Archive for October, 2014

The Scary Fear of Numbers Paralyzes Small Businesses

Today is Halloween with youngsters dressed in scary costumes,  knocking on doors with the all too familiar “trick or treat.” For many small businesses they potentially experience Halloween “trick or treat” weekly because of their internal fear of numbers. Maybe this fear of numbers is some left over phobia from junior high or high school. The only number that doesn’t scare these entrepreneurs is cash flow except for not having any.

small-businessesWhen working with small businesses, I ask about their metrics including key performance indicators (KPI) to measure their progress and even include a check list as we begin the business planning process.  Unfortunately, far too many well over 50% fail to consistently measure anything except cash flow and sales (billing revenue). Now with the evolution of technology and the Internet, numbers or big data is far easier to find and to manage.

To start small, the key numbers revolve around marketing, selling and keeping loyal customers activities such as:


  • Number of sales leads generated
  • Number of meetings or appointments scheduled
  • Number of meetings or appointments held


  • Number of meetings or appointments until sale is earned
  • Number of contacts until sale is earned
  • Number of sales leads to sales earned ratio
  • Profitability of sales such as A, B, C clients


  • Number of repeat sales per customer
  • Number of new referrals or sales leads per customer
  • Number of contacts per customer to determine ease of business or the PITA factor (pain in the arse)


  • Longevity of each employee
  • Investment in each employee
  • Productivity from each employee given approximately only 25% of all employees are actively engaged


  • Fixed costs, up, down or staying the same
  • Indirect costs, up, down or staying the same
  • Capitol expenditures present and future to content with capacity and scalability of organization

Ideal Customer

  • Buyer behaviors
  • Effectiveness of marketing
  • Changes in behaviors and impact on organization

These are only a few of the numbers and data that small businesses should be collecting, reviewing and managing.  Know your numbers is just as critical for small businesses as it is for young school children who must memorize their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables. By not knowing these numbers among others only increases the likelihood of sales stagnation and the loss of your competitive advantage.

And come on, you are an adult and should not be scared by your small business numbers. Leave the trick or treat to those young children.

business-planningThe Triage Planning Workbook walks small business owners and even sales professionals through a not so scary process including identifying key performance indicators in these six areas:

  1. Marketing
  2. Selling
  3. Customer Loyalty
  4. Management and Leadership
  5. Growth and Innovation
  6. Financials


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The Leadership Gap of Management Transition

Going from solo entrepreneur to CEO or from super worker to supervisor or from boss to contract employee because the small business was sold creates a significant leadership gap. The skills that made each individual successful are now different along with the processes that supported his or her success.

leadership-gapToday we call that gap management transition. Yesterday it was called change management.

Regardless of what one decides to call the gap, the challenge is putting together a plan (think bridge) to ensure the profitability of the organization and the continued success of those within the organization.

One great tool to help bridge the inevitable leadership gap that happens because of all the change is the 5 Star Model for Organizational Development as created by Jay Galbraith. This simple tool quickly identifies the gaps between these 5 elements present in any organization:


  • Strategy
  • Structure
  • Processes/Systems
  • Rewards
  • People

Leadership is what unites all of these 5 elements and from this leadership the corporate culture evolves.  Gaps between any 5 elements harms the corporate culture and results in negative results such as:

  • Disengaged employees
  • Higher operating costs
  • Loss of customer loyalty
  • Reduced productivity
  • Staggering sales

To close this gap requires 3 steps:

  1. Assess where the organization through proven organizational assessments is as well as those involved.  Any executive coaching or training and development consulting firm that provides change management, management transition or leadership development that does not begin with an assessing process is in my humble opinion committing malpractice.
  2. Clarify where the real gaps are and what needs to be done to close those gaps. Unfortunately because many firms fail to properly assess the organization or individuals what happens is the real problems are ignored because everyone is looking at the symptoms.
  3. Execute flawlessly.  Execution of strategies and tactics represents an ongoing leadership gap. One may have the best strategies,but if the rest of the team is not up to executing those strategies, the organization is now further behind the 8 ball.

Fail-Safe Leadership

To help determine if your small business (under 20 employees) or mid-size business (20-100 employees) is suffering from a leadership gap, this quick read, Fail-Safe Leadership, may start to bring some clarity to your current issue or issues.


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Authenticity in Sales Is Your Secret Weapon

There are a lot of sales people who fake being truly real.  Sure they say the right things and appear to do some of the right stuff, yet something is missing. And what is missing is authenticity in sales.authenticity-in-sales

Looking up the origins of the root word of authentic, one learns its origins are French, Greek and Latin. The word initially meant “perpetrator, master.”  Contemporary definitions include authoritative, trustworthy and genuine.

Two Critical Elements of Authenticity in Sales

First, what is not mentioned and yet very much part of this word is the motivation behind the individual salesperson. If the motivation is E squared (Economics and Ego), then the authenticity is a facade.  However, when the motivation is a combination of knowledge, independence and leadership (returning to the contemporary definitions), then there is far greater likelihood the person is authentic.

The second critical element is positive core values. In sales, people buy from people they know and trust.  Those who engage in the wink and the nod behaviors, who are less than trustworthy because of the E squared motivation, who rationalize “everyone else does it” lack positive core values. Today more than ever before because of all the unauthentic salespeople, your word is your bond.

An Example

Yesterday, I reconnected with a client who wanted to share with me a significant accomplishment. She and I had worked together several years ago to build a strong strategic foundation for her insurance practice. Her practice was doing well with the usual ups and downs.  Now she was getting back on track and outreached to me about being her executive coach.

What I asked her to do was to engage in some self-reflection because this executive coaching  process was 6 to 12 months and she still lacked some clarity as to what results she wanted from executive coaching.  As we were walking to our cars, I apologized for what is appear to be putting her off because I did not “set the appointment” to begin. She looked at me somewhat surprised and said “No you are exactly right, I need to gain some more internal clarity before I begin.”  Then she continued with “This is why I reached out to you because you are authentic and will not lead me down the wrong path.”

Two Sales and Leadership Axioms

Authenticity in sales is a secret weapon because it is lacking especially during the fourth quarter when everyone is desperate to make quarterly and annual sales goals. If you wish to increase sales, then engage in some self-reflection. Determine if your E squared motivation is your primary motivational driver and is that negatively affecting your desired end results including your reputation. Remember these two sales axioms:

  1. People buy from people they know and trust.
  2. No one cares who much you know until they know how much you care. (Theodore Roosevelt)


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Sales Leadership Temperament of Elevated Part 33

Having delivered hundreds of Innermetrix Attribute Indexes to small business professionals and top sales performers, this sales leadership temperament of elevated is not one I have come across.  This internal temperament reflects these biases:


With a positive self-esteem, there exists a tendency “to place  a lot of focus” on one’s “role and appearance.” Those with positive self-esteem have a “very positive view” of their selves. This positive view may reduce the drive for these individuals because of this elevated view.  The reduced drive may lead to having “a slight lack of ambition.” (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Having the positive role awareness, those with this sales leadership temperament feel they “have already achieved significant levels of development in many areas and will have to look harder to find” their  motivation. The need to simply improve one’s self is reduced.   (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Due to the negative self direction, an individual may “also place too much importance on” his or her job with regards to “how much it means” to whom he or she is as a person.  Additionally, this negative self direction suggests some confusion “as to the best way to proceed to the next higher level of success” in his or her “life at this time.” (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index)

If this sales leadership internal temperament revealed itself during an initial screening process, it would prudent to also given this individual the Values Index (what motivates the individual), the DISC Index (identify some key behaviors) and an emotional intelligence assessment.  These three additional assessments would provide far greater clarity to ensure if hiring this individual for any sales leadership role would be the best action.

The Innermetrix Attribute Index is a powerful tool to understand one’s self and provides a powerful platform to close the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals. Learn more about this talent assessment.

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The Simplicity of Marketing In 115 Words

Marketing is the first phase of sales process. It’s purpose is two fold:


  • Attraction
  • Build a relationship

The goal of marketing is also two fold

  • Make a friend
  • To take one of these 3 actions: (1) Ask for a one on one meeting (B2B); (2) Walk through your brick and mortar store (B2C); (3) Visit your website or Internet store (B2B or B2C)

When done well, successful marketing

  • Creates urgency in the buyer
  • Connects to the buyer’s value drivers
  • Pulls the seller to the buyer
  • Expedites the transference of feelings
  • Makes selling effortless

One final note is if you as the seller don’t have a solid relationship with the buyer, you will not be successful in the second phase of the sales process, selling.


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People, Buzzwords and 2.0 Trend in Leadership, Sales & Everything Else

Just read a Twitter direct message that someone was reading Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Really? Why does everything from sales to leadership to business or even life must have a 2.0 rationale?



I understand how people sometimes are like bees and buzzwords become their honey.  They also like short titles and titles that can quickly describe what the book, speech or event is about. After all,they are crazy busy just like the bees.

What disturbs me is some view the 2.0 as the quick fix to what ails them instead of that next revision or application of existing knowledge. So they can skip ahead to 2.0 and ignore the basics. After all, these small business professionals are like crazy busy bees, buzzing around with limited time or so they believe.

Then there is the issue that 2.0 in many instances implies some aspect of technology or social media. Additionally there are some less than ethical authors, speakers, executive coaches, business coaches and consultants who see adding 2.0 buzzword to their sales training, leadership development, speech or books as a way to make more money without delivering anything truly new.

In the  instance of  Emotional Intelligence 2.0, this book appears to be taking existing knowledge and applying it. This book has nothing to do with social media or technology as the platform for delivering the knowledge and is probably the exception.

However I would still recommend gaining a basic understanding of emotional intelligence specifically from a leadership perspective before reading this book.  Probably the best practical guide on emotional intelligence as a primer is Daniel Goleman’s Working with Emotional Intelligence.

Yes knowledge will advance and yes we do require some way of knowing the knowledge is at that next level. Just be careful that you have the existing knowledge in leadership, sales, etc.  and are not seeking the quick fix because some busy bee told you.

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The New Small Business Motto Change or Suffer the Consequences

small businessYears ago a book called Change or Die revealed that facts, fear or force will not change human behavior. As I continue to listen to small business owners and independent sales professionals, I realize they may also be experiencing a reluctance to change. Possibly by embracing these 3 R-Keys as noted by the author Alan Deutschman, they can be more open to the opportunities within all the changes in the marketplace.


  • Relate to others by forming new emotional relationships
  • Repeat the new behavior with the support of the new relationship or relationships
  • Reframe  how you think through this new relationship or relationships

No one goes it along as noted by historical figures through the annals of time.

Yet the resistance to change insanity continues to prevail for so many small businesses.  Even with all the research from the reports of small business failure rates to disengaged and therefore costly employees, the resistance to change is for many still Job #1.

After working with small businesses over for 15 plus years and with over 25 years in corporate sales specific to small business, these change resistance barriers are still very present:

  • No strategic planning process with completed written, goal driven action plan
  • Captain Wing It behaviors of spraying and praying
  • Ignoring the impact of technology respective to marketing, selling and overall operations
  • Poor to ineffective executive leadership
  • “Super worker” to “Super visor” syndrome

If you want your small business to thrive and to flourish, then face up to the change.  Embrace it, don’t fear it.  Determine if the change is a good fit for you, your employees if you have any and your business. Do what you need to do to implement the change so your firm will not die or suffer the consequences such as:

  • Declining profits
  • Declining marketshare
  • High turnover of employees
  • Lack of repeat customers
  • Increasing internal operations costs

Only you have the power to challenge and change the current status quo. If you need some support, find it.  Remember those 3-Rs begin with a new emotional relationship.

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Fraudulent Leadership Continues with Approval

Leadership has many definitions from the simplest offered by Peter Drucker “Leadership is all about results” to a more complex definition of “Leadership is 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.” (Peter Drucker) Unfortunately, there are many leaders who are frauds and they exist with approval.

leadershipApproximately 4 years ago, there was uncovered some academic leadership fraud at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. An investigation ensued with the results begin recently released.  This 136 page investigative report confirmed thousands of students received As and Bs without doing the work.  What I found particularly interesting was the following statement:

“Over nearly two decades, professors, coaches, and administrators either participated in the scheme or overlooked it, undercutting the core values of one of the nation’s premier public institutions.”

In simpler terms, many knew the emperor was naked and yet no one said anything.

This begs the question why didn’t someone say something given these collective behaviors ran against the university’s core values?  That answer is simple because fraud is becoming an accepted core value.

Over the last decade I have read numerous research reports about fraud,cheating, dishonesty from high school to post graduate students. Then we have all the public officials who have been convected of fraudulent behavior. A recent comment by a Chicago talk radio host said about the current governor “well he hasn’t been sent to prison.”  For Illinois this appears to have come a standard for a leader in government, not going to prison.

How low will we as citizens, taxpayers go to support fraudulent leaders?

The reason we have bad leadership is because we as citizens, employees, parents, professionals allow it for whatever the reason.  Usually that reason has to do with one’s own self preservation at the expense of one’s positive core values.

Justification becomes the guide.

What is also curious is many of these same individuals who benefit by the fraud will point their fingers at the fraud being committed by others. That is called hypocrisy.

My sense is part of the reason for the increase in fraudulent leadership is the false premise of “non-judgment.”  We cannot judge others.  So bad behaviors continue. Institutions such as Chapel Hill become the enclave of non-judgmental behavior.

Again, no one wants to judge the emperor as naked even thought most know the emperor is naked.

Part of the solution is for everyone to write down their own core values and make a personal commitment to adhere to those principles.  For some the Ten Commandments may work while others may live by the Golden or Platinum Rule.

The other part of the solution is to identify fraudulent leadership and if necessary call it out.  This call out can be done privately and yes sometimes it may have to go public depending upon the strength of conviction. Of course in some instances, individuals may take a negative loss specific to status and recognition as well as monetary.

Fraudulent leadership exists because we as other leaders give it permission to exist. Until we change our behaviors and have the courage to challenge these dishonest leaders, we will continue to read and potentially participate in these frauds.

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If You Want to Increase Sales, Stop with the Rotten Sales Management

People especially top sales performers leave rotten sales management more than money from my 30 plus years of experience.  It is truly hard to believe with all the books, workshops, seminars, sales training and sales coaching, rotten sales management still exists, but it does and appears to be growing.

sales-managementOnce again after talking to a new sales coaching client who is relatively young and new to sales, the barriers for a high performance culture still exist. Those in sales management and in executive leadership appear to manage and to lead by these three rotten management styles:

  • Favoritism of another salesperson or salespersons
  • Fear by the sales manager that the salesperson will outperform him or her
  • Force (implied)


Sales managers are human beings and human beings for the most part have positive or negative biases.  Favorites happen especially when some less than authentic professionals can see through their sales managers and quickly “brown nose” to get ahead. Having favorites gives the sales manager a built in support team. Additionally when the sales managers have self esteem issues, favoritism rears its ugly head.

For example, how many times have sales managers been told in confidence about a terrific new sales lead by one of their team members and then quickly share it with another member whom they favor?

Then there is always the redistribution of accounts and good accounts go to the “favorite” team members while the “dog accounts” go to those not in favor.  When salespeople ask how the accounts were assigned, management and executive leadership hem and haw because there is not established protocol with specific criteria.


The majority of current sales managers from my experience and observations have been top sales performers for their respective firms.  They fall into the “super worker, super visor syndrome.”  The job and task specific sales skills they needed as a super salesperson are not necessarily the skills required to be a super manager.

Then what happens a top sales performer comes on board and all of a sudden the sales manager fears he or her past accomplishments will become second or third place on the wall of top sales performers. He or she then begins in engaging in sabotage type behaviors because fear is driving the sales manager’s style of managing.


How many times have I heard this statement “If you don’t like it here, then quit.” or how about “You must do this or that?” Then there are those sales managers who through the force of their position demean their team members.

Force has been proven as one of the worst extrinsic motivators. Yet those in sales management continue to rely on this as an effective solution to increase sales.

Yes rotten sales management still exists. Maybe it is time for management to be interviewed by potential sales candidates.  Wouldn’t that be interesting?

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Sales Leadership Temperament of Indulgent Part 32

Many of us probably would not think of the word indulgent when it comes to sales leadership. Probably we may think of indulging in chocolates or some other incredible rich food. Yet this internal temperament may be a good fit for some specific small businesses.

sales-leadershipSalespeople with this temperament of indulgent demonstrates these internal biases:

As in past blog posts, when the self-esteem is positive, individuals have “reached an objective appreciation” for themselves. Additionally those with this temperament “don’t undervalue” their “own self worth.” (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

What happens is with the negative role awareness, they “are more likely to undervalue the ability of any single job” they could hold to make themselves “complete or feel totally satisfied.”  Those with this sales leadership temperament “place more value on being disciplined and following their own sense of direction or own internal rules.” (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

The neutral self direction (internal systems judgment or thinking) is neutral meaning showing neither positive or negative bias and this is the preferred temperament state.

Possibly with this sales leadership temperament, these individuals might be good for independent sales representatives where there is flexibility when it comes to rules or procedures. Allowing those with this temperament of indulgent to write their own rules or to find agreement between the firm’s rules and their rules may help to retain them.

If you are curious about learning more about how you may decisions, your biases and your talents (all 78 of them), then consider this talent assessment.


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