Posts Tagged ‘increase sales’

Your Third, But Not Your Final Step to Increase Sales

Sales is a process and one that is dynamic, fluid and yet still constant. To actually increase sales requires you to execute, take action after you have engaged in assessing and clarifying your direction.

What usually happens is many sales managers through their salespeople into execution, taking action while skipping the first two steps. This behavior then resembles as a colleague called it, Captain Wing-It who sprays his or her actions all over the place and then prays something will stick.

Read this posting about failed execution – My Best Referral (Sales Prospect) Is Anyone With a Pulse

Even the best strategy will not be effective if there is poor execution.  Exceptional execution will not happen with poor strategy.  Investing the time to assess where you are, where the market is and then clarifying where you want to go, where your customers are going is essential.

increase-salesTo increase sales requires exceptional execution followed by reflection or reassessing what has happened. Through this reassessing process, then re-clarifying happens along with potentially re-prioritizing goals and even action steps.

Reflection allows you to determine what went well, what didn’t go so well and how can you improve your actions the next time.  This reflective analysis is the fourth step in critical thinking. potentially provides you with a better understanding of your own gaps.

Exceptional execution happens because of your commitment to planning, to thinking before taking action.  President Eisenhower, a military strategist, said “Plans are worthless, planning is everything.”

Even during execution, your “increase sales” brain should be in full awareness mode so that you can make any course corrections in your sales conversation.  Sometimes the sales lead is ready to buy and yet the salesperson ignores all the signs because he or she is still in sales script behavior.

Yes to increase sales is relatively simple though not necessarily easy by these three  repetitive steps:

Assess – Clarify – Executive – Repeat

Consider connecting with me on my calendar if you wish to learn how the A.C.E. can be applied to your sales culture.

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Where to Begin to Increase Sales, Your Next Step

Most sales managers to salespeople want to increase sales.  More sales equals more money and far less stress.

Yet to consistently achieve this ongoing sales goal requires a commitment to a process. After taking that initial first step to assess, then this provides a foundation for the next step – Clarify.

If you missed the first step, read this posting Where to Begin to Increase Sales.

Unfortunately again many in sales jump into the third step of execution.  These folks are observed in almost a Captain Wing It mode, spraying their actions all over the place and then praying something will stick.

Clarify is a verb and from this verb, the end result is clarity.

  • How long is my sales cycle?
  • When can I expect to earn a sales?
  • Who should are my best potential customers (think ideal customers)?
  • What is happening in my marketplace, industry and local to world economies?
  • How can I leverage my talents (from the internal assessment) to increase sales?
  • Why are potential customers interested in even considering my solution (products or services)?
  • Where do I find additional resources such as knowledge, sales training, mentors or even sales coaches?

Each of these questions are a result of the previously taken internal and external assessments. Yes there are many, many more.

When salespeople clarify, they also subsequently begin to prioritize what needs to be done first, second, third and so on.  Setting and working through a proven goal setting process also happens in this second step.

Some people will ask what does clarifying have to do with goal setting?  My response is everything.  Even though most people are hot wired toward goal setting, they fail to emotionally clarify why achieving the goal is so important to them.  This emotionalization process looks to both the positive and negative emotions regarding success or failure to achieve the desired goal.

Tomorrow the third step to increase sales, though not the final step will be discussed – Execution.

 

 

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Where to Begin to Increase Sales

Finding the beginning to increase sales is viewed as easy, but not really.  Many SMB owners, sales managers and even salespeople skip the most essential and critical first step.

Assess

By assessing where the SMB is through a thorough and well researched strategic plan should have already taken place.  Yet from my experience, the vast, super majority of SMBs do not have a strategic plan.  No, many have opted for the quick fix and hired some marketing firm to write their mission statement that is usually beyond poor and does nothing to create an engaged sales culture.  Actually what happens is just the opposite – a disengaged sales culture.

Read this article about Misguided Mission Statements

Think about a recent visit to your physician when you complained about a stomach pain or a headache.  Did your doctor immediately schedule you for surgery without taking any “vitals”?  No, what he or she did was to assess you through a series of diagnostic tests. What would have happened if the doctor scheduled you for immediate surgery?  Would you quickly running for the door seeking a second opinion?

So why in the world would you initiate any plan or action to increase sales without first assessing what is happening not only to your firm as it relates to the:

  • Outside world?
  • Internal world (think sales culture)?
  • Talents of individual salespeople?

Learn more about assessing your sales culture through – D.I.AL.O.G – a PROVEN organizational and cultural assessment.

Assessing is actual the first step to gain clarity as to why your SMB has not been successful in its goal to increase sales.  To embark upon any activity is really all about gaining clarity to ensure each action is both efficient and effective.

How often do people both in the business world and their own personal lives fail to track the right things to produce the right results to avoid misdirected actions and misguided decisions?

Possibly the rush to take action before engaging in any assessment is because people are conditioned to reactive behavior instead of proactive behavior.  They rush around like the White Hare from Alice in Wonderland.  Always late for a very important date.

If you truly want to increase sales, then start with this first step – assess. 

P.S.  Remember forward thinking doctors or leaders usually don’t self-diagnosis. It may make sense to seek an outside pair of eyes.

Reach out and grab a time to speak with me, Leanne Hoagland-Smith, to discuss how to improve your business results including sales.

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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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What’s Your Sales Cadence?

Have you ever given thought as to your own sales cadence?  Probably not, but you more than likely have it.

sales-cadence

Credit www.gratisography.com

Cadence according to dictionary.com is the “flow or rhythm of events especially the pattern in which something is experienced.” The site provides the example of a slight decline or elevation in the pitch of one’s voice at the end of a declarative statement.

When we do not recognize our own cadence, this suggests we do not recognize the cadence of others.  In sales, not recognizing the flow or rhythm of events can lead to a no sale situation.

My sense is there is a strong correlation between sales cadence and emotional intelligence because of this key word – recognize.  When we recognize and then attempt to understand the emotions of others while at the same time recognizing and attempting to understand our own emotions, we then can manage both.  How well we manage both sets of emotions speaks to our level of emotional intelligence.

How often have we heard salespeople rattle off their unique selling proposition statements like a Gatling gun? One could almost hear the rat-a-tat-tat as the barrel spins around and around.

Have you even been in a sales conversation where the sales prospect is very slow and deliberate in his or her responses to your open ended sales questions? Possibly you thought the individual was “not getting what you were saying?” and so you repeat yourself or attempt a different sales question?

Maybe the answer is just as simple as his or her cadence was different than yours?

When to learn to actively listen, we can better understand the cadence of others.  Active listening is essential if your goal is to increase sales.

Possibly these words of Mark Twain may help you discover your sales cadence:

“If the good Lord wanted us to speak more than to listen, he would have given us two mouths instead of two ears.”

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The Spraying and Praying of Social Selling

As part of my overall social selling efforts, I regularly ask those who wish to connect with me on LinkedIn what prompted their LinkedIn invitations.  A more recent response was the following:

social-selling

“I just thought that it would boost my business so that’s why I joined hope you having a great day thank you.”

This struggling entrepreneur (yes I am presuming he or she is struggling) is engaged in the all too common spray and pray marketing behaviors.  In this particular instance, spray my name all over LinkedIn and it will increase sales.

How wrong. how sad and what a waste of resources!

Social selling is misnamed because what it really is, is social marketing.  Marketing is attracting attention and beginning to build relationships. Yet because people continue to call it social selling, some folks like this struggling entrepreneur believe it is selling.

Each day thousands of independent sales professionals believe if they spray their names all over the social media landscape, they hope (pray) to increase sales. They fail to understand the first rule of buying:

People buy from people they know and trust.

How this translates within the social selling world is through engagement. Salespeople must engage with potential sales leads, centers of influence, etc. to demonstrate their knowledge and their trustworthiness.

What would have been a better response by this LinkedIn member is something like:

“I enjoyed your recent posting (update, etc.) and possibly we can schedule a quick chat to better understand our respective businesses.”

“I am looking to expand my LinkedIn presence. Possibly we can schedule a quick chat to better understand our respective businesses.  Does (insert date and time) work for you?  If not, let me know some better times.”

The social media landscape can expand one’s market presence provided that individual understands this basic concept:

Marketing is not selling!

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Fog Lines and Guard Rails on the Sales Leadership Road

Possibly you may be wondering what do fog lines and guard rails have to do with traveling the sales leadership road?  Probably more than you realize.

sales-leadershipFog lines are the outside white lines that let you know you are close to running off the paved road onto the shoulder if there is a shoulder.  These lines were not always part of the American road system, but started appearing in the late 1950s to early 1960s. Recent court decisions affirm that fog lines are part of the roadway.

For those in sales leadership, fog lines are part of your sales’ behaviors specifically your positive core values (business ethics).  When you cross the fog line, you have crossed or compromised your values. This compromise might be something as simple as a little white lie about:

  • The delivery date of your solution
  • How many people actually have downloaded your app
  • Your total number of new customers or total annual sales

Another simple crossing of the fog line could be gossiping about other employees to your competitors.

Now the guard rails keeps the car on the road especially when there is no shoulder and immediate danger lurks on the other side of the guardrail such as a steep mountain cliff.  Guard rails are the positive core values (think business ethics) each professional business person holds true and will not cross.

How many times have you failed to honor your positive core values? Did this failure impact your ability to lead as well as to increase sales?

Personally I believe one’s positive core values have a direct correlation to one’s sales leadership effectiveness. There are some who agree with me including the author of From Values to Action.

Many in sales leadership roles have not invested the time to commit to writing their positive core values. Maybe the organization’s values statement is enough for them. Yet, when we know what our own guard rails are, then we have much greater clarity when we cross that fog line and begin to compromise our sales leadership.

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Your First Rule of Sales Is Probably Not This One

Have you ever read a article about selling that discussed the first rule of sales? I know I have. These articles usually refer to one of the following such as:

first-rule-of-sales

  • People buy from people they know, like or trust
  • Ask open ended questions
  • Research your sales prospect
  • Understand your solution
  • Know your market

Yet even these are great suggestions, I contend the first rule of sales is to know yourself.  Knowing yourself is not as easy as one might think.

Over the last 10 years, I know that 98.2% of salespeople do not know what they do well. So if you don’t know yourself, what you do well, how can you improve?  How can you leverage your talents or strengths to actually increase sales?

Not knowing yourself is nothing new to the human endeavor. Thaleus (620BC) one of the Seven Sages wrote:

“The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.”

Aristotle (384BC) said:

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

Later, even Shakespeare recognized the importance of knowing oneself when he penned these words:

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

When you do not know yourself, you can appear to be false (unauthentic) to others including your sales prospects, your customers as well as to family and friends.

So where does one begin to know the first rule of sales or one’s self?  Reflection is one simple activity.  By writing down what has happened, reflecting on daily events allows you to gain greater clarity as to your own individual behaviors and beliefs. This activity can increase sales.

There are some proven assessments (psychometric assessments) that reveal information regarding how you:

  • Make decisions (Attribute Index based on the works of Dr. Hartman and Axiology)
  • Communicate (DISC Index based on the works of Dr. William Marston)
  • Are motivated (Values Index based on the works of Dr. Spranger and Allport)

Yes there are others, but these three provided a fairly reliable picture of the How, the What and the Why of who you are.

So as you move forward, remember the first rule of sales probably begins with you knowing who you are.

P.S.Why not schedule a short call to learn more about these assessments with me, Leanne Hoagland-Smith? CLICK HERE to find a convenient time or just call 219.508.2859 MST.

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Want to Increase Sales? Just Answer Your Phone!

Local small businesses continue to clamor for more sales.  Continued calls to increase sales resonate from social media to one on one conversations.  Yet, if these sales hungry SMB would just answer their phones, I am sure they would find new sales leads, new customers and continued opportunities.

increase salesYesterday morning I made 12 calls to local small businesses and only two SMBs answered their phone with a real live person..  The other 10 calls went to voice mail.  Even after 18 hours no returned phone calls or even text messages.  Really, how sales hungry are these SMBs?

Several of these SMBs had ads placed in the local newspaper.  One would think if they placed a paid advertisement for sales prospecting, they would answer their phones.  Wrong presumption.

A long time friend and colleague, Rick Gosser of Gosser Corporate Sales, continues to harp about small businesses that don’t answer their phones. He answers his phone, emails, voice mails and texts all the time unless he is already on the phone.  Then he quickly returns the voice mail if one is left. This sales behavior or rather sales attitude continues to increase sales for him.  Rick has shared how often people comment about him actually answering the phone as they expect voice mail.

Technology in this case is a sales prospecting tool and only a tool.  How SMBs use that tool is up to them. The misuse of that tool or tools in this case a phone, voice mail or text appears to be rampant.

Remember, people buy from people they know and trust.  (Sales Buying Rule #1).  By not returning phone calls sows the seeds of distrust. In today’s competitive market, can any SMB afford to create distrust?

Just like I shared last week, one can increase sales by committing to taking these three actions with the first one being a better communicator.  Communication is a two way street.  If you don’t answer your phone, you are communicating the wrong message.

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Another New Sales Tool? Really? Why?

Almost every day I am solicited to try this or that new sales tool.  All promise incredible results.  Really?

sales-toolHow many sales tools does a salesperson really need?

How did top sales performers years ago manage before the creation of all these new technology based sales tools?

Will the adoption of a new sales tool really increase sales?

Do you suddenly become captive to the newest latest technology and lose sight of what you as a sales manager or salesperson are supposed to be doing?

Here are some other questions to ask before adopting any new sales tool:

  • Are you taking this action proactively or reactively?
  • Is the justification to “monitor” or control your salespeople?
  • Will the technology build trust both internally and externally?
  • Will the tool actually improve individual sales performance?
  • Will there be more time spent on entering data instead of making calls or meeting with sales prospects?
  • How much time is involved in the learning curve?
  • What is the actual return on investment including dollars and time?

I remember reading on numerous occasions the greatest complaint about most CRM tools was:

The salespeople don’t use them!

Technology is great when applied correctly and for the right reasons.  As the old saying goes, “one does not need an elephant gun to kill a fly.”  Just make sure you have the right tool for the right purpose.

Remember time is money and adding any new sales tool starts as a negative drain on profits and productivity.

Consider investing a few minutes to speak with Leanne Hoagland-Smith about how to increase sales. CLICK HERE to schedule your free session.

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