Posts Tagged ‘sales process’

Always Remember Customer Service Is SALES!

How many times do those in B2B or even B2C industries fail to understand customer service is sales.  A new report just released by Astound Commerce through secret shoppers recognized seven retailers who excel in customer service through:

customer service

  • Must have website
  • Visibility
  • Overall customer service
  • Speed of delivery
  • Efficiency of checkout

One of the top seven performers was The Home Depot. I know from personal experience this firm understands how serving the customers within the store will increase sales.  Here in Valparaiso IN, the store has hired certified and licensed electricians, plumbers and carpenters to assist customers with their questions. Even though my husband is an engineer, he has been advised by these professional tradesmen of better ways to do home improvement as well as some of the new products.

For example, toilets for years had a wax ring that attached to the bottom of the toilet and closet flange.  Over time the wax dries out and cracks.  Several years ago through the plumber at Home Depot, my husband learned of a neoprene boot that is attached to the bottom of the toilet and then fits past the closet flange.  The end result is a far better seal and one that does not not replacement.  The cost of a wax ring under $5.00 versus the cost of the neoprene boot around $15.00.  Husband spent $30 instead of $10 has he replaced not just one wax ring, but two.

Today I read Home Depot’s quarterly earning were ahead of expectations. Much of this was due to improved housing market and I also believe much was due to increase sales by loyal customers.

All SMBs have a 7-step-sales-process-advsys Within these 7 steps are third phases:

  • Marketing
  • Selling
  • Keeping

The third and final phase of keeping is one where both salespeople and customer service people work to keep those loyal customers.

Yes customer service is sales and if as a SMB owner or sales professional you forget this simple fact, you may be exposing yourself decreasing sales, declining profits and increasing stress.

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Suffering from the Retreat Sales Mentality Are We?

Sometimes when the going gets tough instead of the tough get going what happens is the retreat sales mentality sets in.  This way of thinking attacks the self-confidence, self starting ability and overall personal accountability on two fronts:

sales-mentality

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  • Conscious
  • Subconscious

A pending sales lead suddenly changes course and leaves you wondering why should I continue?  Retreating and seeking another sales lead appears to be a better route.

If you disagree, then how do you explain sales research that 44% of salespeople give up (retreat) after one followup? (Source: Scripted)

Possibly another reason for the retreat mentality is the salesperson has different expectations than the sales lead.  These expectations may be a quick sale to an easy sale (less decision makers).  However reality in the B2B marketplace runs contradictory to those self-imposed expectations.

  • 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)
  • 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy.   (Source: Gleanster Research)
  • Firms with 100-500 employees, an average of 7 people are involved in most buying decision.   (Source: Gartner Group)

Another example of retreat sales mentality surfaces during the selling phase of the sales process.  Far too many salespeople are quick to reduce price to get a sale instead of being able to demonstrate the value of their solution respective to the desired end results for the potential ideal customer.

In sales having a strong and positive mental attitude is a prerequisite for success. Giving up when the first limitation arises only reinforces this sales mentality to retreat instead of to persevere.

I believe the words we use and think are critical to overall sales success as well as success in life.  Maybe the next time you become discouraged, ask yourself are you retreating?  What does it mean to retreat?  Is there another way to win this sale for you as well as for your customer?

Curious if your talents of self confidence, self starting ability and personal accountability are strong?

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What Is the Purpose of Sales Skills?

Good sales skills are essential.  Yet with all the emphasis on the more technical skills like discovering wants and needs; asking open ended questions or turning stalls into objections, I sometimes believe we are forgetting the two fold purpose of these skills:

  • Communication
  • Engagement

I just finished reading a well written and very results driven article by Tony Hughes about the secrets in how to use LinkedIn Sales Navigator more effectively.  The key takeaways reaffirmed the incredible power of communication and engagement for those within sales leadership roles.

sales-skillsSales research also reveals how much of today’s sales skills return to communication and engagement.

  • 44% of salespeople give up after one contact (Source: Scripted)
  • The average salesperson makes only two attempts to reach a prospect (Source: Sirius Decisions)
  • 80% of sales require 5 follow-up phone calls after the first meeting (Source: The Marketing Donut)

Yet when most of the sales training is reviewed, how much time is actually spent on communication from phone calls, to voice mails to emails to other forms?

Check out Mark Hunter’s book – High Profit Prospecting. He provides some great communication and engagement templates.

Then when we examine engagement, the focus again returns to technical sales skills and yet skills associated with engagement are either ignored or briefly discussed.

21st Century Selling Goes Beyond Typical Sales Skills

Possibly part of the reason communication and engagement are not considered priorities within sales training is because most sales training focuses on selling and not on marketing.  Herein lies the problem.

Peter Drucker said a “…business has two basic functions, marketing and innovation. Everything else is a cost.”

Marketing is rarely ever included within sales training because most sales training is model on what works for the big firms with over 500 employees. Unfortunately in today’s marketplace, 97.7% of all U.S. businesses have under 20 employees. These firms do not have the luxury of having departments devoted to marketing. No it is the salespeople who are the first contact with potential sales leads. This is why communication and engagement are the first sales skills salespeople demonstrate.

If you missed the reason for the this new sales leadership model and an explanation of the other four points,  you can learn more through these posting:

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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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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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Are These Words Hurting Your Sales Conversations?

Words are powerful. Words can make a break a sale. So what words are hurting your sales conversations?

sales-conversations

Credit www.pixabay.com

One of the most damaging words is “need.”  This word implies judgement and suggests potential incompetence on the part of the sales lead.  What is even worse most sales training focuses on “needs” and “wants” and reinforces this word within the salesperson.

Sales Coaching Tip: The word “need” fails to be emotionally intelligent.

Then how about the word “think?” Here is another word within most sales conversations that also may be viewed as emotionally unintelligent because it implies judgment.  The salesperson who uses this word may also be viewed as too egotistical as the sales prospect may be saying to himself “Who is this person telling me what to think?”

Now we come to the word “you.”  Again another word that can imply judgement.  These three words, “in your opinion” can be substituted.

“Should” can also be added to the list of words to remove from one’s sales conversations.  Most of us probably remember our parents telling us “you should” do this or do that.  Even back then we had an emotional reaction because it removed our ability to make a choice as discussed within the Theory of Self-Determination.

There are other words that may not be judgmental, but are so overused people are impervious to them.  How many times in the B2B or B2C marketplace we hear this word “help?”  “We help people, blah, blah, blah.” Everybody is helping everybody.  Really? With all the words in the English language, another word cannot be found?

Sales Coaching Tip:  Help is how you do what you do; not what you do.

Then there is this word, “challenge.”  Within the sales process during the fact finding meeting, salespeople are encouraged to discover the challenges being faced by sales lead.  In some instances, this word may create some negative feedback because of overuse or the salesperson sounds like all the other salespeople.

Download this 7-Step-Sales-Process-ADVSYS PDF to better understand the overall sales process.

One word, a slip of the tongue so to speak, can potentially doom any blossoming relationship. This is way integrating the most emotionally engaging words in all sales conversations is essential for sales success.

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Don’t Tell Me You Are in Sales…

Being in sales for over 40 years, I am continually surprised by the SMB salespeople who tell me they are in sales and want to sell.  Yet upon questioning, I hear all these self-imposed, self justification excuses as to why they are not achieving their sales goals.  These years of sales experience afford me the opportunity to quickly tell if a salesperson really knows:

are-in-sales

Credit www.gratisography.com

  • The sales process
  • Relationship selling
  • Social selling
  • Marketing through social media and B2B networking event
  • Prospecting

How can I tell? Because I listen for some of these excuses:

  • I haven’t updated my LinkedIn profile in the last six months
  • I am not on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
  • I am in business development not sales
  • I don’t market myself, that’s for the SMB owner to do
  • I am on LinkedIn, but don’t use it
  • I’m not prospecting for sales leads because I should receive them from the SMB owner, sales manager or website
  • My sales skills are great
  • I am not getting any sales referrals
  • I have under 500 contacts on LinkedIn
  • I don’t know my inventory (real estate, retail associates, etc.)
  • I hadn’t heard that about my industry (current industry trends)
  • I don’t have time to answer the phone
  • I am too busy to respond to emails
  • I’m not seeking low hanging fruit (easier sales)
  • I really want to increase sales, but…

If you are in sales and want to increase sales, then listen to your own excuses.

Schedule a phone call by CLICKING HERE with Leanne Hoagland-Smith to discuss what is currently limiting your sales success and receive a FREE self-assessment.

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Be Selective Before You Send that Prospecting LinkedIn Email

How do you tell a potentially clueless or desperate LinkedIn member?  One potential identifier is a prospecting email sent by a professional colleague from over a 1,000 miles away to attend his workshop for executives just like you.  Gee, you think he would have known better. Of course with the extensive sales research regarding prospecting on LinkedIn, maybe he thought he could take a short-cut?

prospectingEmbracing the send all approach is a sales prospecting loser.  Yes going through your LinkedIn contacts one at a time is more time consuming.

Additionally what your LinkedIn email message says reveals a lot about your overall sales process (marketing, selling and keeping).  For example in a more recent LinkedIn email here is the first line:

“It may have been a while since we have connected but that does not mean I have not been thinking of you in some way!”

Really if this was true, why not pick up the phone and give me a call?  Even if I believed this first statement, the rest of the email shows me this is a 100% sales pitch. The email continues:

I have spent the better part of the last year focused on some of the biggest challenges that middle market businesses face on a regular basis and thought the result of that effort might interest you or I would appreciate your introducing this e-mail to someone that would benefit.

Given I am not this person’s target market, he thought his sales pitch would be of interest or I would willingly share it with my contacts.  I do believe in developing communities to expand one’s marketing efforts.

Using LinkedIn email in this manner is probably not the best tactic.  Additionally, we belong in a LinkedIn group which would have been a much better vehicle to share this event.

LinkedIn is a great marketing tool to prospect. As in the use of any tool, it must be used continually honed and used wisely.

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Possibly These “R” Words Are Limiting Your Sales Activities?

Sometimes when we think of one word that begins with a specific letter, suddenly others come quickly to mind. This morning I heard this word, regret, and began to wonder how many other “R” words limit our sales activities.

sales-activitiesRegret

Regret is a word that hangs over some salespeople. “I should have done that or I could have done that.” Have you ever similar regret thoughts? Regrets can quickly diminish sales activities.

Reflection

When we reflect, may create some internal regret.  However without reflection, how do we know what we did correct or incorrect?  What requires improvement regarding our sales skills to our actual sales process?

Referrals

Sales referrals for many are the primary source to increase sales. These referrals spur many sales activities.

Recommendations

From sales referrals, we may secure new clients. If we honor our promises within the sales solutions we are providing, then we may be fortunate to receive recommendations or testimonials.  Few people want to chance an unknown, to be the first to try something new.

Respond

How quickly do you respond to phone calls, emails and texts?  Then when you do respond, what is the tone of your response?  Are you emotionally intelligent in your responses?

Reactions

Some may think reaction is the same as respond.  To me, reactions are more subconscious than conscious. With 80-90% of our thoughts being subconscious, then there are multiple reactions happening without our conscious knowledge.  These reactions project energy that others may feel.

Results

Beyond meeting the goal to increase sales, what other results do you want?  How many qualified sales leads are you securing each week or month? How are you developing customer loyalty? Are you maintaining work/life balance to some degree?

I am sure there are many other “R” words that are connected to our sales activities.  If you think of one, please share below in the comment section.

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Faith in Sales, in You and Your Solutions

A colleague of mine, Elinor Stutz, shared an article on LinkedIn Pulse in which she discussed a sales tip about commitment. She then went on to articulate numerous actions to ensure commitment. I added in my comments that having faith in sales is also important.

faith-in-salesFaith in sales means you first have faith in your overall sales process.  Have you invested the time to hone your process including marketing, selling and keeping? In today’s market, many focus only on selling and end up making sales pitches before the marketing phase has been successfully completed.

Yesterday I received a LinkedIn invitation from a complete stranger who wanted me to review his book.  He shared he had hired a researcher to find people who reviewed similar books.  From my perspective, he violated the number one basic buying rule: People buy from people they know and trust.

Peter Drucker said (paraphrasing) when marketing is done well selling is effortless.  Bad marketing makes selling that much harder.

Do you have faith in yourself?  Have you invested the time to improve your interpersonal skills to sales skills?

Do you have faith in your sales solutions?  Are your solutions sustainable or just another quick fix solving a symptom instead of the real problem?

I am reminded of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  Jones had to take a leap or a step of faith to cross a wide and deep chasm that do not appear to have any bridge. Yet the bridge was there all along.  He just couldn’t see it.  In Stutz’s post she reminds us of the following:

“Progressing through the darkest tunnels leads to our brightest light.”

Faith in sales is what works with us to progress through those dark tunnels to lead to that bright light of sales success.  For without faith, we are truly lost.  Faith goes beyond confidence. Faith is something unexplainable because it defies reason and logic.

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