Archive for February, 2014

Time to Turn On the Profit Generator

Do you want to accelerate revenue for your small business?

profit-generatorSure you do, doesn’t everyone?

Is business growth only about revenue acceleration?

From my observations in working with mid-size to small businesses, profits are assumed to grow with  revenue and nothing could be further from the truth.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to view a demonstration of a very robust tool aptly named The Revenue Accelerator™ that accelerates sales, but is more importantly a profit generator.

With business being even more competitive, hiring the right salesperson is the first step. The next step is onboarding of that potential top sales performer.

How do you as the sales manager or the small business owner “dump” all your company’s product knowledge, process knowledge or procedure knowledge into that new hire and more importantly how do you know “it stuck” or “did not stick?”

Imagine for a moment you have the ability to consistently walk each new hire through a streamlined onboarding process that will cover everything your top sales performer needs to walk into each and every sales call well prepared (think sales training).  Then further envision that with a quick glance at a computer screen, you can see exactly where that new hire is specific to your onboarding process.  Finally regardless of the size of your business, you have the ability to tailor what needs to be known and the timing of that knowledge?

No longer will those in sales management have to thumb through pages upon pages of assessments, sort through this or that training manual or confirm has this policy or procedure been read.

What happens is the most precious resource of time has been expanded so that you can turn your efforts onto more profit generating activities. Additionally by having everything within the Revenue Acceleator™, errors as a result of not knowing a key piece of the sales process to specific product knowledge have been dramatically reduced. Through this error reduction helps to support a positive profit for each earned sale.

As someone with a Masters of Science in Instructional Design and Technology along with 30 plus years in business, I believe that this is one of the most powerful tools to generate profits because it works with creating alignment between strategy, structure, processes, rewards and people (5 Star Model) in a very simple and thorough methodology.

Additionally I have witnessed far too many top sales performers being thrown into the deep end of the pool with 10 pound weights strapped to their ankles and expected to swim (think make sales). Those weights are everything they are expected to know about the business and solutions, but don’t know.

Yes business growth is about accelerating revenue.

Sustainable business growth is 100% about generating profits.

The question to ask yourself is your mid size to small business working both sides of the business equation?

 

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The Often Overlooked Competitive Advantage

Many small businesses work very hard to stay competitive. They bring in the best technology hardware and software to ensuring their solutions are top of the line specific to quality.  However, far too many appear to overlook this one critical competitive advantage:  7-Rs of Talent Management

competitive-advantageDoes your small business have the right people in the right seats using the right talents for the right decisions for the right results in the right time frame and within the right environment?

The reason I bring this often overlooked competitive advantage up is because of  several conversations I have had this week. One of the consistent themes within all these conversations was about employee performance or lack there of.

Many small businesses fail to invest the time to hire correctly.  They do not have a consistent process to ensure they are employing the 7-Rs of Talent Management. Some tell tale signs include:

  • No screening process or limited screening process outside of a background check (right people)
  • Poor job descriptions or no job descriptions (right seats)
  • Absence of any talent assessment process that including decision making styles (right talents, right decisions)
  • No strategic plan or one that is not regularly reviewed (right results)
  • Poor communication about priorities of workflow (right time frame)
  • Inconsistent adherence to a values statement (right environment)

When organizations especially those with under 20 employees invest the time to ensure the 7-Rs of Talent Management are in place, they will reduce:

  • Wasted time
  • Negative workplace culture
  • External and internal customer turnover
  • Stress by everyone especially the small business owners and managers
  • Costly mistakes

Additionally, the 7-Rs of Talent Management increase:

  • Workplace productivity
  • Revenues
  • Profits

People make or break any organization. For without people, a business would come to a grinding halt.

Small business owners must hire right and have the supporting structure to ensure happy and productive people. The 7-Rs of Talent Management are a framework to align strategy, structure, processes, rewards and people. (5 Star Model) So if your business is sputtering along or you believe your results are not where they should be, then the chances are pretty good you may be ignoring the most significant competitive advantage you have right under your nose.

If you truly want to sustainable business growth, then scheduled a no risk 20 minute Talent Management Session with Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.759.5601219.759.5601 CST where you will receive:

#1 – Quick assessment of your talent management process

#2 – One business growth strategy to increase results by 20% in 60 days

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Leadership What Truly Matters?

Over time one hears and sees trends or fads come and go. Nowhere is this more evident than in leadership.

leadershipSeveral years ago the word “gravitas” emerged and became firmly connected to leadership.

Media people would say “he or she had gravitas.”  It seemed like one could not go 24 hours without hearing this word of gravitas.

The popular use of gravitas exceeded the original definition of having “dignity of seriousness.” For some the word epitomized the leadership capabilities even though upon closer examination of the individual with gravitas few to none of those real leadership skills actually existed.

As gravitas began to acquire some negative connotations, a new phrase emerged “executive presence.”  As usual the books, articles and experts surfaced all promoting this next best type of leadership. Then we also had servant leadership, strength based leadership to even tribal leadership.

Upon close examination of many of these leadership descriptions, one very important word was consistently missing:

Results

For without results, it truly does not matter what you call leadership.

In some of his early works, Peter Drucker wrote “Leadership is all about results.” Later, he expanded leadership as “lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, raising a person’s performance to a higher standard and the building of a person’s personality beyond its normal limits.” In this second description, the word results was still implied.

Sometimes human beings make a subject more difficult than it really needs to be.  This is natural because everyone brings his or her own experiences into the discussion not to mention wanting to put his or her own spin or ownership on the word.

Over the years I have found Drucker’s first definition to be essential because without results there is no forward progress, no ability to realize the vision or unlock the innate potential residing within all individuals. Yet, we have all witnessed leaders who are so results driven they engage in questionable to even anti-humanity behavior.

Drucker’s second definition implied that the leader had positive values or business ethics.  For me, leadership is just as much about positive core values as it is about results. This bias toward ethics along with a penchant for the KISS theory allowed me to add a second phrase to Drucker’s first definition.

Leadership is all about results through the consistent demonstration of positive core values.

Yes this definition may be viewed as too simplistic by some. However, I also believe each of us are leaders from the frontline work loading the trucks to the CEO. As leaders we are responsible for results and also responsible respective to how we secure those results. Cheating, lying, misrepresenting the truth, hurting others to get ahead are not what make good leaders.

If you prefer the more “fancy, dancy” descriptions of leadership, I can appreciate your position. For me, simple works best and simple is a far easier message to share allowing people to get what leadership mean and more importantly allowing those leaders to get back to work.

P.S. Fail-Safe Leadership is a great book to determine if your organization has leadership problems.

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The Common Conundrum for Small Business Sales

Small business owners including many not for profits love their solutions.  They enjoy delivering their products or services because they believe their products or solutions are the “cat’s meow.”

small-business-salesWhat happens is these dedicated small businesses focus far too much time on delivering their solutions or even creating new solutions (think playing with a Rubric’s Cube) and not enough time on small business sales (marketing and selling).

The end result is this common conundrum “delivery of solutions” versus “marketing and selling” of solutions.

Newsflash … Small business solutions do not market or sell themselves.

Yes this may be heartbreaking to hear.

Newsflash … You, as the sales professional, must venture forth out of your office to attract attention and begin to build relationships to earn those small business sales.

Sales leads do not fall at your front doorstep without considerable marketing taking place.

Yes it is important to fine tune your offerings, to make them highly polished, glistening for the taking.

However if you never sell them, they will turn like polished silverware or tea servings to a dull gray finish.

Newsflash … Marketing and selling take time and for those starting out is hard work.

Even seasoned sales professionals who enjoy selling, who are energized by the marketing and selling activities associated with small business sales, occasionally get tired from all the hard work and sometimes even a tad disillusioned.

Sitting in your small business office tinkering with your solutions including your marketing brochures, your website is safe and may become your own cave of delusion.

When you go out in the public possibly reluctantly seeking those small business sales, you may subconsciously project your own fears of selling or you may be so focused on your solutions you just make continual pitches and fail to connect on the H2H level. (Human to Human)

Yes it is important to believe in what you have to offer.

With that said, unless you can attract attention, influence others and build those critical relationships, you will be left in your cave, admiring all your handiwork and playing with your Rubric’s cube instead of counting your sales dollars.

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Sales Leadership Temperament of Reformer Part 11

Mention the word reformer especially during the months of February or March and many images may come into a person’s mind such as:

sales-leadership

  • Martin Luther
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Martin Luther King

For those in sales leadership roles, reformer is an external emotional bias and one that is quite common. This eternal bias has:

  • Positive Empathy
  • Negative Practical Thinking
  • Positive Systems Judgment

Those who demonstrate this particular sales leadership temperament have a “high concern for other people and an open acceptance of established rules or structure.” Since sales is about people buy from other people along with using a prescribed sales process, no wonder this temperament is seen frequently. (Source: Innermetrix)

Peeling away the onion a little further, this sales leadership temperament of reformer places  “greater emphasis on people’s needs and problems, and getting things done according to plan.”  What may happen is the quality of work suffers.  (Source: Innermetrix)

For sales people who have this particular temperament of reformer, they probably enjoy working with other “people in a structured environment compared to working as opposed to solitary work or working in a very unstructured place.”  (Source: Innermetrix)

From my own experience in assessing over hundreds of individuals in sales leadership roles, I have discovered the external emotional bias contributes to individual sales success as much as knowing one’s sales leadership talents. The Attribute Index will reveal your sales leadership temperament, 78 key talents and a wealth of other information in less than 15 minutes. This talent assessment is well worth the $47 investment especially if you are not where you want to be respective to your own sales results.

 

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Sales Leadership Talent of Self Assessment

René Descartes wrote on two occasions wrote “I think therefore I am.”  This is a simple self-assessment. As a sales leadership talent, probably more clarification is needed.

sales-leadership-talentFor those in sales or selling roles and that means everyone, self assessment according to Innermetrix, not Descartes, is:

“The ability to practically and objectively identify one’s personal management strengths and weaknesses.  The ability of a person to take the skills and techniques that they have gained in evaluating external situations and applying them to evaluating their own performance and abilities.”

In other words, do you see yourself clearly, without any illusions.

For those who consistently demonstrate this sales leadership talent of self assessment, they are “capable of accurately evaluating their own strengths and weaknesses.” (Source: Innermetrix)

When this sales leadership talent is lacking in an individual, what happens is an internal misjudgement of “his or her own capabilities.” This misjudgement may create an under or over evaluation of the individual’s abilities. The end result may be the inability to consistently set and achieve one’s own personal goals as well as expectations. (Source: Innermetrix)

Sometimes being brutally honest with ourselves hurts and may actually be scary. It is  much easier and less frightening to take the effortless road of “I am who I am.”

If you find yourself misjudging your own strengths or weaknesses, possibly an investment in some external assessment may bring back to you the clarity you need to more accurately determine your own capabilities. Additionally, an outside perspectives from colleagues, friends, mentors or even a business coach may further support you in your endeavor to find that needed clarity.

The Attribute Index is an outstanding tool to provide the clarity for this sales leadership talent of self-assessment along with 77 other talents many of which are necessary sales skills.

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May The Rage of Poor Marketing Ends Quickly

Rage is one of those words with several different meanings ranging from an intense storm to a burning passion to the early adoption or a fad.

poor-marketingLately it seems the rage (fad) to send a rage (intense storm) of blanket emails by raging (passionate) small business owners, in many instances, solo proprietors. Here is one I received just yesterday:

I hope all is well!

I’m writing today with the hope of your support. (insert name) has just celebrated a very successful year! We have been extremely fortunate to work with outstanding companies and talented people since the beginning. We are asking for your help to expand our social media presence by simply following our company’s LinkedIn and Facebook pages. We appreciate your support!

My one sentence response was:

Yes all is well and thank you for asking.

This poor marketing message was sent by a LinkedIn first degree connection who was so passionate he decided to email his entire contact list.  Our last conversation was he was seeking a sales coach.  He did not become a client and my note to myself was “gut tells me there is more than this to meet the eye.” In other words, this guy was picking my brain.  So I should not be surprised by his somewhat questionable and quite poor marketing action.

I then did a quick “Google” search of his company and saw several negative reviews including his leadership behavior as CEO.  What is really frightening he is consulting on leadership.

What unites these in the rage (early adoption I truly hope not) poor marketing messages is the following:

  • No first name
  • A false sense of familiarity
  • A strong to mild passionate request to take some action

My reason for sharing this is with you is my own personal rage (passion) against poor marketing especially ineffective marketing that is being promoted by professionals with questionable business ethics who are teaching and being paid for this rage (fad).

Marketing is not a quick fix, one time hit and “Wha La” sales leads are dropping on your front door step.

Effective, ethical and sustainable marketing takes considerable time to establish. This is why content marketing is no longer a fad, but a stable marketing strategy and tactic to attract attention and begin to build relationships.

Today’s advice is to forget blanket emails that are impersonal and one way (meaning it is all about you).

Look to build authentic relationships built on people knowing you and trusting you.

Yes this action does take time, however as the expression goes Rome was not built in a day nor is a strong market presence.

 

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The Curiosity of Why You and Not Me?

Human beings are curious creatures.

curiosityTheir curiosity has led them to the moon and back as well as to the depths of the ocean.

Sometimes this curiosity is turned inward and may become either a positive action or a negative one.

How many times have you had one of these curious thoughts?

  • Why is my life so difficult?
  • Why is he or she wealthier than I am?
  • Why am I not beautiful?

What sometimes happens is by having the curiosity of scarcity thinking prevents us from appreciating the curiosity of abundance thoughts.

  • Why am I so lucky to have such a great spouse?
  • Why am I so fortunate to have good health?
  • Why am I so blessed with good friends, colleagues and clients?

Yes curiosity is part of the human experience.

To benefit from being curious is up to each of us for we have 100% of control over the thoughts we keep in our head.

So what inspires your curiosity?

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When Head Conversations Collide with Life

Our minds are incredible.

head-conversationsWe store years of experiences, millions of bits of knowledge and boatloads of emotions.

Yet sometimes all that stuff ends up in what I call “head conversations.”

No, this isn’t truly about talking to yourself consciously even though those types of head conversations may happen, but more importantly what are you saying to yourself subconsciously?

You believe you want to get ahead while subconsciously you may be torpedoing those efforts.

How many times do you have those head conversations where you think or speak the word “try?”

Years ago one of my coaches David Herdlinger in a keynote identified “try” as one of the “weasel words” of life.  In my own analysis, try gives you subconscious permission to fail.  No matter how hard you try, your thoughts about trying are holding you back without you even knowing it.

When we appreciate the impact of subconscious behavior, that being 80-90% of all behavior, we might better understand the impact of our head conversations and how they collide with the life we want, but may not currently have.

Sometimes our head conversations happen as a protective mechanism to our self-esteem.

We do not want to fail even though failing is part of life.

To work with our head conversations begins by changing the words we speak, think and write. Eventually, our subconscious will begin to change as well.

Human beings are unique in that we have no control over what comes into our brains, but we have 100% control of what we allow to stay in our brains.

 

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A New Consciousness for Small Business?

Even though more and more individuals are taking the plunge as entrepreneurs and small business owners, they are facing an uphill battle not only with all of the other small businesses but a culture that seems to vilify profits and being a capitalist in general.

small-businessA new book, Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, co-authored by John Mackey (Co-Ceo of Whole Foods) and Raj Sisodia stands up for capitalism and making money. What the authors share is truly nothing new except they have put their experiences into a visual template that connects what many hard working small business owners are already doing.

As I mentioned in my book review of Conscious Capitalism at Ezine articles, this book shows the evolution of John Mackey from being a reluctant capitalist to one who embraces capitalism. This evolution never replaced his own personal core values that have been present since the very beginning of his being an entrepreneur.

During the next several weeks on Fridays, I will be including some of the insight within this book respect to small businesses.  One of the most important insights is this one word – purpose.

With my small business coaching and executive coaching clients, the construction of a purpose statement is one of the first actions I recommend. This statement goes to the heart of why are you here at this moment in time (for individual) or why is your small business here in this moment of time.  Our purpose does evolve as we have new experiences.

For example. when we look at Wells Fargo we can see how its purpose has evolved over time.

Yes as I have said many times, profit is not evil.  What is evil are the behaviors of some business professionals because they do not have a positive core values statement and if they do they fail as leaders to enforce it. A business including profits does not make a person bad. What makes a person bad is his or her inability to adhere to positive core values or what some may call business ethics.

Conscious Capitalism is now in my top 10 business books right behind Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

 

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