Posts Tagged ‘personal accountability’

Improve Your Sales Soft Skills

Soft skills are absolutely necessary and critical to be successful in sales. You can ask all the open ended questions, work through the sales process flawlessly and if you lack the ability to connect with your sales leads, all your efforts will be for naught.

salesMuch of the sales training and sales development including some sales coaching focuses on the technical skills.  However years ago one of my coaches, David Herdlinger, crafted a simple quadrant.

He asked what causes failure?  Is it knowledge (K) and skills (S) or attitudes (A) and habits (H)?

Most agree it is attitudes and habits.  Some call this mindset.

Mindset is supported by soft skills or people skills.

So what skills would you rate and how would you rate them?

During the last 20 years, I have recognized these five skills as critical to sales success. Below is a quick chart for you to assess yourself.  Then determine based upon the results of rating each of these skills, prioritize them to chart your own personal development.

Skill Rate 1 for low; 10 for high Priority
Communication especially active listening
Delegation (follow-up)
Decision Making respective to type of sales leads; sales conversations, etc.
Leadership (including personal accountability, self starting ability, persistence, goal setting/goal achievement)
Time Management

If people buy from people they know and trust, doesn’t it make sense that people skills should be equal in importance to technical sales skills?

For SMB owners and salespeople, marketing is the first step in demonstrating those soft skills.  Peter Drucker believed a business had two basic functions, marketing and innovation. He also contended if marketing is done well, then selling is effortless.

People must buy you first before they can buy your solutions.  My father shared this hierarchy respective to sales obstacles:

  1. You
  2. Your business
  3. Your solution
  4. Your price
  5. Your delivery

If you want less sales objections, make sure your sales leads buy you first. By taking the time to rate your soft skills, might be the next step to moving you closer to sales success.

Consider reaching out to Leanne and schedule a quick phone call by CLICKING HERE.


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Blaming an Auto Responder for a Bad Email Speaks Volumes

President Truman said “The buck stops here.” I guess that does not apply when receiving a bad email.

Yesterday I wrote about how a poorly written email headline may send the wrong message as well as giving my brief analysis about the marketing message. I responded to this email and then received an answer from the person who allegedly sent the email.

“Hi, Leanne, Your first line cracked me up. I like the rapid reply, although this email was automatically generated, not a (insert person’s name) original sadly.”

Well that is a new one.  Blame an auto responder for bad email marketing.

Maybe AI (artificial intelligence) wrote the message and then applied this person’s name? 

My return email was “Then I would rethink my auto message responses. Thanks for the fodder for my blog today.”

Here is my quick response to the first email message I received yesterday.

Your subject line FYI is a 100% turn off unless you are advertising for dates.

Please remove this email from your database.

Regardless if the message was automatically generated, your name is on the message. I could care less how it was generated.  Your name, your role and your contact information is what shows not “auto-responder” or “AI Robot 010.”

So if this was automatically generated, who would I really speak to, you or the AI Robot?

Give me a break.  Blaming the auto responder is beyond sad and lazy and speaks to the lack of integrity within the organization and potentially within the person who allegedly sent it.

Taking responsibility for a bad email shows integrity and personal accountability.  Had this person accepted the responsibility, I might have entertained a telephone call with her or him.

As it stands the response shows this is not a company I want to know to want to trust.  Yes people buy first on emotion justified by logic.  The reverse is also true, people don’t buy on emotion and justified that no buy decision with logic.

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The Ultimate Leadership Question Is?

Probably you have your most favorite leadership question because it works. Over the years I have discovered this to be for me as well as for my clients the ultimate leadership question an effective sales leader, manager or CEO can ask:

What do you need from me to allow you to complete this task to secure the desired result?

The reason I believe this is the ultimate leadership question goes back to Peter Drucker’s first definition of leadership:

“Leadership is all about results.”

When this ultimate leadership question is asked many elements are put into play in a very simplistic manner.  No need for a lot of questions.

Leaders are those who gets results from others as well as themselves.  This question is not only results focused, but allows for humility from the leader.  How many leaders humble themselves in front of those they lead?

This question does not focus on the person being led but the focus is on the leader and how well he or she communicated the following:

  • The task to be completed
  • The desired results

There is also a subtle reference to the resources available and the capacity of the person being asked to perform the task.  Did the leader provide the resources necessary to perform the task?  This question ensures the person being led knows what the resources are or provides the opportunity to ask for additional resources.

When the person being asked to secure the desired results has the opportunity to think about what he or she needs from the leader, this provides additional insight into that person’s talents such as:

Of course this question to be both efficient and effective, should be asked on a Friday afternoon to give the person being led time to think about what he or she actually requires to complete the task and secure the desired result.

Another intrinsic benefit of this question is it allows for in real time performance review.  Since the person being led has both the opportunity to reflect as well as to request additional support, then this reduces the limitations that may impact securing desired results.

When the person being led returns on Monday morning with her or his response, the leader then can take the appropriate actions such as confirm target date, supply any additional resources, etc.  Now it is the responsibility of the leader (delegation) to monitor the progress by asking for daily or weekly updates depending upon the scope and size of the task.

Yes there are many good leadership questions, however I believe when we render many of those excellent questions down, this one rises to the top.

Care to know more about how to identify specific talents in your sales culture?  Click here to talk with Leanne Hoagland-Smith and you may gain just another leadership or sales nugget.

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Suffering from the Retreat Sales Mentality Are We?

Sometimes when the going gets tough instead of the tough get going what happens is the retreat sales mentality sets in.  This way of thinking attacks the self-confidence, self starting ability and overall personal accountability on two fronts:



  • Conscious
  • Subconscious

A pending sales lead suddenly changes course and leaves you wondering why should I continue?  Retreating and seeking another sales lead appears to be a better route.

If you disagree, then how do you explain sales research that 44% of salespeople give up (retreat) after one followup? (Source: Scripted)

Possibly another reason for the retreat mentality is the salesperson has different expectations than the sales lead.  These expectations may be a quick sale to an easy sale (less decision makers).  However reality in the B2B marketplace runs contradictory to those self-imposed expectations.

  • 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months – and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy.   (Source: Marketing Donut)
  • 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy.   (Source: Gleanster Research)
  • Firms with 100-500 employees, an average of 7 people are involved in most buying decision.   (Source: Gartner Group)

Another example of retreat sales mentality surfaces during the selling phase of the sales process.  Far too many salespeople are quick to reduce price to get a sale instead of being able to demonstrate the value of their solution respective to the desired end results for the potential ideal customer.

In sales having a strong and positive mental attitude is a prerequisite for success. Giving up when the first limitation arises only reinforces this sales mentality to retreat instead of to persevere.

I believe the words we use and think are critical to overall sales success as well as success in life.  Maybe the next time you become discouraged, ask yourself are you retreating?  What does it mean to retreat?  Is there another way to win this sale for you as well as for your customer?

Curious if your talents of self confidence, self starting ability and personal accountability are strong?

Click Here to take advantage of a special offer.

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Retreating to the Quick Fix Leadership Challenge

Effective business leaders have a different attitude when it comes to fixing a leadership challenge. They do not retreat with the desire for the “grabbing for the quick and easy fix.”



The quick and easy fix tasks are usually more easily solved and they contribute very little to growth and innovation, to the future of the SMB. These tasks give a false sense of accomplishment, a sense of improved self-worth much like looking into a cracked and foggy mirror.

Now the truly difficult tasks are avoided because of fears from cost to time to personal accountability.  Facing those difficult tasks reflect the leadership of the business and may be also reflect the lack of executive leadership.

President Kennedy embarked on a truly difficult task of sending a man to the moon and safely returning him back to earth.  He could have focused on the more inconvenient ones faced by past presidents.  No, he decided to not let fear stop him from moving the country forward to a new frontier.

This week we experienced the first significant snow storm of the season. People are complaining on social media about things that happened such as the inconvenience of:

  • Losing electricity
  • Having school age children home because school was cancelled
  • Shoveling snow
  • Driving on slippery roads

Those who settled this land over 100 years ago in a midst of a significant snow storm would be looking at the truly difficult tasks of feeding the livestock; chopping wood; breaking the ice in the water pond, etc.  Their oil lamps would provide the light. The school age children would be doing chores.  As to transportation, if the horse was not an option there was always snowshoes.

When those in business leadership tackle the really difficult tasks, then many of the inconvenient ones sometimes disappear. Of course to tackle the really difficult tasks requires clarity of the real problems and that is another subject for another day.

 CLICK HERE to reserve your 30 minute leadership challenge conversation with Leanne Hoagland-Smith

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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.

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Before You Buy That Sales CRM

There is no question technology can increase sales productivity.  However for any sales CRM including other productivity tools to work requires:



  • An open attitude by the sales team
  • A sales culture that supports sustainable business growth
  • A realization that technology is only a tool because:

People buy from people!

Buying a sales CRM will not magically increase:

  • Revenue
  • Leads
  • Repeat business
  • Smoothness of operations

And will NOT reduce STRESS!

Yet there is a persistent belief probably fostered by some excellent marketing that technology is the magic pill to cure your sales ills.

With worker productivity falling sharply in the last quarter of 2015 at the fastest pace in over a year (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) supported by Gallup’s Engagement Poll of only one in three workers being actively engaged, SMBs are losing thousands of dollars every day.  Then add in the ineffective recruiting, hiring, onboarding and sales training, SMBs are bleeding additional profit dollars.

How do you feel about all those loss profit dollars?

The better question to consider is will a sales CRM consistently solve these problems?

  • Lack of personal accountability
  • Personality conflicts and/or power struggles
  • Time management problems
  • Unacceptable results
  • Difficult keeping motivated
  • Limited focus and directions
  • Cover your behind mentality
  • Communication problems
  • Can’t do attitudes
  • Misalignment/lack of coordinated efforts (Do as I say, not as I do)
  • Reactive rather than proactive thinking
  • Unproductive sales teams or teamwork
  • Duplication of effort (chasing one’s tail)
  • Inconsistency of quality work (erratic sales statistics)
  • Excessive and unproductive meetings
  • Disconnect between sales training or other solutions and results

Even though today’s sales CRM software is much improved from yesterday, it still was never designed to align, develop and nurture a forward thinking sales culture.  No that solution is not found in any sales CRM.

Want to increase sales,  CLICK HERE to reserve your 30 minute conversation and with one question to learn how truly aligned your sales culture really is before investing in any new technology.

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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. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Consensus Driven Leadership Is for Wimps

Possibly it is a sign of our times or an indicator of a cultural shift, but it appears many SMB leaders are now engaged in consensus driven leadership. What this usually looks like is the majority of decisions from marketing to employee engagement evolve from consensus.  The central leader (and I use that term very loosely) to maintain harmony involves EVERYONE.



The foundation for consensus driven leadership is one of weakness not one of strength.  By walking this path the leader of the SMB reveals his or her lack of effective balanced decision making skills, resiliency and self confidence along with the fear of personal accountability and cover your behind mentality.

This type of leadership suggests other significant problems within the organization. Misalignment comes to mind.  When leadership by committee takes over, each person in the committee interprets based upon his or her role the desired results differently.  The end result is usually chaos.

Read Fail-Safe Leadership to Understand the Impact of  Organizational Misalignment

Missed opportunities also happen because a decision that could be made quickly or fairly quickly is lost in the myriad of meetings.  With change happening in many market places and industries very fast, almost akin to the speed of light, opportunities never see realization because too much time has passed.

Department turf wars are another result of consensus driven leadership.  Each department head believes his or her turf is the most important and will do anything to protect it.

Finally, when consensus driven leadership is in place, the executive leader is actually in charge in name only. Those within the organization know others within the executive team are making the decisions if any are ever made.

Being in a significant leadership role and achieving the desired results is not for wimps.  No it takes both efficient and effective executive leadership skills to steer the organization while keeping all actively engaged. Primer Minister Margaret Thatcher aptly described this type of failed organization leadership when she said:

“Consensus is the absence of leadership.”

I believe she should added “and reveals the presence of wimps.”

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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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Intrapersonal Accountability Requires More than Just Words

One hears about the importance of intrapersonal accountability almost as much as goal setting to leadership.  Yet this necessary individual characteristic or talent requires more than words, but a solid process supported with proven tools.



Over the years I have come across many definitions for this talent. The best one I have read comes from the Attribute Index psychometric assessment. This assessment defines intrapersonal accountability simply as personal accountability:

 “The ability to be responsible for the consequences of one’s own decisions and actions; taking responsibility for these decisions, and not shifting focus on blame or poor performance somewhere else, or on others.  This derives from an internal responsibility to one’s self to be accountable and this internal willingness to own up will tend to be exhibited outside in one’s actions.”

Now we have a shared definition,we can go beyond the words and begin to build a process.  For my clients I created MAP (My Action Plan) which allows them to embrace the Self Determination Theory (SDT) of Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose.

This action plan or workbook is a process that begins with the end in mind.

What is Your Purpose?

Discovering one’s purpose and then understanding how that purpose becomes integrated into many if not all aspect’s of one’s life is critical to intrapersonal accountability. Self Improvement Coaching Tip: To learn more about purpose I suggest reading Start with Why by Sinek and The One Purpose Person by McCarthy.

Mastery happens because people now can take control of what they want to master through WAY SMART goals and a one page action plan.  Here these individuals gain clarity about where they want to succeed.

Finally, autonomy becomes the bridge connecting Mastery and Purpose. Now they realize they can be independent or dependent depending upon the situation without losing their autonomy.

The words we speak to ourselves and hear are important.  However without a process or tools to turn those intrapersonal accountability words into positive actions we are at a personal and competitive disadvantage.

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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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WAY SMART Goals Require More than Being Just SMART

WAY SMART goals do propel people to greater goal achievement provided they go beyond just being smart (intelligence).  For us to achieve our goals, we must and I repeat must emotionalize them.

smart-goalsHuman beings are creatures of emotions.  When we take those emotions out of the goal setting and goal achievement process we are working at a disadvantage.

How many times have you been in a meeting and a goal is set?  Then what happens?  Action steps are being listed.  This is so backwards because it fails to bring the human emotion into the goal setting process.

When we emotionalize the importance to us for achieving the WAY SMART goals, we feel greater intrapersonal accountability or personal accountability (ownership) of the goals.  This emotionalization looks to the positive and to the negative.

What are all the good feelings I would have if I achieved this goal?  What rewards would I receive?

Conversely if I failed to achieve this goal, what negative feelings would I have? What consequences would there be?

Years ago I read some research that the majority of CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies surveyed achieved their goals not for money (rewards), but because of the fear of failure (consequences).  Negative emotions can be just as powerful to moving us forward as positive emotions.

The emotionalization of these goals should be part of the overall goal setting and goal achievement process as well as within the goal setting worksheet. Then after all of this emotionalization happens, there can be a return to being SMART by listing the barriers obstructing this WAY SMART goal from being achieved.

Yes having WAY SMART goals are important.  What is just as important and probably more important is to invest the time to emotionalize the importance of those WAY SMART goals to you.  By investing the time to connect your emotions to your future success will be very powerful and should help to catapult you closer to achieving what you want.

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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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The One Word Top Sales Performers Rarely if Ever Use

Many salespeople continue to speak and think this one word.  When coaching  top sales performers, there one word that is rarely heard compared to average or under performing salespeople.


That word, that also personally gives me the feeling of nails on a blackboard, is:


The great philosopher Yoda said “Do or do not, there is no try.”

Do you try to pick up a pencil?

Do you try to speak?

Do you try to run when you are in a race?

The word try is an excuse word for failure.  It provides the opportunity to run out the back door because you as the salesperson were afraid of going through the front door.

Yesterday when working with a sales team, one of the team members who is dramatically under performing made these statements:

I tried to make calls. 

  • Really?
  • Tell me what you actually did?
  • What was your process?

I tried to follow-up.

  • Really?
  • What is your process for follow-up?
  • Are you using a calendar with a checklist or a some other software program?

I tried to find new prospects. 

  • Really?
  • Who did you call?
  • Why did you call them?

The absence of this word by  top sales performers does not suggest they have stopped all their sales activities. Rather by replacing this word with other phrases, the behaviors by top sales performers  becomes more intentional and there is far greater clarity.

My goal is to make 10 calls each day.

Does this not sound better than “I will try to make 10 calls each day?

The word try is usually used with the verb will which is the simple future tense.

We have very little control of the future.

We do have far more control of the present.

By stating our actions in the present, gives us control and more importantly personal accountability for positive outcomes.

Top sales performers have a higher degree of personal accountability than average to under performing salespeople.

By focusing on new sales prospecting strategies and new tactics within their sales conversations, top sales performers are always thinking and not expecting others to think for them or to provide easy, quick fix solutions.

Since top sales performers have the internal temperament of  driven to achieve, the word try is rarely heard.

Learn if you have the this one internal temperament of driven to achieve.

Yes, the word try is not one used by top sales performers from my experience.  If you are a salesperson who wants to increase sales, then remove this word from your mind.  Track your results and you may be pleasantly surprised.

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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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