Years ago a book called Change or Die revealed that facts, fear or force will not change human behavior. As I continue to listen to small business owners and independent sales professionals, I realize they may also be experiencing a reluctance to change. Possibly by embracing these 3 R-Keys as noted by the author Alan Deutschman, they can be more open to the opportunities within all the changes in the marketplace.
- Relate to others by forming new emotional relationships
- Repeat the new behavior with the support of the new relationship or relationships
- Reframe how you think through this new relationship or relationships
No one goes it along as noted by historical figures through the annals of time.
Yet the resistance to change insanity continues to prevail for so many small businesses. Even with all the research from the reports of small business failure rates to disengaged and therefore costly employees, the resistance to change is for many still Job #1.
After working with small businesses over for 15 plus years and with over 25 years in corporate sales specific to small business, these change resistance barriers are still very present:
- No strategic planning process with completed written, goal driven action plan
- Captain Wing It behaviors of spraying and praying
- Ignoring the impact of technology respective to marketing, selling and overall operations
- Poor to ineffective executive leadership
- “Super worker” to “Super visor” syndrome
If you want your small business to thrive and to flourish, then face up to the change. Embrace it, don’t fear it. Determine if the change is a good fit for you, your employees if you have any and your business. Do what you need to do to implement the change so your firm will not die or suffer the consequences such as:
- Declining profits
- Declining marketshare
- High turnover of employees
- Lack of repeat customers
- Increasing internal operations costs
Only you have the power to challenge and change the current status quo. If you need some support, find it. Remember those 3-Rs begin with a new emotional relationship.Share on Facebook
Leadership has many definitions from the simplest offered by Peter Drucker “Leadership is all about results” to a more complex definition of “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, raising a person’s performance to a higher standard and the building of a person’s personality beyond its normal limits.” (Peter Drucker) Unfortunately, there are many leaders who are frauds and they exist with approval.
Approximately 4 years ago, there was uncovered some academic leadership fraud at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. An investigation ensued with the results begin recently released. This 136 page investigative report confirmed thousands of students received As and Bs without doing the work. What I found particularly interesting was the following statement:
“Over nearly two decades, professors, coaches, and administrators either participated in the scheme or overlooked it, undercutting the core values of one of the nation’s premier public institutions.”
In simpler terms, many knew the emperor was naked and yet no one said anything.
This begs the question why didn’t someone say something given these collective behaviors ran against the university’s core values? That answer is simple because fraud is becoming an accepted core value.
Over the last decade I have read numerous research reports about fraud,cheating, dishonesty from high school to post graduate students. Then we have all the public officials who have been convected of fraudulent behavior. A recent comment by a Chicago talk radio host said about the current governor “well he hasn’t been sent to prison.” For Illinois this appears to have come a standard for a leader in government, not going to prison.
How low will we as citizens, taxpayers go to support fraudulent leaders?
The reason we have bad leadership is because we as citizens, employees, parents, professionals allow it for whatever the reason. Usually that reason has to do with one’s own self preservation at the expense of one’s positive core values.
Justification becomes the guide.
What is also curious is many of these same individuals who benefit by the fraud will point their fingers at the fraud being committed by others. That is called hypocrisy.
My sense is part of the reason for the increase in fraudulent leadership is the false premise of “non-judgment.” We cannot judge others. So bad behaviors continue. Institutions such as Chapel Hill become the enclave of non-judgmental behavior.
Again, no one wants to judge the emperor as naked even thought most know the emperor is naked.
Part of the solution is for everyone to write down their own core values and make a personal commitment to adhere to those principles. For some the Ten Commandments may work while others may live by the Golden or Platinum Rule.
The other part of the solution is to identify fraudulent leadership and if necessary call it out. This call out can be done privately and yes sometimes it may have to go public depending upon the strength of conviction. Of course in some instances, individuals may take a negative loss specific to status and recognition as well as monetary.
Fraudulent leadership exists because we as other leaders give it permission to exist. Until we change our behaviors and have the courage to challenge these dishonest leaders, we will continue to read and potentially participate in these frauds.Share on Facebook
People especially top sales performers leave rotten sales management more than money from my 30 plus years of experience. It is truly hard to believe with all the books, workshops, seminars, sales training and sales coaching, rotten sales management still exists, but it does and appears to be growing.
Once again after talking to a new sales coaching client who is relatively young and new to sales, the barriers for a high performance culture still exist. Those in sales management and in executive leadership appear to manage and to lead by these three rotten management styles:
- Favoritism of another salesperson or salespersons
- Fear by the sales manager that the salesperson will outperform him or her
- Force (implied)
Sales managers are human beings and human beings for the most part have positive or negative biases. Favorites happen especially when some less than authentic professionals can see through their sales managers and quickly “brown nose” to get ahead. Having favorites gives the sales manager a built in support team. Additionally when the sales managers have self esteem issues, favoritism rears its ugly head.
For example, how many times have sales managers been told in confidence about a terrific new sales lead by one of their team members and then quickly share it with another member whom they favor?
Then there is always the redistribution of accounts and good accounts go to the “favorite” team members while the “dog accounts” go to those not in favor. When salespeople ask how the accounts were assigned, management and executive leadership hem and haw because there is not established protocol with specific criteria.
The majority of current sales managers from my experience and observations have been top sales performers for their respective firms. They fall into the “super worker, super visor syndrome.” The job and task specific sales skills they needed as a super salesperson are not necessarily the skills required to be a super manager.
Then what happens a top sales performer comes on board and all of a sudden the sales manager fears he or her past accomplishments will become second or third place on the wall of top sales performers. He or she then begins in engaging in sabotage type behaviors because fear is driving the sales manager’s style of managing.
How many times have I heard this statement “If you don’t like it here, then quit.” or how about “You must do this or that?” Then there are those sales managers who through the force of their position demean their team members.
Force has been proven as one of the worst extrinsic motivators. Yet those in sales management continue to rely on this as an effective solution to increase sales.
Yes rotten sales management still exists. Maybe it is time for management to be interviewed by potential sales candidates. Wouldn’t that be interesting?Share on Facebook
Many of us probably would not think of the word indulgent when it comes to sales leadership. Probably we may think of indulging in chocolates or some other incredible rich food. Yet this internal temperament may be a good fit for some specific small businesses.
As in past blog posts, when the self-esteem is positive, individuals have “reached an objective appreciation” for themselves. Additionally those with this temperament “don’t undervalue” their “own self worth.” (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)
What happens is with the negative role awareness, they “are more likely to undervalue the ability of any single job” they could hold to make themselves “complete or feel totally satisfied.” Those with this sales leadership temperament “place more value on being disciplined and following their own sense of direction or own internal rules.” (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)
The neutral self direction (internal systems judgment or thinking) is neutral meaning showing neither positive or negative bias and this is the preferred temperament state.
Possibly with this sales leadership temperament, these individuals might be good for independent sales representatives where there is flexibility when it comes to rules or procedures. Allowing those with this temperament of indulgent to write their own rules or to find agreement between the firm’s rules and their rules may help to retain them.
If you are curious about learning more about how you may decisions, your biases and your talents (all 78 of them), then consider this talent assessment.
Share on Facebook
Word of mouth marketing is one of the best strategies to attract positive or negative attention. The reason is simple people believe other people usually family or friends before any advertising or other marketing activities no matter how good those actions are. Yet today mostly because of social media, we now see collective word of mouth advertising or what is called community marketing.
The Power of Community Marketing
This past week I once again saw the power of community marketing. A small group of like minded sales professionals including top salespeople, sales coaches and sales trainers supported one of their own who was the recipient of an unwarranted attack on a social media site. The majority of those who supported their fellow sales trainer belong to one community established several years ago.
During the past several years after being involved in this group and several others, I have personally witnessed how community marketing catapults word of mouth. For example one social media post is not only shared by the writer, but this community of like minded professionals will share it within their own communities such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook. Through the use of automation tools the sharing is consistent and the influence of all community members grows as does traffic to their websites.
A Real World Example
Currently I have 10,300 followers on Twitter. The collective Twitter Power of just 5 of my fellow community members increases that reach six times to over 62,000. Given this particular community is over 25 members strong, one can easily see how powerful this marketing strategy and tactic actually is.
Unfortunately for so many small business owners, they fail to take their business to business networking to this next level. Instead they focus only on the status quo of face to face, the mandated referrals and ignore the incredible business growth opportunities provided through this collective word of mouth marketing through the various social media channels.
Social Media Is Strength in Numbers
To be seen and heard on social media does require strength in numbers. Twitter currently has 271 active million accounts. There are approximately 6,000 Tweets being sent every second. LinkedIn has 259 million accounts. LinkedIn members continue to expand their content marketing through the daily updates and publishing via the LinkedIn Pulse platform. One can be easily lost in the tumult and crowded seas of social media.
Time to Build Your Communities
Facebook recognized the value of communities through its various groups as did LinkedIn. Now is the time for you to create and develop your own social media marketing communities. If you belong to a formal or even an informal networking group, you already have the foundation for community marketing. Yes it does take a little time to establish your community of liked minded small business professionals and entrepreneurs. However the numerous automation tools keep you from personally having to update your social media accounts.
If you truly want to expand your influence, increase sales leads and small business growth opportunities, then consider taking your current word of mouth marketing to that next level. You just maybe surprised by the results.Share on Facebook
Life is busy, in fact crazy busy for most people. Between jobs, children, parents, relationships, housework and all those other to do items one can be busy every day of the week and the thought of scheduling a time for giving goes right out the window.
Yesterday I gave a couple of hours of my time on a Saturday to pick up roadside trash along a portion of a state highway in Porter County,IN. This activity was sponsored by the Valparaiso Rotary Club and is a semi-annual event.
Yes, I would have preferred to stay home and take care of my writing and client projects still to be completed.
Yes, I would have preferred not to be in the rain picking up trash because of inconsiderate and lazy drivers and passengers.
Yes, I would have preferred not to have to run a special load of clothes after completing this volunteer assignment.
With government budgets stretched thin in many instances (regardless of the reason) and many struggling here in this country to make ends meet, volunteers make up the short fall by scheduling a time for giving. These individuals in many instances belong to civic organizations such as Rotary International to religious institutions to for profit firms where employees volunteer their time.
Today is Sunday and for me another time for giving. I volunteer at least twice a month to assist at our early mass for Augsburg Evangelical Lutheran Church located in Porter, IN. Our church, meaning our congregation, is very active in its efforts to support the local elementary school with backpacks; the local food bank; as well as Lutheran Aid International. Members even those with young families give of their time to these giving opportunities.
For some, money is the way they give. Yet sometimes scheduling a time for giving means far more to these organizations and to our communities than just money.
As noted earlier, most of us are crazy busy. However from my own private time management research must of us admit to wasting 12 minutes per workday. Those 12 minutes of wasted time add up to one hour per week. From my simple math, we all have the potential to schedule a time for giving even if it is just one hour per month.
P.S. What I have learned is I appreciate far more of what I have when I am able to give of myself to others.Share on Facebook
Many of us have heard the expression “If you cannot say anything nice, then say nothing at all.” Yesterday I had the privilege of observing on the LinkedIn Pulse publishing platform how someone turned around an unwarranted professional attack. He did follow this old truism with exceptional emotional intelligence, grace and dignity.
The responses by others on LinkedIn were equally impressive. My sense is the person writing the very unkind and untrue statements may have learned this lesson.
One never knows the strength of the community behind another.
When in corporate to student leadership training sessions, I encourage the participants to always give constructive feedback with this one criteria. For every negative comment, there must be at least 3 positive comments. By taking this constructive feedback approach, the negativity never overwhelms the participants because the focus is on what they have done well. Additionally, the constructive feedback does not turn into a personal or professional attack.
In yesterday’s experience, many from their comments wondered what prompted the truly unwarranted professional attack. From my perspective, I think there was a bit of professional jealousy, possibly some slow sales growth and someone whose ego was very frustrated with his current results.
My question to you is how would you finish this truism of “If you cannot say anything nice, then….”?
Please leave your responses and if you have experienced a professional attack through social media or some other channel, please feel free to share how you handled it. Just remember, please refrain from sharing proper names.Share on Facebook
The content marketing bandwagon continues to gain more B2B small business owners and single office/home office (SOHO) entrepreneurs. Unfortunately two old behaviors raise their ugly head. These two reluctant behaviors are:
- No strategic thinking
- No monitoring of current efforts beyond cash flow and increase sales
Without a strategic plan, small business owners and their fellow SOHO companions are engaged in the role of Captain Wing It. They spray their marketing, their selling, their whatever activities all over the place and then pray something will stick.
Some recent research from the Content Marketing Institute revealed some startling facts that all small business owners to even Fortune 1000 firms should heed:
- 86% of the responding firms used content marketing in their B2B efforts
- 48% have a content marketing strategy, but don’t document said strategy
- 35% only have a documented strategy
As to top content marketing tactics, these are the preferred distribution channels according to Content Marketing Institute:
- Social media – 92%
- E newsletters – 83%
- Articles on company’s website – 81%]
- Blogs – 80%
- In-person events – 77%
- Case studies – 77%
- Videos – 76%
Specific to social media distribution channels, LinkedIn has become the top social media platform and for 63% of those surveyed the most effective.
The trend to create more content is continuing with 70% of the B2B firms writing more than the previous year. Budgets for the next 12 months specific to content marketing are expected to increase for 55% of those surveyed.
Before you invest your small business resources on this now very popular marketing tactic, make sure of the following:
- Engage in strategic thinking with the end result of a written and detailed goal driven strategic plan
- Identify your ideal customer
- Research your ideal customer as to wants, needs, market trends, etc.
- Based on your ideal customer research, determine the keywords that will drive traffic to your content
- Identify what marketing channel best suits the demographics and psychographics of your ideal customer
- Establish key performance metrics to monitor the success of your marketing efforts
- Write quality, informative and engaging content which is becoming somewhat unique
Finally please remember content marketing is not the cheap and quick fix to increasing sales leads. Do not become part of the flow that continues to spray bad content with the pray that something will stick. Be deliberate, intentional and forward thinking before you start plucking away at your keyboard.
Share on Facebook
The leadership message is continually being redefined for what appears to be this primary reason:
If I sound cynical, I am because the same problems continue to exist in spite of all the books, leadership experts and programs.
Young people are leaving college without the necessary employment skills think leadership skills or rather self leadership skills.
Organizations still suffer from a plethora of symptoms that some less than ethical firms and experts are willing to solve and resolve because they never have the courage, the skills or the truthfulness (business ethics) to address the real problem.
Self help books to achieve personal and professional excellence continue to be published and bought without any sustainable results.
Earlier this week I was asked to speak at a local middle school about careers. As I thought about this topic, I realized speaking about my career would be a disservice to these young people. Current and future workforce research suggests young people will have 15-20 jobs over the course of their career.
Instead I realized it would make far better sense to discuss instead a leadership message focusing on the transferable skills that would allow them to be successful in their overall career endeavors. Those skills begin with what I call self-leadership that being the ability to lead one’s self first and foremost.
This self leadership message is comprised of many talents including:
- Reflection – Ability to proactively think about the future, recognize the present and remember the past
- Consistent goal setting and goal achievement – Ability to set, monitor, and consistently achieve WAY SMART goals for short term to long range planning
- Emotional intelligence – Ability to recognize emotions of others; of one’s self’ and manage both through diplomatic behaviors
- Application of critical thinking skills – Ability to see potential problems; analyze problems and situations; think conceptually allowing for quality
- Self-starting ability – Ability of personal drive leading to personal accountability
- Active listening – Ability to evaluate what is said
- Self-direction – Ability to want to be better than someone currently is and requires self-awareness and self-confidence
- Initiative - Ability to direct one’s own energies toward a goal completion without any external catalyst
- Personal relationships - Ability to relate to others and through those relationships to build a grateful “network of communities”
- Self-directed learner – Ability to direct self improvement to those areas needed in the current role or a future role without external motivation
So if you had to share your leadership message with young people or even your staff, what would you say?
Fail-Safe Leadership even though it addresses organizational leadership begins to open up the discussion about self-leadership.Share on Facebook
Yesterday in talking with a former client and now a strategic partner, he lamented how honesty and truth are in short supply when it comes to sales leadership. Small business to Fortune 500 organizations be them profit or not for profit appear to circumvent the truth when it comes to finalizing sales.
What matters more is the ability to gain something at
the expense of someone or something.
Over the years this client and I have had a very forthcoming professional relationship. I shared with him that much of his problems were because his business decisions were reactive instead of proactive. Additionally, I did not promise him the world nor did I sugar coat the realities involved in changing his sales leadership style. The end result is our professional relationship continues to flourish because he appreciated my honesty and truth.
Then during a mastermind group with three other small business owners, one of the members shared how a former customer called up for a price. This customer shared what the competition was charging ($450). As this customer was a not for profit, my mastermind colleague adjusted his price and was lower by $125 than the shared price. He also did 2 hours of preliminary, non-billable work. The customer called back and told him she gave the order to the competition. His experience is one shared by many small business owners who become the price adjusters for the competition.
Where is the honesty and truth in sales leadership?
This past week I received an email from a complete stranger regarding some leadership, communication and team building for a US firm. She was doing research for her husband. From the information shared I was able to do some additional research and determined the potential client. As I had just successfully earned a similar contract I was able to quickly send a statement of work. (Thank heavens for cut and paste). Normally I do not respond to such “send me your prices” inquiries, but this time I took a chance because I listened to my intuitive sense and I remembered “never cut off your nose to despite your face.”
My most recent corporate training sale was earned because of my honesty and truth.The client wanted a four hour leadership retreat for the executive team followed by an 8 hour workshop the next day for his entire team. I told him I could do what he wanted but suggested for a more sustainable outcome that he may wish to consider having a second meeting with his executive team after the 4 hour leadership retreat and then to break the one day leadership, communication and team building into 2 – four hour engagements with at least a week between them. This type of scheduling allows for better retention; the opportunity for application and feedback and works to address the real problem lack of trust. He listened to my suggestions and quickly came to agree this was better.
My professional business ethics are honesty and truth.
They must start with me whether I am the vendor or the customer.
This personal tenet has been with me my entire life.
And yes I have lost sales because I believe in respectfully identifying the “naked emperor” and will not offer solutions that do not address the real problem. So many in the executive coaching and professional services consulting industries prefer to solve symptoms that only later reappear because the true problem causing the symptoms was never identified nor properly addressed.
Despite what we hear about the US economy, there are still many small businesses to even Fortune 1000 firms who are desperate to increase sales especially in this final fourth quarter. Honesty and truth are sacrificed by those in sales leadership roles.
For me, I have been guided by Socrates Three Filters when it comes to honesty and truth. And I leave you with those to potentially guide you in your sales leadership roles:
#1 – Is what you say or do kind?
#2 – Is what you say or do truthful?
#3 – Is what you say or do necessary?
Please feel free to share your experiences when it comes to how you deal with honesty and truth in your sales leadership role.Share on Facebook