Posts Tagged ‘sales coaching’

Improve Your Sales Soft Skills

Soft skills are absolutely necessary and critical to be successful in sales. You can ask all the open ended questions, work through the sales process flawlessly and if you lack the ability to connect with your sales leads, all your efforts will be for naught.

salesMuch of the sales training and sales development including some sales coaching focuses on the technical skills.  However years ago one of my coaches, David Herdlinger, crafted a simple quadrant.

He asked what causes failure?  Is it knowledge (K) and skills (S) or attitudes (A) and habits (H)?

Most agree it is attitudes and habits.  Some call this mindset.

Mindset is supported by soft skills or people skills.

So what skills would you rate and how would you rate them?

During the last 20 years, I have recognized these five skills as critical to sales success. Below is a quick chart for you to assess yourself.  Then determine based upon the results of rating each of these skills, prioritize them to chart your own personal development.

Skill Rate 1 for low; 10 for high Priority
Communication especially active listening
Delegation (follow-up)
Decision Making respective to type of sales leads; sales conversations, etc.
Leadership (including personal accountability, self starting ability, persistence, goal setting/goal achievement)
Time Management

If people buy from people they know and trust, doesn’t it make sense that people skills should be equal in importance to technical sales skills?

For SMB owners and salespeople, marketing is the first step in demonstrating those soft skills.  Peter Drucker believed a business had two basic functions, marketing and innovation. He also contended if marketing is done well, then selling is effortless.

People must buy you first before they can buy your solutions.  My father shared this hierarchy respective to sales obstacles:

  1. You
  2. Your business
  3. Your solution
  4. Your price
  5. Your delivery

If you want less sales objections, make sure your sales leads buy you first. By taking the time to rate your soft skills, might be the next step to moving you closer to sales success.

Consider reaching out to Leanne and schedule a quick phone call by CLICKING HERE.

 

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Are Your Sales Results Suffering Because of this Confusion?

“I have plenty of lists, daily, weekly and monthly” said an acquaintance.  My next question was “How are your sales results?”  The not so surprising response was “they could be better.”

This acquaintance and many of my sales coaching clients share this confusion about list making and goal setting.

List making is very much like a simple mini action plan.  Each item on the list is an action based upon an objective to be achieved.  In some instances, having lists works on the smaller actions and usually fails on the bigger ones.

A goal is a predetermined objective to be undertaken with the desired end to be a positive result.  Sometimes especially if the goal is to increase sales, the goal must be thoroughly “thought out” or what I call “flushed out.”  This thinking or flushing requires some additional time.  Critical thinking skills such as integrative ability must be applied along with:

Lists work with goals, but lists alone will not achieve the desired sales results.

Consistent goal achievers are excellent critical thinkers.  They identify what they want to achieve and then look to the what is limiting them from achieving their goal.  These limitations may be also considered as challenges or obstacles.

The confusion between list making and goal setting may also explain why there are misguided decisions that create misdirection.  If the item on the list is more complex or must work with another action that has not been clearly articulated, then the ability to achieve the goal especially if the goal is to increase sales is severely limited.

Another tell tale sign of this confusion is the answer to this question:

Have you invested the time to create a strategic thinking plan with specific written daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual goals?

Again, the answer over 95% of the time is NO! What this answer tells any sales coach or business coach is there is considerable misalignment happening which helps to explain miss guided decisions creating miss directed actions.

Yes, lists are great, but written goals aligned to an overall strategic thinking plan will consistently increase sales and far better sales results than lists alone.

Schedule some time to talk with Leanne by CLICKING HERE to improve your sales results.  Yes it could be as simple as just embracing a proven goal setting and goal achievement process.

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Leverage Your Mindset to Increase Sales

If you want to increase sales, right now momentarily forget about your sales training, all the books you read on sales, your CRM, your To Do List, your sales funnel, your outstanding proposals, your appointments today, your sales leads, the calls you must make to whatever else is cluttering your brain.  Now think about your mindset, how are you going to approach all those tasks?

Far too often we allow all the clutter to keep us from seeing what is actually keeping us from our desires, our goals.  This clutter is in many instances negative as in “I gotta call so and so.”

Sales Coaching Tip:  I “gotta” is negative.  I “want” to is positive.

The Reality of Mindset

William James who is considered by many to be the father of American psychology said:

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.”

More Than Attitudes to Increase Sales

Our attitudes evolve from our belief system.  Many of our beliefs are subconscious, hidden in the far recesses of our mind. Depending upon the research and if we count our sleeping hours, the total number of daily subconscious thoughts range from 10,000 to 600,000. Here is were our deepest beliefs lie.

Attitudes reflect our beliefs both conscious and subconscious.

Negativity First

We are conditioned as children to negativity.  Parents tell us:

  • “Don’t touch the stove”
  • “Don’t talk to strangers”
  • “Don’t go to where you are not invited”

Sales Coaching Tip:  The last two bullets explain much of the fear of cold calling.

Our parents in their efforts to keep us safe from harm have started our brains on a negative path.  Unfortunately, they failed later to counter balance all that negative conditioning.

Then as we grow, we internalize these don’ts and place negative consequences on them.  Our DO NOTS have now turned into CANNOTS!

A New Mindset

If you wish to increase sales, there is a way to discover where you have gaps (clarity) and how to close those gaps (execution).

Here is the formula for a positive mindset regardless of your role:

(b) • {A+S+K} + mmG = PBC = IP ∴ IR

If you wish to learn this formula, have under 30 minutes and truly want to increase sales or improve your results, schedule a time to talk by CLICKING HERE.

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The “Everyone Wants” Sales Mistake

Have you ever heard or made a similar statement “everyone wants” fill in the blank?  This statement is repeated in many sales presentations or just general sales conversations.  However using this statement may create you a sales mistake.

When blanket statement such as “everyone wants” or “everyone knows” are used, there often is a negative, emotional subconscious if not conscious reaction such as:

  • No, I don’t want
  • No, I am not like everyone else
  • No, I don’t know

With every sales lead or prospect, there is an opportunity in making a sales mistake because each of those new sales leads are unique individuals with unique experiences. In sales, one size does not fit all.

Recently I had a conversation with someone who took offense during a meeting when another person said “everyone wants quality.” This individual emotionally felt insulted because he did not want what the other person stated.

During our brief conversation, I restated what I had heard and asked him “If for the same dollars, your desire for safety excellence could be maintained while improving overall quality would you be agreeable?”  His response was “Yes.”

Read this sales coaching post about the importance of feelings in sales and marketing.

This sales mistake often happens during times of contention.  The person selling an idea, a solution attempts to secure agreement with “everyone wants.”  Unfortunately with people’s emotional receptors already subconsciously turned to the negative dial, this attempt at agreement fails miserably.

Possibly the reason for this sales mistake is much of the sales training truly looks to “asking proven questions” or “demonstrating proven sales techniques.”  Securing agreement is one of those proven sales techniques. In years gone by, this was called “mini-closes.” The caveat to the success of this sales technique resides in how the technique is employed.

Words do matter and many a sale mistake has been the direct result of selecting the wrong words.  This is why speaking less is far better than speaking more.

P.S. If you wish to discuss how sales coaching can increase your sales results in the next 2 months, schedule a FREE strategy coaching session by clicking here.

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In Sales and Marketing Feelings Count More than Logic

Sales and marketing research can be interesting and provide some insight as what not to do. The CMO Council and Dow Jones surveyed over 2,000 consumers from North America and the United Kingdom which revealed the importance of feelings in sales and marketing messages.

Of course, the word feelings does not appear in the research yet when discussing reactions to what bothers consumers most respective to brand advertising feelings are behind all of these responses such as:

  • False, misleading or phony advertising
  • Stupid or irritating TV commercials/videos
  • Store personnel who don’t know the product

If something is false or phony, is our first reaction one of intellectual reasoning or a “gut” feeling?

When something is stupid or irritating, is our first reaction again one of logic or a negative feeling?

If we encounter store personnel who don’t know the product, is our intellect in charge or our feelings?

Words such as irritating, annoying or obnoxious reflect feelings and not to our logic or intellect. People buy first on feelings. Then they justify their buying decision with logic.

For example, I am looking for a small storage cabinet for our dining area.  I want something different that provoked some aesthetic feeling.

My first goal was to find an antique dry sink, but to no avail.  Then I went to my local small business favorite furniture store and saw a doable solution with my budget. The owner of the store showed me a more expensive cabinet that was even more different. My first emoti9onal reaction was it was 20% higher.

I came home and did my Internet research (logic).  The price was fair on either cabinet given both pieces at the furniture store were 100% solid wood while other pieces on the Internet were wood products (glue and wood, particle board). So I will be going back in the next few weeks and buying that very unique and more expensive cabinet.

The challenge in sales and marketing is not to create negative feelings, but rather awareness and then positive ones. This is why most people dislike sales pitches because they only reinforce past negative feelings.

Your Sales Coaching Tip: If you wish to increase sales, consider how to bring more positive feelings into your sales and marketing actions.  Watch for  emotional reactions. Avoid those words or tactics that awaken negative feelings.

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The Magic Well Not So Magic Increase Sales Formula

Just read another eBook about how to increase sales for executive coaches in just three easy steps. Following these three steps, your executive coaching or sales coaching practice will magically transform itself and you will have riches beyond your wildest expectations.  Really?

business-stratgegy-increase-sales-strategic-planningThis author’s three steps are the three basic steps to increase sales for any business:

Result Focused Solution

Your solution should produce results.  People buy results or rather people buy the feelings the results deliver.

Generate Sales Leads

You must have a process that generates sales leads.  Maybe this is why Peter Drucker said a business has essentially two functions – Marketing and Innovation

Convert Sales Leads

The desired result of lead generation is lead conversion which will increase sales if done correctly. Again referring to Drucker who believed when marketing was done well (lead generation) selling (lead conversion) was  effortless.

Real World Versus Ideal World

So now you know the magic formula, you should have no problem in achieving your goal to increase sales. Of course, the author went into a little greater detail about how to generate leads along with a sales pitch at the end of each chapter to attend his most recent FREE webinar.

Even with those who follow this particular expert’s instructions to the letter, they will still potentially fall short because people buy from people they know and trust.  If you have failed to establish trust through your marketing efforts to your actual sales conversations, then this magic formula will fizzle like a dud firecracker.

Many salespeople especially solo entrepreneurs look for the quick fix to increase sales.  They begin their businesses by skipping the first several steps.  Those few steps involve strategic planning.  The failure to undergo strategic planning results in not knowing:

  • Exactly what to do
  • Exactly when to do it
  • The right things to track
  • How the right things produce the right results
  • How to avoid misdirected actions
  • How to avoid misguided decisions

If you truly want magical results to increase sales, find a magician.  Or you can schedule a free consultation to turn tomorrow’s goals into today’s results by CLICKING HERE.

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The Problem with Value Creation in 3 Letters

Every decade or so, another new term floats to the top of the business world.  In sales, value creation has been front and center.  Sales experts to sales training firms now educate salespeople on how they can create value.

The undisclosed problem with value creation resides in this 3 letter word – EGO.

When salespeople believe they create value, they are putting themselves and their egos before the buyer.  All of a sudden they know better than the buyer based upon their own experiences with other buyers.  In some cases this may be true.

Sales Coaching Tip: Even the most uneducated buyer can smell EGO a mile away.

When we look at the true meaning of the word create, it means to bring something into existence that did not exist before.  Value is unique to each buyer. Therefore value already resides within the buyer and cannot be created.

Possibly people confuse value creation with value connection and value rediscovery.

Value Connection

Through active listening, the salesperson learns what the buyer values.  Then the salesperson can craft his or her solution to ensure it connects to those value drivers.

Value Rediscovery

When salespeople rediscover an un-articulated value (this used to be called latent needs in sales), they can bring this to the attention of the buyer.  Possibly in the past other salespeople had failed to discover this value and it resided quietly in the buyer’s subconscious until it was rediscovered.

Ego is a sales killer.  No one likes to be sold as the old expression goes.

When salespeople believe in value creation, their egos prevent them from active listening to asking different questions.  Ego becomes a fallback behavior and potentially turns off more buyers than turns them on.

People buy from people they know and trustEgo prevents that exchange of knowledge and trust from happening.

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Sales Success Goes Beyond Determination

Many sales experts including sales coaches share quotes about sales success or success in general. These words of wisdom sometimes include the word determination.  Yet determination is almost a smoke screen hiding the one of the essential characteristics for sales success.

What Is Hiding?

Years ago I learned this definition of success from Resource Associates Corporation and discovered what was hiding within many definitions of success:

“Success is the continual achievement of your predetermined goals stabilized by balance and purified by belief.”

Your actions must be predetermined.  Determined spraying and praying your actions will not yield the success you want.

Later I amended this great definition of success by adding these two clauses:

“Success is the continual achievement of your predetermined goals stabilized by balance, purified by belief, aligned to your purpose and fueled by your passion.”

I believe misalignment of purpose happens with determined actions.  As a colleague said “People confuse motion with progress and activity with results.” Our passion is what keeps us going after those too frequent not interested to all those voice mails that are never returned.

Sales success begins and ends with predetermined actions. President and General Dwight Eisenhower said “Plans are worthless; planning is everything.” Determined actions are the plans while predetermined actions are the planning.

Predetermination beginning actions include making lists such as what I suggested in yesterday’s blog. Reflection is a companion to predetermination actions because you are thinking about what specifically needs to be done before you take determined action.

Reflection upon what has happened during the day is the end of daily predetermination actions.

  • How did the day go?
  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go as well as planned?
  • Whom did you fail?
  • Who helped you?
  • What actions will you take tomorrow?

Sales Coaching Tip:  This is an exceptional book, From Values to Actions,  about predetermined action and success in sales, in leadership and in life.

As you embrace each day, write down what actions are necessary to move you forward to achieve your desired sales results. Then predetermined actions will become an attitude, a habit of thought, and propel you toward the sale success finish line.

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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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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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Coaching Tip

People buy results or rather people buy the feelings the results deliver.

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