Posts Tagged ‘prospecting’

A Human Malady: The Status Quo of Achievement

Many people continually strive to change the status quo.  Then once they reach whatever they want to achieve, receive their accolades, they stop.  I was reminded of this when listening to Coach Lou Holtz give a commencement speech and he shared his greatest mistake.

Listen to Lou Holtz speech

Status Quo  of Satisfaction

We observe this in sales.  For those who meet sales goals, they suddenly become satisfied and stop prospecting.  Coasting now becomes the observable behavior and translates into complacency.”Why sell more?” becomes the rationale question to justify this coasting behavior. Continued achievement will give them no more in sales compensation.

How about with personal or professional development?  People reach a level of achievement and stop learning.

status-quoWe see this by the number of books people read or don’t read. Are you one of the 42% of U.S. college grads who never read another book after graduation?

The world is changing minute by minute because of technology through connectivity and innovation.  Artificial intelligence (AI) along with robots are here not to mention all the other scientific inroads.

When we find satisfaction with the status quo, we are not growing. We are not moving forward.

My father and his family were immigrants into this country.  All three of his brothers until they died had a tower of books to read.  The older two brothers along with my father died before computers became part of every day life. However the third brother used the Internet on a daily basis to find answers to his questions.

Each year I draft a personal improvement plan that includes 100 hours of off site professional development.  This year I will be learning about real estate as a recent move has made me realize I know very little about land and real estate.

My own personal and professional development includes reading at least 1 hour every day.  This is not difficult to do given how many articles I read along with professional publications, blogs, newspapers, etc.

The status quo of achievement is indeed a human malady and translates into a barrier to continued any success be it sales, leadership or even health. Once we realize we must look to always challenge the status quo, we can indeed understand life is truly about moving forward, seeking that next level of achievement.

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Don’t Tell Me You Are in Sales…

Being in sales for over 40 years, I am continually surprised by the SMB salespeople who tell me they are in sales and want to sell.  Yet upon questioning, I hear all these self-imposed, self justification excuses as to why they are not achieving their sales goals.  These years of sales experience afford me the opportunity to quickly tell if a salesperson really knows:



  • The sales process
  • Relationship selling
  • Social selling
  • Marketing through social media and B2B networking event
  • Prospecting

How can I tell? Because I listen for some of these excuses:

  • I haven’t updated my LinkedIn profile in the last six months
  • I am not on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
  • I am in business development not sales
  • I don’t market myself, that’s for the SMB owner to do
  • I am on LinkedIn, but don’t use it
  • I’m not prospecting for sales leads because I should receive them from the SMB owner, sales manager or website
  • My sales skills are great
  • I am not getting any sales referrals
  • I have under 500 contacts on LinkedIn
  • I don’t know my inventory (real estate, retail associates, etc.)
  • I hadn’t heard that about my industry (current industry trends)
  • I don’t have time to answer the phone
  • I am too busy to respond to emails
  • I’m not seeking low hanging fruit (easier sales)
  • I really want to increase sales, but…

If you are in sales and want to increase sales, then listen to your own excuses.

Schedule a phone call by CLICKING HERE with Leanne Hoagland-Smith to discuss what is currently limiting your sales success and receive a FREE self-assessment.

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Be Selective Before You Send that Prospecting LinkedIn Email

How do you tell a potentially clueless or desperate LinkedIn member?  One potential identifier is a prospecting email sent by a professional colleague from over a 1,000 miles away to attend his workshop for executives just like you.  Gee, you think he would have known better. Of course with the extensive sales research regarding prospecting on LinkedIn, maybe he thought he could take a short-cut?

prospectingEmbracing the send all approach is a sales prospecting loser.  Yes going through your LinkedIn contacts one at a time is more time consuming.

Additionally what your LinkedIn email message says reveals a lot about your overall sales process (marketing, selling and keeping).  For example in a more recent LinkedIn email here is the first line:

“It may have been a while since we have connected but that does not mean I have not been thinking of you in some way!”

Really if this was true, why not pick up the phone and give me a call?  Even if I believed this first statement, the rest of the email shows me this is a 100% sales pitch. The email continues:

I have spent the better part of the last year focused on some of the biggest challenges that middle market businesses face on a regular basis and thought the result of that effort might interest you or I would appreciate your introducing this e-mail to someone that would benefit.

Given I am not this person’s target market, he thought his sales pitch would be of interest or I would willingly share it with my contacts.  I do believe in developing communities to expand one’s marketing efforts.

Using LinkedIn email in this manner is probably not the best tactic.  Additionally, we belong in a LinkedIn group which would have been a much better vehicle to share this event.

LinkedIn is a great marketing tool to prospect. As in the use of any tool, it must be used continually honed and used wisely.

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Prospecting Is a Marketing Activity

Confusion abounds about what is prospecting and what is marketing.  Much of this confusion can be traced back to the Madison Avenue firms where paid advertising became synonymous with marketing. This confusion continues today especially because of these two facts:


  • Internet especially social media
  • 97.7% of all U.S. businesses are under 20 employees

Peter Drucker said the purpose of business is two fold:

  1. Marketing
  2. Innovation

He then went on to say everything else is operations.

Marketing is all about attracting positive attention to you or your SMB business. In other words, prospecting is an operation within marketing. You would not be marketing if you did not need new sales leads or prospects.

The goal of marketing is to attract enough attention that your sales lead will call you or walk through your brick and mortar store. When one of these two actions happen, you have achieved that goal.

People who prospect well are also market well.  They have clearly identified their ideal customer or customers through their strategic planning process. For me, I have 3 ideal customers.

Download this FREE Ideal-Customer-Profile-Template

So what is a prospect?  A prospect is a sales lead who meets the ideal customer profile along with as many of these 5 qualifying buying criteria as possible:

  1. Decision maker
  2. Specific wants or needs
  3. Allocated budget
  4. Urgency
  5. Commitment to take action

Their prospecting (marketing) messages are directed to their sales leads and even centers of influence who may take action by providing sales referrals. Effective prospecting is very targeted because it originates in effective marketing.

For example, if your ideal customer is a CEO within a particular industry, then your prospecting within your marketing action plan must be directed to those events the CEO attends; what organizations the CEO is a member; and to whom knows the CEO.

I learned my ideal customers for the most part do not attend Chambers of Commerce monthly meetings. Many of these individuals are far more involved in civic organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions.

Yes prospecting is marketing. To think otherwise may be limiting your ability to increase sales.

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Misguided Marketing Messages and Actions Continue Part 1

There appears no end of countless examples of misguided marketing messages. All I must do is open my email In Box and “bam, slam, thank you Maam” I am buried in poor to really bad prospecting efforts. And in some instances after I politely send a return email, I am ignored and receive another, usually worse, prospecting message.


So what makes for these misguided marketing messages to be classified under that broad stroke of the keyboard? Here is one example (I have removed the person’s name and company). From time to time I will share other misguided marketing messages as my goal is for you not to make these mistakes.


I didn’t want to call before dropping you a note. I know how busy you are. If one of the challenges you’re facing today is sales tax collections across the multiple states and locations in which you’re selling products or services, you’re not alone. More and more executives tell us that sales tax calculation, remittance and compliance is increasingly difficult, time-consuming and risky. In fact, many tell us they’re just not sure they’re doing it correctly.

The problem is that more than 15,000 taxing jurisdictions across the nation are in a constant state of flux. In one month alone last year, taxing authorities in 26 states made 257 changes to their sales tax rates and rules. All this has grown to make a tough job even harder.

That’s why I hoped we might speak. My company, XXXX, helps companies like yours easily and inexpensively manage these challenges through our cloud-based sales tax automation service. Companies of all sizes in every industry see immediate benefits using our solution, such as:

  • Automation — Our tax decision engine automatically calculates rates based on 100,000+ taxability rules and instantly applies them to your transactions. No more looking up rates or updating tax tables.
  • Maintenance – No tracking rates, rule changes and tax holidays. XXXX manages the updates, hosts them in the cloud and serves them to your solution in real time, wherever and whenever required.
  • Filing – XXXX  electronically completes and files all your state and local returns.
  • Scalability – Our solution scales to whatever your needs with no costly additional infrastructure, hardware or resources on your end.

Leanne, I hope I’ve earned just a brief phone call to show you how XXXX can help you quickly, easily and inexpensively become sales-tax compliant across-the-board — and more importantly, free up your staff and reduce your audit risk. Please just reply to this email with “Yes,” or call us at (phone number) We look forward to speaking with you and showing you how we drive sales success for hundreds of companies just like yours.



This message sent to: (my email address) You are receiving this because you have used, or are using information from (company’s url)  If you do not wish to receive further information please unsubscribe here.

First, I always look at the sender’s name without reading any of the email.  Then I look to see if this is somehow a list as evidenced by the last two sentences. Next I will scan the first paragraph to see if the sender knows anything about my business or is this just a general issue.  These three quick actions usually place the email in the delete folder.

If you wish to listen to more about misguided marketing,  this conversation between Jonathan Farrington and myself, Leanne Hoagland-Smith, may be of interest to you.

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The Wants of Salespeople Versus the Reality of SMB Business

Salespeople have wants just like all professionals who wish for more success.  As I read the most recent data regarding these wants by Richardson Sales Training, I am not sure if business to business sales representatives (B2B) understand the reality of SMB (small to mid size business).


The reality is 98.2% of all firms in the US  (most recent data collected by the US Census Bureau-2008) have 99 employees or less.  And what is even more telling is 95.4% of all US firms have 9 employees or less.  Yet research appears usually to be skewed toward much larger firms with revenues in excess of $500 million and probably more than 99 employees.

Translating the wants of those salespeople to the reality of the small business owners I believe is a significant hurdle.

Even if we accept that B2B salespeople with under $500 million share similar wants, there is still a big disconnect.

Smaller firms, those (95.4%) do not have marketing departments because they cannot afford that expense.  So these SMB business owners expect their sales team to generate their own new sales leads.

Prospecting is a marketing skill not a selling skill.

Marketing must be handled by individual sales personnel.  There may be some marketing in place but from my experience this marketing falls along the lines of Captain Wing It.  The small business sprays its marketing actions all over the place and then pray something will stick. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  An integrated marketing approach that aligns inbound and outbound marketing is the best way to proceed in today’s marketplace.

As far of having the opportunity to secure new selling or sales skills fails into the same “we don’t have the money bucket.”  Any improvement in sales skills is self initiated by each salesperson. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  If you are not investing in your own professional development, why should any firm invest in you or your solutions?

Looking at the impact of mobile technology is another empty bucket.  Many of these same SMB businesses have static websites if they have one at all and are equally clueless about mobile marketing, digital marketing, call it what you will.

With the continued down sizing of larger firms and those sales people now searching for positions within the new reality of SMB business, may given them pause for concern and potentially create new challenges for these sales folks and SMB business owners.

P.S. If you are one of those 95.4% SMB business firms, then you may find this FREE webinar of interest – Your Values Are Your Small Business Differentiators on February 7, 2013 from 12-12:30pm cst.

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