Posts Tagged ‘executive leadership’

Time to Move Beyond Increase Sales to a Highly Engaged Sales Culture

So much emphasis is placed on the goal to increase sales.  Then what happens is other aspects of the business are ignored such as excellent customer service to just every day good business ethics (positive core values). What leadership must do is create and sustain a highly engaged sales culture.

Why a Highly Engaged Sales Culture?

A survey from Clutch (a B2B research company) targeted 1,000 US consumers and asked them to respond to one of these three questions regarding United Airlines recent negative PR incident:

  • More likely to purchase a United Airlines ticket
  • Less likely to purchase a United Airlines ticket
  • Unaffected, it doesn’t matter to me either way

The result was 53% of the respondents will not buy from United Airlines. Yes, customers can be dramatically affected by negative PR especially in today’s world of instantaneous video where anyone can record a company’s business practices (think culture) at a drop of a hat.

Where Does a Highly Engaged Sales Culture Start?

As in any forward progress for any organization from the smallest to the largest, it starts with executive leadership. President Harry S. Truman is known for “the buck stops here.” This is where executive leadership must start.

Yes the goal to increase sales is necessary as is profitable business growth. However when the culture of the organization fails to understand everyone is in sales from the CEO to the employee driving the truck to the employee processing invoices, then disasters like the one United Airlines experienced will continue to happen.

Zig Ziglar defined sales as the transference of feelings. Today’s sales culture should be transferring positive feelings to both internal customers (other employees) and external customers (paying customers).

Who Is Responsible for a Highly Engaged Sales Culture?

After executive leadership sets forth the strategic plan and communicates the vision, current mission and positive core values of the organization, then each individual employee is responsible to ensure the culture becomes one of “everyone is in sales.”  Executive leadership must enforce the positive core value.

Yet each employee must consistently act in a manner that reflects those core values. What this means is no gossiping as well as no disrespecting other internal customers or external customers.  The terrible incident at United Airlines reflected a disengaged sales culture as well as a poor executive leadership.

The next question is can your SMB afford 53% of your potential customers not buying from you.

How many lost customers will it take before you begin to embrace an engaged sales culture?

Reach out by clicking here to schedule a time to speak Leanne about your culture and how to develop an engaged sales culture or give her a call at 219.508.2859 MST.

Share on Facebook

Misalignment Continues to Be the True Foil Impeding Organizational Success

By now many in the US and all over the world have heard about or viewed the video of the United Airlines passenger being forcibly taken off from the airplane.  Here is a real time example of how misalignment continues to be the true foil impeding organizational success.

As someone who avoids airline travel like the plague because of the hassle, it has been a long time since I actually read the policies stated when purchasing an airline ticket. Yet it is my current understanding, the policies do state that all seats are subject to certain conditions and passengers must follow the requests of airline employees.  Airlines reserve the right to remove passengers if for example the airplane is overbooked.

Where the misalignment reared its ugly head is in the communication specific to the lottery. The lottery was not for ALL passengers as it excluded first class and rewards passengers.(Source: Radio news)

When one reads United’s commitment to its customers (via website), United Airlines the following:

“Our goal is to make every flight a positive experience for our customers.”

This statement which I am presuming is to showcase United Airlines’ commitment to organizational success does not separate customers by first class, business, rewards or coach.  All customers are supposedly treated equal. Yet we now know this is not the case.

Additionally, the CEO “doubled down” on the incident and blamed the passenger.  Yes, the passenger was at fault for not following the policies of the purchased airline ticket.

However. United is not blameless and is in violation of its own commitment to customers. This misalignment will hurt its ongoing organizational success as its recent stock drop of 3.7% resulting in a loss of $830 million.

Misalignment is continues to be one of the true foils (usually undiagnosed) that impedes organizational success regardless of the organization’s size.  For both small to large organizations, often what happens is executive leadership takes a retreating position.  In this case, the CEO blamed the customer instead of addressing the real foil – misalignment.

To learn more about misalignment and its impact on organizational success, I recommended this book Fail-Safe Leadership. It is an easy read and provides questions at the end to prompt further discussion and reflection.

Share on Facebook

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.

Share on Facebook

Don’t Bother With Strategic Planning If…

strategic-planningStrategic planning is essential for any business from the one person solo entrepreneur to the Fortune 50 firms. Yet if you are thinking about engaging in this process, don’t bother if you are seeking:

  • The quick fix
  • A team building activity
  • A feel good; look at me
  • A Weekend off site bonding experience
  • What executive leadership is expected to do

To engage in this planning process executive leadership must realize, it:

  • Is time consuming
  • Demands intentional action
  • Reveals uncomfortable realities
  • Requires alignment throughout the organization
  • Mandates commitment to follow through, monitoring and holding people accountable

General and President Dwight Eisenhower is quoted as saying:

“Plans are worthless, planning is everything.”

The purpose of this executive leadership responsibility is to ensure the sustainable business growth for the organization. Planning is a verb, an action and one to be taken seriously.

Where many in executive leadership roles fail especially is to establish benchmarks before engaging in strategic planning.  These benchmarks help to prioritize what actions to be taken as the team works through this planning process.

Yes strategic planning is a process and not one to be shortchanged or rushed through.  Depending upon the overall size of the organization. , the time commitment is usually a minimum of 20-30 hours of contact time with an outside resource and another 20-30 hours executive leadership work time.  When this sustainable business growth activity is taken to heart, weekly or at least monthly meetings are essential to monitor the progress by:

  • Assessing current progress
  • Clarifying next goals or strategic initiatives
  • Executing actions steps

Download this helpful strategic-planning-schematic

triage-business-planningIf you are in a executive leadership role or even a sales one, consider the already shared words of President Eisenhower and schedule time now and in the next year going forward to engage in this decisive, intentional, authentic continuous improvement process.

Click HERE to schedule a time to speak with Leanne Hoagland-Smith to learn more about her Triage Business Planning especially designed for SMB owners (firms with under 20 employees) and independent sales processionals (real estate agents, CPAs, attorneys, coaches, consultants) who need a solid, basic, goal driven plan.  Total time investment is usually less than 20 hours.

Share on Facebook

Confusing Sales Tools with Sales Answers Are You?

Each day I receive announcements about new sales tools from CRMs, sales training software, books on sales, etc. Most suggest by purchasing these tools, they will be the answer to your sales problems.  Unfortunately, the purchasing of some of these so called answers only further intensify your sales problems.

sales-toolsPossibly what is driving these purchases is the “quick fix virus.” This virus appears to gain momentum especially towards the end of a calendar or annual business year.

SMB owners and sales professionals suffering from working too much IN the business instead of ON the business now are scrambling to meet sales goals as well as other organizational goals.

Many of us have seen the impact of the quick fix when it comes to losing weight. Take this pill or exercise just 5 minutes a day and you will lose weight. If the quick fix really worked, we wouldn’t have an obesity problem in this country.

The quick fix is also terrible disease for SMBs.  Usually it originates  from unclear executive leadership directives.

Fail-Safe-LeadershipIn the book, Fail-Safe Leadership, the authors recognize how a lack of clarity creates expensive misdirected actions. They provide a poignant vignette about a CEO who expresses a vague goal to increase sales.  His C-Level direct reports all take different actions to achieve this goal. As their actions were not in alignment, the goal to increase sales was not realized.

If you are seeking sales answers, the first action is to stop and determine where you, your organization and your salespeople really are.  Do not be confused by thinking these new sales tools will automatically be the answers to your lackluster sales results.

The second action is to forget about any quick fix solutions such as sales tools to solve your sales problems.

The third action is to reach out to someone who is not in your organization.

Click here to schedule that 30 minute outreach session right now.

You probably do require a fresh set of eyes who will be direct with you and tell you what the real problem is provided you are willing to hear the truth.

Share on Facebook

Why SMART Goals in Sales Fail


Credit: Gratisography

Most sales professionals have sales goals and in many instances these are mandated to be SMART goals. By the way did you know that Zig Ziglar was the first salesperson I found to talk about SMART goal setting?

Just as a fresher the acronym SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistically set high (Stretch)
  • Time driven or target date

Daniel Pink in his book Drive mentions these criteria and why they fail.  Anyone who understands the Theory of Self Determination from the 1970s long before Pink know why these criteria are not enough.

Years ago when entering in some sales training and leadership training from Resource Associates Corporation, the curriculum included the SMART criteria.  Then with the advent of the youth leadership Rising Stars curriculum, the criteria changed to SMARTY. Now the executive leadership, sales, management, team leadership, customer service and even time strategies curriculums all have been updated to include this key “Y” criterion of Yours.

I had adjusted this known criteria after I realized many in sales and business knew about SMART goals yet still could not achieve their goals.  The reason was because the ownership of the goal was by someone else not by the salesperson or business leader.

The Theory of Self Determination by Deci and Ryan explains this ownership through the second intrinsic motivating factor of autonomy which is defined simply as the ability to make a choice.  When goals are forced onto people, the outcome is reluctant participation.

smart-goalsBy adding this one word, WAY,  in front of SMART, there is more consistent goal achievement.

  • Written – Goals really must be written done. If you disagree think about going to the grocery store without your written grocery list.
  • Actionable – Goals that begin with action verbs such as achieve, increase, sell, secure, etc. prompt the individual to greater achievement.
  • Yours – Goals must be yours. You must own the goal to be able to see the WIIFM. This ownership is directly connected to your own autonomy.

To determine goal failure is not rocket science.  To achieve more goal success is also not rocket science.

If you want a proven goal setting and goal achievement tool, the Results Tool™ may help you.

Share on Facebook

Facing The Reality of Letting Go of Business Growth

One of my colleagues, Jim Keenan, wrote a rather descriptive blog about letting go of what others think. (Please note this posting incorporates the “F” bomb.)  His manner of communicating is not mine and that is Okay. However his message about letting go extends into letting go of business growth as well.

Sphere-Of-Control-01Today during a small business masterminding and networking group I was reminded of his recent post.

How much wasted energy is devoted to what we cannot control especially when it comes to business growth?

Why do we continue to fight what we cannot control instead of letting it go?

If keeping something we cannot control is so important, then where is the plan to bring what we cannot control under our influence or better yet our control?

In working with clients, I have witnessed so much effort on focusing on what is beyond one’s control.  I can only imagine if just one-tenth of that wasted energy was redirected what the potential results could be.

Life is indeed what you make of it.  Business growth is the result of what you make of your professional life.

Peter Drucker advocated letting go of business growth through this term abandonment.  What this business strategy did was to challenge everything the business was currently doing.  In other words, executive leadership had to let go of what they believed to be true.

If you wish to achieve sustainable business growth, then maybe it is time for you also just to let go.

Want to schedule a time to talk with Leanne?


Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

Share on Facebook

Clearing the Sales Strategies Clutter

For those familiar with Peter Drucker, they may recognize this term of “abandonment.”  Drucker advocated every three (3) years, executive leadership must abandon everything it was doing by challenging everything it was doing from process to operations including sales strategies.  Today his recommendation just might be every two years or even every one year.



The purpose of abandonment is to simply test all assumptions that either emerged from the strategic planning process or from day to day experiences given how many SMBs are in the role of Captain Wing It*. By challenging current assumptions, executive leadership can answer these essential four questions:

  • Why didn’t this work even though it looked promising 3 to 5 years ago?
  • Is it because we made a mistake?
  • Is it because we did the wrong things?
  • Is it because the right things didn’t work?

Since much of the strategic planning process has to do with marketing and selling, sales strategies are in many instances the first ones to consider abandoning.  For example:

  • Why isn’t our social selling strategies working as well as they did 3 years ago?
  • What mistakes are we making?
  • Did we do the wrong things respective to social selling?
  • Did we do the right things, but they did not work?

When time is invested to clear the deck, the desk and the mind from the accumulation of all that clutter over time, then executive leadership may find those hidden gems that were previously ignored.  These hidden gems might help answer this forward thinking question of “What has happened that will create the future?” instead of the traditional question of “What is most likely to happen?”

*Captain It Wing Its spray their actions all over the place and then pray something will stick. This behavior is called spraying and praying.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

Share on Facebook

A We Sales Culture Versus a Me Sales Culture

My sense is many SMBs believe they have a “We” sales culture when in reality they have a “Me” sales culture.  This is because those who are not directly connected to sales meaning they do not get paid to sell believe “me” or “I” have nothing to do with sales or selling.



Years ago when I was in corporate for a SMB, our warehouse manager made my life as inside sales manager very difficult.  Asking him to make special delivery right before closing or even after closing was like pulling hen ‘s teeth.  He would say:

“You want me to do what? Don’t you know we are closing in 5 minutes?  Call the salesperson and have him make the delivery. If the customer wants it so bad, let him pick it up. I can’t afford to send out the truck now, it’s overtime.” 

Yes sometimes I felt like punching him.

The salesperson was in many instances at least 30 to 60 minutes away during light traffic with rush hour traffic that would increase to 2 hours. These customers for the most part were an “A” accounts and spent thousands of dollars weekly with our SMB.

What would happen in many instances was I would make the delivery on my way home. Sometimes this caused me to be late getting home given not all the businesses were on my way home. Yet I realized for this SMB business to be successful we needed a “we sales culture” and not a me one.

SMBs must have everyone recognizing they are in sales even if they don’t get paid.  They are also selling their own internal actions to other employees.  And more importantly, they realize their paychecks come from the external customers.  For without paying customers, this SMB would not be in business.

Within some SMBs, there are turf wars between various departments. Everyone wants to be “King” or “Queen” of their own little fiefdoms. What happens is a disengaged workplace culture.  Executive leadership allows these fiefdoms to exist and attempts to placate these Kings and Queens because good help is hard to find.

If your SMB is not growing at the rate you wish or you are experiencing repetitive problems from lackluster sales to low productivity to high turnover of customers, then maybe now is the time to stop your ship and plot a new course where the map is one of a high sales culture.

Tired of lackluster sales?

CLICK HERE to reserve your time to speak with Leanne

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


Share on Facebook

The Sales Problem Illusion Marches On

Once again another SMB owner called me and shared his “sales problem” with me. After 15 minutes of actively listening (which is difficult because my experience with SMB owners suggests he does not have a sales problem), he asked: “Can you help me me with this problem?”  I then replied very respectfully “What problem?”  “Why sales of course!” he responded, somewhat miffed.



Then I broke the bad news to him that his problem was not sales.  No his problem was a combination of people and process.  The people problem began with his inconsistent executive leadership that has reaffirmed a sales culture of non-performance along with inconsistency within the overall sales process. Poor sales was a symptom of his real problems.

I then quietly waited for him to hang up on me as some other SMB owners have done in the past. After almost 20 years of supporting SMB and sales professionals, I am used to the caller hanging up on me. For me, this is an indication the sales lead is not forward thinking.

Possibly the justification for hanging up is the sales lead may be thinking “How dare she call out my executive leadership abilities!” After several minutes of silence, he finally said “No one has ever told me that. In fact I just paid for some sales training and it did not work. Maybe you are right, my sales problem is really a symptom of some other unaddressed issues.”

Much is written about sales training not sticking.  Beyond some common logistical issues being ignored along with how people learn, the greatest barrier to sustainable sales training is the sales culture.  This may range from the CEO to the Sales Manager to even the delivery person.

Unless everyone (the sales culture) is rowing in exactly the same direction with exactly the same expectations, experience and emotions along total alignment of all people and processes the ship (SMB) will continue moving, but without any sustainable forward progress.

To solve your lackluster sales with sales training or even with sales coaching is like plugging a dam with one finger even though you have multiple leaks.  And we know how well that works.

If sales growth is not where you want it to be and this has been a repetitive issue, then it is time to rethink your sales problem from a different perspective.  Stop throwing good money after bad on sales training until you have identified the real problem or problems.

Want to increase sales?

  CLICK HERE to reserve your 30 minute, no obligation, call with Leanne

Share on Facebook
RSS Subscribe!
Coaching Tip
People come first; sales numbers come second or third
What’s Happening?

Internal Results interviews
Leanne Hoagland-Smith
. Some of her answers may surprise you.

Check out this podcast on value creation between David Brock and Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Listen to Leanne Hoagland-Smith at Sales Scenario podcasts

Another list of top sales bloggers

Pre-order this great book How to Get a Meeting with Anyone. You may recognize a familiar name.

Top 100 Most Innovative Sales Bloggers Honored this blog is included in this impressive list.

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

NWI SBDC awarded Small Business Journalist of 2014 to Leanne Hoagland-Smith. Awards.

Expand Your Business Horizons
Sign up to receive monthly newsletter devoted to small businesses and busy sales professionals Beyond the Black
Be the Red Jacket
Seeking an easy and practical book on marketing, selling and sales? Read the reviews at Amazon and then order your hard copy or eBook.
Sustainability Expert
The Institute for Sustainability
Ezine Expert
Blogroll – Leadership, OD
Contact Coach Lee

Leanne Hoagland-Smith
219.759.5601 Main Office CDT
219.508.2859 Mobile CDT

Office located near Chicago, IL Main Website

Sales Corner

Tracking by The Sales Corner
Blog Rankings
Business Blogs - Blog Rankings
Blog Top Sites
RSS Search
Blog Log