Posts Tagged ‘sales culture’

Going Beyond Sales Obstacles to Increase Sales

Most of us who have attended any sales training or read any sales book have experienced this term: Sales Obstacles.  However I believe now is the time to rethink this term and replace it with this one: Sales Limitations.

The reason for this possibly heretical change is one of truth.  Limitations are far more restrictive than obstacles if the goal is to increase sales.  Obstacles are viewed in many instances as something far more tangible than a limitation. They are top of mind.

Limitations are often ignored, shrugged off or put to the side as minor inconveniences. The SMB owner, sales manager or salesperson look to those big sales obstacles, those roadblocks that are keeping them from sustainable business growth.

Marcel Proust wrote “The true voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.” Maybe it is time to see the sales training and development landscape with new eyes?

Success in sales is far more about subtly than an all out attack.  Through active listening, the salesperson can hear what other salespeople have missed.  What was missed from my experience were the limitations not the obstacles.

Sales limitations in many instances are the small things, the inconsequential things.  However when all those limitations are uncovered, they probably are much larger than the known sales obstacles.

Additionally, sales limitations reflect the overall sales culture.  For example when someone in accounting fails to send the correct invoice, this is not viewed as a sales obstacle.  However it is a sales limitation when the salesperson seeks a second or third sales from the same customer.

Others have made this statement which is really an update of Proust’s words: “When you change how you look at things, the things you look at will change.” I truly believe now is the time to change how we look at sales obstacles.

P.S. Sales prospects have been conditioned to the word “obstacle” or even “what is keeping you from…?”  You then sound like all those other salespeople. However by using the word limiting or limitations you are prodding your sales prospects to think differently and better yet to think differently about you.

Reach out to schedule a short conversation with me if you want to change your sales results.

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Your Third, But Not Your Final Step to Increase Sales

Sales is a process and one that is dynamic, fluid and yet still constant. To actually increase sales requires you to execute, take action after you have engaged in assessing and clarifying your direction.

What usually happens is many sales managers through their salespeople into execution, taking action while skipping the first two steps. This behavior then resembles as a colleague called it, Captain Wing-It who sprays his or her actions all over the place and then prays something will stick.

Read this posting about failed execution – My Best Referral (Sales Prospect) Is Anyone With a Pulse

Even the best strategy will not be effective if there is poor execution.  Exceptional execution will not happen with poor strategy.  Investing the time to assess where you are, where the market is and then clarifying where you want to go, where your customers are going is essential.

increase-salesTo increase sales requires exceptional execution followed by reflection or reassessing what has happened. Through this reassessing process, then re-clarifying happens along with potentially re-prioritizing goals and even action steps.

Reflection allows you to determine what went well, what didn’t go so well and how can you improve your actions the next time.  This reflective analysis is the fourth step in critical thinking. potentially provides you with a better understanding of your own gaps.

Exceptional execution happens because of your commitment to planning, to thinking before taking action.  President Eisenhower, a military strategist, said “Plans are worthless, planning is everything.”

Even during execution, your “increase sales” brain should be in full awareness mode so that you can make any course corrections in your sales conversation.  Sometimes the sales lead is ready to buy and yet the salesperson ignores all the signs because he or she is still in sales script behavior.

Yes to increase sales is relatively simple though not necessarily easy by these three  repetitive steps:

Assess – Clarify – Executive – Repeat

Consider connecting with me on my calendar if you wish to learn how the A.C.E. can be applied to your sales culture.

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Where to Begin to Increase Sales

Finding the beginning to increase sales is viewed as easy, but not really.  Many SMB owners, sales managers and even salespeople skip the most essential and critical first step.

Assess

By assessing where the SMB is through a thorough and well researched strategic plan should have already taken place.  Yet from my experience, the vast, super majority of SMBs do not have a strategic plan.  No, many have opted for the quick fix and hired some marketing firm to write their mission statement that is usually beyond poor and does nothing to create an engaged sales culture.  Actually what happens is just the opposite – a disengaged sales culture.

Read this article about Misguided Mission Statements

Think about a recent visit to your physician when you complained about a stomach pain or a headache.  Did your doctor immediately schedule you for surgery without taking any “vitals”?  No, what he or she did was to assess you through a series of diagnostic tests. What would have happened if the doctor scheduled you for immediate surgery?  Would you quickly running for the door seeking a second opinion?

So why in the world would you initiate any plan or action to increase sales without first assessing what is happening not only to your firm as it relates to the:

  • Outside world?
  • Internal world (think sales culture)?
  • Talents of individual salespeople?

Learn more about assessing your sales culture through – D.I.AL.O.G – a PROVEN organizational and cultural assessment.

Assessing is actual the first step to gain clarity as to why your SMB has not been successful in its goal to increase sales.  To embark upon any activity is really all about gaining clarity to ensure each action is both efficient and effective.

How often do people both in the business world and their own personal lives fail to track the right things to produce the right results to avoid misdirected actions and misguided decisions?

Possibly the rush to take action before engaging in any assessment is because people are conditioned to reactive behavior instead of proactive behavior.  They rush around like the White Hare from Alice in Wonderland.  Always late for a very important date.

If you truly want to increase sales, then start with this first step – assess. 

P.S.  Remember forward thinking doctors or leaders usually don’t self-diagnosis. It may make sense to seek an outside pair of eyes.

Reach out and grab a time to speak with me, Leanne Hoagland-Smith, to discuss how to improve your business results including sales.

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3 Simple Actions to Take Today to Change Your Sales Results Tomorrow

sales-resultsOver the course of nearly 40 plus years in business, I have been fortunate to meet many much smarter people than myself. One of those individuals is Ray Overdorff who recently shared three (3) simple actions to change one’s sales results.

#1 – Commitment to be a Better Communicator

Sales regardless of all the hype by so called experts is 100% about people buying from other people.  To buy from you, you must talk to your sales prospect.  Communication both verbally and written is the key in making that happen unless of course you are telepathic.

What this means is no sales pitches during the first to even third conversations. People must buy you first, before they can buy your company and your solution.

#2 – Look for Ways to Get People More Involved

Remember the old adage, “no one wants to be sold but everyone wants to buy.”  Getting people involved in your sales process is a significant key to improved sales results.  To be more involved returns to the #1 action, being a better communicator.

Getting more people involved is also the essence of a high performance sales culture.  It is not just the salespeople responsibility to increase sales.  Everyone in your SMB must be 100% committed to both external customers (paying customers) and internal ones (other employees).  If your salespeople cannot secure the involvement of the order department to the delivery department, then the external customer ultimately suffers.

#3 – Get a Coach (Results Driven, Ethical)

When salespeople get a good coach who is results driven and highly ethical, then they will see improved sales results.  Depending upon the industry and the limitations facing the salesperson, these results may materialize as quickly as 24-48 hours or may take longer.

Not all sales coaches, executive coaches or business coaches are cut from the same cloth.  One suggestion is to ask about how the coach, coaches, his or her process.  Read the reviews and if possible talk to one or two of the coach’s clients.

Yes just by taking these three (3) simple actions, you can change your sales results.

P.S. Always remember to give credit to whom it is due.

If you are considering hiring a sales coach, schedule a complimentary session with Leanne Hoagland-Smith by clicking here.

 

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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

Credit www.pixabay.com

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?

business-growth

Credit www.gratisography.com

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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