Posts Tagged ‘executive coaches’

Prescription Without Diagnosis Is Malpractice

One of my colleagues, George Richardson, shared this quote by a Dr. Nancy Synderman “Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice”  with me nearly 20 years ago. These words are so true especially for those in any professional role including salespeople, executive coaches, consultants, leadership and management.

How many times do those in any of these roles of sales, executive coaching, leadership training or even management prescribe a solution without a formal or even informal diagnosis? Maybe this is why so many are thrilled with the quick fix and yet are dissatisfied with the results?

Yes an effective diagnosis is an investment of time, money and energy.  However the rewards far exceed the investment especially when one examines all the “redos” from bad prescriptions (solutions).  Possibly the ongoing issue of failed execution is because of poor to non-existent diagnosis.

With the outsourcing marketplace continuing to expand, there is a whole influx of executive coaches and consultants. Many of these individuals hang out their hats without any formal training or the use of any formal and proven tools.  They diagnosis and potentially are committing malpractice.

What ends up happening at least from my experience is other experienced executive coaches and consultants (results driven) must first undo all their poorly designed solutions.  The client is now 20 yard behind where he or she started because of the previous coach’s bad solution.

Then there are those in executive leadership and management roles who make reactionary decisions based on their gut or what they think needs to be done. The authors of Fail-Safe Leadership share a great vignette about a CEO who wants to increase sales.  What happens is each of his executive team take contrary actions that create further misalignment and potentially decreases sales.

When my executive coaching or consulting sales leads balk at taking a proven psychometric assessment or cultural assessment, I present this scenario.

Imagine you are going to your doctor because of a headache.  You tell the doctor why you are there and he or she immediately prescribes brain surgery without any examination of you including an Xray, MRI, blood work tests, etc. What would you do?  The answer usually is run out the door and seek another opinion.

So why would you engage in any solution without verifying what is really happening?

Misguided decisions create misdirected actions also known as failed execution.  To avoid this all to common situation, make sure before embarking on any solution (prescription), you have taken the time to invest in a proven assessment (diagnosis).  You will be glad you did.

Did you know you can measure 78 key attributes or talents? The Attribute Index is one of the most accurate and proven psychometric assessments for individuals who truly wish to know what they do well.

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What’s Your One Word Equity Sales Pitch?

According to Microsoft, human beings have an attention span of 8 seconds. A goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds. Possibly this is one of the reasons for the one word equity sales pitch as described by Dan Pink in his book To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth in Moving Others.

sales-pitchThe one word equity sales pitch is the brain child of Maurice Saatchi who believes in this digital age brevity must be pushed to its breaking point. This one word is the word you want others to think about you and your company.  It can be a noun, an adjective or even a verb.

Saatchi provides the example of the word “search.” Who or what comes to mind.  For many that entity is Google. He contends today only brutally simple ideas get through because they “travel lighter and travel faster.”

Now the difficult part:

  • What is the one word you want others to think when thinking of you?
  • When anyone utters that word, he or she thinks of you

Recently when speaking at a conference for executive coaches, organizational and lean consultants I shared this one word equity sales pitch as an activity.  The activity was difficult. What the 30 plus participants in attendance said, it helped to bring clarity and focus to their marketing and sales messages.

One path to find this one word equity is to return to your purpose statement if you have one.  Possibly within that statement you may find that one word.  For me, the word “trailblazer” has been part of who I am and what I do.

Another path is to ask others to share with them that one word that comes to mind when thinking of you. This path may surprise you.  If the word is not to your liking, then it may make sense to re-frame your sales pitch within your marketing messages and sales conversations.

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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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I Really Want to Change, I Really Do

How often have I heard this statement of “I really want to change” or “thing around here need to change?” Around 10 years I realized that no matter how many times potential sales leads talked about changing, very few truly wanted to change. This FHEM (Flat Head Experience Moment) had me restructure not only my talent management consulting, executive and small business coaching practice, but re-work my ideal customer profile.

want-to-changeYesterday a close colleague and another professional consultant shared his frustration regarding people and change with this question:

Anyone else burned out trying to help people who demand help from you, but don’t want to do anything you tell them to do?

Executive coaches, business coaches and consultants who provide sustainable solutions discover there are people (clients) who make demands of your time, your solutions and your emotional investment and fail to do what they need to do.  Then frustration kicks in as with my colleague.

Having worked with now hundreds of individuals, I can say that probably less than 20% stay the “I want to change” path.  Sure they may want to change and do change as long as I am with them, but once I have ended my assistance, they are back to their old ways, back to their old normal.

This is human behavior, returning to the old normal. Change is hard and why the status quo continues for many. Look at the obesity rate in this country and other countries if you doubt the strength of the status quo. Then walk down any book store and see all the self improvement books.

Yep change is hard, you go first!

Yesterday one of my executive coaching clients who is continually working to stay the course, to make the changes necessary for her as an executive leader, shared how positive affirmation statements or what I call belief statements are helping her.  Another colleague shared during a business to business networking event that she still uses affirmations to keep her weight at her desired goal.  At once time she was quite heavy and truly wanted to change and she did and has been thin now for nearly 20 years.

For me, recognizing the desire to want to change and what it takes to change, has me far more selective in accepting clients.  Today my ideal client is described as forward thinking leader in a rapidly growing SMB who is experiencing repetitive people or process problems which means for me he or she is willing to want to change and more importantly willing to do what he or she needs to do to change.

Remember change is not easy. Even the providers of sustainable solutions must have your commitment to want to change beyond just saying the words.

Want better results?

  CLICK HERE to reserve your time to talk with Leanne

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L&D, ROI and False Prophets

As an educated and trained instructional designer, one of the tenets was connecting L&D to return on investment (ROI).  Why would anyone undertake any training if it could not be directly connected to return on investment especially if you are selling the learning and development?


There are some trainers, consultants and executive coaches (false prophets) who advocate that connecting any measurable return on investment is ridiculous when those outcomes are measured against moving up the organization.  Of course such a position ensures a lack of accountability when the desired results are not achieved. This is all about “pay me and if the results do not happen, not my fault.”

Personally, I have never found aligning ROI to L&D difficult.  And as one moves up the organization it can be much easier.  Of course, the easiest way is to begin at the top and then align L&D to those desired outcomes as you move downward through the organization.

One of the greatest obstacles to ROI is upper leadership and management not understanding all the variables involved in achieving those desired results. For example, sales people can learn certain sales skills, but if the sales manager does not reinforce them or tells them something contrary, then ROI is out the window.

What the real challenge is many trainers, consultants and executive coaches begin at the bottom by focusing on the immediate need and “can’t see the forest for the trees” so to speak.  Possibly they also have not invested enough time to undertake their own research (fact finding) as to why this particular training is necessary.

ROI in L&D is like the leaves on the branches of a tree.  The trunk of the tree is the actual learning and development.  The branches can be goals or even specific skills while the leaves are the results of those goals.

We have enough false prophets within the educational fields be it corporate or public schools.  There is nothing wrong with putting together an aligned and results driven plan for L&D.  My sense is when a proactive approach is taken for ROI we will sell much greater results than the current reactive approach.

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If Your Sales Competition Is Not Against You, Then Maybe They Are With You?

The fear of sales competition is very real for mid-size to small businesses.  So many salespeople live with negative feelings to behaviors about their competitors.  From my experience, this fear is keeping them from understanding how these competitors maybe with them instead of against them.

sales-competitionOver the years I have developed incredibly strong relationships with other executive coaches, business coaches, sales coaches, organizational and leadership consultants. These relationships begin because we as small business owners share the same positive core values (business ethics).

In many instances, I have initiated the first contact to better understand what this allegedly ‘new competitor” does.  What I have learned is the individual’s expertise is different than mine and usually so is that person’s core business.  The other positive aspect of this first contact with the sales competition is some of them have hired me as a business coach to help them with their strategic plan and marketing.

Recently I reconnected with another business coach and I learned his business coaching practice did not have a proven and affordable assessment to understand the failure of strategic initiatives for mid-size to small businesses with under 100 employees.  I shared the sample of the one I use. Now we are currently discussing how his business coaching practice and mine could work together through a strategic partnership.

Call 219.508.2859 if you would like a sample of this assessment.

Until you have that first conversation, you are making assumptions about the sales competition. These assumptions can be just as wrong as the could be right.

The fear of sales competition goes directly to having a scarcity mentality instead of an abundance one. When we immediately fear something because we make invalidated presumptions, then we are short changing ourselves and future opportunities to increase sales.

As President Roosevelt said “the greatest fear is fear itself.” Fear be it of the sales competition to cold calling to even asking for the sale is 100% within our control.  When we no longer fear the sales competition and begin to see opportunities instead of barriers, we may just realize those perceived competitors can become incredible resources to increase sales.

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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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Answering the What Do You Do Question

Have you found yourself stumbling to answer the “What do you do?” question when at business to business networking events?  Do you admire those who seem to answer this question flawlessly?  For those in small business, answering this question is on the job sales training.



Sure you must practice and truly know what differentiates your small business from all those other gray suits in the market place. However, over time the answer to “What do you do?” will change as you as well as the marketplace changes.

This past week I amended my response to the “What do you do ?” question when I actively listened to others.  Several people commented about my response of “I solve people and process problems” and attempted to group me with the recent tsunami of business coaches and executive coaches within the marketplace.  I was able quickly recognize this fatal grouping and responded with “No I am not a newbie as my practice is 18 years young.”

The dynamics of those conversations resulted in me changing my response from the “I solve people and process problems” to “For the last 18 years I have been solving people and process problems.”

Much is written about how to answer the “What do you do?” question.  This is an important question to be answered as it may be your first and last attempt to attract attention.

There are many sales training programs that focus on answering this one question. What I know to be true is this response is situational and will change over time.  Additionally, you may require more than one response depending upon your current audience or your ideal customer.

I also know that answering this question must be conversational. For many these responses sound like a Gatling gun or something so perfect it smells of insincerity to an over abundance of ego.

Remember, people buy from people they know and trust. How you respond to the question of “What do you do?” is your first opportunity to let people begin to know you and trust you.

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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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People, Buzzwords and 2.0 Trend in Leadership, Sales & Everything Else

Just read a Twitter direct message that someone was reading Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Really? Why does everything from sales to leadership to business or even life must have a 2.0 rationale?



I understand how people sometimes are like bees and buzzwords become their honey.  They also like short titles and titles that can quickly describe what the book, speech or event is about. After all,they are crazy busy just like the bees.

What disturbs me is some view the 2.0 as the quick fix to what ails them instead of that next revision or application of existing knowledge. So they can skip ahead to 2.0 and ignore the basics. After all, these small business professionals are like crazy busy bees, buzzing around with limited time or so they believe.

Then there is the issue that 2.0 in many instances implies some aspect of technology or social media. Additionally there are some less than ethical authors, speakers, executive coaches, business coaches and consultants who see adding 2.0 buzzword to their sales training, leadership development, speech or books as a way to make more money without delivering anything truly new.

In the  instance of  Emotional Intelligence 2.0, this book appears to be taking existing knowledge and applying it. This book has nothing to do with social media or technology as the platform for delivering the knowledge and is probably the exception.

However I would still recommend gaining a basic understanding of emotional intelligence specifically from a leadership perspective before reading this book.  Probably the best practical guide on emotional intelligence as a primer is Daniel Goleman’s Working with Emotional Intelligence.

Yes knowledge will advance and yes we do require some way of knowing the knowledge is at that next level. Just be careful that you have the existing knowledge in leadership, sales, etc.  and are not seeking the quick fix because some busy bee told you.

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Make Time To Pat Yourself on Your Back

Read the majority of social media posts and many are blatant self promotions from “read my blog” to “buy my solution.” However, if you do not make time to pat yourself on your back, who will?

make-timeThis past week I was awarded Small Business Journalist of the Year by the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center. The award will be given at the E-Day luncheon on November 12, 2014 at the Radisson in Merrillville, IN.  Networking Tip:  Tickets are $40 and this is a great business to business networking event here in Northwest Indiana.

I am particularly honored by this award because of all the articles I have written have focused on small business.  What I mean by small business is 98.2% of all businesses here in the US with under 99 employees. Unfortunately, the larger publications along with the noted business experts and sales experts focus on the minority of businesses those with 100 employees or more.  What works well for the Big Guys does not always work well for the smaller firms.

What is interesting to note is even though we are in a global community, our local communities may not know the extensiveness of our endeavors.  For example, I learned the selection committee did not realize I have contributed to the following publications:

be-the-red-jacketThen when I attended a business luncheon on Friday, one of the local speakers was not aware I wrote a book, Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits, the Keys to Unlocking Sales Success.

No one likes someone who is continually patting himself or herself on the back.  However, we as professionals must invest some time to let others know of our accomplishments especially when we receive noteworthy awards or recognitions.

Yesterday I made time to pat myself on my back by updating my website and putting a notice on this blog. Later today I will update my LinkedIn profile. I also have scheduled to make time to send some PR to be sent to the local newspapers.

When we make time to acknowledge our own accomplishments in a professional manner, we are also building our credibility, keeping our name in the news stream and modeling positive marketing behaviors. Be proud of your accomplishments, share with others and remember to still be modest.

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How Marketing Awards Are Like Coaching Certifications

Ever listen to local marketing firms stand up and cheer when they receive some national award for their brochures, direct mail pieces or even website designs?  These folks remind me of executive coaches, small business coaches and life coaches who shout out about their coaching certifications.  My internal response is this one:


How many of your clients have asked you how many marketing awards have you received?

This is very similar to the question that pops up in my mind when I also hear executive coaches or business coaches extolling their coaching certifications:

How many of your clients have asked you if you are a certified coach?

After 10 plus years as a small business coach, I have only been asked that question by other certified coaches. I have never, ever been asked that question by a potential client. Also I have only seen that criterion in two formal request for proposals.

My sense is very few potential clients are interested if your firm received any marketing awards.  Sure awards are nice to receive. They are a symbol of achievement.

Yet, it is essential to understand the purpose of these particular awards (to support 20th century advertising agencies) and realizing they are remnants of traditional (product) marketing. Today’s market is all about integrated, education based marketing.

Probably in the past when Fifth Avenue firms dominated marketing,  these awards carried considerable more influence with prospective clients. Today with 97.7% of all small businesses being under 20 employees, these small business firms could care less about the awards.

What they want are results!

For example, here in Northwest Indiana I can quickly identify numerous marketing firms that showcase their expertise in logo design, brochures and even online design. Very few firms actually discuss integrated marketing something I have been writing and sharing with my clients for almost 10 years. (And I am not a marketing firm!)

These firms who consider themselves to be in the 21st century have:

  • Websites that have little to no traffic
  • Use Flash on their websites which is not SEO friendly
  • Begin their main page with “Welcome,” (no kidding!)
  • Still advocate printed brochures in quantities of thousands
  • Lack a moderate to strong social media presence
  • Have no blog
  • Have no social media buttons for sharing

When working with small businesses specific to their strategic plans,  I suggest for my clients to ask for three referrals from each marketing firm they are considering or interviewing.  Then to call these referrals and ask the following questions:

  • How many new sales leads did you receive from this solution provided by this firm?
  • How many of those sales leads actually turned into customers?
  • Did your small business identify a better way to gain those sales leads?

If the marketing agency refuses to share referrals, then I advice them to drop that agency from their list like a hot potato.

Additionally if my small business coaching clients are thinking about branding or even re-branding, then the question for them to pose is:

What can your firm do to enhance our brand of “keeping our promise” to our customers?

Finally, if my small business clients are seeking some SEO solutions I have them share the following:

If the SEO recommendation by Google for your website title is 50-60 characters, then why does your title have 300, 400 or 500 plus characters?

(Prior to asking this question I show my clients how to find this information that is freely available to anyone on the Internet.)

I just went to 3 local marketing firms that stress they are the top marketing firms and they all specialize in SEO and online marketing.  Here are the results for the length of their website titles:

  • 508 characters
  • 236 characters
  • 35 characters

The one with 35 characters is the one I recommend to my clients as this firms knows integrated marketing. And this firm is #1 in Google with the key words “integrated marketing.”

Marketing awards are like all that glitter is not gold.  The gold or rather the green question to always considered is:

How has this marketing solution driven measurable business growth?


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Best Sales Blogger Award for 2014 Third place awarded to Leanne Hoagland-Smith.

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