Posts Tagged ‘selling’

How to Unleash More Selling Time

Do you have a time management problem in your selling efforts?  Are you running out of time as you balance work with your personal life?  Have you tried time management training, seeking time management tips or reading time management articles and books?  And you still have a problem?

Guess what?  You are not alone. This is because time management is not about time management but rather about self management through planning and goal setting. Please let me explain.

Why are you managing time?  Because you made commitments to do that or be here.  In other words, you made promises based upon your sales and business goals within your strategic plan.  If you did not have these goals, would you have a time management problem?  Probably, not.

Take a moment to envision a triangle.  The bottom two thirds of the triangle are all of your goals.  The top one third is time management. Do you see how time management is really the apex of goal setting and goal achievement?

If time management is a problem, my first question is have you committed all of your  business and sales goals to writing?  Then the next question are those goals aligned to your overall strategic action plan or action plans? Finally, are these goals yours or someone else’s?  If they belong to someone else, do you think that maybe you are resisting achieving them?  Would that not affect how your use your time?

Speaking of your plan, does it include a Purpose, Vision, a Values and a Mission statement?  These core foundational statements are extremely necessary when scheduling your time as well as using time. Returning to the earlier diagram, the core foundational statements are between your goals and your time management.

When you have all four foundational statements, you can reduce the time that you spend on decision making. If something comes across your desk that is not in alignment with your core foundational statements, you can quickly discard it and not waste those precious minutes pondering “Should I or should I not?”.

TAKE ACTION: Stop believing it is a time management problem. For as Pogo so eloquently said: “I meet the enemy and he is us.”  Next you need to invest some time into planning your selling activities and overall business success. Finally, if you do not utilize a proven goal setting and goal achievement process, find one to work with your business and sales action plan. Then and only then, will you get unleash your selling time and receive even greater results from the same amount of time.

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The Reality of Selling Has Always Been This

So what is the reality of selling?  If you listen to many of the sales trainers, sales consultants to sales authors, the reality is 100% focused on the salesperson.  Ask this question, make this comment, etc.

sellingHowever, the reality of selling hasn’t changed since man began exchanging something for something else. Zig Ziglar said “Sales is the transference of feelings.”  Each of those exchanges between seller and buyer resulted in the transference of some feelings.

Doesn’t it make sense to redirect sales training to the buyer instead of the seller? Some sales training programs and sales consultants do focus on the buyer as through the application of the DISC psychometric assessment (talent assessment).  Those who understand the behavior principles behind DISC can apply those principles through their sales communications with their buyers.

The Selling Myth That Distorts Reality

Possibly one of the the greatest selling myths that distorts reality is sales people create value.  The reason this is a myth is because value is unique to each buyer because each buyer is a unique individuals with unique experiences and expectations.

Of course people can be easily fooled since the human ego likes to be front and center with internal thoughts of “Look what me!” Then what happens “Watch me go! I just created value!”

The ego takes over the sales conversation. Now the focus is on the salesperson and not on the buyer because the salespeople believes he or she knows best based upon his or her experiences.

Selling is rather simple thought not necessarily easy for probably 97.7% of the small businesses in the US as they have under 20 employees and for the most part do not engage in buying decisions with multiple decision makers. Complex sales usually require a larger workforce probably with the exception of technology and software programs.

When we remember to keep the selling authentically focused on the buyer and look to create those transference of feelings (relationships), then possibly sales success has a greater chance of actually happening. Just remember sales is a process and one or two calls don’t make for a relationship.

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Time to Stop with the Cheap Sales Behaviors – Part 2



Continuing with the cheap sales behaviors, here are another four (4) that may resonate with you.

Professional Development

How much time do you devote to your own professional development? Are you in the sales behavior of self-directed learning?  Sales continues to change even though in many instances it still remains the same.  With more educated buyers, understanding value creation, value articulation and value realization is essential if you truly want to increase sales.

If you say you don’t have time, do you waste 12 minutes a day? If you answered yes, that is one hour a week.  So time becomes another excuse to continue your cheap sales behaviors.

Common Courtesy

What does it take to send a handwritten thank you note?  No it is cheaper to send an email than to take the time to express your thanks for an act of kindness.  Loyal customers as well as centers of influence appreciate those acts of kindness and will remember you before the last salesperson who called on them.

Returned Phone Calls

Another cheap sales behavior is not returning phone calls.  “I don’t have time” or “I’ll call back later” is an inexcusable cheap sales behavior. With all the SMB in the marketplace, your sales lead or customer will just as quickly call your competitor.

Spraying and Praying Sales Behaviors

Possibly the cheapest sales behaviors are what I call spraying and praying. These behaviors are the result of no strategic planning including no market research.  SMB owners to salespeople spray their actions all over the place and then pray something will stick.

These are the folks passing out multiple cards at B2B networking events. There is no clarity as to their next marketing, selling or keeping sales behaviors.

Yes cheap has always existed, doing the least for the most. For those engaged in selling, cheap sales behaviors just may ensure you have cheap sales.

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Selling to Goldfish Just Might Be Easier

Have you ever thought that selling is difficult?  Did you wonder why during a sales conversation your sales lead appeared to be off in La La Land? Well, there is research to confirm you just might be right.

sellingMicrosoft conducted research about the attention span of people.  From past research, Microsoft determined the attention span for people was 12 seconds. In 2015, this dropped to 8 seconds.

Goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds.

Imagine that, a goldfish has a greater attention span of a human being!

What this means for those engaged in selling, is the first 8 seconds you speak with your buyer or ideal customer must be so emotionally compelling he or she wants to stay focused on “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey said.

How does this translate within your sales process and sales conversation? 

First, if people buy from people they know and trust, then those first 8 words must begin to demonstrate you are knowledgeable and begin to build trust or at least not work against building trust.

For example, many astute buyers can tell by the first questions you ask what type of sales training you had.  This buyer awareness may work against you being perceived as knowledgeable and trustworthy.  So if you are asking “What is keeping you up at night?” I would encourage you to stop with that question and similar common and lame questions.

Second, people buy first on emotion justified by logic.  Salespeople must look to the needs and not ignore the wants as wants are more emotional than needs. Here is where some may suggest an emotional “hook” to keep the buyer interested.

Third, value is unique to each individual. Now some in the selling marketplace suggest and believe value is created by the seller.  This is not true as proven by past researchers of Spranger and Allport along with further motivational research by Deci and Ryan.

You have 8 seconds to capture someone’s attention and then hold that attention.  Sales leads are easily distracted because after all they are people.  Possibly now is the time to focus first on those 8 seconds instead of diving into “the rest of the story.”

Want more than 8 seconds?

Just CLICK HERE to talk with Leanne

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Are You Making Selling a Lot Harder?

Salespeople and business professionals continually tell me “Selling is hard, much harder today.” 

I would agree given there are more small businesses popping up in the marketplace along with extra layers of decision makers.  Yet I do not necessarily agree selling is that much harder that it was years ago.

Let us remember, sales professionals of 30 plus years ago did not have the technology advantages of today.  They had to go from phone booth to phone booth to schedule appointments.  Bids were picked up physically before faxes came along. Yet salespeople had selling success.

What I have observed is a potentially longer sales cycles because the trust factor between seller and buyer has eroded over the last decade. People have always bought from people they know and trust. Then factor in the market uncertainty and sales decisions seem to be bottle necked.

Of course, there are all those sales experts, sales gurus, sales coaches and consultants who appear to have a new monthly sales strategy.  All of these factors have contributed to the confusion within the sales profession that selling  is harder.

In reviewing my qualified sales leads to actually converted executive coaching clients as well as organizational talent management clients, I have a 100% sales conversion rate.  What is interesting to note, all of these earned sales happened almost effortlessly.  The selling was not hard, in fact it was pretty easy.

Now I will admit that the majority of my clients, over 90% are executive coaching clients, and not large Fortune 500-100 corporations (the minority of businesses). However in talking with colleagues who are also executive coaches selling similar services, the majority, over 50%, do not have this sales conversion rate.

sellingSo what makes selling for me easier than for others?  I believe it is my education based marketing approach, my laid back selling style (not desperately seeking sales) and my authenticity (being in alignment with my positive core values).

Education Based Marketing Works

Having engaged in education based marketing beginning in 2005, I have established thousands of articles that can be found on the Internet. This marketing approach attracts attention and  builds credibility because I am not selling to anyone, but rather educating and having potential ideal customers buy me first.

Of course with education based marketing, quality information written in an emotionally compelling style is required. Also, one must be patient because sales leads do not materialize overnight.


Credit Gratisography


Relationship Building Takes Time

“Rome.” as they say,“was not built in a day.” Relationships with qualified sales leads are not built over night. Education based marketing opens the door to relationship building.

For me relationship building is like a long hallway with many doors.  Each door is a contact with that person.  I am looking to pass at least 4 if not more doors before I even discuss what I do or if I can be of support.  Now if the qualified sales lead is from a referral, the number of doors to be passed can be significantly lessened.

Contacts include emails, phone calls, meetings and even comments on social media.


Business Ethics (Values) Do Matter

Funny thing about business ethics or values, people know when people have them and when you don’t have them or when your values are in question.  In simpler terms, this is called your professional reputation.

After being in this market place for close to 20 years as an executive coach and talent management consultant, I have observed a lot of small business owners whose values (business ethics) or lack thereof are well known by others. Maybe that is why I believe in any strategic planning process, the values should be the first course of discussion and action. Today you are still your word and your word goes before you.selling

What’s Between Your Ears?

If you believe selling is hard, then selling will be hard. Now if you believe selling is more protracted but still all about the transference of feelings between the buyer and you as the seller,you may have greater sales success.

We have little control of what comes in between our years. We have 100% control of what we allow to stay between our ears.

As you approach the next month or next year, consider changing your belief about selling is a lot harder and work on improving your marketing instead of your sales skills.  You may genuinely surprised by your results.


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Just Learned I Have Not Been Selling for Last 30 Years

Imagine my surprise when I read a comment posted on a social media site by a sales expert who stated:

“If you don’t get objections, you are not selling.”


This comment was within a thread where a sales coach shared his story about his coaching client (salesperson) receiving objections specific to dollars.  I had shared earlier in the thread an observation that  the noted sales objection was not a true objection, but rather poor qualifying on the part of the salesperson.

Beyond confusing poor qualifying with actual sales objections, I suddenly realized how many salespeople possibly believe that not having a sales objection means they really aren’t selling. I thought of always be closing (ABC) in Glengarry Glen Ross.

For these misguided folks, there appears to be a shared belief that sales objections are synonymous with proving your worth as a salesperson.  Really?

One of my mentors is Peter Drucker whose wisdom is profound.  In explaining marketing and selling, he said

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Another Drucker quote stated:

“The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.”

When your marketing is done well by meeting the customer’s wants and needs, what happens is your potential customer or qualified sales prospect will pull you to him or her.  You will not have to push and pushing in many cases raises both sales stalls and objections. Always be closing (ABC) is pushing sales behavior.

From an emotional intelligence perspective, objectives are emotionally negative.  Why in any buying and selling process do you want to stir up unnecessary negative emotions? That behavior appears to be quite illogical.

I must admit I did take this comment about “If you don’t get objections, you are not selling” with considerable amusement given I have been in sales and selling for 30 plus years with the last 16 years as a small business owner.  In reviewing my last 10 executive coaching clients, the only clarifying question I had was “Can I make two payments inside of one?”  Not one of the clients raised any real sales objections during our fact finding conversations.

During the last two years, 90% of my executive coaching sales have been earned by the second phone call or meeting.  This sales to earn rate (sales to close ratio) exceeds all national sales averages than I have read.

If you believe that sales objections validate your sales skills, then have at it.  Personally, for me, the less sales objections the better I have marketed my solutions and I am okay with that.


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Selling Is Marketing Plus A Whole Lot More!

Probably more than ever before outside of the old open air markets of yesteryear, today’s selling world is marketing plus a whole lot more. Now with the majority of organizations world wide having under 100 employees, salespeople today are indeed even more responsible for attracting attention to keeping customers loyal.

selling-is-marketingMost small businesses (97.7% with under 20 employees) cannot afford profit draining marketing departments or expensive marketing campaigns.  With the exponential growth of social media, much of the inbound marketing can be handle by individual sales team members especially with the integration of automation tools.

So what is a whole lot more?

According to one recent study by the Rain Group:

  • Connecting
  • Commanding
  • Collaborating

The Rain Group discovered what sales winners consistently did more than those who came in second place. First they connected their client with other people and resources. Then they acted in a commanding way through their knowledge and overall presence. Finally, they collaborated with their clients so that their sales solutions could be leveraged and applied beyond the initial scope. These three actions demonstrate that selling is marketing plus a whole lot more.

Top sales performers have always held the hands of their clients.  They walked with them through the adoption to installation of the purchased solutions. Now they continue to hold their hands in a collaborative effort allowing the clients to be even more profitable and more competitive.

High performing sales teams now embrace success of their clients and support their success day in and day out demonstrating that selling is marketing plus a whole lot more.

If you are having difficult keeping track of your social media goals along with other marketing goals, these two action plans may help close those gaps.

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Aligning the Sales Process to the Evolution of Trust


Much is written about trust within selling because people buy from people they know and trust. Yet how many sales processes directly align the development or better yet the evolution of trust to the sales process?  From my observation very few if any at all.


The majority of sales processes comprise two separate phases even if the sales process has sequential steps.  Phase I is marketing and marketing is all about doing. Writing this blog is a doing action. Going to B2B networking events is doing. Marketing is the action activity or activities (doing) within the sales process.

Phase II is selling and here there are both doing and thinking  behaviors.  Doing is asking the right questions with thinking how to turn stalls into objections as two examples.

The third Phase of Keeping is missing from the majority of sales process. With some this Keeping Phase is almost a downhill step within the selling phase. After the sale is earned, the focus returns to marketing or finding that next sales lead.  Follow-up or asking for a referral is often ignored or mistakenly left to another person or department. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Over 75% of my clients failed to ask for referrals after successfully delivering the sale.

In keeping customers, as the cost to acquire a new customer ranges from five (5) to 10 times the cost to retain an existing customer, thinking is required.

What can I do to keep top of mind awareness (TOMA)?

What can I do to keep him or her loyal?

How can I just be valuable to my customers?

Just imagine the results if sakes leaders would aligned the evolution of trust to a clearly delineated 3 (3) phase sales process? Yes, imagine all those possibilities.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is the author of Be the Red Jacket and a heurist who disrupts the status quo by discovering new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses; those who wish to grow beyond their current employees and executives in career chaos.  She is recognized as one of the Top 25 Sales Influencers in 2013 by Open View Sales Labs and can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Selling is the Same; Marketing is Different

Selling is the same today, yesterday, yesteryear and in the future.  People have a need or a want and require to emotionally and logically satisfy that need or want. Yes in some cases, the sale is more complex with more decision makers. However at the end of the day, people buy from people.

marketingIn today’s marketplace what has dramatically changed is marketing. This change has confused salespeople to small business owners and even C-suite executives. What worked to attract attention and build relationships in the past no longer works as well today.

People who buy from people are busier than ever before. They have more information than in the past. One of my clients told me “I don’t have time for all those emails asking me to buy this or that; less alone all those voice mail messages.” However she was more than willing to speak with another one of my clients to help my client out when I asked.

Sales referrals are one proven way to cut through all those emails being sent by the competition. The challenge is many small business owners:

  • Fail to ask for sales referrals
  • Do not know how to make referrals
  • Fail to include this marketing strategy as a marketing goal within their marketing action plan

One of my trusted colleagues, Paul McCord, recently wrote a blog entitled Are You Committing Any of These 10 Referral Destroying Mistakes? His thoughts are sales referrals are on target as usual.

If you want to increase sales, consider becoming far better in marketing specific to asking and giving sales referrals.  And there is no better time than to start right now.

LinkedIn Contacts is a great resource for sales referrals. This webinar, LinkedIn Contacts, Your Competitive Advantage, may just help you kick start the next sales quarter.

August 1, 10-11am CDT

August 6, 7-8pm CDT

August 7, 4-5pm CDT


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Scratching My Swedish Head As to When Selling Was Not Social

Maybe when shopping by catalog was one of the biggest ways to shop,  selling was not social. Yet selling has always been social from the bazaars and open markets of years gone by to the 21st century where technology allows more sellers to connect with more buyers.

sellingThere appears to be a new rush to embrace social selling as something new and different.

Social selling is not new nor different.

What is new and different are the marketing channels  to reach all those buyers and those channels are very congested with other salespeople – potentially your competition. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Clarity is critical to sales success.

Social marketing through technology is new and different.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Social marketing allows for an immediate two way engagement versus the traditional or sales based approach that was one way such as advertising.

Top performing salespeople will always be aware of how the marketing channels change and what are the drivers of those change. These individuals invest the time to understand the marketplace beyond doing their due diligence business research regarding new sales leads.

Just do not be fooled that social selling is something new. Good sales skills coupled with emotionally intelligence and  forward thinking leadership  will always be critical for sales success.

If you want to leverage your business research, consider one of these three webinars on LinkedIn Contacts – Your Competitive Advantage.


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