Posts Tagged ‘ideal customers’

Don’t Forget Your Business Cards When You Innovate

Business cards are prime marketing space. Yet how often are they forgotten when it comes to time to innovate.   If innovation is all about change, the question is:

“Does your business card reflects your own innovation?”

Has your tagline changed?

Have your sales prospects changed (think ideal customers)?

Is the marketplace the same today as it was when you first started?

Business cards are inexpensive compared to other forms of paid marketing.  They provide an incredible catalyst for engaged sales conversations.

Where there is the opportunity for greatest innovation is on the back of your business card.  Here is prime marketing real estate.

Now some will say leave it blank to write for others to write notes.  My question is:

How do you know they are writing notes about you and not someone else?

Think of the back of your business card as an opportunity:

  • To tell a story, your story
  • What makes you different, the Red Jacket in a Sea of gray suits?

Your story should focus on what is happening in your marketplace and how you can make a difference to your sales prospects.

As I have recently moved, I am changing, innovating, my business cards.  Beyond having an address change, I have redesigned the back of the card. Gone is the QR Code that was popular in the past and now a new graphic is present – one without a title. I intentionally left off the title because I wanted an opportunity to explain the graphic.  The Formula for Sustainable Results is still present as well as a simple call to action.

(b) › [A+S+K} + (m&m)wG = PBC = IP IR

Business cards reflect you, your professionalism and even your attention to detail.  Heavier card stock, glossy paper, clean and easy to read font give others a sense of who you are.

If you are thinking of innovating, consider starting with changing your business cards.  You just may be surprised as to how much you and your business have really changed.

Share on Facebook

The Essence of Executive Coaching Is…

Executive coaching is becoming a recognized sustainable solution to improve the business leadership performance of individuals.  Yet, how often are people asked to explain the essence of this powerful solution?

executive-coachingHere is a statement that I make somewhere during the sales conversation with potential ideal customers or clients:

“Coaching be it executive, business or sales is about clarity through tools and processes beginning with assessments. These provide the information to ask the right or often unasked questions to get clear answers from you, the coachee, as to what is happening around you.”

The essence of coaching is clarity.  This is the same reason people seek out mentors.  It is not just the advice they are seeking, but gaining a very sharp, crystal clear picture of:

  • Where they are
  • Where they want to be
  • How to get to where they want to be
  • What is limiting their ability to get to where they want to be

Of course, sometimes executive coaching clients do not realize they have most of the answers within themselves. All the coach does is to ask the right or often unasked questions to have the “coachee” make that self discovery.

With business coaching and sales coaching clients, clarity is still the essence however the role of the coach may step into the role of consultant by providing answers.  Many new to sales for example do not have the tools or even sales skills necessary for sales success. The coach may provide those tools, additional knowledge and offer further guidance through role playing to reviewing sales scripts to prospecting activities.

Getting to where one wants to be is not easy especially when the path is not clear. Executive coaching helps clear that path.  Theodore Hesburgh is quoted as saying “No one can follow an uncertain trumpet.” That uncertainty is a lack of clarity.

Share on Facebook

Sales Prospecting in the 21st Century – Part 1

Sales prospecting is job one for most sales professionals unless they have sales leads being fed to them. Until salespeople find qualified potential ideal customers to buy their solutions, they will remain pocket poor.

sales-prospectingToday, there are more sales prospecting strategies to reach those essential sales leads.  In the book, High Profit Prospecting, by Mark Hunter, he provides some great insight on how to prospect in the 21st century.

Within the 23 chapters and under 210 pages, Hunter provides an almost chronological order for prospecting. Some of the information is probably already known by salespeople yet there is quite a bit unknown. What I found very helpful was actual samples of telephone scripts, email scripts and even voice mail scripts.

One of the key points in Hunter’s perspective is to keep communication succinct and emotionally compelling. For example in the voice mail scripts, he suggests to use the person’s first name and then share the caller’s name and company. The next sentence is to provide a strong reason for the intended sales lead to return the call. Finally,  the last sentences repeat the sales lead’s name, the caller’s name (twice) and phone number (twice).

If time is finite, then keeping the message short and on point is essential especially if the sales lead is a high D. (DISC Index Profile) Many decision makers especially in the B2B world are high Ds. These individuals want the facts, want them in order and have very little time for small talk. Hunter’s scripts really work well for this type of buying behavior.

In his conclusion, Hunter reaffirms that sales is a calling and not just a profession. He encourages the reader to take one or two concepts and apply them.  Then add a few more if necessary.

Sales prospecting is part of the marketing phase of the sales process. The goal is to make a friend and to be asked back for that coveted one on one meeting. Hunter’s book becomes your marketing guide to increase sales results.

I wholeheartedly recommend High Profit Prospecting to both novice and experienced sales professionals. My favorite chapters are 13, 14 and 15. If you decide to read this book, please let me know your favorite chapters.

Share on Facebook

How Boring Are You to Your Sales Prospects?

Boredom is described as the “state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.” (Merriam Webster Dictionary) Boring is the action that creates that state of boredom.  The last thing you want as a salesperson is to bore your sales prospects, yet many still do just that.

sales-prospectsOf course, these sales prospects may be more polite and not tell you they are bored. However with numerous sales leads not converting, there is some boredom happening within the sales conversations from the first marketing interaction to the actual sales presentation.

Same Boring Rapport Building Questions

Much is written about rapport building in sales.  Personally, I find that word, rapport, to be tiresome.  One can build rapport with a dog. What happens is the emphasis becomes on the behavior and not on the person.  We have all heard these boring rapport building questions and inwardly cringe when we experience them ourselves.

Same Boring Fact Finding Questions

“So what keeps you up at night?”  How many times has that boring fact finding question surfaced? Then there is the all too common “What problems are keeping you from moving forward?”

Same Boring Sales Meetings

Sales research from Forrester suggests 80% of sales meetings are a complete waste of time from the executive buyers’ perspectives.  My sense is much of that is due to boredom.

With human beings now having a shorter attention span than a goldfish (source Microsoft), keeping sales prospects and potential ideal customers engaged is truly not easy.  Yet with some due diligence, some risk taking, forward thinking salespeople can reverse that trend.  The question of the day is:

Are you ready to challenge your own sales behavior and stop boring your sales prospects?


Share on Facebook

The Human Desire to Control the Sales Closing Question

So you reached the end of the sales conversation and now, drum roll, comes the ultimate sales closing question. This one is a sure fire winner. You speak and nothing happens. No reaction, no comment. Now you are scrambling as to what to say.

closing-questionWith today’s buyer’s being far more education,, possibly the tried and true closing question requires a little adjustment?  What worked yesterday may not work today.

For me, I unknowingly applied the Theory of Self Determination within my executive coaching and sales coaching practice. This intrinsic motivational theory developed in the 1970s by Deci and Ryan has three 3 elements. The most important one is autonomy or choice. Mastery and purpose as it relates to other people are the other two.

When we provide our potential ideal customers or qualified sales leads with a choice, there is a greater likelihood for the internal motivational driver to kick in. Of course, this does presume we as salespeople have addressed all  sales objections and uncovered as many stalls as possible.  We have also emotionalized the pain for not taking action.

Now with multiple decision makers within a complex sale this may not be the best sales closing question. However with single decision makers in the SMB marketplace, I have consistently applied this question for over 10 years with a 90% earn or close rate.

What concerns me is the more we attempt to control the end of the sales conversation, the greater the chance of the all knowing ego taking over.  If “sales is the transference of feelings” as noted by Zig Ziglar, then controlling the feelings of others suggests an overly strong ego or even insecurity.

Salespeople who have dotted their “i”s and crossed their “t”s with authenticity should not fear allowing their sales leads to have control.  This attitude works with the “pull sales strategy” where the ideal customer continues to pull you close to them.

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

Share on Facebook

Where’s Your Sales Beef? – Part 1

In 2001, Wendy’s had a series of commercials asking “Where’s the beef?” These commercials highlighted the quality of Wendy’s hamburgers and to differentiate their hamburgers from their competitors.  Today in sales, quality and differentiation are even more important.



Within your solutions (products or services) where is your quality and how does your quality differ from your competitors is essential to know. More importantly when speaking to sales leads or ideal customers, this is one path toward being able to articulate the value of your solutions.

Sales Coaching Tip: According to sales research “Value Articulation” is a consistent barrier to increase sales.

Within this commercial series “Where’s the beef ?” became a simple and effective message of value articulation.

For me, “Where ‘s the beef?” is in every solution I bring forward.  I have developed a process – ACE Model for Forward Thinking Leadership & Sales Culture™ – to ensure consistency of quality and to differentiate myself from my competitors. Value articulation happens within the sales conversation beginning with Assessment.

By engaging in a series of  proven assessments, I have the capacity to identify the real problems facing the individual or organization. Many other firms advance solutions that solve leadership and sales symptoms while failing to address the real problems. This is one reason many individuals and SMB businesses experience repetitive problems.

From these assessments, the client and I engage to Clarify the results of each assessment and to now work together to gain clarity as to what and how to proceed. This requires understanding and consistently employing a proven goal setting process reinforced by The Results Tool™.

Finally, it is time to Execute.  Given execution is where many salespeople, executive leaders and businesses fail, by investing the time to assess and clarify, consistent and results driven execution is much more likely to achieve.

Then when something new happens or something stops working, we return to assessing the situation, clarifying and then executing. This circular improvement process is ongoing.  Due to its simplicity, clients always know:

  • Where they are in their improvement efforts
  • What actions to take next

If you are in sales, then consider answering the question of “Where’s the beef?” Possibly by answering this question you will gain greater clarity around how to communicate value articulation to your sales leads.

Tomorrow’s blog posting will look at “Where’s the sales beef?” from another perspective.

Share on Facebook

Simply Speaking Email Marketing May Turn Off Sales Referrals

Being connected within the sales community, I receive a lot of emails.  This past week I received an email from a colleague who was seeking either my direct business or sales referrals.



The content of his email (see below) took me by surprise because we had actually spoken.

While I don’t know yet if our training methods are right for you and your company, I thought the best place to start would be a short conversation, allowing me to get to know you better.

My initial thoughts upon reading his words were:

  • “Get to know me better”?
  • Did we not talk?
  • Do you not know what I do?
  • Is this how you treat people you know by making irrelevant sales pitches?
  • What would you do if I sent you some sales referrals?

Emails such as this are quite common in the realm of cold calling through email marketing.  Personally, it is not a practice I engage in, but I do know if I believe the sales research this marketing is quite effective.

If the goal is to fill the sales funnel with sales leads, then this suggests to be far more judicious in the actual email content.  Mass emailings have the potential to create more distrust than positive attraction especially when they are worded poorly.

#1 Sales Buying Rule

People buy from people they know and trust.

I so believe in this #1 sales buying rule. Your ideal customers or clients must begin to know you and begin to trust you. This is why content marketing such as this blog, LinkedIn Pulse or other social media sites are so popular.

Sales referrals along with daily prospecting are necessary sales activities.  The goal of both is to work with the #1 sales buying rule not against it. My marketing and selling suggestions today are:

  • Review your email list before sending out a generic prospecting email
  • Tailor your message to your prospective sales leads
  • Get a second opinion on your message to ensure you are not building distrus

Listen to some of my thoughts about SMB sales at Sales Scenario’s podcasts.


Share on Facebook

Value Articulation Maybe Your Only Sales Obstacle

Simplicity for top sales performers is to remove every sales obstacle before it becomes an impediment to a successful sale.  So, I was not surprised of these findings regarding this sales obstacle of value articulation:


  • For the last four years, sales leaders agreed the number one barrier preventing sales quota achievement is the inability for salespeople to articulate value. (Source: SiriusDecision)
  • 66% of executive buyers feel salespeople cannot articulate value. (Source: Gartner)

I am presuming these barriers happen after the sales leads have been qualified or even partially qualified.

There is a lot of emphasis placed on constructing a value proposition statement and infusing part of that statement into the elevator speech.  Yet my sense is if the SMB salesperson does not know how to be agile when it comes to connecting the value embedded within his or her solution, then it is no surprise these sales results happen:

  • 99% of sales leads do not convert (Forrester)
  • 87% of sales leads do not convert (LinkedIn)

This leads to this question:

How do you articulate value when speaking with ideal customers or sales leads?

To be able to answer this questions does require to have:

  • Knowledge
  • Attitude
  • Skills
  • Habits

Year ago my coach David Herdlinger constructed the KASH Box and I updated it to the KASH Box for Sustainable Change.  I have discovered this simple graphic brings me clarity respective to value articulation. During a sales conversation, I keep this mental model in my brain to ensure I am:

  • Sharing the necessary knowledge from the sales lead’s perspective not yours
  • Having the right attitude by being present and leaving your ego at the door
  • Demonstrating the correct people skills and sales skills
  • Keeping my behavior habits consistent with my knowledge, attitude and skills

Yes there is more to value articulation. However with each SMB and the solutions being offered, there is no one size fits all approach or answer.  What is important is knowing the importance of value articulation and working to create a compelling sales conversation so you can clearly communicate that value to your sales leads.

Want to talk about a sales obstacle?
Click HERE to schedule the time that works best for you.

Share on Facebook

The First Rule of Sales, A Truly Philosophical Discussion

In checking my website analytics, I discovered this search term of “first rule of sales” to be the second most frequently term searched for my website.  This gave me pause for concern because how many “first rules” do we find within the plethora of sales books, sales training and sales keynotes?

first-rule-of-salesMy sense from a philosophical viewpoint is if there is any first rule today is “people buy from people.”  Zig Ziglar said “sales is the transference of feelings.”  I believe that to be true. Yet to increase sales especially in today’s B2B, social media and technology driven world requires people interacting and sharing those feelings.

When we fail to realize that people buy from people, we devalue the human connection within the sales process.

Top sales performers truly understand this human connection. This does not mean they fail to recognize they must earn sales. However, they have learned how to balance building the relationship with fact finding, empathy as well as active listening.

If you want to become a top sales performer, to increase sales, to share the value your solutions bring to your ideal customers, then remember to be human.  Leave your ego at the door. Truly care about the person opposite you.  Amazing results will happen.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


Share on Facebook

Reading the Sales Objections Along the Sales Process Path

The sales process is much like a walking path.  There are signs informing you of sales objections just ahead.  How you handle your behaviors before reaching those potential barriers to your sales success is up to you.



If the first phase of the sales process is marketing, then probably your first warning sign is “You.”  Your potential sales lead does not know you enough and therefore does not trust you to warrant even talking to you less along considering your solution.  This is not the time to speed up, but rather slow down.

Your next warning sign is “Your Company.”  Does your company have the credibility to warrant further discussion?

The third sales objections warning sign is “Your Solution.” How does your solution fit the sales lead’s wants and needs? This begins the second phase of the sales process – selling.

Next is sign is “Price.” Now some believe price is the first sign, but they are in error. What has happened is they walked too fast and ignored the first three sales objections signs.  Within price, there also exists this known fact.

People want excellent quality, good price and fast delivery. Usually they can only get two of these three “wants.”  What they are willing to give up is price before quality and delivery.

The fifth and final warning sign is “Delivery.”  Can you deliver your solution within the sales lead’s time frame?

Unfortunately, many sales experts have complicated the simplicity of the sales process.  With multiple decision makers, you must address all five sales objections.

However for over 97% of the U.S. businesses with 20 or fewer employees, selling is fairly simple. These sales are not complex, multi-billion dollar opportunities.  No, they are fairly simple and can generate sales success provided the sales leads are their ideal customers and the salespeople understand these five basic sales objections.

Want more sales CLICK HERE to reserve a time to speak with me.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


Share on Facebook
RSS Subscribe!
Coaching Tip
People come first; sales numbers come second or third
What’s Happening?

Check out this podcast on value creation between David Brock and Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Listen to Leanne Hoagland-Smith at Sales Scenario podcasts

Another list of top sales bloggers

Pre-order this great book How to Get a Meeting with Anyone. You may recognize a familiar name.

Top 100 Most Innovative Sales Bloggers Honored this blog is included in this impressive list.

Best Sales Blogger Award for 2014 Third place awarded to Leanne Hoagland-Smith.

NWI SBDC awarded Small Business Journalist of 2014 to Leanne Hoagland-Smith. Awards.

Expand Your Business Horizons
Sign up to receive monthly newsletter devoted to small businesses and busy sales professionals Beyond the Black
Be the Red Jacket
Seeking an easy and practical book on marketing, selling and sales? Read the reviews at Amazon and then order your hard copy or eBook.
Sustainability Expert
The Institute for Sustainability
Ezine Expert
Blogroll – Leadership, OD
Contact Coach Lee

Leanne Hoagland-Smith
219.759.5601 Main Office CDT
219.508.2859 Mobile CDT

Office located near Chicago, IL Main Website

Sales Corner

Tracking by The Sales Corner
Blog Rankings
Business Blogs - Blog Rankings
Blog Top Sites
RSS Search
Blog Log