Archive for November, 2015

How to Melt Those Freeze Moments in Sales

Remember back in grade school and your teacher called on you?  Suddenly all the eyes of the other students were staring at you waiting for you to answer incorrectly.  Possibly your throat constricted, your voice became raspy or you felt perspiration running down your neck.  You experienced the first of many freeze moments.  In sales, those freeze moments still happen. The goal is to melt them as quickly as possible.

in-sales

Credit www.gratisography.com

#1 – Freeze Moment in Sales

You are asked a question in which you do not immediately know the answer.  Happens all the time especially when the sales lead may be more knowledgeable or even less knowledgeable.  This is when honesty becomes the best policy.  A simple “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you in 24 hours” is the melting response.  Then you can ask “How would you like that response, a telephone call or an email?”

Sales Coaching Tip: Just make sure you know the question or questions you will be answering.

#2 – Freeze Moment in Sales

For many sales professionals especially small business owners and entrepreneurs, the question of “What do you do?” creates probably the second most common freeze moment. This moment is melted by practicing the answer to it becomes second nature.  The real challenge is responding to the asking person because in different situations the answer maybe slightly different.

Sales Coaching Tip:  Your response should be results focused not industry or role focus.

#3 – Freeze Moment in Sales

“So what’s the price?” or “What is this going to cost me?” freezes many salespeople.  What this question reveals is several facts.

  1. You maybe speaking with the wrong person, not the decision maker or influencer
  2. You may not have engaged in enough sales fact finding
  3. You may be believe price is what sells your solution

Again, the best way to melt this freeze moment is with an direct response of “It depends” or “I don’t’ know at this time.”  You may continue with “At this time I do not have enough information.  Can we schedule a second meeting since our initial meeting time is finished?”

Sales Coaching Tip:  Do not feel compelled to share the price or worse yet lower the price.

Freeze moments happen to even the best people in sales. Being prepared, being authentic and being willing to be vulnerable helps to melt those awkward moments.

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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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Positive Attitude Is Great to a Point

“Your attitude determines your altitude” is a well known saying.  Having a positive attitude to a point is great.  Yet my sense is when we deny the negativity in life we may not be facing reality and therefore set ourselves up for failure.

positive-attitude

Credit www.gratisography.com

One of my colleagues shared an attitude test.  Those who indicated they watched the news or talked about the news received a significant negative “ding.”

Being an executive coach along with workplace culture problem solver, I read a lot of news.  To ignore the news would be extremely detrimental to my practice.

The difference is I do not let the news get me down.  The news be it good, bad or ugly is part of life.  To ignore that reality is not positive as this attitude test suggested.

The presumption is by reading or watching the news one is negatively affected.  This might be true if one was highly sympathetic and agreed to everything he or she read or watched. Those who are empathetic can appreciate the experiences of others, but do not necessarily agree with those experiences.

Opposites Do Matter

If we look at the opposite of the word success we see failure.  The most successful people have had failures such as Thomas Edison.  I believe the most positive people also have experienced negativity.

These individuals know how to deal with the negativity and then continue to move forward. Many overly positive people when faced with negativity falter and lack the depth of resiliency to move forward.

The difference between being a Pollyanna Positive Person and just a Positive Person is one of perspective and balance.  A Pollyanna Positive Person has a limited perspective of reality and lives somewhat off balance.  A true Positive Person acknowledges (does not necessarily accept though that may happen) the negative aspects of line and knows how to balance the negative with the positive.

Ying and Yang of Life

Positive and negative are Ying and Yang.  One exists because the other exists. How would we know if something was positive unless we understood when something was negative?

Attitude tests such as the one I took are potentially harmful and provide a well intention sense of false security.  Adversity is part of life and usually intertwined with negativity.  A true positive attitude within forward thinking leaders allows them to work with negativity, not ignore it and because of their positive attitudes they can pick themselves up and move forward.

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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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Have You Experienced These 3 “F” Words in Sales Conversations?

sales-conversationsMany joke about the well known “F” word.  Yet in sales, I have come to realize there are three other “F” words that contribute to failed sales conversations.

Flee

For some inexperienced salespeople, there is a moment when they feel they must “Flee” the sales conversation.  The conversation is not going well and internally the salesperson is thinking, “I can’t wait to get out of here.”

Fight

sales-conversationsThen there are those sales folks who appear to engage in a fight with the sales prospect.  From the potential ideal customer, these sales conversations appear to take on the appearance of being pushy or even bullied.

 

Freeze

Maybe the most common “F” word in sales conversations is “Freeze.” The questions from the sales lead create an almost instantaneous freeze in the head of the salesperson. “What do I say next?” quickly puts an end to the flow of the sales conversation.

All of these “F” words can be avoided with planning and practice and more practice.  Sales role playing helps to overcome these “F” words during sales conversation.  Reflection immediately before and after any sales conversation also helps to keep flee, flight and freeze responses to a minimum.

When salespeople master their knowledge of their solution and about their sales leads; become autonomous in knowing when to make the right choice and remember to relate to the person across the desk, they will only increase their own internal motivation to increase sales and not be detoured by these three “F” words.

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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 Leadership Fallacy of Wanting to Be Liked

People buy into leadership for the same reason they buy anything else – knowing and trusting. The idea of wanting to be liked as a leader is a fallacy. Authentic leaders accept from day one that not everyone will like them because down the road the they know they may ask for what seems to be the impossible.

leadership

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Merrill’s Marauders

Major General Frank Merrill asked his men to do the impossible.  He was not liked by many of those under his command because he pushed them beyond what was viewed as possible.  From his leadership efforts and those of his men (3,000 volunteers) the U.S. Army disrupted the Japanese lines in Burma to even capturing an airfield.  At the end of his engagement, the men who survived the mission had to be hospitalized with everything from malnutrition to A.O.E. (Accumulation of Everything).

When leaders want to be liked, they may make decisions that will harm some members of the team if not the entire the organization.  By demonstrating knowledge and building trust, those in leadership roles realize liking is a benefit, but not the desired end result.

Returning to General Merrill, he trained his 3,000 Army volunteers in India as not to tip off the Japanese. His men learned through him various guerrilla warfare skills. Through the difficult training, his men began to know him and to trust him and in some instances dislike him.  They were conditioned to carry their own field gear as they trekked through the 1,000 mile walk into Burma from India.  Their efforts earned them the name of Merrill’s Marauders, the Distinguished Unit Citation and the Bronze Star.

The Human Condition

Of course for many, the human condition of wanting to be liked is ever present.  Those in authentic leadership roles do not intentionally want their team members to dislike them.  However, they realize the mission, the goal, the purpose must not be sacrificed because some in the team may come to dislike them. Possibly this is reasoning behind Margaret Thatcher’s quote about “consensus is the absence of leadership.”

Why do so many leaders seek consensus?  Probably because they want everyone to like their decision.

Being an authentic leader is not easy.  Many decisions will challenge the status quo and potentially change it.

For those in leadership roles or those seeking to be leaders, they understand and accept these three facts:

  • They must demonstrate knowledge
  • They must build trust
  • They will not be liked by everyone

When they embrace these three facts, then their team will be able to do what is viewed by many as the impossible.

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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 Marketing Magic of Pictures

Is your marketing working?  Do you feel you may need the help of a wizard who conjures up some marketing magic? Believe it or not, you are already that wizard.

marketing-magicConsider employing graphics into your social media postings, your electronic newsletters and your direct mail pieces. This is a true fact.

People hear words, but they think in pictures.

Pictures, graphics are the connections to your written or verbal marketing message.

Think about the people or animated characters that have crossed the television screens to the printed publications or even packaging.  What happens when you think or hear about Kentucky Friend Chicken?  Colonel Sanders, the original one may come to mind. Then there is Tony the Tiger with his Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.

Human beings are visual creatures.  When we use pictures to reinforce our message, marketing magic happens.  This is why so much is invested in finding that right logo that brands each businesses or why so many on LinkedIn have their picture on their profiles.

This past January Hubspot posted an article showcasing 17 statistics about visual content marketing. These statistics included:

  • Tweets with images received 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites (likes) and 150% more retweets
  • Adding a photo or URL to your Tweet can boost retweets by 35%
  • Posts with photos on Facebook saw the most engagement

My own research on LinkedIn Pulse revealed those postings with at least 5 images to no more than 8 images received the most reads.  The most important picture was the one behind the headline or what some call the profile picture for the article.

marketing-magicAnd sometimes a cornfield works as well.  This particular article, has given me four clients since its release.

Entrepreneurship and Leadership Growing in an Indiana Cornfield

Pictures or graphics including info-graphics are your marketing magic.  The only caveat is to make sure your picture reinforces your words and if possibly creates an emotional connection.  This is why pictures of people usually rank higher than clip art graphics.

If you want to have more effective results from your messaging efforts, then use consider bringing in great visuals into your marketing. You just may be surprised as to the power of this simple marketing magic.

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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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Thanksgiving Is a Reflection and Sharing of Gratitude

Today families across America will be sharing gratitude, food and memories in celebrating this national holiday of Thanksgiving formally established by President Abraham Lincoln.  So in this tradition of reflection and sharing, here is my bounty of blessings of gratitude (not necessarily in any preference).

thanksgiving

  • Living in America where I have freedom and liberties so many others don’t have
  • Having a family that continues to grow with new grandchildren and a son-in-law
  • Enjoying being a grandparent
  • Working doing what I love to do
  • Being a member of a giving community of faith where the blessings of the Lord are evident
  • Maintaining good health as the years continue to progress where many do not have the blessing of good health
  • Growing older and wiser
  • Looking forward to the future move to Arizona
  • Loving my best friend who starts most mornings with a laugh and closes each evening with a good night kiss

Thanksgiving for myself and others is not just one day, but rather one out of 365 days.  When we develop the habits of reflection, of sharing and of gratitude, we are far better people.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with incredible peace and abundance.

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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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When Your Marketing Conversation Sounds Like Do-Do

Yesterday I listened to a marketing conversation exchange between an experienced and successful business owner and budding entrepreneur who had something to sell.  Now both individuals knew each other well and probably that is why the business owner did not shut down the entrepreneur.

marketing-conversation

Credit: www.gratisography.com

The marketing conversation went something like:

Entrepreneur:  Hey, I’ve been trying to reach your IT person.

SMB Owner:  Did I miss your email message?

Entrepreneur: No, I don’t think so.

SMB Owner: Good because I would not want that to happen.

Entrepreneur:  Hands the SMB Owner his business card

SMB Owner: Reads the card and makes a comment about the word consultant.  Then he launches into the old consultant joke about the shepard, the consultant, counting the number of sheep and the three reasons why consultants are unnecessary.  Then he asks: “So what are you consulting?”

Entrepreneur: Launches into the history of how he met the people he is working with and never answered the question.

SMB Owner: What does your solution do?

Entrepreneur:  Again goes into a convoluted discussion attempting to describe how the solution works with education (the SMB’s industry is not education) and finally says “This third solution is what may interest you.”

The SMB owner and I looked at each several times during this marketing conversation and smiled.  In listening to the exchange, there might exist some opportunity for this entrepreneur to sell his solution, but his marketing conversation was so bad, I find sales success for him questionable at best.

Peter Drucker is quoted (paraphrasing) “When marketing is done well, selling is effortless.”  I truly wish budding entrepreneurs to salespeople especially for companies with less than 50 people would heed Drucker’s words.

When your marketing conversations sounds like you stepped into something, not necessarily pleasant, and the other person (your sales prospect or center of influence as in the case with the SMB owner noted above) feels the same way, you have lost the chance to increase sales.

Lessons Learned:

  • Invest the time to hone your marketing message for complete, crystal, clear clarity
  • Keep it simple
  • Activate your active listening skills
  • Answer the questions asked; do not dive into your personal history

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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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Compromise the Achilles’ Heel to Authentic Leadership

Do you believe in compromise?  How do you define compromise?  For those in authentic leadership roles, this word may potentially become their Achilles’ Heel.

authentic-leadershipWhen we simply look at the word compromise, we see the word promise.  When we promise something to someone, we are giving our word, our bond.  Behind that word are the positive core values (ethics or business ethics) and respective behaviors.

By placing the “com,” before promise, the meaning has now changed to coming together.  Yet when those in authentic leadership roles come together, in many instances they sacrifice their promises because they do not share the same positive core values.

This sacrifice is often witnessed in all aspects of our lives from family, school, church, business and government.  Sometimes that sacrifice may be something minor and yet for the most part, the sacrifice is something major.

When individuals lack clarity specific to their positive core values, they are more likely to compromise.  Additionally those who consistently compromise may have very fluid values that change like the direction of the wind.  Their end game is always winning for themselves.  Compromise for them is a code word for I win, you lose.

Personally for me, I prefer the word collaboration when discussing authentic leadership strategies and tactics. When collaboration happens for forward thinking leaders, no one starts out accepting the fact that one of more of his or her positive core values may or will be sacrificed.  Instead everyone looks for areas of mutual agreement and how to work within their established positive core values.

Authentic leadership will always face challenges. Many of those challenges will be people searching for the Achilles’ Heel to leverage their own unauthentic leadership behaviors.

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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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To Thine Own Self Be True Rings True Each Day

Each of us has a song inside of us that has different words, a different melody, but the title is the same – To Thine Own Self Be True.  Unfortunately over time many of us may lack clarity that dims the words and the melody of this song.

to-thne-own-self-be-true

Credit www.gratisography.com

We get caught up in the day to day happenings, our own goals, our own egos.  Consciously ignoring the song becomes easier. yet subconsciously we can’t. Our stress levels may increase, our own temperaments may wildly swing between optimism and pessimism. We appear edgy to short temper to those around us. Inside we may feel very alone, very vulnerable.

To Thine Own Self Be True is the song of our purpose along with the positive core values we will demonstrate in working toward that purpose.  The Self Determination Theory of human motivation reveals that purpose (relatedness to others) is essential in our own motivation.  When we veer away from our purpose, we lose our internal, intrinsic motivation to move forward.

How many times do we feel that little tug or even a big yank inside when we start walking away from our purpose?  We know better; yet we rationalize our intentions, our behaviors to justify the desired end result.

Or how about those times when we sense something is not right?  We just can’t put a finger on it, but we know.

Living our song To Thine Own Self Be True is not easy.  Playing it daily does come with consequences because others may not like our song.  We must be courageous during those times because when we do live our song we are in the long run much happier than in the short term.

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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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Delegate If You Wish to Increase Sales

With over 70% of all small businesses here in the U.S. having no employees (meaning single office/home office), these crazy busy leaders wear all the hats from administration to marketing to selling with the ever present goal to increase sales. Of course, immediately one hears the grown of “I can’t afford it” or “No one does it as well as I do.”

increase-sales

“I Can’t Afford It!”

This common often heard groan  is usually a knee jerk reaction and without any applied critical thinking skills. Consider looking at what you believe you are worth per hour.  If your goal is to earn $100,000, then your hourly rate is $50 per hour.

Can you find someone to do your bookkeeping, your social media posts even some cold calling for less than $50 an hour? Of course, this means you must determine how much time you spend on those other activities.

Also if you are so busy with wearing all those other hats, how can you increase sales?

“No One Does It as Well as I Do!”

Even though I have some artistic skills, I have learned to delegate all graphic work to those who do graphic work for a living.  I provide a solid idea of what I want and then allow those individuals to work their magic to “make it look good.”

increase-salesWhen I wrote Be the Red Jacket, I had a vision of what the artwork on the cover of the book should look like.  I sketched a pencil drawing  with color indications in under 10 minutes.  Then I worked with a marketing firm and within 15 minutes the book cover was created.  My sense is the clarity of my vision helped to expedite this creative process.

I do not have graphic programs and even if I did how much time would it take me to create the end result? My estimation was at least $800 (8 plus hours) even if I had the software programs.  The cost to create the book cover was $100.  For me, this was as they say “a no brainer.”

Ask yourself:

  • What do you do well?
  • What is the revenue you receive for doing well?
  • Does this revenue exceed what you do not do as well?

Then put together a plan to delegate those tasks that are time consuming, low cost and take away from what you do well.

My marketing is 100% education based and does require time to write quality content.  Over time I have honed this marketing skill and can quickly usually in under 20 minutes write a good blog post.  This small business task is something I do not delegate.  However I have on occasion opened my blog to colleagues who wish to share their quality content.

When working with corporate clients, I have hired trained facilitators if the engagement requires such actions. Thankfully, I have a network of colleagues with whom I can call if need be.

Forward thinking leaders must understand and accept no one can do some tasks as well as they can.  However if they have the right processes in place (quality control), they can efficiently and effectively delegate some of their work to others. Also if the right people have been hired or contracted, this delegation should maintain quality.

The key is to understand with clarity what one can delegate to achieve increase sales.

Letting go is difficult especially for SOHO entrepreneurs and those small business owners with under 20 employees. Once firms grow past the 20 employees mark, business leaders are forced into delegation.

Delegation is a forward thinking leadership talent.  Learning how and when to delegate to increase sales begins with this first step – Letting go of restrictive and negative thoughts that keep you from your goal.

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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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