Posts Tagged ‘value proposition’

Buzz Words Don’t Sell

Believe it or not, some believe that adopting the most current buzz words will dramatically their increase sales.

Right now the most popular buzz word is sales enablement.  Before that we had trusted advisor, consultative sales,  development specialist, relationship expert, you get the drift.

In many instances, buzz words tell others how you do what you do and not what you do.

In sales, what sells are the results outside of the relationship.

What your sales leads want to know is results do you, your products or services deliver?

The Fallacy of Buzz Words

When a particular buzz word is adopted, sometimes the salesperson believes others know what that word or words actually mean as in sales enablement. Additionally there is a presumption by using a particular flavor of the month moniker, it will reveal the salesperson is ahead of all those other salespeople.

Possibly in selling to much larger organizations (500 employees or more) which represent less than .5% of all U.S. business (source U.S. Census Bureau), their decision makers may know and may embrace these words.  However, at the end of the day, regardless of business size or industry, results are what matter.

Results usually show up in the value proposition, but not always.  Again, many in sales lose sales leads by going into the reeds along the bank.  They stir up a lot of mud and any initial clarity regarding their value proposition is lost.

If you want to adopt any current buzz word, go ahead.  Just remember, buzz words do not sell.  People buy you first. Next they buy on emotions justified by logic.  Finally they buy on value that is unique to them.

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How One Word Can Change Your SMB Sales Results

Sometimes those in sales look for complex solutions to improve sales results. I realized this recently when listening to a Sunday homily and my pastor referred to the Lord’s Prayer as our Father’s Prayer.

sales-resultsBy changing the word Lord to Father gives the receiver an entirely different perspective.  The focus changes from one person to another.

In sales, there are a plethora of words that can be changed to improve sales results. What would happen if we changed the following words?

Need to consider – The word need implies judgment. This word conveys negative emotions. However, the word consider is not only more emotionally intelligent it also works with the Theory of Self-Determination.  Now the listener has the opportunity to make a choice where the word “need” removes all choice.

Sell to buy – No one likes to be sold, but everyone loves to buy so we are continually reminded.  With decision makers being more educated, by redirecting the focus to the buyer changes the dynamics of the relationship.

Think to sense – Again, the word think may imply judgment as well as authority.  When exchanging the word think with the word sense creates completely different dynamics.  Now the salesperson is working with emotional intelligence instead of working against emotional intelligence.

Have to Great – Do you tell people to have a great day?  What would happen if you said “Make it a great day?”  By changing this one word again, you have changed the behaviors from inactive to proactive.

Words do have a powerful impact within our SMB sales conversations as well as our internal thoughts. Additionally people become inoculated to certain words and ignore them.  How many times do we hear the word “help” as people share their 30 second introductions or value proposition statements? Do you mentally turn out when you hear the word “help?”

Of course to change your words require you to actively listen wit your ears, your eyes and your heart. Did a certain word create a positive or negative reaction? What word would have made your communication more effective?

When salespeople understand how to change just one word, they will be surprised by the results.  Years ago I adopted this personal mantra:

Change your words; improve your results 

Today this is so very true especially if you want improved sales results.

Click HERE to schedule a complimentary sales conversation with Leanne if you truly want to increase sales and improve your SMB sales results.

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Sales Success Is Often Defined by the Little Actions

For sales professionals selling to small to mid size businesses sales success happens by the little actions more so by the big ones.

sales-successA short thank you for a sales referral or sending a note of congratulations is a little action. For me this one little action reaffirms loyalty with clients and colleagues.

Forwarding an article that a sales lead may find of value or picking up the phone and reconnecting with a client, colleague or even a personal friend.

Changing just a few words in a value proposition within a sales conversation can have a big impact. Removing emotionally judgemental words such as “need” or “should” can open the dialogue between you and that sales lead.

Smiling when you answer the phone even when you are unsure of the caller.

Acknowledging on social media someone who shared your posting.

Investing 5 minutes each morning and evening to reflect upon the events of the day can also contribute to sales success.

  • What went well?
  • What could have gone better?
  • Did I fail anyone?
  • What can I do tomorrow to improve my sales results?
  • Is there anything I can right now?

So much of the sales experts advice focuses on the big things.

  • Developing sales skills
  • Training and using a CRM
  • Memorizing this or that sales process
  • Attending sales training programs or seminars

Possibly sales success can return to these fairly little words of Zig Ziglar:

Sales is the transference of feelings.

If your goal is to increase sales, consider looking for the little actions instead of the big ones.  Remember, people buy from people they know and trust. Your little actions can build a solid foundation of trust.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. Call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged sales culture.

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Let’s Return to the True Purpose of Marketing for SMB

Why do small businesses engage in marketing?  The answer to this question defines the purpose of marketing. Unfortunately, among many mid size to small business (SMB) owners, sales professionals and even so called marketing experts, fail to answer this question correctly.



Simply speaking the purpose of marketing, the why behind the actions, is to attract attention.  How mid-size to small businesses (SMB) or sales professionals attract attention may differ by business, industry and person.

Many believe marketing is:

  • Paid advertising
  • Glossy printed brochures
  • Social media postings
  • Signage
  • Business to business networking events
  • Press releases
  • Sales scripts
  • Direct mail
  • Email
  • You Tube Videos
  • Website (Internet)

These are all correct answers because all can attract either positive or negative attention.

Additionally marketing can be:

  • Elevator speech
  • Value proposition
  • Professional dress
  • General physical appearance
  • Smile
  • Handshake
  • Attitude
  • Referrals
  • Voice mail
  • Speaking engagements
  • Seminars or workshops
  • General conversations with ideal potential customers or center of influences

Have you ever considered your professional dress or general appearance as part of your marketing?  What happens when during the work week you are out running an errand dressed in jeans or sweats and see a potential customer?  Does your professional dress or appearance act as an attraction magnet?

In today’s global economy, no longer can businesses ignore how they attract attention and believe only one or two marketing channels are sufficient.  Ignoring all these other marketing channels may doom sustainable business growth.

The purpose of marketing has never changed since mankind started trading and selling goods and services. Attracting positive attention has been “job #1” to quote Ford Motor Company.

Do not let some marketing expert tell you the purpose of marketing is something more.  No, it is 100% about attracting attention from your ideal customer as you determined through your strategic plan that is probably laying on the shelf somewhere collecting dust.  Shame you on if that is the case.

If you don’t have your ideal customer clearly defined, download this FREE Ideal-Customer-Profile-Template.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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How This One Word Is a Sales Killer

The last thing any salesperson wants to do is to lose a sale even before the first face to face sit down appointment. Yet, many who sell as a profession are losing opportunities because they continue to speak this one  sales killer word.

sales-killerSo what is that one word?

The answer is:


Everyone helps everyone else.

We help…

I help…

I just read an email from a noted sales expert who used the word help in the:

  • Elevator pitch
  • Unique selling proposition
  • Value proposition

When enough buyers hear the word help from enough salespeople, this word is no longer heard as help, but rather as “sell.”

We help becomes we sell.

I help becomes I sell.

What has happened is a conditioned response which is a natural human behavior.

Additionally, the salesperson is no longer differentiated because he or she has been lumped into the same pool of hungry salespeople looking to sell under the pretense of helping.

So if you wish to increase sales, to Be the Red Jacket in the Sea of Gray Suits, to truly differentiate yourself or your small business from your competitors, then drop this sales killer word of help.

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Business Surprise and You

Some may advocate that the last thing you want is a business surprise. However, such an event may provide an opportunity to rethink what you have been doing or even embrace some new business language.  This was my recent business surprise when I read the book Do You Mean Business? Technical/Non-Technical Collaboration, Business Development and You bu Babette N. Ten Haken.

As someone who is asked to review business books on a regular basis, I look for those few twists on older ideas not to mention entirely different ways at looking at the same small business or sales landscape.  This book did provide those and offered even a few more business surprises.

Possibly my first business surprise started with the general overview of this book. I was prepared to receive another sales book, but much to my surprise Babette looked at sales as only a small part of what it means do you mean business. Her book was more like a text book, far easier to read than most, that had been intertwined into a process for understanding small business development. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Remember the majority of organizations in the US, are small businesses with under 100 employees.

She identified several new concepts, at least new to me.  The first one was her discussion about communication and the need for one page thinking.  Here she challenged our own status quo and how we have been conditioned to communicate more and thus need to streamline much of that communication.

Another key business and sales insight was this statement:

“Communication is the hallmark of humanity”

When we understand that listening is part of the communication process, we are demonstrating that we indeed are caring human beings.  Far too many small business and sales people appear to be in presentation mode 24/7 and fail to engage in active listening. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Active listening is directly connected to emotional intelligence.

In the discussion of value, a hot topic in today’s business world, Babette believes business development is part of everyone’s job description and contributes to the overall value of the company to the solution.

Another business surprise was this statement:

“Your professional currency is the worth of your value proposition.”

This statement was further explained by:

“Your professional currency as a salesperson is your self discipline towards continuous improvement of your profession.”

These two statements along provide incredible food for thought and lead to continue reflection about one’s true capabilities or talents.

The book also looked at business plans and strategic plans and their importance. Even though we disagree about the definition of each of these terms, she does provide great information missing in many who speak to business planning.

Finally, one overriding business surprise was Babette’s belief we are all engineers.  As someone who believes everyone was in sales, this concept was very easy for me to embrace because she returned to the root of the word engineer.

If you want a 30,000 viewpoint on business development along with some down to earth what do I need to do tactics, then I recommend this book even if you are not an engineer by training.

P.S. Babette was a past guest columnist when she discussed the talking head syndrome.

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How Value Propositions Ignore the Reality of Today’s Business World – Friday’s Editorial

Value propositions (VP) have been promoted as the panacea to turn around lackluster sales.  The belief promoted by many top marketing gurus to sales experts is to have a compelling value proposition and “wa la” you will increase sales because you are different.

In the book A Seat at the Table, Marc Miller makes a convincing argument that VP or unique selling proposition (USP) are old school (my words not his) because value is specific to each client.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Sales buying rule #3 is “People buy on value unique to them.”

Then when listening to David Stein from ES Research webinar he shared what his clients tell him is there is  very little to no differentiation between vendors.  My sense is this differentiation is all about value as perceived from the customer and not from the seller. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Stand out,   Be the Red Jacket in the sea of gray suits.

In reading a post by Martin Harshberger, he shared the this statistic as taken from a recent survey by National Federation of Independent Business: 

Sales concerns have gone from less than 10% in 2000 to over 20% in 2010

With more and more entrepreneurs already entering a tight marketplace, keeping your current sales or even attempting to increase sales is very much a daily battle. That first encounter with a potential customer, strategic partner or even center of influence may truly be your only time to attract attention.

If we believe that human beings share certain motivators, but essentially are still unique individuals, then maybe it makes more sense to develop a compelling emotional marketing value statement (EMVS)  that has some generic value, but not specific enough to turn off a potential client.

Oren Klaff in his book Pitch Anything talks about the STRONG method of pitching. As a VP or USP is truly about how you position you, your company or your solutions, then his methodology along with his description of frames makes sense.

Is the VP dead? No, but this statements probably need to be tweaked to work with what is known about how the brain engages in buying decisions. And given the impact of emotions, it may make sense to trigger the primitive brain before looking to the logical brain. Possibly another solution is instead of having just one, depending upon the target market and ideal customer profile, there could be potentially several EMVS.

One fact is certain. Your VP, USP or emotional marketing value statement does require detailed research into the why of your customer’s buying decision.  The receipt of this psychographic data will help you craft a truly compelling emotional marketing value statement or maybe several that will increase sales.

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People buy results or rather people buy the feelings the results deliver.

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