Posts Tagged ‘sales leadership’

Challenging the Sales Leadership of “We’ve Always Done It that Way”

How many times have you heard those in sales leadership roles when given a new way of thinking state something like “We’ve always done it that way?”  This tunnel vision thinking fails to move the individual, the team, the organization and even the customers forward toward even greater success.

Those involved in continuous improvement hear this statement or something similar to this statement numerous times.  For example, a chair is in the corner of a room and has been there for years.  When asked why is the chair there, the answer is “because it has always been there.” The chair serves no purpose except requiring cleaning people to move it to dust and clean around it.

I remember a story about a young woman who questioned her mother why her mother cut the ends off a roast. The response was because that was what grandmother did.  The young woman asked her grandmother the same question.  Grandmother’s answer was to get the roast to fit into the pan.

“We’ve always done it that way” is being heard more in SMB sales leadership than ever before. This statement becomes a fallback position of complacency.

With greater emphasis on content marketing, social media marketing and changes in the buying decision making process, how the sales process is implemented may require minor as well as some major tweaks.  Yet, reluctance to let go of the status quo by many in sales leadership roles is still very much present.

Last night I heard a compelling presentation about how a local airport could be a dazzling economic gem. Beyond what appears to be considerable mismanagement, there also appeared to be an attitude of “we’ve always done it that way.”

For anyone in any sales leadership role including those on the sales team as well as all employees within the organization to be satisfied with the status quo of “We’ve always done it that way,” limits everyone within that organization. Human beings are designed to change.  Organizations are created by human beings.  Efficient and effective change is required to stay competitive in today’s dynamic business marketplace.

The questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you willing to be that change? – Your decision
  • What do you need to do to be that change? – Your critical thinking skills
  • How will you go about to ensure the change is positive and sustainable? – Your ability to execute
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Are You Forgetting Sales Leadership Is Situational?

How many times have we read or heard about leadership being situational?  If any type of leadership is truly situational, it is sales leadership.

Leadership is first about leading yourself or self-leadership.  From your own leadership efforts you secure your desired results.

Peter Drucker said “Leadership is all about results.”

In sales, results do matter.  For without the ability to increase sales, those in sales would be quickly unemployed.

When top sales performers meet with new sales leads, the nuances of their sales conversation will adapt to the situation.  They understand people communicate differently.  In many instances, top salespeople know and leverage their knowledge of DISC to further the sales conversation and ultimately the relationship.

CLICK HERE to Schedule a call with Leanne to learn more about DISC and how it impacts your sales leadership and sales results.

Those new to sales or who have just returned from the “latest and greatest sales training” event in many instances wear blinders.  Their inexperience or recent learning conditioning has them so focused to follow a per-determined path they lose:

  • The relationship
  • Sales opportunity

Understanding how sales leadership is situational is incredibly important.  Knowing what to say and when to say what to say always returns to the situation.  Being present in the moment supports those strong leadership qualities from active listening to caring to respect.

Situational leadership happens from experience.  For those new to sales, securing a mentor or even a sales coach may support further sales leadership growth.

Additionally, those who understand situational leadership in sales as well as in business know the importance of leaving one’s ego at the door.  These leaders recognize each meeting (think situation) is potentially different because the other person is different from the last person they met.

Each person is unique and what he or she values is unique. 

If you want to increase sales, then start reflecting upon your own sales leadership. Find an accountability partner to review with you your recent sales meetings. And remember, your success is determined by your own willingness to recognize what you don’t know.

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Sales Leadership, Bag Phone or Smart Phone?

Funny thing about sales leadership is some past sales leaders sometimes fail to continue to be forward thinking as new ideas or technologies evolve.

sales-leadershipNow younger sales professionals may not remember the first mobile phones that were literally in a bag.  These bag phones started the trend of being connected 24/7.

Over time technology reduced the size of the mobile phone and increased its power.  Today we have all those smart phones and other smart devices that allow those in sales leadership to reach out and touch someone instantaneously.

Many of the early adopters of bag phones saw the value in them.  They found them to be beneficial to achieving the goal to increase sales. Yet some of these same forward thinking leaders decided to hold onto their bag phones because they were familiar with them, they did not have to learn a new device and it worked for them.

They believed in “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Yesterday’s old bag phones is an analogy respective to  those in sales leadership who do not want change.  They want to hold onto their authority, their knowledge and their comfortableness.

Those who adopt new technology, new marketing channels, new ways of thinking are more willing to accept change and challenge the status quo. They accept the possibility their authority may be challenged, their knowledge will change and they will be uncomfortable during this process.

Of course to change for the sake of change is not good.  Yet to hold onto the past without looking to the future is equally not good.

Sales leadership in the 21st century must face its greatest challenge – change.  This is quite difficult given how fast change is happening and why additional resources must be hired or contracted to effectively deal with all of these changes in sales, in business and in people. Now is not the time to hold onto that old bag phone.

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Fog Lines and Guard Rails on the Sales Leadership Road

Possibly you may be wondering what do fog lines and guard rails have to do with traveling the sales leadership road?  Probably more than you realize.

sales-leadershipFog lines are the outside white lines that let you know you are close to running off the paved road onto the shoulder if there is a shoulder.  These lines were not always part of the American road system, but started appearing in the late 1950s to early 1960s. Recent court decisions affirm that fog lines are part of the roadway.

For those in sales leadership, fog lines are part of your sales’ behaviors specifically your positive core values (business ethics).  When you cross the fog line, you have crossed or compromised your values. This compromise might be something as simple as a little white lie about:

  • The delivery date of your solution
  • How many people actually have downloaded your app
  • Your total number of new customers or total annual sales

Another simple crossing of the fog line could be gossiping about other employees to your competitors.

Now the guard rails keeps the car on the road especially when there is no shoulder and immediate danger lurks on the other side of the guardrail such as a steep mountain cliff.  Guard rails are the positive core values (think business ethics) each professional business person holds true and will not cross.

How many times have you failed to honor your positive core values? Did this failure impact your ability to lead as well as to increase sales?

Personally I believe one’s positive core values have a direct correlation to one’s sales leadership effectiveness. There are some who agree with me including the author of From Values to Action.

Many in sales leadership roles have not invested the time to commit to writing their positive core values. Maybe the organization’s values statement is enough for them. Yet, when we know what our own guard rails are, then we have much greater clarity when we cross that fog line and begin to compromise our sales leadership.

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Sales Leadership Requires You Know What You Do Well

Over the last 10 years, I have discovered this startling fact among those in sales leadership roles:

98.7% do not know what they truly do well!

The irony, if you want to call it that, is 95.4% of these same salespeople know what they don’t do well.

Sales Leadership Question

Why do winning sales teams win?

  • Answer A) Because of the weaknesses of their salespeople
  • Answer B) Because of the strengths or talents of their salespeople
sales-leadership

Credit www.pixabay.com

Most sales managers, SMB owners and salespeople respond with “B, of course.” So if that is true, then why do so few salespeople know what they truly do well?

Through one if not the most accurate psychometric assessments in the marketplace, the Attribute Index, salespeople and other professionals learn how they make decisions externally and internally along with 78 core talents that can be separated into:

  • Interpersonal – talents used when making external decisions
  • Intrapersonal – talents used when making internal decisions

Some of the intrapersonal talents begin with this word of “self” as in self confidence, self direction, self esteem, self management or self starting ability. The interpersonal talents include accountability for others, realistic goal setting for others and relating to others.

When people do not know what they do well and focus their efforts on what they think they do well, numerous opportunities are missed.

What is even worse, people through conditioned behavior continue to prioritize fixing their weaknesses even though knowing full well sales success comes through one’s strengths.

Isn’t it time for those in sales leadership roles to truly know by having crystal, clear clarity what they do well?

Benjamin Franklin understood the power in having clarity around our strengths, our talents when he said:

“Wasted strengths are like sundials in the shade.”

Can you afford not to know what you do well? Learn what you do well along with what motivates you and how you communicate through this SPECIAL OFFER. (until 2/28/2017)

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Self Leadership Is Required in Sales

In business there has always been a lot of attention directed to leadership.  Yet far lesser attention to this idea of self leadership.  As has been noted earlier, many presume people know how to lead themselves through earlier educational experiences.  However, research shows self leadership which falls into that bucket of people or soft skills is sorely lacking.

self-leadershipPeter Drucker said leadership is all about results.

Self leadership is about the individual getting results.

To secure the desired results begins with these two mindsets:

  • Continuous improvement
  • Motivation

Continuous improvement is a mindset where one is always challenging the status quo; looking toward the future and making changes if and when necessary. Sometimes the status quo is working and to make a change for the sake of making a change is simply ridiculous.

Motivation is also a mindset because the mind is what controls all behavior.  Using the Theory of Self Determination allows individuals to identify what is limiting their motivation:

  • Mastery
  • Autonomy
  • Purpose (as it relates to people)

In some sales training or business leadership programs, self leadership is included as a subset of sales skills or even talent development. Again there is a presumption people have the capacity and consistently demonstrate this capacity.

If this was true,

  • why do 44% of salespeople give up after making one call? (Source: Scripted)
  • why do the average salespeople make only two attempts to contact a sales lead or prospect? (Source: Sirius Decisions)

Continuous improvement and motivation are essential in securing results and working with the other aspects within the 5 Star Sales Leadership Model. Top sales performers do not rely on the business in providing the incentive for ongoing learning or motivation through recognition or rewards.

In today’s world with so many solo entrepreneurs as well as businesses with under 20 employees, business leadership and sales leadership are partners. These two roles must work together to achieve sustainable business growth.

Until 2/28/2017, learn what motivates you as well as how your behave and what is driving your decision making process through this special opportunity.

 

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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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Goal Achievement in a New Sales Leadership Model

Noted business guru Peter Drucker is quoted as saying “Leadership is all about results.” For those in sales leadership including sales management roles, results happen through consistent goal achievement.

sales-leadershipYet sales research continues to reveal consistently achieving quotas is not the current reality.  Back in 2011, Inc magazine suggested 50% of salespeople miss their sales goals. A more recent article in 2014 at e-Marketer stated only 63% of salespeople made their sales quotas.

We only have to look at failed New Year’s resolutions to understand why so many people consistently fail to achieve their goals.

How can people achieve professional goals such as sales quotas when they cannot achieve personal goals?

Realistic personal goal setting is measurable talent.  When this talent is combined with other talents such as self starting ability, personal accountability and results orientation, there is a far greater likelihood of consistent goal achievement.

sales-leadershipAnother reason for including goal achievement within this new sales leadership model is one of execution.  Failed execution is still a major limitation for sales management to executive leadership.  When a proven goal setting process is embedded within the sales culture of the business, then execution gaps can be more quickly identified and closed.

The failure to include goal achievement is evidenced in many sales training programs.  How many of these sales training programs include how to consistently plan, set and execute sales goals?  From my experience these last 40 years, very few.

These sales training programs talk about goals, but rarely invest the time to walk through a proven goal setting process with a doable tool such as a goal worksheet.

Yes there is probably more to failed sales quotas than just goal achievement. However if this gap was closed, my sense is identifying what is really limiting the ability for the salespeople to achieve their sales quotes might be far easier to identify.

If you want to learn more about your own talent for realistic personal goal setting, CLICK HERE to schedule a brief call with Leanne Hoagland-Smith.

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A New Sales Leadership Model

One of my favorite models is the 5 Star Model for Organizational Development.  Jay Galbraith and his colleague created a simple graphic to ensure both alignment between key functions of any business and the desired results. Essentially this model is for leadership as well as sales leadership as it looks determine where the gaps exist between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals.

sales-leadershipThe simple genius of this model was the interconnectedness of these 5 keys areas of:

  1. Strategy
  2. Structure
  3. Processes
  4. Rewards
  5. People

Results were always in the middle. By incorporating this model into executive leadership behaviors worked to avoid misalignment between these 5 areas.

Executive Coaching Tip: Misalignment is usually the real problem especially when execution fails.

Nearly two decades after working with executive and sales coaching clients,  I realized a similar model would be beneficial for those in individual sales leadership roles.  This model could work in tangent with the 5 Star Model for Organizational Development.

What I developed is the 5 Star Sales Leadership Model™. Here the focus is still on results. This model looks to the individual salesperson and where there also may be misalignment impacting results.

sales-leadership

 

  1. Goal Achievement
  2. Sales Process
  3. Self-Leadership
  4. Talents
  5. Sales Skills

What I have observed is many times a singular focus when it comes to the goal to increase sales. For example, there is a flurry of activity on sales training for improved sales skills and yet very rarely is goal achievement included in sales training.

Maybe the SMB is forward thinking and has taken to developing talents. However, that talent development sometimes works against self leadership especially motivation.

Sales results are not just because of one aspect of the salesperson or the SMB.  No, the results are because of interconnected aspects. The 5 Star Sales Leadership Model™ brings clarity to those interconnection points and looks to simplify what might be limiting the salesperson and consequently the SMB from achieving the desired results.

This week, I will review each point of this model to further explain the rationale for each point. I look forward to your feedback.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip 07 – Time

How a salesperson uses his or her time is probably one of the greatest contributors to sustainable sales success.

sales-successTop sales performers recognize time is a constant and can NEVER be managed. There will always be 60 seconds to a minute; 60 minutes to an hour; 24 hours to a day; and 7 days to a week.

No one can manage a constant!

This learned knowledge keeps these individuals from wasting their time and dollars on all those time management courses and books.

Top sales performers also know that time can never be saved.  There is no way to go into a “time” savings account because of the constant nature of time.  One can never get time do overs. One cannot pull out 5 minutes from the “time” savings account.  One cannot go back in time even though sometimes we wish we could.

What these high performing salespeople do know is time can be invested by leveraging sound sales tools and  sales leadership skills.  These actions contribute to their sales success as well as their personal success.

Do you know what you do well? If yes, how do you know this to be true? The Attribute Index is the best assessment to confirm your sales leadership talents.

Sales tools such as calendars, sales scripts even word documents that can be easily copied and pasted all allow time to be used to its fullest capacity. There is no down time for top sales performers.  When waiting for appointments, these individuals may be reading a journal, a book, reviewing their next appointment or quickly responding to texts or emails.

Time management does not exist. What is reality is sales leadership through self-management. Sales leadership begins with your own attitude including how you think about time.  The question to ask is not “How well do I manage time?” but rather “How well do I manage myself within each day?”

Remember these words of Benjamin Franklin if you want sustainable sales success:

Time lost is never found again.

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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