Posts Tagged ‘Sales Training’

The Rush to Sell Is a Rush to …

Nowadays, more so than ever before, there appears to be a rush to sell.  We experience this with unsolicited emails to outreaches within social media challenges especially LinkedIn.

This desire to increase sales is natural because for salespeople increase sales means job security.  The ability to increase sales may also increase the salesperson’s personal wealth.

However, this rush to sell is turning more people off than on. And when one is in sales, turning off potential sales leads, ideal customers to even centers of influence is not a doable marketing or selling strategy.

Why the Rush?

The question to be asked is why is everyone rushing to increase sales?  Is it because of:

  • Sales training?
  • Prospecting training?
  • Sales management?
  • Executive leadership?
  • Social media training?
  • Quick fix mentality?
  • Personal agenda?
  • Ego?

In other words, who is pushing this rush to sell?

The act of selling something to someone is an act of transferring feelings because people buy first on emotion, justified by logic.  Sometimes those feelings are one way, usually held by the seller who wants to make a sale.

Elevating the feelings of the buyer usually takes times because the buyer must know and trust you as the seller.  Developing trust is also time dependent.

Possibly this rush to sell can be directly traced back to some of the questionable sales training as well as prospecting training within the B2B and even B2C marketplace. Bombard people with social media postings, build up your LinkedIn connections to blanket all your contacts with emails and you will increase sales. No all you will do is annoy potential sales leads and centers of influence.

My sense this ongoing rush to sell returns to the quick fix mentality as well as the lack of:

  • Personal goal driven sales plan
  • Personal goal driven marketing plan
  • Personal goal driven self-leadership plan

As you start each day, each week, each month and each year, remember your desire to increase sales must work with your sales leads and not push them away or given them any reason to mistrust you because that rush to sell is a rush to no sales and potentially no job.

CLICK HERE to schedule a time to speak with Leanne about how to begin to increase sales.

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Too Many Impersonal Sales Questions May Limit Your Sales Results

Funny thing about humans beings, we back off from personal questions and yet we want people to know us.  Many sales questions are logical, impersonal and just may unintentionally limit or restrict sales results.

If sales is the transference of feelings (Zig Ziglar) and I believe this is true, then results driven salespeople have the capacity to frame impersonal questions into personal ones without violating the sales prospect’s personal space. Training and then developing this capacity is missing in many sales training programs and even with some sales coaching solutions.

For example, there are still sales training programs asking this couched prospecting sales question:

What keeps you up at night?

The desired end result of this question is to find the “pain” of the sales lead.  Yet, there are a plethora of different sales questions that can deliver far better results and better yet differentiate you from all those other numskulls.

Imagine asking this question:

If you could wave a magic wand, what would the three things you would like to see different in your business (substitute with your people, your process, your sales, your results)?

Asking proactive questions that fringe on being impersonal without being too personal can deliver the facts you are seeking to present your case.

There are other questions, but if I gave them all to you, why would you continue to read this blog or even reach out to speak with me?

Sales is still very simple, though not necessarily easy.  The level of difficulty increases with more complex sales that require more decision makers.  For most SMB owners and sales professionals, they probably do not engage in complex sales with the frequency of much larger firms with 100 or more employees.

People buy from people they know and trust.  Your sales questions must showcase you are knowledgeable and trustworthy.  Sounding like all the other salespeople with their antiquated and too personal questions will not increase sales.

Schedule a time to speak with Leanne Hoagland-Smith by CLICKING HERE.

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The Cheap and Easy Quick Fix Is Not Cheap, Easy or Quick

How often do sales managers to SMB owners to even sales professionals seek the cheap and easy quick fix to increase sales?  Then how often do companies create viable tools, but those tools are abused and misused because of this ongoing desire for the quick fix?

What usually happens is disappointment sets in and those in charge seek another cheap and easy solution to what ails their businesses and specifically their sales.  Einstein’s definition of insanity is alive and well not only in these SMBs, but all other organizations.

As an elected school board trustee and public educator, I saw this behavior through the application of grants.  Most grants have a three year funding cycle and then the school must fund the solution of their own.  Instead, they seek another grant because this was a viable way to get money and money drove the decision making process, not results. There was a constant turnover of programs that only diminished student engagement and effective instruction.

For profit businesses and other not for profit organizations also seek the easiest solution in the quickest time frame.  Investing in long term solutions is rarely considered.

We know this to be true because of the lack of return on investment for the majority of sales training and development programs. There is and remains a quick fix mentality by executive leadership because they have not engaged in any strategic planning nor understand how people learn and what keeps the application of newly learned sales skills on the back burner.

Today I submitted my 40th article to Worldwide Coaching Magazine.   The subject of this article looked to artificial intelligence (AI) and executive coaching.  Possibly the future will be “Coach Data.”  Unfortunately, even two entrepreneurs who have built AI into at their AI executive coaching program recognize this solution should never replace face to face interactions.

Executive coaching is a skill set that is often confused with consulting or worse yet traditional training and development programs. The first significant difference between executive coaching and traditional training and development quick fix is return on investment.  ROI is a demonstrated and measurable result.

Time is the next significant difference. Changing behaviors does not happen overnight.

Reflection of application of newly learned skills is the third significant difference. Executive coaches continually ask for their clients to share what has happened since the last coaching interaction. They also request application of new behaviors between sessions.

Beliefs probably are the fourth and probably the greatest difference.  Our beliefs, our attitudes drive our behaviors. Traditional sales training and development to leadership development to customer service training looks to the behaviors first instead of looking to the beliefs.

All of these differences demonstrate that executive coaching, sales coaching, leadership coaching or business coaching is not cheap, easy or quick.  If you are seeking the quick fix to your people problems, save your money until you can afford to do it right.

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You Are Not Alone in Sales

How many times do we feel we are alone in sales?  What I mean is we listen to all the sales experts and down deep inside we know that (whatever that is) won’t work for us.  However, we go with the flow because our sales manager told us or someone else said “yes that works.”

sales

Credit www.gratisography.com

When we ignore our “gut” and go with the flow, we isolate ourselves from what we know to be true. This isolation is mostly subconscious. What happens is we go through all those motions we learned from all those sales experts, sales books and sales training.

Yet something isn’t right. We feel it down deep inside. Our heart is not in selling. We are out of step. Our cadence is off.

If we are lucky, we meet someone or talk to someone who is experiencing the similar thoughts about selling.  We think or even may hear these words:

I am not alone.

Suddenly we feel vindicated.  There is someone else like me who believes what I believe.

I am not alone!

With so many experts in selling and marketing, it is easy to become distracted with all their information.  Also with SMB owners and managers wanting more revenue, the push to be like everyone else is always present.

What we fail to realize is we must be true to ourselves.  We must learn to accept what works for us.  Then we can work on how to improve what works for us.

Now we are in control of what we wish to retain for our own professional and personal development. We can hone in on exactly what works for us and then intentionally develop those talents or skills to increase sales.

Sales is pretty simple and it starts with your own ability to lead yourself first before you can lead others to buy your solutions. By being an authentic leader, you can accept the fact that you may be one of the few and will better appreciate hearing these words:

I am not alone.

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Uncovering Buying Criteria Takes Times

Wouldn’t it be great if all your sales leads had the following buying criteria checklist somewhere on their bodies?

  • Decision maker
  • Want or need
  • Allocated budget
  • Urgency
  • Commitment

Boy you could really increase sales by focusing on those sales leads that had all five.  Yet reality is each criterion is probably uncovered as the buyer-seller relationship develops unless of course the sales lead shared all five with you during the first sales conversation.

Since most buying decisions happen between the fourth and 12th contact, then during the first three to four contacts is probably when the first three buying criteria surface.  As the sales conversations continue, you as the salesperson can sense or develop a further sense of urgency to take action.  Possibly you may actually spur the sales lead to become more committed as you continue to develop the case to take action.

When salespeople rush the sales process (marketing, selling and keeping), they also may trip over or ignore these five buying criteria.  Sales leads in many instances will not share information with people they don’t know or trust.  Getting to know you and to trust you as a person takes time.

What is so sad is much of the sales training or sales coaching hype looks to the quick fix and ignores these fundamentals that have been true for decades. 

Download this Free:

Buying-Criteria-Check-List

Sometimes in sales as well as in life, we fail to take the small steps. Remember we learn to walk first before we learn to run. When we invest the time to walk by following the sales process, we can learn to avoid tire kickers and those not in a position to buy.  This doesn’t mean that at sometime in the future they cannot become buyers, but at this moment in time they are not ready to buy.

Want to speak with Leanne?  Click HERE to schedule your 30 minute telephone call.

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Are You Making These Top 5 Missteps in Hiring a New Salesperson?

Hiring a new salesperson can be a never ending story. With the turnover (churn) of salespeople as well as those in sales management, there appears to be some miss steps happening.

Top Misstep #1 – Ignoring the Wisdom of Existing Sales Team

Sales managers fail to ask the rest of the sales team as to what type of salesperson is needed.  Even though the essence of sales has not changed, how to reach new sales leads has changed.  In many instances, the existing salespeople will have a better pulse on what is required than the sales manager unless the sales manager is also in the field prospecting and selling.

Top Misstep #2 – Outdated Job Description

From my experience, the majority (over 50%) of all job description are outdated and irrelevant. Today’s salesperson must know the expectations and be assessed to ensure his or her talents work with not against the current job description.  For example, writing (communication through the written word) has become a critical sales skill due to content marketing.

Check out this talent assessment that is quick and very affordable.

Top Misstep #3 – No Onboarding Including Sales Coaching

No longer can sales managers hire a new salesperson and then throw her or him to the wolves with the “Go Sell” directive without further onboarding.  Sales coaching by an outside sales coach has proven to be quite effective.  Even though some sales managers believe they are sales coaches, this in many instances is a false belief.

Top Misstep #4 – Misalignment with Strategic Goals

Misalignment is a killer when it comes to achieving strategic goals including the always present one of increase sales. Sales does not operate in a vacuum.  With multiple departments strategic initiatives can be easily derailed.

Learn more about leadership and the impact of misalignment through this well written, quick (under 2 hours) and easy read book – Fail-Safe Leadership

Top Misstep#5 – Reactionary Hiring

Given the constant churn of salespeople, many sales managers and SMB owners engage in reactionary hiring. What makes far more sense is to continually scout for potential salespeople.  Met with these potential new hires.  Get to know them.  Then when necessity demands hiring a new salesperson you have a much stronger bench from which to select.

P.S. Did you know the average cost of a new hire exceeds $4,000 without any additional sales training and takes over 40 days to fill that open position?  Schedule a time to talk with me, Leanne Hoagland-Smith, to stop this drain on your profits.

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Are You Missing This in Your Sales Performance Appraisals? Part 1

This morning I read some interesting research from the Gallup organization on performance appraisals.  I believe this research could easily be extended to sales performance appraisals.

“Only 2 in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.”

Regardless if in your sales management role you manage a team of salespeople or just yourself, motivation is essential to moving forward. Unfortunately, very few management training or even sales training programs include motivation beyond possibly Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Human beings have the internal desire to improve otherwise we would still be living in caves and never would have landed on the moon. Yet human motivation still defies many in sales leadership roles because the time to understand it and work with it is not given.

One of the better instruments to better understand what motivates salespeople or any individuals is from the research of Eduard Spranger, a German philosopher and psychologist. His book originally published in German, Lebensformem was into English in 1928 as Types of Men: The Psychology and Ethics of Personality. In his research, Spranger identified six core values he found in every person which he Spranger believed motivated human beings. These six core values were:

  • Aesthetic – form and function
  • Economic – usefulness
  • Political – power and control
  • Social – people
  • Religious – unity
  • Theoretical – truth discovery

Sales performance appraisals should be benchmarks as to not only to revenue growth, but as a means to ensure continued internal motivation.  What would happen if those in sales be they managers or actual salespeople ask themselves the following three questions:

  • How is this organization’s management aligned to the six basic values that motivate people?
  • Do I know what truly motivates me?  (Note If you answered money or believe money is the answer without confirming that motivating value, you may be making a dangerous presumption.)
  • Am I leveraging the motivating values of my team or myself? (Note: If you don’t know what those values are, you probably can’t answer this question with any accuracy.)

Consider this special opportunity to assess not only what motivates you, but your 78 key talents as well as how you communicate.  Learn more by CLICKING HERE on this talent assessment opportunity.

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What Are Your Top Sales Lessons Learned?

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday. As for many people birthdays are a time of reflection.  We think about families, our friends, our experiences and ourselves as we travel back through the years.  What I realized is how many decades I have been involved in sales and all the sales lessons learned over the course of those years.

Probably of all the sales lessons learned, my father’s two sales buying rules come first to mind.  He gave me my first sales job of selling penny candy at his Sundry store.  I then graduates to selling coffee, milk shares, malts and hot dogs. Dad shared these two sales lessons.

#1People buy from people they know and trust.  A lot of people will say know, like and trust.  For Dad, the “like” criterion was “Would I take him or her home for dinner?”

#2People buy first on emotion followed by logic of reason.  Emotions are why we have such a variety of solutions in the marketplace.  No longer can you have any color as long as it is black. (Henry Ford)

I added this third sales buying rule – People buy on value unique to them. Yes I know a lot of sales training and development programs along with sales coaches to sales experts talk and write about salespeople creating value. That is not true.  If I want a red car (emotion) and all you have is a black car, you cannot create any value for me.  What a good salesperson can do is to connect to my other value drivers and he or she may be able to sell me the black car.

Possibly my fourth sales lesson learned is about being 100% authentic.  Authenticity cannot be faked.  People can smell a phony. Anymore their internal senses are tuned to smell unauthentic people.  Here is where active listening and emotional intelligence play a tremendous role

Lesson number five is not everyone will buy from you and that is okay. Knowing your ideal customer increases your ability to sell and proportionally decreases your stress.  Working with people who don’t fit your ideal customer may increase your revenue, but it is truly worth all the grief and aggravation?

President Dwight Eisenhower said “Plans are worthless; planning is everything.” His words along with the words of Marcel Proust “The true voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.” complete sales lessons six and seven.

When we fail to plan (think) we engage in what a colleague called Captain Wing It behaviors. Then when we fail to change how we see things, we run the risk of engaging in Einsteins’ quote about insanity to being content with the status quo.

There are many more sales lessons learned and to be learned.  Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

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Going Beyond Sales Obstacles to Increase Sales

Most of us who have attended any sales training or read any sales book have experienced this term: Sales Obstacles.  However I believe now is the time to rethink this term and replace it with this one: Sales Limitations.

The reason for this possibly heretical change is one of truth.  Limitations are far more restrictive than obstacles if the goal is to increase sales.  Obstacles are viewed in many instances as something far more tangible than a limitation. They are top of mind.

Limitations are often ignored, shrugged off or put to the side as minor inconveniences. The SMB owner, sales manager or salesperson look to those big sales obstacles, those roadblocks that are keeping them from sustainable business growth.

Marcel Proust wrote “The true voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.” Maybe it is time to see the sales training and development landscape with new eyes?

Success in sales is far more about subtly than an all out attack.  Through active listening, the salesperson can hear what other salespeople have missed.  What was missed from my experience were the limitations not the obstacles.

Sales limitations in many instances are the small things, the inconsequential things.  However when all those limitations are uncovered, they probably are much larger than the known sales obstacles.

Additionally, sales limitations reflect the overall sales culture.  For example when someone in accounting fails to send the correct invoice, this is not viewed as a sales obstacle.  However it is a sales limitation when the salesperson seeks a second or third sales from the same customer.

Others have made this statement which is really an update of Proust’s words: “When you change how you look at things, the things you look at will change.” I truly believe now is the time to change how we look at sales obstacles.

P.S. Sales prospects have been conditioned to the word “obstacle” or even “what is keeping you from…?”  You then sound like all those other salespeople. However by using the word limiting or limitations you are prodding your sales prospects to think differently and better yet to think differently about you.

Reach out to schedule a short conversation with me if you want to change your sales results.

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The Sales Shortcut Mentality – Is that You?

Have you ever viewed those headlines in emails or advertisements announcing this or that “shortcut” to improved results be it in sales, leadership, business operations, etc.? One of the results of all this messaging is it appears to be fostering a “sales shortcut” mentality.

Most reasonably intelligent business people know down deep inside there are no shortcuts to success.  Yet, people especially salespeople seem to still gravitate to that possibility.

Why?

  • The sales manager is pushing hard to increase sales
  • The salesperson is looking to make her or his sales quota
  • The sales culture makes it difficult (works against the sales team) to increase sales

The sales shortcut mentality also shows up in the recruiting, hiring and onboarding of new salespeople.  Salespeople are added as warm bodies, given a list of businesses and told “Go sell.”  There is no process for onboarding, for ongoing sales training and development and forget about sales coaching or mentoring.

Good to great salespeople use a variety of tools to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.  They understand the sales process and how to leverage that process of marketing, selling and keeping in their daily behaviors.

Some of these tools could be viewed as shortcuts such as Hootsuite where multiple postings can be scheduled over multiple days with a few cut and paste actions. CRMs can also be viewed as a shortcut provided the salesperson or salespeople invested the time to input the required data.  Saving websites,  using folders or creating spreadsheets again are actions that improve sales prospecting.

Yet in spite of all the tools, top sales performers do not embrace a “sales shortcut” mentality. They almost instinctively know such an attitude will not lead to increase sales and ultimately to sales success.

If you are thinking about using or worse yet buying this or that shortcut with the hope to increase sales, I would caution you to rethink your decision.  Ask yourself why?  Remember the first buying rule in sales, “People buy from people they know and trust.” There is no sales shortcut to building trust.

 

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