Posts Tagged ‘sales skills’

Great Salespeople Make Selling Look Easy

Ever wonder why so many people are venturing into being solo entrepreneurs or SMB owners?  Beyond the obvious advantage of being your own boss, my sense is these folks have witnessed great salespeople who make selling look easy.

great-salespeopleJust hop over to LinkedIn and scan a few profile summaries.  Immediately you will see a difference between those who understand sales and those who think they understand sales.

Sales is simple.  Someone called a buyer has a want or need and someone else called a seller has a product or service to fit that want or need. Pretty easy, well not so much so.

Social selling has only reinforced this notion that selling is easy.  Sure you can buy Twitter followers or make a zillion posts on Facebook and when you measure the results, what do you discover?

People buy from people they know and trust. To create that knowing and trusting persona takes time, energy, money and emotions. Great salespeople are willing to make those investments.

Just as in leadership, great sales people are made not born. They develop over time.  These forward thinking sales leaders are self directed toward continuous improvement themselves by honing their knowledge, talents and sales skills.

Through the years I have had the opportunity to meet truly great salespeople who understood “sales is the transference of feelings.” (Zig Ziglar). From them I learned what to do and what not to do.

My sense of selling is authentic, laid back and I have crystal clarity as to who my ideal target market is.  Yes some of my clients do not fit my ideal customer profile, however over time more often than not they do grow into that role.

If you want to have sales success, then look to follow, listen and learn from those who have sales success. Be willing to accept their is no quick fix for sales success and you will be nearly half way to your own success.

 

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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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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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Begin Today to Expand Your Sales Opportunities

Every day is a new day and a day filled with incredible sales opportunities.  The only limitation is your beliefs that restrict your actions.

sales-opportunities

Credit www.pixabay.com

Of course to take advantage of all those sales opportunities may require some pre-advanced or predetermined thinking.  These reflective thoughts support your ongoing efforts for clarity.

Much is written about what makes for a successful salesperson.  After some 40 years in sales, collaborating with other successful sales people and just observing sales behaviors in general, I truly believe all top sales performers have this one trait among all others:

CLARITY

They gain this clarity by the following supporting actions:

  • They have a plan for sales growth
  • They know their ideal customer
  • Their marketing message is extremely directed and focused
  • They continually work to hone their sales skills through ongoing self-improvement
  • They leverage their reach by establishing communities
  • They invest time to know their numbers
  • They do not seek the quick fix

All of these actions reinforce and work with gaining new sales opportunities.

Have you consider to change your results, your must change your beliefs and therefore your actions?

Questions To Ask Yourself Each Morning

What would happen if you asked yourself just these three questions each morning?

  1. What is the one action I have postponed taking?
  2. What is the one action I must take today?
  3. What one person can I make smile today?

Questions to Ask Yourself Each Evening

Then before you close your office door for the day, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Did I take that one postponed action?
  2. How did I feel by taking action?
  3. Did I take that one must do action today?
  4. What where the results from that action?
  5. Who did I make smile today?
  6. Why was that important for that person?

Years ago a colleague said “We drive by more sales than we will ever have.” Today, I believe “We drive by more sales opportunities than we will ever have because we fail to stop the car.”

CLICK HERE to schedule a brief call with Leanne to discover how you can generate more sales opportunities.

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What to Improve Your Sales Skills? Then Go Beyond Most Sales Training

Most sales training and much of the sales coaching focuses on how to improve sales skills. To reach that next level of sales success may require going beyond current, almost cookie cutter, robotic sales training.

sales-skillsIf current approach to developing sales skills is still not securing the desired results, then maybe something is missing.  What is missing is how to recognize and leverage the uniqueness of each salesperson. That uniqueness is the combination of numerous factors such as personal experience, informal learning, motivation, decision making style and their supporting talents.

Would you believe there are 78 talents that all individuals have in varying degrees of ranking?  These talents both interpersonal (extrinsic) and intrapersonal (intrinsic) can have a dramatic impact on existing selling skills. They also help to explain why top sales performers who achieve similar results have different approaches.

FREE Download  AI-Self-Assessment-78-Talents

What I know to be true is with the over 500 professionals of which 50% have been involved in sales I have debriefed less than 2% know what they do well.  Suddenly they realize how these talents contribute to their own uniqueness as well as how many potential sales opportunities they have missed because they lacked clarity about their talents.

Yes sales training is important as is understanding marketing in  today’s social selling world.  Maybe it is time to rethink how we train salespeople and look to developing them by identifying and then leveraging these supporting talents.

Never heard of the Attribute Index?  Click HERE to schedule a time to speak wit Leanne Hoagland-Smith to learn more about the most accurate assessment in the marketplace.

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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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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #12 Disqualification

One would think disqualifying sales leads would be something most salespeople would do especially if they want sales success. However from my experience with SMB owners and sales professionals, this simple step of sales lead disqualification as well as sales leads qualification is one often overlooked.

sales-sucessMost of the reason for not qualifying sales leads returns to the lack of a strategic plan.  What happens is these hard working business professionals work even harder and set themselves up for even greater falls.

When there is crystal clarity around the ideal customer, then disqualifying sales leads is much easier.  When I wrote Be the Red Jacket, I shared these 4 qualifying or disqualifying criteria depending upon one’s perspective.

  1. Is the person the actual decision maker? Does he or she have the authority to write the check?
  2. Is there a want to need?  What problem must be solved that others may not have solved or better yet identified?
  3. Is there an allocated budget?  Many SMBs have money.  The real question returns to having dollars allocated to solve the solution.
  4. Is there urgency to take action?  Can you build a case for taking action right now instead of later?

Since I wrote that book, I realized there is a fifth criterion:

  • Is there commitment to take action? What I have learned is sometimes all of the previous criteria are present, but the person does not have the commitment, the resolve to take action.  Change is hard.

When a salesperson adopts an understanding about disqualifying sales leads, this allows him or her to work both smarter and harder simultaneously. He or she is honing their sales skills in asking the right questions. Additionally, this is a sales strategy that works to ensure sales success because now the salesperson is working with the right customer and not one that is high maintenance.

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The Essence of Executive Coaching Is…

Executive coaching is becoming a recognized sustainable solution to improve the business leadership performance of individuals.  Yet, how often are people asked to explain the essence of this powerful solution?

executive-coachingHere is a statement that I make somewhere during the sales conversation with potential ideal customers or clients:

“Coaching be it executive, business or sales is about clarity through tools and processes beginning with assessments. These provide the information to ask the right or often unasked questions to get clear answers from you, the coachee, as to what is happening around you.”

The essence of coaching is clarity.  This is the same reason people seek out mentors.  It is not just the advice they are seeking, but gaining a very sharp, crystal clear picture of:

  • Where they are
  • Where they want to be
  • How to get to where they want to be
  • What is limiting their ability to get to where they want to be

Of course, sometimes executive coaching clients do not realize they have most of the answers within themselves. All the coach does is to ask the right or often unasked questions to have the “coachee” make that self discovery.

With business coaching and sales coaching clients, clarity is still the essence however the role of the coach may step into the role of consultant by providing answers.  Many new to sales for example do not have the tools or even sales skills necessary for sales success. The coach may provide those tools, additional knowledge and offer further guidance through role playing to reviewing sales scripts to prospecting activities.

Getting to where one wants to be is not easy especially when the path is not clear. Executive coaching helps clear that path.  Theodore Hesburgh is quoted as saying “No one can follow an uncertain trumpet.” That uncertainty is a lack of clarity.

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Please Be Careful if You Call Yourself a Salesperson

One of the lessons I have recently relearned is there are a lot of people who believe they are salespeople. For me, a salesperson actively works to sell something be it a product, service or a combination of products and services. He or she does not rely on others to sell his or her solutions.

salespersonFor anyone to actively sell something, he or she must know what he or she is selling. The more knowledge a salesperson has about the solution being offered, the greater likelihood the sale will be successfully completed aka closing the sale.

What I have found is within some industries sales means letting other people sell your solution while your goal is to market your solution.  Since marketing is part of the sales process, I can somewhat understand this interpretation. However, this is not my definition of sales.

I guess what I don’t understand is when the sales commission is the same amount, there is a reluctance to actually engage in selling.  Instead it is easier to take the path of least resistance and let someone else make the sale.

For example in the real estate industry depending upon the research source, anywhere from 80-90% of all home sales, actual closings, are not made by the listing broker.  The real estate broker relies on other people from other brokerage firms to sell the home.  In this industry, the sales funnel is all about listings and not actually selling homes.

There are other industries where people believe they are salespeople when in actuality they are either paid marketers or order takers.  There are no sales skills being demonstrated such as:

  • Overcoming sales objections
  • Connecting to the value drivers of the buyer
  • Highlighting additional value or cost savings

Being a professional salesperson is a great role and one I totally enjoy.  However, I am quite disappointed by the failure of so many people engaged in selling who are really not salespeople.

What is even more discouraging is these individuals resent not being viewed as salespeople.  I truly do not understand how anyone can say he or she is a salesperson when others actually sell the solution and “close the sale.”

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Realtors Are You Losing Sales Because… Part 3 Hungry

Losing sales is many times more of an attitude, a desire than insufficient sales skills.  As the old expression goes hungry people hunt.

sales-successNo Hunger to Increase Sales

Top sales performers are hungry. In real estate the hunger seems to be more for listing than for selling. From my recent experience along with research regarding real estate sales, this last reason for losing sales is probably the most evident.

After we decided not to renew our contract with the realtor, I personally called the five plus realtors who had sent me direct mail marketing. Each one of them said they wanted to sell my house.

My first question, after identifying myself and the street address of our home, I asked was “Your numerous direct mail pieces indicated you were interested in selling our home, are you still interested?”

All of them said yes and wanted to set an appointment.  I replied I was available in the next 24-48 hours to schedule an appointment. However I wanted to be forthcoming and to let them know I was not interested in listing our home with their firms. I would be willing to pay them a 2.5% commission if potential buyer they brought would buy our home.

Funny all of this real estate salespeople had a business model that required me to list the home if we wanted them to sell the house.  I also heard other comments like “we sell houses in your subdivision all the time.” My response was “I never saw any of your business cards after the numerous showings we had.”

What is interesting is the sales commission we offered was no different than if these real estate agents had brought a buyer to a home listed by another real estate firm. Here was an opportunity to go through their sales leads and make a sale.

In speaking with our realtor in AZ, she indicated she enters into a contract that the For Sale By Owner would pay her sales commission. Another local realtor had shared he and his wife had a similar contract. Both said ignoring this market of “low hanging” fruit was truly “insane.”

Bottom line these realtors are losing sales because they are not truly hungry  My sense as a professional salesperson my entire adult life is these individuals would starve if they truly had to sell for a living. Note: Listing a home and selling a home are two different types of revenue streams.

Realtors Are You Losing Sales Because…Part 1

Realtors Are You Losing Sales Because… Part 2

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