Posts Tagged ‘sales management’

The Rush to Sell Is a Rush to …

Nowadays, more so than ever before, there appears to be a rush to sell.  We experience this with unsolicited emails to outreaches within social media challenges especially LinkedIn.

This desire to increase sales is natural because for salespeople increase sales means job security.  The ability to increase sales may also increase the salesperson’s personal wealth.

However, this rush to sell is turning more people off than on. And when one is in sales, turning off potential sales leads, ideal customers to even centers of influence is not a doable marketing or selling strategy.

Why the Rush?

The question to be asked is why is everyone rushing to increase sales?  Is it because of:

  • Sales training?
  • Prospecting training?
  • Sales management?
  • Executive leadership?
  • Social media training?
  • Quick fix mentality?
  • Personal agenda?
  • Ego?

In other words, who is pushing this rush to sell?

The act of selling something to someone is an act of transferring feelings because people buy first on emotion, justified by logic.  Sometimes those feelings are one way, usually held by the seller who wants to make a sale.

Elevating the feelings of the buyer usually takes times because the buyer must know and trust you as the seller.  Developing trust is also time dependent.

Possibly this rush to sell can be directly traced back to some of the questionable sales training as well as prospecting training within the B2B and even B2C marketplace. Bombard people with social media postings, build up your LinkedIn connections to blanket all your contacts with emails and you will increase sales. No all you will do is annoy potential sales leads and centers of influence.

My sense this ongoing rush to sell returns to the quick fix mentality as well as the lack of:

  • Personal goal driven sales plan
  • Personal goal driven marketing plan
  • Personal goal driven self-leadership plan

As you start each day, each week, each month and each year, remember your desire to increase sales must work with your sales leads and not push them away or given them any reason to mistrust you because that rush to sell is a rush to no sales and potentially no job.

CLICK HERE to schedule a time to speak with Leanne about how to begin to increase sales.

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When Your Sales Tank, What Do You Do?

sales-tahkMany tines when sales tank salespeople have a tendency to blame the economy, the marketing department (no sales leads), sales management, competition or even the potential customers? Yet maybe this is the time for inward reflection and realize they have potentially violated the first sales buying rule.

People buy from people they know and trust.

Possibly, your sales leads do not know you and do not trust you.  Yes this is a rather simplistic answer to when your sales tank because the focus is now on the buyer and not you the seller.

Yesterday I received a follow-up call from a webinar I attended. To say the seller was a bit aggressive is an understatement.  Since I did not know her and truly did not know the presenter, I did not trust her.

When I politely told her I was not interested in what she was offering, she said to me “So what is standing in your way?” My response was “You are.  I don’t know you and therefore I don’t trust you.”  This was not a sales objection she had heard before due to her immediate silence.

Attending one webinar that I left after 20 minutes because of the numerous “minnie sales pitches” as well as the ongoing “look at me (self promotion)” comments did not build my knowing of this person and my trusting of this person. In reality, this webinar diminished any potential trust I had for this individual.

Sales Coaching Tip: Self promotion comments do not build trust.

If your sales have tanked, maybe the issue is not your lack of sales skills, but you are rushing the knowing and trusting aspect of the buying process.  Sales research suggests it take five to 12 touches before someone is ready to make a buying decision and that is provided they meet the sales buying criteria so these sales objections are avoided.

Sales as Zig Ziglar stated is “the transference of feelings.” This is the foundation for building a sense of knowing and trusting. Maybe it might be wise to reconsider your own behaviors before you start blaming everything and everyone else for when your sales tank.

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Are You Making These Top 5 Missteps in Hiring a New Salesperson?

Hiring a new salesperson can be a never ending story. With the turnover (churn) of salespeople as well as those in sales management, there appears to be some miss steps happening.

Top Misstep #1 – Ignoring the Wisdom of Existing Sales Team

Sales managers fail to ask the rest of the sales team as to what type of salesperson is needed.  Even though the essence of sales has not changed, how to reach new sales leads has changed.  In many instances, the existing salespeople will have a better pulse on what is required than the sales manager unless the sales manager is also in the field prospecting and selling.

Top Misstep #2 – Outdated Job Description

From my experience, the majority (over 50%) of all job description are outdated and irrelevant. Today’s salesperson must know the expectations and be assessed to ensure his or her talents work with not against the current job description.  For example, writing (communication through the written word) has become a critical sales skill due to content marketing.

Check out this talent assessment that is quick and very affordable.

Top Misstep #3 – No Onboarding Including Sales Coaching

No longer can sales managers hire a new salesperson and then throw her or him to the wolves with the “Go Sell” directive without further onboarding.  Sales coaching by an outside sales coach has proven to be quite effective.  Even though some sales managers believe they are sales coaches, this in many instances is a false belief.

Top Misstep #4 – Misalignment with Strategic Goals

Misalignment is a killer when it comes to achieving strategic goals including the always present one of increase sales. Sales does not operate in a vacuum.  With multiple departments strategic initiatives can be easily derailed.

Learn more about leadership and the impact of misalignment through this well written, quick (under 2 hours) and easy read book – Fail-Safe Leadership

Top Misstep#5 – Reactionary Hiring

Given the constant churn of salespeople, many sales managers and SMB owners engage in reactionary hiring. What makes far more sense is to continually scout for potential salespeople.  Met with these potential new hires.  Get to know them.  Then when necessity demands hiring a new salesperson you have a much stronger bench from which to select.

P.S. Did you know the average cost of a new hire exceeds $4,000 without any additional sales training and takes over 40 days to fill that open position?  Schedule a time to talk with me, Leanne Hoagland-Smith, to stop this drain on your profits.

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Are You Missing This in Your Sales Performance Appraisals? Part 2

Much of the focus on sales performance appraisals is on the salesperson and his or her results.  Yet, any assessment should be reviewed first from the person conducting the assessment. Let me give you a more concrete example.

Years ago one of my college professors who was exceptionally trained in motivation and assessments would routinely look at the actual questions missed by the students.  If more than 40% of the students missed a question, he would not include that question in the overall scoring of the assessment.  His rationale was he failed to properly teach that key concept. This professor used assessments to gauge how well he taught the learning objectives.

Now fast forward to those in sales management.  What would happen if sales performance appraisals were a reflection not only on how well those in sales management guided their sales team, but how well the overall organization performed.  In today’s terms, we call that the sales culture.

Sales performance appraisals can be a temperature gauge as to the overall performance (think engagement) of the sales culture.  These are tools to improve everyone involved in the sales process and that means everyone in the organization.

Possibly before conducting any individual appraisal, the organization may wish to engage in an appraisal of their own efforts through organizational culture assessments.  These assessments can be quick to not so quick. What is critical is to have alignment to known successful criteria such as Baldrige.

Imagine if your organization could get a quick pulse on your sales culture in these key operational areas:

  • Leadership
  • Strategic Planning
  • Customer & Market Focus
  • Measured Analysis & Knowledge Management
  • Human Resource Development & Management
  • Process Management
  • Business Results

Just by having one question in each of these key areas may reveal far more than those sales performance appraisals. Of course, this may be difficult if you as the sales manager or SMB owner is not willing to see beyond the results of your sales team.

Check out my calendar and let’s talk about how to improve your sales culture as well as those sales performance appraisals.

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Are You Missing This in Your Sales Performance Appraisals? Part 1

This morning I read some interesting research from the Gallup organization on performance appraisals.  I believe this research could easily be extended to sales performance appraisals.

“Only 2 in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.”

Regardless if in your sales management role you manage a team of salespeople or just yourself, motivation is essential to moving forward. Unfortunately, very few management training or even sales training programs include motivation beyond possibly Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Human beings have the internal desire to improve otherwise we would still be living in caves and never would have landed on the moon. Yet human motivation still defies many in sales leadership roles because the time to understand it and work with it is not given.

One of the better instruments to better understand what motivates salespeople or any individuals is from the research of Eduard Spranger, a German philosopher and psychologist. His book originally published in German, Lebensformem was into English in 1928 as Types of Men: The Psychology and Ethics of Personality. In his research, Spranger identified six core values he found in every person which he Spranger believed motivated human beings. These six core values were:

  • Aesthetic – form and function
  • Economic – usefulness
  • Political – power and control
  • Social – people
  • Religious – unity
  • Theoretical – truth discovery

Sales performance appraisals should be benchmarks as to not only to revenue growth, but as a means to ensure continued internal motivation.  What would happen if those in sales be they managers or actual salespeople ask themselves the following three questions:

  • How is this organization’s management aligned to the six basic values that motivate people?
  • Do I know what truly motivates me?  (Note If you answered money or believe money is the answer without confirming that motivating value, you may be making a dangerous presumption.)
  • Am I leveraging the motivating values of my team or myself? (Note: If you don’t know what those values are, you probably can’t answer this question with any accuracy.)

Consider this special opportunity to assess not only what motivates you, but your 78 key talents as well as how you communicate.  Learn more by CLICKING HERE on this talent assessment opportunity.

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Moving Beyond Inspiration to Perspiration

Many people are inspired.  They listen to a Ted Talk, read a good book to attend a sales training event.  Yet at the end of the day or a couple of days later, that inspirational message is like dust in the wind.



Some firms look to sales training to inspire and fail to move beyond inspiration to what really makes the difference – perspiration.  Did the sales team, the sales management and even the Chief Executive Officer turn those inspiring thoughts into actions?

Recently I did a one day sales training event for a rapidly growing local small business with multiple locations.  The morning session was for the call center team and in the afternoon I repeated the training with the sales team. Both sessions included over one hour on how to use DISC Index for better communication and sales results.

The reviews of the learning engagement from all contacted were all eight or higher on a scale of one to 10. All call center team members told me the sales training was informative and inspiring. Two of the sales team used the work inspiring to describe the sales training.

After one week, I conducted a follow-up as each session as each employee was asked to set a professional sales goal either as an individual or team. What I learned was the call center team had set a pretty BHAG. Yesterday in speaking with the very happy CEO in our follow-up meeting, he shared the call center was on target to achieve this goal in possibly half the established time frame.  Their united progress was exhilarating.

As to sales team, their efforts paled in comparison.  A couple of team members never returned my voice mail follow-up call.  None of those in the sales team had set a goal.

Until people take action, inspiration remains that just words that feel good.  Taking action is where the perspiration happens and what makes sales training, sales coaching or leadership development worth the investment.

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Write with Care in Your Sales Presentations

Sales presentations can earn the sale or sink it.  These written documents can build trust or erode trust.

sales-presentationFor example, I received the following in a written documentation explaining the real estate brokerage listing fees:  “to pay for advertising,…computer equipment and time…, sales meetings …, print media…”

Since I also provide executive coaching and sales coaching services if I ever delineated in my deliverables I was charging for computer equipment and computer time I would never secure the sale.  There are some costs that are fixed and understood by the buyer.  As another example, I would never include “office rent” as part of my deliverable cost.

In thinking of my past corporate sales management life, I would have love to have charged for sales meetings.  However, that was part of the cost to do business.

My sense is this particular realtor was attempting to be upfront and even transparent. In this world where so many people are attempting to be transparent, this behavior can be counter productive especially in sales.

By listing deliverables that are part of the cost in doing business appears to be more of a rationalization why the fee is what the fee is.  This type of listing in the presented documentation ignores value articulation.

Possibly most people would not be taken back by what is probably somewhat standard language. However with buyers becoming more educated, I believe such wording in sales presentations will be viewed negatively.

The marketplace is changing for many industries including real estate.  Until real estate firms recognize this change and work with it instead of fighting it, they will not have the opportunity for significant sustainable business growth. Right now realtors, media publications, financial advisors and many other service industries are in the red ocean instead of the blue ocean.

Sales presentations are an opportunity to differentiate you, your SMB and your solution.  The last thing you want is to reveal you are like everyone else and worse yet, potentially insult the sales lead.

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To Increase Sales You Pay for What You Hire

An interesting side discussion happened within this posting, 7 Top Tips to Hire and Keep Rock Star Salespeople. This one thread focused on the desire to increase sales compared to the lack of compensation to top sales performers and the 100% commission out of the hiring gate. Another comment mentioned the unwillingness for sales management to pay for salespeople.



Possibly the inability by sales management to pay for top sales performers may help to better understand these two statistics I recently read.

“Inability to Articulate Value Is Leading to Failure in Achieving Sales Goals

According to a survey by SiriusDecision, sales leaders for the past four years in a row have said that the No. 1 barrier preventing salespeople from achieving quota is their inability to articulate value. And according to a recent survey of executive buyers by Gartner, customers agree. Only 34 percent of executive buyers, for example, feel that salespeople can articulate value.” Source:

If firms really want to increase sales, maybe those they are hiring are unable to clearly articulate the value.  Value articulation changes respective to each sales lead.

Truly good to great salespeople are flexible and agile. They can discover what their sales leads truly value. With multiple decision makers within the buying decision, the value may be different for each buyer.

Of course there may be other reasons for this failure to articulate value from misalignment to no strategic thinking to bad sales culture to poor sales management or executive leadership. Yet after working with numerous salespeople for almost the last 20 years, hiring poorly is a significant problem faced by the smallest SMB firms to the largest.

To increase sales requires an integrated strategic plan and a process to find, hire and keep the best sales people.

Want to talk?  Click HERE to schedule the time that works best for you.

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Sales Management Simplified Good Advice for Entrepreneurs

Possibly given over 70% of all U.S. businesses are managed by single office/home office entrepreneurs (SOHO), these crazy busy small business owners might think this book Sales Management Simplified by Mike Weinberg is not for them.  What a huge mistake they would be making if they passed up this excellent book on sales written for them as well as those officially in sales management.

sales-management-simplifiedWeinberg sums it up best with this quote “The straight truth about getting exceptional results from your sales team.”  These SOHO entrepreneurs are the sales team of one as well as the sales manager.

Each of the Chapters within Sales Management Simplified can be turned into a personal self evaluation such as:

  • Chapter 1 – So Goes the Leader, So Goes the Organization: What type of leader are you?
  • Chapter 3 – You Can’t Effectively Run a Sales Team when You’re Buried in Crap:  Are you buried in crap?
  • Chapter 9 – Turning a Blind Eye to the Perennial Underperformer Does More Damage than You Realize: Why are your sales results underperforming?

For 97.7% of all U.S. Businesses with under 20 employees, this book is also for you.  Weinberg provides as he call it “straight talk” as to why your sales are suffering. Again in his first chapter is something I have discovered during the last 18 years in working with mid-size to small business owners.  The inability to increase sales is usually because of poor leadership at the top. Yes, this means you even if you are a salesperson.

Learn how to Lead, Hire and Train in 2016-Sales-Training-for-SMB

Finally in the last chapter of Sales Management Simplified, Weinberg talks about what I continue to identify as two of the four letter dirty words in sales and business:  Plan and Goal.

As President Eisenhower said “Plans are worthless; planning is everything.”  Without investing the time to plan as a verb and to construct WAY SMART (my terminology not Weinberg’s) goals, you are dooming yourself to failure before the door opens. Additionally, he encouraged people to ask identify obstacles that are in the way of goal to increase sales.

Check out the Results Tool Goal Worksheet that not only provides the opportunity to identify obstacles, but also brings something missing in the majority  goal worksheets.

If you are looking to increase sales, then invest the time to read Sales Management Simplified. This is a critical investment for the success of your SMB and your ability to manage your sales team to increase sales.

* * * * *

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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Another Blinding Flash of the Obvious in Sales

The top sales performers I know, know “telling ain’t selling.”  They also know something that others in sales fail to embrace – Values.

salesYesterday in listening to a friend share his experience about selling some real estate, I once again realized the importance of positive core values (business ethics) when it comes to sales.  He was sharing how he sold some property and a realtor verbally accosted him about not giving his firm an opportunity to sell the real estate.  The problem was the realtor sat on his not for profit board at the time and it would have been unethical.

Here in the Midwest, the Chicago Public Schools Corporation is facing some legitimate scrutiny respective to a no-bid contract by its former CEO.  Given that all executives and board members sign conflict of interest statements, what happened at CPS is truly an ethics violation that had serious legal ramifications.

Salespeople have a higher obligation to be ethical. The reason is simple sales drives the revenue.

If revenue is received under false pretenses, everyone in the organization suffers.

Maintaining a high ethical standard sometimes is difficult especially because of demands by sales management to personal financial choices.  This is quite true for some small business owners who must maintain some cash flow.

Turning down sales hurts. Yet accepting sales that are not a good fit or that are earned under false pretenses hurts far more.

In the book I wrote several years ago Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits, the second chapter was all about personal business ethics or values.  When working with sales coaching clients, the first action we take together is to work on their purpose and value statements. Having crystal clarity about one’s personal business ethics is essential to business growth because people buy from people they know and trust. If you want to be a top sales performer, then make sure you have crystal clarity about your personal ethics and never, ever compromise them because when you do, you have lost more than the sale you just gained.

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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 1-219-508-2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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