Posts Tagged ‘sales skill’

Isn’t It Time to Stop the Must Have Leadership or Sales Skill?

Is it just me or are you as tired as I am about all the postings about having this must have leadership or sales skill?  Do this or learn that and “wala” you will be a top sales performer or authentic leader.

Please give me a break!

This desire to find the magic number one skill, trait, quality, call it what you will, regardless of role is complete and total hogwash. Fact – There is no number one top sales skill.  Those seeking the “must have” are really seeking the quick fix to cure what ails them.

Many sales coaches, marketing experts or leadership consultants who write about this or that being the must have or top sales skill recognize the never ending desire for the quick fix.  They are meeting a need, but their solutions are potentially unrealistic for their clients.

Human Beings Are Unique

When we look to find the must have sales skill or leadership skill, we are forgetting this basic premise about human beings.  We are all unique.  We have different experiences.

From those different experiences, our brains are wired differently.  We may be intrinsically motivated by Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose as it relates to people (Theory of Self-Determination).  However, how those motivators are connected to each other is unique based upon his or her own life experiences. This uniqueness can be further identified through the work of Dr. Spranger and Allport.

Take Advantage of this Labor Day Special Opportunity (until 9/5/2017) to

Learn What Motivates You as well as Know Your Talents and Behaviors

If there truly existed a must have sales skill or leadership skill, doesn’t it make sense that everyone who have this skill would be able to increase sales?  So why do so many sales professionals still fail to meet annual sales goals? Why do we keep reading about a new must have sales skill?

Human beings are unique and complex. Our brains co-exist with our minds where all our experiences reside. Add in our emotions and we realize there is not just one “must have” sales skill.

If you disagree, then take this free 170904-Short-Sales-Self-Assessment and identify the one must have top sales skill. Then have another salesperson take the same assessment. Do you both share the same top sales skill?

May you enjoy a most prosperous and enjoyable Labor Day.

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Consensus Buying, What Is That?

Consensus leadership has now made its way into consensus buying. What in the heck is that anyway?



If sales is the transference of feelings, so is buying.  Consensus suggests someone must give up something.

Well in sales you give up something, dollars for the exchange of something else.  However, I don’t believe that is what the sales experts are describing.

Why should consensus buying happen if the seller is speaking to the right ideal customer?

If the ideal customer is the decision maker, has a specific want and need that can be solved by the seller’s solution, has an allocated budget, has urgency and a commitment to take action, why should the seller or the buyer give up anything?

Sales should be a win for the buyer and for the seller.  Actually if the salesperson has artfully executed his or her interpersonal and intrapersonal skills (sales leadership), then the buyer should feel he or she has received a greater win (more value) than originally expected.

Consensus buying always dilutes the sales process because both buyers and sellers enter the sales process already in defeat.  My father said in the majority of buying transactions, people have three options:

  • Quality
  • Delivery
  • Price

Dad also said in many instances, people can only get two of those three options.

Are buyers willing to give up quality?

Are buyers willing to up up delivery?

Are buyer willing to give up price?

By the way, I don’t believe experts are using this as an example of consensus buying.

What consensus buying suggests is the sales leadership (intrapersonal and interpersonal skills) of the salesperson is lacking. Possibly he or she did not engage in his or her due diligence (interpersonal sales skill).  When that sales mistake happens, then no wonder something is given up because the salesperson did not know what he or she needed to know. We have all heard about money being left on the table because of failed due diligence.

Sales leadership is about securing the desired results using clearly articulate positive core values.  Consensus implies not only giving up quality, delivery or price, but positive core values as well.

I hope this entire idea of consensus buying quickly disappears because to quote Margaret Thatcher:

“Consensus is the absence of leadership.”

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her


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The Often Overlooked Sales Skill

Just read another article about the top 3 sales skills.  And this one like many of the hundreds of other articles not too mention dozens of books I have read all overlook and even ignore this critical sales skill or capacity.  Possibly,there is an assumption everyone knows this and hence we do not have to mention it or  maybe we just can’t see the forest for the trees?

sales-skillMy sense is like all assumptions, you know making an ass out of you and me, this can be very dangerous.

What I know to be true is the crystal clear clarification of one’s goals; the writing of one’s personal goals; the commitment to take action on one’s goals and the flawless of execution of one’s goals is what separates top sales performers from everyone else. These are indeed the individuals ahead of the flow.  Now there will always be exceptions and if you are one of the top sales performers who does not write your goals down, then congratulations.

Yet I know when I take a written grocery list to the store, I am far more successful. This is also true for people who dutifully plan that coveted 2 week vacation or that impeding wedding.  Planning, the act of thinking, creates far greater success than being Captain Wing It who sprays his or her actions all over the place and then prays something will stick. Sales Coaching Tip:  Using a proven goal setting worksheet along with WAY SMART goals supports you in your forward progress.

So why would sales be any different?

  • Do not salespeople have a sales goal either set by their sales managers or even themselves?

  • Do not salespeople plan their calls?

  • Do not salespeople do their research to overcome sales objections?

Consistent goal planning, setting and achievement is a critical sales skill and not one that should be overlooked. However, because goal setting is not glamorous or even sexy, it is ignored by the many sales coaches, sales experts  and sales trainers.

If you want to increase sales, to experience consistent and possibly even dramatic growth, then consider adopting and sharing a proven goal setting and goal achievement process supported by a proven goal setting worksheet (tool).  You just may be surprised how this one often overlooked sales skill can really improve your bottom line.

Believe it or not!



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Patience Is an Undervalued Sales Skill

Why do so many people rush the sales process?  Maybe this is one reason why sales quotas are not necessarily a good thing? Having those numbers hanging over your head is much like the Sword of Damocles and may prompt you into demonstrating a poor sales skill.

sales-skillIf the sales research is true that 90% of all sales are made between the 4th and 12th contacts, then why rush in? Patience as a sales skill is required not only in working through the sales process, but in each interaction from the verbal conversations to the written communications.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Your anxiousness comes in loud and clear both consciously and subconsciously.

For example, my sales style is very laid back and I focus on building the relationship. During this process of patience (aka education based marketing) I learn as much as possible through open ended questions and active listening.  I nurture only qualified sales leads and have learned to quickly discard those sales leads that do not fit my ideal customer profile.  Of course one never knows when a potential customer can turn into a qualified ideal potential customer. Having a monthly drip marketing campaign such as a newsletter or even a blog keeps top of mind awareness for those truly not qualified customers as well as existing customers.

One of my most consistent and  successful marketing strategies is to send relevant articles and in many cases this book “Failed Safe Leadership.”  By investing the time up front, these marketing strategies make the selling phase of the sales process almost effortless.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Marketing is all about attracting attention and building the relationship. Avoid jumping into the selling phase before you have 100% knowledge that you have completed this first phase successfully.

Of course when you have the internal expectation the sale will be earned between four and 10 contacts, then the sales lead hears your sales skill of patience and may actually thank you for it. Yes patience is a quiet sales skill and one that some salespeople undervalue.

If you truly want to sustainable small business growth including increase sales, then scheduled a no risk 20 minute Business Growth Accelerator Session with Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.759.5601219.759.5601 CST where you will receive:

#1 – Quick assessment of your current sales process

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


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The Unasked Business Growth Question

A sales graphic by the Executive Conversation, Inc. revealed that financial acumen is a critical sales skill or what I prefer is a business growth skill. Yet, approximately 40% of all organizations rate their sales professionals at poor or below average respective to financial acumen.

business-growthThis gap is not new because I have been asking this unasked business growth question for several years:

Does everyone in your organization know how this firm makes and keeps money?

Financial acumen is all about knowing how to make money and how to keep money. This is about profits.  Top sales performers may know how their clients make and keep money and still may be unaware of how their own small business makes and keeps money.

When I was in corporate and managing a sales team, I cannot count the number of times our commissioned top sales performers understood only half of the business growth profit equation.  These hard working individuals recognized the gross profits within each sale especially on high volume low profit sales. Yet they failed to understand if the customer did not pay the invoice on time, if there was any “glitch” in the shipping to other supporting paperwork such as the purchase order, that positive gross profit turned negative quicker than one could snap his or her fingers.

I remember explaining to them the dollars needed per day just to open the doors from property taxes to utilities. These dollars did not reflect salaries, benefits or the cost of existing inventory. Even though a sale showed a gross profit, this in all actually was not accurate reflection of true business growth or  how the business made and kept money.

Just imagine if everyone in your small business had complete business growth clarity respective to the financial acumen of your organization. Of course, this may mean letting go of some proprietary information. However, most companies are losing far more profits because of the lack of financial acumen by their employees from their salespeople to their front line workers.

If are forward thinking and take the risk to ask your employees this business growth question of how does this small business make and keep money and then learn the answers not to your liking, consider giving me, Leanne Hoagland-Smith, a call at 219.759.5601 to schedule a 20 minute conversation.

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The Power of Observation in Selling Goes Beyond Sales Research

Many sales training coaching programs are based upon sales research.  The attendees are instructed to embrace this methodology or that one. They fail to recognize the power of observation and how by using one’s eyes and ears increase sales may happen. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Active listening is observing how people communicate.


So many times by ignoring what is around us because we have embraced the research embedded in sales training coaching programs we, as salespeople, lose our own unique competitive advantage. One example of sales research would be those still popular sales scripts

Maybe this is why emotional intelligence is becoming so much more important as well as using tools like the DISC Index, Attribute Index and even NLP to strengthen the power of observation?

Zig Ziglar said “sales is the transference of feelings.”

Daniel Pink described sales as “moving” others.

There is so much to be learned by just observing others and then using our own selling style to turn those feelings and movements in our favor, our direction so that we can achieve our goal to increase sales.

Yes sales research along with sales training coaching programs have a place in improving the skill sets of salespeople. Just do not forget your own power of observation, and look to hone that sales skill as well.

Join others for this FREE webinar, Only April Fools Sell on Value on April 4, 2013.

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Active Listening So Needed By So Many

What I have discovered that my weekly visits to church have improved my active listening. Being a thinker, my brain or rather mind is so easily distracted with this new thought or that one.


Each week, my pastor delivers a very succinct 10 minute homily or sermon. What I have had to learn is to stop allowing distractions to enter my thought processes and focus on his message. This has been very difficult because he makes such great points that all of a sudden my mind is thinking how I can write about this or what does this really mean? Then suddenly I am thinking what gives when he concludes his homily.

Since my self leadership behavior has become very intentional, I have discovered my active listening has dramatically improved especially in the area of retention.

I know this to be true because my clients and colleagues keep commenting on how well I remembered what they said or what we discussed.  Improvement of my active listening has resulted in building greater customer loyalty as well as to increase sales.

Those folks who are not engaged in active listening are probably more ego centered just as I was in the past. I was thinking about how I could connect the Pastor’s wise words to my executive coaching small business and not investing the time to allow his homily to truly sink in.

When I wrote Be the Red Jacket, I made the observation that silence is green.  This is still true because silence will increase sales.

What I failed to realize is reflection comes only have active listening. One needs to hear the entire message and not allow the mind to run off to ponder the most recent remark.

Many in small business and in sales fail to effectively employ this self leadership and sales skill of active listening. Maybe if more worked to improve their active listening skills they would find not only an increase in sales, but stronger relationships?

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Sales Leadership – The Talent of Handling Rejection

With the 2012 elections now behind us, those whose candidates did not win may be experiencing this sales leadership talent of handling rejection. Small business owners, entrepreneurs and of course sales people must cope with this reality in business and even in life, being told No.


The ability to handle rejection in sales as well as in life returns to each “individual’s self-esteem.” Handling rejection is “the ability of a person to see themselves as valuable, separate and apart from their role or position in life.”  So the often heard comment “don’t take it personally” makes sense when speaking to this specific sales leadership talent.

For those individuals who rank high in this capacity are able “to separate their self-value from their performance.  They do not take rejection, or criticism, in an overly personal way.  The security they have in their own value is based on their own appreciation of themselves as an individual, and not on the opinions of others.” (Source: Innermetrix)

As stated earlier, individuals who lack this sales leadership talent of handling rejection are “prone to viewing rejection or criticism as a personal affront, a mark against who they are as a person, and will react accordingly (i.e., in a defensive, hostile or emotional manner).  They can allow negative feedback to have a negative impact on their self-esteem.” (Source: Innermetrix)

After giving over hundreds of Attributes Index performance appraisal tools and the more recently employing an emotional intelligence assessment as well within my executive coaching and organizational consulting practice, I have also seen a correlation between handling rejection in sales and emotional intelligence.  This make logical sense as handling rejection is about dealing with one’s own emotions (intrapersonal skills). The higher this sales leadership talent, the higher the intrapersonal emotional intelligence score.

One final note about this critical sales leadership talent and what some might even call a sales skill is it cannot be improved or developed externally. Many traditional sales training programs cannot develop or improve this sales skill because overriding premise is externally driven.  For small business owners, entrepreneurs and sales people to improve their ability to handle rejection starts within each person and cannot be changed from an outside in perspective or sales training session.

P.S. To improve this sales skill of handling rejection may require facing these 3 Dirty Words in business. Learn what they are in this FREE webinar on Thursday Dec. 6, 2012 from 12-12:30pm CST and how to turn them into success springboards to make 2013 even better than 2012.

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Why Small Business Sales Training Misses the Mark

Some of the more forward thinking business leaders continually seek small business sales training to improve their business results. Yet, when looking at the learning objectives such as negotiations, overcoming objections, closing the sale,  for these offerings be it through local sales consultants to much larger sales training providers most are missing the mark for these small businesses.

Many of these learning engagements are based upon objectives that have evolved from much larger organizations where marketing and selling are handled by two different departments.  Yet for small business owners, most of them cannot afford this luxury. Marketing and selling are combined and salespeople are expected to market the company.  This marketing is under the disguise of selling and therein lies the problem.

Marketing is not selling. Let me please repeat that:

Marketing is not Selling!

Also, marketing is not just paid advertising, glossy brochures or “fancy dancy” websites.

The reason so many small businesses have failed to increase sales is because of poor marketing. And very few small business sales training programs, seminars, webinars, workshops focus on effective marketing less alone the purpose of marketing that being to:

  1. Attract Attention
  2. Begin to Build the Relationship

Small Business Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Your small business may have the very best solution (product or service) but if no one knows about your small business, you will still stay pocket poor.

Marketing is the first phase of the sale process followed by phase two, selling, and concluding with phase three, marketing.

This confusion about marketing and selling may be also found in other small business sales training learning objectives.  One of my favorite ones is developing rapport as a sales skill.  This is begins as a  marketing skill and then is further developed within the selling phase of the sales process.

And in all honesty what does this mean?  I can smile at most dogs and have rapport with them. What is so hard about having a sales training learning objective about, hmm, developing a mutually beneficial relationship with the buyer?

The word buyer is also diminished.  People buy from people. (Sales Buying Rule #1)  So the decision makers are the buyers.  The word customer or prospect are often used and why not change the focus to buyer or potential buyer?

By knowing the buyer within the marketing phase of the sales process can provide an incredible opportunity not to say competitive advantage. Apple, it appears through a recently leaked document, uses the DISC assessment within its overall sales training. By understanding the buyers through four (4) different filters that look to non-verbal body language allow Apple sales people to build relationships quicker and potentially better with their buyers.

So before you consider signing up for that next interesting small business sales training workshop, maybe it may make more sense to ask yourself what is the primary obstacle keeping you from your goal to increase sales?  After speaking to and working with hundreds of small business owners, I can say without one moment of hesitation it is not your sales skills, but your inability to effectively market your small business.

Remember marketing is part of the sales process and your marketing actions should be in alignment with your selling behaviors.

P.S. In October of 2012, I will be offering a 4 series webinar seminar on using DISC in your marketing phase of the sales process. Details to be posted by September 12, 2012.

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Sales Leadership – The Talent of Persistence

Top sales performers have this sales leadership talent of persistence to probably the 10th if not higher power. These individuals understand how to build mutually beneficial relationships, listen for their clients’ value perception and then continue to harvest sales referrals and new sales leads long after that first earned sale.


Persistence for many may return to the childhood favorite story of the Little Red Engine that mentally told himself “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”  This little engine pulled far more and did far more than what was expected from him. Actually in the book Fail-Safe Leadership, the authors mentioned that very story.

This sales skill of persistence is especially warranted in times of economic downturns to introducing new solutions (products or services). Additionally with all the people movement in and out of organizations, staying persistent in follow-ups sometimes can be an almost overwhelming task.

By being able to stay the course in difficult times, this indicates a personal commitment in the salesperson’s beliefs because he or she has the ability to accomplish goals in the face of adversity or obstacles.

Those top sales performers who demonstrate this sales skill and “capacity will be able to remain motivated to achieve success through the support of an inner belief that what they are doing is right and important.  There exists a drive to complete the task at hand.” (Source Innermetrix)

For some whose persistence as a sales skill is not as strong may indicate “difficulty accomplishing goals in difficult situations, or when confronted with obstacles that were unforeseen.  This can be due to an insufficiency in her or his role awareness, self-esteem, or  project and goal focus.” (Source Innermetrix) Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Talents are not isolated, but rather intertwined and connected to each other.

Possibly persistence can be best summed up by this great philosopher, Yoda in these words:

“Do or do not, there is no try.

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