Posts Tagged ‘business growth’

Time to Take HOLD of Your Business Results

To improve business results, many organizations use the SWOT analysis.  For many years I have used a revised SLOT analysis when it comes to ensuring people secure the desired results.

Today, the word disruption is very much in evidence through the business and even personal worlds. The combination of algorithms and technology continue to disrupt how business has been conducted.  Maybe it is time to move forward and look at business results through a different analysis tool.

HOLD – A New Analysis Tool

When people within organizations start engaging in improving business results, the ultimate goal is to take HOLD of the entire organization.  Individuals within the organization must also take HOLD of their own results.

H Health – What is the health of the organization or individual?  This allows the organization as well as the individual to assess beyond the financial records to other critical elements especially attitudes, emotional intelligence and organizational culture. More and more research confirms emotional intelligence and organizational culture have far greater influence than many executives realize.

OOpportunities – Where are the current and future opportunities for sustainable, profitable growth?  With the qualified labor pool continuing to shrink, now is the time to look at opportunities to keep loyal employees and loyal customers.

LLimitations – What limitations are restricting the health and opportunities of the organization or the individual?

D Disruption –  What disruption has happened in the marketplace and its impact on the organization or individual?  Where is there a possibility for more disruption such as artificial intelligence?

Yes the SWOT analysis is a good tool.  The inherent problem is people are conditioned to the tool and in many instances viable data, facts and information are overlooked.

Change in the marketplace continues to happen at what appears to be the speed of light. To stay at least with the flow and hopefully ahead of the flow demands new ways of thinking for those who wish to change and improve their business results.

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The Real Reason for Failed Mission Statements

Yesterday I heard another sales and marketing expert misspeak about mission statements.  His webinar probably drew thousands and hence now thousand more salespeople, SMB owners and entrepreneurs potentially will fail in their quest to increase sales and grow their businesses.

What this expert did as many other so called experts have done is confuse mission with vision. 

For example, “I want to be the best (fill in the blank)” is a vision.  It is the future desire of the individual.

A mission statement is simply the execution of the vision and potentially includes the measurement of HOW the vision will be achieved within a specific time frame of WHEN. In other words, the mission is a broad goal statement.

Probably the best way example of a mission is the old television series “Mission Impossible.” Mr. Phelps was given a mission usually to take down a bad guy and how much time he had to complete the mission. His mission was never to “be the best.”

One of the best ways to determine if your mission statement is producing results is to ask your people or yourself the following question:

What did you do today to achieve the mission? 

A vision statement of “be the best” is so broad that most firms will have people running in different directions.  Responses will be vague and again wide ranging. And failed execution is the end result.

Now take the following example and ask the same question.

“Within the next 12 months, XYZ firm will double its efforts to increase customer loyalty and retain 100% of all new customers by providing timely and quality solutions.”

The responses will be far more succinct and direct because people know what needs to be done as well as the time frame to get it done. Execution will improve and now there is a simpler way to discover the gaps for failed execution.

A 3 to 5 year Vision Statement may have 3 to even 10 Mission Statements depending upon the marketplace, the industry, the economy, etc. Remember, your mission statement is a measurable step toward achieving your overall vision.

If you are having trouble achieving increase sales or business growth, schedule a free strategy session with Leanne by CLICKING HERE to discuss your strategic planning.

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Looking for Shorter Working Hour? Then Forget Sales as a Career

Being in sales as a career requires not only a variety of skill sets, but the willingness to work long hours. Recent research released by Workforce360 for RandstatUSA discovered Millennials and the forthcoming Generation Z generations were unprepared for the long hours in their current jobs.

With 97.7% of the U.S. businesses have fewer than 20 employees, working long hours has become the norm.  Not only is there the standard 8 hour day, but other before and after work commitments.  If the business has a social media marketing plan, there may be some additional time required in writing postings.

Sales as a career is, in my opinion. of the the best professional careers.  You have the opportunity to meet incredible people, provide solutions to what is limiting business growth and on top of it all get paid to do this.

Of course, if you are expecting the money to roll in by working shorter hours, then you are living a dream that may turn into a financial nightmare.

There are some industries where sales professionals believe they can make a quick buck with a short investment of time.  From my experience, I have not found that to be true.

People buy from people they know and trust.  Sales research suggests it takes four to 12 contacts before a sale is earned.  Yes, selling does require a lot of time:

  • Phone time
  • Email time
  • Meeting time
  • Writing time
  • Learning time

Sales as a career will demand you to work long hours. Even though sales is simple, that being the transference of feelings, earning the sale or closing the deal may take longer than you realize. Sometimes you will be disappointed because what you thought was going to happen didn’t happen.  Losing sales after investing a lot of time and working hard happens to even the best sales professionals.

To grow professionally, to move up the career ladder, will demand long hours, not short hours.  Maybe these words by Charles Evans Hughes may inspire you:

“I believe in work, hard work, long hours of work. Men do not break down from overwork, but from worry and dissipation.”


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Self Leadership Is Required in Sales

In business there has always been a lot of attention directed to leadership.  Yet far lesser attention to this idea of self leadership.  As has been noted earlier, many presume people know how to lead themselves through earlier educational experiences.  However, research shows self leadership which falls into that bucket of people or soft skills is sorely lacking.

self-leadershipPeter Drucker said leadership is all about results.

Self leadership is about the individual getting results.

To secure the desired results begins with these two mindsets:

  • Continuous improvement
  • Motivation

Continuous improvement is a mindset where one is always challenging the status quo; looking toward the future and making changes if and when necessary. Sometimes the status quo is working and to make a change for the sake of making a change is simply ridiculous.

Motivation is also a mindset because the mind is what controls all behavior.  Using the Theory of Self Determination allows individuals to identify what is limiting their motivation:

  • Mastery
  • Autonomy
  • Purpose (as it relates to people)

In some sales training or business leadership programs, self leadership is included as a subset of sales skills or even talent development. Again there is a presumption people have the capacity and consistently demonstrate this capacity.

If this was true,

  • why do 44% of salespeople give up after making one call? (Source: Scripted)
  • why do the average salespeople make only two attempts to contact a sales lead or prospect? (Source: Sirius Decisions)

Continuous improvement and motivation are essential in securing results and working with the other aspects within the 5 Star Sales Leadership Model. Top sales performers do not rely on the business in providing the incentive for ongoing learning or motivation through recognition or rewards.

In today’s world with so many solo entrepreneurs as well as businesses with under 20 employees, business leadership and sales leadership are partners. These two roles must work together to achieve sustainable business growth.

Until 2/28/2017, learn what motivates you as well as how your behave and what is driving your decision making process through this special opportunity.


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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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What Would Happen to Our Sales If We Had Crystal Clear Clarity?

Funny think about sales, many people lack crystal clear clarity.  These are the salespeople that scurry around B2B networking events, who stumble when ask what they do, and who complain about the inability to increase sales.

salesMany salespeople as well as SMB owners think they lack the tools, the skills, the leads, the network of connections.  Never do they recognize what is limiting their business growth, their professional growth and their personal growth is crystal clear clarity.

Clarity Is Not Easy

The challenge with clarity is it is not easy.  We are conditioned to see the same landscape with the same eyes.  So we seek other landscapes instead of changing our eyes or our lenses to see what is right in front of us. This is quite evident by the lack of follow-up in sales.

Clarity Begins at Home

The old expression of charity begins at home can also be applied to clarity.  Finding clarity in our own lives beginning with our purpose is the first step before seeking clarity in our professional lives or SMBs.

An Outside Perspective Required

Even for the most forward thinking leaders, they have probably have reached out to mentors, colleagues and even hired executive coaches to achieve that outside perspective.  As we are creatures of conditioning, we are unable to see the forest for the trees. An outside viewpoint allows us to move up the mountain, to SEE the 30,000 viewpoint and then the impact of that perspective at SEA level or the trees.

The First Step

If you truly want to increase sales, then the first step is to gain crystal clear clarity. This begins with assessing what is happening right now in your life.  From the results of that assessments or assessments, you can gain the clarity needed for exceptional execution of your actions.  As the old expression goes, a “physician who treats himself has a fool for a patient” (Sir William Osler), the same can be said about a salesperson who assesses himself or herself.

Call or text Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.508.2859 and invest 2 hours to gain incredible crystal clear clarity that will improve your sales execution.

You can schedule a quick phone call to gain greater insight in what these 2 hours look like by clicking HERE.

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Write with Care in Your Sales Presentations

Sales presentations can earn the sale or sink it.  These written documents can build trust or erode trust.

sales-presentationFor example, I received the following in a written documentation explaining the real estate brokerage listing fees:  “to pay for advertising,…computer equipment and time…, sales meetings …, print media…”

Since I also provide executive coaching and sales coaching services if I ever delineated in my deliverables I was charging for computer equipment and computer time I would never secure the sale.  There are some costs that are fixed and understood by the buyer.  As another example, I would never include “office rent” as part of my deliverable cost.

In thinking of my past corporate sales management life, I would have love to have charged for sales meetings.  However, that was part of the cost to do business.

My sense is this particular realtor was attempting to be upfront and even transparent. In this world where so many people are attempting to be transparent, this behavior can be counter productive especially in sales.

By listing deliverables that are part of the cost in doing business appears to be more of a rationalization why the fee is what the fee is.  This type of listing in the presented documentation ignores value articulation.

Possibly most people would not be taken back by what is probably somewhat standard language. However with buyers becoming more educated, I believe such wording in sales presentations will be viewed negatively.

The marketplace is changing for many industries including real estate.  Until real estate firms recognize this change and work with it instead of fighting it, they will not have the opportunity for significant sustainable business growth. Right now realtors, media publications, financial advisors and many other service industries are in the red ocean instead of the blue ocean.

Sales presentations are an opportunity to differentiate you, your SMB and your solution.  The last thing you want is to reveal you are like everyone else and worse yet, potentially insult the sales lead.

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Time to Connect Employee Engagement to Your Sales Culture

Employee engagement continues to trend upward as a search term and a demonstrated need by SMB owners and executives. What would happen in these professionals would connect the productivity (engagement) of their employees to sales culture instead of just a workplace culture?

employee-engagementA sales culture is where every employee from the bottom up understands the goal is to keep loyal customers and find new ones. Also this change of mindset would mean that customers are both external (paying for the solutions offered by the SMB) and internal (other employees).

Today, SMBs cannot afford the costs of employee turnover.  Good people are hard to find. Shortages of highly productive employees within various roles continue to increase.

With 97,.7% of all U.S. businesses under 20 employees, employees must be highly engaged with each other.  Having an attitude of “what can I do to help you” is essential with more work being distributed among fewer people.

Sales as I have written before is the transference of feelings. (Zig Ziglar). All employees are selling something such as ” I need for you to buy why I need this from you so I can get my job done.”

Suddenly employee engagement looks like “yes we can” from the frontline worker, the truck driver, the billing clerk to the CEO.  Everyone is 100% committed to increasing sales because they recognize their own actions impact business growth somewhere along the “supply chain.”

Additionally the cost of external customer turnover is equally prohibitive. From the research of Bain and Co., a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.  Replacing a loyal customer can cost a company 5 times more than keeping the lost one.

A highly engaged sales culture is truly one where employee engagement is unsurpassed. If you want to increase sales and profits, then maybe now is the time to shift your thinking regarding workplace culture.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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The Sales Leads “Q” Dilemma

Most SMB people will agree that sustainable business growth relies on the ability to increase sales.  To achieve increase sales demands new prospects or sales leads.  Some business growth experts and sales coaches advise to go after the quantity (get more leads) while others look to quality (more qualified leads).  So what is a crazy, busy SMB salesperson supposed to do?



The first action should be to return to the strategic plan.  Review the marketing research and organizational capacity.  Update the ideal customer profile based on current customers as well as those customers who were not converted.

Then compare current marketing and selling efforts with actual results.  Quantity sales leads may and usually mean more effort for less results. Quality may generate better results, but not enough.  In the marketing and selling worlds, this is known as “know your numbers.”

Sales Coaching Tip:  Remember, people buy from people they know and trust. You may have to make more than three (3) contacts to earn the sales (close the deal).

Possibly the next action is to update your sales conversation without changing an effective marketing message. From my experience in working with executive coaching clients, how they say what they say is not as effective as it can be.

Sales Coaching Tip:  People buy first on emotion justified by logic.  When you create an emotional response there is greater likelihood, the ideal customer will want to further engage you in conversation.

Additionally you may wish to review your own community as well as to ask for referrals from existing customers or colleagues.  By establishing mutually beneficial relationships, you may receive quality sales leads (aka as referrals). Of course as in any relationship, this does require time.

Sales Coaching Tip:  People buy on value unique to them. Understand how to connect your ideal customer’s value drivers and then build upon them.

What “Q” sales leads to focus on will continue to be a dilemma for any SMB owner, executive or salesperson. By investing the time to reflect and then redirect your actions will generate improved business growth.

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Want to schedule a time to talk with Leanne? Just CLICK HERE

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth.

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The Quick & Easy Sales Fix Flops

Believe it or not, many in sales especially those sole proprietors engage in quick and easy sales fixes. Possibly this is everything from just mailing postcards to writing content on various social media sites to just continuing to churn salespeople.

salesSeveral times within past blog postings,  I have referenced the soliloquy from the movie The Executive Suite. The main character portrayed by William Holden delivers a 10 minute exceptional speech on leadership, on sales and on the ramifications of the quick fix. (This is 10 minutes worth watching at least every 6 months.)

Another colleague just wrote a quick LinkedIn Pulse posting about cold calling and how it actually works.  Cold calling is not the quick fix when done correctly as Tibor Shanto illustrated in his real world experience.

Sustainable sales growth and consequently business growth comes from time invested in planning, in thinking and then in executing.  Unfortunately as another of my colleagues, Bill Napolitano. noted in his story of Captain Wing It, there are far too many SMB owners, executives and sales professionals engaged in this role. These folks spray their actions all over the place and then pray something sticks. (My translation of a Captain Wing It)

Possibly Peter Drucker realized when he wrote a business has only “two functions, marketing and innovation.” He then continued everything else is operations.  Operations take time especially for those engaged in selling. This investment of time is because people buy from people they know and trust.  Attracting attention and building trust does not happen overnight.

If you want to increase sales, look at your current behaviors and be hones with yourself. Are you expecting results from the quick and easy fix?  If so, maybe it is time to return to the planning table and begin to think more long term.

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