Posts Tagged ‘business coach’

Your Greatest SMB Asset Is…?

What is the greatest SMB asset?  Your solutions (products or services)? Your building or location? Your customer base?  Your bank balance? Yes, these are all great assets. However, your greatest SMB asset should be your people.

SMB assetToo often SMBs fail to protect this greatest asset.  For people are not view as capital, but as liabilities.  For example, when sales lag or business slows down, people followed by the marketing budget are the first to be cut.  People are view as too expensive given the current economic downturn.

Businesses exist to make money and more importantly to make a profit. To achieve this goal requires people because even with the advent of current technology, people are still required to stock the shelves for orders, process the orders, ship the orders, reconcile the receivables and handle all customer service inquiries.

From the smallest to the Fortune 100 companies, the investment in human capital through talent management should be next to marketing as the primary business building strategies. For example, if you have long term salespersons who regularly bring high sales and are low maintenance, do you affirm their contributions or are you resentful of their salaries?

As a business coach and sales coach, I have observed many in business leadership roles creating toxic sales cultures , directly and indirectly, in hopes that the high salary and high productive sales person will quit in order to replace him or her with a lower salary person.  Management will take action from changing accounts to showing special treatment to the new hire while ignoring the productive salespersons.

Remember, your people will make or break your company. When you view them as an asset instead of a liability, you may see your balance sheet in an entirely different perspective.

Give Leanne a call at 219.508.2859 if you are interested in protecting and growing this greatest SMB asset or schedule a brief call on her calendar by clicking HERE.

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The Should Be Most Feared “C” Word in Sales

Ask any salesperson about his or her most feared “C” word in sales and you may hear competitor or even cost. Salespeople are so focused their competition they ignore this “C” word and consequently fail to understand the ramifications within this word.



Let me explain. Think back to a recent business to business networking event you recently attended. Did you meet a lot of:

  • Realtors?
  • Financial planners?
  • Business coaches?
  • Marketing consultants?
  • Insurance agents

Then add in those who actually sell products, the room is awash in commodities.  Differentiation is beyond difficult.  Listen to a business coach, a realtor, a marketing consultant or a financial planner, most of their introduction begin with “I help” or “We help.”  See what I mean. How are they different?

Each of these services have been turned into a commodity along with those who have always sold commodities such as retail stores.  No wonder being able to increase sales becomes increasingly difficult.

A commodity is an economic good.  Possibly in today’s economy, a better definition is a commodity is an economic solution. All of these SMBs are providing solutions that has been “commoditized” because of the low threshold to enter the SMB marketplace as well as technology.

Then the question becomes how do I step away from being a commodity to being truly a different and obviously valuable solution?  The first step is to recognize your SMB is a commodity. Yes that is hard to admit, but it is the truth.  By facing this barrier or obstacles to sales, now sets you forth on a different path.

Step number two is to stop worrying about the competition.  New competitors will always be popping up.

Step number three is to stop using cost to sell your solutions.  Focusing on price is always a losing proposition.

Remember people buy from people. You are unique as is your expertise.  Find your niche, what you do better than anyone else. Do not let your SMB continue to be viewed as a commodity.

Want better results?

CLICK HERE to reserve your time to speak with me.

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Is What You Do Priceless Expertise?

In sales, business and life, people buy from people they know and trust.  Knowing and trusting come from what I believe is your priceless expertise, not necessarily your formal experience such as education or employment.



The reason your expertise is priceless is because it is yours along.  Only you are you and not someone else. No one can exactly replicate you.  When you attempt to be someone else, you will be discovered as a fraud, as someone not authentic. And we know what usually happens to frauds.

Last week I discovered one such unauthentic person. A friend forwarded me a newsletter from a fairly well known business coach in the Dallas, TX area who was suggesting the Theory of Self-Determination was his own invention. He failed to give credit to the original developers of this theory of human motivation.  His expertise was not priceless. No he was a fraud. Unfortunately, some will believe his dribble because he is viewed as an expert business coach.  And worse yet, he does an incredible disservice to the business coaching industry by his unethical behavior.

Having just returned from a learning conference in San Antonio, TX sponsored by Resources Associates Corporation, I realized there is an incredible amount of priceless expertise in the market place.  Each of the presenters shared their extensive expertise. In doing so, they also shared what made them unique.

Priceless expertise comes from embracing self directed learning and continually applying it to find out what works and what doesn’t work.  To adopt the attitude “I know everything” is foolhardy at best.

When each of us fail to understand we have priceless expertise, we may be willing to market our solutions for far less than they are worth.  We succumb to market pressures and unfortunately devalue our own worth.

From my observations, I believe priceless expertise is embedded within true forward thinking leadership. Here is where the rubber meets the road. These individuals are continually challenging the status quo, seeking what others fail to seek and achieving what others fail to achieve.

So before you discount your price, ask yourself are you discounting you? Maybe now is the time for some personal reflection so you can gain clarity around your own priceless expertise.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership 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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Listen to Learn to Lead and to Grow

Funny thing about life, the more you listen, the more you learn to lead and grow yourself.  This growth is called self improvement and works both personally and professionally.

to-leadYesterday I attended a business to business networking event and experienced the customary question of “what do you do?”  My response was “I solve people and process problems.”  Then three out of four people replied with “Are you like a business coach or consultant?”  When I said yes, the next statement was “It seems like everyone is a business coach these days.”

Don’t you just love it when you are grouped with everyone else? 

Earlier this year I wrote a column about the plethora of business coaches directed to those who are business coaches. What I now realized from listening to learn to lead is that I have another way of positioning myself so that I am not a “newbie” business coach as one person said.

Now when people ask me what do I do, I can respond with “For the last 18 years I have been solving people and process problems.”  This phrase “for the last 18 years,” differentiates me  as the Red Jacket in the sea of Gray suits and removes me from the current top of mind awareness many have specific to “It seems like everyone is a coach.”

Had I not been actively listening to what was being said, I might have missed this learning opportunity to lead and grow. So often we become so immersed in what we are going to say when it is our turn, we fail to actively listen. This failure is the downfall for many individuals.

Mark Twain among other is quoted “If the good Lord wanted to talk more than to listen, we would have given us two mouths.”  Listening and actively listening is part of any self improvement. This skill set works with our already developed critically thinking skills and actually may fine tune those skills.

If you wan to learn to lead and to grow, then invest some time with listening more than talking.  You just may be surprised by the results.

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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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Are You Facing This Sales Barrier of ‘Everyone Is a Coach’?

A colleague emailed a business card of another coach who joined a local Chamber of Commerce. His email RE line read: Everyone is a coach.  This statement has become a sales barrier for many good executive coaches who go beyond the platitudes offered by some coaches.

With executive coaching continuing to grow and be marketed as the “quick fix” to gain instant wealth, this sales barrier will continue to expand because not everyone is a coach, or at least an effective, results driven coach.

For executive coaches and business coaches who have a proven track record of delivering results, many must overcome this implied sales barrier or sales objection. In the past month I have encountered several new coaches from a multi-level marketing leadership coaching program to a well-known author who has developed his leadership coaching program.  Then there is a national survey firm that is now offering leadership coaching program based on its assessment. By the way this assessment’s validity is less than reliable and yet because of the firm’s market presence people are buying into it.

The Attribute Index Is One of the Most Accurate Assessments for Leadership Development

Additionally from a personal level, approximately 25% of my executive coaching, business coaching or sales coaching clients have had a negative experienced with a coach. They reached out to me because of these three tips I am sharing with you.

So the question becomes how do you as an executive coach, business coach or consultant overcome this flood of “everyone is a coach?”


Tip #1 – Credibility through Crystal Clarity

Establish, build and reinforce your credibility.  Through effective marketing you can establish, build and continually reinforce your credibility. This focus helps to overcome this sales barrier or sales objection.

If you are a coach, then focus on coaching.  Many coaches lack crystal clarity and attempt to be everything to everybody. In reviewing several LinkedIn profiles of executive coaches and business coaches, I read in the headline variations of “coach, mentor, speaker, author or trainer.”  What these individuals were doing was focusing on keywords and thereby they unintentionally placed themselves in the Red Ocean” as described in the book, Blue Ocean Strategy.

Tip #2 – Stop with the Sales Pitch in Your Marketing Messages


Peter Drucker said and I am paraphrasing “When marketing is done well, selling if effortless.” Others have said “Marketing is not selling; but selling is marketing.”  When small business owners understand the sales process and then integrate those specific steps into their overall business operations, amazing results are possible including business growth and increase sales.

Additionally, ideal customers to centers of influence can easily smell the “desperation of sales stench.” The sales pitch body language is partly responsible for this foul odor.

And let us not forget those having the “hooves and mouth” disease only further contribute to this sales barrier or sales objection. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Hooves and mouth disease is you are so busy talking with your hands, shoving business cards to brochures and talking with your mouth, you have forgotten you have 2 ears.

Tip #3 – Let Go of Fearing Your Competition


Credit: Gratisography

Rick Gosser of Gosser Corporate Sales said it best “I have no competitors.”  Sure he understood there are others within the embroidery apparel industry. However, he believes no one does exactly what he does and delivers the quality that he provides.

When we fear the competition, we probably have failed to embrace tips #1 and #2.  Over the years I have established significant professional and personal relationships with executive coaches, businesses coaches and sales coaches.  In some instances, I have made referral to these professionals because my practice does not center of mergers and acquisitions (M&A)  or selling  small businesses  My crystal clarity is to ensure sustainable business growth after the merge and acquisition for forward thinking leaders.

President Roosevelt said “The greatest fear is fear itself.”  Fear is indeed “False evidence appearing real.”  When we no longer fear the competition, we are less likely to criticize them.

If you are facing sales barriers or sales objections because everyone is a coach, then consider these 3 tips.  By differentiating yourself you can be the Red Jacket in that sea of gray suit coaches.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith, M.S.,  is an executive coach and business growth consultant with “the heuristic touch” for executive leaders and sales professionals in mid-size to small businesses that are seeking a high performance culture from increase sales to workforce engagement.  Her task is to support forward thinking leaders in bridging the gap between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals. She can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Surface Solutions Slam Small Business Success

The needs to increase sales and to secure sustainable business growth are two of the constants for small businesses. Sometimes these overworked entrepreneurs seek outside support to help them in one or more of these needs for their own small business success. This support ranges from operational areas of people to actual processes such as lean or sustainability.

small-business-successWhat happens in many instances is one of these two scenarios:

  • Unrealistic expectations by the small business owner respective to the desired results (AKA the quick fix)
  • Hiring of an inexperienced or even experienced  business coach or management consultant who is seeking his or her own quick fix

In either case, the result is usually a surface solution that fails to dig deep enough to find the root cause of the problem or problems. Small Business Coaching Tip:  The number one problem is poor, inconsistent or ineffective leadership.

Surface solutions are like icebergs because one fails to see what is underneath the surface.  And therein lies the problem as the Titanic discovered.

Another reason for the continued growth of these surface solutions is because there is no strategic plan. What is identified as organizational alignment is missing and in many instances ignored.

Failure to have alignment is directly tied to the impact of a solution on other areas of the firm.  Small business success happens when there is total alignment (meaning no performance gaps) between strategy, structure, processes, rewards and people (5 Star Model).

As alluded to earlier, probably the most common reason beyond the need by leaders for the quick fix is the ethical makeup of the business coach or management consultant.  In many instances, there is a small market for the truth.

When cash flow is tight, how many SMB  business coaches or management consultants are willing to speak the truth when they know the truth might cost them some revenue?  After all they are providing the solution the client wants even though it is a surface solution and in the majority of cases not sustainable or not the best solution because of misalignment. Who is willing to walk away from a lucrative contract because they may not have all the skills necessary? Business ethics play a significant role within the spread of surface solutions.

Small business success is a daily effort and for those who achieve it congratulations. For those still seeking it, possibly you may wish to reflect upon your own needs and be truthful.

Ask yourself are you seeking a surface solution (AKA the quick fix) be it by hiring a new salesperson to dramatically increase sales or hiring a business coach or management consultant to eliminate your perceived greatest barrier?

Possibly the words of Pogo might be appropriate right now:

“I met the enemy and he is me.”

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Forward Thinkers Are Almost as Rare as the DoDo Bird

Yesterday I attended an early morning business seminar sponsored by a local bank (thank you Centier) to hear and possibly learn something new about social media respective to small businesses.  As I looked around the room, I wondered why there wasn’t two to three times the number of the approximately 40 professionals in attendance.

forward-thinkersA quick check of the US Census Bureau online data for 2012 revealed:

When we do the math (.003), those in attendance represented the rare breed of small business owners and business professionals, the forward thinkers. These leaders understood business growth begins by investing time to work ON the business. My congratulations to all who attended.

Now some may argue they had not heard of it, but I personally shared it with over 30 small business owners. Also this bank has branches in both counties and had shared this seminar with quite a few people as well.

Then others might contend (make an excuse) they did not have time because they were so busy working IN the business and this was more about working ON the business.  After all, sales, customers and managing people must be taken care of first and foremost

Bottom line forward thinkers look to expand their own businesses and their knowledge.  The added benefit is they can also connect through business to business networking friends they had never met before.  Stranger is such a cold word and limits our ability to see opportunities.

I met new friends from several local small businesses including:

From my extensive business to business networking, these were all new friends.  Additionally, I reconnected with other colleagues such as Rick Gosser of Gosser Corporate Sales and Al Konieczka of AlKon Consulting.

As to what did I learn, not much, but then I have been continually looking to expand my knowledge regarding social media as a marketing channel.  The speakers did present a couple of metric tools of which I had heard of and said an email would be forthcoming regarding other tools.

Being an executive coach (all about behaviors) and a small business coach (all about strategies) one of the continued challenges or complaints I hear from small business owners and some sales professionals is the inability to increase sales.  This seminar was not about sales, but marketing.  If no one knows about your business, it is really difficult to increase sales.  Social media is a dynamic marketing channel that is always changing and forward thinkers get that.

Yes forward thinkers are almost as rare as the DoDo Bird.  And good thing is you can change and not become extinct like the DoDo Bird just by realizing you must invest and schedule time to work ON your small business instead of always up to the elbows IN it.

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How Not To Market To Your LinkedIn Contacts

LinkedIn is a powerful marketing tool especially to attract attention and build relationships with your target industry market and ideal customers.  Unfortunately far too many small business owners believe LinkedIn contacts are to be handle as in any other prospecting list.

LinkedIn-ContactsThis morning cluttering my LinkedIn inbox was this email:

Being an entrepreneur can be overwhelming, but it’s even tougher when you make your own products.

This webinar walks aspiring and current business owners through the 4 steps required to run a successful product-based business.

 Space is limited, so register below if you’re interested.  (Webinar link removed)

Please do me a favor & forward this to any creative entrepreneurs you know who may benefit from tips on running a profitable business.

When I analyze this email, there are a couple of obvious mistakes:

1. Generalization of the phrase “make your ow products.” Running a successful product based is different from manufacturing to embroidered solutions to intellectual capital found in eBooks or other electronic products.

2. Why would I as a business coach, executive coach and talent management consultant forward this email to anyone I know specially since we have not spoken in at  least one year?  Also given I know the sender  has been a small business owner for under three years and I have not personally worked with this person, why would I make any recommendation by forwarding your email to my extensive network including my LinkedIn contacts?

After reading this email. I did a quick check of the website for this business coach and found it under performing and full of  SEO errors. The most obvious one was a lack of titles on each website page. Then there was no blog and the first words on the landing page were “Home Page.”

In today’s marketing world, not having a solid, dynamic website speaks to the marketing knowledge of the website’s owner.  Additionally using Internet trending tools such as, this small business website had no US ranking.  This quick analysis suggested this website received very little local traffic.

My thought was another over eager business coach who is clueless about small business marketing and now wants to help other entrepreneurs?  Effective marketing is critical for small businesses and especially those who have products.

Finally, the last thing you want as a budding entrepreneur is to annoy or worse yet have your marketing showcased as an example of not what to do. Even though your small business may be young, this is not an excuse to abuse any marketing channels such as LinkedIn contacts.

Later on today, I will share how to effectively market your product. This individual did not do it through his LinkedIn contacts.

P.S. In case you are wondering, yes I did remove this individual from my LinkedIn contacts.


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Sales Leadership Talent of Self Assessment

René Descartes wrote on two occasions wrote “I think therefore I am.”  This is a simple self-assessment. As a sales leadership talent, probably more clarification is needed.

sales-leadership-talentFor those in sales or selling roles and that means everyone, self assessment according to Innermetrix, not Descartes, is:

“The ability to practically and objectively identify one’s personal management strengths and weaknesses.  The ability of a person to take the skills and techniques that they have gained in evaluating external situations and applying them to evaluating their own performance and abilities.”

In other words, do you see yourself clearly, without any illusions.

For those who consistently demonstrate this sales leadership talent of self assessment, they are “capable of accurately evaluating their own strengths and weaknesses.” (Source: Innermetrix)

When this sales leadership talent is lacking in an individual, what happens is an internal misjudgement of “his or her own capabilities.” This misjudgement may create an under or over evaluation of the individual’s abilities. The end result may be the inability to consistently set and achieve one’s own personal goals as well as expectations. (Source: Innermetrix)

Sometimes being brutally honest with ourselves hurts and may actually be scary. It is  much easier and less frightening to take the effortless road of “I am who I am.”

If you find yourself misjudging your own strengths or weaknesses, possibly an investment in some external assessment may bring back to you the clarity you need to more accurately determine your own capabilities. Additionally, an outside perspectives from colleagues, friends, mentors or even a business coach may further support you in your endeavor to find that needed clarity.

The Attribute Index is an outstanding tool to provide the clarity for this sales leadership talent of self-assessment along with 77 other talents many of which are necessary sales skills.

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Business Coach or Executive Coach, Who Are You?

This past week I was asked to take a survey from a national firm regarding the state of coaching.  What was interesting was how this firm defined these two roles or solutions:business-coach-executive-coach

  • Executive Coach – Changing behaviors
  • Business Coach – Providing strategies

As I worked my way through the survey, I once again realized how the definition of terms can alter the results because internal conflicts have been created.

Research has demonstrated professional coaching when executed well can have dramatic results.

For me personally, coaching is about securing clarity regarding specific Beliefs that drive Actions (behaviors) generating Results. To raise the BAR of individual performance starts with the beliefs. Since beliefs comprise thoughts as well as attitudes (habits of thoughts) thinking is required and more importantly strategic thinking is necessary.

As it has been said “If you do (think) what you have always done (thought), you’ll get what you have always gotten (thoughten)”  [Source: Tony Robbins without the parentheses.]

From those revisited thoughts and strategies, behaviors begin to change especially when aligned to a written strategic action plan.

Being a literal person,I define being a business coach as working with small business owners. Here they gain clarity about their current business strategies and alignment of those strategies to their behaviors. The decision maker is the small business owner.

An executive coach, in my opinion, works with executives usually within a corporate environment. In other words, more often than not I am hired by an organization to bring clarity to an executive through his or her own self discovery using the coaching process.

Even though this survey did not separate  a sales coach from the other two definitions, I define sales coaching as working with those engaged as professional salespeople who wish to improve their overall performance. For me, when I am hired as a sales coach, the client is paying me from his or her income.

In all roles, executives, small business owners and salespeople there exists both strategies and behavioral changes.  To suggest being a business coach  is only about strategies or an executive coach is only about behaviors  is a disservice to both the coaches and those being coached.

So to answer the question as to “Who are you?”

For me, I may now have to consider I am both a behavior coach and strategy coach or BS Coach for short.


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