Archive for May, 2013

Everything I Learned About Leadership Is From People Like You

Leadership continues to be hot topic. Yesterday I wrote about how those in executive leadership roles are the number one obstacle to business growth. Yet, where does one learn about good, great or not so great leadership?  The answer is from the people around them.


Each of us is a leader. Sure we may not have the press coverage or notoriety of those we see on TV, hear on radio or read in print. However we are leaders because we are getting results. How we secure those results and the quality of those results determine our leadership effectiveness.

We learn leadership from each other.  This starts with parents and family members, then transitions into teachers, our first employers as well as the friends we have made along the way.

Now we are faced with these questions:

  • Who do you observe?
  • Who do you “hang out or around with?
  • What are you doing to improve your leadership effectiveness?

If you want to improve your leadership skills, then maybe you need to meet new people, new leaders who demonstrate positive core values and secure ethically driven and sustainable results. As the old saying goes:

If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who disrupts the status quo by discovering new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses; those who wish to grow beyond their current employees and executives in chaos.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Executive Leadership Is the Number One Obstacle to Sustainable Business Growth

Listen to many in executive leadership positions and some, if not most, will  blame all those knuckleheads  underneath them for the inability to achieve sustainable business growth (think increase sales).  As a dear friend and mentor, Michael Sleppin, once said “Who hired all those knuckleheads?”


The buck starts and stops with the executive leadership.

Yesterday, once again I was confronted with continuing examples of bad executive leadership causing the people problems that hindered sustainable business growth not to mention engaged workforce, innovation and an overall culture of high performance.

The first conversation involved a family owned, third generation, manufacturing business. The current CEO wants yes people and appears to have a scarcity mentality.  In this case, this individual demonstrates strong organizational or inorganic behaviors where people or organic ones are needed to be ahead of the flow. Coaching Tip:  When an executive makes comments like “the employees don’t need to know that” and then expects the employees to maximize profits without knowing how the firm makes and keeps money is an example of scarcity mentality and is a key obstacle to sustainable business growth.

Then in working with an executive coaching client who had just finished Fail-Safe Leadership, I asked how this book related to her professional career? Her comment was “I never worked for excellent leadership.”  Now this individual is a seasoned professional with over 30 years of experience in sales and management roles.

One my colleagues recently posted in his blog, All Problems Are People Problems, and he is 100% correct. Yet the number one people problem resides in the executive leadership role for the majority of small businesses. From my 30 plus years of experience there are very few executive leaders who have the courage to admit they are the problem or part of the problem. For those forward thinking  leaders who have the resolve and commitment, they indeed can turn those people problems into people opportunities and realize sustainable business growth.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who disrupts the status quo by discovering new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their current employees as well as executives in chaos.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Sales Simplicity or Sales Sophistication, What Really Works?

If you are seeking to increase sales, there appears to be two camps of selling philosophy or thought. One is selling is about sales simplicity such as people buy from people or from you. Then on the opposite side of the riverbank looks to those sales skills specific to sales sophistication through asking deep probing open ended questions.


My sense is the answer is what works with you and your ideal customer profile.  Additionally understanding the communication process through proven assessments DISC may also aid you in your quest to increase sales regardless if your sales approach is simple or sophisticated.

One thing I know to be true is your own selling style must be authentic.  When adopting a sales simplicity selling style and your communication and experience is more sophisticated or your sales process is more complex, then potential customers will either consciously or subconsciously sense that disconnect especially if you are uncomfortable with a sales simplicity approach.

Maybe the better question to be answered is what sales leadership talents do I know to be true and how may I infuse these sales leadership talents into successfully executing either the sales simplicity or sales sophistication selling philosophy.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who disrupts the status quo by discovering new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their current employees as well as executives in chaos.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Sales Leadership Talent of Intuitive Decision Making

For those in sales leadership roles, many times these experienced folks leverage their intuitive decision making and this action goes against what they have been trained to do. This behavior is recognized as “going with their gut” or “gut brain thinking.”

intuitive-decision-makingSince sales is first and foremost about emotions, this going with your gut thinking or gut brain does work. The challenge is to know when to employ intuitive decision making.  Take action too soon and the sale may be lost. Fail to take action and again close but no cigar.

Innermetrix Attribute Index recognizes the emotional and experience elements within intuitive decision making. Individuals with this sales leadership talent have “the ability to accurately compile intuitive perceptions about a situation into a decision or action.  Ability to be ‘intuitional’ as opposed to intellectual (or requiring data and logical reasoning) in decisions making, and to be effective in doing it.  This requires a good deal of understanding of people, and the outside world, and the ability to visualize the whole picture in a mental scenario.”

Salespeople who exhibit this sales leadership talent “are comfortable making decisions on their feet, without having to study a situation or requiring logical data to examine.”  Those who fail to demonstrate intuitive decision making “require more information and time to analyze information.” This delay may keep them from earning the sale.

Much as been written about intuitive decision making but rarely in sales books and even less frequently in sales training coaching programs. In the book Get Out of Your Own Way the author, Robert K. Cooper, Ph.D., explores in great detail this aspect of intuitive thinking and how intuition is a leadership skill than can be learn and further developed.  Sales Training Coaching Tip: Buy this book and read it to understand how your gut brain works with your other three (3) brains.

P.S. If you wish to know if you have this sales leadership talent of intuitive decision making along with 77 other talents, then this performance assessment may be of interest to you.


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The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living

unexamined-lifeToday here in the USA is Memorial Day. This is a national holiday to remember and honor those fallen military individuals who gave their lives for our country.  To remember is to reflect and thus keeps us from living these words of Socrates over 2000 years ago.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Reflection is the examination of one’s life. There are different ways to reflect:

  • Journaling
  • Praying
  • Exercising
  • Thinking
  • Meditating

Each of these actions allow us to examine our lives so we make each day better than the previous one. So invest the time to reflect and remember not just today, but every day so that you do not lead an unexamined life and your life indeed is worthy of living.

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Your Brand Is Your Promise, It’s That Simple

Simple concepts allow for clarity and clarity furthers exceptional execution. During lunch with a local small business leader, Gus Olympidis, CEO of Family Express, shared this very simple definition of brand:


Your brand is your promise.

Think about that just a moment.  What this definition of brand states is somewhat contrary to all those other so called marketing experts to local marketing firms who believe your brand is:

  • A recognizable graphic or logo
  • A quick sound bite
  • A complex integration

So what is your small business promise to your customers or potential customers?

Where are you different with your promise compared to your competitors?

Are you consistent with your promise to your customers?

Maybe before you hire some expensive marketing expert or buy another top 10 book on marketing, take the the time to reflect and determine exactly your brand or small business promise to your customers.

P.S. Remember when you quote someone else to give him or her credit.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who disrupts the status quo by discovering new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their current employees as well as executives in chaos.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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How to MagicallyTurn Your Whitepaper into an Emotionally Engaging Sales Pitch

Visit many websites and you will come across the infamous whitepaper. This usually downloadable document tells a story (think sales pitch) about how a company’s solution helped one of their clients. Given the limited time of most website visitors, the majority of whitepapers are one to two pages in length and cover these three topics:


  1. The client’s situation
  2. The solution developed and executed
  3. The results and subsequent return on investment

Now image in you could magically turn your whitepaper into an emotionally engaging sales pitch that would explain what happened in six, yes just six sequential sentences, what would that mean for you:

  • More interested prospects?
  • More qualified potential ideal customers?
  • More increase sales?

If you are thinking, that can’t be done, then you are your own worst enemy because yes it can be done and the added benefit this exercise is fun.

In the book, To Sell Is Human, by Daniel Pink, he described the Pixar sales pitch where you essentially rendered down a whitepaper into six sequential sentences. (Note: Daniel Pink does not use the term whitepaper that is my synthesis of this activity.)

Here is how it goes.

#1 – Once upon a time …

#2 – Every day …

#3 – One day …

#4 – Because of that …

#5 – Because of that …

#6 – Until finally…

If you wish to read an example, visit my LinkedIn profile and read the summary.

Beyond rendering your whitepaper into just six sequential sentences, Pink has also employed the Power of Three with the two “because of that” and the one “until finally.”

Remember people hear words and think in pictures. If you can intentionally craft a picture in an emotionally engaging way, as once upon a time, then are you further ahead of any past sales pitch you might have used. Do you not sound different than all those other sales pitches? And to Be the Red Jacket requires differentiation from that first encounter.


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Small Business Owners Are You Sabotaging Your Sales Goals and Business Growth?

Maybe it is time to redirect some if not much of the poor sales performance as well as lackluster business growth back to the small business owners and those in sales management. This week I was the recipient of two real stories about how sales people are being set up to fail by those in sales leadership and sales management roles specific to meeting sales goals.


True Story One

A salesperson reached out to me about achieving her sales goals and quotas.  Nine out of 10 times when she brought what she thought was a new account, she was told it was an house account even though the account had not made a purchase in several years or that with this new account she (the salesperson) did not have enough knowledge to effectively manage the account and hence it was necessary for the small business owner to take the account over and all of its revenue. Additionally when the salesperson requested a listing of house accounts so that she could prospect with greater efficiency, she was told to ask the small business owner and she would be told whether it was a house account.

True Story Number Two

Another experienced salesperson brought a multi-billion dollar company after building a solid relationship with the decision maker  to a fact finding meeting via a webinar. His boss decided to sit in on the session. At the conclusion of this webinar, the potential client was satisfied with the salesperson’s responses and questions because a request for a proposal was offered. When the meeting was over, the small business owner blasted the salesperson for bringing this potential client to the table.

In both cases, these small business owners desperately needed to increase sales, achieve quarterly sales goals and improve overall business growth.

These behaviors by small business owners are not new. I have witnessed similar behaviors when I was in corporate and heard many of these same true stories countless times.

Possibly it is because of desperation these stories continue to come forth? My sense much of it has to do with:

  • No clearly articulated positive core values
  • No written sales plan, no written sales goals or overall strategic plan
  • No written policies
  • Inherent distrust of the sales people
  • Poor sales leadership and management
  • Inconsistent execution
  • Greed by the small business owners

There are many good sales people operating in less than positive selling environments.  These men and women work very hard to increase sales and to meet sales goals. They do not need any other obstacles in their ways.  However, working in the dark or when the targets are being consistently moved  is not productive and will not increase sales.

The suggestion if you are a small business owner who wishes to increase sales, meet your sales goals and spur business growth, then maybe it is time to look in the mirror and make sure you are not your own worse enemy.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who disrupts the status quo by discovering new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their current employees as well as executives in chaos.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Breaking Through to CEOs and the C-Suite Part 3 By Stu Heinecke

We’ve talked about CEO contact campaigns that have generated 100% response rates and 8,000% returns on investment.   And in the last installment, about the critical importance of cultivating alliances with C-suite executive assistants, who really are the moving force within your target companies.


"Leanne, was that really necessary?"


So how do you actually break through? Here are four proven contact techniques, ranging in cost of zero to $10,000 per contact.

#1 – Pick up the phone and call (cost:  $0/contact) 

If you call before or after hours, you might reach the CEO directly, but don’t count on it.  Instead, target the CEO’s executive assistant and simply explain why you want to meet.  Be firm in your purpose for calling, concise in your explanation and express it all in terms of benefits to the target company.  Be prepared to send a follow up e-mail summary and suggest a call or meeting time.

#2 – Send a Personalized Cartoon on a Giant Foam Core Postcard ($250/contact)

This is the contact campaign tool we used in the earlier example, to help the sales trainer reach five Fortune 1000 CEOs, producing a 100% response rate, $100,000 in immediate sales and an 8,000% ROI.  What’s wonderful about this method is that, with a well-targeted cartoon, the piece becomes an heirloom to the recipient’s career, and it stays on prominent display in their office for years.  Which means you’ll be remembered for a very long time as well.

#3 – Send Half of a Remote-Control Toy ($300/contact)

You can buy a remote-control toy at Radio Shack for $20, but if you’re going to use this method, spring for something the CEO might actually want, like the Parrot AR Drone.  The idea here is to deliver the toy without the controller and promise to bring it when you meet.  Careful, though:  this and other forms of hold-back tactics do work, but can come off as heavy-handed.

#4 – Run an Ad in The Wall Street Journal ($10,000/contact)

Rick Bennett is the master of this technique, which involves writing an open letter from you to your target, producing it as a full-page ad and placing it in The Wall Street Journal.  The beauty of this technique is the day-long deluge of calls it produces from the CEO’s friends, all calling attention to the ad and your message.

Next:  The final must-have ingredient for breaking through to CEOs…

About the author: 

Drawing Attention author Stu Heinecke is one of The Wall Street Journal cartoonists, a DMA Hall of Fame-nominated marketer, and founder and President of Seattle-based CartoonLink, Inc.  His unique brand of “CEO contact campaigning,” using the magic of cartoons, has allowed him to break through to Presidents, Prime Ministers, celebrities, CEOs and countless top decision-makers.

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Sales Leadership Talent of Enjoyment of the Job

Enjoyment of one’s job is a necessary sales leadership talent. Yet job satisfaction continues to allude many individuals as evidenced Manpower study in 2012. If you do not enjoy your job, how can you be believable or credible?

According to Innermetrix, this sales leadership talent of job enjoyment is simply defined as:

“The feeling that one’s job is both fulfilling and rewarding and that it has a positive and useful benefit.”

In examining the study by Manpower, two thirds of those surveyed had negative feelings about their jobs.  These negative feelings confirm other data from this research and mirror what happens when sales people or others fail to demonstrate this sales leadership talent.  Innermetrix concludes “It is possible to ‘love’ the job, yet still score low in this capacity, due to being deeply frustrated by some aspect of that job that keeps them from doing the job as they would like to.  This could be a lack of time or resources, inadequate skills, insufficient self-confidence, etc.  If this capacity is low it is important to take a close look at the position and person and determine which scenario is involved (i.e., internal or external) since only then can movement be made towards correcting the problem.”

When sales people enjoy their job there is a tendency to “view their job as more than simply a means to earn an income, but rather a valuable endeavor that proves beneficial to others as well as him or her self.”

This past week in speaking with several local salespersons much of the poor sales performance is because these dedicated sales professionals are facing ongoing internal obstacles especially within the area of small business management and leadership. From the hording of house accounts to the confiscation of new accounts as house accounts to not having a clear marketing message, all contribute to sales professionals not finding enjoyment in their jobs.

Maybe no other sales leadership talent is so directly connected to small business management and leadership as this one. If you want your small business to increase sales, then look internally and be willing to recognize you as senior leadership might be the problem.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who disrupts the status quo by discovering new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their current employees as well as executives in chaos.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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