Archive for February, 2011

Crystal Clear Communications Anyone?

In the movie, A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise in the role of Lt. Kaffe asked Colonel Jessep the following: “And Lieutenant Kendrick was clear on what you wanted?” Colonel Jessep replied in one word “Crystal.”


Having crystal clear communications is essential whether you are a military colonel, a CEO or in business management. Unfortunately, most employees lack the ability to read the minds of management and conversely those in management cannot read their employees’ minds. Additionally, each person has his or her own definition for specific words and those definitions have one to several emotions embedded within them. Finally, human beings assign value to the word they think, speak and write. All of these factors contribute to the challenge of having crystal clear communications.

One strategy to improve communications is found within the word Clear as an acronym.

C Clarity: You must listen for clarity so that you can separate the tangibles from the intangibles and the knowns from the unknowns.

LLegitimize: You must listen to legitimize the real issues. Many times perceived problems are really symptoms in disguise.

E Emotion: You must listen for emotions. Here is where the verbal words and the non-verbal gestures along with the syntax (speed, pitch, volume and emphasis) are very important.

AAgreement: You must listen for agreement to find common ground from which you can build ongoing trust.

RRetention: You must listen for retention because the information that you are receiving is critical to your sales success. In many cases, the facts that you are receiving have been heard by others, bu they simply failed to listen. Active listening is all about truly hearing and then remembering what the other person has just said.

Note:  The above has been excerpted from Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits, the Keys to Unlocking Sales Success.

This past week I had a management and leadership team discuss from their perspective the meaning of these two words:

  1. Leadership
  2. Management

What was interesting to note is through this focused discussion, other words popped up that affected the productivity of team members. These words included:

  • Boss
  • Goals
  • Results
  • Sales
  • Selling

Until everyone had a shared and agreed definition of common words being used within the workplace that all contributed to employee productivity, then securing the desired results was still going to be a much more difficult task.  Also, this discussion had an additional benefit by allowing the team members to hear the emotional intelligence (EQ) within the group.  Emotions play a significant part in crystal clear communications as noted above.

If you wish to improve employee productivity, then confirm that everyone understands what is meant by key words.  Also you may wish to describe specific behaviors to those words. For example, what does punctual mean?  In some cases, this may require returning to corporate policies to confirm an understanding of work time.  Team Management Training Coaching Tip:  Sometimes the simplest exercises generate the greatest results.

By ensuring crystal clear communications, management can improve employee productivity as well as team management.  And in today’s world, where 75% of all employees are not actively engaged, all barriers to restricting employee productivity should be removed.

P.S. Please consider returning tomorrow for a special offer regarding emotional intelligence (EQ) that is 100% absolutely free.

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Laughter Helps to Master Success

Do you laugh?  From the holiday Ho, Ho, Ho’s (for those countries that enjoy Santa Claus) to April Fools Day to receiving that funny birthday card, laughter abounds throughout the year.  Laughter is said to be good for health to soothing the savage beast.


During a recent business networking luncheon,  I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation delivered by a humorist.  He showed how laughter can enhance a good presentation and in the process educated the audience about the benefits of laughter. We were also reminded that laughter can be overdone just like any tactic.

Andrew Carnegie was quoted as “There is little success where there is little laughter.” This self made man saw the value of laughter. And there is no doubt that he did indeed master success.

In doing a quick search of quotes on laughter, I came across this one by Charlie Chaplin that I had heard years ago, but had forgotten. “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Would this not change your attitude about time management?

With so much going on in our lives, taking time to laugh is necessary to appreciate life. Mark Twain saw the incredible value of life when he said: “The human race has only one effective weapon and that is laughter.”

As you grow forward to master success, laughter can become an even better friend.  For Victor Borge, laughter was his purpose because he believed that “If I have caused just one person to wipe away a tear of laughter, that’s my reward.” Being a great fan of this gentleman, he received many rewards from me personally because of all the tears that I shed laughing at his comedic routines.

Again, the question is do you laugh and how often do you laugh?  Are you so consumed by the daily challenges of business from building customer loyalty to the every day routines of errand running that you forget to laugh, really laugh?

Think about the last time that you had a really good laugh.  One of those laughs that started down deep inside and eventually roared out where your sides hurt and your eyes watered.  How did you feel?  If you are like most, a lot better with less stress and far more relaxed.

Take some time to bring the laughter back into your life on a daily basis. And it will be truly a lot easier to master success.

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How Role Confusion Affects Productivity

Role confusion appears to be a significant problem for many. How many times have you read a movie reviewer criticizing a movie for not being real in context.  Excuse me, Mr. or Ms. Reviewer, reality check, it is a work of fiction, it is not supposed to be real! Star Trek anyone?


Then I started thinking about how often in our daily lives as we do what we do that we become confused in our own roles.  This leads to us to focusing on much of what we cannot control.  The end result is that our productivity falters and we do not achieve those predetermined goals and waste a lot of personal resources of time, energy, emotions and let’s not forget money.

One of the activities that I take all my clients through is the Sphere of Control.  I have them draw one small circle, then another circle around the small one and finally a third circle that holds the first two. The smallest circle is labeled “What I Can Control,” the next circle is labeled “What I Can Influence” and the largest circle is labeled “What I Cannot Control.”

When we look at our lives, where do we invest most of our time in circle 1, 2 or 3?  For most people, the response is the third circle “What I Cannot Control.”  This happens because we are simply confused due in many cases to a lack of a strategic plan, departmental plan or personal action plan, lack of written goals, lack of vision and a purpose statements.

Our confusion creates poor or less than stellar productivity.  Maybe this is why so many business executives have invested in executive coaching to help them maintain clarity of purpose and therefore clarity of actions or behaviors.

If your productivity is not at the level you desire or if the productivity of your employees is not at the level that you desire, then maybe part of the issue is role confusion.  No amount of new knowledge or traditional job specific skill training and development will lesson this confusion.

You and your people will need to take some time develop specific to self leadership skills or what some call strong interpersonal skills through the creation of new attitudes or habits of thought. Additionally, it may make sense to revisit job descriptions and the performance appraisals process. Finally, having clarity around the behaviors within the expectations also makes sense. By taking these actions, you can watch your productivity soar along with your bottom line.

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How Clarity Helps to Avoid Round Peg Square Hole

Do you remember the old adage about focusing a round peg into a square hole? Have you ever thought that this might be part of the reason for your less than stellar business sales?


Recently, I spent 1.5 hours coaching a client who was terribly frustrated due to the lack of sales.  Part of the problem is that she was trying to force a round peg into a square hole.  She is not unique, because this is the sales behavior of most people especially when sales are nil to non-existent.  I know this to be true because I used to do the same thing.

When you change how you look at things, the things you look at will change. In other words, clarity is required.

What I suggested was to clear the decks of her mind and forget about all her inventory where she currently had thousands of dollars sitting.  This is not easy.  I also tell car salesmen, real estate agents, realtors and any sales professional exactly the same thing. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Lack of clarity is a fog that you carry daily and keeps you stumbling along the sales process path.

Now with this blank slate, begin to truly listen to your prospects or customers.  Determine what their wants and needs really are.  Take time to separate the symptoms from the real problems facing that person sitting across from you or on the other end of the telephone.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  After listening for a few minutes, restate what you have heard to confirm you actually have clarity.

If you are a great salesman or saleswoman, you will know your products or services like the back of your hand.  Begin to craft a solution to meet their wants first and their needs second.  Let them know that you currently do not have exactly what you have heard, but that you have some other options that will meet these additional needs. Be flexible, be open, get out of the box.

What you are really doing is trimming their square peg so that it will fit into your round hole because you are helping them with clarity as well as with your own clarity. However, if it truly cannot fit, let the customer know.  Tell him or her that what he or she wants is not possible with your products or services.  And then point them to someone who can help them even if it is a competitor. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  These suggestions are based upon the fact you are in the selling phase of the sales process where you have already built a solid relationship.

For example, a friend of mine referred someone to me as a business coach. After our discussion where my goal is to gain clarity specific to her wants, I realized that even though I could help this person, she really wanted and more importantly expected a Life Coach.  I do not nor will I ever brand myself as a Life Coach (much to touchy-feeley for me).

My business coaching and executive coaching practice is all about securing the clearly identified predetermined results.  I passed her onto a Life Coach.  For me, I would rather lose a customer than have an unsatisfied one.

Clarity works to help avoid the round peg square hole syndrome for both you and your potential client.

P.S. Make sure you mark your calendar to come back on March 1, 2011 for a special announcement and it will be a significant free offer, no strings attached. I promise.

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For Self Improvement Eat An Apple a Day

Old traditional medicine stated an apple a day will keep the doctor away.  Motivation is very much like eating an apple each day for your self improvement health.


Let’s take a few moments to think about what happens with you eat an apple a day.  First, you embrace a belief that eating the apple a day is a good for your physical health. This belief then leads you to the next step in the self improvement physical process – attitude.

Now you have a positive attitude or habit of thought that you must have that daily apple. This habit becomes part of whom you are.  When you fail to eat the apple, you know that you are missing a key part what you are.

From your attitude of eating that apple a day, you are now taking action.  You make sure that you have that apple a day so that you can eat it. For you understand that eating the apple is critical to your physical well being.

Finally, you have a daily behavior of eating an apple a day whether it is morning, afternoon or that late night snack.  Each day you take action to eat that apple because you believe it is good for your physical health and well being.

Now let’s think about motivation and how that helps you to master success.  First, you need to believe that motivation is necessary for your own self improvement.  And if you know that motivation means to come from within you are now that much closer to realizing that belief. (The term self motivation is not accurate.)

Second, you now embrace a positive belief or positive attitude or habit of thought about motivation. Your thoughts become motivators for you to take that next step of  in your personal growth action plan.

Finally, because you now have a new belief about motivation that directs your thoughts leading to actions, you begin to change your behaviors.  Instead of waking up thinking about what will go wrong, you awaken thinking that you cannot get out of bed quick enough to make today the best day ever. Your self improvement health is now continually improving and growing you forward.

Now you can not only eat an apple a day for your physical well being, but when doing so you can motivate yourself to continually grow forward as you master success. P.S. And do not forget the personal growth action plan to keep track of your dreams, your goals and your successes.

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How Aware Are You of Your Interpersonal Skills?

Awareness is the first step in working with any change initiative.  The commercial “I could have had a V-8” is a great example of awareness.

Courtesy of Microsoft

Many professional sales people including those in sales management believe they are aware of their talents or key attributes including both interpersonal skills and sales skills. Yet, far fewer have had the opportunity to confirm that awareness. Without confirmation, this suggests some may be working “harder not smarter” as the expression goes.

Unless there has been some sort of mechanism to confirm any awareness what may happen is sales people will focus their energies on improving non-talents or even weaknesses at the expense of their true talents. This focus is quite common because individuals have been conditioned due to the K-12 or K-16 educational experiences to look to improving their weaknesses.  Red pen anyone?

After creating awareness and then helping individuals to secure clarity during the last several years, I can make this statement with absolute certainty:  “Ninety-five percent of all people including salespersons do not know their top five (5) talents.” Just imagine if you knew what your strengths actually were what impact that could have on your ability to secure even greater results?”

Additionally, that same 95% have greater awareness of their top five (5) worse or lower talents.  However, why do winning teams win because of their strengths or their weaknesses?

In relationship selling as well as in the marketing phase of the sales process, your interpersonal skills are critical to move that relationship to that next level.  The reason for this is due to the number one sales buying rule that being “People buy from people they know and trust.”

Recent brain research as well as the ongoing work on intelligence especially emotional intelligence suggests understanding the brain may help sales people sell more and reduce the sales cycle time.  When sales people recognize the emotions of their qualified potential customers (qualified prospects) as well as themselves and then learn how to manage those emotions, the end result is stronger relationships and potentially may include the achieving the goal to increase sales.

If you are curious as to some interpersonal skills, consider the following.

  • Attitude toward others
  • Correcting others
  • Diplomacy
  • Emotional control
  • Empathetic outlook
  • Evaluating what is said
  • Freedom from prejudice
  • Human awareness skill
  • Intuitive decision making ability
  • Personal accountability
  • Personal relationships
  • Realistic expectations
  • Relating to others
  • Sensitivity to others
  • Understanding attitude
  • Understanding motivational needs
  • Using common sense

Then ask yourself these three questions:

  1. How would you define these talents?
  2. How aware are you of these talents?
  3. How would you rank yourself respective to these talents?

Years ago it was said, “to thine own self be true.” For that to happen does require individuals to be aware of their selves.  Today, there are many tools to help foster that awareness leading to incredible personal and professional growth especially for those engaged in relationship selling.

P.S. Bookmark this site and return on March 1, 2011 to learn of a 100% totally free special offer valued at $150 to help you become more aware.

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Clarity Is One Skill to Increase Sales

Google these key words – sales skills training – and you may receive over 15,200,000 hits. If you change the search to sales skills training asking questions, the hits decline to 4,740,000. However if you are seeking sales skills training clarity, the hits dramatically reduce to 270,000.


Clarity is not a popular or identified skill within sales or sales skills training. During the last several years,  I have come to realize how many people lack clarity with reference to their own wants and needs (potential customers). The proper application of this sales skill can easily increase sales five to ten fold.

For example, many times potential customers call me seeking additional information about my executive coaching, sales coaching, business coaching or consulting services.  And I am truly glad to hear from them. What many of them have in common is a lack of clarity.  They have so much going on attempting to share a clear and concise picture of what they want or need is difficult.

After listening to them for several minutes, I ask permission to ask them a question. After they agree, I then ask this question:  “Would you mind if I restated what I just heard to ensure that I have clarity around what you just said?” Agreement is again secured and I restate what I had just heard.  The other person either confirms or adds to my summation. Many times what I hear is something “That’s it exactly. You said it better than I did.” And sometimes I will even receive a thank you for taking the time to listen to them.

Several times as the conversation and dialogue continues, I will again ask permission to restate what I had heard. In some cases, I do not repeat the exact words, but rather “my sense” of what I heard.

At the end of the conversation, I will summarize what I heard just to confirm that I am on the right track. Using clarity as a sales skill is all about using emotional intelligence to further build the relationship.

Another area where clarity as a skill  can help increase sales is by understanding what your specific sales skill are.  By having quantifiable measurements to specific talents or strengths allows you to focus on what you do well. And another word for this focus is clarity.  Of course if you are only guessing as to what your actual talents are, then there is a likelihood you may be missing some opportunities to leverage your talents to increase sales.

In the sales process including with both the marketing and selling phases, the more you can provide clarity which other sales people may not have done as well the more you can potentially increase sales provided you have not violated the 3 sales buying rules, overcame the 5 sales objections and worked your sales process flawlessly.

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Flexibility For Forward Thinkers

With the market place very, very crowded, being able to stand out, to Be the Red Jacket,  in the crowd is critical to achieving current growth goals including increase sales.  Being flexibility is one talent that forward thinkers can leverage to be able to stand out and differentiate themselves from their competitors.


For example within the coaching industry specific to executive coaches, business coaches and sales coaches, many offer a 3 month minimum engagement. Additionally, the coaching services for some of these coaching clients are delivered over the telephone without the coach and the client ever physically meeting.  Finally, if the client comes to the coach via the Internet through education based marketing, there is a very good likelihood the potential client has already done his or her research respective to investment, delivery and process. What this means is current solutions (how you deliver your services) may need to be changed, to be more flexible and therefore more responsive to market place trends.

Being flexible is no longer an option but a requirement.  By changing the time frame, the investment and even the approach, not only suggests you are a forward thinker (that being ahead of the current market place flow), but a solution provider who is more emotionally intelligent. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Being flexible is part of innovation.

The definition of emotional intelligence by Daniel Goleman (Working with Emotional Intelligence) is:

The capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions in ourselves and our relationships.”

Since people buy on emotions first, justified by logic second (sales buying rule #2), the it makes good common sense (another measurable talent) to increase one’s emotional intelligence.

Having clarity as to what the word flexibility means also makes sense.  Innermetrix defines flexibility as:

“Evaluates people’s ability to readily integrate, modify and respond to changes with minimal personal resistance. This deals with their ability to be open to new avenues, not become locked into a rigid approach to a situation, and be willing to change direction without significant stress or pressure.”

As the old expression goes, “if you continue to do what you have always done, you will continue to receive what you have always received.” This expression is indicative of someone not being flexible and not having a high level of emotional intelligence.

Failure to stay ahead of the flow (being forward thinking leaders) and ignoring market place trends including decision buying factors may have negative consequences for your business regardless if you are a business coach, car dealership, health care provider or retailer.

P.S. Return to this website on March 1, 2011 to learn of a special absolutely free offer respective to emotional intelligence.

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Clueless in Business – Friday’s Editorial

After delivering another workshop on marketing to small business owners and even some crazy busy sales people,  I am even more convinced that many of these individuals are clueless because they are functioning in the role, as identified by my colleague Bill Napolitano, of Captain Wing It. They spray their behaviors all over the place and then pray that something will stick.


No where is this more evident than in marketing. Probably the second area is a tie between strategic planning and  people development. Those are topics for another day.

Almost 6 years ago, I realized I too was clueless about marketing. My logical brain told me that there had to be a better way to expand my market presence than attending business to business networking events or sending out a direct mail or even electronic newsletter.

So I did my homework and revamped my marketing plan using an education based marketing approach. The goal was to educate not sell and to build credibility. I set WAY Smart goals, started monitoring those goals and measuring the results.  Then I made any necessary course corrections and repeated the process. The results to date include greater search results for my name, Leanne Hoagland-Smith, almost 49,000 unique visitors in 2010, 7000 unique visitors to my website for the month of January 2011  and additional passive income.

What is difficult is that many of the sales training coaching programs do not focus on marketing in any depth.  These programs may talk a little about engaging in business networking, having a website and including  some information of social media. Yet the purpose of marketing, that being to attract attention and build a relationship appears to be secondary to selling or “always be closing.”

Unfortunately, until someone knows about you, no one can buy your solutions (products or services).  And after they know you, they must trust you if you want them to make a buying decision in your favor.  (Sales Training Coaching Tip: Know the 3 Sales Buying Rules)

With the continued focus on selling or sales skills, this only reinforces this “cluelessness.” One proven strategy to improve not only marketing, but selling as well is to better understand emotional intelligence and its impact on your ability to increase sales. Daniel Goleman’s book, Working with Emotional Intelligence is a great place to begin.

If you want to increase sales, then develop an integrated marketing plan (combination of traditional marketing such as advertising and non-traditional marketing such as social media). By taking this action, you may just remove some of that cluelessness and begin to Be the Red Jacket. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  The sales process is really combined of 3 phases, marketing, selling and marketing.

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Emotional Selling – What’s With That?

“Boy, that guy could sell igloos to an Eskimo!” This comment and many others have been heard over the years about top sales performers. Now with continued scientific research into the brain, decision making and how this is all linked to emotional intelligence reveals what these top performers were actually doing – emotional selling.


In this digital age of selling with all the emails, direct messages to Facebook postings, the art of writing with an emotional understanding is demonstrated by very few.  And the face to face business networking for many is an emotional black hole.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been speaking with Daniel Waldschmidt about emotional selling. He and I both share an equal amount of frustration with the poor sales training and consequently poor selling in today’s market place. There is so much “pump and dump” (Jeb Blout in People Buy You) or what others call show up and throw up or what I have affectionately dubbed the 3Ps Virus – Spew price, product or proposal in the first 5 minutes.

Today for example, I received at least 6 emails that had no emotional value. Actually, they did create a lot of negative emotions.  The messages were all about the salesperson and each one violated this first sales buying rule:

People buy from people they know and trust.

Sales Training Coaching Tip: Cold calling emails can be emotionally engaging when they are well written and targeted to the ideal customer profile.

Then there are the phone calls which also follow what not to do respective to emotional intelligence.  Usually you can tell there is a script that is being read almost word for word. Talk about zip, nada emotional value.

In the weeks to come, I will be writing more about emotional selling and how it really isn’t new.  What is new is the research to support that emotional selling does exist.

Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Listen to the words you speak, write and even think in your head.  For when you change those words, you will improve your results including increase sales.

P.S. Make sure you revisit this blog on March 1, 2011 to learn of a special offer. Best yet it is 100% free with a value of $150 and can help you increase sales.

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