Posts Tagged ‘executive coach’

Your Commitment to Your Professional Growth Is?

Yesterday, I made this short update at LinkedIn about professional growth for executive coaches, business coaches or sales coaches:

If you are not continually expanding your knowledge, testing your own boundaries, how can you ask your coaching clients to do the same?

Even though I referenced those in professional coaching roles, this question can be asked of any professional in any role including sales, executive leadership, management and even customer service.

With over 97% of all U.S. businesses being fewer than 20 employees, professional growth many times falls on the financial shoulders of each individual.  These investments toward continuing professional development may range from buying books, joining organizations to even hiring an executive coach.

Some recent research by RandstadUSA suggests that millennials expect their employers to pay for their professional development. This may be true if the firms are large enough in revenue to fund those expectations.

The question to be asked is why aren’t you investing in your own professional growth?  Possibly the fear of it might not work?  I can attest even when I purchase a book or attend a seminar that I discover is not up to my expectations, I still walk away with one tidbit of knowledge.  My growth is not dramatic, but there is growth.

FEAR is for the most part False Evidence Appearing Real. 

Right now write down your goals for your own personal and professional growth.  For example, read one recently published book per month on sales or leadership. Did you know that 23% of 18-49 year olds have not read a book in the last 12 months. This number increases to 29% for adults 50 years old and older.  (Source: Pew Research)

P.S. Remember, this old saying “The chicken was involved; the pig was committed.”

If you are unsure of how to construct a good goal statement or lack your own action plan for professional growth, then CLICK HERE. If you wish to speak with me, Leanne, then click here for a free strategy session or call 219.508.2859 MST.

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Why Are You Email Marketing to Me?

When did email marketing transition from permission based to everyone and his or her brother or sister?  How many times must we unsubscribe from people who have bought email lists to adding our email addresses to their email marketing database without our permission?

Recently a “communications coach” and “life coach” sent me an email.  I never signed up for her newsletter. I never asked for my email address to be added to her database. Yet she is emailing me.

After the second email in 24 hours, I suggested she should gleam her list given I am an executive coach with 20 years of experience as an executive coach. Her response included she had coaches as clients.

My thought was “Well good for you so have I and your point is?”

Then she told me I could opt out.  Funny I never opted in, but now I must opt out.

Individuals such as this one and many more should research permission based marketing.  I know through my list builder, AWeber, I am strongly encouraged to do “double opt in” if I add someone to my list instead of that person signing up by herself or himself.  Even then they must confirm in another email they signed up to the email marketing list.

Of course with the influx of social selling (I find that term beyond ridiculous as 99% of all selling is social), these individuals believe they have the “right” to clog up email boxes with their “free gifts or offers.”  They have never engaged in permission based marketing and this only reveals their lack of professionalism and integrity.

It is one thing if a person opts out of your email marketing database when that person originally signed up to receive your information.  However for your as a SMB owner or salesperson to routinely add names to your email database without permission is 100% wrong!

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Not All Sales Referrals Produce Revenue

Sales referrals are an excellent revenue producer.  A loyal client refers one of his or her friends to you. A meeting is set and information is exchanged.

sales-leadsSome, not all,  executive coaches or business coaches in the first 15 minutes  of the sales conversation can usually determine the problem or problems keeping the sales referral from the attainment of his or her goals.  Some of these barriers can be overcome while others are totally beyond the control of the sales referral. Sales Coaching Tip:  The more due diligence on your part increases the likelihood of recognizing these barriers.

Usually the executive coach can also determine if the sales referral is an ideal customer during this meeting.  Sure he or she may be the decision maker, definitely has the wants and needs and appears to have urgency. This two fold question remains:

  • “Can he or she pay you?”
  • “Is he or she committed to taking action?”

Budget is one of the ongoing challenges for many of the sales referrals I receive.  Even though I can easily demonstrate the return on investment, if the sales referral does not have the budget, there is still no sale.

For example during this meeting, I easily quantified the impact of my solutions.  If executed correctly, the sales lead would have had at least doubled her current monthly new client acquisition and probably tripled those numbers. However even with this demonstration, she still was reluctant to invest in herself.

The other tidbit learned is the risk factor for the sales lead.  More forward thinking SMB owners to sales professionals are willing to take a risk while those who are not as forward thinking are less likely to take that risk.  Sales Coaching Tip:  Risk factor is a psychographic when it comes to profiling an ideal customer and is directly related to the commitment to take action.

Many times when we receive sales referrals, we know going in if the meeting is going to be successful meaning a next meeting would be scheduled. However because of loyalty to existing clients or colleagues, we schedule the meeting.  For me, these meetings are just another opportunity to further improve my sales conversation by learning how to connect to the value drivers of the sales referral.

Yes not all sales referrals produce revenue. This is a fact. What we can do is to continue to educate our clients about who are our best ideal clients while remaining true to our own personal core values.

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Positive Attitude Is Great to a Point

“Your attitude determines your altitude” is a well known saying.  Having a positive attitude to a point is great.  Yet my sense is when we deny the negativity in life we may not be facing reality and therefore set ourselves up for failure.



One of my colleagues shared an attitude test.  Those who indicated they watched the news or talked about the news received a significant negative “ding.”

Being an executive coach along with workplace culture problem solver, I read a lot of news.  To ignore the news would be extremely detrimental to my practice.

The difference is I do not let the news get me down.  The news be it good, bad or ugly is part of life.  To ignore that reality is not positive as this attitude test suggested.

The presumption is by reading or watching the news one is negatively affected.  This might be true if one was highly sympathetic and agreed to everything he or she read or watched. Those who are empathetic can appreciate the experiences of others, but do not necessarily agree with those experiences.

Opposites Do Matter

If we look at the opposite of the word success we see failure.  The most successful people have had failures such as Thomas Edison.  I believe the most positive people also have experienced negativity.

These individuals know how to deal with the negativity and then continue to move forward. Many overly positive people when faced with negativity falter and lack the depth of resiliency to move forward.

The difference between being a Pollyanna Positive Person and just a Positive Person is one of perspective and balance.  A Pollyanna Positive Person has a limited perspective of reality and lives somewhat off balance.  A true Positive Person acknowledges (does not necessarily accept though that may happen) the negative aspects of line and knows how to balance the negative with the positive.

Ying and Yang of Life

Positive and negative are Ying and Yang.  One exists because the other exists. How would we know if something was positive unless we understood when something was negative?

Attitude tests such as the one I took are potentially harmful and provide a well intention sense of false security.  Adversity is part of life and usually intertwined with negativity.  A true positive attitude within forward thinking leaders allows them to work with negativity, not ignore it and because of their positive attitudes they can pick themselves up and move forward.

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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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Clarity Is the Essence of Executive Coaching

Why engage in executive coaching?  The answer is quite simple – clarity.

executive-coachingAfter being an executive coach for over 15 years, clarity is the most illusive aspect of our lives, myself included.  Those individuals who have absolute clarity also have a clearly internalized purpose for taking the actions they take.

Over the years I have shared this personal story about my Swedish grandmother.  No, she did not have an executive coach, but she had incredible clarity.  At the age of 18 with less than a high school education, she made a decision to bring her family (that she did not have at that time) from Sweden to America and to have at least one child born in America.

Her clarity resulted in a 20 year plus action plan that involved her brother, her husband and her four children. She arrived in America at Ellis Island from Sweden at the age of 40 not knowing she was pregnant with my father.

Over the years I had the privilege to listen to her stories and all I can say, beyond she was amazing, was her sense of clarity.  I wished I had her clarity at 18.

Executive coaching is a process about bringing clarity to a client.  This clarity is the result of active questioning and not so active questioning. Much of the clarity happens by just changing the words the client thinks, speaks and writes.

By changing the words we think, speak and write, we shift our perspective.  That shifting creates new clarity.  Additionally through those new words, we have probably gained emotional intelligence.

The goal of executive coaching is for the client to gain crystal clarity around each issue currently being faced.  These issues may be:

  • Working with other team members
  • Better management of the boss and direct report relationship
  • Barriers to increase sales
  • Home life eruptions
  • Self awareness including role awareness

Possibly why today so many people lack clarity is because we are facing incredible amounts of change. I read today we experience more change in one year than our grandparents experienced in their entire lifetimes.

When life is simpler and filled with less ongoing change, it is easy to maintain one’s clarity as my grandmother demonstrated. Today, life is more complex because of change and finding clarity is more difficult.

If you are not happy with the path you are on; if you are having trouble separating the impact of change and the resulting behaviors; or if you wish to strengthen your own internal self awareness, then possibly executive coaching is a reasonable solution.

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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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Try on These Three Questions to Inspire You

Funny thing about life, inspiration can come from the least likely sources.  This week I read about a 4 minute speech delivered by Mathew McConaughey during last year’s Oscars.  As I am not an Oscar fan since Bob Hope stopped being the emcee (yes I am old), I was unaware of McConaughey’s acceptance speech.

questions-to-inspireDuring his speech, he shared he lived by these three tenets or pillars (my words).  Here are his three questions to inspire you now and in the future:

  • What or who do I look up to?
  • What or who do I look forward to?
  • Who do I chose for a hero?

Imagine just having three questions to inspire you?  What would that mean for you personally or professionally.  Would living by the answers to those questions propel you closer to where you want to be this time next year or five years down the road?

Leanne Hoagland-Smith, M.S.,  is an executive coach and talent management consultant who takes an heuristic approach to personal and professional growth. Her task is to support you 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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The Brand Befuddlement by Small Businesses

Beyond sales befuddling many small businesses, mention the word brand and receive even more questionable looks. Over the years many have defined this illusive word.  From my own experience I thought Seth Godin had one of the best definitions:

“A Noun:  Brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer. ”
Then  I had a luncheon meeting several years ago with a local entrepreneur, Gus Olympidis, CEO and founder of Family Express.  Gus simplified Godin’s definition into these 5 words:

Your brand is your promise.

Simplicity sells as many know from the old KISS phrase – Keep It Simple Sweetie.  Of course simplicity does not sell fancy logos, multiple word branding statements or 5,000 printed glossy brochures from small businesses whose business is selling those logos, branding statements or glossy brochures.

By keeping this definition simple allows small businesses to dig deep into what is their promise to their employees, their customers, their shareholders, their stakeholder and their communities.

Over the years I have developed several statements that all reflect my promise to those around me:

  • Where the status quo is challenged & changed
  • Bridging the gap between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals
  • Creating ethical and results driven leadership in people, teams and organizations

I realized my own brand must reflect not only what I do but create some emotional energy as well. So this past week I did some more research through this website and discovered the following:

  • The first statement about the status quo had no emotional appeal. In fact it was absent of any emotional marketing value.
  • The second statement had the most emotional appeal and resonated with both those who are either intellectually or spiritually emotionally centered.
  • The third statement had the next level of emotional appeal and only resonated with those with an intellectual sphere.

For the new year, I will be revising all of my marketing materials to reflect the second statement because my promise is to bridge that gap either with my solutions or to make recommendations to other small businesses who are better able to close what I call The RG Gap™ .


Take Action

During this first month of the New Year, sit down and determine what is your promise to your stakeholders. Remember to keep it as simple as possible and check its emotional value. Finally if you can embed directly or indirectly your core values, then that is an added bonus. Let me know how this works for you and if you have some challenges determining your brand give me a call.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith, M.S.,  is an executive coach who takes an heuristic approach to personal and professional growth. Her task is to support you 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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2 Ways in How To Assess Your Talents

So you want to begin a self improvement plan or you have been asked by your employer to develop your own personal development plan. Regardless what you call your plan, the first place to start is with how to assess your talents. Until you have clarity around what you do well, you may end up, like many others, focusing on the wrong end of the horse, your weaknesses.

how-to-assess-your-talentsThee are only two ways to assess your talents:

  1. Quantitative
  2. Qualitative

Quantitative is all about using measurement that can be expressed in numbers such as achievement tests, hours of work, weight, etc. Qualitative cannot be expressed as a mathematical number but gender, social economic status, personal observations, etc. Sometimes qualitative assessments have numbers using a rubric where people assign a number based on their interpretation.  For example, essays to performance appraisals are quantitative even if numbers are assigned.

Within both of these ways in how to assess your talents, there are formal and informal assessment tools available.

Formal tools such as the Attribute Index talent assessment have been statistically normed within larger populations. There are statistical co-efficients that measure the reliability (Does the assessment consistently measure the same thing?) and validity (Does the assessment measure what it is says it measures?).

Informal tools lack any statistics respective to reliability and validity. These can be self-assessments to surveys.

Both ways in how to assess your talents can be employed as you develop your self improvement plan or personal development plan.  Once you complete your assessment or assessments, then the next step is to gain clarity specific to what areas require your attention. You truly do not want to be hitting the wrong target.

Your biggest challenge is just to sit down, decide to begin walking this new path and just do it.  If you require assistance, now is not the time to think you can do it all alone.  Seek out a co-worker, your boss, a friend, a mentor or even hire an executive coach to get you going.


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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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