Posts Tagged ‘social selling’

Great Salespeople Make Selling Look Easy

Ever wonder why so many people are venturing into being solo entrepreneurs or SMB owners?  Beyond the obvious advantage of being your own boss, my sense is these folks have witnessed great salespeople who make selling look easy.

great-salespeopleJust hop over to LinkedIn and scan a few profile summaries.  Immediately you will see a difference between those who understand sales and those who think they understand sales.

Sales is simple.  Someone called a buyer has a want or need and someone else called a seller has a product or service to fit that want or need. Pretty easy, well not so much so.

Social selling has only reinforced this notion that selling is easy.  Sure you can buy Twitter followers or make a zillion posts on Facebook and when you measure the results, what do you discover?

People buy from people they know and trust. To create that knowing and trusting persona takes time, energy, money and emotions. Great salespeople are willing to make those investments.

Just as in leadership, great sales people are made not born. They develop over time.  These forward thinking sales leaders are self directed toward continuous improvement themselves by honing their knowledge, talents and sales skills.

Through the years I have had the opportunity to meet truly great salespeople who understood “sales is the transference of feelings.” (Zig Ziglar). From them I learned what to do and what not to do.

My sense of selling is authentic, laid back and I have crystal clarity as to who my ideal target market is.  Yes some of my clients do not fit my ideal customer profile, however over time more often than not they do grow into that role.

If you want to have sales success, then look to follow, listen and learn from those who have sales success. Be willing to accept their is no quick fix for sales success and you will be nearly half way to your own success.

 

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To Engage or Not to Engage, the LinkedIn Quandary

LinkedIn for B2B professionals does matter.  For the last few years I have been conducting my own private research and learned, at least for me, the top 5 reasons why people ask to be connected.

LinkedIn

 

#1 Engagement

The super majority of people (nearly 60%) send me invitations because I have engaged with them or with one of their connections.  Since LinkedIn changed its groups policies, these engagements are overwhelmingly from update posts.  Prior to this change, the invitation outreach was through groups.

Additionally within this reason for connection, I have included those profiles I have visited.  When a second or third degree connection has visited my profile, I usually return the visit.  In quite a few instances, I will then receive an invitation to connect.

#2 LinkedIn Pulse Articles

Even with all the people publishing on Pulse, my articles still continue to drive a significant amount of invitations to my In Box. Right now approximately 25% of all LinkedIn invitations are because of these articles. What I have also observed is quite a few people within this community will follow me first and then extend an invitation to connect.  Content marketing for B2B is a proven marketing method for attracting attention and beginning to build relationships.

#3 Direct Outreach

Sometimes either through a personal one on one meeting, I will receive an invitation to connect or I will send an invitation.  These invitations represent around 7%. Also within this group are those who are connected to one of my first degree connections and believe it may make sense to connect with me as well.

#4 Referrals

As my network has grown, I have begun to see an increase in referrals from other colleagues.  Those within my existing contacts also have made suggestions for others to connect with me. Where in the past this percentage was nominal, today it also hovers around 5%.

#5 Suggestions

Finally, around another 3% of my connections now originate from LinkedIn’s suggestions to connect. This is the smallest percentage. And for me has always been the smallest percentage.

For those engage in social selling or better yet social marketing, then it makes sense to be engaging on LinkedIn.  Share the update posts of others.  Comment on those posts.  My other suggestion is to keep track of those who visit your profile, research their profile to determine if an invitation to connect is warranted.

P.S. Please make sure your LinkedIn Profile is complete and engaging.  Many profiles turnoff more sales leads or prospects than they turn on. And no you do not have to accept all invitations.

 

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Plagiarism Goes Beyond Intellectual Dishonesty

Yesterday a colleague, Mark Hunter, came across one of his articles being plagiarized by a fairly well connected LinkedIn member.  He notified a group of other sales coaches, sales consultants and colleagues about this plagiarism.  The group responded and not even 24 hours later, this particular article as well as all other articles under this person’s name were removed.

plagiarismI too have suffered from plagiarism.  A sales training company in Texas took one of my website pages one for word and copied it to their own website.  When I notified the CEO, he called and said he was unaware, apologized and the copy was removed. The CEO blamed the web designer. Over the years I have discovered other blog postings copied and have called out the authors.

Individuals who plagiarize the intellectual capitol of others demonstrate from more than dishonesty within their business ethics.  They also reveal they are lazy, lack creativity and are stupid to think eventually they will not be caught.

A recent study by the University of Missouri revealed the financial impact of dishonesty by CEOs. Unethical behavior does translate to the bottom line to a measurable 4.1% loss in shareholders’ value.

In today’s social selling world where content marketing has become a viable sales leads generating channel, being a plagiarist just does not make good business sense.  The reason is simple, in spite of how large the world is, it is still a small world.  People are connected to other people.  Software programs can find duplicate content with the stroke of a few keys.

One of the more simple ways to avoid even unintentional plagiarism is to Google the title for any content marketing in quotes.  This way the you can quickly determine if another person has written a similar article. Also this same tactic can be used to learn if your titles are being plagiarized by someone else.

In sales, people buy from people they know and trust.  Swiping the intellectual capital of others will not increase sales.

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Aim Small Miss Small Sales Mindset

With all the focus on social selling, there appears to be a different sales mindset emerging and not a necessarily good one.  I was reminded of this when reading a LinkedIn article by Jeb Blount entitled “Social Selling Is Not a Panacea.”

sales-mindset

Credit www.pixabay.com

One of the problems with this concept of social selling is it creates a lack of clarity and focus.  The salesperson is aiming at a much bigger target, the various social media sites, and thus misses big.

As Jeb shared in his $10 bet  with a new hire, he was far more successful just by dialing and actually converted two of the sales calls. In comparison the new hire converted no one.

When a salesperson has an aim small miss small sales mindset, he or she has enhanced his or her clarity to the point of it being crystal clear.  Missing the target is no longer supported with a hope and a pray. “I hope I make a sale.”

BAR – Beliefs Drive Actions Generating Results

To have such a sales attitude because attitudes are indeed habits of thought (Zig Ziglar) requires a strategic plan from which the market to the ideal customer have been clearly identified. These beliefs drive the actions (behaviors) generating the results (increase sales).

ACE – Assess – Clarify – Execute

Such a sales mindset begins with assessing not only the business, the industry, but the salesperson as well. From that collected data, there is the opportunity to clarify the necessary objectives and strategies. Next step is executing those strategies.

Feel -Know – Do

To complete this aim small miss small mindset, the salesperson must connect to the buyer.  What does he or she want the buyer to feel?  Obviously to create this environment, the seller must know what the buyer is feeling. Here the focus is on the buyer and not on the seller.

Then what does he or she want the buyer to know? Possibly because the buyer has conducted some research, the buyer may already know something about the seller.  Yet here is the real opportunity to explore the wants and needs of the buyer.

Finally what does the seller want the buyer to do?  In simple sales talk, this is a call to action.  This action could be a simple of having a coffee visit to scheduling a more formal meeting.  Adding the person with permission to an email list such as a newsletter is another call to action.

I believe in what Zig Ziglar said years ago “Sales is the transference of feelings.”  When that transfer is successful and when the seller has demonstrated his or her ability to connect to the value drivers of the buyer, then there is far greater likelihood to increase sales.  Of course if you are looking for the quick fix or what Jeb calls “panacea,” you may be sorely disappointed.

Want to talk with Leanne Hoagland-Smith about how to improve your sales mindset?  CLICK HERE to schedule a conversation.

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Time to Stop Being Chicken Little in Social Selling

For SMB there have been many changes within the market place.  One of the more far reaching changes has been this concept of social selling where salespeople leverage the Internet through social media sites for everything from marketing to relationships building to targeted prospecting.

social-selling

Credit www.pixabay.com

Just for clarity social selling in today’s marketplace is defined as when salespeople use social media to interact directly with their prospects. Salespeople will provide value by answering prospect questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy.” (Source: Hubspot)

I would revised this definition with the following changes in red “when salespeople use social media to interact directly or indirectly with their prospects, colleagues and centers of influence. Salespeople will provide value by:

  • Connecting to their prospects’ value drivers
  • Answering prospect’s questions
  • Offering thoughtful content
  • Facilitating an ongoing emotionally compelling sales conversation

until the prospect is ready to buy because the prospect now knows and trusts the salesperson.

Even though I believe in simplicity, the power of social selling is built upon the existing long held sales tenet that people buy from people. In today’s technology driven world, many sales experts fail to reinforce this long held sales tenet.

Today, many SMB owners and sales professionals have yet to jump into this new marketing and selling channel. Possibly their delay is because they lack ab overall business growth plan (think strategic planning).

And for some who do engage in social selling, their focus in 100% on sales pitches and not on building relationships. As to their content, much is old, rehashed and not emotionally compelling.

Jumping into social selling arena requires some intestinal courage and taking a leap of faith. Of course having a solid marketing plan within the overall strategic plan is a big plus.

Salespeople must never forget people buy from people they know and trust. Engaging in social selling is a natural extension of that first sales buying rule.

What to know the other 2 sales buying rules? Click Here

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What to Improve Your Sales Skills? Then Go Beyond Most Sales Training

Most sales training and much of the sales coaching focuses on how to improve sales skills. To reach that next level of sales success may require going beyond current, almost cookie cutter, robotic sales training.

sales-skillsIf current approach to developing sales skills is still not securing the desired results, then maybe something is missing.  What is missing is how to recognize and leverage the uniqueness of each salesperson. That uniqueness is the combination of numerous factors such as personal experience, informal learning, motivation, decision making style and their supporting talents.

Would you believe there are 78 talents that all individuals have in varying degrees of ranking?  These talents both interpersonal (extrinsic) and intrapersonal (intrinsic) can have a dramatic impact on existing selling skills. They also help to explain why top sales performers who achieve similar results have different approaches.

FREE Download  AI-Self-Assessment-78-Talents

What I know to be true is with the over 500 professionals of which 50% have been involved in sales I have debriefed less than 2% know what they do well.  Suddenly they realize how these talents contribute to their own uniqueness as well as how many potential sales opportunities they have missed because they lacked clarity about their talents.

Yes sales training is important as is understanding marketing in  today’s social selling world.  Maybe it is time to rethink how we train salespeople and look to developing them by identifying and then leveraging these supporting talents.

Never heard of the Attribute Index?  Click HERE to schedule a time to speak wit Leanne Hoagland-Smith to learn more about the most accurate assessment in the marketplace.

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Don’t Tell Me You Are in Sales…

Being in sales for over 40 years, I am continually surprised by the SMB salespeople who tell me they are in sales and want to sell.  Yet upon questioning, I hear all these self-imposed, self justification excuses as to why they are not achieving their sales goals.  These years of sales experience afford me the opportunity to quickly tell if a salesperson really knows:

are-in-sales

Credit www.gratisography.com

  • The sales process
  • Relationship selling
  • Social selling
  • Marketing through social media and B2B networking event
  • Prospecting

How can I tell? Because I listen for some of these excuses:

  • I haven’t updated my LinkedIn profile in the last six months
  • I am not on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
  • I am in business development not sales
  • I don’t market myself, that’s for the SMB owner to do
  • I am on LinkedIn, but don’t use it
  • I’m not prospecting for sales leads because I should receive them from the SMB owner, sales manager or website
  • My sales skills are great
  • I am not getting any sales referrals
  • I have under 500 contacts on LinkedIn
  • I don’t know my inventory (real estate, retail associates, etc.)
  • I hadn’t heard that about my industry (current industry trends)
  • I don’t have time to answer the phone
  • I am too busy to respond to emails
  • I’m not seeking low hanging fruit (easier sales)
  • I really want to increase sales, but…

If you are in sales and want to increase sales, then listen to your own excuses.

Schedule a phone call by CLICKING HERE with Leanne Hoagland-Smith to discuss what is currently limiting your sales success and receive a FREE self-assessment.

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Two Sales Paths Emerged in the Woods and I Took the One Less Traveled By

In sales, there are many sales paths. However for most salespeople there are always two paths:

sales-paths

  • Quick Fix
  • Process

The quick fix path is walked by many and is probably the more traveled one.  There are ruts in the path where many others have walked.  Where there are no ruts, the path is almost smooth and free of vegetation.  Finally the road appears to become wider and wider possibly because more people are walking it.

Walking this sales path appears to be quick and easy.

Now the sales process path appears to be less traveled.  Maybe because it looks different to each salesperson.

The road is uneven and relatively narrow. There are no ruts and the path itself is not smooth.  Green vegetation is plentiful along the path. Occasionally there are branches to logs covering the path which require removal before proceeding.

Walking the process path is not quick nor easy.

When we examine sales research, we can better understand why so many walk the quick fix path and continue to ignore the sales process path.  For example when it comes to follow-up, the majority of salespeople stop after 2 attempts.  Yet to earn the sale or close the deal requires 4 or more contacts.

Then there are all those one day sales training events. Unfortunately, unless the new learning is quickly applied, opportunities for feedback and reinforcement, this “solution” delivers a poor quick fix and is not sustainable.

With technology, social selling has taken a front row seat and for some is the quick fix path.  Share a few Twitter to LinkedIn postings, send out LinkedIn invitations to complete strangers and receive solid sales leads appears to be the mentality.  Again, the sales research suggests social selling takes time and even more time than many wish to admit.

Yes being a successful salesperson is not easy nor is it quick given less than 2% of sales are earned during that first contact. However by recognizing these two sales paths and refusing to take the quick fix path, you as a salesperson will potentially have greater sustainable sales success.

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SMBs Unleash Your Intrinsic Motivation Through Social Selling

Social selling for SMBs continues to be in the business and news.  Sales experts and gurus continually write and speak about this “new way” to sell or to market. However, what many of these same experts fail to discuss is how social selling can unleash intrinsic motivation by working with instead of against the Theory of Self-Determination.

social-selling-motivation

Credit www.gratisography.com

In the past, I have written about this intrinsic motivation theory inherent to all human beings.  This motivational theory comes from the work of Deci and Ryan back in the 1970s.  Their research suggested all people including sales professionals share the same three intrinsic motivators:

  • Mastery
  • Autonomy
  • Purpose/Relatedness to people

When all three motivators drivers are engaged, people are far more motivated than through other motivational incentives.  What I appreciate about this theory is its simplicity. Any salesperson can quickly perform a self assessment to determine what intrinsic motivator is not fully engaged.

Why is social selling so popular?  First, it reaffirms people buy from people.  Purpose is present in all interactions.

Second, this new platform allows salespeople to become better at what they do as well as to learn more about their sales leads, their industries and any potential trigger events.  Mastery is an inherent byproduct of social media provided one invests the time to learn.

Third and most importantly, this challenge provides for salespeople to make choices, to be autonomous.  Those in sales can select what social media channels they wish to use be ii their own blog, guest blogging,  LinkedIn updates, LinkedIn Pulse (one of my favorites), Twitter, Facebook, commenting on other sites, etc.

Now top sales performers can further improve their sales game and from what I am observing they are.  Those who sell for SMBs now have marketing and selling advantages that previously were not available to them. To not take advantage of this marketing and selling channel is foolhardy at best and may become a permanent barrier to a high performance sales culture as well as new SMB growth.

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Clearing the Sales Strategies Clutter

For those familiar with Peter Drucker, they may recognize this term of “abandonment.”  Drucker advocated every three (3) years, executive leadership must abandon everything it was doing by challenging everything it was doing from process to operations including sales strategies.  Today his recommendation just might be every two years or even every one year.

sakes-strategies

Credit www.gratisography.com

The purpose of abandonment is to simply test all assumptions that either emerged from the strategic planning process or from day to day experiences given how many SMBs are in the role of Captain Wing It*. By challenging current assumptions, executive leadership can answer these essential four questions:

  • Why didn’t this work even though it looked promising 3 to 5 years ago?
  • Is it because we made a mistake?
  • Is it because we did the wrong things?
  • Is it because the right things didn’t work?

Since much of the strategic planning process has to do with marketing and selling, sales strategies are in many instances the first ones to consider abandoning.  For example:

  • Why isn’t our social selling strategies working as well as they did 3 years ago?
  • What mistakes are we making?
  • Did we do the wrong things respective to social selling?
  • Did we do the right things, but they did not work?

When time is invested to clear the deck, the desk and the mind from the accumulation of all that clutter over time, then executive leadership may find those hidden gems that were previously ignored.  These hidden gems might help answer this forward thinking question of “What has happened that will create the future?” instead of the traditional question of “What is most likely to happen?”

*Captain It Wing Its spray their actions all over the place and then pray something will stick. This behavior is called spraying and praying.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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