Posts Tagged ‘marketing message’

Sales Prospecting in the 21st century – Part 3

If people buy from people they know and trust, then it seems reasonable all sales prospecting should build upon that fundamental buying rule.  Yet, salespeople in their hurry and up sales pitch behaviors send duplicate messages that fail to acknowledge any previous conversations.

sales-prospectingIn yesterday’s mail I received a direct mail piece from a realtor with whom I had an extended conversation. His latest direct mail marketing message which was a duplication of the first direct mail piece totally ignored that sales conversation. Now I am wondering if somewhere down the road I will receive a triplicate marketing message.

His marketing and selling behaviors are why customer relationship management programs exist.  Had he inputted our conversation into his CRM he would have realized that we had already communicated.

Now my initial somewhat favorable reaction to him has turned south because his sales prospecting behavior shows me he is disorganized and possibly even desperate for sales.  The good news is his mistake became another blog on sales and ultimately leadership.

How can I even consider buying into the solutions he had to offer when his sales behaviors are sloppy? He could have sent me the duplicate and add a handwritten P.S. to show he acknowledged our previous conversation.

Whether it is real estate agents to financial services providers to marketing firms, sales prospecting is a skill set that many in sales or SMBs that requires drastic improvement. For example, how many LinkedIn invitations (electronic direct mail) have been customized instead of the basic template?  I really love it when a marketing person sends me the template invitation.  This behavior does not build within me any knowledge or trust for that individual.

Sales prospecting is comprised of strategies and tactics.  Your behaviors are the tactics or execution of those strategies. When salespeople send duplicate marketing messages and fail to acknowledge past sales conversations with sales leads, this reveals both poor strategies and even worse execution of tactics.

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Do Realtors Really Want to Sell Homes?

Having been in the process of selling our home, I have come to realize the majority of realtors do not want to really sell a home. No they want to list and then promise how their marketing is different.  This fact is supported by current real estate sales research that suggests nearly 90% of all homes are not sold by the current listing real estate agent.

realtorsListing a home is a guaranteed income if the house sells and is for the most part all the same by all the real estate agents.  I listened to numerous “real estate marketing presentations” and they were basically all the same.

From the marketing reports I received from our realtor, the super majority of interest over 75% was from Zillow.  Percentage wise very little came from or the local real estate association or even the broker’s national multi-listing website. National real estate sales research confirmed that at least 90% of all potential home buyers find their homes on the Internet.

This realization was verified after I called five of the realtors from the direct mail marketing I .  Once I told them our decision to walk the path of For Sale By Owner, 100% of these so called “hungry sales people” indicated they wanted to list the house and were not interested in just “selling the house.”  They maintained this position even after I said we were willing to pay a commission if they sold the home.

One realtor did not realize his conversation was insulting because he presumed we were not working with a qualified real estate attorney.  He said “most of our clients will not work with for sale by owner because of the legal ramifications.”  That may be true, but my sense is his focus creates his reality.

Coming from a true sales background, I always thought selling a home was actually finding a buyer to buy the home and thus make a sale.  Yes finding listings (homes for sale) is just one aspect of real estate sales.  However selling a home from the seller’s perspective is actually finding a buyer for the home.

My advice is to realtors is be careful in your marketing message. More and more buyers recognize there is a difference between listing a home and selling a home.

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Maybe It’s Your Sales Conversation Requiring a Change

Many times I hear from SMB owners to sales persons their sales message or marketing message does not seem to be effective.  Possibly the real problem is the sales conversation.  Ineffective marketing or sales messages are in many instances a symptom and not the real problem.

sales-conversationSometimes with all the noise about sales and what it takes to be great at sales, the human element is lost.  People buy from people they know and trust.  The question then to be asked is this one:

How do I communicate knowledge and trust to potential ideal customers or sales leads without making what may appear to be a sales pitch?

This question is from what I call “See Level” or the big picture.  What I have heard is the marketing message gets lost in the weeds and leaves the intended ideal customer confused.

Recently in coaching a client I asked him to consider the following question:

Can you retain your sales message while changing your sales conversation?

His sales or marketing message was results focused.  He demonstrated strong knowledge about his subject. Yet, he still was not securing the desired results.

He shared a recent sales conversation where he made a big communications mistake.  Having been an executive leadership sales coaching client for six months, he had far greater awareness about the nuances in any communication and recognized immediately he had potentially offended the sales lead. He apologized immediately.

We then did some role play to ensure this mistake would not happen again.  The end result is now he has changed his conversation without changing his sales or marketing message.

Communication, effective communication, is not easy.  This behavior requires active listening while demonstrating knowledge and trust.  Today’s sales lesson is think about how your communicate when you are with sales leads or prospects.  Maybe what you perceive as an ineffective marketing or sales message is just a symptom and not the real problem?

CLICK HERE to schedule your time to speak with Leanne

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The Marketing Magic of Pictures

Is your marketing working?  Do you feel you may need the help of a wizard who conjures up some marketing magic? Believe it or not, you are already that wizard.

marketing-magicConsider employing graphics into your social media postings, your electronic newsletters and your direct mail pieces. This is a true fact.

People hear words, but they think in pictures.

Pictures, graphics are the connections to your written or verbal marketing message.

Think about the people or animated characters that have crossed the television screens to the printed publications or even packaging.  What happens when you think or hear about Kentucky Friend Chicken?  Colonel Sanders, the original one may come to mind. Then there is Tony the Tiger with his Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.

Human beings are visual creatures.  When we use pictures to reinforce our message, marketing magic happens.  This is why so much is invested in finding that right logo that brands each businesses or why so many on LinkedIn have their picture on their profiles.

This past January Hubspot posted an article showcasing 17 statistics about visual content marketing. These statistics included:

  • Tweets with images received 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites (likes) and 150% more retweets
  • Adding a photo or URL to your Tweet can boost retweets by 35%
  • Posts with photos on Facebook saw the most engagement

My own research on LinkedIn Pulse revealed those postings with at least 5 images to no more than 8 images received the most reads.  The most important picture was the one behind the headline or what some call the profile picture for the article.

marketing-magicAnd sometimes a cornfield works as well.  This particular article, has given me four clients since its release.

Entrepreneurship and Leadership Growing in an Indiana Cornfield

Pictures or graphics including info-graphics are your marketing magic.  The only caveat is to make sure your picture reinforces your words and if possibly creates an emotional connection.  This is why pictures of people usually rank higher than clip art graphics.

If you want to have more effective results from your messaging efforts, then use consider bringing in great visuals into your marketing. You just may be surprised as to the power of this simple marketing magic.

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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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Writing Is 20% of Content Article Marketing

With so many small businesses with under 20 employees (97.7% of all U.S.businesses), content article marketing through blogs or distribution sites has become the a popular marketing tactic.  For example,write an article on LinkedIn Pulse and you will attract attention and maybe even get a new sales lead.



The problem with content writing is the writing should comprise around 20% of your time.  The other 80% should be promoting that article. That is where the word marketing comes into play.

Did you know over a million articles have been published on LinkedIn Pulse since its inception in early 2014.  Currently this marketing channel is experiencing over 50,000 articles per week.

Standing out in this crowded market place is difficult.  Believing a one time push of your article will attract any attention is foolhardy. Remember, marketing is all about attracting positive attention.

Build a Community

The more people you have sharing your content article marketing the greater likelihood you will attract attention and gain a sales lead.  I belong to several communities that share not only this blog posting, but other content writing such as LinkedIn Pulse as well as other online publications.

As you build your community, make sure others provided quality writing and share the same values. For example, excessive self promotion is not a good value.  Some self promotion is necessary. However post after post about buy this book or attend this conference where I am speaking does not attract positive attention.

Make It Easy to Share

After you establish or join a community, make sure your content writing is easy to share. Create several tweets around 100-120 characters.  Include in those tweets any hashtags that may make finding your tweet easier.

Also do not forget creating quick postings for LinkedIn, Google+ or Facebook.  These can exceed 140 characters. By creating the posts allows you to direct the marketing message and make it far easier for your community to share your content article marketing.

Schedule Different Times

Not everyone has his or her eyeballs on your blog or article when you post it.  Through the use of automation tools such as HootSuite, you can schedule your posting to be viewed at different times. Also you can then repeat the posting a couple of weeks later. Effective content article marketing truly happens over a period of several weeks if not several months.

Marketing Is a Two Way Street

Remember content article marketing is a two-way street. If someone shares your written content, make sure you acknowledge that sharing.  Consider sharing that person’s content if he or she is not a member of your community.

Possibly log into your LinkedIn account several times a day and see who has published what.  If the article sounds interesting to you, read it, like it, comment on it and share it with others through the social media buttons.  Your activity will be noted to your connections and this may encourage others to read a particular posting.

Content article marketing is an investment of time and does require some strategy specific to keywords, your ideal customer profile as well as scheduling.  When you execute these marketing strategies with efficiency and effectiveness, your efforts will eventually give you a return on your investment in a new sales lead or better yet a new client.

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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 CST. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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How Effective is Gimmick Marketing?

One of my colleagues, Greg, shared what he believed to be a gimmick marketing message from a local real estate firm who wanted to meet with him just to ask two questions.  The handwritten note did not say anything about selling him anything and yet the message to me was:


“A real estate group that wants me to sell their stuff.”

Over the years I have witnessed a variety of what is now called “gimmick marketing.”  From poorly worded marketing messages to unusual inclusions, there is a lot of ineffective marketing happening in the workplace.

The inherent problem of gimmick marketing is that it starts the development of distrust.  Why must someone use a gimmick to attract attention?  Would it not be better to have a handwritten note without the gimmick or better yet a personal phone call?

If you thought “He or she will not take my phone call.” then possibly you have not developed the relationship enough for taking your phone call to have value?

For those within professional service industries, gimmicks appear to have less value than those industries that cater to retail or commercial sales. My sense is the gimmick lessens the value of the person providing the marketing message.

The end result of marketing is to make a friend and be asked back for that first essential face to face meeting.  As my colleague Greg noted, this gimmick marketing stunt failed to make a friend.

What I have found to be effective marketing is personal one on one conversations along with content marketing (article writing) through LinkedIn pulse to this blog along with article directories. Gimmicks have never worked for me in developing professional relationships. Sometimes all gimmicks are is a quick fix solution by a desperate salesperson.

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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 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Are Your Sales Conversations Creating Emotional Distrust?

Just by listening to the sales conversations of others and gauging your own emotional reaction, most salespeople can learn a lot.

sales-conversationsWhen engaging in any sales training, one of the words I caution salespeople not to use is “Why.”  The use of why before a solid relationship is established may be viewed as too personal and may create emotional distrust.

As we are in the process of selling our home, I have been actively listening to the sales conversations of the real estate agents as well as reading their marketing materials.  This has been an incredibly enlightening experience.

Now some may think marketing materials are outside of the sales conversation.  This is a false belief because the marketing messages may set the sales lead down the path of emotional distrust before any sales conversation happen.

Marketing is the first phase of the sales process.  Sales leads just don’t jump into the selling phase without having already been attracted to the marketing message. Unfortunately, far to many in sales ignore the importance of their marketing message when it comes to attracting and how trust is woven into that attraction.

Returning to my encounters with real estate agents, I also noticed this other sales conversation commonality of talking about all the money they will be spending in marketing the home.  All mid-size to small businesses market their solutions.

The real estate agents had confusion about marketing and selling. This confusion is quite common. However if they do not understand the sales process, this may potentially build emotional distrust.

Additionally with the sales conversations, salespeople should have their facts straight.  I let all the real estate agents know I was seeking a “salesperson who sold real estate not a real estate agent.”  In listening to their sales presentations and comments as they walked through our home, I started finding big discrepancies within their sharing of “facts.”

For example, one realtor said electronic storage was mandated under federal law after the collapse of the mortgage industry. She and another realtor included a electronic storage fee in their presentations.

I called the title company I knew and discovered this is not mandated at the federal level.  What is mandated by the Indiana Real Estate Commission is storage for 5 years.  How realtors store their documents is up to them. Now I have emotional distrust of these two realtors because they either intentionally lied to me or they did not know something they should have known.

As a small business owner I am mandated to store records (tax records) and I have had clients mandate me to store their records for 5 years as part of the purchase agreement.  I have never passed this cost of doing business to my executive coaching or corporate leadership development clients.

Trust is an essential emotional element between the sale lead (prospect) and the salesperson because people buy:

  • From people they know and trust
  • On emotional first; justified by logic

And let us not forget trust is also a two-way street.  The salesperson could also feel distrust such as being just “shopped for price.”

Trust begins in our sales conversations.  Since everyone is in sales, then we all must be aware of the words we speak and write to ensure we are building emotional trust.

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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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Realtors – Time to Change the Sales Conversation

After having our home listed as For Sale By Owner (FSBO), I realize realtors have not changed their sales conversation for many years. They are quite alone. Now there are some real estate sales training programs that attempt start with changing the internal sales conversations and that is good.  However, what also needs to be changed is the sales conversation realtors  have with their clients.



Focus On the Buyers

In real estate because the paying of commission is still in the dark ages, the focus is on the buyers not the sellers even though the sellers pay the commission on both ends.  Yet, sellers of homes are also buyers.  The sellers of residential real estate must buy you as a competent salesperson who cares about them.

Embrace the 3 Sales Buying Rules

“People buy from people they know and trust” (first sales buying rule).  Much of this knowledge and trust is established within the marketing phase of the sales process.

Bad marketing builds distrust and may display the ignorance of the realtors. For example, a local husband and wife real estate team sent me a direct mail piece in which they stated “we pre-qualify all interested buyers…Call us to hear even more benefits”

This marketing message established distrust because:

  • Realtors do not pre-qualify buyers; lending institutions do that
  • Pre-qualification is not a benefit; it is a qualifying criteria (budget)

“People buy first on emotion; justified by logic” is the second sales buying rule.  What are the emotional triggers within the buyer?  Those emotional triggers in many cases happen within the marketing phase of the sales process. Unfortunately as I have written in great detail, much of the real estate marketing frankly sucks. Glamour shots (self portraits), retreating to price first to not engaging in the necessary sales lead research all reflect very bad marketing.

The third sales buying rule is “People buy on value unique to them.” What attracts one buyer to a particular home may not attract another buyer.  Value is not necessarily money.  Value can extend to other features including low taxes, low crime, good schools, friendly neighbors, less car traffic, accessibility to shopping, low maintenance, etc.

Lately some sales experts content “salespeople create value.”  That is plain hogwash.  What good salespeople do is to connect to the existing value drivers of the buyers.

For me one of my value drivers is dealing with professional salespeople. I have been in sales for over 30 years.

  • So please do not send me copy of a copy marketing flyer that is not personalized
  • Remember to thank me for allowing you as a real estate agent to view my home
  • Demonstrate your sales expertise beyond being a host or a hostess for an open house or scheduling viewings

Be Top Performing Salesperson

“Sales is the transference of feelings.” (Zig Ziglar) Ask yourself are your sales conversations transferring feelings?

To be a top performing salesperson you must demonstrate professional behaviors such as:

  • Professional communications
  • Professional dress
  • Professional follow-up

Finally, the sales conversation requires two people.  If you do not answer your phone, that sales conversation can never happen.

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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 05

If we remember marketing extends beyond paid advertisements and the importance of word of mouth marketing, then our actions or our company’s actions specific to delivery can generate sales objections.  How often do we hear the negative comments about this company or that company not delivering on time?

sales objections


Delivery or the inability to deliver your solutions (products or services) within the ideal customer’s (sales lead) time frame is usually the last sales objection.  How you as a salesperson handle this objection is essential to ensuring your ability to increase sales.

Bad PR Sales Objections

Word of mouth is unpaid PR.  Good comments about your firm are embraced.  Bad comments can be a disastrous. Some firms actually pay people to watch social media for any negative or even misleading comments because social media is a marketing channel.

Documented Historical Behavior Sales Objections

Any ideal customer can conduct his or her own research to learn if your firm delivers on time.  When delivery is not as promised, this might be the time to get ahead of the potential bad PR and issue a statement.

Implication in the Marketing Message Sales Objections

Sometimes we hear the boastful salesperson talk about exceptional delivery and then later learn he or she was not completely accurate.  This inaccuracy harms the credibility of the salesperson and the small business he or she represents.

Delivery of solutions is always dependent upon many factors.  Salespeople need to know these factors such as a strike, plant maintenance or shutdowns.  By having this knowledge and sharing it when conducting business to business networking (marketing), reduces resistance to future sales barriers.

Peter Drucker said (paraphrasing) when marketing is done well, selling is effortless.  In today’s competitive world, the ability to increase sales starts with effective marketing that turns off sales objections instead of turning them on.

If you missed any of these postings on how marketing turns on sales objections, please feel free to review them as follows:

How Your Marketing Turns on Sales Objections – Part 01 – You as the barrier

How Your Marketing Turns on Sales Objections – Part 02 – Your company as the barrier

How Your Marketing Turns on Sales Objections – Part 03 – Your solution as the barrier

How Your Marketing Turns on Sales Objections – Part 04 – Your price as the barrier

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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 03

So you potential ideal customer has bought you and your company.  Now your marketing must not start creating sales objections about your solution.  This is why your marketing message should look at the “what of what you do
and not the “how of what you do.”



The How of What You Do and Sales Objections

When you responded to this infamous question “What do you do?” or any variation thereof, how did you respond?  If you opened your remark with we are  in commercial banking, residential real estate, legal, accounting, marketing, photography, business coaching or consulting, you were revealing the how of what you do instead of the what of what you do.

The response of “how” only reaffirms to your ideal customer you are just the same as all those other bankers, real estate agents, lawyers, accountants, marketers, photographers, business coaches or consultants.  Your response has created a sales objection.

Then worse yet, the memory of the ideal customer kicks in and possibly even more sales objections are raised.

Ignoring Results and Sales Objections

When marketing your solution, the fallback position is to ignore the results while focusing on features and benefits.  Features and benefits are old school because today’s buyers are far more educated and now this may create sales objections.

For example, a local real estate agent here in Northwest IN who sent me his third direct mail piece made a statement about being a top producer with X amount of homes sold at X value.  This truly had no value for me because I know figures do not lie, but liars figure. What would have truly grabbed my attention would be a result statement such as:

“My last five clients sold their homes in less than 30 days and all at listing price.

This statement reflects the results of a quick sale and asking price were received.  Both results are important to those selling residential real estate.

Presumption of Ignorance and Sales Objections

Today’s buyer are far better educated.  Unfortunately, the majority of marketing insults the buyer’s intelligence and creates additional sales objections.

Returning to the aforementioned third direct mail piece, another statement was “online traffic reports emailed to you weekly.” This statement was to justify why I should ;allow this real estate agent sell my home as we are currently For Sale By Owner and listed on Zillow.

Zillow by their process already emails weekly reports to the individual. This real estate agent is presuming I am uneducated and ignorant.

When marketing your solution, it is essential your message is not creating any sales objections.  The reality is one sales objection can quickly be transferred to another category and very quickly all five sales objection buckets can be filled.

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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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