Posts Tagged ‘sales objection’

Bad Customer Service Should Not Be a Sales Objection

Selling in today’s world has many challenges.  Bad customer service should not be one of them.

Top sales performers know how to overcome a sales objection. Yet when that sales objection is something beyond their control such as customer service, delivery by another vendor to invoicing, earning the sale becomes even more difficult.

Real Time Bad Customer Service

Recent events on social media have shown the impact of real time customer experience.  A colleague, Carole Mahoney said “The customer experience is just a viral tweet away.” And she is quite correct.

Not only do current customers know of the less than desirable customer experience and how it was handled by management, but other sales leads or sales prospects are now witness to that same experience in real time.

Imagine for a moment you are just about to “close the sale” when a viral tweet reveals bad customer service.  How do you handle this sales objection?  And the better question is why should you if everyone in the organization has the same clarity of purpose?

When the smallest to the largest organizations have an engaged sales culture where everyone knows his or her actions can have a positive or negative impact on current and future growth, they are probably less likely to deliver bad customer service.

Excellent customer service supports the organizational and the salespeople goal to increase sales. The salespeople no longer have to fear “what happens after the order is placed.”  Yes, they know they must stay in communication with the customer, but they also know their in house team has their back.

Executive Leadership Must Lead

Failure to address the bad customer experience correctly is the responsibility of leadership as noted in this posting: Tone Deaf Executive Leadership Ignores What Customers Value. When executive leadership fails to listen to the customers, their tone deafness just adds to the sales objections.

With all the resources including books, podcasts, webinars, seminars, training and development available, no organization should deliver bad customer service. Salespeople should not have to overcome this sales objection.  If it is happening, then executive leadership must get off their rear ends and start leading in the right direction.

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How Process Trumps Price in Business, Executive or Sales Coaching

Once again I heard, “Your price is too high.  I can get sales coaching for a much cheaper cost.” Possibly you have also heard a similar sales objection to your price?

sakes-coaching

Credit www.pixabay.com

My direct reply to this sales objection was:

“Then that other coach may be a better solution fit for you.  My fees that you believe are too high are the result of 19 years as an executive, business and sales coach with a proven track record.

There are only two problems in any SMB – people or process.

Many executive coaches, business coaches and sales coaches lack a process.  This is why I have personally coached numerous executive, business and sales coaches who did not have a process.  Effective coaching be it for executive, small business owners or sales professionals is 100% about continuous improvement. How can anyone engage in sustainable continuous improvement without an initial process?”

Sales Coaching Tip:  Not everyone is the best fit as a sales coaching client. I already had a sense this was not my ideal customer because forward thinking people do not bring price up at the beginning or sometimes never at all.

In speaking with my colleagues on the East and West Coast as well as with some of my clients, my coaching fees are way too reasonable for the proven results I deliver. However a SMB owner one must be cognizant of the market place.  Also having separate fees for different geographical areas just seems unethical to me.

If you are thinking about hiring a sales coach, then the first question should not be about price, but rather about process.  What process does the coach employ?

The second question should be directed to what are the results generated by the process?  Results must be quantitative (measurable) not just some feel good qualitative results. This may require you speaking with the clients of the coach you are considering hiring.

As to the third and final question, is how do your clients get those results? Here is where the rubber meets the road for those engaged in executive, business or sales coaching.

Click HERE to schedule your time to learn of my answer to that third question.

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How to Boost Residential Real Estate Sales – Part 01

With inventory of residential real estate at exceptionally low levels for some parts of the country along with many real estate agents competing for a smaller portion of the overall residential real estate sales industry, maybe this one tip may help increase sales:

residential-real-estate

Credit www.gratisography.com

Answer the DAMN phone!

Normally I do not swear in a blog postings. Yet, why would any competent salesperson in any industry not answer the phone is beyond me.

People are busy and that includes your potential ideal customers.  If your voice mail does not kick in quickly, four to five rings, the caller is likely to hang up.

Recently I received a very poorly written direct mail piece from a local realtor here in Northwest IN.  He asked me to call him and I did. I will admit I made the call more out of curiosity than anything else.

ReadRealtors Your Marketing Message Sucks – Part 01 of a 5 Part Series

His residential real estate sales office phone rang 6 times and no one answered at 9:30am on a Tuesday morning. So I called the mobile number and it rang 8 times without being answered.  Voice mail on either line never kicked in.

Now this individual who indicated he was in residential real estate sales wanted my business.  He said he could sell my house.  Well, if he doesn’t answer the phone, he just showed me his marketing message was all talk and no action.

By not answering the phone he created a real big sales objection – HIM!

Answering the phone is the first step in overcoming you as a sales objection. People buy from people they know and trust.  If you don’t answer the phone, how can people come to know you and subsequently trust you.

Before I established this executive coaching and leadership development consulting practice over 18 years ago, I was in corporate sales.  Our phones were answered within 3 rings.  We did not have the luxury of voice mail.

Everyone was on notice that any phone that rang more than 3 times was a potential lost opportunity to increase sales. Our business had eight lines and many times during the day, all eight lines were active. We trained our all employees including inside salespeople and outside salespeople to end conversations as quickly as possible so at least one line was always open.

If you want to boost residential real estate sales, then begin with this first increase sales coaching tip:

Answer Your DAMN phone!

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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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The Unspoken Sales Objection – I’m Not That Blond

In small business, a sales objection is part of the relationship selling.  Yet, one of the few sales objections never spoken was summed up very well by one of my clients –  I’m not that blond.”

sales-objection

Credit www.gratisography.com

The client was sharing her interactions with a male salesperson who was attempting to low ball the value on two pieces of equipment she was looking to sell. The salesman offered her a market value that actually only covered one piece and not the two pieces.

He attempted to take advantage of her presumed ignorance and that she was a woman in a traditionally male dominated industry.  Internally as she spoke with him, she said to herself “I’m not that blond.”

Having been a woman in corporate sales for over 30 years, I can remember many salesmen who attempted to insult my intelligence and experience.  They were patronizing, ego driven and a total turn off.

What is surprising is this is still happening today where so many small businesses are owned by women. Currently one third of all small businesses are owned by women.  This percentage continues to grow at 1.5 times the national average according to a survey commissioned by American Express. Additionally, women owned businesses account for $1.4 trillion in revenues.

The first sales objection is you as the seller. If the buyer has not bought you regardless of your sex, then you have lost the sale before you even started. In many instances when the price objection surfaces, it happened because you are the seller were not bought by the buyer or your firm was not bought by the buyer.

Now maybe you as a salesperson has not heard this sales objection of “I’m not that blond,” but it does exist in other words such as:

  • This is not my first ball game”
  • “I’m not that stupid”
  • “You’ve got to be kidding me, this is how….”

If you are a salesperson who believes in relationship selling, have a sales lead who is a woman and wish to avoid this unspoken sales objection, then do you research and remember you must be bought before any solution you offer will be even considered.

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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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Realtors – Your Marketing Message Sucks – Part 02

So you open up a piece of mail in a business envelop hand addressed without a return address and low and behold you see this marketing message:

How about 3%?

marketing-message

You also see this is from a realtor that you do not know and who obviously does not know you.  What you also see is this is a copy of a copy and realtor thinks he is a doctor by the poor penmanship.

His marketing message reveals  he does not think enough about you to even include your name in the direct mail piece.  Doesn’t he know about technology and mail merge?

Then you read the rest of the direct mail piece and cringe inside.

“If you list with me and I represent the buyer who buys your home, you pay only 3% commission.”

Now he may be telling me instead of the 6% standard fee for listing and selling, I pay only 3%.  Yet he is also telling me he represents the buyer not the seller.

The letter goes on and states:

“No extra frees. No Transaction Fees. No Document Storage Fees.”

I guess he presumes I do not know about these fees.

The problem with this direct mail piece is the realtor fails to understand many of today’s buyers are far more educated than in the past.  Depending upon the sales research, anywhere from 20% to 60% of the buying decision is made before any emails or phone calls are made. This is why business to business networking groups work well because people learn to know and trust other people.

This realtor is engaged in traditional, product based selling instead of education based selling.  He also failed to realize the first sales objection is him as a salesperson.  To me he is a complete stranger.

Another item cited in his letter is “am among the top producers in NW Indiana.”  For me to buy that statement from a trust perspective, it probably would have been better to cite some outside source. The third buying rule is people buy on value unique to them. This realtor has not established any value from my perspective.

Finally, his closing remarks said “I’m aggressive, honest and straight forward.”  Really, given he mailed a copy of a copy direct mail piece, my personal sense was he was lazy.

My analysis of this direct mail piece sounds harsh and it is meant to be harsh.  If you are a realtor and want to Be the Red jacket, stand out away from all those other realtors, then stop with any marketing message that sucks.

Tomorrow’s blog will reveal by numbers how the marketing message for many realtors is not securing the desired results – increase sales.

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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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Are You Facing This Sales Barrier of ‘Everyone Is a Coach’?

A colleague emailed a business card of another coach who joined a local Chamber of Commerce. His email RE line read: Everyone is a coach.  This statement has become a sales barrier for many good executive coaches who go beyond the platitudes offered by some coaches.

With executive coaching continuing to grow and be marketed as the “quick fix” to gain instant wealth, this sales barrier will continue to expand because not everyone is a coach, or at least an effective, results driven coach.

For executive coaches and business coaches who have a proven track record of delivering results, many must overcome this implied sales barrier or sales objection. In the past month I have encountered several new coaches from a multi-level marketing leadership coaching program to a well-known author who has developed his leadership coaching program.  Then there is a national survey firm that is now offering leadership coaching program based on its assessment. By the way this assessment’s validity is less than reliable and yet because of the firm’s market presence people are buying into it.

The Attribute Index Is One of the Most Accurate Assessments for Leadership Development

Additionally from a personal level, approximately 25% of my executive coaching, business coaching or sales coaching clients have had a negative experienced with a coach. They reached out to me because of these three tips I am sharing with you.

So the question becomes how do you as an executive coach, business coach or consultant overcome this flood of “everyone is a coach?”

sales-barrier

Tip #1 – Credibility through Crystal Clarity

Establish, build and reinforce your credibility.  Through effective marketing you can establish, build and continually reinforce your credibility. This focus helps to overcome this sales barrier or sales objection.

If you are a coach, then focus on coaching.  Many coaches lack crystal clarity and attempt to be everything to everybody. In reviewing several LinkedIn profiles of executive coaches and business coaches, I read in the headline variations of “coach, mentor, speaker, author or trainer.”  What these individuals were doing was focusing on keywords and thereby they unintentionally placed themselves in the Red Ocean” as described in the book, Blue Ocean Strategy.

Tip #2 – Stop with the Sales Pitch in Your Marketing Messages

sales-barrier

Peter Drucker said and I am paraphrasing “When marketing is done well, selling if effortless.” Others have said “Marketing is not selling; but selling is marketing.”  When small business owners understand the sales process and then integrate those specific steps into their overall business operations, amazing results are possible including business growth and increase sales.

Additionally, ideal customers to centers of influence can easily smell the “desperation of sales stench.” The sales pitch body language is partly responsible for this foul odor.

And let us not forget those having the “hooves and mouth” disease only further contribute to this sales barrier or sales objection. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Hooves and mouth disease is you are so busy talking with your hands, shoving business cards to brochures and talking with your mouth, you have forgotten you have 2 ears.

Tip #3 – Let Go of Fearing Your Competition

sales-barrier

Credit: Gratisography

Rick Gosser of Gosser Corporate Sales said it best “I have no competitors.”  Sure he understood there are others within the embroidery apparel industry. However, he believes no one does exactly what he does and delivers the quality that he provides.

When we fear the competition, we probably have failed to embrace tips #1 and #2.  Over the years I have established significant professional and personal relationships with executive coaches, businesses coaches and sales coaches.  In some instances, I have made referral to these professionals because my practice does not center of mergers and acquisitions (M&A)  or selling  small businesses  My crystal clarity is to ensure sustainable business growth after the merge and acquisition for forward thinking leaders.

President Roosevelt said “The greatest fear is fear itself.”  Fear is indeed “False evidence appearing real.”  When we no longer fear the competition, we are less likely to criticize them.

If you are facing sales barriers or sales objections because everyone is a coach, then consider these 3 tips.  By differentiating yourself you can be the Red Jacket in that sea of gray suit coaches.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith, M.S.,  is an executive coach and business growth consultant with “the heuristic touch” for executive leaders and sales professionals in mid-size to small businesses that are seeking a high performance culture from increase sales to workforce engagement.  Her task is to support forward thinking leaders in bridging the gap between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals. She can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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The Confusion Path Between Sales Objections & Qualifying Customers

Some recent social media discussions revealed there exists significant confusion about sales objections.  This is best explained because in the past the marketing depattment handed off the fully qualified sales leads to lukewarm ones to the sales department.

sales-objectionsNow with 97.7% of all businesses here in the US having under 20 employees and far more constrained budgets, marketing departments are no longer separate entities.  Usually the small business owners to even those in sales management must integrate marketing activities with selling activities and thus begins the sales objections confusion path.

Before any salesperson can sell their solution (products or services), they must have a clearly articulated ideal customer along with having these four (4) to five (5) qualifying criteria met:

  1. Decision maker – the person who can actually sign the check or approve signing the check
  2. Allocated budget – just because the company has dollars does not mean those dollars will be directed your way
  3. Wants or needs for your solution
  4. Urgency to take action – sometimes salespeople can build a case for urgency
  5. Commitment to take action – salespeople can also build through proper research a greater emotional desire to make a decision in their favor

The ideal customer profile is the result of having invested the time to engage in strategic thinking and planning. Unfortunately for many small businesses they embrace the role of Captain Wing It where they spray their marketing and selling actions all over the place and then pray something will stick. I recently heard this during a public workshop where some SEO experts with significant national accounts recommended developing the marketing plan first and then determining the ideal customer.  Bad advice, very bad advice.

For example, if your sales lead or prospect cannot make a buying decision this is not a sales objection, but rather one of poor qualification. This happens a lot for realtors and even car sales people. Potential customers walk in and because they have poor credit scores, limited work history, excessive debt, etc. they cannot buy anything less along something as expensive as a house or car.

A true sales objection only happens after the sales lead has been 100% qualified and you as the salesperson do not violate the 3 Sales Buying Rules.  Now if the marketing has been executed flawlessly or almost flawlessly, the prospect will pull you, the salesperson, to him or her so you do not have to engage in “push selling” where you are pushing (think pitching) your solution.

Many sales are made without sales objections.  Again, some in sales believe if you are not achieving sales objections you are not selling.  This is a false belief and is in many cases because of ME or massive ego.

By ensuring through your marketing action plan your sales leads are qualified and better yet fully qualified will reduce the number of sales objections as well as your stress in making your marketing and sales goals.

 

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The 3 Minus 1 Small Business Reality

Years ago I heard my father shared this small business reality.

small-business“With it comes to price, delivery and quality, most people can only secure two of the three.”

He went on that most people will not sacrifice:

  • Quality because they do not want to repurchase the solution
  • Delivery because they want the solution now

Buyers are willing to sacrifice price to ensure they have both quality and delivery.

How many in small business sales have the belief that pricing is the ultimate sales objection?

Dad also applied what I call this 3 minus 1 Rule to the belief “people buy from people they know, like and trust.”

When it comes to small business, Dad said customers or clients will not buy from:

  • People they do not know
  • People they do not trust

Again, buyers do not have to like the salesperson providing the solutions. Here again they are willing to give up “liking” someone.

Now Dad defined the word like “as someone I would take home for dinner.”

From my own experiences, I have come to believe in both of these “3 Minus 1” Rules for small business.

Last year I earned an executive coaching client who reached out to me because she knew me and trusted me.  I discovered during our executive coaching sessions initially she did not really like me.  However, she believed that I could support her in her effort to gain clarity and move forward. After time, she now likes me and we have become friends.

Knowing and trusting your salesperson is far more important than liking the individual as quality and delivery are more important than price.

Yes in many instances, your small business clients can achieve all three, however by removing one allows you more opportunity and provides greater clarity.

 

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Trickle Down Uncertainty Is The Shadow Obstacle Behind Sales Objections

With the US economy still sluggish (2013 GDP at 1.6) along with the enacted and yet to be enacted governmental policies, uncertainty in the marketplace is the shadow obstacle behind many sales objections.  Surveys and actual news reports reveal this uncertainty by the reduction in force, the unemployment rate and the reluctance of many businesses to move forward with any capital expenditures.  For example, Apple is holding over $147 billion in cash.

sales-objectionsThis uncertainty has created a trickle down effect where many other small businesses are holding back from making any investment in their people to their operations including marketing. For those in sales, uncertainty has indeed become the shadow obstacle behind many sales objections.

As in any sales objection, the goal is to gain clarity as to the real reason for not moving forward.  The decision maker may have the allocated budget, may have the want and desire, may have the urgency and may have the commitment. However in the back of his or her mind uncertainty takes over earning the sale becomes more difficult.

What I am discovering with small business owners (under 100 employees) is by discussing uncertainty upfront in the general conversation brings this obstacle behind some of those sales objections out of the shadows and even allows for additional fact finding information in a non-threatening manner. Many times the best action is to discuss the elephant in the room so to speak. Of course, one must have an established relationship depending upon how big that elephant really is.

Another result of trickle down uncertainty is the extension of the sales cycle.  What may have been a 6 month sales cycle has now morphed into 12 months or longer sales cycle.

Uncertainty causes fear and fear is a sales objection.

And we know that fear in many cases is False Evidence Appearing Real.

This is the time to discuss what happens when action (a decision to move forward) is not taken.  Knowing the dollars and cents of inaction is a strong  earning the sales skill. The ability to make a financial case for making a decision in your favor also propels the decision to take action forward. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Sales objections should be embraced not feared by salespeople.

Uncertainty can be a sales killer, but also can be your opportunity to outshine your competitors who have failed to understand the impact of this reality.

If you truly want to increase sales especially if you are suffering from uncertainty, then scheduled a no risk 20 minute Business Growth Accelerator Session with Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.759.5601 CST where you will receive:

#1 – Quick assessment of your current sales process

#2 – One business growth strategy to increase results by 20% in 60 days

Consider giving her a call especially if what you have tried has not worked and you are ready to challenge and then change the current status quo.

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Ready for These 21 Sales Truths?

Your perception is your reality.

sales

The chasm between your perception of reality and reality is “the truth” or “truths.”

So what sales truths are keeping you from being wildly successful?

#1 – 90% of all sales earned are made between the fourth and twelfth contacts (1)

#2 – 90% of all salespeople give up after the third contact (1)

#3 – 98.4% of all salespersons do not know their top three talents (2)

#4 – 97.3% of all salespersons  know at least one of their lower three talents (2)

#5 – The super majority in sales confuse marketing with selling. (If you disagree, attend any business to business networking event and observe all those who toss out business cards, spew that they do and then move onto the next victim.)

#6 – You must invest in yourself first before anyone will make an investment in you. (Today those in sales must stay ahead of the flow. This demands investing in their own professional development including reading; attending professional education workshops; and even sales coaching.)

#7 – You are the first sales objection. People (your prospects or ideal customers) must buy you first before they can buy your company, your solution, your price and your delivery.

#8 – Exceptional emotional intelligence is a key differentiator.

#9 – Your sales prospects do not care about you.

#10 – Adaptation is a necessity and a sales survival skill.

#11 – Most salespeople are in “push mode” behavior instead of in “pull mode” behavior. Much of the sales training has created “pushy” salespeople who push their solutions (products or services) onto the prospect instead of allowing the prospect pull the seller to him or her.

#12 – “The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.” Peter Drucker

#13 – “Your brand is your promise.” Gus Olympidis, President of Family Express

#14 – Crystal clarity is critical and is lacking by 90% of those in sales. (See above sales truths 1-4.)

#15 – Reflection required.  Failure to reflect only allows you to continue to make the same mistakes while you are hoping for different results.

#16 – Time management is an oxymoron as no one can manage a constant. Poor time management means poor self management.

#17 – If you do not like to sell, this belief (attitude) is picked up by those around you.

#18 – Too much passion in what you love to sell is as dangerous as not enough passion.

#19 – A good ego is required; a strong ego is a turn off.

#20 – Active listening reduces the number of questions you need to ask.

#21 – Worldwide 99.1% of all businesses have under 100 employees. In the US, 97.7% have 19 employees or less.

These are the first 21 sales truths I thought of this morning.  If you have some others, please feel free to add them below as a comment. And s if you disagree, that is Okay as well.

(1) National Sales Executive Association

(2) Data from over 500 Innermetrix assessments complied by Leanne Hoagland-Smith

 

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