Years ago I read that Peter Drucker was the author of SMART goal setting criteria. I had also read that Zig Ziglar was also the author. Regardless of whom established these criteria, they have been around for well over 30 years.
Maybe it is time to move beyond and re-frame SMART goal setting to WAY SMART goal setting:
- W = Written as something almost magical happens when we write down our goals. If you disagree, just think what happens when you leave your written grocery list at home.
- A = Actionable for without action the goal is still a wish or a dream
- Y= Yours because if the goals is not yours, there is no intrinsic motivation to achieve it.
- S = Specific, extremely specific
- M = Measurable, if you cannot measure it,you cannot manage it
- A = Aligned to one’s purpose, passion and plans
- R = Realistic in its attainment. It would be hard to build s skyscraper with just a shovel
- T = Target date for without an end date, the goal remains a dream
Why Re-Framing Is Necessary
Possibly SMART goals worked in a culture where people had to write down everything because there were no SMART devices. Today, we can employ SMART devices just like we used to do with pen and paper. The only thing we must do is to take action by writing the goal down.
Thinking and doing are horses of entirely two different colors. This is why Actionable is now essential. Today knowledge is no longer power, but applied knowledge is where true power resides.
When goals are set by someone else, unless we as individuals want to achieve that goal, the likelihood of successful achievement has been reduced. Goal ownership is also essential and this may be also due to cultural shift where people do not listen and fear their elders like they did in previous generations.
Far too often when goals are not aligned to one’s purpose, one’s passion and one’s plans, the individual becomes off balanced and disillusioned. Just like the fine gears of a hand crafted watch, goals must work together in alignment to ensure SMART goal setting success.
If you are unhappy with today’s results and want to achieve tomorrow’s goals, then maybe you should move beyond SMART goal setting into WAY SMART goal setting. The Results Tool (a goal setting worksheet) is part of this goal setting workbook that includes a proven goal setting process based upon WAY SMART goal criteria.Share on Facebook
Are you one of those business executives desperately seeking a new business strategy because this year’s results were pardon the expression “all wet?”
Are you reaching for some quick fix instead of truly assessing the real problems and not the usual symptoms?
Have you ever considered your business strategy might be OK to even good? Maybe the problem is something else?
Do you feel right now that I am pointing my finger at you? Are you feeling a little uncomfortable?
Well, you should because before you hire that next business strategist, small business coach, executive coach or high price consulting firm possibly you may wish consider the following reasons why today’s results will not get you to tomorrow’s goals.
Some business executives believe they know how to assess their business operations and immediately jump into their profit and loss statements. This is one way, but not the only way and such an organizational assessment will miss many other limitations and opportunities.
Imagine for a moment going to the doctor with a headache and your doctor immediately schedules you for brain surgery without ordering any diagnostics or assessments. Would you have confidence in his or her recommendation?
Additionally, if your current business strategies are not working and new ones are sought year after year because today’s results are not realizing tomorrow’s goals, then investing the time to assess the organization is the first step. This organizational assessment can be informal to formal. However, employing a more formal organizational assessment every 3 to 5 years based upon specific criteria such as Baldrige can uncover critical gaps.
One such assessment I recommend is D.I.AL.O.G which looks at an organization from 5 to 10 employees to hundreds of employees through these seven criteria:
- Strategic Planning
- Customer and Market Focus
- Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management
- Human Resource Focus
- Process Management
- Business Results
As an instructional designer what is so great about this particular assessment is its affordability and speed of delivery. Much larger consulting firms will construct a tailored organizational assessment that will cost your business an arm and a leg. This Internet driven assessment is affordable; provides relatively quick insight and has the capacity to deliver additional insight through the 20 minute one on one conversations with a selected sample of the employee population.
Jay Galbraith developed a simple graphic to illustrate why gaps exist in organizations. Gaps prevent results from happening. His 5 Star Model for organizational development or what I prefer to call organizational excellence is where I begin with all clients. I listen for gaps between:
- Structure (Organizational and physical)
- Process/Systems (Operations)
Of course many do not know if business misalignment actually exists until a formal assessment is undertaken.
Usually because business misalignment exists, this creates another barrier to effective execution of business strategy. Many organizations fail to consistently communicate their strategies in ways for their people to understand.
Much of this failure is because of the lack of trust in employees or the “We can’t tell them that!” attitude. Unless employees have crystal clear clarity regarding the business strategy from their perspective results will continue to limp along.
In today’s world where so much can be discovered via the Internet, keeping secrets from employees or believing them to be mindless robots is illogical and simply ridiculous. No, you do not need to give them the proprietary, financial information, but you can communicate to them with purpose and illustrate why this or that business strategy is critical to the organization’s success.
Ultimately the buck stops here or at the door of leadership. The authors of Fail-Safe Leadership were ahead of their times when they published this short read on organizational excellence.
- Organizations are comprised of people.
- People lead and manage other people.
- People are responsible for misdirected results or poor business results.
Unfortunately, the people at the top because of their failure to assess; misalignment and poor communication tend to blame everyone else. Leadership more often than not is the real enemy for a business strategy not working. And yet leadership continues to blame the customesr, the employees, the competition or the economy.
Captain Wing It and the 4 Letter Dirty Word
Years ago a colleague shared a story about Captain Wing It. To condense that story is there are a lot of business executives who spray their actions (think strategies and tactics) all over the place and then pray something will stick. These folks are the Captain Wing Its.
Also the Captain Wing Its believe the word plan has all the connotation of a four letter dirty word. I can say with 100% complete confidence that at least 80% of all businesses from 100 employees or less do not have a well thought out written, goal driven strategic plan that is actively revisited on a weekly basis. Leadership leads with the ever present excuse of “I or we don’t have time.”
President Dwight Eisenhower said “Plans are worthless,planning is everything.” This is even more true today. Time must be invested to plan for tomorrow’s goals and to ensure today’s results are being achieved.
Your Next Step
If your business strategy is not working, then before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, consider re-reading this blog. Personally I do not like pointing fingers at people especially my readers, but enough is enough!
Now is the time to take intentional and purposeful action that will stop this yearly insanity of seeking that next quick fix business strategy to cure what ails today’s business results.
My final questions to you are these:
How many opportunities have you lost?
How much have you already invested in solutions that are not sustainable?
Can you afford another year of bad business results?
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One observable leadership trait is forward thinking leaders take the time to listen. Listening is both an art and a skill that can be developed over time. Yet some in leadership roles fail to recognize how powerful this simple skill truly is.
Maybe because I am what is called a low key salesperson listening for me is quite easy. As I shared in my book, Be the Red Jacket in a sea of Gray Suits clear active listening has these 5 elements:
Clarity is the process of separation. By listening to separate the wants from the needs, the intangibles from the tangible, the knowns from the unknowns provides leaders with a key competitive advantage.
Legitimize is all about listening for the real problems. Many go for the obvious problems that are really symptoms in disguise and the real problem is never identified or worse yet corrected.
Emotions are internal to human beings. We are emotional creatures. This is where the non-verbal, the para-verbal (syntax, speed, etc) and the actual verbal words become extremely important.
Agreement is when the listener identifies and evaluates those areas where both the sender and the receiver agree. Additionally the word agreement implies a subconscious contract. Agreement provides a springboard for further development of the relationship especially in its earlier stages.
Retention is hearing what was actually said. This suggests the leaders have placed their agendas to the side. In many instances what has been said may have been ignored by others because they were too busy thinking of their next response or already thought they “knew the score.”
Yes listening, clear active listening takes an investment of time. Possibly more than one meeting may be required. Using the excuse “I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy” are just that excuses.
To truly hear what is being said is indeed crucial especially in today’s technology driven marketplace where some believe words on a computer screen reveal the entire meaning of the conversation. So if you wish to improve your leadership skills as well as your business results, then stop and take the time to listen.Share on Facebook
“You won’t believe this, I couldn’t wait to tell you,” excitedly exclaimed my executive coaching client in a recent phone call. She did not even allow me the opportunity to ask how she was before she started sharing how a few minutes provided a dramatic opportunity to increase sales.
She continued “We just had a meeting with an ideal customer who has the potential to become our largest client. He met with my boss and myself. In that meeting he told my boss, the only reason I am meeting with you is because your salesperson sent me a handwritten note. When I received that note, I immediately showed it to my sales manager and told him this is how business is done, with personalized gratitude.”
Even though my executive coaching client knew about writing thank you notes as part of the process to increase sales, she had stopped that behavior. During our executive coaching sessions when she shared she had met with a new and qualified sales lead, I always asked “Did you send a thank you note?” After several months, she then began many of our conversations with “I had six meetings last week and sent every one a personalized, handwritten, thank you note.”
Now I know there are some services that offer cards with handwriting that looks like the senders’. These are nice. Yet my sense is a personalized, handwritten note with just a few lines can be far more effective to increase sales and costs a whole lot less.
What salespeople sometimes forget is people buy from people they know and trust. Personalized, handwritten notes achieve both of those objectives and provide a much needed springboard to increase sales.
I remember writing thank you notes back in grade school usually after my birthday or Christmas. My mother sat me down at the kitchen table and I had to print, then later in cursive write a thank you to everyone who sent me a gift. Writing thank you notes is an ingrained habit. Not to write one for me is just rude.
What I encourage my executive coaching clients to do is to go to the local dollar store and purchase packages containing anywhere from 6 to 10 cards. These are overruns from the much larger stores and where they sell for $3 to $7. Over the weekend when I was out running errands, I purchased several packages totaling $3.21 tax included as I had to write 3 thank yous for meetings I had the previous week.
My advice is if you want to increase sales opportunities, remember the personal touch is always best. If you have a few minutes to write an email to say thank you, you have the same amount of time to write a personal, handwritten thank you note.
Learn some other tips in how to Be the Red Jacket in the sea of gray suits if you truly want to stand out and differentiate yourself from all those other small businesses.Share on Facebook
Being your own person is a good sales leadership trait. These words best probably best describe an individual with this internal temperament of expressive. These individuals have:
The neutral self esteem provides a “solid and fairly accurate” sense of self worth. This neutrality allows those with this temperament to “neither under nor over value” their own abilities. Additionally, they “set appropriate limitations” for themselves. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)
Having the negative role awareness and positive self direction, those with this sales leadership temperament of expressive “are also very driven to follow” their “own sense of direction.” They believe “things are to be done a certain way.” Additionally, they will “endeavor to ensure that they are done so” because this, to them, is a “key to success.” (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)
Finally, these individuals can be “tenacious when it comes to adhering to their own rules.” They are for the most part “punctual, conscientious and well organized.” (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)
Having personally delivered hundreds of Attribute Index talent assessments, I have yet to have assessed someone in a sales leadership role with this internal temperament. The one temperament held by all top sales performers is compulsive.
If you wish to know if you have the top internal temperament held by top sales performers and to learn more about the Attribute Index, click here.Share on Facebook
The professional business person stated unequivocally “I believe in old school marketing.” He then shared how in his corporate world, people met face to face and he firmly believed in flying in airplanes to make those connections happen. His opinion of social media platforms was not high and he did not even have a LinkedIn profile.
As I listened to his old school marketing beliefs I realized he truly did not understand marketing and wondered how much more successful his former business could have been. Here was a business professional who was not only reducing his own possibilities for professional growth, but more importantly business growth for the new organization in which he was working.
This gentleman is not the first individual I have come across who believed in traditional face to face old school marketing. There are many in today’s marketplace that hold similar beliefs. What these individuals fail to realize is that social media even though a different channel is old school marketing with just a different twist.
What Is Marketing?
Marketing is all about attracting attention and building relationships. This is the first phrase of the 3 Phase Sales Process. The goal is to make a friend and to be asked back for that first meeting. Isn’t that what social media does?
For example on LinkedIn, you can integrate traditional marketing such as direct mail by sending LinkedIn emails. Through the LinkedIn Pulse platform, you can upload articles that are very much like newspaper stories embedded with your own advertising (think links or calls to action).
The Key to Unlock the Relationship Door
Social media is first a key to unlock the relationship doors. One key can unlock many doors and that is the power of social media. Let me explain through this short sharing.
Last week I was awarded Small Business Journalist of the Year by the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center. I can say with 100% certainty that award happened because of social media. What I learned from several people was the judging committee was very surprised to see the extent of my journalistic efforts. Beyond the weekly online business column for the Chicago Tribune/Post Tribune, I have contributed and continue to contribute to these publications:
- nBiz Magazinel, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, Texas (a regional business journal)
- Worldwide Coaching Magazine, the Netherlands, available on iTunes
- The eMile People Development Magazine, UK
Then there are many others local businesses to national associations that have picked up my articles from directory article sites such as EzineArticles, EvanCarmichael and Sales Gravy. By employing social media as a marketing platform, I then was able to connect with specific individuals and had those essential one on one conversations.
Word of Mouth Is Now Word of Touch
Through Twitter, LinkedIn and the other social media platforms, the proven word of mouth has evolved to word of touch. Fingers are touching keypads and making the outreach.
In a global marketplace, social media crosses regional borders and countries to reach ideal customers across the seas. And when an organization has a unified social media policy in place, there is not just one person typing the keyboards, but tens to hundreds of people. Here is where social media and old school marketing unite and exponentially expand attraction.
The Proof Is In the Results
For me, social media has expanded my business growth as well as professional credibility. Just this past weekend, this blog was honored as one of the best sales blogs in an international competition. What was interesting was that I did not know it until I was notified my blog had made the second cut. I have connected with and made many new business relationships that would not have been possible had I stayed with the old school marketing.
From social media I have earned new sales leads who have read my postings and then made outreach to me. All of this happened without me having to take an airplane read. And yes quite a few of those sales leads turned into executive coaching or talent management clients.
Our Beliefs Are Our Barriers
So many small businesses to much larger organizations worry believe the competition or the economy is the greatest barrier to business growth. Unfortunately, the hard reality is our own beliefs are our biggest barriers. Henry Ford probably said it best:
Whether you think you can, or you think you cannot, either way you are right.
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Funny thing about business and life, so many want to buck the status quo and yet far fewer appear to have the courage. One of my colleagues in a community discussion about the proliferation of self promotion within LinkedIn discussion groups asked this two-fold question:
- Why don’t they (those who are bemoaning all the self promotion) make their opinions known by commenting their displeasure?
- Why aren’t they (those who are bemoaning all the self promotion) commenting on those posts they like?
For question #1, my answer is it takes courage to buck the status quo. By putting oneself out there in social media especially on well traveled sites such as LinkedIn, potentially sets people up as targets.
For question #2, it takes a commitment to the consequences to turn the tide of the status quo. This commitment is a direct reflection of one’s consistency to his or her business ethics.
In business, people remain silent because they do not want to offend any potential customers or clients. Talking about politics, religion or calling people out professionally (and with emotional intelligence) “on the carpet” is “bad for business.” We are told not to judge and not to be judgmental because that is “bad.” And then we as business people scratch our heads when “things go south.”
In another discussion group I was called insane (and not in a nice, humorous way) because I wrote the use profanity suggested a lack of professionalism and a limited vocabulary. The limited vocabulary might also suggest limited critical thinking skills. The English language is deep with words that can be easily substituted for “foul” language especially in a public forum.
What was interesting to observe was all the “likes” I received for my comment. My response to the person who called me insane was “Interesting, you may be right.”
One of my favorite stories is the Emperor’s New Clothes. The Emperor is the status quo and until we as citizens, business professionals and small business owners have the courage to shout out “The emperor is naked!” we will continue to be mired in the same status quo.
The question we must ask ourselves is also two-fold:
Do I have the initial courage to buck the status quo?
Am I willing to suffer the consequences from bucking the status quo?
Yesterday, a dear friend and colleague, Dan Waldschmidt, shared that Internet searches for “business strategy” had increased 17% during the last month. It would appear there are a lot of small business owners to Fortune 1000 executives in a quest to discover a new way of “deceiving their competition.” In case you are curious, the word strategy comes from the Greek and means for a general to deceive his enemies.
Just like people interchangeably use the words wants and needs in sales respect to business growth, the terms strategy and tactics (strategy execution) are also equally exchanged. Unfortunately, these terms are quite different and possibly this is way so many are seeking a better solution to business growth in the forthcoming New Year.
Simply speaking strategy is a thinking process. Tactics or strategy execution is a doing process.
With so many business executives so busy working IN their businesses, they fail to realize working ON their businesses does require time to think. The common excuse of “I don’t have time to think less alone plan” is probably one of the key reasons so many businesses fail within the first few years.
Failed Business Strategy Execution
Back in 2010, a Conference Board survey revealed 60% of all strategies failed successful strategic execution. Today, I am quite sure that percentage has not changed all that much.
The failure began because effective strategy execution requires identifying these five (5) elements (Galbraith’s 5 Star Model):
- Processes/Systems (Operations)*
Strategy, processes and people as noted with the asterisks are the key elements with structure and rewards often ignored and yet can create significant barriers to business strategy.
Crystal Clear Clarity Required
Another reason for failed business strategy is the absence of crystal clear clarity. Imagine an ice cube that you can see through on any six sides. This is called crystal clear clarity.
Your business strategy should resemble an ice cube in that everyone can see your thought process and consequently your plan with crystal clear clarity.
No Unified, Written Strategic Plan
Strategic planning is still a “dirty phrase” for many in business. Excuses of “strategic plans don’t work” to the “I don’t have time” still float in the air. Even if there is a written strategic plan, this plan is in many instances not unified with other departments and fails to recognize all elements as noted in the 5 Star Model.
Keeping the Plan Secret
Beyond the other failed reason for not having an executable business strategy, the existing or new strategy is not communicated to the people. They are given only what is needed and hence cannot see the big picture or how one small miss step can create a cascade effect. If you as the small business owner or top executive do not trust your people, then therein lies a huge barrier to having successful execution.
The Osmosis Factor
Successful execution of all business strategies requires consistent goal setting and goal achievement. Unfortunately, most people do not successfully achieve their own personal goals less alone business ones.
Goal setting and goal achievement though part of the business world is not taught within the K-16 educational process. Instead there is a belief that through osmosis (standing next to those who are successful in consistently setting and achieving their goals) employees will learn how to consistently and successfully plan, set, execute and achieve goals.
Consistent goal setting and successful goal achievement is a step by step process embedded within business strategy. Possibly before embarking on any strategic planning process or hunting for that next best business strategy, maybe it may make sense to adopt a proven goal setting process and then invest the dollars to educate and train all of your employees. This investment is probably one of the best investments any small business to super large company can make.
Time for Honesty
Ask yourself with crystal clear honesty the following questions:
Why are you in this quest for a new business strategy?
You may have the right business strategy but the barriers just mentioned prevent that strategy from being consistently and successfully executed.
Are you seeking the quick fix?
The quick fix mentality is still alive and unfortunately starves everyone and everything including profits.
Are you one of the few and not one of the many?
Staying on top of any strategy less along a unified, written and well communicated strategic plan is time consuming. The few who make such a commitment and stick with it are successful and they leave the many far behind.Share on Facebook
LinkedIn is one of the best channels for discovering leaders especially if your decision makers are in sales leadership roles. Through the various functionalities such as LinkedIn updates, group discussions and the LinkedIn pulse publishing platform small business owners to Fortune 1000 executives can connect and begin to build relationships with their “ideal customers” or “ideal leaders.”
Sales Buying Rule #1 – People buy from people they know and trust.
- Just because we are first, second or third degree connections;
- Just because we share membership in some discussion group;
- Does not mean I know you;
- If I do not truly know you, I will not buy from you no matter how crafty worded your “sales pitch” cold calling email is worded.
Yesterday I received this LinkedIn email from a second degree connection who was attempting to sell to me and I did not know him from Adam as the old expression goes.
I’m contacting you because we are both member’s of (LinkedIn) Group and I have a special invitation that you may want to take advantage of. (This particular group has over 50,000 members.)
In a survey of over 200 coaches, I discovered that the #1 issue that coaches have in their business is attracting new clients. (This is the #1 issue for the majority of small businesses. Nothing new here.)
If this is you…..please read on. (Given the majority of those on LinkedIn are small businesses, most will read on.)
How is it that as coaches we have the greatest bag of tools, but keep finding ourselves either stuck in trying to discover new potential clients or completely frustrated about the process? (Again, rewording the #1 issue for the majority of small businesses. Nothing new here.)
What if I could tell you that your days of prospecting are over and you could have a calendar full of appointments in the next few days? (Putting out the quick fix solution and sophisticated buyers know there is no quick fix.)
My company used to generate sales leads for companies like Accenture, American Express, IBM, GE, Samsung and senior executives from over 80% of the Fortune 500. (In reading his LinkedIn profile he is affiliated with a major coaching and licensing firm because the last company he worked for was a technology firm. He never had his own small business even though it sounds like he did.)
I’ve decided to move away from that model and move over to the ones that are dearest to my heart:
Coaches (Pretty broad word, what type of coaches?”
We only have room for 3 more clients to my highly exclusive coaching lead program this week. This is a pay for performance partnership that is based upon helping you reach your ideal coaching goals. (Presumption this is a program through the coaching and licensing firm he is associated with. I am familiar with this program and it is not cheap.)
If we do not deliver, you do not have to pay. (How did he go from”I” to “We?” So now who is the actual company?)
Based on what I can see from your profile, it looks like you are the type of individual who has found their purpose and really knows they are able to leave this world a better place than they found it.(As a former educator, the word “individual” requires his or her purpose, not their purpose and “they” should be “you.”)
What is particularly revealing about this email is his main pain point is the major pain point for probably 99.9% of all small businesses, attracting attention (getting new sales leads). He has not told me anything new and his number of 200 is rather small.
Also the word coaches, what types of coaches and in what industries? The firms he cites are for the most part technology and those representing the minority of businesses today (those with over 500 employees). My target market is:
- High earning salespeople (six figures)
- Small business owners with under 50 employees and revenue between $5 million to $50 million
- Industries are manufacturing, education, healthcare and banking (financial institutions)
My sense is this LinkedIn member is making a sales pitch for those in sales leadership roles who believe in the quick fix to securing new sales leads. These individuals may also be potentially desperate.
Take this magic pill (my class) and you will be well. Really?
Personally, I wonder how much he paid for this sales letter?
These types of quick fix, sales pitches hit my LinkedIn box on a weekly basis. Some of these LinkedIn emails are better written than others. Yet 100% of these cold calling sales pitches presumed just because we are connected on LinkedIn, their emails will be worth my reading and gives them my blessing to pitch to me.
Remember, if your sales lead does not truly know you especially when your solutions are not inexpensive, they cannot trust you no matter what type of guarantee you offer.
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Have you ever considered taking your sales process into your daily business conversations?
Most businesses have a sales process. This is a methodology to attract qualified ideal customers through the marketing, selling and keeping actions thereby increasing small business growth as well as profitability.
The majority of sales processes start with an introduction to attract attention. When we transfer this first step to a conversation it may start with “Good morning” to “Is this a good time to talk?” There must exist some type of opening remarks however brief those remarks may be.
Then the next step within the sales process is about stating the purpose of the call. If this was an actual sales conversation, the emphasis might be on fact finding. Within a daily business conversation, this step might identify the current problem.
Step three is about overcoming stalls and objections to the purpose (if any) and then securing agreement. Some sort of resolution must take place otherwise why did you initiate the business conversation?
The fourth and final step is closing the loop of the sales communication. This closing also serves another purpose within the sales process of keeping loyal customers. Closing remarks could be “Thank you for your time” to “I’ll check back with you tomorrow.” Additionally, closing comments could be a quick synopsis of the conversation to ensure 100% agreement between both conversing parties.
To recap here are the four steps for efficient and effective sales communication:
- Introduction or opening
- Stating purpose of call
- Securing agreement by overcoming any objections
What makes these four steps so practical is they reaffirm the existing sales process and hence this is nothing new to any salesperson. Additionally, the salesperson has quick mental checklist to ensure the sales communication achieves the desired result as well as discovering why the conversation did not achieve the desired result. Finally, the consistency in applying these four steps works to further build and strengthen the business relationship.
P.S. This is the 7-Step-Sales-Process-ADVSYS I have been using for the last 20 plus years. You may find it beneficial.
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