Posts Tagged ‘authentic leader’

You Are Not Alone in Sales

How many times do we feel we are alone in sales?  What I mean is we listen to all the sales experts and down deep inside we know that (whatever that is) won’t work for us.  However, we go with the flow because our sales manager told us or someone else said “yes that works.”



When we ignore our “gut” and go with the flow, we isolate ourselves from what we know to be true. This isolation is mostly subconscious. What happens is we go through all those motions we learned from all those sales experts, sales books and sales training.

Yet something isn’t right. We feel it down deep inside. Our heart is not in selling. We are out of step. Our cadence is off.

If we are lucky, we meet someone or talk to someone who is experiencing the similar thoughts about selling.  We think or even may hear these words:

I am not alone.

Suddenly we feel vindicated.  There is someone else like me who believes what I believe.

I am not alone!

With so many experts in selling and marketing, it is easy to become distracted with all their information.  Also with SMB owners and managers wanting more revenue, the push to be like everyone else is always present.

What we fail to realize is we must be true to ourselves.  We must learn to accept what works for us.  Then we can work on how to improve what works for us.

Now we are in control of what we wish to retain for our own professional and personal development. We can hone in on exactly what works for us and then intentionally develop those talents or skills to increase sales.

Sales is pretty simple and it starts with your own ability to lead yourself first before you can lead others to buy your solutions. By being an authentic leader, you can accept the fact that you may be one of the few and will better appreciate hearing these words:

I am not alone.

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Are You An Authentic or Just Charismatic Sales Leader?

Would you rather be an authentic or a charismatic sales leader?  This early Saturday morning question surfaced as I read a posting over on LinkedIn.  The posting linked to this HBR article.

sales-leaderMany people fall for the charismatic salesperson.  These are the folks with the warm smile and firm handshake. They seem to make that immediate emotional connection.  Their solutions appears to be want the sales prospect wants to needs.

Then after the checked has been received, the delivery made, these charismatic sales leaders can never be found. Excuses are made as to why something didn’t get done. Often times they will pass the buck, blame others.  Long term customers are really not their goal.

Authentic leaders appear not to be as charismatic.  They also have the warm smile and the firm handshake. Making an emotional connection may not be as immediate.  Unlike the charismatic sales leaders, they are around after the sale.  These individuals do not make excuses for them as the buck stops with them.

Another difference between the authentic and charismatic sales leader is their audience.  As I noted in the LinkedIn comment, the reason some people fall for the charismatic leaders is the internal desire for the quick fix.

Most of us internally want the quick fix even though we know the results probably will not be sustainable.  Time is precious and time is money.  When we can have those quick fixes, we then can go on to other important matters and happiness will follow.

We know this to be true if we look at all those quick fix products sold from the self improvement industry, the health industry to the sales industry.  Many of them are sold by charismatic people.  And yet the problems are still very much present.

Probably the most notable difference is authentic leaders are guided by non-negotiable positive core values (business ethics) while for some charismatic leaders they will do or say whatever they need to do or say to get their prospects to take action.  They may promise the moon (oversell the solution) or make negative comments about the competition. Again for them winning is everything and the heck with positive core values.

Each of us in sales has a choice to be an authentic sales leader or a charismatic one.  For me I prefer the former because I will never sacrifice my positive core values for a quick buck.

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A Tale of Two Clueless Companies – Part 2

Clueless companies come in all sizes.  At one time Ford was clueless when a new CEO dropped the established brand and legacy of the Ford Taurus and renamed it the F-500.  Here is a little history about this vehicle.

clueless-companiesThe Ford Taurus entered the American marketplace in mid 1980s and in 1986 sold over 200,000 vehicles.  This car earned Motor Trend’s Car of the Year in 1986 as well.Sales declined in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

When new executive leadership came in, the new CEO renamed the Taurus as the F-500.  This renaming ignored the customer loyalty and the legacy of this vehicle.  Then in 2007 with another new CEO at the helm of Ford, he immediately brought back the name of Taurus and this trademark vehicle for Ford started gaining sales.

I have shared this story for five reasons:

  1. There is a demonstrated history about new executive leadership coming in and wanting to make changes to put their mark on the company
  2. Ignoring the established brand and legacy within any business is foolhardy
  3. Force feeding loyal customers to accept a new solution just because executive leadership may have had past success in its established business may lead to disaster
  4. Failure to assess the real reason for declining business creates false solutions
  5. Many mergers and acquisitions (M&A) fail because executive leadership usually with large egos does not understand the brand, the legacy,  the culture and the inherent trust

Locally, we have a company that purchased a well known brand with an established legacy.  The new leadership has made significant changes including removing the primary reason why people came to this business as well as significantly increasing prices. Worse yet the primary reason why people came to this business was disliked by the new owner.

Additionally, the new executive leadership has decided to bring into this community an entirely new way to solve their wants and needs.  This particular company has had success with two other businesses (in the same industry) and has decided to expand their business through this M&A into this established brand.

Over the years I cannot count the times I have seen new executive leadership with egos so filled with success they believe than can do anything and customer loyalty will follow.  Once in a while an authentic leader will come into the scene and allow some time (at least six months) before he or she makes any changes.

For example, I personally witnessed this with my local church.  We sought a new pastor.  He came and had some different ideas. Being a 150 year old church built by Scandinavian farmers here in Northwest Indiana, there was a legacy.  Instead of making changes to this legacy within the first six months, he put in place his own personal long range plan where changes were made over several years without damaging or directly challenging the legacy. For anyone who knows about the Scandinavians especially those with Swedish ancestry, they are resolutely stubborn.

He still has more changes to make, but he understands people feel uncomfortable with a lot of change especially when that change appears to be direct assault on their beliefs, their expectations and their feelings.  Also he understood that over time, he could educate the congregation; build trust and people would feel more comfortable about the changes.  The end result is the church is now more financially stable than when he came 10 years ago and the congregational membership is growing through word of mouth.

In speaking with several other successful small business owners regarding clueless companies, we all shook our heads regarding the M&A of this established brand.  We all agreed the name can be changed, the building can be painted, the business model changed, but for the next 20 years all who drive buy this particular building will recall its past business name and how sad it no longer serves the best turkey in the area.

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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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One Authentic Leader Speaks What Others May Think

One of my colleagues, Miles Austin, finally spoke through his blog what others may think in this recent posting entitled “Beware of the Rise of the Instant Expert.”  Miles is truly an authentic leader in that he not only writes with honesty, but with emotional intelligence.

Miles-AustinHow many times do we as small business owners and leaders fear some backlash when we share our observations? This fear is compounded with the many social media platforms that provide an opportunity for others to criticize us.

I have alluded to this rise of “so called”  experts numerous times with this blog. However Miles has expanded his observation with far greater detail and relevance.

What I truly appreciate about Miles as an authentic leader is he asked for others to share how they sort through the endless stream of advice from all the instant experts.

This posting is just one of many that engages and educates.  His goal as an authentic leader is not to sell to you or make a sales pitch. No, he wants to educate and through that education build credibility over time.

I encourage you to read Miles’ posting about instant experts as well as the responses by those who commented. Their responses may help you sort through all the instant experts.

Being an authentic leader is not easy.

Finding an authentic leader is just as difficult.

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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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