What Wasted Time Actually Reveals

Smart devices keep us connected and reveal a lot of wasted time according to Adobe. Would you believe checking email (both work and personal) is consuming 6.3 hours per day?  As an entrepreneur and small business owner for the last 18 years, I can say my time is probably around 60 to 90 minutes per day.

wasted-time

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This email marketing and time management research also suggested that 30% of those surveyed check their email in the morning while still in bed. Some may believe this is due to the fear of missing out, my sense it may be revealing something far more serious.

When we are so preoccupied with checking email or being on the smart phone all the time, we just may not have any clarity as to what needs to be done next. We are mired in the endless activity that really does not move us forward. Yet we feel emotionally satisfied that we are doing something constructive.

This endless checking of email shows we have not properly scheduled our time.  However by checking email we do not think of it as wasted time and it justifies not doing what really needs to be done.

Checking email becomes our excuse not to work.

Email marketing agencies are probably in a dither over this time management research. With email not going away, this opens more opportunities.  For mid-size to small businesses, this spells productivity to economic disaster especially if the business factors in texting which does not appear to be part of this research study by Adobe.

Email has become part of our lives especially for mid-size to small business owners and entrepreneurs.  For me, I check email first thing in the morning at my desk (10 minutes) and several times through out the day for another five minutes each.  I have folders on my desktop and quickly file 90% of all email immediately.  Since my clients and sales leads have or can easily find my phone number, if something is really important they can call me.

If I am working on a project, I close my email.  I then open it at scheduled breaks to ensure my focus is where it needs to be.

Now some may suggest checking email is part of their multi-tasking as when watching TV or worse yet driving.  The human brain is not designed to multi-task and to engage in multi-tasking behaviors reduces overall effectiveness of all engaged activities.

Time was gone is never recovered.

Time is an investment.

Each of use have to decide how to invest our time wisely to avoid wasted time. How we do that is a personal decision and one that requires personal responsibility and accountability.

My question is if you are addicted to checking your email, then why so?  Is it because of the fear of not being connected or the fear of not wanting to do what you must do?

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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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Is Sales Professionalism in Danger?

The National Association of Realtors recently commissioned a report about the negative game changing dangers within the real estate industry. This 164 page report (D.A.N.G.E.R. Report) provides good insight into sales professionalism not only for  real estate sales professionals, but as well as by non-real estate ales professionals.

sales-professionalism

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Within the first section devoted to real estate agents, there are 10 dangers listed. Of those listed, at least two are directly connected to sales professionalism.

Incompetency

Not being informed to being unethical to having only a marginal understanding of the sales process is prevalent within midsize to small business sales people. This past week in working with a client one of the client’s salespersons quit because this individual could not handle moving toward a high performance culture of accountability. During sales meetings she could not explain how she was going to prospect some new sales opportunities.

This salesperson was given support from sales coaching to direct line to the owners, but made the conscious decision to seek other opportunities.  Where she revealed her continued incompetence as well as lack of business ethics was she told her boss that her company provided for car was available at her house that was 60 miles away. My client had to make arrangements to pick up the car.

For the last couple of months my husband and I have been in the process of selling our home by ourselves. We have interviewed 10 real estate agents and the incompetency was prevalent in eight of the 10. From misstatements to outright lies, I was continually checking with other resources to discover the “actual truth.” As a side note, not one of these real estate agents were aware or had read this report about their industry or sales professionalism.

The Decline of Relevancy

There are many articles about the “death of salespeople” meaning sales people are becoming irrelevant. Personally I do not believe this to be true. What I do believe is incompetent, ego centered, lazy salespeople are becoming a dying breed and their extinction will probably happen within the next 20 years.

The residential real estate has experienced the impact of technology through Internet sites such as Zillow. Today’s home buyers are better educated than even 5 years ago. This better educated buyer is happening within all industries whether it is B2B or B2C.

Technology has raised the bar for sales professionalism.  No longer can sales professionals be content with the status quo. They must continually seek new opportunities by changing their perspective, their attitudes.

Those sales professionals who demonstrate high business ethics, solid knowledge and a willingness to do what is right for the customer will continue to be successful. For them the herd of their competitors has been culled which will allow them even greater success.

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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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Reviewing Sales Activity From an Unique Perspective

Sales activity for many salespeople and their managers comes back to sales results specific to “How many dollars did you bill this past month?” This is a quick monthly analysis of the sales success for the salesperson or the overall sales team and potentially reflects the effectiveness of the sales manager. I call this “Sales at Sea Level.”

sales-activity

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What would happen if we changed our perspective and looked at sales from an unique perspective such as “Sales at See Level?”

“Sales at See Level” is really analyzing monthly sales from the perspective of last year’s sale which is the 30,000 viewpoint.  From this perspective, there are 6 areas that can be viewed.

#1 – New Accounts

Discovering new accounts is good especially for those mid size to small businesses who wish to grow their customer base and expand into new markets. New accounts also reflect the sales activity of the salesperson.

  • Is the salesperson harvesting from existing accounts?
  • Is the salesperson hunting new accounts?

With everything being equal, new accounts work with sales growth goals and projections.  This area is a great one for quickly measuring the effectiveness of any new marketing initiatives.

#2 – Exceeded Last Year’s Sales Area

When customers exceed last year’s total sales this suggests several things. One there is now a new project, expansion or change happening within the business. Another is your marketing has been effective and you have gained top of mind awareness.  New opportunities are now present to further increase sales.

Imagine for a moment you as a customer receive a thank you card from your vendor who acknowledges your business.  In this thank you note is a gift gas card or some other small appreciation of your customer loyalty.  Would you be inclined to continue to send business to this salesperson?

#3 – Reached 50% of Last Year’s Sales Area

Depending upon the month of the current year, this is also a great metric to capture. This sales activity statistic allows you to better forecast total sales for this particular customer. You as a salesperson can also better schedule your time.  If this metric shows up early in the sales year, then it may provide some insight as to what is happening with the customer especially if you had originally forecasted less sales activity.

#4 – Reached 25% of Last Year’s Sales Area

Again, if the goal is to increase sales, then learning where the sales activity by the customer is crucial.  This benchmark helps the salesperson and the sales manager better schedule their time and see any trends that may be happening within a particular industry or sales account.

# 5 – Reached less than 25%of Last Year’s Sales Area

If the customer’s  sales activity is to buy monthly or even quarterly, by capturing this data can show when a customer may be meeting or exceeding the previous year’s sales.  Depending upon the time of year, this area may be one to watch more closely as it is a good indicator of trouble with the account.

#6 – No Activity from Last Year’s Sales Area

Inactivity by customers especially if there are marketing campaigns happening is another good indicator of potential problems. Yes, some accounts are seasonal. However, many small businesses fail to discover why customers are no longer buying their services. This is why outreach from customer service to the individual salesperson is critical. Keeping customers are far less costly than finding new ones.

For many mid-size to small businesses especially those with a large customer base, sales activity perspective can become myopic. “Sales are up from last year and that is all we care about.” This perspective creates many missed sales opportunities.

By investing the time of the sales manager and the salesperson to review each account provides new sales opportunities as noted above as well as to potential insight as to oncoming market trends. Finally, this unique perspective of “Sales at See Level” works to build customer loyalty.

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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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Sales Conversations, Socrates and Authenticity

Top sales performers truly understand the value of establishing authenticity within their sales conversations.  They know that people, their intended ideal customers (qualified sales leads) buy from people they know and trust. Without that acceptance of their authenticity, the sale is dead in the water.

sales-conversationsYears ago a Greek philosopher, Socrates, established three filters to ensure authenticity within any type of conversation.  These three filters apply today just as they did over two thousands years ago. And what is even more impressive, Socrates’ approach to authentic conversations was also emotionally intelligent.

#1 Filter for Authentic Sales Conversations – Is what you say kind? 

Kindness demonstrates a person who cares.  President Theodore Roosevelt said it best:

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Sales conversations that demonstrate kindness also reflect a constrained ego.  The conversation is not about you or your stuff that you sell, but about the other person.

#2 Filter for Authentic Sales Conversations – Is what you say truthful?

How many times have we encountered salespeople who boost about everything they have done? Our eyebrows might raise because from our experiences we sense something is not right.

Being truthful sometimes is difficult especially if you as the salesperson may not know the answer. No one likes someone, you know, who is full of B.S.  Our B.S. antennas are quite sensitive to exaggeration.  The truth detectors by our ideal customers or centers of influence are probably just as accurate if not more so.

#3 Filter for Authentic Sales Conversations – Is what you say necessary?

One of the ongoing problems with sales professionals is they talk way too much.  They fail to understand active listening with concise questions can reveal far more than an endless stream of chatter.

Additionally, sales people sometimes provide too much information at the wrong time.  They over answer the questions of the sales leads. This reaction may be because they failed to determine exactly what they wanted before they enter the sales meeting.

The inherent value of Socrates’ Three Filters when it comes to sales conversations is these criteria establish a foundation from which to build a dialogue or relationship through the spoken word.  This dialogue is also emotionally intelligent because you are recognizing the emotions of the other person as well as your self (kindness); understanding those emotions (truthfulness) and managing both (necessary). Possibly Socrates was not only a great philosopher, he was probably the first person to put emotional intelligence into practice as a leader.

Authentic sales conversations begin the best relationship you have with your sales leads. Your goal is to not blow it by being like all those other fast talking, non-listening and superficial salespeople.

Remember this sales golden rule:

Silence is not only golden, but green.

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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 Sales Fact Finding Problem of Symptom Solving

How many times in the sales fact finding do salespeople look to solve symptoms instead of the real problems?  Probably more often than many will admit.

sales-fact-findingFor example, small business owners come to me and other sales coaches because they have a sales problem.  Unfortunately, the inability to increase sales is a shadow or a symptom of another problem usually people (executive leadership) or poor process such as customer service.

Now in some instances, the weak sales maybe because of a lack of sales skills.  Usually, for small businesses with under 20 employees (97.7% of all U.S. businesses), the real problems are:

  • Ineffective executive leadership
  • No strategic plan
  • Poor communication to all employees
  • No alignment between sales goals and strategy and operations including better sales fact finding skills
  • Isolated marketing to no marketing especially through social media such as LinkedIn

When small business owners to those in sales management look to blame salespeople, this may become a foolhardy path.  Yes, there maybe some poor sales skills require some sales training or sales coaching. However until all actions are aligned as noted by the authors of Fail-Safe Leadership, the desired results will be inconsistent to unsustainable.

The flip side to this sales fact finding problem is the willingness of the salesperson to say “your poor sales is a symptom of …”  Telling the decision maker that he or she or the overall operations of the small business is the real problem is difficult.  Additionally it may require turning down a viable sales lead because your solutions as the salesperson do not align or will not correct the poor sales problem.

Many salespeople can solve symptoms. Top sales performers are true leaders who know how to separate the symptoms from the real problems through effective sales fact finding research and interactions (asking exceptional questions) with the sales lead.

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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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Living to Eat or Eating to Live?

Have you ever heard this question?

living-to-eatAre you living to eat or eating to live? 

This question is not just about food, but is truly about how we approach life.

Living to eat is when we focus all of our energies on consuming food.  Food becomes the driver, the motivator for our behaviors.  Possibly this explains why there is so much obesity in today’s many cultures. We are always thinking about the next meal.

Our early ancestors probably lived to eat.  Food was difficult to obtain.  Fortunately, this is no longer the case for many within today’s cultures.

Eating to live means we focus our energies only on what we need to live.  In other words, we are more concerned about living than eating.  Our motivation has changed.

As I ponder this question I thought about learning.  Life long learning is about living to learn.  This is not a bad behavior, but not the best one.

Today, we must be more about learning to live.  This behavior is truly self-directed learning where we learn what we need to learn to live in today’s fast paced and ever changing world.

Marcel Proust wrote “the true voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.”  Eating to live is a new set of eyes.  Living to eat is the old set of eyes.

Now being older, my food consumption has dramatically declined. My body does not require the nourishment that it did when I was younger and still growing.  No longer do I find myself living to eat, but more often than not eating to live.

We have the ability to choose what path of life we wish to walk.  We can be consumed by food, by other things such as money, stuff, power, etc.  Or, we can be far more in control of our lives and realize where there is real value in what we do. As we have free will, the choice is always ours and ours alone.

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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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Sales Barrier – Lying in LinkedIn Email Marketing

LinkedIn is a prospecting goldmine for business to business professionals. Yet some of those B2B professionals are 100% clueless about how to use it especially when it comes to email marketing.

email-marketing

Credit: www.gratisography.com

Whenever I accept a LinkedIn invitation I always send a LinkedIn email that:

  • Acknowledges when we meet and asks to schedule a one on one phone call or meeting
  • Asks what prompted the LinkedIn outreach

This process has revealed the clueless as well as questionable ethical behavior including lying of some on LinkedIn who act like they are experts on marketing, executive coaching, sales, fill in the blank.

With some within the LinkedIn community have premium (paid) membership, this entitles them to email beyond the limited number of emails offered within the free membership. By connecting through a first degree connection, these individuals have access to the second degree connections and can subsequently email them in mass. Having received some of those LinkedIn email marketing messages, I can personally attest there is significant lying happening.

Marketing is all about attracting attention and building relationship. The goal is to attract positive attention and build positive relationships.  Misuse of LinkedIn email marketing can achieve just the opposite end result and create new sales barriers.

Finding new sales leads through prospecting is essential to the sales success of any salesperson.  Yet, demonstrating unethical behavior be it in email marketing or sales conversations is a sales barrier and will come back to eventually bite any salesperson by leaving a foul taste within the sales prospect.

Through these unethical sales behaviors some believe LinkedIn will lose its effectiveness.  That will happen if ethical LinkedIn members do not call out those who lie with the purpose to deceive other LinkedIn members.

We as professional salespeople have the responsibility of stopping lying in LinkedIn email marketing.  If we fail to take action, this incredible platform will be left to the scavengers, those seeking the quick fix and we will be having to work even harder to find new sales leads.

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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 Your Sales Conversations Creating Emotional Distrust?

Just by listening to the sales conversations of others and gauging your own emotional reaction, most salespeople can learn a lot.

sales-conversationsWhen engaging in any sales training, one of the words I caution salespeople not to use is “Why.”  The use of why before a solid relationship is established may be viewed as too personal and may create emotional distrust.

As we are in the process of selling our home, I have been actively listening to the sales conversations of the real estate agents as well as reading their marketing materials.  This has been an incredibly enlightening experience.

Now some may think marketing materials are outside of the sales conversation.  This is a false belief because the marketing messages may set the sales lead down the path of emotional distrust before any sales conversation happen.

Marketing is the first phase of the sales process.  Sales leads just don’t jump into the selling phase without having already been attracted to the marketing message. Unfortunately, far to many in sales ignore the importance of their marketing message when it comes to attracting and how trust is woven into that attraction.

Returning to my encounters with real estate agents, I also noticed this other sales conversation commonality of talking about all the money they will be spending in marketing the home.  All mid-size to small businesses market their solutions.

The real estate agents had confusion about marketing and selling. This confusion is quite common. However if they do not understand the sales process, this may potentially build emotional distrust.

Additionally with the sales conversations, salespeople should have their facts straight.  I let all the real estate agents know I was seeking a “salesperson who sold real estate not a real estate agent.”  In listening to their sales presentations and comments as they walked through our home, I started finding big discrepancies within their sharing of “facts.”

For example, one realtor said electronic storage was mandated under federal law after the collapse of the mortgage industry. She and another realtor included a electronic storage fee in their presentations.

I called the title company I knew and discovered this is not mandated at the federal level.  What is mandated by the Indiana Real Estate Commission is storage for 5 years.  How realtors store their documents is up to them. Now I have emotional distrust of these two realtors because they either intentionally lied to me or they did not know something they should have known.

As a small business owner I am mandated to store records (tax records) and I have had clients mandate me to store their records for 5 years as part of the purchase agreement.  I have never passed this cost of doing business to my executive coaching or corporate leadership development clients.

Trust is an essential emotional element between the sale lead (prospect) and the salesperson because people buy:

  • From people they know and trust
  • On emotional first; justified by logic

And let us not forget trust is also a two-way street.  The salesperson could also feel distrust such as being just “shopped for price.”

Trust begins in our sales conversations.  Since everyone is in sales, then we all must be aware of the words we speak and write to ensure we are building emotional trust.

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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 One Word Top Sales Performers Rarely if Ever Use

Many salespeople continue to speak and think this one word.  When coaching  top sales performers, there one word that is rarely heard compared to average or under performing salespeople.

top-sales-performers

That word, that also personally gives me the feeling of nails on a blackboard, is:

TRY!

The great philosopher Yoda said “Do or do not, there is no try.”

Do you try to pick up a pencil?

Do you try to speak?

Do you try to run when you are in a race?

The word try is an excuse word for failure.  It provides the opportunity to run out the back door because you as the salesperson were afraid of going through the front door.

Yesterday when working with a sales team, one of the team members who is dramatically under performing made these statements:

I tried to make calls. 

  • Really?
  • Tell me what you actually did?
  • What was your process?

I tried to follow-up.

  • Really?
  • What is your process for follow-up?
  • Are you using a calendar with a checklist or a some other software program?

I tried to find new prospects. 

  • Really?
  • Who did you call?
  • Why did you call them?

The absence of this word by  top sales performers does not suggest they have stopped all their sales activities. Rather by replacing this word with other phrases, the behaviors by top sales performers  becomes more intentional and there is far greater clarity.

My goal is to make 10 calls each day.

Does this not sound better than “I will try to make 10 calls each day?

The word try is usually used with the verb will which is the simple future tense.

We have very little control of the future.

We do have far more control of the present.

By stating our actions in the present, gives us control and more importantly personal accountability for positive outcomes.

Top sales performers have a higher degree of personal accountability than average to under performing salespeople.

By focusing on new sales prospecting strategies and new tactics within their sales conversations, top sales performers are always thinking and not expecting others to think for them or to provide easy, quick fix solutions.

Since top sales performers have the internal temperament of  driven to achieve, the word try is rarely heard.

Learn if you have the this one internal temperament of driven to achieve.

Yes, the word try is not one used by top sales performers from my experience.  If you are a salesperson who wants to increase sales, then remove this word from your mind.  Track your results and you may be pleasantly surprised.

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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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Is LinkedIn The New Prospecting Den of Deceit?

Most B2B professional recognize the value of LinkedIn for prospecting new sales leads. For many this has been the increase sales gift that keeps on giving. Yet there does appear to be some darkness now materializing.

Linked-In

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This week during a mastermind session, one of our members shared this prospecting approach using LinkedIn.

The LinkedIn member reviews the second degree connections of his or her first degree connections. He or she identifies one likely ideal potential customer who is not a first degree connection. Then he or she calls the first degree connection who is a first degree connection to that ideal potential customer and makes the following statement:

“I have been referred to (name of the second degree connection).

Is he (or she) a good person?”

This conversation according to the person sharing this LinkedIn prospecting approach leads in many instances estimated to be 3 out of 4 to a back door sales referral. The challenge with this approach is the first degree connection was never referred to the second degree connection.

All of my mastermind group members believed using this type of prospecting approach was unethical and deceitful. The conversation then went on to the other types of deceit such as Spammers who look to connect to as many LinkedIn contacts as possible to:

  • Directly make their sales pitches
  • Gather email addresses or other contact information
  • Less than honorable individuals

Unfortunately some business professionals will always seek the quick fix or just skirt the ethical boundaries. What was sad to note in this example is the person who shared this LinkedIn prospecting approach was a financial advisor.  This led everyone in the group to comment about her business ethics when it came to handling financial investment accounts.

Marketing as selling requires alignment to the core business ethics of any organization.  Each of us as B2B professionals have a personal responsibility to be ethical in all of our actions including prospecting.

Personally, I do not know if I could look myself in the mirror knowing that I had engaged in deceitful behavior just to gain a sales lead or increase sales.  Also I believe in Karma and you reap what you sow.  Sow deceit and eventually you will be reaping deceit.

The questions for you are:

  • How do you feel about this prospecting approach using LinkedIn?
  • Have you experienced any other deceitful prospecting approaches using LinkedIn?

If you share, please do not use any formal names of individuals or businesses.

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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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