Posts Tagged ‘Sales’

Sales Is All About Facilitating the Angst of Change

Sales is all about change.  You want your sales prospect to change by buying your solution.

How will you facilitate that change will speak to your sales success or failure.

Facilitate is an incredibly powerful word and one that many salespeople tend to ignore. The roots of facilitate are Latin in origin (facere) and translates as “to do” or “to make.”  From facere, the word evolved to “facilis” or translated to “easy.”  In other words, facilitate is simply “to make easy.”

How can you as a salesperson make the change transition to buy your solution easy?  Does this question change how you think about sales obstacles?

Aren’t sales obstacles resistance to change? Possibly you viewed sales obstacles are objections to your solutions?  Yet if you dig a little deeper, they are objections to change and with that change is a lot of angst.

Sales stalls are the surface angst to change. These are usually easy to see and with a little practice can be turned into real sales objections which are deeper reactions usually negative to change.

When we understand we as salespeople facilitate the angst of change, we can then also increase our emotional intelligence because we are now even more aware of the emotional exchange happening or not happening between our prospects and ourselves.

There is enough research about how people react to change.  A good read is Change or Die by Alan Deutschman to understand the far reaches of change.  Our experiences many times reveal change is good, you go first.

The angst of change helps also to explain why some people are risk takers.  Their angst is far less than those who are reluctant to take risks.

And as we enter sales conversations with the goal to make this interaction as easy as possible for the sales prospect, we indeed differentiated ourselves from all those other grays suits.

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A Human Malady: The Status Quo of Achievement

Many people continually strive to change the status quo.  Then once they reach whatever they want to achieve, receive their accolades, they stop.  I was reminded of this when listening to Coach Lou Holtz give a commencement speech and he shared his greatest mistake.

Listen to Lou Holtz speech

Status Quo  of Satisfaction

We observe this in sales.  For those who meet sales goals, they suddenly become satisfied and stop prospecting.  Coasting now becomes the observable behavior and translates into complacency.”Why sell more?” becomes the rationale question to justify this coasting behavior. Continued achievement will give them no more in sales compensation.

How about with personal or professional development?  People reach a level of achievement and stop learning.

status-quoWe see this by the number of books people read or don’t read. Are you one of the 42% of U.S. college grads who never read another book after graduation?

The world is changing minute by minute because of technology through connectivity and innovation.  Artificial intelligence (AI) along with robots are here not to mention all the other scientific inroads.

When we find satisfaction with the status quo, we are not growing. We are not moving forward.

My father and his family were immigrants into this country.  All three of his brothers until they died had a tower of books to read.  The older two brothers along with my father died before computers became part of every day life. However the third brother used the Internet on a daily basis to find answers to his questions.

Each year I draft a personal improvement plan that includes 100 hours of off site professional development.  This year I will be learning about real estate as a recent move has made me realize I know very little about land and real estate.

My own personal and professional development includes reading at least 1 hour every day.  This is not difficult to do given how many articles I read along with professional publications, blogs, newspapers, etc.

The status quo of achievement is indeed a human malady and translates into a barrier to continued any success be it sales, leadership or even health. Once we realize we must look to always challenge the status quo, we can indeed understand life is truly about moving forward, seeking that next level of achievement.

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In Sales, the Problem with the Word “Help”

How many times in the course of a sales day, do you read or hear “I help…?” In reviewing visitors to my LinkedIn profile, I can say over 50% of the headlines use this common verb of help.

The problem with this word is it does not differentiate you or your business from all the other people and businesses helping other people and businesses. With the very crowded marketplace and where 97.7% of all businesses have under 20 employees, differentiation is key to growing any SMB.

Sales Coaching Tip: Differentiation is essential to attracting sales leads

When any word is used too frequently, people become immune to the word.  It does not take hold in their minds and in some instances creates a negative, emotional reaction. Your sales goal should Be the Red Jacket in the Sea of Gray Suits.

There are a plethora of verbs that can be substituted for this word of help such as:

  • Facilitate
  • Build
  • Expand
  • Connect
  • Strengthen
  • Work
  • Align

Additionally a goal statement could be equally effective as in “Our Goal” is to:

  • Connect you with the right decision makers to increase sales
  • Strengthen your internal customers to reduce high, costly turnover
  • Align your people and processes to ensure efficiency, effectiveness while increasing profits

The goal statement demonstrates not only what you do, but the desired end results of your solutions. How many salespeople fail to include the results in their messaging be it their 30 second infomercial, their positioning statement or their value proposition statement?

Sales Coaching Tip: Potential customers want the end results of your solutions.

Sometimes we must rethink what we say and how what we say is received by our intended audience (think ideal customer). Words do matter and even more importantly the impact of those words really matter.

So if you are determined to use the word help, then connect it to the results of your solution.

Reach out and schedule a call with Leanne by CLICKING HERE.

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True Sales Leaders Take a Moment to Be Personal

What with all the impersonal marketing and social media outreach by those who believe they are sales leaders?  If people buy from people they know and trust, doesn’t it make sense to be somewhat personal in your marketing, prospecting and general business behaviors?

Of course, this doesn’t mean invading someone else’s privacy, but a little personalization goes a long way to start building that trusting relationship.

A Tale of Three LinkedIn Invitations

What does it take to be personal through LinkedIn invitations?  Not much.

Here are two recent examples of sales leaders who made not only made their LinkedIn invitations personal, but gave me the reason for their wanting to connect with me.

Example #1 Hi Leanne! – We both contributed to the June edition of the Worldwide Coaching Magazine. I would be honored to be part of your network! Best regards from Quebec City!

Example #2Hi Leanne, We share several connections and groups. I would like to add you as a connection. Best

After reading these two LinkedIn Invitations, how do they compare with the pre-formatted, impersonal one offered by LinkedIn?

Hi Leanne, I’d like to join your LinkedIn network

If you are like me, there is no comparison. Now some will say LinkedIn mobile platforms do not allow for personalization.  My response is make a note of the person’s name and wait until you get to a desk top.

Your first contact with an almost complete stranger should be as positive as possible.  Again, you want to begin to build trust.  True sales leaders understand the importance of that first contact, the second contact all the way up to the 12th and beyond contact.

Being personal goes beyond LinkedIn invitations or other social media channels.  Picking up the phone just to reconnect with someone or sending a handwritten note card all reaffirm that you are in that group of sales leaders who truly care.  President Teddy Roosevelt said it best:

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

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Sales Leadership, Bag Phone or Smart Phone?

Funny thing about sales leadership is some past sales leaders sometimes fail to continue to be forward thinking as new ideas or technologies evolve.

sales-leadershipNow younger sales professionals may not remember the first mobile phones that were literally in a bag.  These bag phones started the trend of being connected 24/7.

Over time technology reduced the size of the mobile phone and increased its power.  Today we have all those smart phones and other smart devices that allow those in sales leadership to reach out and touch someone instantaneously.

Many of the early adopters of bag phones saw the value in them.  They found them to be beneficial to achieving the goal to increase sales. Yet some of these same forward thinking leaders decided to hold onto their bag phones because they were familiar with them, they did not have to learn a new device and it worked for them.

They believed in “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Yesterday’s old bag phones is an analogy respective to  those in sales leadership who do not want change.  They want to hold onto their authority, their knowledge and their comfortableness.

Those who adopt new technology, new marketing channels, new ways of thinking are more willing to accept change and challenge the status quo. They accept the possibility their authority may be challenged, their knowledge will change and they will be uncomfortable during this process.

Of course to change for the sake of change is not good.  Yet to hold onto the past without looking to the future is equally not good.

Sales leadership in the 21st century must face its greatest challenge – change.  This is quite difficult given how fast change is happening and why additional resources must be hired or contracted to effectively deal with all of these changes in sales, in business and in people. Now is not the time to hold onto that old bag phone.

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Looking to Be Insulted in All the Wrong Places

Years ago there was a song with these lyrics “Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.” Today, it appears many are looking to be insulted in all the wrong places.

My husband and I at breakfast talked about how everyone is looking to be insulted especially those in business.  This conversation was prompted by a friend and colleague who was accused of micro-aggression by a millennial female wait staff person.

I wonder how this particular individual would have handle this comment from a loyal customer “I want to to be served by a man.” My sense is she would have been insulted and probably labeled this also micro-aggression.

“Many of today’s younger people are looking to be insulted.”

When I first started my professional adult career in sales, I was one of the firs female inside salespeople in the pipe, valves and fitting industry within Chicagoland area.  I can’t count the number of times I heard a male customer, sometimes with a heavy Irish brogue, tell me “I want to talk to a man.”

Instead of looking to be insulted, I simply transferred the customer to another male salesperson.  No big deal. Usually what happened is the customer would come back to me because I knew more about the subject than the male salesperson.

At this time, the customer was usually embarrassed.  Instead of making him feel worse, I just smiled and asked him “How can I help you?” After all, the goal was to increase sales, not to turn a loyal customer into a disloyal one.

When I started this position, I made an effort to educate myself in areas that many had ignored such as specifications, time of delivery, quality of products and substitutes. This knowledge proved exceptionally beneficial.

Micro-Aggression Really?

How often do we ask to speak to someone who can speak English well and understand English?  By the definition of micro-aggression, we are marginalizing or demonstrating indirect discrimination against non-native English people.

Well, my thought is it’s my money, my time and my customer experience. I want someone who can understand what I am saying and I can likewise understand the other person on the phone.” This is called effective communication, not micro-aggression.

Tight Shorts Anyone?

My husband coined this phrase “tight shorts.”  It means people whose feathers are easily ruffled.  These are the folks looking to be insulted.  They are the first to complain.  They are seeking justification for their beliefs which in many instances are false.

The last place to wear tight shorts is the workplace. My Dad warned me about people and sales. He said to “let it go like water off a duck’s back.”  Those words I still carry with me today.

When Did It Happen?

When did it happen we can’t say anything without someone looking to be insulted or offended?  Are we so fearful, so lacking self confidence, so emotionally unintelligent we must actively seek to be offended, to be insulted?

Maybe it is time to reassess what and how we teach young people to be.  Yes we must look not to offend that is true. However maybe it is also true we must stop looking to be insulted in all the wrong places.

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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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“I’ve Been In Sales My Entire Career”

So how long have you been in sales?  Is your tenure a few years or decades?

This statement was recently made in an email to me:

“I’ve been in sales my entire career.”

For many this statement is very true because everyone is in sales if we believe Zig Ziglar’s definition of sales to be the “transference of feelings.”

As to actual time as a salesperson,  this individual’s selling career spanned a total of seven (7) years.  Given I have been selling for over 50 years, seven years is a good start, but there is still a long way to go.

When I read “my entire career,” my thoughts jumped to a minimum of 15-20 years. Our experiences do create our reality.

In today’s ever so written word world, we must be careful with the words we use.  For those words have different meanings and may unintentionally create mistrust instead of trust.

Sales Coaching Tip:  People buy from people they know and trust.

Possibly for this individual who knew the intended recipient of this message was far more experienced the message could have been better nuanced such as “my entire young career.”

Now some folks have years of selling experience and are still clueless while others have only a few years and have valued insight. Yet I believe experience does matter.

As I can only speak for myself, I tend to listen to those who have at least 15 to 20 years of experience as salespeople. However if I had only one or two years of selling experience, I may listen to someone who had seven years.

P.S. Also remember always to give attribution to the words or creative efforts of others when you incorporate them into your blog, your speeches and your everyday conversations.  By taking that action, you appear to be just a tad more credible as well as ethical leader.

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Another New Sales Tool? Really? Why?

Almost every day I am solicited to try this or that new sales tool.  All promise incredible results.  Really?

sales-toolHow many sales tools does a salesperson really need?

How did top sales performers years ago manage before the creation of all these new technology based sales tools?

Will the adoption of a new sales tool really increase sales?

Do you suddenly become captive to the newest latest technology and lose sight of what you as a sales manager or salesperson are supposed to be doing?

Here are some other questions to ask before adopting any new sales tool:

  • Are you taking this action proactively or reactively?
  • Is the justification to “monitor” or control your salespeople?
  • Will the technology build trust both internally and externally?
  • Will the tool actually improve individual sales performance?
  • Will there be more time spent on entering data instead of making calls or meeting with sales prospects?
  • How much time is involved in the learning curve?
  • What is the actual return on investment including dollars and time?

I remember reading on numerous occasions the greatest complaint about most CRM tools was:

The salespeople don’t use them!

Technology is great when applied correctly and for the right reasons.  As the old saying goes, “one does not need an elephant gun to kill a fly.”  Just make sure you have the right tool for the right purpose.

Remember time is money and adding any new sales tool starts as a negative drain on profits and productivity.

Consider investing a few minutes to speak with Leanne Hoagland-Smith about how to increase sales. CLICK HERE to schedule your free session.

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A Sales Maxim To Be Held True

What sales maxim do you hold to be most true?  This past week I had the opportunity to personally witness how the violation of this code of sales behavior turned me away from one vendor to another. Let me explain.

sales-maximAs we have just relocated from 1/3 acre home with no fence to two acres totally fenced, we decided it was time to find a dog. Our new home is out in the country where there are plenty of coyotes.

Believing in adopting a rescued dog from the local animal shelter, I stopped by and looked at the available dogs.  The executive director told me there were a couple of 3 month old puppies at a national pet chain store. This national pet chain store works with local human societies and allows them space to showcase dogs and cats for adoption.

So I decided to stop by and saw a puppy that appeared to met our breed and size criteria. I went to the car to call my husband to see if he approved and was met by another human society just outside of the store.  Their puppies were an acceptable breed  and I was almost ready to pick one up when one volunteer said “We are the better human society.” I smiled and continued to my car where I called my husband.  He said “It’s up to you” and I went back in and adopted the 3 month old puppy.

Years ago my father shared this sales maxim with me “Never, never knock the competition, no matter what you know.” Dad went on to explain his reasoning with “By engaging in this sales behavior, you as a salesperson will begin to establish distrust and turn potential customers or clients away.”

Then I had the opportunity to visit a local veterinarian as one of the technicians had a dog kennel for sale.  I asked her what made this clinic different?  She responded very positively with “All our vets are men and we spend more time with each patient.”  We then talked a little more about a vaccine against rattlesnake bite and she presented me with a card for a free visit.  What this wise lady did was to be positive and not knock the competition.  She earned my first visit.

Knocking the competition is a dangerous behavior and one that should be avoided at all costs. Let others fail to heed this sales maxim as plenty do.  Be above the fray.  Remember the Socrates Three Filters if you are ever in a discussion about your competitors:

  1. Is what you say kind?
  2. Is what you say truthful?
  3. Is what you say necessary?

 

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