Posts Tagged ‘strategic plan’

Why Social Media and Not Email for Small Businesses?

Some interesting research suggests small businesses prefer social media over email marketing.  In marketing and sales research conducted by Ripl (mobile application software provider), revealed the following:

  • 55% for Facebook
  • 43% for Instagram
  • 19% for Twitter
  • 41% for creative and graphic design
  • 7% cited email

Email marketing as a marketing channel came in third to social media posts and blogs (websites).

Why Social Media and Not Email?

Of course, the first answer to this question is resources. Small businesses have limited resources.  Not only money, but time, energy and emotions are also in short supply.

Possibly, many of these small businesses have had negative experiences with email marketing. Their email boxes are cluttered and overflowing with sales pitches of buy this or buy that.

Lack of education is another reason.  Unfortunately, many who engage in small business marketing focus on social media even though these providers have a very limited social media presence.

Probably the best and most overlooked reason is these small businesses lack a well researched strategic plan. Without a solid strategic plan, small business owners and salespeople engage in Captain Wing It behaviors where they spray their marketing all over the place and then pray something will stick.

Doesn’t it make sense to track the right things to product the right results to avoid misdirected actions and misguided decisions?

The real WHY behind the preference for social media over email marketing returns not knowing what to track and results in poor actions and bad decisions. Then what happens is social media becomes the fall back marketing action.

If you want to make better decisions, then CLICK HERE to schedule a call with Leanne Hoagland-Smith to learn what options you have that respect your limited resources.

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Time to Move Beyond Increase Sales to a Highly Engaged Sales Culture

So much emphasis is placed on the goal to increase sales.  Then what happens is other aspects of the business are ignored such as excellent customer service to just every day good business ethics (positive core values). What leadership must do is create and sustain a highly engaged sales culture.

Why a Highly Engaged Sales Culture?

A survey from Clutch (a B2B research company) targeted 1,000 US consumers and asked them to respond to one of these three questions regarding United Airlines recent negative PR incident:

  • More likely to purchase a United Airlines ticket
  • Less likely to purchase a United Airlines ticket
  • Unaffected, it doesn’t matter to me either way

The result was 53% of the respondents will not buy from United Airlines. Yes, customers can be dramatically affected by negative PR especially in today’s world of instantaneous video where anyone can record a company’s business practices (think culture) at a drop of a hat.

Where Does a Highly Engaged Sales Culture Start?

As in any forward progress for any organization from the smallest to the largest, it starts with executive leadership. President Harry S. Truman is known for “the buck stops here.” This is where executive leadership must start.

Yes the goal to increase sales is necessary as is profitable business growth. However when the culture of the organization fails to understand everyone is in sales from the CEO to the employee driving the truck to the employee processing invoices, then disasters like the one United Airlines experienced will continue to happen.

Zig Ziglar defined sales as the transference of feelings. Today’s sales culture should be transferring positive feelings to both internal customers (other employees) and external customers (paying customers).

Who Is Responsible for a Highly Engaged Sales Culture?

After executive leadership sets forth the strategic plan and communicates the vision, current mission and positive core values of the organization, then each individual employee is responsible to ensure the culture becomes one of “everyone is in sales.”  Executive leadership must enforce the positive core value.

Yet each employee must consistently act in a manner that reflects those core values. What this means is no gossiping as well as no disrespecting other internal customers or external customers.  The terrible incident at United Airlines reflected a disengaged sales culture as well as a poor executive leadership.

The next question is can your SMB afford 53% of your potential customers not buying from you.

How many lost customers will it take before you begin to embrace an engaged sales culture?

Reach out by clicking here to schedule a time to speak Leanne about your culture and how to develop an engaged sales culture or give her a call at 219.508.2859 MST.

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The Real Problem with Social Selling

Let’s stop with the Naked Emperor and speak the truth about social selling.  It isn’t selling. I repeat it isn’t selling. Now for some this is considered heresy.

social-selling

Credit www.gratisography.com

Social selling or social media selling whatever you want to call it is marketing using social media channels to deliver the message. This entire get on the band wagon for social whatever is sales quick sales fix for some and a quick opportunity to make fast bucks for others.

I will return to Peter Drucker who believe and said a business has essentially two functions:

  • Marketing
  • Innovation

He also said when marketing is done well, selling becomes almost effortless. (paraphrasing)

Yesterday I saw a social media post about “how to develop a social media strategy.” None of the answers went to the heart of the problem.  No one asked “Do you have a strategic plan?”  If so, then it is from that document you derive your marketing strategy.

Short cutting the strategic planning process is a proven recipe for failure.

This individual was confusing strategy with tactics as many do.  The strategy comes from a comprehensive strategic plan that looks at both internal and external strengths, limitations, opportunities and threats.  From this data another result is the completion of the ideal customer profile or profiles.

Whatever social media channels are selected (tactic) is based upon where the company can find their ideal customer.  Of course with all the data about the traffic and deliverables about social media, no wonder people can get easily confused.

The best analogy is fishing. Those who successfully fish go to where the fish they want to catch are not vice versa.  One doesn’t go to the ocean expecting to catch a walleye pike or one doesn’t fish a mountain stream looking for red snapper. Also one doesn’t use a fly to catch a sunfish.  The bait is your message.

Fish Where The Fish (Sales Leads) You Want Are

Use the Right Bait (Message)

I understand all the hype about social selling.  I also know a lot of SMBs have spent lots of profit dollars with little results.  Yet they are “sold” this lie that social selling will increase sales.  No good marketing will increase sales provided you have the right message and use the most effective channels.

P.S. There are no quick fixes in sales, leadership or success.

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Where to Begin to Increase Sales

Finding the beginning to increase sales is viewed as easy, but not really.  Many SMB owners, sales managers and even salespeople skip the most essential and critical first step.

Assess

By assessing where the SMB is through a thorough and well researched strategic plan should have already taken place.  Yet from my experience, the vast, super majority of SMBs do not have a strategic plan.  No, many have opted for the quick fix and hired some marketing firm to write their mission statement that is usually beyond poor and does nothing to create an engaged sales culture.  Actually what happens is just the opposite – a disengaged sales culture.

Read this article about Misguided Mission Statements

Think about a recent visit to your physician when you complained about a stomach pain or a headache.  Did your doctor immediately schedule you for surgery without taking any “vitals”?  No, what he or she did was to assess you through a series of diagnostic tests. What would have happened if the doctor scheduled you for immediate surgery?  Would you quickly running for the door seeking a second opinion?

So why in the world would you initiate any plan or action to increase sales without first assessing what is happening not only to your firm as it relates to the:

  • Outside world?
  • Internal world (think sales culture)?
  • Talents of individual salespeople?

Learn more about assessing your sales culture through – D.I.AL.O.G – a PROVEN organizational and cultural assessment.

Assessing is actual the first step to gain clarity as to why your SMB has not been successful in its goal to increase sales.  To embark upon any activity is really all about gaining clarity to ensure each action is both efficient and effective.

How often do people both in the business world and their own personal lives fail to track the right things to produce the right results to avoid misdirected actions and misguided decisions?

Possibly the rush to take action before engaging in any assessment is because people are conditioned to reactive behavior instead of proactive behavior.  They rush around like the White Hare from Alice in Wonderland.  Always late for a very important date.

If you truly want to increase sales, then start with this first step – assess. 

P.S.  Remember forward thinking doctors or leaders usually don’t self-diagnosis. It may make sense to seek an outside pair of eyes.

Reach out and grab a time to speak with me, Leanne Hoagland-Smith, to discuss how to improve your business results including 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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The Forgotten Word in Social Media

Social media has taken front and center stage in the B2B marketplace.  Yet as another report, the 2016 State of Social Business,  has revealed this one word – engagement – appears to be necessary in the digital marketing evolution. Yet from my experience in working with B2B salespeople and SMB owners this word is dramatically missing.

social-mediaHow many times do you receive an invite from LinkedIn and just accept it?  Do you make an effort to go beyond the initial acceptance to physically speak with that new LinkedIn connection?

Or what about those who like, share or comment on your LinkedIn Pulse posting to your blog content?  Again, what efforts do you make to engage in further conversations with these individuals?

Then there is the constant stream on Twitter where people maybe retweeting your posts.  Do you ever thank them or acknowledge their efforts?

How to engage people should be part of this social media integration.  People buy from people they know and trust.  People can’t know you until you authentically engage with them.  As the old expression goes, reach out and touch someone.

In the sales world, the quick fix has always been present.  Technology has opened up this world of social media and coined a new term social selling.  Old habits are hard to break and social selling for many translates into social sales pitches.

From this report, the shift is to integrator which requires considerable strategic thinking.  To be efficient and effective from a strategic perspective requires a strategic plan.  Unfortunately, many SMB owners have never invested in creating a comprehensive strategic plan.  Instead they believe a marketing plan is all they need.  BIG MISTAKE!

Additionally, building deeper relationships through engagement is the held as the second of five top external objectives by 53% of those who responded. Internally, closing the people and process gaps in this social business evolution is critical with the development of new skills leading these internal objectives.

Engagement is the bridge between marketing and selling regardless of the platform.  Within social business, the digital marketing trend will return back to the buyer and his or her experience.

Remember: No one wants to be sold be it face to face; tweets, LinkedIn Pulse Postings or updates, podcasts or blogs.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #12 Disqualification

One would think disqualifying sales leads would be something most salespeople would do especially if they want sales success. However from my experience with SMB owners and sales professionals, this simple step of sales lead disqualification as well as sales leads qualification is one often overlooked.

sales-sucessMost of the reason for not qualifying sales leads returns to the lack of a strategic plan.  What happens is these hard working business professionals work even harder and set themselves up for even greater falls.

When there is crystal clarity around the ideal customer, then disqualifying sales leads is much easier.  When I wrote Be the Red Jacket, I shared these 4 qualifying or disqualifying criteria depending upon one’s perspective.

  1. Is the person the actual decision maker? Does he or she have the authority to write the check?
  2. Is there a want to need?  What problem must be solved that others may not have solved or better yet identified?
  3. Is there an allocated budget?  Many SMBs have money.  The real question returns to having dollars allocated to solve the solution.
  4. Is there urgency to take action?  Can you build a case for taking action right now instead of later?

Since I wrote that book, I realized there is a fifth criterion:

  • Is there commitment to take action? What I have learned is sometimes all of the previous criteria are present, but the person does not have the commitment, the resolve to take action.  Change is hard.

When a salesperson adopts an understanding about disqualifying sales leads, this allows him or her to work both smarter and harder simultaneously. He or she is honing their sales skills in asking the right questions. Additionally, this is a sales strategy that works to ensure sales success because now the salesperson is working with the right customer and not one that is high maintenance.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip 1

Who doesn’t want sustainable sales success?  Of course many want it to be easy and that may be an mental obstacle.

sales-successIdeal Customer

Today’s first tip is define your ideal customer.  When we do not know who are best customers are and especially why they bought from us, we as salespeople are at a competitive disadvantage. There is also a very good possibility we are wasting some of our precious resources including time, energy, money and emotions.

Years ago in giving a keynote presentation to a group of professional executive coaches, business advisors, talent management and lean manufacturing consultants, I mentioned the word psychographics respective to my ideal customer profile.  From the puzzled looks in the audience, I realized many had never researched this critical aspect within their marketing efforts.

From my experience, understanding the psychographics is far more essential to sustainable sales success than demographics.  One of my key psychographics is forward thinking. My most successful executive coaching clients and engagements are all  with forward thinkers.  When I connect this psychographic to the demographic of “rapid business growth,” I am much more focused on who I must meet. Additionally I have far less stress working with this clients and much quicker results.

Here is a downloadable Ideal-Customer-Profile-Template sheet for your reference.  Complete it and then review your strategic plan to ensure total alignment.

Enjoy your weekend.

 

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Sure We Are All Rowing in EXACTLY the Same Growth Direction

With 100% confidence, no doubt whatsoever, can you answer this question:

growth-directionAre all your people rowing in EXACTLY the same growth direction?

From my nearly 40 years of experience, 99% of the SMB owners, executives, sales managers and even single office/home office entrepreneurs cannot answer with a simple Yes. The key word here is EXACTLY.

What exactly means is everyone has 100% clarity as to where they are rowing and everyone is rowing in the same direction toward the same desired end result. For this to happen demands that executive leadership communicate with crystal clarity the desired end result. However from numerous surveys including this one from Harris, we may learn why the answer is no.

57% said their bosses don’t give clear directions

Then add in the majority of SMBs do not have a written strategic, goal driven plan and do not review that strategic plan monthly, no wonder people are not rowing in the same growth direction. This may also help to explain why only one third of employees are actively engaged (Gallup Poll).

If you want your SMB to move toward a sustainable growth direction, then make sure you communicate and communicate often where that growth direction is.  Remove potential obstacles keeping your people from rowing toward that growth direction. Be consistent and forward thinking in your executive leadership. Embrace strategic thinking. Nurture a sales culture.

Want to learn more about building an engaged sales culture? CLICK HERE to schedule a time to talk.

* * * * *

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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Marketing The First Hurdle in the Sales Process

Once again I heard “I need more sales” and “My salespeople aren’t working hard enough.” My immediate response was “Please tell me about your sales process beginning with your marketing plan including strategies and tactical execution.”

sales-processThen I heard again “We don’t need marketing. Our marketing is fine, our sales and salespeople are the problem.” This SMB owner was one of the many misinformed that I have encountered over the years.

Marketing has been sold as some advertising, some logo, something that is secondary to the actual selling of the solutions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For people to buy your solutions (think increase sales), then they must know and begin to trust you.  Your attracting attention activities from social media, to Internet, to advertising, to even those first conversations with sales leads all are marketing.  This is the first step or hurdle in any sales process.

People buy from people they know and trust.

(Yes I did repeat that statement intentionally.)

They can’t buy from you if they don’t know you.  Would you buy from an absolute stranger?  Think cold calling back in the days when salespeople physically knocked on doors selling their wares. How many doors did those salespeople need to knock on to sell a brush, a pair of shoes, etc.?

Possibly it is necessary to gain clarity around the term sales process.  Many have been conditioned to believe that the sales process is all about selling.  That might be true if your SMB had separate marketing and sales departments.  For the  super majority (97.3%) of all U.S. businesses with under 20 employees, salespeople and even the SMB owners wear multiple hats including marketing, selling and keeping (follow-up).

The sales process is really a 3-phase circular process with Marketing being the first hurdle to clear.  Then selling comes next. Finally, the last phase is keeping. To focus only on the second phase, selling, as the entire sales process dooms many SMBs.

Finally do not be confused by the term “social selling” as it really is a combination of “social marketing and social selling.”  Again, this lack of clarity around this new sales term is creating a lot of frustration to serious miss steps by SMB owners and sales professionals.

My advice is if your goal is to increase sales, then return to your strategic plan and review your marketing plan along with all the other rich data within that strategic plan.

P.S. A marketing plan created by a marketing company is only one piece of the puzzle.  Using that plan alone will probably create more unintended problems that you realize including everything from misalignment to disengaged employees.

Want more sales CLICK HERE to schedule a call with me.

* * * * *

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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