Posts Tagged ‘SMB owners’

A Loyal Customer Is Your Revenue Generator

Many small to mid size businesses cannot answer this question:  What is the total value of each loyal customer? For these SMB owners are so busy working on yesterday’s issues and today’s issues, they fail to invest the time on tomorrow’s opportunities.

To calculate this very important number begins by understanding your average revenue per order and knowing the total number of orders per year per customer.  By multiplying these two numbers creates your total revenue opportunities per year for your average customer.

Next take your total revenue opportunities multiplied by the average tenure of your customer and you now have your total value of a loyal customer.

For example, you are a small, locally owned restaurant and the average breakfast meal is $6.00 and your customers visit you 2 times a week or 104 times a year for annual total revenue opportunity of $624.  Your average tenure or lifetime for your customer is 10 years.  Total value of that customer is $6,240.

When that customer stops coming, you have not lost $12 a week, but $6,240.  This is why building loyal customers is so critical to your bottom line.

Here is another real world example. My husband and I go out for dinner usually once a week.  Twice a month we frequented a locally owned restaurant that consistently delivered good food. During one of our visits, my husband visited the men’s facility and observed a cook not washing his hands. Upon returning to the table, he quietly shared with me the incident and we left.

On our way out, my husband took the manager outside and politely explained what had happened.  Even though the manager did try to resolve the problem, we both know that individuals who fail to wash their hands will not change their behaviors.  Impact to that restaurant was easily $25,000 over the course of 10 years because usually once a month another couple joined us.

TAKE ACTION to make sure that everyone from the executive team to the frontline workers understand all points of connection. Demonstrate the financial impact when just one loyal customer is lost because a simple point of connection such as the staff not washing their hands was not maximized.

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Sales Process in a New Sales Leadership Model

Given over 97% of all businesses within the US are under 20 employees, many lack a simple sales process. By not having a process impacts the ability to determine where there are gaps limiting increase sales and ultimately the overall sales culture.

SMB owners today cannot afford to have separate marketing and sales departments. In many instances, the SMB owner is the primary role of sales leadership manager. He or she must find salespeople who understand marketing in  today’s marketplace and can utilize the variety of social media and technology platforms to prospect. Finding new sales leads becomes the responsibility of the salesperson.

Then after the marketing phase of the sales process has been successfully completed, the selling phase begins. Here is where the salesperson attempts to convert the sales lead into a loyal customer.

sales-processAfter the salesperson earns the sale, then the third and final phase of keeping the new customer kicks in.  This is probably where many salespeople even in the larger firms miss new sales opportunities because they have failed to ask for at least one if not more than one sales referral or stay in contact with the now loyal customer.

Alignment between the sales process and the other four points of the 5 Point Star Sales Leadership Model is essential if the desired results are to be achieved. For example if the salesperson cannot successfully plan, set and achieve his or her WAY SMART goals, the results are diminished.

Download this simple 3 Phase 7-step-sales-process-advsys

There is plenty of SMB research that shows the loss dollars when prospecting fails, when sales conversions fail and when loyal customers go elsewhere. By employing a simple sales process closes the gaps and stops the draining of those valuable profit dollars.

P.S. To not include marketing within your sales process in today’s marketplace may severely limit your ability to not only increase sales, but have a sales culture of high performance. Marketing goes beyond paid advertising and is 100% about salespeople building relationships built on trust and their ability to convey exceptional knowledge in an emotionally engaging approach.

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The Trick or Treat of Sales Advice

Yesterday I received my weekly email from a colleague, Anthony Iannarino, entitled How to Avoid Bad Sales Advice. This posting was quite accurate given there is so much sales advice out there and yet people still are unable to achieve sales results.



Sales advice is much like Halloween, 365 days a year.  It is either a trick or a treat.  For many it appears to be more of a trick than a treat.

The marketplace is changing, continually evolving because of technology.  Today’s buyers are more educated and less susceptible to trickery.  One would think salespeople would also be less susceptible, but that does not appear to be the case.

Pressure from sales managers to SMB owners to increase sales, meet quotas, expand marketing may be part of the reason for all this trickery. Additionally, there is the “quick fix” belief held by many because they waited until results were so bad they needed something quick to fix a long term, usually systemic problem.

All this bad sales advice presumes everyone is suffering from the same people or process problems.  If we examine the sales statistics, we learn that most people are not ready to buy when meeting a salesperson.  We also know people buy from people they know and trust.  This is called relationship building and is helped through nurture marketing via content marketing be it a weekly email or monthly ezine. 

In many instances, the reason for poor sales is not because of salespeople’s actions but rather from executive leadership which lacks clarity and thus creates misaligned and misdirected actions.  As Theodore Hesburgh said “You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”

People need leadership and uncertainty is a killer when it comes to the goal to increase sales. This is not the time to engage in trickery or treats that are still tricks. Be authentic, be present and remember people buy from people they know and trust.

Happy Halloween!

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Freedom Is Intrinsic to Our Motivation

Have you ever considered freedom to be intrinsic to motivation? Many times we think of freedom in different terms such as the freedom to walk the streets, the freedom of free speech, etc.

motivationYet if one understands the Theory of Self-Determination, freedom is the authenticity to be one’s self while being responsible to ourselves and others within our community. Choice is infused within freedom.

We chose our behaviors. When we ignore others in the quest to assert our own freedom, we are no longer making responsible choices. We truly are not free.

Autonomy is the ability to make choices.  This intrinsic motivational driver is usually the most difficult one to engage because others make choices for us.  In some instances, this is necessary as with a young child.

When we understand how choices are essential to motivation, parents, managers and even individuals can further expand human potential and consequently performance.

If  you want to learn more about The Theory of Self Determination, this book, Why We Do What We Do, by Edward L. Deci, s a great read and a must read for those in any position of authority including:

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Team Leaders
  • Supervisors
  • Managers
  • Executives
  • Vice Presidents
  • Presidents
  • SMB Owners
  • Sales Professionals
  • Board Members

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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Time to Connect Employee Engagement to Your Sales Culture

Employee engagement continues to trend upward as a search term and a demonstrated need by SMB owners and executives. What would happen in these professionals would connect the productivity (engagement) of their employees to sales culture instead of just a workplace culture?

employee-engagementA sales culture is where every employee from the bottom up understands the goal is to keep loyal customers and find new ones. Also this change of mindset would mean that customers are both external (paying for the solutions offered by the SMB) and internal (other employees).

Today, SMBs cannot afford the costs of employee turnover.  Good people are hard to find. Shortages of highly productive employees within various roles continue to increase.

With 97,.7% of all U.S. businesses under 20 employees, employees must be highly engaged with each other.  Having an attitude of “what can I do to help you” is essential with more work being distributed among fewer people.

Sales as I have written before is the transference of feelings. (Zig Ziglar). All employees are selling something such as ” I need for you to buy why I need this from you so I can get my job done.”

Suddenly employee engagement looks like “yes we can” from the frontline worker, the truck driver, the billing clerk to the CEO.  Everyone is 100% committed to increasing sales because they recognize their own actions impact business growth somewhere along the “supply chain.”

Additionally the cost of external customer turnover is equally prohibitive. From the research of Bain and Co., a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.  Replacing a loyal customer can cost a company 5 times more than keeping the lost one.

A highly engaged sales culture is truly one where employee engagement is unsurpassed. If you want to increase sales and profits, then maybe now is the time to shift your thinking regarding workplace culture.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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I’m New to Sales, Now What?

The phone rang again and I heard this familiar statement “I’m new to sales.”  This is usually followed by “Now what do I do?” or “How can you help me?”


Credit: Hubspot

For recent college graduates, entering the B2B sales arena within the SMB marketplace can be overwhelming.

  • How do I find sales leads?
  • No one calls me back!
  • What do I do after I connect with someone?

Being new to sales in the SMB marketplace is far more about marketing, attracting attention, than selling.  Getting and keeping a full and active sales funnel is difficult especially when the SMB does not have the financial resources to segmented departments of a much larger business.

Then what happens is fear steps in and immobilizes the new salesperson. Thoughts of “I don’t have any sales skills” take over quashing the natural and strong talents. A negative cascade of  weaknesses now fill the daily thoughts of the person new to sales. Self esteem is capsized and the salesperson begins to drown in his or her own mind.

Possibly the first barrier to be addressed is just this simple question:  Do you like to sell?  From my experience, most young salespeople say yes.  These excited professionals may lack some of the technical sales skills, but their passion for meeting new people, for sharing their solutions, for wanting to help others is very evident.

Another barrier to overcome is the self doubt.  Lacking experience as noted earlier creates a flow of negative experiences. These experiences marry to the subconscious thoughts of the salesperson and are unknowingly broadcasted to potential sales leads.

Finally, with many SMB owners never engaging in strategic thinking and lacking a written strategic plan, the marketing potentially lacks a cohesive message.  Value articulation, one of the most noted barriers to successful sales, is never clearly communicated.

When those new to sales, take a measured and managed approach to developing their own sales presence, they can overcome these barriers. By taking this action, they can enjoy selling with even more enthusiasm.

New to sales? Want to talk?
Click HERE to schedule the time that works best for you.

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How Much Do You Really Want to Increase Sales?

Funny thing about people in sales.  Most say they really want to increase sales. Yet when provided with viable sales leads, they do not return sales calls or actually if they accept the call, they insult the sales lead.



I have a friend who is rather well off. She and her husband own a very nice home in a rather exclusive subdivision. Her husband is a doctor. The reason I share this information is to show she is more than willing to pay for having work done. She appreciates quality work and will pay for it. We became friends after my husband did work on her chimney many years ago.

Over the past 15 years I cannot count the number of phone calls she has made to me about SMB owners not calling her back.  Then there are the SMB owners who come out and say they will give her a quote and nothing happens. She makes repeated phone calls and no one ever bothers to call her back.

Another professional colleague and friend shares all the time the responses he receives when answering his phone.  His potential sales leads are genuinely surprised he answered the phone. If he must call back, he returns calls quickly as possible usually within 60 minutes because he knows to increase sales he must answer the “damn phone.”

Recently I noticed the same thing in dealing with real estate agents.  When our home became unlisted through our realtor, I received a plethora of direct mail pieces. Each piece said they wanted to sell our home. I am presuming they mailed these marketing pieces because they wanted to increase sales. This I learned as a bad presumption on my end.

We decided to go the For Sale By Owner route because the marketing reports from our realtor revealed 90% of all social media hits came from Zillow.  Also, the majority of showings came from other realtors. So I took these sales hungry real estate agents at their word they wanted to sell our home.

I called each of these realtors. I shared we were not relisting with a realtor however we were willing to give any real estate agent 2.5% of the $144,000 sales price. None of them were interested in that they wanted to list the home and their marketing would sell the home because we “sell homes in your subdivision all the time.” My response was “I did not see any of your business cards with all the showings we had.” 

One realtor said his clients would not deal with For Sale By Owner because of the legalities. My response was “Fair enough.” I then asked him if he was a real estate attorney?  He somewhat hesitated before he responded and said “No, but I have years of real estate experience.”  I then said “Not a problem, we have already hired a real estate attorney with years of real estate experience so this would not be a concern with potential buyers.”

Sales Coaching Tip:  Never insult the sales lead.

My sense is many SMB sales professionals want to increase sales, but they want the sale to be:

  • Quick and easy
  • On their terms not the buyer’s terms
  • To fit in their schedule

What Top Sales Performers Do Differently

Truly top sales performers recognize that all sales are not quick and easy.

They return all phone calls and emails quickly.

They will initially meet the sales lead, the potential buyer or customer on their terms.

They will build the relationship with positive and consistent communication.

If you are a SMB sales professional and truly want to increase sales, possibly you may have to leave your comfort zone and emulate what tops sales performers do. If nothing else, please have the common sales courtesy to return phone calls.

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Remember This to Unlock Sales Motivation

In response to this LinkedIn Pulse article, 7 Top Tips to Hire & Keep Rock Star Salespeople, a SMB owner shared his own frustration in hiring and keeping commissioned salespeople.  In his efforts to improve the sales motivation of his salespeople, he bought books, made recommendations for sales seminars and only one salesperson made any significant sales revenue growth.

sales-motivationMy response to him was two fold:

Use of Psychometric Assessments Unlock Sales Motivation

The use of psychometric assessments help to weed out truly motivated salespeople from those not so motivated. Possibly the first assessment to use is the Values Index followed up by the Attribute Index.

Understanding the Theory of Self Determination

Sales motivation like all motivation must come from within each salesperson.  Psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan in their work discovered all humans beings share the same three basic intrinsic motivators. By knowing these motivators, SMB owners, sales managers and salespeople can take actions to ensure their own actions are not creating sales motivation barriers.

One of the biggest fallacies respective to motivation is outside encouragement.  As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Your goal is to understand how to either make the horse thirsty or understand when the horse is thirsty.

External motivators have been shown time and time again not to be effective or sustainable. Now if the person values financial reward; has the talents to achieve financial reward and you as the SMB owner or sales manager do not place obstacles in front of that person, you have probably increased the chances for sales success.

Yes, you can increase sales by investing time on the front end to identify those people who are internally motivated to increase sales. Yes it may be difficult and frustrating, but it can be achieved with the use of the right tools and understanding of human motivation.


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Being Real About the Re-Start Sales Mentality

We all know the Einstein’s definition of insanity. Maybe that is why some SMB owners to  professional salespeople favor what I call the re-start sales mentality.  This is when bumps in the business road happen a new CRM, a new sales manager, whatever is brought in to overcome or really re-start sales to even marketing activities.



Example of Re-Start Sales Mentality

One of my colleagues, Nancy Nardin, in a LinkedIn Post made this forthcoming statement:


When clients or even sales leads start asking about bringing in new solutions especially technology to take care of recent bumps, my question is always “Are you throwing out the baby with the bathwater?” This is followed up by these simple questions:

“How do you know with absolute crystal clarity what is not working is the real problem?” 

“What other evidence (usually slow sales) do you have that is prompting this decision?”

Usually, the client answers the first question with “I don’t know” and the second question with “None.”

A unified and proactive sales mentality is the result of reflection and studying data, information and knowledge beyond daily, weekly or monthly sales revenue numbers.  This is not the time to seek the quick fix of a new CRM, sales training or a new sales process.

Common Reactionary Sales Behaviors

I have witnessed these reactionary behaviors to marketing actions by SMB owners and salespeople:

  •  “We sent out 20 direct mail post cards and did not receive one response.”
  • “I made 10 sales calls and I could not get anyone on the phone.”
  • “The most recent trade show was a bust. We didn’t get any sales leads.”

The response by so many is to engage in this re-start sales mentality. For it is much easier to find a new, usually non-sustainable solution than to roll up the sleeves and discover the real problem or problems to poor sales.

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The Quick & Easy Sales Fix Flops

Believe it or not, many in sales especially those sole proprietors engage in quick and easy sales fixes. Possibly this is everything from just mailing postcards to writing content on various social media sites to just continuing to churn salespeople.

salesSeveral times within past blog postings,  I have referenced the soliloquy from the movie The Executive Suite. The main character portrayed by William Holden delivers a 10 minute exceptional speech on leadership, on sales and on the ramifications of the quick fix. (This is 10 minutes worth watching at least every 6 months.)

Another colleague just wrote a quick LinkedIn Pulse posting about cold calling and how it actually works.  Cold calling is not the quick fix when done correctly as Tibor Shanto illustrated in his real world experience.

Sustainable sales growth and consequently business growth comes from time invested in planning, in thinking and then in executing.  Unfortunately as another of my colleagues, Bill Napolitano. noted in his story of Captain Wing It, there are far too many SMB owners, executives and sales professionals engaged in this role. These folks spray their actions all over the place and then pray something sticks. (My translation of a Captain Wing It)

Possibly Peter Drucker realized when he wrote a business has only “two functions, marketing and innovation.” He then continued everything else is operations.  Operations take time especially for those engaged in selling. This investment of time is because people buy from people they know and trust.  Attracting attention and building trust does not happen overnight.

If you want to increase sales, look at your current behaviors and be hones with yourself. Are you expecting results from the quick and easy fix?  If so, maybe it is time to return to the planning table and begin to think more long term.

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