The Self Improvement Wall of Plaster or Bricks

In speaking with a client yesterday, she shared a comment from an email that read “this is just one brick in your wall.” Suddenly I realized for many the self improvement wall is smooth like plaster when it should be rough like individual bricks.

self-improvement

Credit www.gratisography

Each brick is an experience.  These experiences when mortared together make us who we are.  When we have a smooth self improvement wall this suggests we may be covering up those experiences and therefore lack clarity about them.

Additionally as we work toward our goals, where we want to be, it is far easier to replace one brick if need be than to replace an entire plastered wall.  Repairing a plaster wall depending upon the severity of the damage is far more difficult than removing one or two bricks. Self Improvement Coaching Tip:  WAY SMART goals deliver more consistent results than just SMART goals.

Brick walls have an innate character to them. Possibly this is why so many people like the industrial look so popular toward specific to home renovation.

self-improvement

Credit www.gratisography

 

When we start chipping away at the plaster wall of self improvement, we are engaged in self-assessment and self discovery. We are beginning to truly gain clarity and potentially learning how to not undervalue ourselves or our experiences.  Our talents are no longer hidden by years of negative conditioning where we continue to look first at our weaknesses instead of our strengths. Self Improvement Coaching Tip:  Not knowing your best talents, what you do well, provides a plethora of missed opportunities.

Of course it takes courage to start chipping away at that smooth plaster as it took many years to make it smooth and perfect. However it is just a facade and prevents true self  improvement from actually happening.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals in the key areas of strategic growth, people development and process improvement. She speaks and writes specifically to small businesses under 50 employees whose challenges are more unique and resources more limited. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

 

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A Real and Authentic Voice Required

In this age of social media, content marketing, the endless pecking of the keyboard,  people  are sometimes surprised to hear real and authentic voice when they pick up the phone.  For small businesses, the opportunity to connect with the other person is the first step to build a relationship with an ideal customer or even friend you did not know.

Real, What Is That?

A real voice is a live, breathing human being and not some auto-dial voice.  I am still at a loss of how any of these automatic voice marketing systems actually attract positive attention.  For me, the first reaction is to hang-up, quickly followed by some internal swear words.

Authentic, What Is That?

Authentic is someone who is not spewing a sales pitch, but truly wants to know about you and your small business. Even though the person on the other end of the phone may not be an ideal customer, he or she may become a center of influence, a colleague or even down the road a friend.

Clarity of Values

An individual with a real and authentic voice demonstrates her or his clarity of core values. These individuals recognize the importance of others as individuals and not just another “closed sale” or connection on some social media site or through some business to business networking event.

Years ago, there was a commercial with this key statement:

Reach out and touch someone

For small business owners to sales professionals, these words still ring true today. I would just add the following:

with a real and authentic voice

If you have a moment, please check out Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits to begin to develop and demonstrate how to stand out in the crowd with authenticity.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals in the key areas of strategic growth, people development and process improvement. She speaks and writes specifically to small businesses under 50 employees whose challenges are more unique and resources more limited. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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A Leadership Truism Reaffirmed

One of my colleagues, Doug Brown, made this statement years ago “People confuse motion with progress and activity with results.” This is truly a leadership truism and applies in sales as well.  Regardless of your role as a leader be it small business owner, sales professional, or C suite executive there is a lot of motion and activity going on with far less progress and results.

leadership-truismI was reminded of this leadership truism when I read a LinkedIn Pulse posting about how employee engagement is over-rated because at the end of the day CEOs want results.  From my perspective as I read this posting, I believe the author is ignoring this one fact:

Employee engagement must be in alignment with the strategy, structure, processes/systems, rewards and people within the organization. (Galbraith 5 Star Model)

This alignment is the responsibility of leadership and so employee engagement is really a reflection of the effectiveness of all involved as leaders within the organization.

When employees are engaged but not delivering the necessary progress and results, then it is the responsibility of leaders to ensure there is alignment between all five elements within the organization. Misalignment in many instances is where disengagement is observed.

At the end of the day, leadership is the driving force in any organization from the single office/home office (SOHO) to the Fortune 100 firms. Possibly this leadership truism from my friend should be asked at the end of every day by all in leadership roles:

How did my behaviors model the necessary progress and results we need at this organization?

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals in the key areas of strategic growth, people development and process improvement. She speaks and writes specifically to small businesses under 50 employees whose challenges are more unique and resources more limited. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Really, Sales Has Changed? Poppycock!

There appears to be a lot of angst in the sales world if you read some of the more popular postings by noted sales experts to consultants. In many cases, there is an ever increasing school of thought that suggests sales has changed and this is utter poppycock. Note: I just did a quick search on the phrase “sales has changed” in Google and received 58,500 hits.

sales-has-changedPossibly the reason for this confusion is the word “sales” is substituted for a variety of other terms such as:

  • Sales process
  • Selling
  • Marketing
  • Prospecting (which is marketing)
  • Completed transaction

The Real Change Reality

No sales has not changed. Let me repeat, sales has not changed.  There is a buyer who has a want reinforced by a need with an allocated budget. He or she is seeking a solution to address that want and need. This has always been the case.

What has changed is the buyer and specifically his or her buying behaviors. Today’s buyers are better educated (for the most part). The Internet through smart devices has provided them an immediate encyclopedia of information about:

sales-has-changed

  • Solutions
  • Salespeople
  • Companies
  • Investment (Price)
  • Deliveries
  • Outcomes

All these now better educated buyers can be viewed as an competitive advantage or disadvantage.

Better Educated – A Competitive Advantage

When buyers are better educated, this provides additional opportunities for you as the salesperson to connect to their value drivers as well as psychographics (the why behind the buying decision).  During your fact finding conversations, you can apply active listening skills and further determine what the qualified potential client (sales lead) is really seeking.

If any of the sales research is accurate about the buying decision being anywhere from 40% to 60% completed before you as the salesperson are contacted, then this suggests through your marketing, something resonated with the sales lead.

Better Educated – A Competitive Disadvantage

With better educated buyers, salespeople can no longer presume they know what the qualified potential customer or client wants. What worked in earning the sale with Client A may not work with Client B. The sales process from that first initial contact to earning the sale may now be longer or shorter depending upon the complexity of the buyer’s organization and the dollar value of the actual transaction.

Poor marketing now becomes a competitive disadvantage because you, your firm and your solutions are not being researched by your potential ideal customer.  You may have the best price, the best solution and the best results but you will remain undiscovered and pocket poor unless your ideal customers know about you. This is why having a strong Internet presence including social media is essential.

What To Do

sales-has-changedFirst, if your sales leads are better educated, then consider returning to the first phase of the sales process and that is marketing.  Make sure your marketing message is consistent throughout your organization. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Marketing is not selling; selling is marketing.

Second, ask for referrals from existing clients who have already experienced you, your company and your solutions.  What continues to amaze me is how many salespeople especially within small businesses (under 50 employees) fail to ask for qualified referrals from existing clients.

Third, change your belief about sales has changed and then change your actions.  An educated buyer works with you and does make selling a whole heck of a lot easier.  By having a belief of fear (you fear an educated buyer), only works against you. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Leave your ego at the door.

Now you must become more educated about your sales lead.  Research that business, the current industry trends,  the buyer, and others associated with this sales lead.  Talk to your own network to gain greater information and insight. Show up to that meeting quietly prepared and then actively listen to what is being said and what is not being said.

Finally, ignore what those experts who advocate sales has changed.  Consider accepting the fact that sales has not changed and there is no magic pill nor ever was one to earn that customer. Remember the words of Peter Drucker who believed and stated:

Business has only two functions marketing and innovation

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals in the key areas of strategic growth, people development and process improvement. She speaks and writes specifically to small businesses under 50 employees whose challenges are more unique and resources more limited. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

 

 

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What Sales Attitudes Do You Seek When Hiring?

You want top sales performers. From your own past selling experience, you know top sales performers have the right sales attitudes reinforced by certain sales skills.

Yet, how do you find if those sales skills really exist beyond the standard hiring interview?  And more importantly, how accurate is the assessment or assessments you may have given to determine those sales attitudes?

sales-attitudes

Credit Gratisography

Attitude Defined

Years ago I read in one of Zig Ziglar’s books this definition of attitude:

An attitude is a habit of thought.

This definition is simple and quite on target.  Our repetitive thoughts are our attitudes. A combination of those attitudes turn into the beliefs we have about people and life in general.

Additionally it is also important to note that the majority of our 20,00 to 50,000 daily thoughts are subconscious.  Even though these thoughts are hidden, they are involved in our decision making process.

Sales Attitudes Are Talents

Sales attitudes are talents because the talents are the observations by others of the attitudes.  For example, top sales performers relate well to people because people buy from people.  This relating well may also extend into having an “empathetic attitude.”

Would you consider these as attitudes or sales talents or both?

  • Handling rejection
  • Persistence
  • Persuading Others
  • Self Confidence
  • Self-Starting Ability

Attitudes Reflect Temperament

sales-attitudes

Credit: Gratisography

People have two types of temperament:

  • External – How one views the outside world
  • Internal – How one views oneself and one’s life

Both temperaments can have one of these three biases:

  • Positive – Optimistic
  • Negative – Pessimistic
  • Neutral

What is interesting according to the Attribute Index (published by Innermetrix based on the works of Dr. Hartman and the science of Axiology) is these biases can also be defined through the three dimensions of thought within each temperament.

What Is Missing In Many Sales Hiring Assessments

When hiring assessments fail to separate the external from the internal decision making process as well as not recognize the impact of biases, these assessments miss key attitudes and consequently key behaviors needed for top sales performers. This lack of clarity dramatically impacts performance as it relates to sales attitudes.

Another critical missing element is statistical reliability and validity.There are very few hiring assessments that are constructed from an objective, deductive perspective.  The Attribute Index is one of those and why as trained and degreed instructional designer I have chosen this particular assessment after reviewing well over 100 other hiring assessments.  Most of those other sales hiring assessments are constructed from a subjective, inductive perspective.  What all this means boils down to this question:

Would you prefer a sales hiring assessment with a .92 statistical co-efficient (meaning out of 100 people you will miss read 8 people) or one with a .85 statistical co-efficient (meaning out of 100 people you will miss read 15 people)?

Actually have delivering hundreds of these “sales attitudes” assessments, I can report that 98.6% state the accuracy is at least an eight on a scale of one to 10 with one being low and 10 being high.

If you truly want to confirm you have hired for the right sales attitude, then invest the time to confirm that knowledge and provide a solid foundation from which to further develop those top sales performers.

The Attribute Index is the best hiring and talent assessment because in less than 12 minutes, you will know the following:

  • External and internal decision making styles
  • Basic motivation
  • Preferred work environment (external only)
  • External and internal temperaments
  • External and internal biases
  • 78 Key Talents

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals in the key areas of strategic growth, people development and process improvement. She speaks and writes specifically to small businesses under 50 employees whose challenges are more unique and resources more limited. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

 

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The Many ABCs of Marketing

People love acronyms.  For years those engaged in sales and those who watched the movie Glengarry Glen Ross heard this well known one – ABC -  Always Be Closing.

What would happen if we applied this ABC acronym to marketing and small business owners would start thinking beyond just  “closing?”

Always Be Connecting

Here is the purpose of marketing.  To attract attention and begin to build relationships. This ABC is one sometimes jumped over because of the desire to make the “sales pitch.”

Always Be Collaborating

Collaboration means engagement and with the rise of social media as a marketing channel there is definitely more collaborating happening through the building of communities to share each others marketing messages.

Always Be Calculating

If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.  Tracking and calculating the results of your outreach efforts are essential to ensure you are reaching your ideal customers.

Always Be Calling

Just because you have a list of thousands does not give you permission not to pick up the phone and make personal phone calls.

Always Be Candid

With all the scams and unauthentic voices seeking to sell to those who want the quick fix, you must be emotionally candid.

Always Be Caring

Regardless of where you are within the sales process, caring never goes out of style.  As President Teddy Roosevelt said:  No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Always Be Catching

Marketing is truly about catching sales leads.  This suggests you as the small business salesperson must be aware that no sales leads slip through the net or sales funnel.

Always Be Completing

Many times sales leads never make it to the selling phase of the sales process because they are hung up somewhere in the funnel.  There should be a process to work the incoming marketing attraction through the first phase of the sales process.  The end result is three fold:

  • Deliver the qualified sales lead to the selling phase – 100% qualified potential customer
  • Deliver the qualified sales lead to future nurture marketing – Partially qualified potential customer
  • Discard the sales lead – 100% qualified not potential customer

Yes knowing your ABCs is critical for business growth.  Possibly by expanding your horizons beyond Always Be Closing your small business will reap sustainable results.

If you lack some clarity regarding your sales process, this free download of a 3 Phase Sales Process may help you gain greater clarity.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith, M.S.,  is an executive coach and business growth strategist with “the heuristic touch” for executive leaders and sales professionals in mid-size to small businesses that are seeking a high performance workforce from increase sales to employee engagement.  Her task is to support forward thinking leaders in bridging the gap between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals. She can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

 

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The Unsuspecting Self Improvement Barrier of Ambivalence

In listening to a presentation on Motivational Interviewing the discussion centered around ambivalence that being the simultaneous and contradictory feelings toward something. I suddenly realized when it comes to self improvement, ambivalence is probably always one of the many barriers that potentially keep people from moving forward.

self-improvement

Credit: Gratisography

How many times do we want to do something to change the status quo and yet our behaviors are contradictory to that desire?

When we invest the time to recognize and identify the specific ambivalence that is holding us back we can then moved forward.  Of course, the shadow behind ambivalence is change and more so the fear of change.

Due to past negative conditioning, we are reluctant to change and much of that reluctance is subconscious. This is why so many self improvement initiatives fail is because all those subconscious thoughts are increasing our fear of change, our ambivalence.

What I also learned during this presentation, that making reflective statements is far more powerful (2 to 1) than asking open ended questions.  Upon my own reflection this made sense because a statement creates a stronger emotional internal, subconscious response.

As you progress through your own self improvement plan and goal setting process, consider if ambivalence is one of the barriers to your own success?

 

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The Dangerous Assumptions For Small Businesses

How many dangerous assumptions do small businesses live with every day?  These assumptions almost seem to pull the business owners into a hole or a void. Here are three areas where I have found these dangerous assumptions alive and well for many small businesses.

small-businesses

  • Strategic planning
  • Sales process
  • Talent management

Here are some quick assumptions for each of these areas:

Strategic Planning

  • I don’t need one
  • Others do not have them
  • Of course I know who my ideal customers
  • Yes I know what value my solutions deliver

Sales Process

  • Sure my marketing is working
  • Of course I know how to sell
  • Marketing is advertising
  • My salespeople have the right sales skills
  • Our inability to increase sales is the problem

Talent Management

  • My people know what to do
  • Existing skills are fine
  • Our people know our expectations
  • Sure, everyone is in alignment

These are just a few of the dangerous assumptions for small businesses I have heard in the last 30 days.  What I would like you to do is to start identifying your assumptions because each of these are barriers to sustainable results.  Then after you identify the assumptions determine the potential negative financial impact to your organization.

Please feel free to add your dangerous assumptions below.

 

 

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Are You Leading with a Command or Wish Verb?

Words do matter for leaders.  Depending upon the verbs you choose as a leader, you may be leading with a command when you want a wish or with a wish when you desire a command.

leading-with-commandThe words you choose reflects your emotional intelligence.  Leadership research continues to reveal that those leaders with high emotional intelligence secure greater and more sustainable results.

The “C” Verbs

Two popular verbs spoken in many leadership conversations are:

  • Can
  • Could

Both of these words have the hard “c” sound.  This harshness only reinforces the suggestion of leading with a command.  Even with a leader softens by his or her speech this hard “c” sound, the end result still is received as a command.

Now sometimes the leader will desire a command and in a rush use one of these two verbs.  If she or he is leading with a command end result in mind, then possibly the use of either word is acceptable. Yet from my experience, by softening the request with more emotional intelligence greater results are possible.

The “W” Verbs

These two “W” verbs are often used or rather misused with the “C” verbs.

  • Will
  • Would

When leaders use “will” instead of “can” beyond the standard grammar knowledge of “of course I can, but will I?”, they are asking for the person to consider the request. The actual sound of the “w” is softer sounding especially in the word “will.”

leading-with-commad

Some leaders may view this “asking” as a sign of weakness.  Others who are leading with a command know it is a better way to lead.  These forward thinking leaders have not abdicated their leadership responsibilities. Rather than have empathized with those with whom they are leading or attempting to lead. Empathy is a sign of emotional intelligence.

Yes for those in leadership roles (meaning everyone) the words we speak and think do matter.  Leading with a command (think authority) is the end result. However I heard numerous times from my Swedish grandmother:

Det finns mer än ett sätt att huden en katt.

Translation: There is more than one way to skin a cat

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith, M.S.,  is an executive coach and business growth consultant with “the heuristic touch” for executive leaders and sales professionals in mid-size to small businesses that are seeking a high performance culture from increase sales to workforce engagement.  Her task is to support forward thinking leaders in bridging the gap between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals. She can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Are You Facing This Sales Barrier of ‘Everyone Is a Coach’?

A colleague emailed a business card of another coach who joined a local Chamber of Commerce. His email RE line read: Everyone is a coach.  This statement has become a sales barrier for many good executive coaches who go beyond the platitudes offered by some coaches.

With executive coaching continuing to grow and be marketed as the “quick fix” to gain instant wealth, this sales barrier will continue to expand because not everyone is a coach, or at least an effective, results driven coach.

For executive coaches and business coaches who have a proven track record of delivering results, many must overcome this implied sales barrier or sales objection. In the past month I have encountered several new coaches from a multi-level marketing leadership coaching program to a well-known author who has developed his leadership coaching program.  Then there is a national survey firm that is now offering leadership coaching program based on its assessment. By the way this assessment’s validity is less than reliable and yet because of the firm’s market presence people are buying into it.

The Attribute Index Is One of the Most Accurate Assessments for Leadership Development

Additionally from a personal level, approximately 25% of my executive coaching, business coaching or sales coaching clients have had a negative experienced with a coach. They reached out to me because of these three tips I am sharing with you.

So the question becomes how do you as an executive coach, business coach or consultant overcome this flood of “everyone is a coach?”

sales-barrier

Tip #1 – Credibility through Crystal Clarity

Establish, build and reinforce your credibility.  Through effective marketing you can establish, build and continually reinforce your credibility. This focus helps to overcome this sales barrier or sales objection.

If you are a coach, then focus on coaching.  Many coaches lack crystal clarity and attempt to be everything to everybody. In reviewing several LinkedIn profiles of executive coaches and business coaches, I read in the headline variations of “coach, mentor, speaker, author or trainer.”  What these individuals were doing was focusing on keywords and thereby they unintentionally placed themselves in the Red Ocean” as described in the book, Blue Ocean Strategy.

Tip #2 – Stop with the Sales Pitch in Your Marketing Messages

sales-barrier

Peter Drucker said and I am paraphrasing “When marketing is done well, selling if effortless.” Others have said “Marketing is not selling; but selling is marketing.”  When small business owners understand the sales process and then integrate those specific steps into their overall business operations, amazing results are possible including business growth and increase sales.

Additionally, ideal customers to centers of influence can easily smell the “desperation of sales stench.” The sales pitch body language is partly responsible for this foul odor.

And let us not forget those having the “hooves and mouth” disease only further contribute to this sales barrier or sales objection. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Hooves and mouth disease is you are so busy talking with your hands, shoving business cards to brochures and talking with your mouth, you have forgotten you have 2 ears.

Tip #3 – Let Go of Fearing Your Competition

sales-barrier

Credit: Gratisography

Rick Gosser of Gosser Corporate Sales said it best “I have no competitors.”  Sure he understood there are others within the embroidery apparel industry. However, he believes no one does exactly what he does and delivers the quality that he provides.

When we fear the competition, we probably have failed to embrace tips #1 and #2.  Over the years I have established significant professional and personal relationships with executive coaches, businesses coaches and sales coaches.  In some instances, I have made referral to these professionals because my practice does not center of mergers and acquisitions (M&A)  or selling  small businesses  My crystal clarity is to ensure sustainable business growth after the merge and acquisition for forward thinking leaders.

President Roosevelt said “The greatest fear is fear itself.”  Fear is indeed “False evidence appearing real.”  When we no longer fear the competition, we are less likely to criticize them.

If you are facing sales barriers or sales objections because everyone is a coach, then consider these 3 tips.  By differentiating yourself you can be the Red Jacket in that sea of gray suit coaches.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith, M.S.,  is an executive coach and business growth consultant with “the heuristic touch” for executive leaders and sales professionals in mid-size to small businesses that are seeking a high performance culture from increase sales to workforce engagement.  Her task is to support forward thinking leaders in bridging the gap between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals. She can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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