Archive for July, 2014

Leadership and the Truth Market

One would think the telling the truth would be welcomed especially by the leadership within small business to mid size firms. Yet after 30 plus years in business, the truth appears to have a much smaller market.

leadershipI am reminded of the famous line in a “Few Good Man” where Jack Nicholson shouts “You can’t handle the truth.” How many business leaders really want to face the truth when it comes to their businesses to their leadership to their own personal lives?  The truth is sometimes not kind and those who speak the truth are viewed suspiciously.

Let me share an example that I have experienced about this small market for the truth during the last 17 years. Since I support small businesses to increase sales, I have met with many small business owners who have lack luster sales and want more consistent, sustainable productivity by their sales team.

After listening to them tell me their sales problems, I am asked “Can you help me?”  My response is usually “Yes” with this caveat “You do not have a sales problem as the inability to increase sales is a symptom of a greater problem. The real problem is poor to inconsistent leadership on your behalf.”

At this point in time in the conversation, one could hear a pin drop.  The facial expressions from these small business owners range from anger to bewilderment.

Usually, the next response is “No one else has told me this.”  Sometimes I will also hear, “I have spoken to other business coaches and SMB consultants, they did not tell me I was the problem.” Here is where I sometimes lose a potential client because he or she was not ready for the truth and wanted me to fix a symptom not the real underlying problem. My response is a respectful:

“I have no control over what other business coaches or consultants recommend. I do know that only addressing your sales problem will not be sustainable and in 6 months  problem will more than likely reappear. At that time if you have hired me, you may reaffirm any negative beliefs about investing in coaches and consultants. Since my reputation is on the line, I would prefer not to have that scenario take place.”

For those sales leads who do not walk away, I am then asked “Why do you believe I have a leadership problem?” Upon hearing this question, I repeat what I have been told and how each of those concerns reflect inconsistent leadership by them and sometimes by others within their organizations.

Beyond small business owners not liking to hear the truth, the other reason for the small market for the truth is some business coaches and consultants would rather do what their clients want while ignoring what their clients need. These individuals rationalize they are meeting the client’s wants as according to the proposal and know they will be back because the real problem is not addressed.

There is a lot of money to be made by never addressing the real problem, the truth. And the sad part is sometimes the  truth is a far simpler solution and much less costly.

P.S. This Leadership-Align-Audit-ADVSYS (adapted from Fail-Safe Leadership with permission) may help you to determine if there are some leadership issues within your business.

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Sometimes in Sales All You Have Is a Loose Gas Cap

Right now, are your sales sucking, not where you want them to be?

salesAre you considering bringing in a sales coach or business consultant to help turnaround your under performing team?

Before you sign on the dotted line, it may make sense to ask yourself do you need a complete engine overhaul or possibly you just have a loose gas cap?

The reason for this question is if you engage in some extensive training, adopt the latest trendy sales approach, you still may not achieve sustainable results if there is something wrong that is not connected to your overhaul.

This disconnect is called 5 Star Model of Alignment t and can be determined through one or several diagnostics if not just a few well directed questions.  For example, your business provides a new solution and yet your sales team continues to sell the older offering.  You are perplexed and decide the team must need more training about this new solution.

In a discussion with an ethical consultant, he asks about the compensation model and discovers selling the old solution is more financially rewarding than selling the new one.  All the sales training in the world would not have corrected this misalignment between strategy and rewards.

Then there is the ever present small business owner who is continually scrambling for sales.  The small business coach listens to her growth problems and determines the problem is executive leadership because the small business owner has allowed certain behaviors to continue without any consequences.  Again all the sales training would not helped this misalignment between strategy, processes (performance appraisals), rewards and people. (5 Star Model)

Great business coaches and management consultants have the capacity to find those loose gas caps.  In many instances, these professionals are far more affordable than the prestigious management consulting firms because they do not have the extensive overheard. Additionally if these professionals are local, they have an inherent greater investment in the local business community.

If you are having some less than positive business growth, hiring someone with a different perspective makes sense.  Just make sure you don’t have a loose gas cap before you invest your profits into something that still may not address the barrier to increase sales.

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Sales Leadership Temperament of Negative Part 21

For the last 20 weeks, this blog on Tuesdays addressed the 20 external temperaments beginning with Pessimistic and ending with Virtuoso.  Some of these talent management temperaments complement those in sales leaders roles while others probably should be avoided.

sales-leadershipToday begins understanding the 20 internal sales leadership temperaments with the first one being Negative.  As in all temperaments, having a neutral internal temperament where one does not view oneself or one’s life with an overly positive  (optimism) or overly negative (pessimism)  light is preferred.

Having a negative sales leadership temperament is not good and one that probably should be identified before hiring.  This individual views himself or herself negatively.  These individuals have:

What all this negatively means is such an individual possess a self concept that  “provides very little if any self-esteem.” This person may also have “a tremendous sense of guilt and self-doubt.” (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

This negativity extends into the lack of accomplishment and suggests individuals with this internal negative bias of practical thinking are very hard on themselves and “never really feel satisfied with whatever results” they achieve. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

The  negative systems judgment reveals an “inability to make decisions and commit.”  With all this internal negativity, those with this temperament “probably have difficulty getting excited about anything.” (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Common sense suggests hiring such a person for a sales role is ill advised given sales success comes from more from the inside that from the outside.  By identifying such a person up front before hiring him or her may save a small business thousands of dollars (think profits).

The Innermetrix Attribute Index is a proven talent assessment tool that works with your desire to find the best people for any position as well serves as a means to develop yourself or your employees to become better at what you or they are currently doing.

 

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Today If You Had Only One Marketing Wish, It Would Be?

Today is your lucky today.

marketingYour business Fairy Godmother granted you one marketing wish and only one to be made in the next 24hours.

What would that wish be?

Now before you answer, think carefully.

This is an incredible opportunity and one not to be answered quickly or carelessly.

Invest the time to think of the consequences of your wish.

For example, do you wish to have thousands of unique visitors to your website?  Can your server handle that traffic?

Then again, you may want the phone to ring off the hook all day with qualified sales leads.  What happens when some of those sales leads get a busy signal or do not leave a voice mail message?

Possibly it may make sense to review your marketing plan within your strategic plan to bring some clarity to that wish?’

Revisiting your ideal customer profile as well as sales to date may also make sense at this time along with these other questions:

Is your wish WAY SMART?

Did you WRITE it down?

Is it ACTIONABLE?

Is your wish truly YOURS?

Is it SPECIFIC?

Can you handle the numbers (MEASUREMENT)?

Is your wish ALIGNED to your strategy, structure, processes, rewards and people (5 Star Model)?

Are you being REALISTIC with your wish?

Have you remembered to include a TIME FRAME such as daily, weekly?

By the way, did you notice your marketing wish is very much like a WAY SMART goal?  The only difference is who is taking action.

Louie Armstrong is quoted as saying:

“Goals are dreams with endings.” 

His wise words could be easily revised as

“Goals are wishes with endings.” 

This leads to an obvious conclusion:

You can be your own marketing Fairy Godmother.

All you must do is to turn your wishful dream into a WAY SMART goal.

So get to it!

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Inspiration Is Just a Thought Away

The human mind is very active with some 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts racing across what could be viewed as a multi-level super highway with a plethora of on and off ramps.  What is better or worse depending upon your perspective, an estimated 75% to 85% of those thoughts are at a subconscious level.

inspirationOur inspiration comes from those thoughts bumping into each other as well as the creation of new thoughts, new memories. We see something and our mind races to connect it with something else.  Neurons are flying faster than we can even imagine. This connectivity experience allows us to re-read a book for example and learn something new (have a new thought).

Our challenge is to grab those new thoughts, possibly contemplate them and then integrate them into our daily behaviors (our old thoughts).  Of course when we are so busy just doing what we need to do, we may fail to capture those inspirational thoughts.

There are ways to overcome our own busy state such as keeping a notebook near by or a smart device and making a note. Write down that thought when you have it instead of later attempting to remember it. Many smart devices have the ability to record short verbal notes.

Another way to capture those inspiring thoughts is to schedule some quiet time. Reflection time serves many purposes because it reduces stress, allows the mind to re-energize and provides an opportunity to think without additional distractions.

Running or physical activity is another mindful strategy to increase one’s ability to be inspired. And of course there is always reading and intentionally asking yourself:

  • What does this mean to me?
  • How can I use this to improve my life?
  • If I liked or disliked what I just read, why?

These questions work for both non-fiction and fiction.

Yes we as human beings all have the capacity to be inspired, to leave the current status quo and move forward.  All we must do is to recognize our inspiration is just a thought away.

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The Self Improvement Mindset, How’s Yours?

Ah, Saturday a day of relaxation for some or a day of organized chaos for others. However for the forward thinking leaders, Saturday is another day of self improvement.

self improvementOne of my colleagues, Rick Gosser, has been on a  self improvement quest since he lost over 130 pounds.  Each day he runs and embraces the new daily opportunities.  By changing his mindset of improving himself, he now supports others who wish to improve their own physical health. In the process, he has more energy, a different attitude toward clients and colleagues. Life for him is much better and business has never been better.

Self improvement is a mindset because how we think motivates us.  We can turn this mindset into a talent as noted within the Innermetrix Attribute Index.

Over 2,000 years ago Buddha shared how our lives are like a wheel with six sections and when we are out of balance we fail to be as happy and productive as we could be.  Today some are aware of the Life Wheel, but from my experience more are not.

I have developed this eight(8) section Life Wheel:

  • Purpose
  • Mental
  • Family
  • Financial
  • Ethics & Beliefs (Spiritual)
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Career

When looking at this Life Wheel, Mental is directly across from Physical. I noticed when working with clients as well as in my own life that when I am not well physically my mental acuity suffers.  This counter balance happens within other areas of our lives and sometimes we may be intentionally off balance due to the some goals such as taking a new job.

Until we know where we are, it is far more difficult to have sustainable success regarding our own self improvement. Yes as in all aspects of our lives, we have a choice to continue to develop ourselves, improve our lives or to stay where we are. That choices starts with our mindset.

Download this PDF of  Personal-Professional-Wheels and determine exactly where you are.

 

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Sweat Equity Is the SMB Baby Boomers’ Barrier to Retirement

With the silver Tsunami (retiring of the Baby Boomers)  happening right now and the for the next decade plus, many of these Baby Boomers SMB owners have a significant retirement barrier.  When they realize the reality of this barrier, they may have two (2) choices:

baby-boomers

  • Work longer than originally planned
  • Have less money for retirement

The barrier I am referring to is the belief that sweat equity is cash in the bank and makes a business more attractive. According to Peter Christman of The Christman Group, he has seen a significant value gap between sweat equity and actual business value.

Selling a small business starts the day the business opens. This is when all policies become documented; all procedures noted; and most importantly strategic planning is integrated into all aspects of the day to day operations.  Unfortunately, for 99.9% of those SMB owners this reality never hit their plates.

Exit planning is the tail end of leadership succession planning.  By developing the people especially those for the role of CEO, you make your company far more attractive.  This people development works in tandem with your overall strategic plan.

However since the majority of SMB lack a comprehensive, written strategic plan and operate more like Captain Wing It than Captain Focus It, no wonder so many small business owners are disappointed when it comes to selling their businesses.

Here are 3 additional realizations if you are considering selling your small business and retiring in the next 3 to 5 years.

  • Answering the question of how much is my business worth is a necessary one
  • Understanding how to convert your sweat equity into cold hard cash is a process and may require you investing some of your profits to be able to increase the business worth of your SMB
  • Recognizing the business worth of your firm and your sweat equity do not correlate is one reality that must be accepted

What you do not what to do is to wait to the last minute and find your retirement may just be extended for 3 to 5 years.

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Leadership Brains, How’s Yours?

Modern technology and ongoing medical advancements have us knowing far more about our brains as well as our minds than ever before. This knowledge is critical for those in leadership positions.  Not knowing how one’s brain works or the brain of others sets up existing and potential leaders for absolute failure.

LeadershipIn the book, Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School, should be required reading for all leaders and wanna be leaders.  This is a simple read with powerful research examples.

Several of these rules appeared to be directed more towards the business world.

Rule #12 is exploration and the author, John Medina, shared the example of Google’s 20% time for exploration (think creativity) and how that time has generated 50% of all new products.  The questions to ask yourself are:

  • How much time do you devote to creativity, to just exploring for the sake of exploration?
  • Is your mind open to pure wonderment?
  • Can you see the same landscape but with different eyes?

Rule #10 is great for businesses because so much of what takes place in the workplace is visual.Yet the desire to over communicate with words potentially negatively impacts effective communication. This is why we have coined the phrase “death by PowerPoint.”

Rule #3 addresses how all brains are wired differently.  Those in leadership roles who understand the basics of brain wiring can become more effective leaders. One exceptional takeaway from rule #3 of wiring can be applied to sales training and leadership development programs. Give much of the sales training and leadership development is based on past K-16 experiences, these experiences ignore how the brains actually functions and its unique wiring.  By understand all brains are different should be reflected in all learning engagements.  One size does not fit all.

Rule #1 is probably the best one for everyone. “Exercise is like candy to the brain.  When we are active, the direct results is a boost in brain power (think critical thinking). Additionally keeping people active reduces dementia and Alzheimer.

Reading books about leadership, about sales, about best small business practices are necessary.  Yet sometimes it makes sense to learn about human nature specific to our brains and how we can improve our results by that knowledge.

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And That Is Why They Call It Sales

One key difference between am average to even good salesperson and a great one centers around having an open mind.  In sales, it is that open mind that allows top sales performers to see abundance where others only see scarcity and end up with their heads in their hands.

A colleague who is selling is upper end priced home had a relator come in for an open house.  Upon looking at the kitchen counters, she immediately exclaimed “You don’t have granite. Granite is expected in homes in this price range.” He responded:

sales

 “You are right and that is why they call it sales.”

The realtor had a very perplex look on her face. He continued:

“”When  I built this home almost 20 years ago, I had two choices, granite or Corian, both selections were priced equally.  Given I do a lot of food preparation, I wanted a sanitary surface. Unless granite is consistently maintained with sealing and polishing, food particles can become embedded in the surface creating the possibility of contamination to actual food poisoning such as salmonella. Corian is a non-porous material and ideal for safe food preparation. So for me the choice was obvious unless you prefer food poisoning?”

The realtor sat in stunned silence because she was not aware of the advantages of Corian over granite. Her mind became immediately closed when she did not see granite counter tops.

The question to ask yourself right now if you are in salesis:

How many times have I had a closed mind and

missed sales opportunities?

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Sales Leadership Temperament of Virtuoso Part 20

If selling is an art, then being a virtuoso would potentially reflect the highest sales leadership mindset. This external temperament reflect a neutral bias in all three dimensions of thought:

sales-leadership

This last external temperament of virtuoso suggests these individuals have achieved what is considered to be a “dynamic balance in all dimensions of thought.”  (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Consider for a moment someone in a sales leadership role who has exceptional focus by being able to be:

  • “Free of bias”
  • “Adaptable”
  • “Versatile”

Better yet, those with this temperament are open to new things,  new ideas.  In other words, they see with new eyes and do not necessarily seek new landscapes.

Would you like one of these individuals to be in your sales team if not one of your top sales performers?

By having a neutrality in all three dimensions of thought, these individuals have a “heightened sense” of self awareness (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index).

As one might imagine, this sales leadership temperament of virtuoso is rare because human beings have biases.  Learning how to unlearn those biases is possible and does happen over time. Of course one never knows one’s temperament until having it assessed through this talent assessment by Innermetrix.

P.S. For the next 20 weeks, each Tuesday beginning 7/30/2014 will examine one of the internal leadership temperaments.

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