And That Is Why They Call It Sales

One key difference between am average to even good salesperson and a great one centers around having an open mind.  In sales, it is that open mind that allows top sales performers to see abundance where others only see scarcity and end up with their heads in their hands.

A colleague who is selling is upper end priced home had a relator come in for an open house.  Upon looking at the kitchen counters, she immediately exclaimed “You don’t have granite. Granite is expected in homes in this price range.” He responded:


 ”You are right and that is why they call it sales.”

The realtor had a very perplex look on her face. He continued:

“”When  I built this home almost 20 years ago, I had two choices, granite or Corian, both selections were priced equally.  Given I do a lot of food preparation, I wanted a sanitary surface. Unless granite is consistently maintained with sealing and polishing, food particles can become embedded in the surface creating the possibility of contamination to actual food poisoning such as salmonella. Corian is a non-porous material and ideal for safe food preparation. So for me the choice was obvious unless you prefer food poisoning?”

The realtor sat in stunned silence because she was not aware of the advantages of Corian over granite. Her mind became immediately closed when she did not see granite counter tops.

The question to ask yourself right now if you are in salesis:

How many times have I had a closed mind and

missed sales opportunities?

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Sales Leadership Temperament of Virtuoso Part 20

If selling is an art, then being a virtuoso would potentially reflect the highest sales leadership mindset. This external temperament reflect a neutral bias in all three dimensions of thought:


This last external temperament of virtuoso suggests these individuals have achieved what is considered to be a “dynamic balance in all dimensions of thought.”  (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Consider for a moment someone in a sales leadership role who has exceptional focus by being able to be:

  • “Free of bias”
  • “Adaptable”
  • “Versatile”

Better yet, those with this temperament are open to new things,  new ideas.  In other words, they see with new eyes and do not necessarily seek new landscapes.

Would you like one of these individuals to be in your sales team if not one of your top sales performers?

By having a neutrality in all three dimensions of thought, these individuals have a “heightened sense” of self awareness (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index).

As one might imagine, this sales leadership temperament of virtuoso is rare because human beings have biases.  Learning how to unlearn those biases is possible and does happen over time. Of course one never knows one’s temperament until having it assessed through this talent assessment by Innermetrix.

P.S. For the next 20 weeks, each Tuesday beginning 7/30/2014 will examine one of the internal leadership temperaments.

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Marketing Misers Make Misery

“They tend to be misers when it comes to marketing.” Thus began an email from an executive coaching client who has been on a new job for less than 30 days. The marketing manager told her “we have enough Twitter followers,” “the website is just fine” and “we don’t need a blog.”

marketingIn actually, the website has an Alexa worldwide ranking of over 7,000,000, Twitter followers are under 150 and as to the blog, nothing could be further from the truth.

My executive coaching client was hired to jump start sales and she has already secured several meetings.  However, the marketing manger, aka the miser or Uncle Scrooge, is making her job even more difficult.

The perspective held by this miser is one I have heard frequently by many small business owners to entrepreneurs to even SMB executives.  Being cheap with marketing is a consistent behavior held by many executives. Yet the truth is unless people know about you and your firm, your SMB will remain pocket poor.

Marketing is the first step in any sales process.  If any business cannot attract attention and begin to build relationships, how will that business arrive to that next step of selling? Yet what is the first action that executives take when things are slow, “cut” or “we cannot afford” marketing.

Sales leads do not fall from the sky. Fortunately for my client and through our year old executive coaching relationship, she has learned how to market (aka prospecting) through LinkedIn and this has been instrumental in securing new appointments.

The use of social media and having s SEO website are critical in today’s marketplace and even more so for B2B. However, this does take time and an investment of some dollars. Yet this is time and money well invested because social media has the capacity to be the gift that keeps on giving especially when it comes to content marketing (blogs).

When analyzing the research, potential customers are seeking new content and gravitate towards those who provide fresh, relevant content. This new behavior has become part of the buying decision according to Nielsen. Hence,  to believe a blog is not necessary is definitely old school and will harm the bottom line.

If your SMB wants to increase sales leads, strengthen customer loyalty and become even more productive for all the efforts being expended especially by your sales team, then determine if you are being a marketing miser. Invest some time to identify where you need to focus your attracting efforts. And if you do not believe me, then maybe noted social media expert, Chris Brogan, may have you thinking differently:

“No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog.”


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What Inspires You to Do What You Are?

In the movie, Along Came a Spider, Morgan Freeman shared this  statement “You do what you are.”

By understanding the profoundness of these five words, results in this simple question of:

“What inspires you to do what you are?”

To be able to answer this question does suggest you know your talents or gifts. It also implies your focus is not just on you, but on others.

Over a year ago I updated my core foundational statement of purpose, vision, mission and values along with my company’s core foundational statements.  I realized these three words were essential to me and to my executive coaching and talent management practice:

Just Be Valuable

These three words continue to inspire me while simultaneously keeping me grounded in my faith. Whether it is holding the door open for someone, to sending off an article to a colleague or to just sharing some time with a family member or colleague, all of these small actions allow me to stay true to my talents and positive core values.

What I have discovered is talents, in many cases, are also positive core values. By living my values, I am using consistently using my talents.

So what inspires you to do what you are?




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Real Leaders Remember Those Along the Way

How many times do people “suddenly make it” in the business world and then forget those who helped them? I see this more often than not.

real-leadersThese individuals who have made it now are viewed as leaders, as business experts or gurus by the general public.  Yet, are they really real leaders or just taking advantage of the generosity of those along the way? Common sense tells us very few people suddenly make it.

No one reaches the role of a recognized leader by himself or herself. Somewhere along the way these individuals received direct or even indirect assistance from others. The failure to stay in touch, to support those who supported them is a testimony to their real core value of “It is all about ME.” (ME = Massive Ego)

Real leaders stay in touch with those who have helped them. Granted time being a finite resource possibly not as much as before. However time does not become an excuse to compromise their positive core values and business ethics.

Yet as these leaders have expanded their influence and wealth, they can afford to hire people to take care of some of their day to day activities.  This delegation allows these “new” real leaders to reconnect with those along with way through phone calls, personal handwritten notes to even some social media support.

If you have not reached out and reconnected with someone who helped you along the way, then maybe you may wish to consider taking that action. Eventually, your leadership behaviors will be noticed by others and remember being busy is just an excuse that reveals your true self.

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Time for Small Business Mindset Flip

How many times have you heard small business owners discussing the cost verb?

  • “I cannot do this because it costs way too much”
  • “Money doesn’t grow on trees, this will cost me a fortune”

small-business-mindsetThen there is the all too common small business mindset about how “employees are costing me.” I cannot count the number of times I have heard that one.

This cost verb implies there is no return on the money being exchanged.  These dollars are being washed down the profit drain, day after day to the angst of the small business owner.

What would happen if that cost verb was flipped to the invest verb? For example, “Let’s invest in our people so they can do their jobs better and hence increase profits.”  Or, “If we invest in the right marketing solutions for our small business, we will continue to receive strong sales leads.”

The cost verb is a mindset of scarcity while the invest verb reflects a mindset of abundance.

When the small business mindset is flipped from cost to one of abundance, what has happened is the small business owner is seeing with new eyes and not seeking new landscapes.  The  landscape (the marketplace) has not changed. This flipping of the mindset is not easy because old habits, conditioned behaviors can quickly reappear and once again this small business mindset of cost is driving the all business decisions and therefore all  behaviors.

Additionally, this scarcity mentality creates starvation in the small business because the small business owners are seeking quick fix solutions which result in more costs instead of seeking long term investments. These quick fix solutions suck the oxygen as well as the profits out of small businesses. In many instances, because there is no long term strategic plan, the future is the next 24 hours not the next three to five years.

If you are a small business owner ask yourself “Do I think in terms of cost or in terms of investment?” Be honest with yourself because not being honest may indeed cost you far more than you realize.

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Leadership, Experts and the 7″ Answer

Have you ever received inspiration from a colleague during a regular conversation? Earlier this week in speaking with Karin Bellantoni, she made a great observation about leadership and many of the experts on social media. Her observation was about the plethora of “7″ answers by these “experts” on LinkedIn.

leadershipWhat prompted this comment was a discussion about leadership because of an article I had just submitted for NBiz, a business journal for the Houston, Dallas and San Antonio markets. This article began with these two questions:

Have you ever thought with all those experts out there in the business world, why do companies still have problems?  Another way to ask this question is why do so many experts fail when they come into organizations with their next generation, usually high priced solutions?

Both of us as leaders believe in being succinct when responding to social media because we do not believe in providing over the top answers.   If one cannot provide a quick, short answer, then this suggests a possible problem,  a hidden agenda or a massive ego (ME). Also this may be an indication of the type of solutions provided by this expert.

Our conversation continued with agreement that some on LinkedIn who are viewed as experts, leaders in their respective fields or think they are believe they must share a significant portion of their knowledge. They also believe others are just dying to read their pontifications. Unfortunately all of this sharing results in 7″ answers that are thinly disguised back door sales pitches.

There are times and places to have extensive discussions. Effective leaders know when these time are.

During this conversation, we both agreed proven leaders present solutions including answers on LinkedIn discussions and other social media sites that are fairly simple and yet still thorough. These leaders understand complexity, the 7″ answers, will grow on their own and do not require additional encouragement from leadership.

Possibly the next time you respond to a LinkedIn discussion, consider shortening your response and remember Shakespeare’s observation:

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”

Today that may be translated as:

“Brevity is the soul of leadership.”

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Back to Basics, Anyone?

The back to basics movement has been quite prevalent in education. You may remember, the 3 Rs, “reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.” Those in the know suggested with all the education reform, the basics had been lost in all that noise.

back-to-basicsGiven all the sales noise being generated by the sales experts to business gurus within the market place, possibly those in small businesses (under 20 employees) to even the big guns may wish to consider returning back to basics in sales or better yet business in general?  This question leads to the next question of “What would be the basics in the sales process?”

Noted sales professional, Zig Ziglar I believed summed up sales the best when he said:

“Sales is a transference of feelings”

One cannot get more basic that Zig’s definition. His simple definition suggests if the feelings are not being shared by both the seller and the buyer, then the seller is not engaged in sales.

President Teddy Roosevelt said:

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” 

Before you as a sales person “razzle, dazzle,” your sales leads with all your knowledge, it may be wise to demonstrate you care first. This authentic caring can be reflected in your knowledge. For example, if you do your “due diligence” you can connect your solution to your prospect’s bottom line or profits. This may take a little more time. Yet you have demonstrated by taking this path you care by investing time to engage in the research about your sales lead and his or her business.

Finally, noted business legend Peter Drucker had this to say about the sales process:

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

Social selling has forgotten this statement because the effort again is focused on selling not marketing. Social media or rather the free electronic channels created through technology has far too many sales people still focused on selling and not marketing. They believe these channels allow them to make their sales pitches while ignoring the words of Ziglar, Roosevelt and Drucker.

Possibly you are surprised these 3 back to basics did not include the top fact finding question, the best sales style, the guaranteed marketing copy or fill in the blank? These are not the basics but rather tactics (actions) to enhance the basics of sales.

If you truly want to increase sales, to experience consistent growth, embrace these 3 back to basics suggestions along with this final understanding:

Rome was not built in a day and neither is consistent business growth. Stop seeking the “quick fix” for your lackluster sales.

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Sales Leadership Temperament of Objector Part 19

In the seven years I have been administering the Innermetrix Attribute Index for those in sales leadership roles, I have yet to discover a salesperson with this external temperament of Objector. However upon reflection I believe this type of temperament might fit well with those firms who are very innovative, challenging the status quo at every turn.

sales-leadershipSince the best temperament to have is one of neutrality, where one is not overly positively or negatively biased, then on the surface this sales leadership temperament appears to doable.  The challenge is within the negative bias of Systems Judgment.

With the negative Systems Judgment, there is a “conscientious in the opposition to established system and order.” This might create some difficult dynamics within the sales process as this person’s temperament is more likely to be viewed as one of a protestor or critic.  (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index)

These individuals have a negative valuation of the thinking process even though they have a neutral valuation of people and getting things done. The good news those with this sales leadership temperament will tend “to find ways around, or avoid, existing controls.” (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index)

The temperaments as defined by the Innermetrix Attribute Index reveal that there is not one sales leadership style. Human beings are unique and how they approach sales is also unique. This uniqueness allows them to bring their own decision making styles, temperaments and talents to each and every encounter.

In the ideal world, it would be nice, no easy, if there was just one style. However, this probably would make for a very dull world and potentially restrict the diversity we have come to enjoy.

To learn if you have this temperament of Objector or one of the other 19 temperaments previously discussed, then this talent assessment is a great place to begin.

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Social Marketing Is Not Social Selling

Years ago I read “marketing is not selling.”  With the impact of technology, this statement can be easily revised to “social marketing is not social selling.”

social-marketingUnfortunately a whole lot of experts are confusing many people and suggesting social marketing is something new or operates by a different foundation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If we understand marketing is to attract attention (better yet positive awareness) and to begin to build relationships (consideration), then we can appreciate social media is a new channel or channels to attract attention and build those relationships. Also if we engage in effective marketing, then selling (purchase) can be effortless as noted by Peter Drucker.

This confusion or lack of understanding has many small business owners, sales professionals, sales coaches, business coaches and those who sell marketing solutions turning off more people than they are turning on. From the sales baits of email pitches to continually posting of self-serving blogs has created the Sea of ME (Massive Ego) which only has potentially sales leads swimming deeper and deeper away from the social marketing messages.

Possibly the shadow reason behind all this confusion is this one word – engagement.  Before when marketing firms or internal marketing departments handled all the attracting activities from advertising to glossy brochures to direct mail, the sales leads were handed to the sales force. Social marketing has changed that landscape. Now these very same people must engage first before selling. This is a new sales behavior for many.

Today the super majority (97.7%) of sales teams for US businesses (those with under 20 employees) must wrap their heads, arms, hands and legs around this new way to message their potential ideal customers.  They must engage and then begin to build the relationships before they start “pitching” or “pushing” their solutions.

This engagement presents a problem given social media runs 24/7 and time for today’s business professionals, as it was for their predecessors, is a limited resource. Additionally engagement within social marketing also requires in many instances for the small businesses’ websites to be engaging as well not to mention SEO friendly.

Just like the paid advertisements of the past, misguided business professionals believe all they must do is schedule their blogs, their Tweets, their Facebook or Pinterest updates or submit new LinkedIn articles. Sharing the blogs, tweets, updates or LinkedIn articles of others is not within their mindset because they are still in the 20th century mindset of one way advertising or one way engagement.

If you want to increase sales, then:

  • Develop your social media channels
  • Build your social media communities
  • Share the messages of other quality individuals
  • Engage first; sell second
  • Just Be Valuable


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Sales Gravy Interviews Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Leanne Hoagland-Smith
cited by Get Base CRM as one of the top 50 Sales Pros to follow on Twitter.

Sherpa in its 2014 Executive Coaching Survey cited Worldwide Coaching Magazine as one of the Top 3 publications for executive coaches. Leanne Hoagland-Smith has been a contributing author since its inception in Jan. 2013.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith included among the Top 25 Sales Influencers by Open View Sales Lab.

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