Life Is Too Short to Plagiarize the Works of Others

Believe it or not, there are professionals who plagiarize the works of others.  One would think given the connectivity of the Internet, such individuals would realize they will get eventually caught.

plagiarize-the-works

Credit www.gratisography.com

One of my colleagues, S. Anthony Iannarino, was notified by someone reading this blog and engaging in some other research there was a sales trainer who had posted Iannarino’s on LinkedIn Pulse without giving Iannarino credit. In fact, this sales trainer replaced Iannarino’s byline with his own.

Unfortunately, this sales trainer did not realize his effort to plagiarize the works of others would unleash a firestorm of negative comments.  Now there are at least 50 people who know this person to be a fraud and a liar.  His other 200 plus posts on LinkedIn Pulse will be scrutinized as well as other Internet websites.

After 48 hours, this sales trainer did take down this plagiarized work.  However it would not have happened if Iannarino had not been informed nor had his community of colleagues not become involved.  I will add the comments on this LinkedIn Pulse article were scathing yet still very professional.

The Internet allows for a plethora of ideas and content.  It also provides unfortunately for opportunists to confiscate the intellectual property of others.  Plagiarism has always been with us as a society and it appears will continue to be with us.

My colleague is not the first person to suffer from such unprofessional and unethical behavior.  Thankfully he has built a community of ethical and professional colleagues who will come to his defense and the defense of other members within this strong community.

Most of us within this community have had our posts, blogs or articles plagiarized a little or a lot.  I guess when individuals lack core personal ethics as reflected by their business ethics plagiarizing the works of others is done without thinking. Maybe they think given there is so much content on the Internet, no one will catch them.

Those who plagiarize the works of others are like folks who get do-do on their tongues. Their mouths now need to be washed out with soap.  Having a strong community of professional colleagues who are more than willing to provide the soap helps in this task of mouth washing really helps.

As this posting began, life is too short to plagiarize the works of others.  So be careful and if you must quote someone or something, include the person, the website or publication.  By taking this action you actually demonstrate your business ethics and personal ethics while elevating your status in the eyes of your readers.

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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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An Often Ignored Sales Metric That Reveals a Dangerous Business Trend

In CRM Buyer, writer Christopher J. Bucholtz shared his recent survey of the most important sales metric to monitor. His one question survey revealed numerous sales metrics that included:

sales-metric

  • Sales leads volume (how many sales leads are in the pipeline)
  • Quote to close ratio
  • Conversion rate
  • Average transaction value
  • Product mixed sold compared to strategic sales plan goals

What I immediately noticed was one missing sales metric and the first one I attempt to determine when working with mid size to small businesses.  This metric reveals a potentially dangerous business trend – declining growth by the absence of customer loyalty.

Recently I analyzed the sales by account for a regional small business printing firm that works not only local, but with state and national accounts. What I was seeking with this sales metric:

  • Inactive accounts (no activity for the last 12 months)

Years ago when I managed a sales team, making sure all of our accounts were active was essential.  We had already invested the time in calling on them; establishing their accounts; delivering their orders and following up to ensure all went well.  Relationships requiring both time and money had been nurtured to secure the account. Why ignore all that had work was plainly being sales stupid. I had four areas that I looked to when reviewing inactive accounts through the customer loyalty lens:

  • If the account had been lost to another vendor, I wanted to know when and why.
  • If the buyer or decision maker had changed, I wanted to know when and why.
  • If the company had taken another strategic direction, I wanted to know when and why.
  • If the sale was exceptional meaning a one time hit such as an emergency or annual purchase, I wanted to know when and why.

Each sales metric mentioned in the article at CRM Buyer is important to know and monitor. However the inactive accounts metric is probably the most important specific to ensuring customer loyalty and sustainable business growth.  Additionally this metric reveals an enormous opportunity to secure those low hanging sales opportunities.

If you wish to increase sales, work smarter by working harder, then determine what accounts in your mid size to small business are currently inactive.  Then do your due diligence and follow-up.  Possibly create some compelling marketing message so you avoid the trite sales conversation of “Just checking in.” You just may be surprised by the results.

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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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In Sales 3 Is No Longer the Magic Marketing or Prospecting Number

Three has always been considered a magic or special number for a variety of reasons.  Somewhere along the annals of history salespeople also became mesmerized by this number especially when it came to marketing or prospecting.

prospecting-number

  • Send 3 direct mail pieces
  • Make 3 phone calls
  • Send 3 emails

After three attempts to contact the sales lead (prospect) all activity stops and the salesperson looks to the next “hot” sales lead.

As we are in the process of selling our home via For Sale By Owner, the super majority (90%)  of residential real estate agents who have contacted us also believe in three being the magic number.  For after the third attempt, there is silence.

Complete and utter silence

Sales research from my  own over 40 plus years suggests most sales are earned (closed) after the third contact.

During the last 18 years, I have surveyed well over a thousand small business owners and 90.2% have confirmed they stop after three contacts.  What is worse is 99.2% share they have not followed up on all sales leads. That is a blog posting for another day.

Years ago I read to have top of mind awareness for marketing or prospecting required 9 to 12 touches, contacts per year.  Within the last 10 tens I read top of mind awareness happened after 33 touches.  I suggest to my clients to engage in 3 touches or contacts per month be it a phone call, an in person visit, an email or a direct mail marketing piece via the USPS.

Probably what is worse than 3 direct mail pieces is sending 3 terribly written direct mail pieces. I recently addressed for real estate agents a five piece series on how their marketing messages missed the messaging mark.

Realtors – Your Marketing Message Sucks – Part 01

Today’s sales leads receive so much information they are overloaded and probably do not read 10% of what they receive.  There is a very good likelihood that your marketing or prospecting efforts went into the circular file or delete file without being read. This is why your message must be personalized and tailored to fit your ideal customer.

Worse yet if they did read your marketing or prospecting message and it did not provide further attraction through the 3 sales buying rules, all messages thereafter were probably ignored as well.

My recommendation is to identify 5 sales leads (make sure they fit your ideal customer profile).  Then create a marketing or prospecting messaging campaign. This may begin with connecting on LinkedIn then meeting with them. Next might be sending a great article, including them on your monthly newsletter (only with permission of course) mailing a relevant direct mail piece and giving them a phone call. This is already six contacts.

If you wish to increase sales, then consider going beyond three marketing or prospecting contacts.  You just may be surprised by the results.

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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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Real Estate Agents Why Aren’t You Personalizing Your Direct Mail Marketing?

Believe it or not the residential real estate market has changed.  A study by Caslon & Co. revealed personalized marketing can generate three times the response rate.  Now is the time to accept the fact impersonalized direct mail marketing has gone the way of the Dodo Bird.

direct-mail-marketingPersonalized direct mail marketing has always known to be the better path. Yet excuses of its takes too much time to the inability to write effective marketing messages seem to still justify the use of impersonalized real estate marketing messages.

Given the majority of residential real estate agents do not have that many sales leads, personalization is quite easy, yet impersonalization continues.  Anyone can make a copy of a “canned” marketing flyer, hand write an envelope, put a first class stamp out and drop it in the mail. This is not take rocket science. Worse yet, some real estate agents make copies of a copy and believe that will attract positive attention.

What is forgotten are these 3 sales buying rules:

#1 – People buy from people they know and trust

#2 – People buy first on emotion; justified by logic

#3 – People buy on value unique to them

These 3 sales buying rules are why personalizing direct mail marketing is essential especially when these other two facts are thrown into the decision making process:

#1 – Today’s sellers and buyers are far better educated

#2 – Up to 60% of the buying decision has been made before you have connected with any sellers or buyers

As we are in the process of selling our home through For Sale By Owner, 100% of the direct mail marketing we have received has been:

  • Impersonal
  • Generic
  • No value to us
  • Poorly written or presented
  • Waste of our time to even open or read it

Some of the residential real estate agents’ direct mail messages have attempted the old tricks of:

  • Use fear
  • Sell on commission (money)
  • Use “top rated real estate agent”

Then there is the overriding factor of generally insulting the homeowner by mailing copies of a copy to not answering the phone even when we call the residential real estate agents all who assure us they want our business.  If you can’t answer the phone after the fourth ring, you truly aren’t that hungry for new sales leads.

Personalized direct mail marketing may require a little research regarding the seller of the residential real estate. With today’s Internet, that research can be conducted from any office or mobile device with Internet connections.

If you want to increase sales by securing more sales leads, then begin to invest the time to personalize your residential real estate direct mail marketing.  Stop with the impersonalized letters to what used to work.  Discover what is important to that seller of any home even if they have listed it as For Sale By Owner.  You just may discover selling real estate can become a lot easier and even a lot more fun.

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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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“Are You a Customer?” Is a Dangerous Question

This past week I drove through my bank’s outside drive through  teller lane to quickly deposit several checks. Well I thought it would be quick because 3 of the 4 lanes were empty.  Unfortunately I must have drawn the slowest teller imaginable and one who was not thinking.

are-you-customer

Credit www.gratisography.com

After waiting several minutes for an acknowledgement that the teller would be with me, I pressed the “Call” button. A young lady (probably late teens early twenties) answered.  I asked if she had received my deposit and she responded rather quickly:

“Are you a customer?”

My brain immediately replied in a rather loud voice “Am I a customer?”  Why do you think the deposit ticket has your bank’s name printed on it along with my account number?  Are you serious, am I a customer?” Suddenly I felt more like “chopped liver” than a loyal customer of 20 plus years.

Now I understand this question is one that sometimes is required.  However when the customer has some form of identification and especially several printed bank deposit tickets with checks endorsed to that person, then such a question is potentially insulting.

Possibly the teller might not know a particular customer and may require some additional identification.  That is also a reality today with all the identify theft.  Then the proper response might be ” Ms. Hoagland-Smith may we see your photo ID to confirm your identify?” Asking “Are you a customer?” is just a poor business practice and potentially reflects a lazy organizational culture.

So many businesses fail to realize the first words spoken have the greatest impact on customer loyalty. How those words are spoken with sincerity and presence also matters.  An unenthusiastic “Good Morning” greeting by a noticeable gum chewing cashier resonates far differently than a sincere, energized “Good Morning” greeting with a full smile minus the gum.

“Are you a customer?” is a very dangerous question because it provides a foundation for customer disloyalty.

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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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There Is More to Empowerment than Many Realize

For the last 10 years or so, the word empowerment has received a lot of attention. This morning I read this quote:

empowerment“The  leader is a team builder who empowers individuals in the organization and passionately “lives the vision”--Burt Nanus

Yet how can a forward thinking leader empower anyone secure with the knowledge he or she will passionately live the vision?

What would happen if we as Marcel Proust said “look at the same landscape with different eyes?”

To empower someone suggests the person has the capacity to take whatever action necessary.  Business research continues to suggest the lack of leadership or better yer the lack of self leadership (leading ones self) is missing in many employees.

True empowerment comes after the development of self leadership skills.  When individuals can lead themselves, then and only then can they lead others as well as live the vision.

Leadership development is essential and should begin in junior high.  Here is where young people can learn and practice the skills of:

Even if beginning in junior high is not possible, then no later at the senior level in high school or for sure by college.

Years ago self leadership developed almost effortlessly because the agrarian culture demanded it.  As the country transitioned to industrial and now a technology economy, those “natural leadership traits” began to vanish.

Empowerment is a great word and makes a good organization better provided the individuals truly have the necessary self leadership development.

 

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What Inspires You?

Almost every month, I contribute to the Worldwide Coaching Magazine. This publication focuses on the executive coaching industry and is one of the most read magazines by executive coaches.  Topics vary and this month, the theme was inspiration.  As I read my contribution along with the contributions of others, I began thinking about what inspires you or me?

what-inspires-you

Credit www.gratisography.com

For me, inspiration comes sometimes quietly like fog and little cat’s feet. Then other times it almost hits me on the head and knocks me for a figurative loop.

Each of us can be inspired by something different. That inspiration in many instances is a connecting bridge from one thought or idea to another.

Suddenly our neuro pathways seem to explode with one thought after another.

For example, the graphic in this blog may inspire one to share a childhood experience about a teddy bear. For another person the picture may stir up memories about being left behind or lost.

Possibly today, ask yourself “What inspires you?”  Consider asking yourself that question later in the week.  Inspiration is there for each of us as long as we keep our minds open, we ask and we look.

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Try On These Fail-Safe Leadership Traits

Do you believe human beings in general are hot wired for self-improvement?  Well, I do.  The ongoing issue is usually where to begin.  Possibly these Fail-Safe Leadership traits may create greater clarity as to where to direct one’s actions.

fail-safe-leadership-traits

Credit www.gratisography.com

Fail-Safe Leaders Have a Written Personal Plan of Action

Many recognize the value of a road map or even GPS.  Courses are plotted to maximize resources.  Of course, a written personal plan of action only happens after deliberate and intentional planning.

Fail-Safe Leaders Consistently Set and Achieve Their Personal Goals

After delivering over 500 Attribute Index assessments, I can quickly ascertain if my clients consistently set and achieve their personal goals.  Consistent goal setting using a proven goal setting worksheet is one of critical fail-safe leadership traits demonstrated by today’s forward thinking leaders.

Fail-Safe Leaders Live Their Positive Core Values 24/7

Those self-leaders who live their positive core values 24/7 and not just when someone is looking are hidden behind all those who behave badly.  These leaders will always be respectful, but will not back down if their business ethics or personal ethics are challenged.

Fail-Safe Leaders Know and Leverage Their Talents

To thine own self be true is an often repeated mantra.  Unfortunately from my 40 plus years of experience, most people do not know what they do well.  They are negatively conditioned from early childhood and thus focus on their weaknesses.  By having clarity specific to their Fail-Safe Leadership traits, these individuals can take advantage of opportunities they probably missed in the past.

Fail-Safe Leaders Embrace Their Purpose Fueled by Their Passion

Understanding and having clarity around one’s purpose is another essential fail-safe leadership trait.  One’s purpose answers the simple question “Why are you here?” Once purpose is recognized and embrace, passion takes over.

Self improvement is hot wired in human beings otherwise we would still be living in caves.  Of course environment can dim that desire for becoming better. Yet, self improvement can be recharged when people understand and try on these Fail-Safe Leadership traits.

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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 Wisdom Required for Small Business Coaching

This week I submitted my regular contribution to Worldwide Coaching Magazine. The topic was “inspiration” respective to executive to small business coaching.

small-business-coachingI was surprised when I received this note from the publisher Ton de Graaf who said my contribution provided him with “an Ah Ha” moment.  When I asked specifically what that “Ah Ha” moment was (provided he was willing to share), he wrote:

“Coaches who inspire realize their knowledge and wisdom are essential elements to any successful coaching engagement”.

Then Ton went on to share how this statement realized “It’s  not only the questions bring some inspirational thoughts, but also our experience and accumulated knowledge we (as coaches) bring to the table.”

Years ago one of my coaches, David Herdlinger, said “knowledge is learning from one’s own mistakes; wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others.” I have remembered these two simple definitions as I continue in my own executive and small business coaching practice.

Small business coaching does require strong business acumen and more importantly business experience. Coaches who have made mistakes have knowledge that others may not have.  As John Maxwell wrote “we fail forward” by learning from our mistakes.

Wisdom is also required because this suggests the coach has taken personal responsibility by reaching out and learning from others.  Today’s world is clipping along at a mile a minute. Change is in the air. Not to commit to ongoing professional development, masterminding with others only puts that executive coach, small business coach or sales coach at a competitive disadvantage. Additionally his or her clients are also being shortchanged.

Every other week, I attempt (based on my client schedule)  to mastermind with colleagues regarding psychometric assessments.  This is a great opportunity to learn from others. The wealth of wisdom I have been granted is incredible.

Once a month I collaborate with several other small business owners where we hold each other accountable and share what is happening in our respective industries.  Also, I read about an hour a day and consumer at least two books per month. Finally, my writing allows me to think better from all the wisdom I have gained.

What concerns me is some coaches be them executive, small business or sales lack the necessary wisdom. They have been certified from some institution; maybe mastered some “coaching skills”  and may even have a process.

Unfortunately, they believe their 5 to 10 years of corporate experience (knowledge learning from their own mistakes) is enough to advise people with even more experience.  I don’t think so.  Here is where the wisdom becomes quite evident.

Wisdom is very much like emotional intelligence as it increases as the individual matures (ages). Time is required to be an insightful and inspiring within the executive to small business coaching arena.

I am sure there will always be exceptions to wisdom and age. However, history has revealed the wisest people are usually the oldest ones in the room.

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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 7 KPIs for Sales Managers Dashboard

Sales managers face increased responsibility and accountability. Research continues to show sales teams do not meet sales goals while margins shrink due to the dynamics of market forces as well as government compliance.

sales-,managers

Credit www.gratisography.com

One of the consistent  barriers faced by those in sale management  is the lack of benchmarks or key performance indicators (KPIs) outside of the ever present total sales figures. These are data points identified during the strategic planning process. However from my 18 years of experience the verb “plan” is a four letter dirty word to the majority (over 50%) of mid-size to small business owners because these risk taking entrepreneurs do not have a well crafted and written strategic plan.

President Dwight Eisenhower said “plan are worthless; planning is everything.” Until executive leadership team or the small business owner conducts the necessary market to customer research, planning and hence forecasting becomes very difficult if not impossible.

Each sales team member should know the following KPIs and these should be collected by sales managers and integrated into their sales management dashboard.

#1 – Sales to Earn or Close Time

How much time elapses from the first contact to the earned sales or closed deal. Knowing this number allows sales managers to better forecast all marketing and selling activities for each person and the business.

#2 – Sales Conversion Ratio

Top performing salespeople know their numbers with this particular number being on top of the list. To determine this ratio requires documenting all sales leads and following the sales lead through the first contact to actually meeting the ideal potential customer (qualified prospect) to discovery to presenting the case to buy from me to earning the sales (closing the deal).

#3 – Number of Contacts Required

How many contacts must take place before the sale is earned?  Some sales research suggests the majority (80%)  of sales are made after the third contact. This same research also indicates that the majority (80%) of sales people stop after the third contact.  From my experience, most recently selling my home, I can personally verify this statistic.

#4 – Annual and Lifetime Value of the Customer or Client

Some small businesses focus on average sale value which is the next KPI.  However, each client requires evaluation on annual value and lifetime value. Each industry will be different as possibly each market.

#5 – Average Sales Value

Knowing what the average sales value is essential in forecasting productivity of the sales team. This number is determined by removing any exceptional sales first that would skew the average sales value.  When this number is calculated and then examining inactive accounts, sales managers can quickly point out opportunities the sales team may be ignoring.

#6 – Average Profit Value

Sales professionals sometimes fail to  understand profit.  They are concerned about earning the sale and do not see the bigger picture. Having healthy profit margins is essential for mid size to small businesses surviving and ultimately thriving. This profit value must be known by sales managers.

#7 – Inactive Accounts to Overall Accounts Ratio

One of the quickest ways to increase sales and meet sales goals is to revisit all inactive accounts.  What happens is small businesses become so focus on the active accounts, they fail to invest the time to determine where there are inactive accounts.  For example if a small business has 1,000 accounts and 400 are inactive for the last year, then the ratio is 10 to 4. Ideally this ratio should be 10 to zero or 10 to 1. Ideally sales managers should visit this ratio at least quarterly if not monthly.

These 7 KPIs require continued monitoring by the sales managers.  When these KPIs  begin to change then immediate action must be taken. Also depending upon the solutions offered by the mid-size to small businesses and the sales styles of the team member, the KPIs for each salesperson may vary. By identifying and then consistently reviewing these KPIs, those in sales management roles can become more proactive in their actions instead of the often observed and very costly reactive behaviors.

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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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