Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking’

The 12 Days of Increase Sales Leadership Questions – Day 10

Today’s questions follows the one result you desire to increase sales leadership. (Read yesterday’s posting for further clarification).

What planning action or actions must you take to make that desire a reality in 2018?

President and General Eisenhower said “Plans are worthless; planning is everything.” In this hurry up, must have, quick fix sales culture, planning is often “short cutted” or worse yet ignored. Both actions further contribute to the inability to increase sales leadership.

Planning is all about employing critical thinking skills to overcoming the known and unknown or what if scenarios that may prevent successful execution of the actual written plan.

Yes efficient (doing things right) and effective (doing the right things) planning takes time.  Yet how much time is wasted in redoing what didn’t work? What different increase sales leadership results could have been achieved with some better planning?

Business research continues to reveal many executions fail. My sense is a large majority of those failed sales executions are the result of poor planning, poor thinking.

Funny thing about human nature, people including salespeople look for something, a sales technology tool, a quick sales tip to increase sales leadership results. Yet, the simplistic and least expensive tip is just to sit down and THINK!


The planning and thinking process begins with assessing what is currently happening, what has happened in the past and what may happen in the future.  Then time is invested in clarifying or confirming the research.  Finally executing the outcome of assessing and clarifying takes place with the understanding some of the planning may have to be revised because the marketplace is constantly changing.

Planning is not rocket science.  Anyone with critical thinking sales can engage in this increase sales leadership behavior.

If you truly desire 2018 to be better than any previous year, then invest the time to plan and think your actions, be proactive instead of reactive. Amazing results are indeed possible.

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Your Third, But Not Your Final Step to Increase Sales

Sales is a process and one that is dynamic, fluid and yet still constant. To actually increase sales requires you to execute, take action after you have engaged in assessing and clarifying your direction.

What usually happens is many sales managers through their salespeople into execution, taking action while skipping the first two steps. This behavior then resembles as a colleague called it, Captain Wing-It who sprays his or her actions all over the place and then prays something will stick.

Read this posting about failed execution – My Best Referral (Sales Prospect) Is Anyone With a Pulse

Even the best strategy will not be effective if there is poor execution.  Exceptional execution will not happen with poor strategy.  Investing the time to assess where you are, where the market is and then clarifying where you want to go, where your customers are going is essential.

increase-salesTo increase sales requires exceptional execution followed by reflection or reassessing what has happened. Through this reassessing process, then re-clarifying happens along with potentially re-prioritizing goals and even action steps.

Reflection allows you to determine what went well, what didn’t go so well and how can you improve your actions the next time.  This reflective analysis is the fourth step in critical thinking. potentially provides you with a better understanding of your own gaps.

Exceptional execution happens because of your commitment to planning, to thinking before taking action.  President Eisenhower, a military strategist, said “Plans are worthless, planning is everything.”

Even during execution, your “increase sales” brain should be in full awareness mode so that you can make any course corrections in your sales conversation.  Sometimes the sales lead is ready to buy and yet the salesperson ignores all the signs because he or she is still in sales script behavior.

Yes to increase sales is relatively simple though not necessarily easy by these three  repetitive steps:

Assess – Clarify – Executive – Repeat

Consider connecting with me on my calendar if you wish to learn how the A.C.E. can be applied to your sales culture.

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Change Is Good And We Are Going First!

For many change is good, for others and not for them.  Some folks are comfortable being in the security of the shore or near the dock and truly do not want to swim out to the fast flowing main current.



Unfortunately what happens is we get stuck in a rut, in the  calm waters of the status quo. My belief is human beings are not designed to live with the status quo.

We have within ourselves an internal desire for “change is good.”  Of course, finding the good change may require trudging through the bad change.

Change for the sake of change is not good.  What this means is there is no plan, no vision,  no reflection.

Change is good and we are going first is when there is a plan, a vision, and  lot of  reflection.

Here is where the what if questions surface.  What if this happens?  What if that happens?

All of those “what if questions” are just simple barriers to change is good. We then apply critical thinking skills and solutions with action steps can be created. Thinking is also good and critical thinking is even better.

Imagine if those who settled this wonderful country, the USA, allowed fear to keep them from moving west? Those early pioneers realized the good change “Go west young man, go west”  required courage of the head, heart, hands and soul.

Yes change is good and we are going first may be a new mantra for some and for others, old hat. Personally, I am looking forward to the change of “Go west, young woman, go west.”

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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 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn



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Leadership Brains, How’s Yours?

Modern technology and ongoing medical advancements have us knowing far more about our brains as well as our minds than ever before. This knowledge is critical for those in leadership positions.  Not knowing how one’s brain works or the brain of others sets up existing and potential leaders for absolute failure.

LeadershipIn the book, Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School, should be required reading for all leaders and wanna be leaders.  This is a simple read with powerful research examples.

Several of these rules appeared to be directed more towards the business world.

Rule #12 is exploration and the author, John Medina, shared the example of Google’s 20% time for exploration (think creativity) and how that time has generated 50% of all new products.  The questions to ask yourself are:

  • How much time do you devote to creativity, to just exploring for the sake of exploration?
  • Is your mind open to pure wonderment?
  • Can you see the same landscape but with different eyes?

Rule #10 is great for businesses because so much of what takes place in the workplace is visual.Yet the desire to over communicate with words potentially negatively impacts effective communication. This is why we have coined the phrase “death by PowerPoint.”

Rule #3 addresses how all brains are wired differently.  Those in leadership roles who understand the basics of brain wiring can become more effective leaders. One exceptional takeaway from rule #3 of wiring can be applied to sales training and leadership development programs. Give much of the sales training and leadership development is based on past K-16 experiences, these experiences ignore how the brains actually functions and its unique wiring.  By understand all brains are different should be reflected in all learning engagements.  One size does not fit all.

Rule #1 is probably the best one for everyone. “Exercise is like candy to the brain.  When we are active, the direct results is a boost in brain power (think critical thinking). Additionally keeping people active reduces dementia and Alzheimer.

Reading books about leadership, about sales, about best small business practices are necessary.  Yet sometimes it makes sense to learn about human nature specific to our brains and how we can improve our results by that knowledge.

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SWOT or SLOT in Your Strategic Plan to Increase Sales?

Within the strategic planning process to increase sales, many organizations create their own SWOT analysis either individually or with outside help.  This is a simple assessment to determine the following:


  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Years ago when attending a conference hosted by Resource Associates Corporation I was exposed to the SLOT analysis that being:

  • Strengths
  • Limitations
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

As I listened to the presentation, I realized the word limitations or better yet the concept was a far better for two reasons.

First, many of us are so conditioned to our weaknesses we begin in automatic pilot when we start listing them. We are already constrained by our internal beliefs. The word weaknesses limits our critical thinking capacity.

Second, the word limitations is both broader (30,000 foot viewpoint) and narrower depending upon the discussion. By using this word, we are more engaged with our critical thinking skills and are truly challenging the current status quo.

As one always looking to challenge even my own status quo, over time I realized the Limitations could be replaced with Leadership because leadership is such an integral part of any organization and one of the major reasons for success or failure especially when it comes to increase sales.

From my now 16 plus years of executive coaching and organizational development through talent management, I can say with 100% certainty, over 90% of all organizational challenges can be directly connected to leadership. This makes perfect sense because organizations are comprised of people. People buy from people.

By replacing limitations with leadership, the focus of this analysis is far more in alignment with a business model where people are placed first over revenues, business growth, market share, etc.

If your small business to much larger organization desires to increase sales then return to your strategic plan and do your own SLOT analysis.  Start with the word limitation during the first go around. Then return and replace limitation with leadership.  Again, it may be beneficial to bring in an outside perspective so that you truly discover where your competitive advantage really is and how you can capitalize on that advantage to increase sales.

  • Would you like to increase your business results by 20% in 60 days?
  • Would you like to discover the problems within your sales process?

Then scheduled a no risk 20 minute Business Growth Accelerator Session with Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.759.5601 CST to discover how you can challenge and change your status quo.

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How Can You Challenge the Status Quo?

To challenge the status quo means understanding everything involved with the word “challenge.”  In this context, the word challenge means to dare or better yet to defy something and in this case that something is the status quo.

status-quoThen of course your status quo must be also defined because each of us have a different status quo.

Sometimes it helps to answer this simple and not easy question:

Are you where you want to be?

If you are not where you want to be, then where are you?

Looking are the different aspects of your personal life, where are you right now respective to the 8 areas of life balance:

  • Purpose and Ethics & Beliefs (Spirituality)
  • Mental and Physical
  • Family and Social
  • Career and Financial

Through a self assessment of the 8 areas of life balance you begin to define your own status quo through your own emotional happiness and satisfaction. This process brings greater clarity to how you challenge the status quo.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  These Personal-Sales-Wheels may help you.

Having a written action plan supported by SMART goals also supports your defiance of the status quo. Through this process you will be applying critical thinking skills that your brain may internally fight because the brain wants conditioned behavior.  Thinking requires energy and our brains want to conserve all energy for those flight or fight moments.

Then again another behavior change or personal growth strategy is to think about what you do well and then apply what you do well to defying the status quo. Unfortunately most people from my experience do not know what they do well and waste precious resources of time, energy, money and emotions by focusing on weaknesses or turning non-talents into weaknesses. Sales Training  Coaching Tip: This talent assessment may also be of some assistance to you in your efforts to challenge the status quo.

Challenging the status quo can be achieved provided you have the correct mindset reinforced by proven tools.  In the words of Henry Ford:

If you think you can or you think you cannot, either way you are right.



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So What’s Your Status Quo?

The status quo is for many a comfortable place to be much like wearing that 20 year old, frayed sweater or sitting in that favorite chair.

status-quoFor it doesn’t require any critical thinking, any reflection, really any doing.

You know every time you wear or sit in the status quo it provides feelings of comfort and security.

Yet in reality the status quo provides false feelings and puts you in the land of nothingness where behavior change never happens.

This state of being works with the human brain because less energy is consumed allowing the brain to conserve all that that extra energy for fight or flight moments.

So, what’s you status quo?

  • Your current job even though 83% of American employees will be actively pursuing new jobs in 2014 (Source: Right Management)
  • Your current financial debt position (Credit card = $15,279; Mortgage debt = $149,456; Student loan debt = $32,140; Source: Federal Reserve)
  • Your current health  where only one in three on average US citizens are within normal BMI range (Source: Gallup)

Do you really want to be in the same place you are right now next year?

What do you need to do to change the status quo?

  • If you are thinking, what I have tried hasn’t worked then did you try 1,000 times? 3000 times? 10,000 times? (Edison failed 10,000 times before his success with the light bulb.)
  • If you are thinking, I’m too busy then is your time different than everyone else who has 24 hours in every day?
  • If you are thinking, I don’t have time, then are you living with the child’s excuse of the “dog ate my homework?”

Of course you may not be thinking at all because those who continually live in the status quo do not invest the time to really think, but continue on their comfortable, well beaten path of daily, automatic behaviors, with only a very tiny light that burns a tiny fire to someday change the status quo.

Tomorrow’s posting may provide some suggestions for you to consider.

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Business to Business Networking Success Is? – Friday’s Editorial

How does one define business to business networking success? 


This week I attended 3 different business to business networking  events and upon reflection I began to further evaluate each event specific to my own marketing goals as well as to the bigger picture.

In working through this reflective and critical thinking skill process, I realized there existed before, during and after criterion in all events.

Before Criterion

Notice:  Was the event properly advertised with date, time, location, purpose of the event along with any cost to attend?

Interest:  Did the marketing of the event encourage additional interest as a “must attend event?”

Followup:  Was there a follow-up process to ensure registration was received and processed?

During Criterion

Edibles:  If food was present, was it tasty, appetizing, etc.?

Engagement:  Were those in attendance engaging with others?

Energy: Was the energy level high, medium and low?

Environment: Was the environment enjoyable specific to temperature, seating, place to hang coats if necessary, etc.?

After Criterion

Event Impression:  How would you evaluate the overall event specific to your goals?

Event Response:  For those you met, did they respond to your follow-up calls?

Not all business to business networking success can be evaluated by how many new sales leads (think business cards) were collected.  In some cases, attending these events can be for new knowledge, exploration of a new industry to even just supporting a business colleague or friend.

Yet having some evaluating process in place beyond the new sales leads I believe is necessary so that you can determine in the future if you wish to attend this business to business networking event or that one?

Now upon further reflection I realized business to business networking success can be evaluated using additional criterion. What I now have s a quick assessment for each event I attend.  In the past my only criterion was how many new sales leads I wished to secure usually from zero if the event was one of support to five new business contacts. As the old expression goes, if you cannot measure it you cannot manage it.


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Sunday Work Life Balance Tip #9 – Goal

A goal is measurable end result. Pretty simple. Within that goal could be specific objectives or action steps that support one’s work life balance.

The challenge is achieving that measurable end result while not throwing the other goals off the cliff and upsetting the work life balance.

Louie Armstrong is quoted as a “goal is a dream with an ending.”  Dreams do not have tangible endings until some action is taken.  The move the Bucket List is a great illustration of turning dreams into goals and enjoying the measurable results.

Years ago I was exposed to the concept of the Life Wheel.  In doing my own research for my book, Be the Red Jacket, I discovered that Buddha was one of the first who wrote and discussed this concept of work life balance. His Life Wheel had six (6) areas.

Additionally, I recognized that many people had not invested the time to truly understand their purpose in life. One of the better books to explain purpose is The On Purpose Person by Kevin McCarthy.

Through my own experiences and observing the experiences of others, I also determined that within the Life Wheel there existed a counter balance effect. When one was ill physically, then one’s mental acuity suffered or too much focus on family may create a pull on social relationships.  Goals then became the counter balance weights to ensure overall balance.

Having a work life balance is essential in that being off balance creates poor results and in many cases unintended and costly results. Of course, this does require an investment of time along with the understanding how to set and achieve the desired end and measurable results 0r goals.

What is so ironic is people will invest more time on the everyday grocery list than putting together an action plan for the rest of their lives.

Goal for some appears to be a 4 letter dirty word along with plan and “DoIt.” Yet how often have we heard “failure to plan is planning to fail?”

I am reading the book Critical Thinking (Kindle edition) and the authors make some great points about the lack of critical thinking.  This inability to critically think has created reactive, short term, non-sustainable results or the quick fix mentality syndrome that appears to be so prevalent in our culture and  the cultures of other countries.Written goals when constructed within an action plan counter that quick fix mentality and subsequent quick fix behaviors not to mention quick fix results.

Consistently setting and achieving goals reflects a disciplined mind set and equally important the ability to critically think.

If you truly want those future, desired measurable results whatever they might be, then invest the time to write down your goals, unite them so that you can achieve work life balance.  For you believe a written grocery list has value, doesn’t your future even have more value?


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