SMBs Unleash Your Intrinsic Motivation Through Social Selling

Social selling for SMBs continues to be in the business and news.  Sales experts and gurus continually write and speak about this “new way” to sell or to market. However, what many of these same experts fail to discuss is how social selling can unleash intrinsic motivation by working with instead of against the Theory of Self-Determination.



In the past, I have written about this intrinsic motivation theory inherent to all human beings.  This motivational theory comes from the work of Deci and Ryan back in the 1970s.  Their research suggested all people including sales professionals share the same three intrinsic motivators:

  • Mastery
  • Autonomy
  • Purpose/Relatedness to people

When all three motivators drivers are engaged, people are far more motivated than through other motivational incentives.  What I appreciate about this theory is its simplicity. Any salesperson can quickly perform a self assessment to determine what intrinsic motivator is not fully engaged.

Why is social selling so popular?  First, it reaffirms people buy from people.  Purpose is present in all interactions.

Second, this new platform allows salespeople to become better at what they do as well as to learn more about their sales leads, their industries and any potential trigger events.  Mastery is an inherent byproduct of social media provided one invests the time to learn.

Third and most importantly, this challenge provides for salespeople to make choices, to be autonomous.  Those in sales can select what social media channels they wish to use be ii their own blog, guest blogging,  LinkedIn updates, LinkedIn Pulse (one of my favorites), Twitter, Facebook, commenting on other sites, etc.

Now top sales performers can further improve their sales game and from what I am observing they are.  Those who sell for SMBs now have marketing and selling advantages that previously were not available to them. To not take advantage of this marketing and selling channel is foolhardy at best and may become a permanent barrier to a high performance sales culture as well as new SMB growth.

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Clearing the Sales Strategies Clutter

For those familiar with Peter Drucker, they may recognize this term of “abandonment.”  Drucker advocated every three (3) years, executive leadership must abandon everything it was doing by challenging everything it was doing from process to operations including sales strategies.  Today his recommendation just might be every two years or even every one year.



The purpose of abandonment is to simply test all assumptions that either emerged from the strategic planning process or from day to day experiences given how many SMBs are in the role of Captain Wing It*. By challenging current assumptions, executive leadership can answer these essential four questions:

  • Why didn’t this work even though it looked promising 3 to 5 years ago?
  • Is it because we made a mistake?
  • Is it because we did the wrong things?
  • Is it because the right things didn’t work?

Since much of the strategic planning process has to do with marketing and selling, sales strategies are in many instances the first ones to consider abandoning.  For example:

  • Why isn’t our social selling strategies working as well as they did 3 years ago?
  • What mistakes are we making?
  • Did we do the wrong things respective to social selling?
  • Did we do the right things, but they did not work?

When time is invested to clear the deck, the desk and the mind from the accumulation of all that clutter over time, then executive leadership may find those hidden gems that were previously ignored.  These hidden gems might help answer this forward thinking question of “What has happened that will create the future?” instead of the traditional question of “What is most likely to happen?”

*Captain It Wing Its spray their actions all over the place and then pray something will stick. This behavior is called spraying and praying.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Why Off Site Leadership and Sales Training Misses the Mark

At least once or twice monthly,  I receive catalogs from organizations that deliver very expensive two to three day  off site leadership and sales training. These learning engagements are directed to much larger organizations that can afford the $2,000 plus fees for these classes and seminars.


The problem with these off site leadership and sales training events is they fail to leverage the HOW and WHY behind learning engagement. This is also the same why for employee engagement.


The HOW is 100% about application.  If the knowledge gained is never applied, then it is lost as learning research suggests. Think back to taking those college finals (when they did college finals).  You may have studied all night and by the time of the actual final, you probably remembered 50%.  Two plus weeks down the road, your cognitive retention dropped to under 10% and by some research reports to 2%.

People need to practice and apply what they have learned to make it stick in long term memory.  Also this allows for them to experience some time of “disequilibrium” between what they learned and what they already know.

The Why

As to the WHY, this returns to individual motivation.  According to the Theory of Self Determination, all human beings have three (3) internal motivational drivers:

  1. Mastery
  2. Autonomy (choice)
  3. Purpose/Relatedness (people)

If any of these three motivational drivers encounter an obstacle, then the individual is less likely to be motivated.  How many times do salespeople go to sales training and then return back to learn their sales manager wants them to sell like how he or she sold?  This sales management attitude is a barrier for mastery (what you learned is foolish), for autonomy (you now have no choice) and purpose (conflict with sales manager).

The majority of off site learning engagements whether they are leadership training, sales training or some other type of training by their structure do not allow for practice and feedback.  This explains in many instances the low return on investment as well as a disengaged sales culture.

Want sales training that hits the mark?

  CLICK HERE to reserve your time to speak with Leanne


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Please Stop with the Cold Calling Social Selling Emails

I don’t know who is teaching these SMBs to send cold calling social selling emails, but I wish they would stop already.  On any given day I receive as few as two (2) to as many as 10 personalized emails all from complete strangers.



Here are three facts from my perspective about sales in general:

#1 Fact: People buy from people they know and trust.

#2 Fact: Social selling is really social marketing.

#3 Fact: Cold calling works provided you have done your homework and have a compelling marketing message.

Today I received this email and I have removed all names to protect the guilty.

My name is…. I consult with small businesses and assist them with building an online presence. Our main service is designing custom websites that are built to rank well on major search engines and help bring in additional business. Most of our work is with other small – medium sized companies and summer normally starts a busier season for us.
We are looking to bring on some additional projects before our busier season begins. I reached out last month, as I thought this might be a good fit for you. If we are able to offer a discount on our pricing or break up the cost into manageable payments, would this be something you would be interested in?
Either way, send me a quick email or give me a call at (phone number). I can go over your different options and hopefully help get you started with the project. You can also check out some samples of our at (website)
You can also email me “Remove” if you wish to be taken off my list.
I look forward to hearing back from you, (Contact Information Follows)
Beyond being a complete stranger, he now wants me to remove my name from his list via a return email.  What might have been better is “If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will remove your name from this list to respect your privacy and time.”
What is even worse this particular person considers himself an expert in social media.  Really?  Looking at his LinkedIn profile, I have some serious reservations.  All of this information only further reaffirms my decision to turn him down. Here was my response:
(Insert name) I do business with people I know and trust. Offers like yours from complete strangers I receive on a daily basis.
My suggestion is to first establish a relationship before you make a sales pitch to an absolute stranger unless of course your message is so emotionally compelling it would cause the recipient (stranger) to take positive action.
Possibly if more SMBs who receive these cold calling, social selling or rather social marketing emails would take these actions, our inboxes would be less cluttered and we can return to our own sales.
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A We Sales Culture Versus a Me Sales Culture

My sense is many SMBs believe they have a “We” sales culture when in reality they have a “Me” sales culture.  This is because those who are not directly connected to sales meaning they do not get paid to sell believe “me” or “I” have nothing to do with sales or selling.



Years ago when I was in corporate for a SMB, our warehouse manager made my life as inside sales manager very difficult.  Asking him to make special delivery right before closing or even after closing was like pulling hen ‘s teeth.  He would say:

“You want me to do what? Don’t you know we are closing in 5 minutes?  Call the salesperson and have him make the delivery. If the customer wants it so bad, let him pick it up. I can’t afford to send out the truck now, it’s overtime.” 

Yes sometimes I felt like punching him.

The salesperson was in many instances at least 30 to 60 minutes away during light traffic with rush hour traffic that would increase to 2 hours. These customers for the most part were an “A” accounts and spent thousands of dollars weekly with our SMB.

What would happen in many instances was I would make the delivery on my way home. Sometimes this caused me to be late getting home given not all the businesses were on my way home. Yet I realized for this SMB business to be successful we needed a “we sales culture” and not a me one.

SMBs must have everyone recognizing they are in sales even if they don’t get paid.  They are also selling their own internal actions to other employees.  And more importantly, they realize their paychecks come from the external customers.  For without paying customers, this SMB would not be in business.

Within some SMBs, there are turf wars between various departments. Everyone wants to be “King” or “Queen” of their own little fiefdoms. What happens is a disengaged workplace culture.  Executive leadership allows these fiefdoms to exist and attempts to placate these Kings and Queens because good help is hard to find.

If your SMB is not growing at the rate you wish or you are experiencing repetitive problems from lackluster sales to low productivity to high turnover of customers, then maybe now is the time to stop your ship and plot a new course where the map is one of a high sales culture.

Tired of lackluster sales?

CLICK HERE to reserve your time to speak with Leanne

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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The First Rule of Sales, A Truly Philosophical Discussion

In checking my website analytics, I discovered this search term of “first rule of sales” to be the second most frequently term searched for my website.  This gave me pause for concern because how many “first rules” do we find within the plethora of sales books, sales training and sales keynotes?

first-rule-of-salesMy sense from a philosophical viewpoint is if there is any first rule today is “people buy from people.”  Zig Ziglar said “sales is the transference of feelings.”  I believe that to be true. Yet to increase sales especially in today’s B2B, social media and technology driven world requires people interacting and sharing those feelings.

When we fail to realize that people buy from people, we devalue the human connection within the sales process.

Top sales performers truly understand this human connection. This does not mean they fail to recognize they must earn sales. However, they have learned how to balance building the relationship with fact finding, empathy as well as active listening.

If you want to become a top sales performer, to increase sales, to share the value your solutions bring to your ideal customers, then remember to be human.  Leave your ego at the door. Truly care about the person opposite you.  Amazing results will happen.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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The Sales Problem Illusion Marches On

Once again another SMB owner called me and shared his “sales problem” with me. After 15 minutes of actively listening (which is difficult because my experience with SMB owners suggests he does not have a sales problem), he asked: “Can you help me me with this problem?”  I then replied very respectfully “What problem?”  “Why sales of course!” he responded, somewhat miffed.



Then I broke the bad news to him that his problem was not sales.  No his problem was a combination of people and process.  The people problem began with his inconsistent executive leadership that has reaffirmed a sales culture of non-performance along with inconsistency within the overall sales process. Poor sales was a symptom of his real problems.

I then quietly waited for him to hang up on me as some other SMB owners have done in the past. After almost 20 years of supporting SMB and sales professionals, I am used to the caller hanging up on me. For me, this is an indication the sales lead is not forward thinking.

Possibly the justification for hanging up is the sales lead may be thinking “How dare she call out my executive leadership abilities!” After several minutes of silence, he finally said “No one has ever told me that. In fact I just paid for some sales training and it did not work. Maybe you are right, my sales problem is really a symptom of some other unaddressed issues.”

Much is written about sales training not sticking.  Beyond some common logistical issues being ignored along with how people learn, the greatest barrier to sustainable sales training is the sales culture.  This may range from the CEO to the Sales Manager to even the delivery person.

Unless everyone (the sales culture) is rowing in exactly the same direction with exactly the same expectations, experience and emotions along total alignment of all people and processes the ship (SMB) will continue moving, but without any sustainable forward progress.

To solve your lackluster sales with sales training or even with sales coaching is like plugging a dam with one finger even though you have multiple leaks.  And we know how well that works.

If sales growth is not where you want it to be and this has been a repetitive issue, then it is time to rethink your sales problem from a different perspective.  Stop throwing good money after bad on sales training until you have identified the real problem or problems.

Want to increase sales?

  CLICK HERE to reserve your 30 minute, no obligation, call with Leanne

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Sometimes It Makes Sense to Cut Off One’s Nose to Spite One’s Face

Most of us have heard the old adage about “cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face.”  This is statement is used to describe needlessly selfish behavior.

cut-off-one's-nose-to-spite-one's-faceA conversation yesterday had me realize that sometimes this behavior is not necessarily needlessly selfish and makes sense.

For example, I have very strong beliefs about the word leadership.  When local communities create “leadership institutes” or “leadership universities” they are for the most part business to business networking opportunities for local leaders (B2B owners, salespeople) to meet other local leaders.  From my perspective this is not leadership.

In the book Fail-Safe Leadership, I was exposed to Drucker’s definition of leadership “is all about results.”   Since that time, I have amended leadership to be the “ability to secure sustainable results through the demonstration of positive core values.”  

Since I have this very strong belief about leadership, I have avoided joining several local leadership groups because for me it is glorified business to business networking.  By becoming a graduate of these groups, I believe I am violating my own personal and positive core values.  Of course I probably could have earned some business and I accept that loss of business.

Personal Note:  My Values Index has being independent at the top of the scale and this might also help to explain my aversion to these groups.  I truly do not like following the crowd.

However is sacrificing one’s positive core values just to increase sales a valid reason to join these types of leadership groups?  I think not.

Maybe that is part of the problem with business today, the wink and the nod behavior respective to our ethics.  People join groups knowingly not liking the organizer or the purpose, but justify it because they will increase sales.

I do believe in creating authentic relationships and not just schmoozing or becoming another business lemming.  Some have asked me why I haven’t joined these groups? My response is “they do not fit into my strategic plan.”

Yes sometimes it makes sense “to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face” when non-negotiable business ethics or positive core values are in place.

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Sure We Are All Rowing in EXACTLY the Same Growth Direction

With 100% confidence, no doubt whatsoever, can you answer this question:

growth-directionAre all your people rowing in EXACTLY the same growth direction?

From my nearly 40 years of experience, 99% of the SMB owners, executives, sales managers and even single office/home office entrepreneurs cannot answer with a simple Yes. The key word here is EXACTLY.

What exactly means is everyone has 100% clarity as to where they are rowing and everyone is rowing in the same direction toward the same desired end result. For this to happen demands that executive leadership communicate with crystal clarity the desired end result. However from numerous surveys including this one from Harris, we may learn why the answer is no.

57% said their bosses don’t give clear directions

Then add in the majority of SMBs do not have a written strategic, goal driven plan and do not review that strategic plan monthly, no wonder people are not rowing in the same growth direction. This may also help to explain why only one third of employees are actively engaged (Gallup Poll).

If you want your SMB to move toward a sustainable growth direction, then make sure you communicate and communicate often where that growth direction is.  Remove potential obstacles keeping your people from rowing toward that growth direction. Be consistent and forward thinking in your executive leadership. Embrace strategic thinking. Nurture a sales culture.

Want to learn more about building an engaged sales culture? CLICK HERE to schedule a time to talk.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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I Really Want to Change, I Really Do

How often have I heard this statement of “I really want to change” or “thing around here need to change?” Around 10 years I realized that no matter how many times potential sales leads talked about changing, very few truly wanted to change. This FHEM (Flat Head Experience Moment) had me restructure not only my talent management consulting, executive and small business coaching practice, but re-work my ideal customer profile.

want-to-changeYesterday a close colleague and another professional consultant shared his frustration regarding people and change with this question:

Anyone else burned out trying to help people who demand help from you, but don’t want to do anything you tell them to do?

Executive coaches, business coaches and consultants who provide sustainable solutions discover there are people (clients) who make demands of your time, your solutions and your emotional investment and fail to do what they need to do.  Then frustration kicks in as with my colleague.

Having worked with now hundreds of individuals, I can say that probably less than 20% stay the “I want to change” path.  Sure they may want to change and do change as long as I am with them, but once I have ended my assistance, they are back to their old ways, back to their old normal.

This is human behavior, returning to the old normal. Change is hard and why the status quo continues for many. Look at the obesity rate in this country and other countries if you doubt the strength of the status quo. Then walk down any book store and see all the self improvement books.

Yep change is hard, you go first!

Yesterday one of my executive coaching clients who is continually working to stay the course, to make the changes necessary for her as an executive leader, shared how positive affirmation statements or what I call belief statements are helping her.  Another colleague shared during a business to business networking event that she still uses affirmations to keep her weight at her desired goal.  At once time she was quite heavy and truly wanted to change and she did and has been thin now for nearly 20 years.

For me, recognizing the desire to want to change and what it takes to change, has me far more selective in accepting clients.  Today my ideal client is described as forward thinking leader in a rapidly growing SMB who is experiencing repetitive people or process problems which means for me he or she is willing to want to change and more importantly willing to do what he or she needs to do to change.

Remember change is not easy. Even the providers of sustainable solutions must have your commitment to want to change beyond just saying the words.

Want better results?

  CLICK HERE to reserve your time to talk with Leanne

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