Posts Tagged ‘marketing and sales’

Need, a Word to Be Banished from Your Content Marketing and Sales Conversations

Just this morning in my news feed, I read a content marketing and sales headline “These are the skills you need to have.” The following thoughts quickly surfaced in my mind:

marketing and sales

  • Really, I need to have these skills of (leadership, sales, management, etc.)?
  • What if I don’t have these skills?
  • Will I be less successful without these skills?

The word “need” is filled with judgment and is probably one of the least emotionally intelligent words people in sales and marketing use on a daily basis. One can’t blame salespeople after all they are trained to “uncover wants and needs” in most sales training programs.

Return to a moment n your childhood and think about your parents or an adult telling you any of the following:

  • You need to go to bed
  • You need to make straight As
  • You need to go to college
  • You need to find a good job
  • You need to visit your relatives
  • You need… (the you need list is endless)

Every time I read about “you need” to do this or have this when it comes to SMB, sales, marketing to leadership, I inwardly cringe.  For the last 10 years, I have attempted to remove this word, “need,” from my own executive coaching engagements, content marketing and sales conversations.  I also encourage my clients to replace this highly emotional word with other phrases such as “Have you considered?”

Emotional intelligence is critical to successful marketing and sales.  Jeb Blount founder of Sales Gravy is releasing on March 20, 2017 a book, Sales EQ: How Ultra High Performers Leverage Sales Specific Emotional Intelligence to Close the Complex Deal, dedicated to emotional intelligence specific to sales and one I recommend purchasing.

Of course changing an existing behavior is not easy. And for time strapped marketing and sales people having to speak a few extra words may prove frustrating. My advice is just remember how you emotionally felt years ago when you were told “you need” to do whatever.  That memory should be enough to prompt you to change your behavior.

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The Old Gray Mare, Your Sales Funnel, Ain’t What She Used to Be

The sales funnel has dramatically changed because of the Internet and technology.  New research from McKinsey Decision Surveys revealed consumers are moving outside of the marketing and sales funnel with its traditional touch points. The findings reaffirm the marketing goal to reach sales leads at the moments that most influence their decision to buy. This is true for both B2C and B2b sales leads.

sales-funnelOver ten years ago,  I remember making a statement the marketing funnel is actually more like a web where there are far more touch points. These touch points can be direct through email marketing or paid advertising to more indirect through content marketing to social media sites such as LinkedIn. This report recognized the shift away from one way communication, product or sales based marketing to more two way engagement.

With additional research from the Corporate Executive Board suggesting 57% of the B2B buying decision is made before talking to any salesperson confirms how the sales funnel has evolved. Today’s buyer is more educated and more self directed in his or her solution research.

The challenge for 97.7% of all US business owners who have under 20 employees is how to adapt their sales funnel to the educated buyer who left that old gray mare and is now riding a far faster, more energized and agile marketing vehicle.  This challenge is even greater when the majority of these SMB owners have failed to engage in any strategic planning. They are still unknowingly riding that tired old gray mare.

Yes the sales funnel has changed.  I know this to be true because over 50% of my sales leads come from providing quality content through this blog and my LinkedIn Pulse articles. My sales leads are much more educated than when I first opened my executive coaching and talent development organization nearly 20 years ago.

If you are a SMB owner or a salesperson, this may be the time to rethink your sales funnel and dismount from that old gray mare. Remember as the buggy whip went out when transportation changed, your current sales funnel will evolve as marketing and sales continue to change.

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Is Leadership Misalignment What Ails Your SMB?

For SMBs there is plenty written about marketing and sales alignment as well as to what happens when marketing and sales are misaligned.  However maybe it is time to recognize leadership misalignment is probably what is causing the marketing and sales misalignment problems.

leadership-misalignmentIn the book Fail-Safe Leadership: Straight Talk About Correcting the Leadership Challenges in Your Organization, the authors bring two ideas to the leadership table.  The first idea is a leadership audit that truly looks to identify the symptoms caused by leadership misalignment problems. Here is a brief sample of those issues.

  • Lack of personal accountability
  • Time management problems
  • Unacceptable results
  • Preponderance of consensus-driven decision making (i.e. cover your behind mentality)
  • Communication problems

These are all symptoms of leadership issues. Unfortunately many in executive coaching and consulting roles attempt to solve the symptoms while not recognizing the real problem because solving the real problem requires more expertise.

The second and even more important idea is a results driven leadership development model instead of the traditional competency based leadership model.  By identifying these two different leadership models and their impact on results, leaders can begin to change how they see things.  As it has been said by others, “when we change how we look at things, the things we look at will change.”

Both of these ideas help to better understand the impact of leadership misalignment within any SMB or even much larger organization.  The authors also describe the three types of alignment present in all businesses from the smallest to the largest.

Level One Alignment- Leadership writes strategic vision. Result: Research shows 60-70% of employees don’t know the vision and are clueless as how to align their behaviors to that vision.

Level Two Alignment – Leadership shares strategic vision. Result: Each department goes in separate directions to achieve that vision.

Level Three Alignment – Leadership creates a strategic vision based upon developing leaders in the organization and that development starts first with the executive leadership team. The graphic below reflects what Level Three Alignment looks like. Result: The results are achieved in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

leadership-misalingmentJust as when the wheels in a vehicle or the gears in machinery are misaligned, the performance (think results) suffer.l  If you want to correct the marketing and sales alignment, then make sure your forward thinking leadership team has created a workplace culture of alignment.  Otherwise, you will continue to have all departments rowing in different directions toward different results while thinking they are rowing in the correct direction.

Download this Leadership-Align-Audit-ADVSYS at no charge to you except maybe a sense of being uncomfortable.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Can You Answer the One Question Being Thought By Small Businesses?

Each day small businesses are thinking this question both consciously and more often than not subconsciously:

small businesses

Do I know you?

This question surfaces with every ring of the unfamiliar phone number on the ID screen to each unsolicited email to every piece of snail mail.

Lately for my own small business sales research I have been responding to these unsolicited marketing and sales messages with  this question:

Do I know you?

The answers are unbelievable from the mundane “You signed up for this” to almost righteous indignation for me to even dare to ask this question.

In many instances, this question revealed the following about the small businesses:

  • Cluelessness about me
  • Cluelessness about how the contact information was received
  • Cluelessness about my executive coaching and talent management consulting small business
  • Cluelessness about permission based marketing and double opt in feature for email marketing

The “Do I know you?” question is a great way to place an obstacle in front of the unsuspecting salesperson.

Also this question acts as a filter to discover those unethical companies that will not admit to spamming or buying lists.

If sales is the “transference of feelings” (Zig Siglar), then those who reach out should be looking to establish the most positive feelings from the very first contact. Given the marketing bombardment by small businesses seeking other small businesses to larger businesses in their efforts to increase sales, if the first contact is creating negative feelings including this question of “Do I know you?” then maybe it may make sense to rethink your overall marketing and sales strategies.

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How Many Times Must I Unsubscribe Me?

Maybe it is just me, but I find myself continually unsubscribing from the same people over and over again.

unsubscribe-meAnd what is worse most of these people are engaged in promoting marketing and sales programs.

Give me a “fricking” break!

What happened to having high business ethics?

Today I once again had to unsubscribe me from the following message, two different times even though it was from the same source (an alleged digital marketing expert):

“Don’t’ wait, get This NOW…because it’s GONE at MIDNIGHT!”

I would not buy anything from this turkey even if it was free.

His less than ethical digital marketing has me firmly convinced anything he says is a lie and a scam.

I continue to read about the outrageous cost of handling email and its impact of productivity.

Billions spent on reading email costing billions in lost productivity.

Business ethics is embedded within all business behaviors including marketing and sales.

So please:

  • Stop adding people to your lists without their permission (permission based marketing)
  • Stop buying lists from different companies and believing they want your usually bad marketing message
  • Stop with the unethical marketing and sales practices

And please remember, we live in a very connected society and I have no problem warning others about your lack of business ethics when I must repeatedly “unsubscribe me.”



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3 Tips to Avoid the Collision of Marketing and Sales Expectations

Business when you render it all down is all about  marketing and sales expectations held by the customers.

marketing-and-salesThose in marketing and sales have intentionally or unintentionally established those expectations.

Marketing and salespeople want those funny jingles to having certain graphics and colors remembered as part of that top of mind awareness. Even though they intentionally are seeking to create conditioned responses, they are not always prepared for when those marketing and sales expectations deliver unintended results.

Think about the simple act of home paper delivery?

What happens when the paper is not delivered at the expected normal time as promised by marketing and reaffirmed by sales?

Possibly, the customers allow a few minutes to go by, but inside they are quite upset that their morning coffee routine will be missing the morning newspaper. They remember marketing promised them delivery no later than 6:30am and sales confirmed this promise. As time proceeds without the newspaper, the internal unmet expectations only increase in emotional intensity. So the phones soon are ringing off the wall with angry customers screaming for their newspapers.

Tip #1 is “Proactively Communicate When You Know You Will Not Meet Marketing and Sales Expectations.”

Failure to proactively communicate when you know your solutions will not meet expectations only makes your day more miserable.  If you know, for example, weather conditions may cause a delay in getting those newspapers out, then inform your subscribers through your website or even your prerecorded voice mail message.

There are numerous examples such as Comcast that promises service calls within a certain time frame.  All of these actions are really to avoid the collision of marketing and sales expectations.

Tip #2 is “Provide Something (perceived to have value by the customer) to Lessen those Disappointed Marketing and Sales Expectations.”

Here in Northwest Indiana and the Chicagoland area, we have been experiencing some very wintery conditions from below zero temperatures to whiteout driving conditions. One of the local newspapers provided free of charge an on-line edition for a delivery that was missed.

By embracing this tip, the customers still may be disappointed, but you softened their disappointment with a peace offering so to speak.

Before I share the third tip with you, I want to share two stories to illustrate the importance of this third tip.

Bright and early this morning ( I received an urgent email from a client-CEO) wanting me to issue two  assessments (DISC and Attribute Index) for a new hire.  The client actually apologized for rushing me. I responded within minutes of the email and the first assessment was issued within 60 minutes of my receiving the urgent email from the client.

The HR VP (who was cc’d on the email) responded “thanks, Leanne you are super quick.”

What I have learned is many people do not respond less alone respond quickly. Part of my values (core ethics and beliefs) is to be timely in all interactions.

Another colleague, Rick Gosser of Gosser Corp. Sales, regularly shares stores about how just by answering the phone and quickly responding to emails, he receives new orders. Many of those new clients react to his quickness as well as with genuine surprise that he actually answered the phone. These customers have been conditioned to expect voice mail and emails that go unanswered.

If marketing is about attracting attention and building a relationship and sales is about having your solution embraced (paid for by the customer), then not answering the phone or your emails only widens the disconnect between those marketing and sales expectations.

Tip #3 is Respond Quickly to All Communication Generated by Your Marketing and Sales Activities.

Yes sometimes emails go down or phone calls are routed to voice mail even though the phone never rang. Then you may be in a meeting or working with a client and cannot answer the phone.   When these events happen, refer to Tip #1.

With the majority of businesses (97.7%) here in the US having under 20 employees, there will be more collisions of marketing and sales expectations. For those in small business leadership roles, now is the time to identify those potential collisions and put in place processes to ensure those events when they do happen are quickly rectified.

P.S. If you truly want to sustainable business growth including increase sales, then scheduled a no risk 20 minute Business Growth Accelerator Session with Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.759.5601 CST where you will receive:

#1 – Quick assessment of your current sales process

#2 – One business growth strategy to increase results by 20% in 60 days

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Thank the 1.2% for the Negative Rub Between Marketing and Sales

A recent study by the Corporate Executive Board suggested the words used by marketing and sales to describe each other are negative by a 87% factor. This negative rub, in my humble opinion, is because the minority of businesses 1.2% (those with 100 employees or more) usually have marketing departments compared to the majority of small businesses 98.2% (those with 99 employees or less) who for the most part may not have marketing departments.


With the larger firms having separate marketing and sales departments a tension develops because of misalignment of strategies, structure, processes, rewards and people. (5 Star Model). Also there is probably misalignment between the different stages of business growth respective to both marketing and sales actions.

Returning to this negative rub, what happens when this questions is asked:

“Who is responsible for bringing in the new sales leads?”

The marketing people will raise their hands, but sales may discount those efforts by making statements such as “those new sales leads were not worth anything.” Then marketing will counter back, “that is because you guys in sales couldn’t sell an igloo to an Eskimo.”  You get the picture.

Where does this leave the 98.2% of small businesses? The answer is potentially up the creek without a paddle when it comes to sales management (the small business owner) hiring new salespeople. In many cases these individuals came from the 1.2% and expect marketing to be handled by someone else be it an internal department or an external outsource. All they are supposed to do is to “close the deal.”

Now if we dig even deeper as to the number of employees, 97.7% of the small business here in the US according to the US Census Bureau have 19 employees or less. These are the companies seeking the top sales performers and are the same firms without the resources to pay for separate marketing departments.

When we remember human beings are creatures of conditioning for those in sales management to expect salespeople who come from firms with separate marketing and sales departments to understand they are responsible for both marketing attracting attention (securing new sales leads) and sales (securing revenue) might be somewhat unrealistic.  I wonder how many salespeople are asked these questions when being hired:

  • From your experience, who is responsible for securing new sales leads?
  • What type of marketing have you found to be most successful?
  • How would defined marketing and sales?

In listening to many small business owners with fewer than 20 employees, the biggest challenge when hiring new salespeople is having them find new sales leads or in simpler terms marketing.  Even when I have been approached by other executive coaching and consulting firms who want a strategic partnership, these firms or individuals as many were sole proprietors expected me to bring in the new sales leads and earn the sale. Then they would be more than happy to facilitate the solution.

Possibly the answer to reverse this negative rub between marketing and sales is for sales training firms to start placing more emphasis on marketing especially for the majority of small businesses instead of just on the technical sales skills within the selling phase of the sales process.  Who knows maybe these small businesses may actually receive a positive return on investment from all this sales training?

Speaking of selling, do you believe you can sell value?  If so, this webinar, Only April Fools Sell on Value, may pique your interest.


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