Posts Tagged ‘sales strategy’

Lazy Salespeople and LinkedIn

A colleague, David Brock, made an update posting on LinkedIn  sharing his frustration about people using company profiles wanting to connect with him. Then if he did accept, the next action would be a sales pitch. Beyond being a violation of LinkedIn policy, this action demonstrated how many lazy salespeople still exist. (Note:  Only a person not a company can send a LinkedIn invitation.)

Lazy Salespeople and LinkedIn Invitations

Then there are those template LinkedIn invitations from people.  I have been tracking mine recently and in the last week all 20 plus invitations used the general, template invitation. Not one person took the time to personalize the LinkedIn invitation. Several did send me a sales pitch after the invitation was accepted and I immediately disconnected from them.

Imagine how refreshing it would be to actually receive a personalized LinkedIn invitation.  The invite would educate you, the recipient, as to what prompted the invite.  Then you don’t have to rack your brains or do your research to figure out who in the heck this person is or how in the heck do I know him or her.

LinkedIn Coaching Tip Courtesy of Viveka von Rosen:  If you are using the mobile app, there are 3 little dots on the top right and by clicking on these dots you can see the option to personalize the invitation.

LinkedIn Messages and Sales Pitches

How about those LinkedIn email messages and their sales pitches? Many if not most of these LinkedIn members never truly read the profile of the person they are pitching.  Again, their desire to pitch demonstrates their laziness.

LinkedIn is an excellent social media platform to locate sales leads and then to begin to build a relationship.  Making a sales pitch right out of the gate is beyond ridiculous. This sales strategy and tactic will not increase sales.

LinkedIn Profiles and Lazy Salespeople

Possibly the most obvious laziness is in LinkedIn profiles. Beyond having a headline that looks like all the other headlines for a particular industry, the summary is usually a regurgitation of the person’s resume. Many even lack a professional photography.  The attitude is throw up anything and it will stick while the reality is throw up anything and it will probably suck.

If your goal is to increase sales, then revisit your LinkedIn profile and your marketing strategy. Yes LinkedIn can increase sales and quickly demonstrate to others if you are one of those lazy salespeople.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #12 Be Reachable

To have sustainable sales success does require for you to be reachable.  If people cannot find your contact information, you may be losing sales.

sales-successThe challenge is three fold for SMB owners and sales professionals:

  • Phone numbers and addresses change
  • Content marketing via the long tail may have old contact information
  • Salespeople are crazy busy

Some sales professionals have migrated totally to social media and have ignored even updating their website with their basic contact information.  Even when I discontinued my landline, the first thing I did was to go to my website and update the pages to ensure the correct phone number was available.

To make the presumption that all sales leads will find you via social media is potentially a fatal increase sales strategy.

Being busy is no excuse for not returning phone calls, emails or even texts.  A couple of years ago I incorporated texting into being reachable even though I was not a fan of this communication channel. However, I had clients as well as sales leads texting me and I wanted to be reachable.

Today texting is the preferred communication channel.  Text messages have a far greater open rate than other communication channels such as email or even phone calls.

InsideSales.com in their research revealed 35-50% of the vendors who respond first get the sale. This site also suggested that those who respond within 5 minutes to web sales leads are nine (9) times more likely to convert.

Being reachable is necessity for sales success!

To increase sales no longer can salespeople have the attitude “when I have time I will return the call or message.” Technology has forced salespeople to be reachable at all times. Our marketplace is global and operates on a 24/7 time frame.

Remember, you cannot increase sales if people are not able to reach you. Those who respond first and with the right message have a far greater likelihood of securing the goals to:

  • Increase sales
  • Achieve sales success
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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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Add Amplification to Your Sales Strategies

Sales strategies abound in today’s B2B and B2C markets.  In many instances, the larger firms are ahead of the flow when it comes to including a new sales strategy into their sales playbook.  Smaller firms especially those with under 50 employees lack the exposure to many of these up and coming ways to increase sales.

sales-strategiesAmplification is one such sales strategy that is often overlooked by SMB owners and sales professionals.  This was quite evident during a discussion yesterday at the SouthShore Business Networking group.

I shared how by belonging to a community of like minded sales professionals I was able to amplify this recent LinkedIn Pulse article – Great Coaches Are Equal to Top Sales Performers.  I published this article on Friday, September 30, 2016.  On Monday I shared it within one community. By Wednesday am, the results from LinkedIn were impressive:

  • 257 Views
  • 50 Likes
  • 7 Comments
  • 22 Shares

Ninety percent of those who shared it had over 500 connections or 20×500 equals 10,000. Add this to my 2,500 connections and the amplification was four fold.

Many of these same individuals also shared it on Twitter.  A quick glance of the first 12 people who shared this article revealed amplification of over 10 fold to my current Twitter followers of 11,663.

Amplification through just one community increased my marketing reach from approximately 14,000 to over 150,000.  The best part of this sales strategy was it cost me absolutely nothing.

Discovering sales strategies that are cost effective and deliver measurable results is in many instances one of trial and error.  Amplification works. Probably the major obstacle is building a community of like minded individuals who recognize amplification is not a one way street.

As with other sales strategies amplification must be aligned to existing marketing strategies within the sales process such as content marketing.  To engage in this sales strategy without having a well thought of strategic plan is not forward thinking and will not be as effective as it could be.

Read Fail-Safe Leadership to better understand how misalignment impacts sustainable business growth.

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Are You Suffering from the Sales Entitlement Virus?

Have you heard about the sales entitlement virus?  Probably not even though this sales virus has always been present.

sales-entitlementWhere this virus started is within customer loyalty.  From the executive leadership team to the sales team, loyal customers were expected to continue to buy from the organization.  I saw this over 30 years ago when I worked in the corporate sales world.

Here are the two basic rationalizations for the existence of the sales entitlement virus.

Rationalization #1 – The Business Is Ours

Why maintain relationships with lunches, dinners or supporting golf outings?   We do not need to continually drain our cash flow paying for these non essential expenses.

Rationalization #2 – The Business Is Owed to Us

Our solutions (products or services) are great otherwise these loyal customer would not buy from us.

Symptoms of this virus can be viewed when executive leadership and the sales team enter new sales meetings with a sales pitch.  These individuals probably have failed to connect with everyone at the table.  Their sales behaviors are viewed as one of ego and not one of support.

This arrogance of “the business is ours” or “the business is owed us” then can further harm the customer loyalty in personal interactions.  No longer is there an active marketing or sales strategy to build relationships. Salespeople become complacent.

There is no vaccination for this sales entitlement virus. Instead executive leadership and the sales team must continually work to build relationships not only with key decision makers, but with others within their customers’ organizations.

However there is a way to ascertain if the virus is active within your organization. By investing in an organizational and therefore a sales culture assessment that is aligned to a proven business criteria such as Baldrige can help to identify the presence of this sales virus.

Maintaining customer loyalty is essential to keeping any SMB profitable. By recognizing the presence of this sales virus and then actively working to reduce its impact through relationship building will ensure sustainable business growth for your SMB.

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Value Articulation Not Defense Is the Better Sales Strategy

Selling is not easy especially with more and more entries into the SMB world.  Sales research of key executive decision makers revealed they believed only 1 out of 3 salespeople could confidently engage in value articulation.

value-articulationA recent article about technology and sales suggested defense is the better sales strategy in today’s digital world. The article highlighted the acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft.

This particular article started me thinking even more.  Value articulation is really an offensive position because the salesperson is connecting to the value drivers of the sales leads or prospects.  If key decision makers want salespeople to articulate the value of their solutions, then it makes sense to go with the sales research.

Additionally SMB owners and salespeople should be aware of the competition, why focus any unnecessary energy on the competition? If the salesperson has engaged in efficient and effective research (fact findings), then any sales conversation should be directed to confirming that research.

Another thought is value articulation could be considered strength.  Talking defensively in the sales conversation suggests a weakness.  Your position is not strong enough so a defensive sales position must be taken. Does that sales strategy make sense?  Put yourself in a defensive position?

Finally, why in any sales conversation would a competent sales professional bring up the competition?  The only time the competition has entered a sales conversation is when the prospect brings it up.  My response is to never demean the competition, but rather discover why the prospect likes a competitor.

Many in sales confuse value articulation with features and benefits. Value articulation goes way beyond the standard sales conversation. The goal is to connect with the decision maker’s unique value drivers. With multiple decision makers, those value drivers may be entirely different. By not listening to what is actually being said, the salesperson may miss those unique value drivers and ultimately lose the sale.

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One Sales Strategy to Sell More Homes

Salespeople, good salespeople, continually seek new sales strategies to increase sales.  For realtors or real estate agents, they may be ignoring this sales strategy – For Sale By Owner.

sales-strategyWith well over 75% of all homes not sold by the listing real estate agent, realtors are selling the inventory of other realtors.  This inventory excludes the ever growing marketing of For Sale By Owner.  Yes this market has seen highs and lows as the overall real estate market has experienced.  However it is ripe for the picking as they say.

Some realtors may look at the For Sale By Owner homes as a threat to their incomes. If I was a real estate agent, I would look at these FSBO homes as a viable sales strategy being ignored by other realtors.  These FSBO homes are low hanging fruit.

The challenge is to having the FSBO pay a sales commission.  This is where being a true salesperson comes into play. Here you can share your knowledge about a particular neighborhood or type of home being sold.

My sense is the reluctance to work with FSBO is one of FEAR. What if I work with them and they use me and my knowledge?

F = False     E = Evidence     A = Appearing     R = Real

Welcome to the real world of sales. There is no guarantee in sales.  Maybe this is why the reliance on listing commissions?

A sales scarcity mentality surely will deliver scarce sales in any industry.

Here is where having a simple contract with the FSBO seller is essential.  Discussing fees up front is also important.

Of course not all homes make for a good showing. Some homeowners may require an education about what is needed to sell a house.  A good salesperson would have much of that information in a brochure along with additional resources such as a home inspector, a certified appraiser, mortgage lender, title company to a real estate attorney.

Real Estate Sales Coaching Tip:  Establish key relationships with other professionals

People buy from people they know and trust.  Become the trusted authority within the local FSBO real estate market.  This sales strategy reflects the blue ocean strategy needed to increase sales in today’s every changing residential real estate market.

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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.

sales-mistake

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.

* * * * *

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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Realtors – Leading with Price Is a Bad Sales Strategy

One of the first golden sales rules especially within the service industry is not to ever lead with price.  When salespeople lead with price they established themselves, their small businesses and their solutions as transactional or anyone can do this. Many realtors fail to understand leading with price is a  bad sales strategy.

sales-strategy

Credit www.gratisography.com

For example, after listening our home as For Sale By Owner (FSBO)  one of the first marketing direct mail pieces I received from a local realtor here in Northwest Indiana had the following headline:

How about 3%?

This direct mail piece came without personalization and from a complete stranger.  The realtor felt his time was not worth a phone call.

What this direct mail piece revealed to me he truly did not understand a good sales strategy from a bad sales strategy.

First Sales Buying Rule

People buy from people they know and trust. If you as a salesperson are not known by your intended prospect, then the battle is lost before it has ever begun.

By embracing this buying rule is a good sales strategy. This is why personalization of direct mail works far better than not personalizing it.

Presumptions in Sales Kills Deals

Top sales performers know that presumption (presuming anything about the sales lead) kills deals.  Until the salesperson knows the sales lead’s motivation for buying, then making any presumptions is truly foolhardy.

Returning to the presuming realtor who mailed the impersonal direct mail piece, he presumed I was engaging in FSBO because of commission. This was a false presumption.

My reason for FSBO was directly connected to paying a commission for not earning the commission.  Scheduling viewings is 100% about marketing not selling. I believe in pay for performance and I also have a problem in paying a realtor who is working with a buyer because I am the only one with “skin in the game” so to speak.

Reward Real Sales Performance

As a former commission paid salesperson, I believe sales performance should be rewarded.  However within the residential real estate industry, the compensation is truly backwards with the seller assuming all financial liability. Additionally with residential real estate sites such as Zillow, Craig’s List, to Realtor.com, the sales leads are the ones finding the properties to buy not the realtors. What happens in those instances is the realtor becomes more like an administrative assistant, a scheduler and not a top sales performer.

Returning back to” How about 3%?”, this realtor lead with price as a sales strategy and that was a fatal move because all additional mailing have only reaffirmed in me not ever to work with this person. By the way, since the first direct mail piece, I received two follow up mail pieces.  However, he never called.

Learn How to Convert FSBO into Increase Sales

Sales research shows that the majority of sales up to 80% to 90% are made after the third contact. Expecting poorly written direct mail marketing pieces to earn sales in today’s far better educated residential real estate marketplace is truly a bad sales strategy.

* * * * *

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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Is There a Best Sales Strategy for Banks?

With financial institutions being on almost every corner from the downtowns to the suburbs, one begins to wonder what is the best sales strategy for banks, if there is just one?

best-sales-strategy-for-banksFor years local banks did not have to sell their banking services because they were the only game in town. As towns grew into cities, more banks entered the market and life was still relatively good.  With expansion came consolidation and local banks became engulfed by bigger regional to national banks. During this time, some training firms began to specialize in sales for banks and unfortunately those firms are still training banks under the paradigms of the past.

During a keynote presentation over six years ago, I asked this question of the business professionals including many small business owners:

How many of you are happy with your bank?

Of the almost 100 people present, about 40% raised their hands.  Then I asked those with their hands raised,  “If you are not a banker or an employee of a bank, please drop your hands.”  The previously raised hands dropped by over 50%.

What was amazing in the months to come when I met with the bankers who attended that presentation, 100% had not taken advantage of what I discovered through this simple question even though they wanted to increase small business accounts.

My sense is right now the best sales strategy for banks is to take action.  Don’t sit on your duffs waiting for that next small business account.

  • Go out!
  • Build relationships with new business professionals
  • Reconnect with existing customers!
  • Craft a compelling 30 second elevator pitch that answers this question:  Why should that person to whom you just gave your card want to meet with you in 3 weeks?
  • Construct a list of the 5 top new customers you want and work that list

Did you notice each bullet point began with an action verb?  Unless action is taken all is for naught. Of course predetermined action is always better than hap hazard action.

So if you are in sales and work for a bank either in the commercial (loan) or retail side, then you may wish to embrace this sales strategy for banks, of taking action.  Is it the best one?  Who knows, but not taking action is definitely the worst sales strategy.

 

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