Posts Tagged ‘sales funnel’

The Continuing Sales Leads Dilemma – Quantity or Quality

Sales leads are the life blood for any person selling.  For without those potential buyers, there would be no one to sell one’s solutions.  And we all know without sales we remain pocket poor.

With the recent emphasis on social selling, there appears to be a presumption that quantity is now more important than quality.  This belief is put enough sales leads into your sales funnel and eventually gravity will pull at least a few of them through. We can see this belief is real time when we hear this questions being asked:

  • How many followers do you have on the social media networks?
  • How many contacts do you have on LinkedIn?
  • How many social media sites do you actively engage in to reach more potential sales leads?

My personal sales philosophy has always been quality over quantity.  Since I believe sales is 100% first about relationships, developing key authentic relationships is essential for me to increase sales.

Additionally the quantity tactic is more than likely to catch a lot of unqualified sales leads (tire kickers) and it does take time to sort through all those leads. Being a people and process clarity strategist, I cannot afford to waste time sorting through all those tire kickers.

Imagine for a moment if you took all those business cards you have accumulated and started calling three to five people each day.  Then you could begin to sort them based upon some buying criteria including:

  • Decision maker
  • Want or need

Further contacts with each person may allow you to further sort them into:

  • Allocated budget
  • Urgency

Finally between the fourth and 12th contact, you may secure this final buying criteria: Commitment

When you have completed this process, you will probably see your pile of qualified sales leads is much smaller.  Possibly by redefining your sales prospecting process, you could have avoided a lot of those calls and redirected your limited time to quality sales leads instead of quantity ones.

Schedule your time, by CLICKING HERE, to speak with Leanne if you wish to increase sales.

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Hiding Your Sales Prospects Are You?

Salespeople invest a lot of time lighting up sales prospects and yet it appears many are hiding those sales leads. We know this to be true given how few times on average salespeople follow-up with new sales leads.


Sales Fact:

44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up (Source: Scripted)

Does it make sense to do all that work especially if you are a SMB owner in a firm of fewer than 20 employees or a salesperson employed in a similar SMB? How much time and time is money is wasted?

Sales prospecting is truly about providing light to people who are in the dark about:

  • You
  • Your firm
  • Your solution

Additionally, these sales prospects may also be in the dark about their own problems. Many in business cannot separate the symptoms from the real problems.  This becomes a competitive advantage for top sales performers.

Sometimes all those sales leads become stuck in the middle of the sales funnel or what I prefer the sales tunnel.  This is also akin to putting them under a bushel basket because in the middle of the tunnel it is very dark.  What helps to keep flowing through the sales tunnel is a proactive contact process.  A good CRM like Pipeliner CRM works with SMB firms as it does not require a CRM administrator saving the SMB thousands of dollars in salary and benefits.

Sales Fact:

63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months – and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy.   (Source: Marketing Donut)

When salespeople understand their marketing is about shining a light, their light, they are able to attract sales prospects to them.  Then they understand the must keep this light shining until the sales prospects buy.

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Overcoming The Contingency Effect in Sales Meetings

Securing those necessary sales meetings with clients, sales leads and even colleagues is becoming increasingly difficult.  The reason is the “contingency effect.”

sales-meetingsJust as people buy houses on contingency, so it appears buying time to meet on another person’s calendar is also on contingency. People in business are indeed crazy busy.

How many times have you attempted to schedule a meeting and were told “I’m waiting for confirmation from another person. I’ll call you back tomorrow”?  Or possibly you were told “Ill get back to you tomorrow.”  That getting back to you in many instances was probably because your sales lead or customer was waiting to confirm another meeting from someone who was waiting to confirm another meeting.

Prospecting Tip #1

Probably one of the better ways to overcome this obstacle to scheduling sales meetings is to plan at least 3 to 4 weeks out. Even then, meeting are still subject to cancellation because of  emergencies or unforeseen events.

Prospecting Tip #2

Having a full sales funnel is another solution to overcoming the contingency effect. When the sales funnel is brimming, you can then call another sales lead or customer if a cancellation happens.

Prospecting Tip #3

Finally, taking control of your own prospecting and selling schedules by keeping contingency meetings to a minimum also makes sense. When you put off meetings because of the possibility of someone may meet with you only creates the continuation of this phenomenon.

Years ago it was far easier to schedule a meeting in the same week or worse the next week. Today that is no longer the case.  Planning your sales meetings is essential to ensure your prospecting funnel and ultimately sales funnel remains full.

As in any sales obstacle, with proper planning you can limit the negative impact of this obstacle to your goal to increase sales.  All you must do is to think ahead, way ahead.

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Got Sales Courage?

Remember the ad campaign “Got milk?” Maybe for those business, we should embrace “Got sales courage?”

sales-courageMonday is the first day of the work week and the weekly routine starts again. Make phone calls to sales leads, leave voice mails and send emails.  Do not receive returned calls, do not receive new calls and do not receive returned emails.

Staying focused and energized in the B2B and B2C marketplaces is an ongoing challenge.  Becoming disheartened can be easy especially when calls are returned, emails unanswered and no new sales leads are in the sales funnel.

Winston Churchill is quoted as saying courage is the “ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”  Hmm, easier said than done.

Possibly Churchill was talking about sales courage?  How many failures do salespeople encounter on a daily or weekly basis?

Courage in business does require faith. Faith in one’s own ability. Faith in one’s own message. Faith in one’s own solution. If you do not believe in what you sell, courage is quickly replaced by fear.

Years ago I came across a short story or fable from Africa.  It went like this:

Everyday in Africa, a gazelle wakes up and knows it must run faster than the quickest lion to stay alive.

Everyday in Africa, a lion wakes up and knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle to stay alive.

It does not matter whether you are a gazelle or a lion come morning. What matter is you start running.

Sales courage starts every morning and especially on Monday mornings when we start running. Hopefully we have planned out our run and have the flexibility when unexpected barriers cross our paths.

Of course when we have clarity about our talents, what we do well, we can remember to leverage those talents. Additionally if we have invested the time to list all of our accomplishments (goals achieved), we can easily review our past courageous experiences.

Top sales performers got sales courage.  And you too can get some.  If you need some support to bolster your courage, then reach out and touch someone.

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The Old Gray Mare, Your Sales Funnel, Ain’t What She Used to Be

The sales funnel has dramatically changed because of the Internet and technology.  New research from McKinsey Decision Surveys revealed consumers are moving outside of the marketing and sales funnel with its traditional touch points. The findings reaffirm the marketing goal to reach sales leads at the moments that most influence their decision to buy. This is true for both B2C and B2b sales leads.

sales-funnelOver ten years ago,  I remember making a statement the marketing funnel is actually more like a web where there are far more touch points. These touch points can be direct through email marketing or paid advertising to more indirect through content marketing to social media sites such as LinkedIn. This report recognized the shift away from one way communication, product or sales based marketing to more two way engagement.

With additional research from the Corporate Executive Board suggesting 57% of the B2B buying decision is made before talking to any salesperson confirms how the sales funnel has evolved. Today’s buyer is more educated and more self directed in his or her solution research.

The challenge for 97.7% of all US business owners who have under 20 employees is how to adapt their sales funnel to the educated buyer who left that old gray mare and is now riding a far faster, more energized and agile marketing vehicle.  This challenge is even greater when the majority of these SMB owners have failed to engage in any strategic planning. They are still unknowingly riding that tired old gray mare.

Yes the sales funnel has changed.  I know this to be true because over 50% of my sales leads come from providing quality content through this blog and my LinkedIn Pulse articles. My sales leads are much more educated than when I first opened my executive coaching and talent development organization nearly 20 years ago.

If you are a SMB owner or a salesperson, this may be the time to rethink your sales funnel and dismount from that old gray mare. Remember as the buggy whip went out when transportation changed, your current sales funnel will evolve as marketing and sales continue to change.

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How These 7 Steps Will Increase Sales in 2016

With the New Year of 2016 just 5 days away, now is the time to begin to increase sales.  Actually much of this probably should have been started 30 to 90 days ago, but there is still time to make 2016 far better than 2015.



Here are some steps to ensure your path to a better 2016 sales year.

Step #1 – File, Purge and Clean
First, step is to clear off your desk.  File away what is needed, purge what is not needed.  Clean your office area. This filing, purging and cleaning includes all printed publications as well as email. Oh yes and do not forget to clean up your calendar as well.

Step #2 – Update Financials
The next step is to get all your financials in order. Enter all bills, make payments if possible, record all receipts. When end of year bank statements arrive, then within a couple of hours you should have 2015 financially closed and ready to go to your accountant. To increase sales for 2016 means you must focus on present and the future not the past.

Step #3 – Review Your Outstanding Sales Leads
Exactly who is in your sales funnel or pipeline? What sales leads require immediate contact or follow-up?  What prospects did not end up as customer and why?

Step #4 – Identify New Sales Leads
Based upon the new clients you secured in 2015 and existing clients prior to 2015, what new sales leads do you wish to have enter your sales funnel? This is also the time to discern how to make contact with these decision makers who will propel toward your goal to increase sales in 2016. If you are in B2B, prospecting within LinkedIn may prove to be a valuable marketing and sales strategy.

Step 5 – Hone Your Tools
Your sales tools from your business card to your value proposition speech to your knowledge of your target market industries to even local to global trends affecting business all must be honed to the finest edge possible. To attend the first B2B networking event of the year without business cards, stumbling over the question who is your best sales lead (anyone with a pulse is not the correct answer) to having sales conversations with you sounding like a dummy will not increase sales.

As you have already cleaned out your portfolio or briefcase (see Step 1), now refresh it with your honed tools. Be prepared for that next phone call where you may have to dash out of the office. Knowing all your sales tools are in order and properly sharpened will have you looking and sounding like a top sales performer.

Step 6 – Schedule Your Calendar
Since you have already cleaned out your calendar (see Step 1), now is the time to schedule your calls.  Block out time each morning to take care of administrative work before your actual production time usually 8 am to 5pm. If you need more time, get up earlier.

Block out time to make first contact phone calls or follow up ones. Tuesdays and Thursdays from most sales research suggest to be the better days for calling.  Make a sales goal and commitment to yourself to make a minimum of 20 calls per week. Based upon your own sales numbers, you should know how many calls it will take to increase sales.

believe-in-youStep 7 – Believe in YOU
If you do not believe in yourself, the ability to increase sales is even more difficult.  Sales as Zig Ziglar said is the “transference of feelings.”  You must believe in YOU.

Some salespeople attempt to become someone else because that other person is more authentic (meaning make more money).  Each of us brings a unique perspective to the business world.  You are YOU and no one else.

When you believe in YOU, others sense that belief and it becomes like a force field of attraction. Your authentic self-leadership style attracts sales leads and centers of influence to you. Of course, a belief in YOU does not mean let your ego run while or just as bad a flow of endless sales pitches.

Remember the words of President Teddy Roosevelt, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

By following these first seven steps before midnight on December 31, 2015, you will increase sales in 2016.


If you want some additional support, give me a call at 219.508.2859 CT and take advantage of my 30 day special sales coaching package that includes:

  • The most reliable and valid psychometric assessment in the marketplace
  • MAP – My Action Plan for Sales Success (printed and snailed mail to you if you are in the continental US) otherwise emailed via PDF
  • Proven goal setting and goal achievement worksheet that works with you to increase sales
  • A review of your LinkedIn profile along with a checklist to help you refresh your profile
  • 4 Hours – 1 hour per week – of one on one sales coaching via the telephone

Your investment is probably far more affordable than you realize. By the way, that first 20-30 minute phone call is at no cost to you except for your time. If you are not happy with your 2015 results, then what are you waiting for?

* * * * *

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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Sales Training is Not Just for Big Business – Part 03

sales-trainingIn any business from the micro to the macro, there are only two (2) types of problems – people and process. When there are any inconsistencies in people or process, these four Ps of Performance suffer:

  • Productivity
  • Progress
  • Profits
  • Purpose

Sales training, rather good sales training (results driven), is the mechanism to reduce and eventually eliminate these inconsistencies. Since businesses are dynamic with changes in people and process, sales training must be an ongoing solution.

The Inconsistency of Productivity

Each business has a sales process that is comprised of three general areas: marketing, selling and keeping. When the sales team is so busy on selling and forgets marketing, eventually the sales funnel dries up. Good sales training will identify the sales process or even provide one so that everyone understands how the ideal customers are identified, attracted, sold and then kept as loyal customers.

The Inconsistency of Progress

When the sales team is not on the same page, progress suffers. For example there may be one veteran salesman who does not believe in using social media for marketing (think prospecting and branding).  The other team members acquiescence to this established and respected salesperson.   Progress is at a standstill.

The Inconsistency of Profits

If productivity and progress are inconsistent, common sense tells us profits will suffer.  There will be highs and lows, probably more lows.  Cash flow will also take a hit as well. If the salespeople are paid on commission, poor morale might also take seed.

The Inconsistency of Purpose

The other three Ps lead to inconsistency of purpose. People start asking themselves this question:

Why am I in this business?

This is when stress for the mid-size to small business owners becomes even more evident because working the business is no longer fun.

Yes, the absence of good sales training is very harmful to sales productivity, progress, profits and purpose because its absence creates inconsistencies.  If you wish to stay in business, reduce your stress, have more fun and make more money, then invest in some good sales training.  You will be glad you did.

Part 4 of this series will discuss the impact on leadership.

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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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Engagement and Effectiveness Go Beyond Digital Marketing

Today’s SMB world is one that abounds in digital marketing (paid advertisements). For those who buy and sell digital advertisements, engagement and effectiveness are both required.


With the lines of digital marketing continue to be blurred with the content marketing through social media scattered among all the digital ads, it is becoming more and more difficult to separate the ads from the general content. Yet engagement and effectiveness are equally required for all social media marketing and not just digital.

In 2006, Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) began the hard work of defining engagement with this definition: “Engagement is turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context.” ARF continues to refine this definition and establish metrics for measuring it.

Possibly ShareThis Vice President, Barry Grant, recognized the partnership of of engagement and effectiveness when he said:

 “You can’t have effectiveness without engagement,

but you can have engagement without effectiveness.”

Both effectiveness and engagement will continue to:

  • Impact the sales funnel
  • Raise awareness
  • Create stronger relationships with customers

The metrics in how to measure effectiveness and engagement in 21st century marketing will continue to evolve. Smart SMB professionals will devote some time to begin to understand this still growing industry and yet still illusive.  No one digital marketing company has all the answers. And if any company says it does, be fearful and hold tightly onto your money.

Trial and error will continue to determine both effectiveness and engagement. Those firms that invest the time now will be ahead of the flow compared to those other SMBs that have ignored today’s reality and still believe it is a trend.


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Roses or Daises, Who Are Your Sales Leads?

Today I was reminded of an old quote about roses having thorns. “But he that dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.” (Emily Bronte) My mind then traveled to sales and how some sales leads are very much like roses where there are a plethora of thorns (think challenging or difficult obstacles) and other sales leads are similar to daises without the thorns and far easier to pick. 



Complex sales obviously fall into the rose category.  Between all the decision makers, the personalities, the different agendas, pricking your finger on one of those many thorns is very easy.  Sales Training Coaching Tip: Just because you pricked you finger does not mean you automatically  fail to earn the sale.

Sales leads from social media can be either roses or daises depending upon your sales solution.

Business to commercial sales leads are probably more like daises. Easier to find, easier to pick provided you are a good gardener (think salesperson) and know how not to step on these flowers as you walk through the flower bed of sales leads.

Yes sales leads can be very much like these flowers. And probably your flower vase (think sales funnel) should have both roses (the challenging sales) and daises for the easier ones.

P.S. Did you know the recent update to LinkedIn Contacts is truly your competitive advantage?

Discover how to leverage this updated feature along with some other tips so your profile can stand out like a Red Jacket and not be another gray suit.

Your investment is the price of lunch with a tip – $9.97 plus $1.53 registration fee.

August 1, 2013, 10-11 am CDT –

August 6, 2013, 7-8 pm CDT –

August 7,2013,  4-5 pm CDT –


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