Archive for December, 2016

Who Helped Me the Most in 2016 – George Richardson A Gentleman’s Gentleman

One of my colleagues, Jim Keenan, wrote a blog posting about who helped him the most in 2016.  He then went on to answer how this person helped him.  Keenan shared his posting with me and it got me thinking, truly thinking, that deep, dive down to your guts type of thinking of who helped me the most in 2016.

helped-me-the-mostI made a list of people who had gone out of their way to be supportive.  As I read the list, I saw the names of old friends and new friends, clients, colleagues and even some authors with whom I never had a conversation.


However, one name surfaced after all this introspection and that name was George Richardson. My connection with George began back in 1999 when I met him at a quarterly conference sponsored by Resource Associates Corporation .

Over the years, George has always been a gentleman’s gentleman full of grace and incredible knowledge.  He is one of the few individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing who always gives credit where credit is due.


George’s support was always present. He facilitated the knowledge of psychometric assessments such as Innermetrix Attribute Index, DISC and Values. George was always willing to share articles or those crucial tidbits of information to fill in the knowledge gaps. Finally George was very generous with his time including scheduling a mastermind meeting every two weeks to help other executive coaches and consultants to better understand these psychometric assessments.


One of my goals in 2016 was to improve my understanding of these three (3) specific psychometric assessments and how they can provide insight into the field of talent management. An article I wrote on LinkedIn Plus was partly the result of George’s insight.


Sometimes knowing someone is out there that has far more experience than you and is willing to support you means so much.  George readily answered questions be it through emails or the master mind sessions.


Knowing that one false statement to a executive coaching or sales coaching client can have far reaching negative impact, George’s support provided additional clarity so I would be better prepared to avoid making those statements.


In today’s world, there are still some people who are selfish with the sharing of their knowledge because they fear the competition.  I am so grateful George is not one of those people.


My world has much greater clarity when it comes to understanding and then sharing the results of these psychometric assessment tools.


George Richardson you are a blessing to this world, thank you.


Please copy and paste these “who helped me the most” questions into your blog, your Facebook page or wherever you place your content marketing.  Share your thoughts as well as your heart to uplift another and shine a bright light onto the pathway for 2017.

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2017 New Sales Behaviors Replace Create with Connect

The last couple of years in the word of sales training there has been a focus on sales behaviors specific to how salespeople create value.  I find this word “create” to be misleading and very much ego centered (All about me!).  What I suggest to my sales coaching clients is to replace “create” with this more emotionally intelligent word of connect.

sales-behaviorsNow I must admit to my own negative bias. I believe no one in sales can create value because value is unique to each decision maker, each buyer.  Why does one person like blue and another like red? If salespeople could create value, then the person would be sold to like red.  And most of us know no one wants to be sold. We could literally live in a world where everyone drove a Yugo, ate at McDonald’s and shopped at Walmart.

When we think, speak and write the word connect, we are actually engaged in more authentic sales behaviors.  As salespeople we are looking how to bridge the gap between the buyer’s position and our position.

Another advantage of the word connect is it implies a more level relationship where a good ego is present.  Create is a word that suggests a very strong ego and strong egos are not necessarily beneficial when it comes to the ability to increase sales.

Finally, the word connect works with the sales buying rule people buy from people they know and trust.  When salespeople work to connect with the other sales prospects, they are actively engaged in employing those essential soft skills as well as emotional intelligence.

The last several days this leadership and sales blog has focused on changing sales behaviors by replacing existing words with different words to enhance the sales relationship.  If you missed any of these postings, you may find them below:

2017 New Sales Behaviors: Replace Plan with Campaign

2017 New Sales Behaviors Replace Help with Facilitate

2017 New Sales Behaviors Replace Obstacle with Limitation 

My own personal mantra is “Change your words; improve your results.”  Please let me know if you have changed your words and if your new sales behaviors have improved your sales results.

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2017 New Sales Behaviors Replace Obstacle with Limitation

How many times have you heard this word “obstacle” in many sales training programs or books on sales fact finding?  This word makes you sound like all the others salespeople out there peddling their solutions.  Considering changing your sales behaviors by replacing this overused and now almost trite word with this word – limitation.

When the word obstacle is heard, many people receive a visual in their heads because we hear words, but think in pictures.  This visual may be so large, so filled with a lot of hidden emotions, it possibly can shut down the sales conversation or make further sales conversation even more difficult.

Now speak the word limitation to yourself.  Do you see in your mind’s eye some foreboding potentially humongous obstacle?  Or do  you see something much smaller, something that may have been consistently ignored?

Possibly there are far more limitations keeping the sales prospect from moving forward than one or two major obstacles?

These limitations may have been ignored by other salespeople because their sales training told them to look to the obstacles.

One obvious but often overlooked limitation is alignment. There is misalignment between the various leaders, managers or departments. Rarely in my nearly 20 years when speaking with sales leads rarely have I heard any mention of misalignment until I bring up this limitation.

Check out Fail-Safe Leadership to better understand how misalignment can easily happen.

Our sales behaviors when they are aligned to the emotional, neuro pathways and experiences of our sales prospects can literally propel the sales conversation forward far faster.  Of course the challenge is to go with the flow of the sales conservation and not stick to some sales script that is several paragraphs behind.

sales-behaviorsThe words we speak, think and write do have a significant impact on our sales behaviors.  When we carefully choose the correct word in our sales conversations, we can change the results.

Unfortunately many in their daily sales behaviors are so busy thinking what we are going to say next, they fail to actually listen to what is being said. The good news is everyone has the capacity to change provided they are willing to do so.

If you are not happy with your sales results in 2016, then consider scheduling a free 30 minute conversation (CLICK HERE) to learn how to close the gap between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals.

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2017 New Sales Behaviors Replace Help with Facilitate

How many times have you heard salespeople say “I help” when engaged in sales prospecting at B2B events? Then they go on and on and on about how they help.  When words are overused, they are like water off a duck’s back. To increase sales means you must differentiate yourself from your competition and all the other salespeople. This differentiation starts with finding new sales behaviors.

sales-behaviorsWhen we examine the word help, there is an implication that the other person is helpless otherwise why would you be offering to help.? This implication may be subtly unconscious, but it is present nonetheless.

Now the word facilitate creates no implication of helplessness.  Instead from its Latin origin and French revision the word means to render easy.  Now in sales aren’t we supposed to make the sales conversations easy, to render them down for better understanding?

Even though help is a word that carries positive emotions so does the word facilitate.  The advantage again to thinking, speaking and writing the word facilitate is two-fold:

  • Not heard so differentiates you from everyone else
  • Does not imply subconsciously the other person is helpless

Also I believe there are two others advantages, though somewhat more subtle.  Since facilitate is to make easy, then it creates a top of mind awareness on the part of the seller to be more conscious of non-verbal communications as well as to his or her own communication style. Tools such as DISC can provide additional insight as how to better communicate.

The fourth advantage is emotional intelligence.  The word facilitate I believe has greater emotional intelligence because it does not make a subconscious judgment of helplessness.

The words we speak, think and write are a window to how others observes our sales behaviors.  To increase sales in the next year or quarter may require for us to look at our own sales behaviors and what actions we may wish to  take to secure those desired sales results.

CLICK HERE to schedule a time with Leanne and learn of a special opportunity if you wish to take the DISC.

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2017 New Sales Behaviors: Replace Plan with Campaign

Right now there are a lot of articles about resolutions from increasing sales to improving SMB operations. There is an implied focus on out with the old sales behavior and in with the new sales behaviors.

sales-behaviorsMaybe it is time to rethink the implications within this word resolution and instead intentionally focus on new sales behaviors.  For the next few days, I will provide some new words to replace the old tired, overused words because I believe if you change the words you think, write and speak, you will improve your sales results.

Say, Write and Think Campaign Instead of Plan

A Brief Return to History: If strategy means for a general to deceive his enemies, then in modern terms it means for you as a SMB owner or a sales professional to deceive and defeat your enemies.  To achieve this desired end result, generals used the word campaign instead of plan.

Possibly the word plan has turned into one of those four letter dirty words in business such as goal or hear. By thinking and using the word campaign a different mental image comes to mind.

The origin of the word campaign is Latin and means level ground. Later upon French influence, the word meant open country.

Now with that vision in mind of level ground, doesn’t it make sense to think about a campaign that may level the ground respective to your competition?

Doesn’t this word campaign provide a much bigger and more vibrant picture than the word plan? What visual images immediately come to mind when thinking of yourself as a general with a campaign in hand instead of a plan?

Now ask yourself these questions:

  • What marketing campaign can I create to deceive or defeat the competition?
  • What sales campaign can I create to deceive or defeat the competition?
  • What quality campaign can I create to deceive or defeat the competition?

Now the real important question to be answered is:

What new sales behaviors must I adopt and consistently demonstrate?

Years ago Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or you think you cannot, either way you are right.” Ford recognized the incredible power of the human mind.

Our minds both conscious and subconscious filled with our beliefs (attitudes) drive our sales behaviors (actions) that generate our results. As in most aspects of life, you have the choice to change or stay with the status quo, that decision is yours and yours alone.

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Maybe Sales Quotas Are Only Part of the 2017 Business Growth Equation?

For the last several weeks to maybe months, sales managers and salespeople are looking to 2017 business growth. Within this annual or quarterly activity is the setting of sales quotas or goals.  However if we believe sales research that  44% of salespeople have an 80% probability they won’t close the sale (Hubspot), then maybe there is something else missing?



With so much dependent upon successfully achieving 2017 business growth (fill in the year or quarter), then doesn’t it make sense to deep dive as to what limited 2016 sales quotas?

Strategic Plan?

Without a well researched and yes time consuming strategic plan, SMB owners, sales managers and salespeople are engaged in the role of Captain Wing It.  You heard about Captain Wing It haven’t you.  He or she goes around spraying all his or her actions all over the place and then prays something will stick.

Goal Setting Process?

Given how many people fail to achieve their own personal resolutions or goals, this suggests there is not formal goal setting process in place.  Think about all those courses you took on Goal Setting 101,

Recruiting, Hiring and Retaining Processes?

Larger firms have improved their recruiting, hiring and retaining processes. In a recent LinkedIn Pulse article, David Brock looks at the dramatic loss of dollars because of these poor retaining processes.

Talent Development?

Much has been written about talent development from the employment of psychometric assessments to executive coaching, leadership coaching or sales coaching.  And yes, return on investment can be measured when specific goals are set provided there is sales culture where organizational alignment exists.

Learn more about the impact of organizational alignment in this book, Fail-Sale Leadership.

Far too often individuals regardless of their roles confuse symptoms with problems.  They also look to obstacles or barriers instead of seeking what is limiting forward progress as in this instance business growth.  Note: A limitation may not be as obvious as an obstacle or barrier.

Reach out to Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time or schedule a time on her calendar (CLICK HERE) to have a quick conversation to further explore what is limiting your business growth.


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The Advent of the New Year Is Coming to You

For Christians the Advent season is one of awareness because of the forthcoming resurrection of the anointed one, Jesus Christ.  Yet, this word advent reaches beyond a religion and really into the New Year.



Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” meaning “coming” or “visit.” The word implies being aware of that coming or visit.

Much of what we do in life is out of unawareness because of a lack of clarity. We are not aware because we have not invested the time to gain the clarity we need.

We are too busy thinking about today, worrying about yesterday and failing to look forward to the coming of tomorrow.

Clarity comes from the awareness we receive from reflection.  Investing time to reflect, to think about the forthcoming opportunities to be achieved in tomorrow as well as the  New Year is essential.

We have zero control of what comes into our heads as our senses are continually working. However we have 100% control over what we consciously allow to stay in our heads, our thoughts.

When we choose to be aware, to be forward thinking, we are placing ourselves in positions to receive opportunities that others may not see or experience. No longer are we operating on automatic pilot where we restrict our results and limit our potential.

Each day is the beginning of a new year.  How we choose to be aware of that coming is totally up to us as sentient beings. So as you look to the advent of tomorrow remember through clarity you can look forward to the coming of not only tomorrow, but of the New Year.



May the New Year Be Filled with Incredible Peace and Abundance

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Don’t Look Now Your Real Leadership Ethics Are Showing

Funny how a simple action can reveal the real leadership ethics of an individual. Let me explain.



Earlier this week a colleague received a completely unfair review of his book on Amazon. This anonymous reviewer (presuming to be a sales professional and probably sales trainer) focused on one sentence in this 240 page excellent book.

The reason for this focus was because the nameless reviewer believed one sentence plagiarized the intellectual capital of another published author. This other author had also sold his or her own sales training system.

Several people who knew the author responded and the reviewer acknowledged those responses. However in his or her acknowledgement, he or she attempted to still justify focusing on just one sentence while ignoring the other hundreds of sentences. Additionally, this person never addressed being challenged about hiding behind a pseudonym.

What the reviewer failed to recognize was how his or her review showcased his or  her lack of leadership ethics by attempting to demean another sales professional out of jealousy not out of ethical concerns.

Many of us have experienced professional jealousy along the way. Our personal leadership ethics including integrity have been challenged or attacked because someone didn’t like what we said.

Years ago I was challenged by another leadership coach who believed because I was not certified by some organization I was not a legitimate executive coach. Even though I told her the results my clients achieve is my certification, she insisted I was being unethical in calling myself a coach.

Read How Certification Does Guarantee Ethical Leadership

For me to stay true to my leadership ethics, I am consciously aware of Socrates Three Filters.

  • Is what you say kind?
  • Is what you say truthful?
  • Is what you say necessary?

For example in writing this blog, I did not name the persons involved because to take that action would not be kind nor necessary.

What we may always wish to consider is others can see our real leadership ethics in our behaviors. Using Socrates Three Filters may help us stay the course in our day to day ethical behaviors.

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Are You Embracing This Presumption When Setting Sales Goals?

End of the year or quarter is when sales managers review and then start setting sales goals. The reason I did not state “new” sales goals is because sales research suggests most salespeople do not achieve their goals (quota) estimated by TAS Group to be 67% and so the goals are not new.



Possibly the reason for this continued failure to achieve quota is because of this serious and unspoken presumption:

Most people know how to consistently set and achieve their own personal goals.

Just look to the number of people continually wanting to lose weight, wishing for more success or setting New Year’s resolutions if you disagree.

  • Fact – Goal setting for the most part is not a learned skill
  • Fact – Goal achievement for the most part is not a learned behavior

Think for a moment when you had any teaching or training on how to set your own personal goals?  In many instances the goals were set for you by someone else and then you were left on your own to change your behavior to achieve the goal.

To believe salespeople when setting sales goals can achieve them when they cannot achieve their own personal goals is beyond ridiculous. This presumption is fatal to everyone concerned from the the individual to the SMB to the stakeholders.

For over 10 years I have been administering this one simple psychometric assessment, The Attribute Index, and it reveals that the super majority of people over 90% have “realistic personal goal setting” as one of their lower talents.  When my sales coaching clients start setting their own personal goals and achieving them then it is far easier in setting sales goals and drum roll…achieving them.

Download this FREE 78-core-talents-self-eval-dl to self assess yourself and take advantage of a special offer to learn if you are engaged in this dangerous presumption.


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Start 2017 Sales With This Aim Small, Miss Small Focus

One of my most favorite quotes is in the movie The Patriot where the father reminds his sons to “aim small, miss small.” I only wish those seeking to increase 2017 sales would heed this advice.



When salespeople have crystal clarity as to:

  • Ideal customer (role, demographics, psychographics)
  • Ideal target market (industry)
  • Trigger events (market changes and forces)
  • Value their solutions deliver

Then and only then can they truly maximize these words of wisdom “aim small, miss small.”

With the new year fast approaching, some salespeople are probably setting 2017 sales goals or receiving sales goals from their SMB owners or sales managers. In many instances based upon working with my executive and sales coaching clients, these goals are beyond unrealistic.

Those BHAG, big, hairy, audacious goals, are great if they are the goals of each individual salesperson or if there is a collective buy in as discussed in yesterday’s blog posting of “Imagine This Truly Forward Thinking Sales Kick Off Meeting.” Yet the question to be asked is how many of these BHAG are actually achieved?

Why not considered instead of eating all the elephant (BHAG) at one sitting, eat just one bite at a time. Focus on one small area such as in January reconnecting via a personal call or visit with all existing customers with the goal to secure at least one sales referral from each loyal customer. February’s sales goal (think a second bite) could be connect with all those sales referrals.

The aim small, miss small attitude works extremely well with the WAY SMART goal setting criteria.

WAY:  W – Written; A – Actionable; Y – Yours

SMART:  S – Specific (aim small); M – Measurable; A – Aligned to Purpose, Passion and Plans; R – Realistically Set High; T – Target Date, Time Driven

Yes when we aim small, we do miss small. This is not to discourage the vision of the company or current mission. Rather it works with ensuring consistent execution of existing strategic initiatives or objectives.

Doesn’t it make more sense to consistently achieve the smaller  2017 sales goals than to aim big and miss big wasting a lot of resources that you or your SMB can ill afford?

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