Posts Tagged ‘sales referral’

To Increase Sales Telling Ain’t Selling and Neither Is Educating

Possibly you read this headline and thought I was speaking blasphemy. What do you mean educating will not increase sales?  All those sales experts provide advice about educating your customers. What about education based marketing?

Before your head potentially explodes, let me explain.  Sometimes in order to sell our solutions (products or services) we have a tendency to over educate our sales leads.  We give them way too much information. By over educating, we can potentially lose the ability to increase sales.

What would happen if you in educating your customer told him or her only what he or she needed to know?  Just answer the question with a little education instead of reciting the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Thousands of leadership to sales blogs are written each day with the goal to educate the reader and hopefully all the education will entice the reader to pick up the phone can make that coveted first contact.  So how is that working for you? Do you find all this educating has achieved your goal to increase sales?

For example, yesterday I received a sales referral.  In speaking with the sales referral, she shared some personal information including the absence of a will by her father.  She is looking to move to Arizona. I told her Arizona believes you know the inheritance law that being without a will your estate goes to AZ and AZ determines who gets what.  The sales referral truly appreciated that education tidbit.

When we actively listen, we can educate discreetly or even indirectly without engaging in telling ain’t selling sales conversations. Additionally, we are not over educating, giving away our solutions.  Why would people buy your solution when you just gave it away in your educating interactions from sales conversations to social media postings?

Yes telling ain’t selling is very true. Educating, too much of it, ain’t selling either.

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Your Third, But Not Your Final Step to Increase Sales

Sales is a process and one that is dynamic, fluid and yet still constant. To actually increase sales requires you to execute, take action after you have engaged in assessing and clarifying your direction.

What usually happens is many sales managers through their salespeople into execution, taking action while skipping the first two steps. This behavior then resembles as a colleague called it, Captain Wing-It who sprays his or her actions all over the place and then prays something will stick.

Read this posting about failed execution – My Best Referral (Sales Prospect) Is Anyone With a Pulse

Even the best strategy will not be effective if there is poor execution.  Exceptional execution will not happen with poor strategy.  Investing the time to assess where you are, where the market is and then clarifying where you want to go, where your customers are going is essential.

increase-salesTo increase sales requires exceptional execution followed by reflection or reassessing what has happened. Through this reassessing process, then re-clarifying happens along with potentially re-prioritizing goals and even action steps.

Reflection allows you to determine what went well, what didn’t go so well and how can you improve your actions the next time.  This reflective analysis is the fourth step in critical thinking. potentially provides you with a better understanding of your own gaps.

Exceptional execution happens because of your commitment to planning, to thinking before taking action.  President Eisenhower, a military strategist, said “Plans are worthless, planning is everything.”

Even during execution, your “increase sales” brain should be in full awareness mode so that you can make any course corrections in your sales conversation.  Sometimes the sales lead is ready to buy and yet the salesperson ignores all the signs because he or she is still in sales script behavior.

Yes to increase sales is relatively simple though not necessarily easy by these three  repetitive steps:

Assess – Clarify – Executive – Repeat

Consider connecting with me on my calendar if you wish to learn how the A.C.E. can be applied to your sales culture.

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Simply Speaking Sales Referrals Are Priceless

Sales referrals are like gold, actually more valuable. When trusted colleagues or friends either make a sales recommendation or provide a name when asked, this action usually means increase sales for the beneficiary of the sales referral.

sales-referralsHaving just relocated 1825 miles away from where we lived for 30 plus years, finding new service personnel who deliver high quality work truly hasn’t been much of a challenge.  First, the Internet through reviews which are indirect sales referrals helped locate the Internet provider.  Then I also learned the previous owner had also subscribed to this provider.

We required an inspection and potential repair to an old built in Tappan built inn oven.  Again, doing Internet research I discovered a local appliance shop that repaired Tappan ranges and sold appliances.

Their service personnel were both efficient and effective.  I truly love it when service personnel show up on time.  The end result of this experience was $2,000 in sales for this local appliance firm.

Also, we had an unexpected plumbing issue on a Sunday afternoon.  I called our realtor who provided the name of the only local plumbing firm she has used.  We called and the plumber solved our plumbing issue. Also because of his efficient and effective service, we took his recommendation about another serious and potential plumbing. He came back the next day and fixed that issue. Again, between the two service calls and the parts we purchased from a local hardware store, another $1,500 was added to the local economy.

Finally with two fenced acres of land, we decided it was time again for a dog. Another text to our realtor and she recommended a local human society.  Within 72 hours, we adopted a rescued three month old puppy. This was our less expensive cash outlay, less than $2o0 for adoption fee and food.

Sales referrals are indeed priceless.  Money cannot buy authentically given sales recommendations. Note the key word is given.  Even with the rampant use of the Net Promoter Score (how likely are you?), unless people actually take action and make a sales referral such scores are really useless.

Of course, one must also be willing to give sales referrals and that includes writing online reviews or even better yet, sending written letters of testimony.  I know I have several I must write in the next few days.

If you want to increase sales, make sure every contact with potential customers and existing customers is exceptional so you too can benefit from those priceless sales referrals.

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Where Realtors Are Missing Sales Opportunities – Part 2

The world of sales is changing and this includes the real estate market. Finding new sales opportunities in an evolving marketing requires thinking and doing things differently.



Currently the majority of business models within the residential real estate market is a 50/50 split of the commission paid by the owner of the home being sold. One realtor lists a home and usually a realtor from another firm sells the home.

Even though many realtors only want to list a home because this is the way they have done it for years, they are missing sales opportunities when the home does not sell.  Depending upon the time involved, there could be tens to hundreds of hours wasted when the home fails to sell.  All those hours devoted to marketing are lost and worse yet there is no revenue.

Enter the For Sale By Owner sellers and realtors are even more entrenched into just listing the house.  How ridiculous given there are a plethora of sales opportunities to be had to increase sales.

For example, instead of fighting the For Sale By Owner seller, why not act as a real estate consultant? Create a an affordable, alacarte fee schedule for the following:

  • Advising on how to make your home “show ready”
  • Providing more professional looking photographs to even taking a video
  • Writing actual marketing copy to be placed on free real estate listing websites such as Zillow
  • Offering to provide a lock box to even just a MLS number
  • Establishing a dedicated website
  • Posting to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Instead of hoping to get paid for marketing services, now the real estate agent gets paid for his or her efforts. Even better, the real estate agent is now developing a relationship with the For Sale By Owner seller.  Since people buy from people they know and trust, the realtor is becoming a trusted resource. Here is a potential sales referral resource as well.

As it has been said, if you keep doing the same thing over and over again hoping for different results, you are embracing insanity.  Now is the time to get ahead of the residential real estate market and actually get paid for your marketing services (listing) instead of hoping another realtor brings a buyer to your listing.

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The Sales Prospecting Dilemma of Should I Stay or Should I Go

Sales prospecting presents many dilemmas for salespeople.  Some sales research suggests more salespeople are going rather than staying with prospects.


  • 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up (Source: Scripted)
  • The average salesperson makes only two attempts to reach a sales prospect (Source:Sirius Decision)

Possibly part of the reason for more going than staying with this activity of sales prospecting is because there has been no time invested in strategic planning and identifying the ideal customer.

As one of my colleagues, Bill Napolitano, said “There are a lot of Captain Wing Its out in the SMB marketplace.” I further added this statement “who spray their actions all over the place and then pray something will stick.”

Unless salespeople have sales leads they will remain pocket poor. These leads must be nurtured because not everyone is ready to buy during that first encounter.  Years ago I read that just 2% of all closed deals happen during the first contact.

By short changing the strategic planning process, one of the results is short changing sales prospecting because it leads to spraying and praying instead of targeted prospecting.  Does it not make more sense to prospect strategically with the ideal customer in mind than anyone with a pulse?

If you believe anyone with a pulse is your best sales referral, then read this posting that has gathered over 10,000 views.

Currently there are two great books to help you with sales prospecting:

High Profit Prospecting by Mark Hunter.  Mark provides some very applicable templates to catapult your prospecting efforts.

Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount.  Jeb also shares great tips and actionable prospecting ideas.

To be able to answer this question forthrightly will only happen after you have invested the time to think and plan (note both are verbs) and then determine your ideal customer.

Download this free Ideal-Customer-Profile-Template to support you in your sales prospecting efforts.



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Not All Sales Referrals Produce Revenue

Sales referrals are an excellent revenue producer.  A loyal client refers one of his or her friends to you. A meeting is set and information is exchanged.

sales-leadsSome, not all,  executive coaches or business coaches in the first 15 minutes  of the sales conversation can usually determine the problem or problems keeping the sales referral from the attainment of his or her goals.  Some of these barriers can be overcome while others are totally beyond the control of the sales referral. Sales Coaching Tip:  The more due diligence on your part increases the likelihood of recognizing these barriers.

Usually the executive coach can also determine if the sales referral is an ideal customer during this meeting.  Sure he or she may be the decision maker, definitely has the wants and needs and appears to have urgency. This two fold question remains:

  • “Can he or she pay you?”
  • “Is he or she committed to taking action?”

Budget is one of the ongoing challenges for many of the sales referrals I receive.  Even though I can easily demonstrate the return on investment, if the sales referral does not have the budget, there is still no sale.

For example during this meeting, I easily quantified the impact of my solutions.  If executed correctly, the sales lead would have had at least doubled her current monthly new client acquisition and probably tripled those numbers. However even with this demonstration, she still was reluctant to invest in herself.

The other tidbit learned is the risk factor for the sales lead.  More forward thinking SMB owners to sales professionals are willing to take a risk while those who are not as forward thinking are less likely to take that risk.  Sales Coaching Tip:  Risk factor is a psychographic when it comes to profiling an ideal customer and is directly related to the commitment to take action.

Many times when we receive sales referrals, we know going in if the meeting is going to be successful meaning a next meeting would be scheduled. However because of loyalty to existing clients or colleagues, we schedule the meeting.  For me, these meetings are just another opportunity to further improve my sales conversation by learning how to connect to the value drivers of the sales referral.

Yes not all sales referrals produce revenue. This is a fact. What we can do is to continue to educate our clients about who are our best ideal clients while remaining true to our own personal core values.

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Where Many in Sales Are Missing Sales – Part 2

This is the second part of a two part series.

Beyond missing sales because of a lack of due diligence as well as seeking the quick sale, there are other sales gaps.


#3 Missing Sales Gap

#4 Missing Sales Gap

The role of Captain Wing It resurfaces again in marketing.  By not having a clear and emotionally compelling message directed to ideal clients, marketing activities such as business to business networking, social media, website and even business cards become far less effective. Sharing at a business to business networking luncheon, that anyone with a pulse is your best sales referral only reflects your lack of knowledge.

#5 Missing Sales Gap

Self improvement also is required to increase sales.  People buy from people they know and trust.  Your own knowledge of the industry, the local economy, etc. reaffirms that you are “on top of things.”

As noted in Part 1, from my experience many realtors had not read or were not aware of The Danger Report. This very intensive research on residential and commercial real estate here should have been read by all forward thinking real estate salespeople as part of their own self improvement.

Those who earn their living by selling products or services must be on a continued path of self improvement. Reading industry books to business books to other publications deepens the knowledge of the salesperson.

Years ago one of my colleagues, Doug Brown, made this statement:  We as salespeople drive by more business than we will ever have.

Doug is correct.  Each day salespeople are missing sales because they fail to do what they need to do. The good news is all salespeople have the opportunity to increase sales provided they close at least these five sales gap.

Want better results?

CLICK HERE to reserve your time to speak with me.

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The Value Disconnect by SMB Leadership

Isn’t it ironic that those in SMB leadership roles want their customers to see the value in their products or services and yet when it comes to those same SMB professionals buying the solutions of others, the first words out of their mouths “Is how much will this cost?”



This week I receive a solid sales referral from a colleague.  I called the sales referral and within a few moments after introductions he asked “What is your hourly rate?”  My response was “I don’t know because I don’t know what your goals are or what you want to achieve. What I would like for us to do is to have a meeting at your convenience so I can better understand your specific situation.”  He was open to that and a meeting has been scheduled.

I am sure when I meet with this sales lead his story will be similar to other SMB owners.  He provides more value than the “big box stores.” His customer service is much better and his products are the same or if not better.  I may even hear people buy from him because he brings more value to the customer relationship.

Yet, in his own leadership behaviors he is worried first about cost.  His attitude reflects those customers he wants to come to his SMB.  This is the value disconnect or easily translated “Do as I say; not as I do.”

Those in forward thinking leadership roles realize to grow their businesses requires an investment of time, energy, emotions and yes even money. However they also understand forward movement must be measured first by the results and secondly by the investment.  These individuals do not ask about price right out of the gate. No, in many instances price is never really discussed especially if the salesperson has connected to the correct value drivers and can provide a results driven solution.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership 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 REALLY BIG Upselling Sales Mistake

In the ongoing quest to increase sales, many professional salespeople continue to make this sales mistake when upselling:

They upsell before they have earned the first sale!

When working with a ideal potential customer, the goal is to earn the first sale by gaining a commitment to the solution desired by the potential customer.  This is not the time to upsell or change the buying field.


Give the customer what he or she wants or expects as the first solution.  If you want to upsell, then make that offer to the potential customer only after you have gained a commitment to your initial solution.

All those additional bells and whistles (offered as additional savings) usually mean nothing to the prospect unless he or she wanted them in the first place or if they connect to their value drivers. The goal is to solve their first problem.

This REALLY BIG upselling sales mistake often happens in these scenarios:

Business Consultants and Executive Coaches – The consultant or the coach sees far more than the ideal customer and overwhelms the sales prospect with his or her solution.  If the fact finding has been lazy, then the business consultant or executive coach should stay with the initial request.

Insurance Non-Health – The agent wants all the insurance and provides a solution including insurance not requested by the prospect.  Also, poor fact finding may be part of the reason for this upsell.  One of the key questions to ask is “What are you satisfied with your current provider?”

Insurance Health – With all the changes in health care, insurance brokers rely on subject matter experts such as accountants and even lawyers to ensure the right information. Sometimes these subject matter experts decide to go beyond what the sales prospects wants.  These efforts are not necessarily viewed as positive by the prospect.

Marketing Firms – With so many small business owners not having the resources to have separate marketing departments, they turn to marketing firms.  Again, what happens is the desire by the firms to make all their money in the first sale.  The sales prospect is overwhelmed with the solution including the price.

Sales Referral – With 97.7% of all small businesses in the US having under 20 employees, sales referrals are a proven way to increase sales.  Unfortunately, some believe the sales referral is permission to upsell.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  What happens is person who made the sales referral may end up having egg on his or her face because the potential customer is internally upset with the up sell sales pitch.

Up selling is a good strategy to increase sales. However this sales strategy must be applied when appropriate and when the relationship is truly solidified.  To engage in up selling without a solid relationship is REALLY BIG sales mistake.

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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 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Is LinkedIn The New Prospecting Den of Deceit?

Most B2B professional recognize the value of LinkedIn for prospecting new sales leads. For many this has been the increase sales gift that keeps on giving. Yet there does appear to be some darkness now materializing.



This week during a mastermind session, one of our members shared this prospecting approach using LinkedIn.

The LinkedIn member reviews the second degree connections of his or her first degree connections. He or she identifies one likely ideal potential customer who is not a first degree connection. Then he or she calls the first degree connection who is a first degree connection to that ideal potential customer and makes the following statement:

“I have been referred to (name of the second degree connection).

Is he (or she) a good person?”

This conversation according to the person sharing this LinkedIn prospecting approach leads in many instances estimated to be 3 out of 4 to a back door sales referral. The challenge with this approach is the first degree connection was never referred to the second degree connection.

All of my mastermind group members believed using this type of prospecting approach was unethical and deceitful. The conversation then went on to the other types of deceit such as Spammers who look to connect to as many LinkedIn contacts as possible to:

  • Directly make their sales pitches
  • Gather email addresses or other contact information
  • Less than honorable individuals

Unfortunately some business professionals will always seek the quick fix or just skirt the ethical boundaries. What was sad to note in this example is the person who shared this LinkedIn prospecting approach was a financial advisor.  This led everyone in the group to comment about her business ethics when it came to handling financial investment accounts.

Marketing as selling requires alignment to the core business ethics of any organization.  Each of us as B2B professionals have a personal responsibility to be ethical in all of our actions including prospecting.

Personally, I do not know if I could look myself in the mirror knowing that I had engaged in deceitful behavior just to gain a sales lead or increase sales.  Also I believe in Karma and you reap what you sow.  Sow deceit and eventually you will be reaping deceit.

The questions for you are:

  • How do you feel about this prospecting approach using LinkedIn?
  • Have you experienced any other deceitful prospecting approaches using LinkedIn?

If you share, please do not use any formal names of individuals or businesses.

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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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