

Today’s first tip is define your ideal customer.  When we do not know who are best customers are and especially why they bought from us, we as salespeople are at a competitive disadvantage. There is also a very good possibility we are wasting some of our precious resources including time, energy, money and emotions.

Years ago in giving a keynote presentation to a group of professional executive coaches, business advisors, talent management and lean manufacturing consultants, I mentioned the word psychographics respective to my ideal customer profile.  From the puzzled looks in the audience, I realized many had never researched this critical aspect within their marketing efforts.

From my experience, understanding the psychographics is far more essential to sustainable sales success than demographics.  One of my key psychographics is forward thinking. My most successful executive coaching clients and engagements are all  with forward thinkers.  When I connect this psychographic to the demographic of “rapid business growth,” I am much more focused on who I must meet. Additionally I have far less stress working with this clients and much quicker results.

Here is a downloadable Ideal-Customer-Profile-Template sheet for your reference.  Complete it and then review your strategic plan to ensure total alignment.

Enjoy your weekend.


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Why Are You Working Against Your Ideal Customer?

One of my colleagues, Mark Hunter, wrote a great blog about “You Can’t Turn a Wal-Mart Shopper into a Nordstrom Customer.” What Hunter is really talking about is knowing your ideal customer.  Not having that knowledge has salespeople along with SMBs working a whole heck of a lot harder and with far less money in the bank.



The problem for all this wasted sales and marketing activity returns to the lack of planning.  During the last 18 years, I can attest well over 90% of SMBs and sales professionals have not engaged in strategic planning nor have written action plans for marketing and for sales.  The only plan is some dollar figure they want to achieve or a certain level of cash flow.

For some SMBs their ideal customers remain the same while for others they change, they evolve. Right now my ideal customer is an executive, SMB owner or sales professional who is forward thinking and experiencing rapid growth.

This ideal customer profile emerged from my strategic plan where I invested time and continue to invest time.  By investing the time to construct my ideal customer profile I gain greater clarity where to prospect and when to recognize a poor fit.

Download this FREE Ideal-Customer-Profile-Template

The other aspect within Hunter’s blog posting goes to value creation.  Sales people cannot create value if the customer is a Wal-Mart shopper and they are selling upper end products.  The reverse is also true.  Those who buy branded items like a “Polo” shirt probably will not buy a generic shirt.

Value is unique to each buyer. 

I realize this statement could be construed as hearsay and is contrary to many of the sales experts and marketing experts, but then I never considered myself to be an expect.

What I know to be true and what Hunter also knows to be true is salespeople including SMB owners must have clarity as to who are their buyers.  Without this knowledge, there are a lot of Captain Wing Its out there spraying their actions all over the place then praying something will stick as well as far too many sales people using an elephant gun to kill a fly (increase sales).

P.S. Check out Triage Business Action Planning (my answer to strategic planning for SMBs or sales professionals) and receive one hour of executive coaching via the telephone at no charge to you.

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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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Let’s Have a Sales Dialogue instead of a Sales Conversation

Would you want a sales dialogue or a sales conversation?  Do you think both are the same?

sales-conversationsWell, they are not and there is quite a difference between the two.

The word dialogue comes from the Greek and truly is about building a relationship through a very focused exchange of words.  A conversation can lead to a relationship, but its general purpose is not to build a relationship.

The Socratic Dialogue is one great example.  Plato and Aristotle also used this format to share their ideas.

Probably the main difference between a Sales Dialogue and a Sales Conversation is the primary focus.  In a Sales Dialogue the focus is on emotions while a Sales Conversation the focus is on intellect.

For those familiar with the Golden Circle, the innermost circle is the primitive brain, the amygdala and surrounding limbic systems.  Here is the center for emotions.  In sales people buy first on emotions justified by logic.

The outermost circle is the neo-cortex.  This part of the brain developed last.

When we as salespeople recognize that solid relationships begin with emotions, then the words of President Teddy Roosevelt ring true, “no one cares how much you know (neo-cortex) until they know how much you care (amygdala).”

Within the sales process of marketing, selling and keeping, the first phase marketing is all about getting the attention of the sales leads or prospects.  Again, here is where emotions are first and foremost.

As the relationship builds, the salesperson can move toward the selling phase and begin to bring logic into the sales conversation.  However he or she can never forget to the relationship must be maintained.

Those in sales who have higher emotional intelligence almost naturally have more sales dialogues than sales conversations.  They seem to instinctively know what to say and when to say it.  In many instances, they employ silence through active listening instead of words.

What I know to be true, when I have a sales dialogue instead of a sales conversation my ability to earn the sale increases. Of course, I have only pre-qualified the person and he or she meets my ideal customer profile.

What I have also learned to be true, even if the person is not my ideal customer, by having a sales dialogue instead of a sales conversation, the other person remembers me in a more positive light. The end result in many instances has been a referral to an introduction to another center of influence.

After being in sales for more years than I care to admit, sales dialogues have proven to be far more effective than sales conversations.

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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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How Your Marketing Turns on Sales Objections – Part 04

If you have been following the posts for this week, you will notice all cover sales objections that are created by poor marketing.  In some instances, marketing that worked in the past no longer works today because buyers are far more educated before they engage in any sales conversation. This is quite true when it comes to price.


Price – The Fallback Sales Objection

Unfortunately, many small business owners lead with price in their marketing.  This is a big mistake because they have lumped themselves as transactional sellers.

One of my colleagues Rick Gosser used to post his embroidered corporate wear with a price on social media. Now he posts only the finished product and when possible includes his delighted customers.  The result is he sells far more products without a price than with a price.

One of the bad direct mail pieces I received from a local real estate agent here in Northwest Indiana made this statement as a headline:

How About 3%?

This direct mail piece immediately jumped to price.  I did not know this real estate agent, I did not know his company and I did not know his solution for marketing or selling my home.  He presumed the reason I was listing the house as For Sale By Owner was because of price.  Really bad presumption on his part not too mention poor marketing.

Apples Versus Oranges Sales Objections

Price is in many instances is one of apples versus oranges especially within the service industry.  Two solutions may be similar, but not the same and hence may have different prices.  For example within my executive coaching and small business coaching practice, I have three (3) price tiers for the first four months based upon distance from my home.  Once I in depth knowledge about the client I then can provide only one investment level.

When I am asked what do I charge by a sales lead out of the gate, my response is I truly do not know because I do not know what your people and process problems are.  To market any solution with a price may possibly confuse the buyer and truly does not provide you the opportunity for differentiation.  People are not buying your price, they are buying you and what you can do to meet their wants and needs.

Free Sales Objections

Believe it or not, free does create sales objections. The buyer may think if I get this for free, what else can I get for free? The seller has created unbeknownst  to him or her a self-fulfilling prophecy

Within my 18 year old established executive coaching and organizational corporate leadership  development, I only meet with qualified sales leads who meet my ideal customer profile.  We may have one to two and sometimes three or four meetings depending upon the scope of the project.  Free is not part of my vocabulary during these discussions.

Recently I completed a project for a large healthcare client in Texas.  Beyond giving him what was articulated in the signed scope of work, I also gave him a participant workbook when I realized it was needed.  The time involved was 15-30 minutes as it was more a matter of cut and paste.  When I included it in the electronic deliverables, I noted its presence without any reference to free.  The client immediately emailed me back and thanked me for going the extra effort.  The client did not look at the participant workbook as something free, but rather viewed it as something of value.

People who market on price fail to understand that marketing is not selling.  And,

Free has zip, nada, no value. The value is elsewhere.

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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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