Posts Tagged ‘sales referrals’

Have You Considered Your Sales Solutions to Have These Two Qualities?

Sales solutions that are both efficient and effective have a far greater probability of turning customers into loyal customers or continued sources of sales referrals.  What happens is in the hurry to “close the sale,” some salespeople focus on the efficient and not the effective.

Efficient Sales Solutions

When the sales solution meets all the criteria as in investment, delivery, etc., it suggests it was efficient.  Things were done right.  The right answers were given to the right questions.

Effective Sales Solutions

To be an effective sales solution means doing the right thing.  Possibly the salesperson knows even though his or her solution is efficient, it may not be effective.  For example, sales training during the holidays usually lacks short and long term cognitive retention.  People have their minds elsewhere.

Another no effective example might be given 2 – 8 hour days of training knowing full well the “brain only absorbs what the butt will endure.”  Such a schedule may be efficient and yet it is not effective.  A better sales training solution would be 2 hours a week over 8 weeks.  Sometimes there is push back on this scheduling, yet a good salesperson can demonstrate how such a sales solution can deliver far better results.

Losing the Sale

Many salespeople are not willing to lose the sale for a variety of reasons. Several times in the past I have been asked to deliver one or two day sales leadership training.  Given the behavioral outcomes the clients wanted, I had to turn down the sales because I knew the attendees would not change their behaviors. The clients were convinced this type of sales leadership training could be achieved.  I suggested to the clients to reconnect with their past vendors because given my knowledge and experience I could not secure those desired behavioral changes.

Sales solutions that are both efficient and effective may take a little longer to earn or close, but the results are far more sustainable from loyal customers to more sales referrals.

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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 3

As we are in the process of selling our home, one of the first actions I take when I receive outreach from a realtor is to go to LinkedIn.  I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am as to how many realtors are ignoring LinkedIn specific to sales prospecting and sales opportunities.

sales-opportunitiesNow many of these realtors have Facebook pages.  And that is not a bad sales prospecting strategy. However given so many B2B professionals are on LinkedIn, here is an opportunity to learn potentially a little more about your sales lead especially if he or she is selling a high worth home.

Top sales performers do their homework when engaged in sales prospecting.  They know the more they know the greater likelihood they will convert those sales opportunities into actual earned sales.

Also having an extensive network is also essential within sales regardless of industry.  People buy from people they know and trust. An extensive network provides additional sales referrals and ongoing sales leads.

For example in speaking with the receptionist of my dentist, I shared we were moving. She asked if my husband was a veteran because one of the dentist’s patients was a realtor who mentioned she is now working with veterans.  I received the realtor’s name and number.

Upon returning home, my first action was to look her up in LinkedIn. She had less than 100 contacts and a weak profile. I was pleased to see she had a professional picture.

Then I called the realtor. We talked and I learned she had sold homes in the $250,000 to  $750,000 price range. If she is selling homes in that price range, there is a good chance the homeowner is on LinkedIn. To ignore LinkedIn she among many other realtors is missing sales opportunities.

The real estate marketing continues to evolve. Sales prospecting for realtors is also evolving.  To not take advantage of all sales prospecting channels is foolhardy and will work against the goal to increase sales.

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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:



  • 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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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.


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.


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?


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


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.


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?


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.


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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Always Be Careful of Your Sales Message – Part 2

Isn’t it amazing with all the resources at the disposal of B2B and B2C salespeople, so many still fail to do any to adequate research on incoming sales leads or sales referrals? This research allows them to tailor their sales message.  Doing the research is another sales behavior shared by top sales performers.

sales-messageBy investing the time to do the research about the sales lead, his or her company, the salesperson can discover any miss steps in her or his sales message. Possibly for some SMB owners and salespeople, research is not as critical. However if the commission is sizeable, several thousands of dollars, it would make sense to invest time to undertake the research.

For example, in real estate, most realtors can find the name of the owner of the property from the county records.  Then they can do a quick LinkedIn search because one would be surprised as to how many people are on LinkedIn.  The next step would be to do a Google search.  By better understanding the prospective seller’s work history, may help in further tailoring the message.

As we are selling our home, the sales messages have been overall quite disastrous (turn off).  Many realtors continue with the old sales presentations and advertise themselves as top salespeople.  Actually they are top listing people because 90% of all homes are sold by a realtor not associated with the listing firm.  They have failed to recognize the educated buyer.

Another example would be receiving sales referrals.  Instead of immediately calling and making that dreaded sales pitch, there should be adequate time in researching the:

  • Sales referral (This is also true for sales leads.)
  • His or her company
  • His or her industry
  • Trigger events such as economic downturns

Yes this does take time.  For me the time average is at least a couple of hours for a 30 minute first time meeting.  I review the notes several times just to have a grasp of what is happening within the sales lead’s business or industry.

With many executive decision makers saying sales meetings are a waste of time, the more you learn about the sales lead the quicker you can make those “value connections.” Sales exist because people have problems they want to solve.  If you want connect with what the sales lead values and have a limited grasp (not a know it all one) about what is going on in his or her world, you just may earn yourself the sale.

Ignoring the research just may have your sales message sounding common or even potentially insulting. The end result is you will remain pocket poor.

P.S. Believe it or not, your sales lead or sales referral probably has already checked you out.

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Prospecting Is a Marketing Activity

Confusion abounds about what is prospecting and what is marketing.  Much of this confusion can be traced back to the Madison Avenue firms where paid advertising became synonymous with marketing. This confusion continues today especially because of these two facts:


  • Internet especially social media
  • 97.7% of all U.S. businesses are under 20 employees

Peter Drucker said the purpose of business is two fold:

  1. Marketing
  2. Innovation

He then went on to say everything else is operations.

Marketing is all about attracting positive attention to you or your SMB business. In other words, prospecting is an operation within marketing. You would not be marketing if you did not need new sales leads or prospects.

The goal of marketing is to attract enough attention that your sales lead will call you or walk through your brick and mortar store. When one of these two actions happen, you have achieved that goal.

People who prospect well are also market well.  They have clearly identified their ideal customer or customers through their strategic planning process. For me, I have 3 ideal customers.

Download this FREE Ideal-Customer-Profile-Template

So what is a prospect?  A prospect is a sales lead who meets the ideal customer profile along with as many of these 5 qualifying buying criteria as possible:

  1. Decision maker
  2. Specific wants or needs
  3. Allocated budget
  4. Urgency
  5. Commitment to take action

Their prospecting (marketing) messages are directed to their sales leads and even centers of influence who may take action by providing sales referrals. Effective prospecting is very targeted because it originates in effective marketing.

For example, if your ideal customer is a CEO within a particular industry, then your prospecting within your marketing action plan must be directed to those events the CEO attends; what organizations the CEO is a member; and to whom knows the CEO.

I learned my ideal customers for the most part do not attend Chambers of Commerce monthly meetings. Many of these individuals are far more involved in civic organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions.

Yes prospecting is marketing. To think otherwise may be limiting your ability to increase sales.

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Simply Speaking Email Marketing May Turn Off Sales Referrals

Being connected within the sales community, I receive a lot of emails.  This past week I received an email from a colleague who was seeking either my direct business or sales referrals.



The content of his email (see below) took me by surprise because we had actually spoken.

While I don’t know yet if our training methods are right for you and your company, I thought the best place to start would be a short conversation, allowing me to get to know you better.

My initial thoughts upon reading his words were:

  • “Get to know me better”?
  • Did we not talk?
  • Do you not know what I do?
  • Is this how you treat people you know by making irrelevant sales pitches?
  • What would you do if I sent you some sales referrals?

Emails such as this are quite common in the realm of cold calling through email marketing.  Personally, it is not a practice I engage in, but I do know if I believe the sales research this marketing is quite effective.

If the goal is to fill the sales funnel with sales leads, then this suggests to be far more judicious in the actual email content.  Mass emailings have the potential to create more distrust than positive attraction especially when they are worded poorly.

#1 Sales Buying Rule

People buy from people they know and trust.

I so believe in this #1 sales buying rule. Your ideal customers or clients must begin to know you and begin to trust you. This is why content marketing such as this blog, LinkedIn Pulse or other social media sites are so popular.

Sales referrals along with daily prospecting are necessary sales activities.  The goal of both is to work with the #1 sales buying rule not against it. My marketing and selling suggestions today are:

  • Review your email list before sending out a generic prospecting email
  • Tailor your message to your prospective sales leads
  • Get a second opinion on your message to ensure you are not building distrus

Listen to some of my thoughts about SMB sales at Sales Scenario’s podcasts.


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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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Big to Small Firms’ Sales Stupidity

Sales stupidity is unfortunately alive and well from the biggest firms to the smallest ones. No I am not talking about the quick fix which is stupid nor the lack of a sales strategy.  What I am addressing is the misalignment between sales and the rest of the organization’s sales culture.

sales-stupidityYesterday in speaking with a salesperson who works for a $10 billion service solution provider, she shared with me there is no alignment between the different sales channels.  Additionally, because of silos managed by self-serving leadership, there is only one way sales leads referrals. She is expected to give sales referrals to other sales channels, but they do not have to reciprocate. And worse yet the people in these others sales channels receive higher compensation and do not have to make any field calls.

Can you see the misalignment?

This firm is anticipating less revenue growth this year, by nearly 20% compared to the previous year.  I am not surprised. Yet executive leadership remains clueless.

The sales stupidity continues respective to the misalignment between marketing and sales.  Money cannot be spent for mailing thank you notes (building relationships), but can be spent for gas visiting clients to making sales cold calls.  I wonder what high priced consulting firm has been hired by this clueless billion dollar firm?

No wonder so many salespeople are frustrated with their sales jobs.  These individuals want to sell, want sales success, but the misalignment between people, processes and strategies continues to barricade them from their sales productivity. The sales culture where everyone should be working together for the same desired results is just the opposite. If you disagree, just look to the turnover of salespeople.

How many times has sales stupidity been the real reason for lack of revenue, new customers, ineffective sales training to even fewer sales leads?  Over the last almost 20 years, I have coached at least one top sales performer every six months who realized the best option was to find a new job.

Before jumping into the next unsustainable sales solution, step back and assess your culture respective to alignment between people, processes and strategies. This may be the best sales growth action ever embraced.

If you want to learn more about how you can quickly and affordably assess your sales culture,

CLICK HERE to schedule a quick phone call with Leanne.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing (sales stupidity) gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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