Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Don’t Forget Your Business Cards When You Innovate

Business cards are prime marketing space. Yet how often are they forgotten when it comes to time to innovate.   If innovation is all about change, the question is:

“Does your business card reflects your own innovation?”

Has your tagline changed?

Have your sales prospects changed (think ideal customers)?

Is the marketplace the same today as it was when you first started?

Business cards are inexpensive compared to other forms of paid marketing.  They provide an incredible catalyst for engaged sales conversations.

Where there is the opportunity for greatest innovation is on the back of your business card.  Here is prime marketing real estate.

Now some will say leave it blank to write for others to write notes.  My question is:

How do you know they are writing notes about you and not someone else?

Think of the back of your business card as an opportunity:

  • To tell a story, your story
  • What makes you different, the Red Jacket in a Sea of gray suits?

Your story should focus on what is happening in your marketplace and how you can make a difference to your sales prospects.

As I have recently moved, I am changing, innovating, my business cards.  Beyond having an address change, I have redesigned the back of the card. Gone is the QR Code that was popular in the past and now a new graphic is present – one without a title. I intentionally left off the title because I wanted an opportunity to explain the graphic.  The Formula for Sustainable Results is still present as well as a simple call to action.

(b) › [A+S+K} + (m&m)wG = PBC = IP IR

Business cards reflect you, your professionalism and even your attention to detail.  Heavier card stock, glossy paper, clean and easy to read font give others a sense of who you are.

If you are thinking of innovating, consider starting with changing your business cards.  You just may be surprised as to how much you and your business have really changed.

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Top Sales Performers Embrace These “…ations” Attitudes

So what makes individuals top sales performers?  There are specific aspects as identified within the 5 Point Sales Leadership Model and yet I believe it goes way beyond that to the attitudes of these individuals.

The “Ations” Attitudes of Top Sales Performers

top-sales-performersAspiration – Wants to continued to achieve, to look forward to the future, to always be better

Inspiration – Looks to continued sources of inspiration from working with clients to further personal and professional development

Demonstration – Consistently demonstration key sales skills, talents, emotional intelligence, goal achievement and overall self leadership skills including high business ethics

Exhilaration – Being exhilarated by sales success as well as continued sales prospecting efforts

Frustration – Accepting frustration is part of the overall sales process and sales engagement

Imagination – Looking at the marketplace with creativity

Innovation – Seeking new ways to build relationships to adapting solutions to meet today’s dynamic and ever changing marketplace

Motivation – Understanding what propels their own behaviors and the behaviors of their sales leads

Realization – Knowing what is real and working with what is, is

At the end of the day, top sales performers have different attitudes than average salespeople. They are truly forward thinking and not content to stay with the flow.

William James also believe in the power of attitudes when he penned these words:

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.”

Possibly you may wish to add your own “ations” attitudes from your sales experience.

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The Buggy Whip Phenomenon of Leadership

Calling all those in leadership roles. Go grab your buggy whips.  Beyond thinking none or what is this crazy lady talking about buggy whips and leadership, let me explain.

leadershipIn today’s marketplace change is happening at what appears to be warp speed.  Yet in speaking with leaders in many different organizations within a plethora of industries, there are still many in leadership roles who lead using a buggy whip.  Of course, we have not seen horse drawn buggies for over 100 years, but that does not matter to these leaders.

“Buggy Whip” leadership is very top down and very “I am in charge directed.”  You will follow this directive. I am reminded of Star Trek The Next Generation with the “Borg” story line of “Resistance is futile. You must comply.”

Another result of this “Buggy Whip” leadership is a lack of intrinsic motivation because employees are “conditioned” to specific behaviors similar to horses. Snap the whip and the horses go without thinking.  This conditioning is the result of extrinsic motivation, the whip.  Of course without the whip, the horses, oops I mean employees, have little or no desire to move.

Where this type of leadership appears to be more prevalent is within the banking, healthcare, government and family owned businesses. The mantra of “we have always done it this way” is often heard and usually implied even with all the changes happening within these industries. Worse yet even when change is implemented such as new leadership development the old behaviors quickly return.

A last result of buggy whip leadership is the negative impact on workplace culture (aka employee engagement) especially the positive core values. When employees fear being hit by the buggy whip, this creates a culture of scarcity thinking (no innovation), cover your behind mentality, lack of personal accountability and very weak leadership behaviors by designated leaders.  “Buggy Whip” leaders may help to explain why there are still so many disengaged employees. (Source Gallup Annual Poll on Employee Engagement)

Finally within workplace culture, business ethics or positive core values become trampled down for fear of repercussions. No one wants to tell the supreme leader he or she is naked (The Emperor’s New Clothes) for fear of losing his or her job.

Possibly your organization may be suffering from “Buggy Whip” leaders or within some departments where those in leadership roles have been there forever may be demonstrating some of these non-productive leadership behaviors.  This free Leadership-Align-Audit-ADVSYS may help you determine if your organization is facing the symptoms “Buggy Whip” Leaders.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership 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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Forward Thinking Leaders Are Not Satisfied with the Status Quo

What separates good from great small businesses?  I think the answer is fairly simple – Forward Thinking Leaders.

forward-thinking-leadersMany business consultants write volumes and volumes about what makes a great business.  However at the end of the day, those companies that are ahead of the flow are led by forward thinking leaders.  Steve Jobs was one such person.

Many mid-size to small businesses that drive the daily local to state economies are also headed by individuals who think ahead, who are not satisfied with the status quo. These entrepreneurs continually ask themselves “How can we be better?” to “What more can we do with the resources we have?”

These forward thinking leaders push everyone around them to be better. They create environments that encourage risk taking because they know with change happening at the speed of light staying with the status quo may mean financial doom.

Possibly, another reason why these individuals push the status quo is because the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) is very evident.  By having mastery, autonomy and purpose, these individuals know how to motivate themselves and then motivate others.

Of course some small business owners start out as forward thinking and then the daily grind bogs them down. They become meshed IN the day to day operations of their small businesses and fail to invest the time to work ON the business.  Over time, their once abundance mindset has evolved into a scarcity mindset that allows the status quo to remain unchallenged.

Being satisfied is the human condition, the fallback position.  Wanting more for one’s self, for others, is where forward thinking leaders excel. And the very best part, is each of us can be satisfied with the status quo or decide we want more.  History has shown those who want more bring new innovation into the workplace and into the economy.

Yes Margaret there will always be a better way to build a mousetrap.

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

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Self Reflection Redirects Habitual Thinking into Innovation

Sunday is a day of rest for many. For me is it a time for personal self-reflection that redirects some of my habitual thinking into new and different channels of thoughts. This self reflection has renewed me mentally, physically and spiritually and has helped foster innovation for myself and within my executive coaching and organizational development practice.

Our habits are a double edge sword.  They expedite our physical actions to conserve energy for those flight or flight moments and they restrict our ability to think differently.

Habitual thinking is truly the enemy to change and subsequently innovation.

How many times have we heard “We have always done it that way?” or “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”

Norman Vincent Peale said “Change your thoughts, change your world.” So today, what thoughts of self reflection will you change to alter the course of your habitual thinking and redirect it towards more innovation?

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How Business Model Innovation May Increase Sales

With the economy in the doldrums, there are many small business owners to C Suite executive engaged in business model innovation by re-purposing or restructuring their current business models by adding value to justify their costs or fees so that they can increase sales.  And these folks should be applauded because staying in the status quo when it is not working truly is not a good business strategy or best business practice.


These past two years I have engaged in business model  innovation within my small business coaching practice specific to re-purposing and restructuring the solutions (services) I provide for clients. Through this reflective strategic thinking process I created a 30 day coaching engagement that was 50% to 40% less than many other sales training organizations including those with far more national presence. Over the course of two years, I have refined it and now have a fairly solid process that delivers ongoing value and truly sets me apart from others.  Sales Coaching Tip:  Strive to Be the Red Jacket in a sea of gray suits.

One well known and established national USA sales training organization requests a 12 month commitment and a $1,000 monthly investment. Now for many small business owners even those with profits near $120,000, this represent a 10% hit to the overall income.  Yes even if it is a tax write off, redirecting $1,000 a month for 12 months can cripple monthly cash flow. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  An investment in your business or even yourself should not be detrimental to your cash flow.

Innovation is looking at the same landscape but seeing something new. 

Innovation is not necessarily inventing something different, but by re-purposing one way of doing something to another way can provide new opportunities and more importantly create value. Marcel Proust said it best even though he was not directly referring to innovation:

“The true voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.”

Re-purposing and restructuring began by listening to what my clients shared with me as well as ongoing research within the professional service industry of consulting and coaching.  This did require continual reference to my business strategic plan along with ongoing updates.  Two of the key obstacles for my clients as well as potential clients who wanted small business to sales coaching was time and uncertainty.

Even though time is a constant, people are overwhelmed with to do lists to more plates than a waiter or waitress can juggle. Then there is this looming clouds associated with all of the economic uncertainty.

  • Will this law pass?
  • Will home sales pick up?
  • Will business overcome the latest government compliance mandate?
  • Will I be able to afford to keep the current benefits and salaries for my employees?
  • Will this country or that one go to war?
  • Will I have enough money to cover this commitment?

By seeing the same landscape with new eyes, lenses or filters call it what you may, I was able to increase sales the last two years by 50% while also improving profits because I reduced direct and indirect costs.

Re-purposing or restructuring does require small business owners,  professional salespersons or even C Suite executives to schedule time to:

  1. Revisit the strategic business plan
  2. Research current market place and past customers’ buying patterns
  3. Reflect upon this information until clarity is achieved and value solidified

A business may restructure its fees or costs up or down depending upon the information gathered from incorporation of these 3 Rs.  For me, the engagements have been shorter, yet the clients are far more satisfied with the results.  And in business it is the results that matter.

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Vision, Innovation and Emotion a Winning Increase Sales Formula

The passing of Steve Jobs for me reflects how vision,  innovation and emotion when united can increase sales, develop very loyal customers and ultimately be the winning formula for business success.


Vision to see what others have failed to see is the first step.  There have been many visionaries in our history from the early scientists who were punished for what they saw to the Founding Father of United States of American to individuals such as Mother Theresa.

Years ago I came across this Chinese Proverb and it is one I repeat regularly to my sales coaching and strategic planning clients and when I am asked to deliver a keynote speech.

Vision without Action is a Daydream;

Action without Vision is a Nightmare.

Each of us can be visionaries like Steve Job. Our success financially may never equal his, but that should not stop us from thinking towards the future.


Innovation is truly about having a vision and taking action to as Captain Picard of star Trek so often said:

“Make it so!”

Yes, others created the successful products of Apple. However, Jobs role was to be the forward thinking leader who challenged what could not be done.


Jobs understood the second sales buying rule extremely well:

People buy first on emotion; justified by logic.

Technology customers wanted products that were reliable; that were cutting edge; that worked with their lives and that were functional and yet had a unique form. This want was 100% purely emotional and that emotion created a very strong and loyal customers’ bond between Apple and the users of Apple products.

Job’s complete understanding of this second buying rule worked not only with the third sales buying rule, but helped to overcome the fourth sales objection – Price.  Customers were willing to pay more for an Apple product.

By uniting an incredible vision, innovation and emotion, Jobs was able to craft a winning increase sales formula. And beyond being an individual of value, my sense is this is his greatest legacy.

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Grow Forward Leading Solutions to Increase Sales

Change or Die is a book that shared how only one out of 10 people will change when confronted with:

  • Facts
  • Force
  • Fear


In today’s exceptionally crowded global marketplace, small business owners to professional sales people must continually be growing forward (think innovation through a new competitive advantage) with leading solutions if they wish to increase sales. This past week I had numerous opportunities to rethink how I present my solutions  (executive coaching , sales coaching and consulting services) as well as to embrace and be certified in a forward thinking process that addresses this new global mega trend of business sustainability.

The definition for sustainability varies however the essence is about wisely leveraging and managing:

  • People
  • Process
  • Environment

These three elements all work together in a responsible manner to improve profitability. By embracing a proven  business sustainability process allows organizations to go from conformance to transformation.

Sustainability is not new to me as this word appears both in my Values and Mission statements. Yet now I have grown forward by embracing a new solution to provide sustainable business strategies that embrace working with “green initiatives.” Of course that also meant I had to get out of my own way when it comes to this one word “green.”

Today green just does not mean being a “tree hugger,” but rather encompasses corporate social responsibility (CSR) beyond paying taxes. The full impact of CSR for small business owners and affects the triple bottom line (economic, social and environmental success). Organizations that understand this impact can be far more competitive and thus are forward thinking leaders who just happen to be my best clients.

Change is happening at a whirlwind pace. Innovation trends start and stop almost as quickly. However some innovation initiatives such as business sustainability will be around for a very long time (that is why they are called mega trends).  Thank heavens my belief is to be always growing forward to help my clients as well as myself.

P.S. Keep an eye out for future articles about business sustainability.

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