Walking the Path of Liberty

The path of liberty comes with a price, a very expensive price, death. Here in the U.S., we are so blessed because men and women freely acknowledged that price and paid that price.  They fought and died in the service of this wonderful country.

path-of-libertyMany U.S. citizens have had family members, friends, neighbors and acquaintances die walking the path of liberty.Their deaths are the price we pay to be able to live free, to say what we want and to do what we want (for the most part).

I had a first cousin who I never met. Robert Hoagland died in WWII at the Battle of the Bulge. Sometimes I think of him and I wonder what life he could have had?

What accomplishments could he have achieved?  What would his children look like? How much better would our family be because of his presence?

Then when I see U.S. citizens disrespect the flag, disrespect the law, I realize many of these people are clueless about the path of liberty.  They have been conditioned through entitlement to expect liberty without any personal sacrifice.  They party, they live off the productivity for others and some even run for political office.

Liberty for these folks is like an endless candy or cookie jar.  All they have to do is reach their hands in to eat the sweets and never worry about how the sweets were made.  Readily volunteering their lives to walk the path of liberty and knowing full well the price they might have to pay has never entered their conscious thoughts.

Coming from a first generation Swedish family on my father’s side, two of the four sons volunteered for WWII. Both sons survived even though one (my father) was seriously wounded at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Another son, Robert’s father, was too old to serve.  The fourth son was exempt as he worked for Howard Hughes Aircraft and was building planes. My mother’s family also had its share of military service men and women.

Yes walking the path of liberty is expensive.  Thankfully here in the U.S. we have honored those who died with this special day, Memorial Day.  And hopefully in months and years to come, we will continue to honor those brave men and women who freely gave their lives so we may live ours.

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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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Do We Know Who We Are?

The older we become, the more we understand who we are.  This clarity comes through experience and a whole lot of self-reflection.

who-we-areNow there are a few people who have exceptional clarity of who they are at much earlier ages. My Swedish grandmother was one such person as is my husband. However, for the majority of individuals (myself included),  they lack crystal clarity when asked “Do you know who you are?”

When we lack this clarity, we have a tendency to undervalue or overvalue ourselves.  This may lead to some internal confusion and create additional stress, anxiety and even impact our own internal motivational drivers.

From this lack of clarity, we lose our authenticity of who we are.

Today probably more than ever before in history, authenticity is so needed and yet appears to be quite illusive. Technology has given rise to social media and from that we are exposed to many unauthentic people.

These unauthentic individuals promote the quick fix because of the perception they are experts regardless of industry or role. These folks are the ones who take advantage of others just to make a quick buck or to ensure their position.

Knowing who we are has always been important as the old expression goes to “thine own self be true.” Unfortunately today, knowing who we are takes time and internal courage to go against the many and be one of the few.

How we know who we are requires self-reflection.  Investing the time to think is an essential part of this knowledge seeking experience.  Additionally, there are some very good psychometric assessments that provide a foundation for building this clarity of self.  And for some, having some spirituality may support them in this endeavor.

When we can answer the question of “Do we know who we are?” during our moments of quiet contemplation, we just may find life to be even better and clearer than we had ever imagined.

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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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One Authentic Leader Speaks What Others May Think

One of my colleagues, Miles Austin, finally spoke through his blog what others may think in this recent posting entitled “Beware of the Rise of the Instant Expert.”  Miles is truly an authentic leader in that he not only writes with honesty, but with emotional intelligence.

Miles-AustinHow many times do we as small business owners and leaders fear some backlash when we share our observations? This fear is compounded with the many social media platforms that provide an opportunity for others to criticize us.

I have alluded to this rise of “so called”  experts numerous times with this blog. However Miles has expanded his observation with far greater detail and relevance.

What I truly appreciate about Miles as an authentic leader is he asked for others to share how they sort through the endless stream of advice from all the instant experts.

This posting is just one of many that engages and educates.  His goal as an authentic leader is not to sell to you or make a sales pitch. No, he wants to educate and through that education build credibility over time.

I encourage you to read Miles’ posting about instant experts as well as the responses by those who commented. Their responses may help you sort through all the instant experts.

Being an authentic leader is not easy.

Finding an authentic leader is just as difficult.

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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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Top Sales Performers Know What Cards to Hold

Imagine for a moment you have a deck of cards. Each card represents a sales lead.  Two of those sales leads are Jokers that you immediately discard. If you want to join the ranks of the top sales performers, you must know what sales leads of the remaining 52 cards to hold and those to fold or discard.

top-sales-performersFor small businesses owners, many hold onto all 52 cards and attempt to work all of these sales leads.  By taking this action they probably:

  • Lose sales because the are concentrated on the many and not the few
  • Increase stress because current sales quotas are not being attained
  • Reduce customer loyalty and retention

So how do top sales performers know what cards (sales leads) to hold and those to fold?

#1 – Know Your Ideal Customer

Top performing salespeople have a clearly articulated  ideal customer profile. They have invested the time to research the demographics and psychographics. They can clearly share this ideal customer profile in 100 words or less.

Example:  My ideal customer profile is:

  • Forward thinking leaders who are not satisfied with the status quo
  • Recognizes there are barriers to growth
  • Admits to not having clarity as how to handle these barriers
  • A small business owner with sales of $3 million to $50 million
  • A sales professional earning between $50,000 & $100,000 or over $100,000
  • A corporation where traditional training and development solutions have failed to yield sustainable results

By applying your ideal customer profile to your deck of sales leads will allow you to begin the process of discarding and even folding.

#2 – Separate Centers of Influence from Actual Ideal Customers

Within those 52 sales leads are probably several if not more centers of influence. These are people who may not be direct decision makers, but can influence the buying decision or make recommendations to those within their spheres of  influence.

#3 – Invest Time to Research

Once you have begun your separation process, invest additional time to research.  Probably within 15 minutes at the most you can find out the following:

  • Annual sales
  • Growth rate
  • Number of employees
  • Recent awards
  • Industry trends

This information is critical when you meet each of those sales leads.  Top sales performers always do their research so they understand what is happening within the potential ideal customer’s world.

#4 – Know Your Talents

Do you know what you do well?  How can you better leverage those talents to earn those sales leads?  Before you engage in actually reaching out to those sales leads, know what you do well.

Top sales performers do not share the same talents or sales skills.  Their advantage is they know how to leverage what they do well. This difference allows them to capture sales leads others may miss.

Check out this talent assessment that identifies 78 key talents.

#5 – Be Willing to Hold

Patience is another attribute of top sales performers.  They realize sometimes patience is necessary.  Building relationships takes time.  Many in sales, will fold their cards (sales leads) before playing out the hand.  They give up too quickly.

Sales is sometimes like playing with a deck of cards. You never know what card (sales lead) you will draw. Your goal is to have 100% clarity regarding where you are going respective to sustainable business growth.

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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 Authenticity in Sales Training Is Lost

Are you a consultative salesperson?  Maybe you are a SPIN or Sandler spelling person?  Sales training today covers a plethora of sales styles or models.  Yet many of these forget this one essential element – authenticity in sales.

sales-training

Credit www.gratisography.com

I know this to be true when speaking to my clients and sales leads who tell me they can tell what type of sales training the salespeople have  experienced by the questions they ask. This revelation only reaffirmed what I learned from my own personal experiences.

People buy from people they know and trust.  Also people buy you as the salesperson first before they buy your company, your solution, your  price and your delivery.

How many times is the focus on the sales training model or process?  This focus is justified by the results of others who have embraced this or that particular program.

Possibly you may have heard statements like these:

  • Do these sales process steps in this sequential order
  • Do not deviate from the sales script

I too went through several different types of sales training programs.  What I learned that each program made me less authentic.  I had to adapt my natural style, my inherent authenticity. This adaptation made me less believable and created additional internal stress.

Buyers can pick up your internal stress.  They can sense something is not right.

There is a place for sales training and sales development.  Many of these learning engagements do provide hidden nuances that may make the difference from losing the sale to earning the sale.

The challenge is for the salesperson and the company to find a balance between the learning and performance objectives of the sales training and the salesperson’s authentic self.  Additionally, salespeople who enjoy selling and find such a role rewarding should not lose this passion.

Maybe having each person take several talent assessments before the actual sales training might improve overall results.These assessments would include:

  • DISC Index – An assessment focusing on behaviors and communication styles
  • Values Index – An assessment focusing on motivators for the salesperson
  • Attribute Index – An assessment focusing on the decision making styles as well as 78 core talents
  • Emotional Intelligence- An assessment focusing on the emotional intelligence of the salesperson

By having the results of these assessments in place, the sales training firm, the salesperson and the organization just may improve results and reaffirm the authenticity of their top sales performers.

P.S. As a reminder to engage in any sales training without first having talent assessments in place is foolhardy. Would you have confidence in a doctor who upon hearing you have a headache  immediately schedules brain surgery without any diagnostics?

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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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Unite to Magnify Your Marketing Message

As the old song goes, “One is a lonely number.” For a small business owner this is very true especially with it comes to magnifying one’s marketing message. However there is an answer to this dilemma:

marketing-message

Credit: www.gratisography.com

Unite with other small business owners!

Of course this does require some time to develop those collaborative relationships as well as a process.

Leverage Your Mastermind Group

Locally, I meet with five other small business owners once a month.  During this mastermind session, we collaborate in how we can help each other.  Our most recent collaboration has resulted in working with the local Small Business Development Center to provide a morning workshop on small business trends within the local community here in Northwest Indiana.

We then worked together to create a handout. From that handout, we created a series of tweets and other social media marketing messages to start promoting the event as well as each other. What we have done is magnified our marketing message.

Register to Attend this FREE June 18, Event

Form Strategic Partnerships

By uniting with other liked minded professionals even your competitors may also support your efforts to magnify your marketing message.  Again, this does take time and a process. However through the use of technology such as TweeterFeed you can automate those shared messages.

Business to business networking groups are existing strategic partnerships. Here is another opportunity to magnify your marketing message.

The only limitation to magnifying your marketing message is you. Yes, one is a lonely number,but it does not have to be that way.

P.S. If you are located in Northwest Indiana or the South Suburbs of Chicago, register for this dynamic event on June 18, 2015 to hear:

  • Thomas Rowland - Financial Discipline Is a Small Business Game Changer
  • Doug MogckBusiness Succession: Plan Now For Success
  • Ron BushSecurity by Obscurity is Not a Plan: Securing Your Information
  • Nick GeorgiouBusiness Planning and Recessions – Surviving in the Real Estate/Construction Industry
  • Rick GosserTop 5 Trends of Branding & Marketing for Small Businesses
  • Leanne Hoagland-SmithTomorrow’s Trends, Today’s Reality

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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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Simply Speaking Purging Stuff Is Good for You

After living in the same house for 30 years, my husband and I are purging stuff.  And you would probably not be surprised we have accumulated a lot of stuff from collectables, to clothing to books to papers and oh yet let us not forget all those tax returns and bank statements.

purging-stuff

Credit www.gratisography.com

As we both proceed through this purge, we have started a sort of catharsis.  Getting rid of stuff is an emotional purification.  You let go of things you truly do not need any more because possibly you realize what you were holding onto no longer has value or necessity.

Life changes and much of our stuff has not changed as we have changed.

One of my colleagues, Greg Farrall, shared his one year year with me.  If after one year you do not wear it, touch it or possibly even think about it, time to discard it.  After living in Chicago where space is at a premium, he adopted this life rule to keep his life free of expensive clutter.

As I look at my somewhat disheveled office with boxes of books and bags of Pendaflex folders to be removed, I realize I should have been purging stuff all along. Even though I had started scanning articles and discarding magazines, I had almost 20 years of articles stuffed in file folders in two vertical cabinets. Most of those articles went into the paper recycling box.

Yesterday I purged one of my two desks.  I had saved holiday and thank you cards, instruction manuals for technology I no longer have to membership directories from organizations I no longer belong to.

My purging stuff goal after everything is said and done is to have one  new desk; one small file cabinet; one printer stand with storage and three tall book cases and two short book cases. To achieve this goal means to remove the current seven piece office suite, the other two tall book cases and the other small printer stand.

As I loaded up my car with stuff to take to church as church as been a recipient of much of my office stuff, I felt emotionally energized. Even though purging stuff  from my office is probably 70% complete, I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Yes purging stuff is good for you because you become better organized. More importantly,  you let go of a lot of suppressed emotions that have hidden in the back recesses of your mind. And you now have what is truly valuable to you.

If you want to be inspired, then start purging stuff.  You just may find yourself much happier and far more energized no matter how hard you work to just get rid of all that stuff.

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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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Lumping Small Business into Big Business Research

Mid-size to small business have few statistical resources to make strategic marketing or selling decisions. The majority of  business research is with the larger firms of 100 employees or more that comprise less than 1% of US businesses.

business-research

Credit www.gratisography.com

Firms with under 100 employees account for over 99% of all US businesses and yet critical data from current business research for them is rarely published or easy to find. And for those firms with under 20 employees, finding relevant business research data is nearly impossible even though they account for 97.7% of all US businesses. (Source for these statistics is US Census.)

Take for example this research from Sirius that surveyed 1,000 business to business executives responsible for purchasing nearly $500,000,000.  If we do the math, the average purchase was $500,000.  As a small business owner when did you make a single purchase of $500,000 outside of maybe a building or a merger and acquisition?

This survey appears to counter the ongoing argument that because of social media buyers have already engaged in their buying decisions before they call you.  Estimates of this pre-buying decision making range from as low as 20% to as high as 67%.

What  I know to be true is for small businesses under 20 employees, much of the buying decision making process for business to business solutions has already been started.  This is why sales referrals are the life blood for many small businesses.

My last two executive coaching clients in the business to business world both had already done their buying research via social media along with the Internet. They had been reading my various  postings especially on LinkedIn Pulse for over six months. They knew what they wanted and had already decided to hire an executive coach. These sales leads closed on the first contact. The only question was what executive coach and I was fortunate to be #1 on the list.

Small business because of the lack of relevant business research must be diligent in tracking their own “big data.”  Over time they can leverage this data to increase sales, customer loyalty and even reduce operating costs.

My advice is when you read any business research, see if you can determine the demographics of the businesses being surveyed especially the revenue size and number of employees.  In some instances, the big business data may be relevant to your small business.  However in many more instances, the data may be false leading you down a rabbit hole of no return.

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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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The ‘They Don’t Like Me’ Continuing Leadership Conundrum

Most people want to be liked and this is true for those in leadership roles. Unfortunately, reality creates a continuing conundrum.

leadership

Credit www.gratisography.com

This past week I received a new review for my book, Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits, the Keys to Unlocking Sales Success.  This review was a one star (the only one star review so far) and to say the least disappointed me especially when I read the comment:

“Very basic information available everywhere for years and rather outdated for today’s market environment. The title is misleading.”

Being now older, I did not take the negative criticism personally (they don’t like me) as I would have done even five years ago.  What I did was to attempt to understand this terse review.

When we are in leadership roles, one of our duties is to understand others, ourselves and to manager those dynamics. This is called emotional intelligence.  We may not agree with their positions. However, it makes sense to attempt to understand the thought process behind the comments and behaviors of others.

In this instance, what caught my eye was “rather outdated for today’s market environment.”  My sense is this person was seeking some “quick fix,” some “new insight” on sales and frankly there isn’t any no matter what the sales experts say.

Sales has been and will continue to be “the transference of feelings.” (Zig Ziglar)

As this book was intentionally written for mid-size to small business owners and sales professionals, the reader may have had other expectations. The book does look at marketing, selling and keeping customers.  Also the book was written more about sales from what the salesperson may wish to rethink about himself or herself. What I know to be true even more so today than 20 years, people do not know themselves with 100% crystal clarity. This lack of knowledge does torpedo business and personal relationships.

The “they don’t like me” leadership conundrum is always present.  Take for example accepting or declining invitations on LinkedIn.  One of my clients was concerned about not accepting a specific invitation because she was fearful the non-acceptance would be shared by others within her business world.

We discussed what what was the purpose of LinkedIn, her ideal customer, her centers of influence and her current business growth strategy.  When she gained clarity around these three concepts, she realized accepting the invitation would be an action of misalignment.

Yes those in leadership roles want to be liked. The reality is not everyone will like you no matter what you say or do or who you know.  Leaders must be true to their inner selves, their purpose and their positive core values.  By changing how we are just to have someone like us hurts us far more than the gain of having this another new relationship.

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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 Handling Rejection Reflects Your Emotional Intelligence

Very few people enjoyed being told no, less alone being told no on a regular basis.  In sales, how we deal with being told no is called “handling rejection.” What many sales training programs and even sales coaches fail to realize that there is a direct connection between the handling rejection and emotional intelligence.

handling-rejectionWithin the Innermetrix Attribute Index, handling rejection is defined as:

“The ability to handle rejection on a personal level is based almost solely on the individual’s self-esteem, the ability of a person to see themselves as valuable, separate and apart from their role or position in life.”

In simpler terms, handling rejection is all about not taking the rejection personally.

There are several almost clinical definitions of emotional intelligence as it is a combination of both inter-intelligence and intra-intelligence.  I believe in keeping definitions as simple as possible. Over the years, I have come to define emotional intelligence as “the ability to recognize and understand the feelings of someone else (inter-intelligence); to recognize and understand your own feelings (intra-intelligence) and then to manage them both.”

When we are rejected, there is an almost instantaneous emotional response. In this window of time, there is a natural tendency to become far more reactive than proactive. Our first reaction might be to respond negatively as we are emotionally “righting this wrongful hurt.”  We feel we must strengthen our self-esteem that has suffered this perceived attack.

However, this is when we need to step back, to begin to apply emotional intelligence to the situation. We have already recognized and understood our own feelings in a limited manner. Now is the time to step away from those feelings to recognize and understand the feelings of the other person. Once we have begun to synthesis this information, we then can better manage both sets of feelings.

I truly wish more sales training programs as well as sales coaches would bring emotional intelligence into this skill set of handling rejection. My sense is there would far less negative, emotional reactions and ultimately increase sales success.

If you want to know how well you handle rejection, then learn more about the Innermetrix Attribute Index.

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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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