Posts Tagged ‘business success’

Procrastination the “I’ll Do It Tomorrow” Mentality

Almost two weeks into the New Year and is procrastination starting to rear its ugly head?  You know what I mean those  “I’ll do it tomorrow” thoughts.

Years ago during a workshop, one of my clients shared that her greatest obstacle to business success was her inability to:

  • Honor her commitments,
  • Do what she know she needed to do
  • Put things off until tomorrow

Her greatest obstacle to business success was consistent with the other responses that I have received during the last 20 years.

From my perspective, to procrastinate reveals a victim mentality belief rather than being a behavior.  Of course, many might bristle when I suggest that such behavior is an excuse, but in reality is it not?

The word procrastinate has Latin origins. “Pro” means forward and  “cras” means tomorrow.  Ultimately, this means to defer to taking action now and taking action tomorrow.

Sometimes to procrastinate might be a good thing. For example, a person lacked the necessary time to think through a current decision at hand.  Yet for many, the issue of procrastination is more about the unwillingness to take action and then to make an excuse for this belief.  For indecision is a decision and is totally within the control of each individual.

For example, how many people in business procrastinate (take no action) because they have no plan?  Most small business owners fly by the seat of their pants or by the spray and pray mentality (spray it on the wall and pray it sticks).  And if they do have a plan, they leave it on the shelf or in the desk drawer and think about getting to it later.

Procrastination becomes the excuse not to build your business.  Don Wilder once stated that:

“Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.” 

For example, I know of many small business owners to sales professionals who actively attend chamber of commerce events to local civic organizations’ meetings.  Anywhere from 1.5 hour to 3 hours are spent several times a week at the same meetings with the same people.

Yet, how much new business did they secure? How many new leads have they uncovered?

For these individuals would rather procrastinate about doing what they really need to do to grow their businesses rather than take action to schedule a solid business appointment with a prospect.  Business networking is great provided you are realizing measurable results that turn into sales.  If not, then you need to fish in some new ponds.

TAKE ACTION procrastination is one of your business issues. Look to supporting beliefs. Listen to the excuses that you are making for your behaviors. Ask yourself are you being a victim to your own thoughts?

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Labor Day Is About Tenacity

Labor Day here in the USA is a day to celebrate the results of daily labor.  Think back to the earlier origins of this country.  Settlers carved farms out of wilderness.  Even into the 20th century and the wave of legal immigration created thousands of small farms that led to the industrial economy. Tenacity is one shared value that all these workers from farmers to steel workers had in common.

Labor-DayTenacity has many definitions. Chuck Norris believes that tenacity is “The ability to stick to it when things get tough.” So, how many times will you stick to it as you labor forth?

From our childhood experiences, we are told to “Count to 10” before allowing our temper to guide our behaviors or taking other types of action before we think. On this special day, this paradigm is a great way to reinforce our own tenacity as we overcome those obstacles that are keeping us from securing personal success to business success.

How many times in our search to improve our businesses, do we seek solutions from the outside and fail to look within ourselves. Have you considered assessing your own tenacity and looking within the word tenacity?  Did you see the word ten – 10 – within tenacity?

The Tenacity Power of 10 automatically creates a self-fulfilling prophecy by strengthening your own personal resolve because now you are in control of your own destiny. Years ago, Henry Ford penned these words: “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”

Business success or personal success is a matter of choice.  Being tenacious is also a matter of choice. You can choose to be tenacious towards success or to be tenacious towards failure.  For me, there is only one choice and failure is not an option.

TAKE ACTION and assess your own tenacity and its impact on your business results.  Enjoy this national Day of Labor. Make each day a day filled with peace and abundance.

Note: This posting was from a column published by the then Post Tribune of Northwest Indiana back on September 3, 2007. Due to the multiple mergers, this column is no longer online and I thought it would be a good idea to reflect about this concept of The Tenacity Power of 10.

Happy Labor Day to my fellow Americans!


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Sunday Work Life Balance – Authenticity


Sunday is a time to reflect regrading the work life balance of the past week and the forthcoming week. Yesterday after reading a discussion about integrity within a LinkedIn group, I wrote this comment on my Facebook wall.

“People who say they are ethical in many cases are ‘situationally’ ethical.

They are ethical in appearance and name only.

Look to their behaviors to determine how ethical they really are.

This is where authenticity and situational ethics truly collide.”

Authenticity is visually for me the shadow behind integrity. Years ago, I remember the cartoons where the character would walk in one direction and his or her shadow would stay still or walk in the other direction. When people are authentic, the shadow stays with the person. Note:  People can be authentically good or authentically not so good.

Recently I underwent an experiment regarding business ethics and experienced this collision between authenticity and situational ethics. The results were quite surprising in that over 70% of the people in the experiment actually displayed situational ethics even though all professed the demonstration of high business ethics (behaviors) was part of who they were.

In another example, a group of individuals who also said they demonstrated  high business ethics made a commitment to each other.  Again, approximately 50% of those involved have not honored that commitment.  Once again a collision between authenticity and situational ethics has happened.

One of my colleagues, Dan Waldshmidt, shared a post about “47 EDGY Perspectives for Unstoppable Business Success.” Many of these perspectives apply to life success and more so to work life balance. These perspectives also support how to stay authentic even during troubling times when it is much easier to engage in situational ethics.

Maintaining a work life balance is not easy. 

No one promised life to be easy.

Even our founding fathers recognized in forming this country, the opportunity for “the pursuit of happiness” does not guarantee happiness.

As leaders of our own businesses, as community members, as parents, as partners, as friends, as citizens, maintaining personal authenticity and therefore integrity (the shadow behind business ethics and personal values) is critical to grow ourselves and our businesses.  Through reflection we can change the course of our behaviors and ensure our authenticity shadows (think business ethics and personal values) stay with us instead of abandoning us.



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2012 and The Next Level of Personal and Business Success

Today is the first day of 2012. Happy New Year!

For many it is a day of reflection specific to personal success and business success along with the successes not achieved (think failures).  This morning I completed the metrics for the current year and realized the achievement of these goals.

I set goals using my own 8 spoke Life Wheel and this is infused into a one page personal action plan.

  • Purpose goal was achieved
  • Ethics/Beliefs (Spiritual) goals were achieved
  • Mental development goals were achieved
  • Personal health goal was achieved and one was not achieved
  • Family goals, one was achieved; two were not
  • Social goals all achieved, but one
  • Financial goal was achieved
  • Career goals was achieved

Looking to my overall sales goals, I was  for the most part on target.  Additionally when reviewing the goals for my business, I was very pleased to see the growth in my marketing efforts and how that supported the revenue increase.  As I have engaged in education based marketing since 2005 through article writing along with the adoption of this blog in February 2010, traffic to my website has greatly increased through the distribution of quality content.  A study by the Marketing Profs reaffirmed this approach of content marketing is now being further adopted by B2B businesses.

For example, my Alexa ranking started the year at 309,224, ended at 163,227 and reached 148,525 in mid November of 2011. This is a trending tool and is one way I can determine overall Internet market penetration.

Another benchmark I use is my name.  Each month I conduct Google searches using my name through these 4 key phrases:

  1. Leanne Hoagland-Smith
  2. “Leanne Hoagland-Smith”
  3. Leanne Hoagland-Smith + articles
  4. “Leanne Hoagland-Smith” + articles

The use of these metrics have shown continued Internet presence. As in mid December, I had 588,000 hits to my name and 149,000 hits to my name plus articles.  This is a far cry from 6 years ago where I had under 100 hits to my name and no hits to my name plus articles.

Unique visitors to my website totaled 86,438 an increase of 37,566 visitors over 2010. What is interesting to note in 2005 I had only 3,378 total unique visitors for the year.  Today I am averaging 8,000 unique visitors each month.

From my strategic action plans, I have already set new personal goals and business goals.  Goals that were not achieved and been revisited, reworked and are on my 2012 action plans. What is so surprising is once you get in the habit of setting goals, monitoring them, establishing new goals takes far less time than in the past.  Part of the reason for this is through data analysis and repetition.  Practice does make more perfect.

So from my sharing, where are your next levels of personal and business success?

  • Have you invested time to review what you accomplished and what you still need to achieve? 

  • What do you want to achieve in 2012?

  • How will you measure your progress?

  • What are you key performance indicators, your dashboard?

Time does fly by. Each day we are allotted 86,400 seconds that fade almost as quickly as they come into view. Each one of us has far more control over our personal and business success than we have been led or conditioned to believe. The choice to make 2012 the best year ever is really up to you.
And this choice begins by writing down your goals and reviewing them weekly.  You will indeed be surprised by the results.

P.S. If you wish to consider some easy strategic action plans, then Triage Business Planning teleconference may support you in those efforts.



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Values Are the Key to How to Increase Sales and Business Success

Credit L Hoagland-Smith

Yesterday, I invested some time to illustrate how values are the key to increase sales and achieved business success.  This illustration is based upon the following premises:

  1. The purpose of business is to serve the community
  2. Organizations are the natural place for innovation and growth
  3. Teams do more than individuals working alone
  4. Having individuals with strong positive core values begins a natural alignment
  5. Behaviors must be identified and linked to positive core values

There is much written on business ethics and positive core values. Yet very little is demonstrated through illustrations as to how this all works together to create organizational or business success as demonstrated by a high performance culture from the customer service to sales to production to upper level management.

For it is the behaviors that are observed when things do not go right in the organization. How many times have I witnessed these scenarios:

  • Employees are sent to training to overcome a challenge. Within three to six months, the poor behaviors returned as evidenced by the lack of results.
  • Employees are hired by the small business owners.  He or she fires them within a few weeks because they are “idiots.”  Who was the idiot who hired them?
  • Management wants to increase sales.  Then keeps moving the goal post line for the sales team and changes the rules every 5 minutes.
  • The community welcomes a new company only to find some of its practices are wasteful and not sustainable.

All of these scenarios are because there was a lack of  values alignment from some of the individuals to the community. This is why it is so critical to have a solid values statement within the strategic plan and most importantly shared, communicated and reinforced by the small business owners to the C Suite management. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Read From Values to Action by Harry Kraemer to understand why values based leadership is critical to your organizational or business success.

Poor performance is evidence by behaviors. Yet discussing behaviors seems to make people uncomfortable.  Until the acceptable behaviors are identified and those are in alignment throughout the organization, poor and inconsistent results will continue. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, no organization or business can afford to waste any resources be them:

  • People
  • Energy
  • Money
  • Emotions

Consider now as the time to construct a positive core values statement and share it with all of your team members. Just make sure you as a values based leader model those desired behaviors and enforce it when necessary to ensure consistent performance by all within your business.

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Is The Customer Loyalty Score Today’s Business Success Blinders?

The Customer Loyalty Score or Net Promoter Score as noted in the book The Ultimate Question is a much touted business success score.  Yet, is this really the critical score or is it blinders keeping businesses from greater growth (think increase sales) and profitability?


Recently, I came across this quote by W. Edwards Deming:

“Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your product or service and that bring friends with them.”

Customer loyalty goes beyond “How likely are you to recommend this business” based on a scale of 1 to 10.  Unless your customers actually take action; make that “how likely are you” recommendation and bring their friends, the best customer loyalty score is absolutely worthless to increase sales and subsequently business success.

From my perspective, this customer loyalty score has two inherent fallacies for lack of a better word.

Fallacy #1The greatest cheerleaders for your business or organization are external customers. In any business or organization the best cheerleaders are your internal customers or your employees.  This is especially true for those engaged in business to business marketplace.

Fallacy #2Repeat customers are the profit centers. Even though it does cost far less to keep an existing customer than to acquire a new one, the true profit centers for any business are the employees.

When organizations believer customer loyalty starts and ends with the external customers, they are truly missing the opportunity to build a culture of high performance and achieve business success.

The question each small business owners to C Level executives should be asking if they truly wish to increase sales is:

How many referrals have we received from each of our employees?

If your employees are not recommending your business, then you truly have a significant problem because business success always starts up stream and flows down stream.

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Are You A Sales Lion or a Gazelle?

There is an old anonymous proverb, probably African in its origins that speaks to everyone in sales.


Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.  It know it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion also wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It does not matter where you are a lion or a gazelle.  When the sun comes up, you had better be running.


The real question is not who you are, but rather what you do?

What actions are you taking to increase sales?

What sales skills are you using to realize business success?

Are you expecting sales to drop from the skies and land at your front door step?

Are you so busy attending civic meeting, chamber meetings and not walking away with at least one new lead at each of these events?

Are you confusing motion with progress and activity with results?

Sales is 24/7 especially with the advent of the Internet.  Your sales goals must be constantly in front of you.  You should reviewing these goals each and every day.  Do you set aside 12 minutes each day to review today’s results and tomorrow’s schedule? Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Most people admit to wasting 12 minutes a business day.

At the end of the week, you need to return to your sales plan, marketing action plan and if you have one an overall strategic business  plan. Do you set aside 12 minutes at the end of the week to review this week’s achievements and look to see where your goals to results are specific to your action plans?

What I have observed in working with sales professionals including financial advisors, insurance agents, realtors, real estate agents, new car salesmen to new car sales women along with a plethora of small business owners is that many of them do nothing. My first clue is that they lack the necessary plans from which to work.

Lions have a plan when they go after a gazelle.  Gazelles have plans to avoid the lion. Yet most sales people do not have an action plan.  They live by spraying their actions all over the place and praying that they will stick. This is a recipe for disaster.

Yes, they think they are doing something, but at the end of the day, they have no new sales leads, made no sales appointments and have no new commitments to purchasing their solutions ( products or services).  President Theodore Roosevelt said:

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing is the wrong thing;

and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

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One Quick Question to Business and Sales Success

From the single office/home office to small business owners to sales managers to C Suite executive, the goals to increase sales and secure business success is always present. When organizations fail to achieve these goals, the owners, managers and the executives look for solutions.

Yet sometimes in seeking solutions, they fail to understand the real or foundational problem.  In a posting by Dan McCarthy over at Great Leadership suggests there are 5 questions every worker should be able to answer. These questions are comprehensive, yet I believe in keeping it simple by having only one basic and quick question to determine why your organization and your people are not achieving your desired results.

During the last 10 years, I have asked this one question to well over 100 individuals.  And with a 99% response rate I have received the same answer – No.  What has been extremely interesting when facilitating this question to the executive team is the disconnect at the executive level. No wonder the same response is no.

The question in case you are curious is:

If I ask each of your employees or a segment of your employees from the front line workers up to the executive team the following question would I receive the same answer using the exact same words and in the exact same order? What are the top 3 goals of this organization or business as you perceive them to be for the current year?

The simplicity of this question goes to the heart of the reason why the sales goals or other organizational goals are not being achieved. If your people do not know the top 3 main goals along with the priority and cannot quickly repeat them back to you, then there is a lot of misguided and misdirected actions taking place.  In other words, instead of having 3 targets for business and sales success, you have a field of 10 to 100 plus targets. Additionally, many of your people may think they are doing what they need to be doing without realizing they have been unintentionally set up to fail.

Having 5 questions may reveal more, but in some cases those questions are not as easily tied to behaviors as the one quick question that I favor.  Additionally, why ask 5 when one question will do?

P.S. If you decide to use this question, please give credit where credit is due.

Graphic courtesy of Bing Images

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Value in Sales – What Is It?

Pick up any sales  journal or  skim the plethora of sales blogs or article directories such as Evan Carmichael, Ezine Articles or Sales Bloggers Union, Sales Gravy and the word “value” will pop up much like all those darn summer dandelions. So what in the heck is value anyway and more importantl:

  • How do you sell it?
  • How does it increase sales?

In a recent interview, Jeff Thull answered a series of questions about how to sell value to sales blogger Geoffrey James.  After reading this article, I now am convinced that in some cases people confuse the word value with  features or benefit.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  This is one of those articles I would definitely save for future reference.

Being somewhat simplistic in my approach to the sales process, numerous years ago I created a the 3-Rs for business success.

Relationships + Referrals = Revenue

Then boring down:

  • Relationships come from Marketing the Product
  • Referrals come from Sales or the Prices
  • Revenue comes from Sales less expenses or the Profit

This same model can be used to help to explain the 3 levels of value described by Thull:

  • Products are the  features – Level I
  • Prices are benefits – Level II
  • Profit is the Value or Results  – Level III

The critical point beyond understanding the 3 levels of value is that top sales performers have the talent to almost intuitively know how to adapt to each customer’s situation. These folks using Thull’s words, build a “story” that made sense to the prospects  around the value of their solutions specific to long term impact.

If you want to increase sales, consider investing some time to clearly articulate the value your solutions (be them products, services or a combination thereof) bring to your potential qualified customers (a.k.a. prospects).  Additionally, remember that your customers and potential customers are very busy. So you may wish to use Jill Konrath’s SNAP Selling approach to make sure your message resonates with them.

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What Is Your Time Worth?

Do you know what your time is worth?  Given that most people believe they have little time and their plates are overflowing, one would think everyone would have an answer to this productivity question.  Yet, when speaking to small business owners, sales professionals, financial advisors, realtors, insurance agents and other independent contractors, I am surprised at the number who truly cannot answer this question or feel awkard if actually sharing what they believe their hourly time is worth.

A post just came across my desk which provides a very simple way to determine the value of your time is money. What I like about this posting are the questions at towards the end.

Years ago I contributed the cost for small business onwers, financial advisors, realtors, insurance agents and other independent contractors who belonged to a:

  • Chamber of commerce
  • Formal (dues paying) business networking group
  • Professional association
  • Civic organization such as Rotary
  • Industry or trade association

Between membership fees, meal costs, raffle tickets, penalties (e.g. not wearing your pin), mileage (car expense) travel time and attendance time, I estimated $30,000 annual profit drain. Business Coaching Tip: Anything that costs the company outside of the actual purchase of goods or services in relationship to the sale comes from profits. When I made those calculations, I estimated hourly rate of $100 for being in attendance and $50 for travel time.

In speaking with many of my clients, I received push back because they had never considered their time in the equation. When I reminded them that they could be selling instead of attending these necessary marketing activities, they all of a sudden understood why it was important to make sure their marketing actions were focused. Business Coaching Tip:  Having a written business action plan reinforced by WAY SMART goals helps to best leverage this non-renewable resource of time.

Investing the time to understand what your time is worth and how best to use that time (think productivity) will allow you to become one of the few who achieve business success instead of one of the many who languish in the land of missed opportunities (failures).

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