Posts Tagged ‘sales culture’

Time to Leverage the Sales Currency of the Future

Yesterday I heard Nikolaus Kimla, CEO of Pipeliner CRM, make this very insightful statement:

“Recommendations are the sales currency of the future.”

He is so right in that people buy from people they know and trust.  Recommendations or testimonials reaffirm that trust bridge between the buyer and the seller.

Just recently in working with a sales coaching client, one of the salespeople said the reason a new patient came to their office was because of the written along with the video testimonials on their website.

SMB owners, salespeople and those in the C Suite have the opportunity right now to get ahead of the flow and start gathering all those recommendations and testimonials. Yet how many in sales actively leverage this sales currency by just asking for recommendations?

Sales Coaching Tip:  The third phase and final phase of the 7-step-sales-process-advsys is “Keeping” where people ask for recommendations as well as sales referrals.

The value of recommendations go beyond some positive words.  In many instances recommendations generate sales referrals.  This is what some in the past would call the “mother lode.”

Right now jump over to LinkedIn and look at your recommendations received and more importantly given.  Do you make it a priority to give authentic recommendations?

If you think recommendations lack sales currency, how many times do  you read the online product or business reviews?  Those are rated recommendations. Have you ever bought or not bought because of these reviews?

To increase sales requires being ahead of the flow as well as of knowing where the flow is going.  Leveraging recommendations can propel your business ahead of the flow while increasing your sales currency.

Doesn’t it make good business sense to undertake those actions now in the present?

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Clarity Strategist for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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Buying Mistrust Is the Intersection of Expectations and Inconsistencies

Yesterday, I personally experienced how just one word creates buying distrust.  I also experienced how a seller recognized and overcame that buying distrust. Let me quickly explain.

buying distrust


Buying Mistrust a Short Story

Two weeks ago I made an appointment at my health care clinic. The intake person said I would be seeing Mindy. I asked who was Mindy and the person responded “She’s the doctor.” My doctor had relocated out of state and was no longer at this clinic.

Yesterday was the appointment. In completing the paperwork, a question was raised about my preferred pharmacy. I told the intake person that I preferred a written prescription so that I can check prices online. She said “you can talk to the doctor about that.”

When Mindy came into the room, she introduced herself as a nurse practitioner.  This caused immediate distrust because my expectation was to see a doctor. I had been told twice I would be seen by a doctor.

I voiced this concern. Mindy recognized I experiencing distrust and gave me the choice to see a
medical doctor or to just continue.  She demonstrated excellent emotional intelligence and I decided to continue with her.

Even after 40 plus years of dealing with customers and being in sales, I once again realized how quickly buying trust can be placed by buying distrust even with loyal customers.  Trust be it in business or one’s personal life can never be taken for granted.

In working with clients, I continually stress the importance of consistency in all aspects especially in behaviors.  Here just one word, doctor, spoken twice to a loyal customer planted the seeds of distrust.

As a side note,  my husband had visited the same clinic. On his visits he has been told he would be seen by the nurse practitioner.  My experience confirmed this organization has an inconsistency in communication behaviors.

Just imagine each day how many customers or patients experience this collision of expectations and inconsistencies?  Who would really appreciate how this collision has the potential to be caused by just one word?

Trust even with loyal customers can never be taken for granted.  Every interaction must continue to build trust.  To fail to ingrain this principle into the organization’s culture or what I believe is truly the sales culture can be the organization’s Achilles’ heel.


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Sales Process in a New Sales Leadership Model

Given over 97% of all businesses within the US are under 20 employees, many lack a simple sales process. By not having a process impacts the ability to determine where there are gaps limiting increase sales and ultimately the overall sales culture.

SMB owners today cannot afford to have separate marketing and sales departments. In many instances, the SMB owner is the primary role of sales leadership manager. He or she must find salespeople who understand marketing in  today’s marketplace and can utilize the variety of social media and technology platforms to prospect. Finding new sales leads becomes the responsibility of the salesperson.

Then after the marketing phase of the sales process has been successfully completed, the selling phase begins. Here is where the salesperson attempts to convert the sales lead into a loyal customer.

sales-processAfter the salesperson earns the sale, then the third and final phase of keeping the new customer kicks in.  This is probably where many salespeople even in the larger firms miss new sales opportunities because they have failed to ask for at least one if not more than one sales referral or stay in contact with the now loyal customer.

Alignment between the sales process and the other four points of the 5 Point Star Sales Leadership Model is essential if the desired results are to be achieved. For example if the salesperson cannot successfully plan, set and achieve his or her WAY SMART goals, the results are diminished.

Download this simple 3 Phase 7-step-sales-process-advsys

There is plenty of SMB research that shows the loss dollars when prospecting fails, when sales conversions fail and when loyal customers go elsewhere. By employing a simple sales process closes the gaps and stops the draining of those valuable profit dollars.

P.S. To not include marketing within your sales process in today’s marketplace may severely limit your ability to not only increase sales, but have a sales culture of high performance. Marketing goes beyond paid advertising and is 100% about salespeople building relationships built on trust and their ability to convey exceptional knowledge in an emotionally engaging approach.

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Maybe Sales Quotas Are Only Part of the 2017 Business Growth Equation?

For the last several weeks to maybe months, sales managers and salespeople are looking to 2017 business growth. Within this annual or quarterly activity is the setting of sales quotas or goals.  However if we believe sales research that  44% of salespeople have an 80% probability they won’t close the sale (Hubspot), then maybe there is something else missing?



With so much dependent upon successfully achieving 2017 business growth (fill in the year or quarter), then doesn’t it make sense to deep dive as to what limited 2016 sales quotas?

Strategic Plan?

Without a well researched and yes time consuming strategic plan, SMB owners, sales managers and salespeople are engaged in the role of Captain Wing It.  You heard about Captain Wing It haven’t you.  He or she goes around spraying all his or her actions all over the place and then prays something will stick.

Goal Setting Process?

Given how many people fail to achieve their own personal resolutions or goals, this suggests there is not formal goal setting process in place.  Think about all those courses you took on Goal Setting 101,

Recruiting, Hiring and Retaining Processes?

Larger firms have improved their recruiting, hiring and retaining processes. In a recent LinkedIn Pulse article, David Brock looks at the dramatic loss of dollars because of these poor retaining processes.

Talent Development?

Much has been written about talent development from the employment of psychometric assessments to executive coaching, leadership coaching or sales coaching.  And yes, return on investment can be measured when specific goals are set provided there is sales culture where organizational alignment exists.

Learn more about the impact of organizational alignment in this book, Fail-Sale Leadership.

Far too often individuals regardless of their roles confuse symptoms with problems.  They also look to obstacles or barriers instead of seeking what is limiting forward progress as in this instance business growth.  Note: A limitation may not be as obvious as an obstacle or barrier.

Reach out to Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time or schedule a time on her calendar (CLICK HERE) to have a quick conversation to further explore what is limiting your business growth.


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Why Can’t You Increase Sales?

Are you frustrated, really frustrated by the inability to consistently increase sales?  Have you tried a lot of different inexpensive to expensive solutions, but still have unacceptable results.  If you could quickly achieve more sales, what would that do for your business?

increase-salesThe lack of consistent sales is one of the top complaints that I hear from SMB owners.  Generating that constant flow of marketing traffic to telephone calls is an ongoing challenge.

To increase sales require that you may have to change your existing paradigms about selling and sales culture.  Within our decision making and problem solving skills, we have certain paradigms or models that we use each and every day.  For example, what is the logical sequence of these numbers:

8, 5, 4, 9, 7, 6, 3, 2, 0?

See hint below.

One paradigm that needs to be changed is sales training.  Many SMBs send their people to a one or two day seminars for $59 to $199 on sales to leadership to even time management.  Their belief is in the quick fix. Their people will learn incredible sales skills and begin to make the cash box explode! The quick fix paradigm is another one that should be deep sixed!

Unfortunately, the exact opposite happens.  The cash box is drained because a one time exposure to a learning event after 16 days results in 2% cognitive or memory retention. So save your profits and not send them to those sales training seminars unless there is a strategy to apply what was learned and to reward your salespeople.

Another paradigm to be changed revolves around leadership and management.  Some managers believe that to get more productivity from their sales staff requires daily to weekly meetings.  Unless these meetings are scheduled around the old KISS principle, keep it simple and short, the result is wasted time especially if your sales people are on commission.

The lack of sales is far more about the productivity of your sales team.  It is really about the sales culture you have created under your SMB leadership.

HINT:  The solution is not about math for that is the paradigm you are using. Remember, if you change how you look at things, the things you look at will change.

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Are You Suffering from the Sales Entitlement Virus?

Have you heard about the sales entitlement virus?  Probably not even though this sales virus has always been present.

sales-entitlementWhere this virus started is within customer loyalty.  From the executive leadership team to the sales team, loyal customers were expected to continue to buy from the organization.  I saw this over 30 years ago when I worked in the corporate sales world.

Here are the two basic rationalizations for the existence of the sales entitlement virus.

Rationalization #1 – The Business Is Ours

Why maintain relationships with lunches, dinners or supporting golf outings?   We do not need to continually drain our cash flow paying for these non essential expenses.

Rationalization #2 – The Business Is Owed to Us

Our solutions (products or services) are great otherwise these loyal customer would not buy from us.

Symptoms of this virus can be viewed when executive leadership and the sales team enter new sales meetings with a sales pitch.  These individuals probably have failed to connect with everyone at the table.  Their sales behaviors are viewed as one of ego and not one of support.

This arrogance of “the business is ours” or “the business is owed us” then can further harm the customer loyalty in personal interactions.  No longer is there an active marketing or sales strategy to build relationships. Salespeople become complacent.

There is no vaccination for this sales entitlement virus. Instead executive leadership and the sales team must continually work to build relationships not only with key decision makers, but with others within their customers’ organizations.

However there is a way to ascertain if the virus is active within your organization. By investing in an organizational and therefore a sales culture assessment that is aligned to a proven business criteria such as Baldrige can help to identify the presence of this sales virus.

Maintaining customer loyalty is essential to keeping any SMB profitable. By recognizing the presence of this sales virus and then actively working to reduce its impact through relationship building will ensure sustainable business growth for your SMB.

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Deliver Empathetic Energy Not a Passionate Sales Pitch

Sometimes in sales, people confuse energy with passion.  What ends up happening is the passion sounds like a sales pitch.

sales-pitchWhen salespeople infuse emotional intelligence into their sales conversation, they now are delivering empathetic energy.  Empathy is a measurable talent and can be further developed through emotional intelligence as well as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Low energy does not sell.  Misplaced high energy also does not sell.

What does sell is energy that focuses on the sales lead (prospect) with a underlying caring desire.  President Teddy Roosevelt said it best:

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

This does not mean the salesperson must be “touchy feely.” What it does mean is to recognize that people buy from people they know and trust.  By demonstrating your knowledge and you are trustworthy, reinforces this first sales buying rule.

Of course you must believe in your solution.  However your belief, your passion must not overwhelm your ideal customer.  This is when your energy is still very visible, but is not viewed as the all too common sales pitch.

Empathetic energy can be quiet and still high.  A smile, a nod, a well placed remark all contribute to this type of sales behavior.  The goal is always to build the relationship while also demonstrating your understanding of the current situation.

Being prepared is another aspect of empathetic energy.  Anticipating what the sales lead may ask and having that document or documents ready again reflects your knowledge and credibility.

Choosing words that reinforce empathy and are not judgmental also reflects this type of energy.  Words such as think, should and especially need all contain a perception of judgment.  The last sales behavior any salesperson should strive for is verbally judging the sales lead.

In your next sales communication experience, listen to yourself.  Possibly to increase sales, you may wish to decrease the sales pitch passion and increase your empathetic energy?

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps of people and process that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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Freedom Is Intrinsic to Our Motivation

Have you ever considered freedom to be intrinsic to motivation? Many times we think of freedom in different terms such as the freedom to walk the streets, the freedom of free speech, etc.

motivationYet if one understands the Theory of Self-Determination, freedom is the authenticity to be one’s self while being responsible to ourselves and others within our community. Choice is infused within freedom.

We chose our behaviors. When we ignore others in the quest to assert our own freedom, we are no longer making responsible choices. We truly are not free.

Autonomy is the ability to make choices.  This intrinsic motivational driver is usually the most difficult one to engage because others make choices for us.  In some instances, this is necessary as with a young child.

When we understand how choices are essential to motivation, parents, managers and even individuals can further expand human potential and consequently performance.

If  you want to learn more about The Theory of Self Determination, this book, Why We Do What We Do, by Edward L. Deci, s a great read and a must read for those in any position of authority including:

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Team Leaders
  • Supervisors
  • Managers
  • Executives
  • Vice Presidents
  • Presidents
  • SMB Owners
  • Sales Professionals
  • Board Members

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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Time to Connect Employee Engagement to Your Sales Culture

Employee engagement continues to trend upward as a search term and a demonstrated need by SMB owners and executives. What would happen in these professionals would connect the productivity (engagement) of their employees to sales culture instead of just a workplace culture?

employee-engagementA sales culture is where every employee from the bottom up understands the goal is to keep loyal customers and find new ones. Also this change of mindset would mean that customers are both external (paying for the solutions offered by the SMB) and internal (other employees).

Today, SMBs cannot afford the costs of employee turnover.  Good people are hard to find. Shortages of highly productive employees within various roles continue to increase.

With 97,.7% of all U.S. businesses under 20 employees, employees must be highly engaged with each other.  Having an attitude of “what can I do to help you” is essential with more work being distributed among fewer people.

Sales as I have written before is the transference of feelings. (Zig Ziglar). All employees are selling something such as ” I need for you to buy why I need this from you so I can get my job done.”

Suddenly employee engagement looks like “yes we can” from the frontline worker, the truck driver, the billing clerk to the CEO.  Everyone is 100% committed to increasing sales because they recognize their own actions impact business growth somewhere along the “supply chain.”

Additionally the cost of external customer turnover is equally prohibitive. From the research of Bain and Co., a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.  Replacing a loyal customer can cost a company 5 times more than keeping the lost one.

A highly engaged sales culture is truly one where employee engagement is unsurpassed. If you want to increase sales and profits, then maybe now is the time to shift your thinking regarding workplace culture.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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If Sales Were Perfect, It Wouldn’t Be

Yogi Berra said “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.” For some this may be confusing, but for those in sales his observation may make perfect sense.

salesHow many times do we as salespeople think have the perfect sales script?

How many times do we as salespeople think we have the prefect fact finding or discovery question?

How many times do we as salespeople think we have perfected our sales process?

Then something happens that shatters our perfection.

Perfection is not possible because our professional and personal worlds are made of human beings who by their very nature are not perfect. They are unique individuals with their own unique wants and needs.

Humans continually strive for perfection and maybe that is part of the problem.

Sales by its very nature is imperfect.  It is like an untethered buoy in the ocean subject to this current or that gust of wind.

When we as salespeople believe we have perfected anything, suddenly our ego goes from good to exceptionally strong.  Even though we think we may have quieted our strong ego, we are still projecting that ego state unconsciously.

Perfection also suggests no additional improvements are necessary.  For me that is unacceptable because the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know.  This is why I believe top sales performers are always learning, always experimenting with new ideas, new tools and always looking for a better way to market their solutions.

Recently I have changed my signature line to “trusted authority for forward thinking sales culture and results.”  This change reinforces within me the need to continue to learn, to share and to seek forward thinking ideal clients who want a united and integrated high performance sales culture along with sustainable results.

Yes if sales were perfect, it wouldn’t be makes sense to me, does it to you?

If you are seeking to increase sales, let’s talk, Call me at 219.508.2859 Chicago time.

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