Archive for June, 2010

Effective Selling + Ethical Leadership = Salesmenship E2.0

Top sales performers understand effective selling because they are in their own right demonstrating ethical leadership. Forgetting the whole gender issue (salesman versus saleswoman equals salesperson), there has not been a word to adequately describe this combination of effective selling and ethical leadership.  So this morning I have coined the phrase “Salesmenship E2.0”  The E2.0 stand for the two “Es” of effective and ethical and recognizes the importance of these two words within the 2.o world of social media.

Having clearly articulated positive core values and demonstrating behaviors that reflect those “rules of engagement” is essential in today’s highly competitive global market place. We all know of sales people who are less than forthright and ethical.  For many just mention the word salesperson and the negative response is quite obvious probably due to images of the man selling used cars.

One of my favorite authors, John Maxwell, writes quite a bit about business ethics and leadership. Other noted gurus such as Jeff Gitomer also devote time to this subject of business ethics and leadership respective to sales and selling.

So this begs the question what separates a truly “Salesmenship E2.0” individual from the rest of the gray suits at the street corner?  Quick answer, his or her behavior based upon immediate observation if possible. Otherwise, listening to others within the community as well as your own intuition. Of course having personal interaction by engaging this person through the purchase of his or her products is another option. However, what I have found is the following:

  • First purchase handled with 150% attention
  • Second purchase handled with 75% attention
  • Third purchase stop bothering me, you get it when you get it

My sense is customer loyalty has far more to do with “Salesmenship E2.0” than many other factors including the senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and feel. If you truly want to be a top sales performer or what I call be the Red jacket, then invest some time to identify your positive core values, write a values statement and then do those necessary self checks to make sure are as they say “walking your talk.”

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What Frosts You as a Salesperson or Business Professional?

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to get to know another local business owner, Pat Popa of Popa Heating and Cooling.  We talked about effective marketing and then learned we both had similar “frost” issues.  These are those things that really frost you and leave you cold to doing business with these individuals. Usually these “frost” experiences can be directly traced back to poor business ethics and values.

One of this blog’s visitors, Steve, shared what frosted him about coaches and consultants on a recent post Why Business Certification?.  He made a great point about some who profess they have experience, but truly do not have it when push comes to shove. Again, this is a demonstration of little to no ethics and values by those coaches and consultants.

For me, the lack of high personal and business ethics still is my major “frost.” From people not returning phone calls to not acknowledging referrals to not doing the follow-up to missed scheduled appointments. Beyond my own experiences, I have heard countless stories from local to national small business owners and executives about:

  • Poor quality of delivered goods and services with no action taken
  • Non-existent to poor customer service with no action taken
  • Negative attitudes when valid questions are asked about status of orders or sales with no action taken

Sales Training Coaching Tip: Not taking action is taking action just like indecision is a decision.  And businesses wonder why their sales are slumping?

Maybe part of the reason is the lack of strategic business action plans and hence the failure to invest the time to write a values statement. Of course some of these firms do have a values statement, but it has never been fully integrated into the day to day operations of the business. So employees continue to do what they have always done especially if the executive leadership team is not modeling the desired behaviors within that core values statement.

One business that truly gets high business ethics is Hobart Electronics of Hobart, IN. Gary Kriadis understands the importance of demonstrating 24/7 high values and ethics. Hanging from the ceilings is this word “CATER” which stands for Customers Are The Entire Reason.

So what “frosts” you?  Please feel free to leave your remarks and they will be posted as long as they are appropriate to common courtesy and do not malign anyone (do not directly name any individuals).

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Sales Skills – 4 Letter Dirty Words – Goal, Plan, DoIt

In a previous post, Sales Skills – What Is Missing in Sales Training Coaching, the discussion focused on what is missing respective to education based marketing and relationship selling. If we looked at the basics of what are needed to be a top performer, the first bucket would be the ability to set, plan and achieve goals. Unfortunately, this one word – goal – has almost become “dirty” tainted with failed efforts and has started a negative self-fulling prophecy or belief within many salespersons.

If we look at this objectively, the first question to be raised is how many people have learned how to turn their dreams into reality? There is a presumption that this ability is learned through osmosis.  Stand next to a high achiever and magically you will become one.  Hogwash! Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Invest the time to learn a proven goal achievement process.

Beyond not understanding the overall process, many adopted the SMART goals criteria and equally as many probably failed given sales research suggests 30% to 70% of all targets are not achieved.

Years ago I realized in my sales career as an entrepreneur that the SMART goal setting criteria just were not enough.  The reason for this was so many sales targets continued to be missed.

As I pondered the reason for this performance failure, I realized the following about goals:

  • They must be written down.
  • They must be aligned to a plan of action.
  • They must be owned by the individual.

From this Ah-Ha moment, I added the following 3 letters before the SMART criteria – WAY.  When goals are Written down, Aligned to a plan of action and Yours . Sales Training Coaching Tip: Using a proven goal achievement worksheet only strengthens this overall process.

Beyond the first 4 letter dirty word, plan is second one.  For without a plan, there is no alignment between where I am and where I want to be.  After all, the goal is just a bridge to move the person forward.

Again, being a simple salesperson, I created a one page business growth action plan that was supported by other one page action plans including sales and marketing. Note:  Given that many people would not accept nor understand a selling action plan, I have intentionally used the word sales in this instance to mean selling.

Finally,  I came to realize that these two words – do it – but when said fast sound like one word, keep so many from sales success.  Research continues to suggest that 50% of all sales leads are left hanging on the vine, just withering away.  Follow-up from business networking events to actual leads be them inbound or outbound stops after the third contact for 90% of all salespersons.

As the specific talents originating from these 4 dirty words are:

  • Long range planning
  • Project and goal focus
  • Quality orientation
  • Realistic goal setting for others
  • Seeing potential problems

The challenge is most people do not know if these are their talents and how can they measure progress over a 12 month time frame. Just imagine the possibilities if you knew your talents and could work far more efficiently and effectively? This just might help you stop “confusing motion with progress and activity with results” as my colleague Doug Brown has so often said.

Of course there are more talents necessary for success when in engaged in relationship selling. In future postings these will be discussed as well as what each talent means.

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Sales Skills – What Is Missing in Sales Training Coaching

Several recent posts within LinkedIn groups discussed various aspects of what makes a great sales person including:

  • Sales Skills
  • Cold calling mistakes
  • Best selling books

A plethora of wisdom and knowledge was shared. As I reflected upon many of the responses, I realized that those engaged in selling their products or services be them small business owners, independent sales professionals, realtors, financial advisors, insurance agents, corporate salespersons to even C Suite level executives have truly failed to assess and determine what makes a top sales performer in today’s relationship selling marketplace.

Today more than ever before, to successfully be a top sales performer demands that you understand education based marketing and relationship selling within the sales process.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Marketing is getting attention and developing the relationship. Selling is uncovering needs, presenting the case, earning the and delivering the sale. Do not confuse these two terms because to do so will keep you from earning the sales or what some call closing the deal.

Take a moment to think what talents are necessary to be successful so that someone will trust you enough to exchange their profits (hard cold cash) or disposable income for your products or services.  From my experience, there are probably 3 general categories or what I  prefer to call buckets.

  • Goal setting, planning & achievement – How well do you manage your sales actions both short and long terms?
  • Sales skills – How well do you know and then leverage your talents to further achieve your goals
  • Time management – How well do you utilize this limited, non-renewable resource?

Beyond the missing knowledge about talents,  another missing piece is the lack of knowledge about how we as individuals make decisions both externally and internally.  Dr. Robert Hartman did extensive work specific to this field of study (science of Axiology). Hartman supported this field of research through the creation of a mathematical assessment to further validate that people made decisions using three (3) filters:

  1. Head – Systems – Thinker
  2. Heart – Intrinsic – Feeler
  3. Hands – Extrinsic – Doer

Additionally, he assigned biases connected to each of these filters.

By having metrics that are deductive and objective with a validity coefficient around .92 versus inductive, subjective with a validity co-efficient around .85 provides the foundation for a solid performance appraisal to that those in sales can work more efficiently (doing things right) and effectively (doing the right things). Additionally, a solid assessment instrument can help you navigate the Law of Process or what is also called Gordon’s Learning Ladder.

If you truly wish to be the Red jacket, stand out in the crowd, then invest the time to:

  • Know who you are
  • Choose who you want to be
  • Create what you wish to become

P.S. During the next week, additional postings will further explore this topic of sales skills and what is missing in sales training coaching.

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Article Marketing & Blogging: Where Do You Find Quality Writing Topics & Content?

The Blogging for Business Pay What You Can Afford Workshop generated this one question from David Lindgren of Comfort Keepers of LaPorte, IN:  Where do you find the content for your 2,000 plus articles including over 1,600 at Ezine Articles and your over 120 business and sales blog posting?

Having presented at numerous conferences on my approach to education based marketing the most recent being in Spring of 2010 at Resource Associates Corporation, this is probably the most frequently asked question (FAQ). My response was simple, just observe and listen to what is happening around you, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally and you can discover a plethora of writing ideas.

For example, yesterday I posted this blog on social media after receiving an alert from Smart Brief. As noted in that posting, alerts are a great way to constantly receive ideas for new content.

One of the best ways to find ideas is to do the research regarding key words specific to your business. This will take time, but it is time well invested.

Then brain storm using those keywords to create some titles. This begins to prime your mental thought processes. Later as your brain becomes more conditioned to look for content writing opportunities you will begin to notice billboards, phrases in songs or passages in books you have read.

As you continue to write and develop a following, you can write title that have few to no keywords, but are still read.  One of my favorite titles was this one “Increase Sales Just Be Eating More Frogs”.

Also using Top Tips or a similar word is another great writing prompt to help you generate great writing content. For example:

Quality content for blogging is available for anyone.  All you must do is stop, listen and just take a few moments to think.  You will be incredibly surprised by how much you really do know.

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How Social Media Can Be PR Prairie Fires for Executive Leadership

Social medial ,in an article by John Timpane, is suggested to be a significant contributor to the recent PR and executive leadership nightmare caused by a Rolling Stone magazine article that lead to the resignation of General. McChrystal.

Web 2.0 has expanded the dynamics of traditional public relations within the information highway from the one way street with no intersections to now a two way street with multiple intersections. These bloggers and authors have wrested control of the traffic lights away from the traditional traffic keepers (think media editors and reporters).

Possibly this is why some so dislike these individuals because this new platform has created incredible freedom for anyone who has access to a computer and the Internet. Of course with this new freedom comes responsibilities including truth and integrity all important business ethics.

Now those in executive leadership positions must wrestle how to handle these PR prairie fires. With time being  a limited resource, staying ahead of these potential public relations disasters can consume a lot of resources that could be better deployed elsewhere.

There have been some new tools on the market to help monitor what is being said along with some already established ones such as Twitter and Facebook. Alerts be them from Google to others such as:

All can help to reduce the impact of these PR prairie fires.

Executive leadership may also wish to consider developing a strategic marketing action plan as to minimize their limited resources of time, energy, money and emotions.  Social media and its influence is here to stay and now is the time for those in executive leadership positions to take proactive measures unless they wish to be swept away in the fires or be left with the smoldering damages.

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Effective Communication = Consistency + Commitment + Clarity

The BP Oil Spill and the resignation of General McChrystal are real world examples of ineffective communication.  These public relations nightmares lead to challenges about executive leadership as well as overall strategy (thinking), structure, processes, incentives & rewards along with people. (Jay Galbraith 5 Star Model for Organizational Development)

Effective communication requires the following:

  • Consistency – Same well constructed message (Note: Consistency should not be confused with “talking points.”)
  • Commitment – Everyone is on board to deliver the message. When questions are asked, honest responses are given including “I do not know, but I will get back to you in 24 hours.” (Note: This is a reflection of the positive core values from within the business strategic action plan and business ethics within the organization.)
  • Clarity – The message is easily understood and without any double speak.  When a closed ended question is asked, the response is Yes, No or I do not know instead of the standard open ended, vague responses.

Failed communication is usually the indication there is something amiss within any organization because for people to perform their jobs requires direction either verbally or non-verbally through written documents. When communication begins to fail, this is not the time for denial, but rather the time to assess the organization to learn what is driving this problem.

Business Coaching Tip: Remember, poor communication is always a symptom and never the real problem. This is why having a proven assessment aligned to known standards is required to bring clarity to the real problem.

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Swearing, Sales and Success?

Swearing and leadership was the topic of a recent blog post at Harvard Business Review.  The essence of this posting was that swearing can be constructive and appears to be successful among workers based upon a 2007 study published in the Leadership and Organizational Development Journal by Yehuda Baruch and Stuart Jenkins of the University of East.

Credit: ClipArtHeaven

Swearing for affect still reflects your overall positive core values and business ethics.  Yes many of us swear privately whether out loud or just in our thoughts. This action allows us to release frustration and negative energy. However the question is should you swear as a salesperson when you are engaged in selling or marketing activities?

As I thought about recent current  events such as the President’s recent remarks in a television interview with Matt Lauer and my own experiences in sales, I wondered if the study looked at gender, age and industry? Experiencing over 20 years in a very male dominated industry (pipe, valves and fittings), I heard a lot of “salty conversations” with a lot of apologies from frustrated pipe fitters to buyers who spoke before they thought.

For me, swearing in front of customers, potential customers (a.k.a. prospects) and centers of influence is very much like telling a dirty joke.  I do not tell dirty jokes because as a woman, the listeners (receivers) view me differently than a man who could share the same joke without any repercussions. This observation is based upon my age and 40 plus years in the workplace environment.

The use of swear words in business interactions including those with fellow employees reflects, in my opinion, your intelligence or lack thereof. Personally, I believe given the depth and breath of the English language there are far better words to use in critical situations.

From this professional salesperson’s perspective, I do not believe swearing demonstrates sales leadership through my definition that being leadership is all about securing the desired results using positive core values (business ethics).  Many will disagree and that is Okay because if we all agreed on everything, life would be quite boring.

P.S. I personally have never seen a sales training coaching module on “Swearing to Secure Sales Success.” Given that sales training coaching firms have exploited almost every topic possible related to selling and marketing, this might be an indication as to why swearing in sales is truly not a good behavior to demonstrate.

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Why Business Coaching Certification Does Not Guarantee Results

During the past several years, I have penned the following articles specific to business coaching certification.

These articles were in response to:

  • A certified Life coach who asked me if I was certified? My response was Yes by the results from my clients. She went on to say that I was misrepresenting myself and results were not everything.
  • Discussion about value respective to coaching certification and clients results

The behavior of the certified “Life Coach” reminded me of so many college professors who are “book smart” yet have never been in the business world.  They live in what some have called “Ivory Towers.”

The reason I mention this is in a Google alert I came across another person advocating certification over experience. (I just love Google alerts along with the other alerts such as BNet, AllBusiness or Smart Briefs. These daily and weekly notifications allow me to write interesting posts and provide you, the reader, with different viewpoints.)

In this particular post, the blogger (certified by Results Coaching System) suggested the first question one should ask a potential executive coach, business coach or sales coach is what certification do you hold?  For me that is probably the last question I would ask. My first question would be:

What results have your clients secured from hiring you? (Strange this particular individual is certified by an organization with the word results in its name and yet his focus is on being certified and not on results? … Hmmmm)

Quickly followed by these next two questions:

  1. Have those results been sustainable?
  2. May I speak to at least two of your clients?

From my perspective it is all about results. Why in the heck would anyone hire you if you could not deliver results in exchange for his or her hard earned cash?

As I shared in the articles, the only time I have been asked if I am certified is by another certified coach.  This does not mean I do not believe in certification or professional development and growth.  Engaging in such a learning experience can be beneficial, but does not guarantee your clients will secure the results.  Only your engagements with your clients and their willingness to share those interactions can support the results you deliver.

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A Crazy Busy Person Who Gets It By His High Business Ethics

Crazy busy is an excuse used by many to miss appointments and not follow up. I wrote about this lack of business ethics in my weekly business column on June 14, 2010.

In this week’s business column I presented by third annual summer business books reading list. One of the books I mentioned was You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader by Mark Sanborn. Now I would imagine that Mr. Sanborn is a very busy individual with a very crazy schedule.

Yet, this morning I received a brief email thank you from Mr. Sanborn for including his book on my business books reading list. What a pleasant surprise, but not totally unexpected. After reading and reviewing numerous business books, I have had nationally known authors who have sold far more of their books than I have sold with my first book Be the Red jacket send me acknowledgments including emails, handwritten thank yous and even telephone calls. All of these individuals have demonstrated very high business ethics and truly get it when it comes to business.

Everyone is busy and sometimes it does seem to be crazy busy. Yet, as Mr. Sanborn has demonstrated, no one is that busy not to keep an appointment or take the time to acknowledge a gesture of kindness.

Just in case you are wondering what the other books I recommended were here is the complete list.

  1. SNAP Selling by Jill Konrath
  2. Selling to Big Companies by Jill Konrath
  3. Corporate Canaries by Gary Sutton (check out the Chapter 1)
  4. Why Choose This Book by Read Montague
  5. You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader: How Anyone, Anywhere, Can Make a Positive Difference by Mark Sanborn
  6. Buy Houses from Dead People: Forget Foreclosures by Arleen Rice (Yes the title is strange. However this is more than a book about investing in real estate.)
  7. TNT – The Power Within You by Claude M. Bristol
  8. The Wizard of Ads by Roy H. Williams
  9. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
  10. Leadership & Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box by the Arbinger Institute
  11. Lynchpin: Are You Indispensable by Seth Godin
  12. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
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