Posts Tagged ‘increase sales’

Time to Move Beyond Increase Sales to a Highly Engaged Sales Culture

So much emphasis is placed on the goal to increase sales.  Then what happens is other aspects of the business are ignored such as excellent customer service to just every day good business ethics (positive core values). What leadership must do is create and sustain a highly engaged sales culture.

Why a Highly Engaged Sales Culture?

A survey from Clutch (a B2B research company) targeted 1,000 US consumers and asked them to respond to one of these three questions regarding United Airlines recent negative PR incident:

  • More likely to purchase a United Airlines ticket
  • Less likely to purchase a United Airlines ticket
  • Unaffected, it doesn’t matter to me either way

The result was 53% of the respondents will not buy from United Airlines. Yes, customers can be dramatically affected by negative PR especially in today’s world of instantaneous video where anyone can record a company’s business practices (think culture) at a drop of a hat.

Where Does a Highly Engaged Sales Culture Start?

As in any forward progress for any organization from the smallest to the largest, it starts with executive leadership. President Harry S. Truman is known for “the buck stops here.” This is where executive leadership must start.

Yes the goal to increase sales is necessary as is profitable business growth. However when the culture of the organization fails to understand everyone is in sales from the CEO to the employee driving the truck to the employee processing invoices, then disasters like the one United Airlines experienced will continue to happen.

Zig Ziglar defined sales as the transference of feelings. Today’s sales culture should be transferring positive feelings to both internal customers (other employees) and external customers (paying customers).

Who Is Responsible for a Highly Engaged Sales Culture?

After executive leadership sets forth the strategic plan and communicates the vision, current mission and positive core values of the organization, then each individual employee is responsible to ensure the culture becomes one of “everyone is in sales.”  Executive leadership must enforce the positive core value.

Yet each employee must consistently act in a manner that reflects those core values. What this means is no gossiping as well as no disrespecting other internal customers or external customers.  The terrible incident at United Airlines reflected a disengaged sales culture as well as a poor executive leadership.

The next question is can your SMB afford 53% of your potential customers not buying from you.

How many lost customers will it take before you begin to embrace an engaged sales culture?

Reach out by clicking here to schedule a time to speak Leanne about your culture and how to develop an engaged sales culture or give her a call at 219.508.2859 MST.

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The Rush to Sell Is a Rush to …

Nowadays, more so than ever before, there appears to be a rush to sell.  We experience this with unsolicited emails to outreaches within social media challenges especially LinkedIn.

This desire to increase sales is natural because for salespeople increase sales means job security.  The ability to increase sales may also increase the salesperson’s personal wealth.

However, this rush to sell is turning more people off than on. And when one is in sales, turning off potential sales leads, ideal customers to even centers of influence is not a doable marketing or selling strategy.

Why the Rush?

The question to be asked is why is everyone rushing to increase sales?  Is it because of:

  • Sales training?
  • Prospecting training?
  • Sales management?
  • Executive leadership?
  • Social media training?
  • Quick fix mentality?
  • Personal agenda?
  • Ego?

In other words, who is pushing this rush to sell?

The act of selling something to someone is an act of transferring feelings because people buy first on emotion, justified by logic.  Sometimes those feelings are one way, usually held by the seller who wants to make a sale.

Elevating the feelings of the buyer usually takes times because the buyer must know and trust you as the seller.  Developing trust is also time dependent.

Possibly this rush to sell can be directly traced back to some of the questionable sales training as well as prospecting training within the B2B and even B2C marketplace. Bombard people with social media postings, build up your LinkedIn connections to blanket all your contacts with emails and you will increase sales. No all you will do is annoy potential sales leads and centers of influence.

My sense this ongoing rush to sell returns to the quick fix mentality as well as the lack of:

  • Personal goal driven sales plan
  • Personal goal driven marketing plan
  • Personal goal driven self-leadership plan

As you start each day, each week, each month and each year, remember your desire to increase sales must work with your sales leads and not push them away or given them any reason to mistrust you because that rush to sell is a rush to no sales and potentially no job.

CLICK HERE to schedule a time to speak with Leanne about how to begin to increase sales.

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I Have 13,000 LinkedIn Connections Now Justifies Bad Marketing

Bad marketing is rampant on LinkedIn. Yesterday after accepting a second degree connection, I received a message to read his article and get on the pre-order list for his book.  My response was:

So you reached out to me to make a sales pitch? Not the best use of LinkedIn. I will be disconnecting from you. Possibly next time attempt to establish a more personal relationship before the sales pitch.

He then said “The article is free.”  I responded “But the pre-order is not.” His comeback response once again reflected he is clueless about marketing:

Correct. I have over 13,000 connections. I have been forced to compress the “establishment of personal relationships” somewhat. No offense was intended.

Hmm, “forced to compress the establishment of personal relationships, somewhat.”  Double speak and makes sense since he teaches at the college level.

Real world translation is:

“I don’t have time for you to get to know and trust me. Just pre-order my book because I have 13,000 contacts.”

Personally I don’t care if this individual or anyone else has over 13,000 or 50,000 LinkedIn connections.  Plain and simple this type of email marketing is bad marketing.

Unfortunately social media has only worsened the problem of bad marketing.  People fail first to have a sales process and second fail to walk through that sales process without skipping steps. They believe they can send a sales pitch without developing any personal relationship.

The first phase of any sales process is marketing.  Here is where you as the salesperson get to know the sales lead and hopefully the sales lead is qualified.

If you are fortunate you are invited for a face to face meeting or even a phone call.  Now you are entering the second phase of the sales process – selling.

By listening and asking the “right questions,” you further learn the sales lead’s situation and may discover not only wants and needs, but more importantly what this potential ideal customer values.  Then you can connect your solution to his value drivers.

If you wish to increase sales, stop with the bad marketing (sales pitches), stop with justifying bad marketing and look to build real, authentic, personal relationships.

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Too Many Impersonal Sales Questions May Limit Your Sales Results

Funny thing about humans beings, we back off from personal questions and yet we want people to know us.  Many sales questions are logical, impersonal and just may unintentionally limit or restrict sales results.

If sales is the transference of feelings (Zig Ziglar) and I believe this is true, then results driven salespeople have the capacity to frame impersonal questions into personal ones without violating the sales prospect’s personal space. Training and then developing this capacity is missing in many sales training programs and even with some sales coaching solutions.

For example, there are still sales training programs asking this couched prospecting sales question:

What keeps you up at night?

The desired end result of this question is to find the “pain” of the sales lead.  Yet, there are a plethora of different sales questions that can deliver far better results and better yet differentiate you from all those other numskulls.

Imagine asking this question:

If you could wave a magic wand, what would the three things you would like to see different in your business (substitute with your people, your process, your sales, your results)?

Asking proactive questions that fringe on being impersonal without being too personal can deliver the facts you are seeking to present your case.

There are other questions, but if I gave them all to you, why would you continue to read this blog or even reach out to speak with me?

Sales is still very simple, though not necessarily easy.  The level of difficulty increases with more complex sales that require more decision makers.  For most SMB owners and sales professionals, they probably do not engage in complex sales with the frequency of much larger firms with 100 or more employees.

People buy from people they know and trust.  Your sales questions must showcase you are knowledgeable and trustworthy.  Sounding like all the other salespeople with their antiquated and too personal questions will not increase sales.

Schedule a time to speak with Leanne Hoagland-Smith by CLICKING HERE.

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Sales Leadership, Bag Phone or Smart Phone?

Funny thing about sales leadership is some past sales leaders sometimes fail to continue to be forward thinking as new ideas or technologies evolve.

sales-leadershipNow younger sales professionals may not remember the first mobile phones that were literally in a bag.  These bag phones started the trend of being connected 24/7.

Over time technology reduced the size of the mobile phone and increased its power.  Today we have all those smart phones and other smart devices that allow those in sales leadership to reach out and touch someone instantaneously.

Many of the early adopters of bag phones saw the value in them.  They found them to be beneficial to achieving the goal to increase sales. Yet some of these same forward thinking leaders decided to hold onto their bag phones because they were familiar with them, they did not have to learn a new device and it worked for them.

They believed in “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Yesterday’s old bag phones is an analogy respective to  those in sales leadership who do not want change.  They want to hold onto their authority, their knowledge and their comfortableness.

Those who adopt new technology, new marketing channels, new ways of thinking are more willing to accept change and challenge the status quo. They accept the possibility their authority may be challenged, their knowledge will change and they will be uncomfortable during this process.

Of course to change for the sake of change is not good.  Yet to hold onto the past without looking to the future is equally not good.

Sales leadership in the 21st century must face its greatest challenge – change.  This is quite difficult given how fast change is happening and why additional resources must be hired or contracted to effectively deal with all of these changes in sales, in business and in people. Now is not the time to hold onto that old bag phone.

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The Cheap and Easy Quick Fix Is Not Cheap, Easy or Quick

How often do sales managers to SMB owners to even sales professionals seek the cheap and easy quick fix to increase sales?  Then how often do companies create viable tools, but those tools are abused and misused because of this ongoing desire for the quick fix?

What usually happens is disappointment sets in and those in charge seek another cheap and easy solution to what ails their businesses and specifically their sales.  Einstein’s definition of insanity is alive and well not only in these SMBs, but all other organizations.

As an elected school board trustee and public educator, I saw this behavior through the application of grants.  Most grants have a three year funding cycle and then the school must fund the solution of their own.  Instead, they seek another grant because this was a viable way to get money and money drove the decision making process, not results. There was a constant turnover of programs that only diminished student engagement and effective instruction.

For profit businesses and other not for profit organizations also seek the easiest solution in the quickest time frame.  Investing in long term solutions is rarely considered.

We know this to be true because of the lack of return on investment for the majority of sales training and development programs. There is and remains a quick fix mentality by executive leadership because they have not engaged in any strategic planning nor understand how people learn and what keeps the application of newly learned sales skills on the back burner.

Today I submitted my 40th article to Worldwide Coaching Magazine.   The subject of this article looked to artificial intelligence (AI) and executive coaching.  Possibly the future will be “Coach Data.”  Unfortunately, even two entrepreneurs who have built AI into at their AI executive coaching program recognize this solution should never replace face to face interactions.

Executive coaching is a skill set that is often confused with consulting or worse yet traditional training and development programs. The first significant difference between executive coaching and traditional training and development quick fix is return on investment.  ROI is a demonstrated and measurable result.

Time is the next significant difference. Changing behaviors does not happen overnight.

Reflection of application of newly learned skills is the third significant difference. Executive coaches continually ask for their clients to share what has happened since the last coaching interaction. They also request application of new behaviors between sessions.

Beliefs probably are the fourth and probably the greatest difference.  Our beliefs, our attitudes drive our behaviors. Traditional sales training and development to leadership development to customer service training looks to the behaviors first instead of looking to the beliefs.

All of these differences demonstrate that executive coaching, sales coaching, leadership coaching or business coaching is not cheap, easy or quick.  If you are seeking the quick fix to your people problems, save your money until you can afford to do it right.

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You Are Not Alone in Sales

How many times do we feel we are alone in sales?  What I mean is we listen to all the sales experts and down deep inside we know that (whatever that is) won’t work for us.  However, we go with the flow because our sales manager told us or someone else said “yes that works.”

sales

Credit www.gratisography.com

When we ignore our “gut” and go with the flow, we isolate ourselves from what we know to be true. This isolation is mostly subconscious. What happens is we go through all those motions we learned from all those sales experts, sales books and sales training.

Yet something isn’t right. We feel it down deep inside. Our heart is not in selling. We are out of step. Our cadence is off.

If we are lucky, we meet someone or talk to someone who is experiencing the similar thoughts about selling.  We think or even may hear these words:

I am not alone.

Suddenly we feel vindicated.  There is someone else like me who believes what I believe.

I am not alone!

With so many experts in selling and marketing, it is easy to become distracted with all their information.  Also with SMB owners and managers wanting more revenue, the push to be like everyone else is always present.

What we fail to realize is we must be true to ourselves.  We must learn to accept what works for us.  Then we can work on how to improve what works for us.

Now we are in control of what we wish to retain for our own professional and personal development. We can hone in on exactly what works for us and then intentionally develop those talents or skills to increase sales.

Sales is pretty simple and it starts with your own ability to lead yourself first before you can lead others to buy your solutions. By being an authentic leader, you can accept the fact that you may be one of the few and will better appreciate hearing these words:

I am not alone.

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So Many Sales Conversations Singing the Same Old Song

Be honest with yourself right now.  Are your sales conversations like all those other salespeople?

Maybe the reason for your inability to increase sales is because your words are dust in the wind.  What you are saying has been said before.

Your words are singing the same old song. 

And you have refused to see how ineffective your words truly are. Then as the lyrics go to Dust in the Wind, “we crumble to the ground.”

People buy from people they know and trust.  Great salespeople understand how to build knowing and trusting relationships through the power of the spoken and written word. This is why content marketing continues to grow as a marketing channel.

Sales prospects have become inoculated to all the typical sales conversations.  They want to hear something different, something that connects to them emotionally first and foremost. This connection goes beyond that dribble of building rapport because you can build rapport with a dog and how does that increase sales?

Your sales leads want a for real, honest to goodness, ever present person first.  They want someone who will listen and provide them with insight they have not heard from others or through of by themselves.  In today’s world, we call this being an authentic thought sales leader.

Ask yourself what makes you buy from others?

  • Is it their great open ended sales questions?
  • Is it their ability to overcome sales objections?
  • Is it their price or their delivery?

No probably what matters first is their ability to relate to you as a person.  More than likely this relating to you is mostly subconscious as 80-90% of all our thoughts are subconscious.

Maybe the person smiled or just quietly listened to you.  Possibly he or she directly answered your questions without any additional hyperbole.

How many sales conversations are not really conversations but more like one way communication with the salesperson continually flapping his or her jaws?

If you truly want to increase sales, then invest some time to listen to your sales conversations so they are not the same old song and do not turn to dust in the wind.

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Are You Missing this “A” in Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing has truly been a blessing for 97.7% of all U.S. businesses with under 20 employees. These SMBs with limited resources (people, time and dollars) can now take advantage of grabbing the attention of their sales leads and beginning to build a relationship.

Content marketing further allows these sales hungry professionals to further educate and differentiate their businesses from their competitors.  Yet, these same forward thinking sales leaders are forgetting this essential “A” in their 21st century social media marketing.

So what is that “A?”

Amplification

The plethora of social media channels allows for one message to be shared (think amplified) and this amplification costs nothing. Unfortunately, the super majority of SMB owners and sales professionals fail to build amplification communities.

Imagine for a moment you have 1,000 twitter followers.  The average number of followers is 707. Then consider the impact of building an amplification community of 10 other liked minded professionals who have at least 1,000 followers. Your message has now been amplified 10 fold.

LinkedIn allows people to follow you and becomes a potentially “de facto” amplification. Here other professionals can share your updates to your LinkedIn articles.  Sometimes you may need to encourage others to share your postings through a direct request on an article or through internal LinkedIn emails.

Facebook and Google Plus also allow for your postings to be shared.  The challenge is how to get others to share your marketing message. The answer is to build your own amplification community.  You may have several different communities depending upon your target audience and your solutions.

There are other tools to help with your amplification such as Hootsuite or Hubspot. These sites provide the opportunity to make multiple postings of the same content marketing message.

Remember, there are thousands of SMBs seeking to grab attention.  By understanding how to amplify your social media marketing messages will increase sales.

 

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Uncovering Buying Criteria Takes Times

Wouldn’t it be great if all your sales leads had the following buying criteria checklist somewhere on their bodies?

  • Decision maker
  • Want or need
  • Allocated budget
  • Urgency
  • Commitment

Boy you could really increase sales by focusing on those sales leads that had all five.  Yet reality is each criterion is probably uncovered as the buyer-seller relationship develops unless of course the sales lead shared all five with you during the first sales conversation.

Since most buying decisions happen between the fourth and 12th contact, then during the first three to four contacts is probably when the first three buying criteria surface.  As the sales conversations continue, you as the salesperson can sense or develop a further sense of urgency to take action.  Possibly you may actually spur the sales lead to become more committed as you continue to develop the case to take action.

When salespeople rush the sales process (marketing, selling and keeping), they also may trip over or ignore these five buying criteria.  Sales leads in many instances will not share information with people they don’t know or trust.  Getting to know you and to trust you as a person takes time.

What is so sad is much of the sales training or sales coaching hype looks to the quick fix and ignores these fundamentals that have been true for decades. 

Download this Free:

Buying-Criteria-Check-List

Sometimes in sales as well as in life, we fail to take the small steps. Remember we learn to walk first before we learn to run. When we invest the time to walk by following the sales process, we can learn to avoid tire kickers and those not in a position to buy.  This doesn’t mean that at sometime in the future they cannot become buyers, but at this moment in time they are not ready to buy.

Want to speak with Leanne?  Click HERE to schedule your 30 minute telephone call.

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