Archive for October, 2015

The Scariness of Forward Thinking Leadership

Believe it or not what scares many people are those individuals who demonstrate forward thinking leadership.  For it appears, those who claim to what the status quo to change truly don’t want that change because change threatens their own authority, influence and power.

forward-thinking-leadership

Credit www.gratisography.com

For the last 30 plus years I have been observing the leadership dynamics here in Northwest Indiana.  What I have noticed is there have been very few forward thinking leaders.  The reality is those moved into leadership roles only reinforce the existing status quo, leadership mentality.

Forward thinking leadership requires courage, the ability to persevere and a culture at least open to change.  Unfortunately when the existing culture truly thinks the status quo is working including any new strategies this is the first big BOO.

In the book Start with Why, Simon Sinek shared the Law of Diffusion of Innovations’ curve.  Only 2.5% of the population are truly innovators.  These are the forward thinking leaders.  They are ahead of the flow.  The next 13.5% are the early adopters who probably have some forward thinking leadership traits.

Think about those two statistics for a moment.  Only 16% of the population are truly engaged in forward thinking leadership.

Everyone else is a follower; afraid to jump in; looking for confirmation from others before taking action.

Isn’t it sad that those who want the best for a business, a community or a country are in many cases turned away because their ideas challenge the status quo? Of course, there are some who may have status quo changing innovative ideas, but they lack the leadership skills including emotional intelligence to convince others.  These individuals are not forward thinking leaders. No they are spoiled, whiners who point the fingers are their opposition.

Yes forward thinking leadership is truly more scary than all those Halloween costumes and frightening movies.

Happy Halloween!

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Plagiarism in Content Marketing May Come with a Tsunami Backlash

Many independent small business owners especially in the executive coaching and consulting arenas engage in quality content marketing to attract attention and begin to build relationships. Unfortunately, some not so ethical individuals decide with all the good to great content out there why write their own when they can plagiarize the works of others.

content-marketingThis plagiarism has happened to myself as well as some of my colleagues including Anthony Iannarino, Dan Waldschmidt and David Herdlinger.

What now is happening is through a community of like minded sales professionals that I have the fortune to know, they have mobilized to stop these plagiarists by making comments on the postings.  The most recent one just happened in the last 48 hours over at LinkedIn Pulse.

When Anthony noticed his posting being shared through a different LinkedIn member who claimed the work as his own, Anthony made a call out to this one community.  They quickly assembled and made comments on this posting to shame the would be plagiarizer. The posting was removed in less than 6 hours.

The other backlash is one of the members of this community decided to quickly buy this plagiarizer’s URL website.  He also demanded a public apology on LinkedIn within 24 hours.

Additionally, now over 40 sales professionals are aware of this person’s extreme lack of ethics.  His name will be mud even though it is across the pond and not here in North America. The power of the Internet is extremely fast and far reaching.

What is really interesting to note is the effectiveness of having a community of like minded individuals who support your quality content marketing efforts as you support their quality content marketing efforts. I just looked up this plagiarizer on Twitter and discovered all of his last 10 plus LinkedIn Pulse postings have been removed. Yes, this group has this thief quivering in his boots or at least at his keyboard. He made a formal apology to Anthony and hopefully has learned his lesson.

I am sure there are hundreds of my articles that have been sliced and diced by unethical individuals.  Keeping track of them for me is not a good use of my time.  When I do come across them, I do ask for immediate retraction.  For the most part, I have had them retracted with apologies.

Quality content marketing is an excellent marketing strategy and marketing tactic to attract attention and begin to build relationships.  Just remember, you should be the author and not plagiarize the works of others because you may be drowned by the Tsunami backlash.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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The REALLY BIG Upselling Sales Mistake

In the ongoing quest to increase sales, many professional salespeople continue to make this sales mistake when upselling:

They upsell before they have earned the first sale!

When working with a ideal potential customer, the goal is to earn the first sale by gaining a commitment to the solution desired by the potential customer.  This is not the time to upsell or change the buying field.

sales-mistake

Give the customer what he or she wants or expects as the first solution.  If you want to upsell, then make that offer to the potential customer only after you have gained a commitment to your initial solution.

All those additional bells and whistles (offered as additional savings) usually mean nothing to the prospect unless he or she wanted them in the first place or if they connect to their value drivers. The goal is to solve their first problem.

This REALLY BIG upselling sales mistake often happens in these scenarios:

Business Consultants and Executive Coaches – The consultant or the coach sees far more than the ideal customer and overwhelms the sales prospect with his or her solution.  If the fact finding has been lazy, then the business consultant or executive coach should stay with the initial request.

Insurance Non-Health – The agent wants all the insurance and provides a solution including insurance not requested by the prospect.  Also, poor fact finding may be part of the reason for this upsell.  One of the key questions to ask is “What are you satisfied with your current provider?”

Insurance Health – With all the changes in health care, insurance brokers rely on subject matter experts such as accountants and even lawyers to ensure the right information. Sometimes these subject matter experts decide to go beyond what the sales prospects wants.  These efforts are not necessarily viewed as positive by the prospect.

Marketing Firms – With so many small business owners not having the resources to have separate marketing departments, they turn to marketing firms.  Again, what happens is the desire by the firms to make all their money in the first sale.  The sales prospect is overwhelmed with the solution including the price.

Sales Referral – With 97.7% of all small businesses in the US having under 20 employees, sales referrals are a proven way to increase sales.  Unfortunately, some believe the sales referral is permission to upsell.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  What happens is person who made the sales referral may end up having egg on his or her face because the potential customer is internally upset with the up sell sales pitch.

Up selling is a good strategy to increase sales. However this sales strategy must be applied when appropriate and when the relationship is truly solidified.  To engage in up selling without a solid relationship is REALLY BIG sales mistake.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Will You Be Suffering from Trust in Sales Erosion?

A recent poll from Gallup revealed Americans trust the media far less today than just 16 years ago.  Today only 40% of Americans trust the media compared to 55% back in 1999. Possibly this demonstrated erosion is also impacting trust in sales.

trust-in-salesIf the general public is becoming less trusting of past trusted resources, then it makes sense trust in sales may also be suffering.

People buy from people they know and trust. Sometimes like comes into the mix, but knowing and trusting always come first.

Top sales performers are those who have demonstrated trust in sales. Yet trust can be weakened especially when customers are ignored or their business taken for granted.

This trust erosion appears to be especially true for those ages 18-49 where they have only 36% trust in the media compared to those 50 or older who have 45% trust.

Staying abreast of what the general public is feeling is important to anyone in mid size to small businesses and especially for those in sales.  It appears people are becoming less trusting and potentially more cynical and even jaded when it comes to establishing and maintaining trust.  Possible social media has also had a negative impact on building trust in sales.

What salespeople may wish to take away from this poll on trust in the media is trust in sales can also change.  This is not the time to take any clients for granted. Possibly now is the time to consider putting together a marketing plan in which each clients receives at least one to two contacts per month and potential clients may require two to three contacts.

If people do not know you, it is hard for them to trust you.  Sure they may have known you years ago, but more importantly do they know you today and how do you know they know you?

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

 

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The Rembrandt Win in Sales

Sports have a vocabulary all of their own.  In baseball for example, a pitcher who consistently just touches the corners of the strike zone is considered a Rembrandt because he is painting the corners.

win-in-salesSometimes a win in sales is very much like a Rembrandt. The salesperson just touches the corners and earns the sale with a little more subtlety than having a throw the pitch right down the middle.

When we look at opportunities in sales, the corners may represent different wants or needs or even values that the prospect or ideal customer has.  In some instances, these important issues have not been recognized or even identified by other salespeople.

When salespeople always seek the strike zone, right down the middle with their sales pitch, they may end up looking and sounding like all the other gray suits in the crown. This approach may not help them win in sales. However, when they seek to Be the Red Jacket, they begin to differentiate themselves and truly learn to go beyond the obvious. This when their goal to increase sales becomes reality.

Not all pitchers can paint a strike throw like a Rembrandt, but all salespeople can. This takes experience, knowledge and most of all placing the potential ideal customer or prospect first. Here is where top sales performers let go of their egos and ease up on their economic motivation to win in sales.  They know if they care about the potential ideal customer and meet his or her needs, they will increase sales provided they have the right potential  ideal customer.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Value Creation – The Truth Leaks Out

There is a lot of spin in sales about value creation.  In fact, books, webcasts, seminars to sales training events continue to push that salespeople can create value.  Some recent marketing research by Spong is now revealing what I have said for years:

value-creation

Value is created by the buyer not the seller.

Buyers put a greater value on their own personal experience or their close friends and family than on what experts believe or the actual brands themselves. This preference is not a small percentage, but rather at 74%.  Pretty significant, wouldn’t you say?

If buyers rely on their own experiences, then how can any salesperson create value?

To understand buying behaviors require those in sales to understand the existing values (the beliefs) residing within those buying experiences.

What top sales performers do, almost instinctively, is they connect to the value drivers (some of which may have been un-articulated) of their ideal customers.  This may help to explain why there is a perception of value creation by salespeople.

This research also suggests as buyers age, their beliefs about brand attributes also increases. Another interesting fact is quality still appears to be a top buying driver.

Years ago my father shared in sales there are three primary factors:

  • Cost
  • Delivery
  • Quality

Usually, most buyers are not willing to give up quality or delivery, but are willing to give up cost.  Hence, money is not the deciding factor to increase sales many believe it to be.

The good news for local small business salespeople is 30% of the buyers appear to appreciate local brands over national brands.

Where there is a sales advantage is within those buyers who have expressed neutrality among brand preference.  This is where the salesperson can through active listening and effective questioning can learn what those value drivers are for the potential customer.

By believing in value creation by salespeople may lead those hungry salespeople down the wrong path especially for small businesses where their sales team is also their marketing team.  Possibly the best lesson from this marketing and consequently sales research is to just listen to what is being said instead of presuming you as the salesperson already know what your sales prospect needs or wants.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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A Bump in the Road Is Part of Life

Did you ever plan something and then have something interfere with what you were attempting to achieve?

How did you respond to that bump in the road?

bump-in-the-roadDid you throw your hands up and quit?

Did you take a deep breath, realize it was just another bump in the road to overcome and proceed forward?

Life is not perfect.

Life is filled with incredible opportunities and many of those opportunities are wrapped with roads that are difficult to walk.

Walking those roads is not easy.  Sometimes there are bumps. Sometimes the road stops and a new road must be found or even forged.

When we learn to accept a bump in the road is just a bump in the road, we are far closer to achieving our desired end result.

This acceptance has many names including determination, grit, perseverance, resiliency to even stubbornness.  Through this acceptance, we can apply our emotions, emotional intelligence, experience and intelligence to overcome what is impeding our forward progress.

Yes a bump in the road, is just a bump in the road.  Forward thinking leaders realize how they react to that  bump is 100% their choice.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Do You Sound Like a Professional Salesperson or a Politician?

The now 365 day a year social media postings to political campaigns, buyers and voters see and hear a lot of politicians pitching what they can do for the electorate. This is a great opportunity to learn what is takes to be a professional salesperson.

professional-salespersonFirst, stop with the sales pitches.  “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” These words of Theodore Roosevelt are still very true.  Those who make sales pitches ignore their customers because their egos are front and center along with their pocketbooks.

Look at me; look at what I can do for you!

Second, go beyond the 15 and 30 second sound byte. Invest the time as a professional salesperson to develop a relationship and establish some credibility.

Third, leave your ego at the door.  No one cares about you, your company or your solution.  They care about having a problem solved that usually has been solved without success by some other salesperson.  So they are very jaded in listening to what you have to say.

Fourth, as a professional salesperson be knowledgeable about your solution and more importantly about the potential customer along with current and future market trends.  What may earn you the sale is your ability to demonstrate your knowledge and then your ability to educate your ideal customer.

Fifth, remember to be emotionally intelligent.  People will ignore a lack of emotional intelligence if their pain is so great and you speak directly to that pain.  However, to walk this path can be very dangerous because you may be viewed as an ego maniac to bombastic blowhard.

As a professional salesperson, the last thing you want to sound like is a politician pitching for votes.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Clarity Is the Essence of Executive Coaching

Why engage in executive coaching?  The answer is quite simple – clarity.

executive-coachingAfter being an executive coach for over 15 years, clarity is the most illusive aspect of our lives, myself included.  Those individuals who have absolute clarity also have a clearly internalized purpose for taking the actions they take.

Over the years I have shared this personal story about my Swedish grandmother.  No, she did not have an executive coach, but she had incredible clarity.  At the age of 18 with less than a high school education, she made a decision to bring her family (that she did not have at that time) from Sweden to America and to have at least one child born in America.

Her clarity resulted in a 20 year plus action plan that involved her brother, her husband and her four children. She arrived in America at Ellis Island from Sweden at the age of 40 not knowing she was pregnant with my father.

Over the years I had the privilege to listen to her stories and all I can say, beyond she was amazing, was her sense of clarity.  I wished I had her clarity at 18.

Executive coaching is a process about bringing clarity to a client.  This clarity is the result of active questioning and not so active questioning. Much of the clarity happens by just changing the words the client thinks, speaks and writes.

By changing the words we think, speak and write, we shift our perspective.  That shifting creates new clarity.  Additionally through those new words, we have probably gained emotional intelligence.

The goal of executive coaching is for the client to gain crystal clarity around each issue currently being faced.  These issues may be:

  • Working with other team members
  • Better management of the boss and direct report relationship
  • Barriers to increase sales
  • Home life eruptions
  • Self awareness including role awareness

Possibly why today so many people lack clarity is because we are facing incredible amounts of change. I read today we experience more change in one year than our grandparents experienced in their entire lifetimes.

When life is simpler and filled with less ongoing change, it is easy to maintain one’s clarity as my grandmother demonstrated. Today, life is more complex because of change and finding clarity is more difficult.

If you are not happy with the path you are on; if you are having trouble separating the impact of change and the resulting behaviors; or if you wish to strengthen your own internal self awareness, then possibly executive coaching is a reasonable solution.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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The Dead Box in Sales

The Dead Box in sales appears to be growing.

sales

  • Cold calling is dead
  • Close ended questions are dead
  • Traditional selling is dead

Almost every day the word dead appears connected to some aspect of selling. If there was a sales graveyard, it would be littered with a lot of tombstones.

I remember learning about how death can be premature as noted by Mark Twain who wrote:

“…the report of my death was an exaggeration.”

So why are there so many reports of exaggerated deaths in this dynamic field? My sense is it is one of three reasons or a combination of these three reasons:

  • To sell a new sales process, style, book, seminar or sales training
  • People seeking a quick fix
  • People seeking to take advantage of those seeking a quick fix

Until people do 100% of their buying from robots, selling will still happen. To earn new revenue requires:

  • Time (knowledge of sales cycle)
  • Ideal potential customer (knowledge of who buys solutions)
  • Compelling emotional message (knowledge of industry and how to speak to potential customers)
  • Connectivity (connecting the solution to the customer’s value drivers)
  • Stream of planned and consistent activity (marketing, selling and keeping actions)

If any of these elements are not present, salespeople and their sales managers may begin to believe some of the rhetoric about this or that being dead.

With the U.S. economy appearing to lose steam, my sense is there is going to be a lot more deaths in the Selling Graveyard. For those forward thinking leaders in small businesses, who have invested the time to understand how to increase sales, they will avoid the Selling Graveyard with all the Dead Boxes.

 

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