Posts Tagged ‘quick fix’

Let’s Stop Selling to the Quick Fix Need

A great friend and colleague, Dan Waldschmidt, wrote an outstanding blog about the charlatans who provide success advice and are liars. What Dan was addressing was those in sales who sell to the quick fix need.

Read Dan’s blog posting – Why Most Success Advice Is Bullshit and What to Do About It.

These salespeople be them executive coaches, organizational consultants to even instructional designers, look to the quick fix need of a sales lead.  They usually know their sales solution is not effective (doing the right thing) and therefore not sustainable.  Maybe this is why so many salespeople hide from return on investment (ROI).

My History of the Quick Fix in Sales

I first saw this for me unethical sales behavior when I was involved in instructional design.  As a subcontractor I was tasked with writing sales training (instructions) for retail salespeople to sell through a series of computer prompts.  The way the training was scheduled was not going to be sustainable.  Additionally, these salespeople were not being trained on the entire sales process.  This sales training was all about selling without any solid establishment of a relationship.

Later as I established my own executive coaching and consulting practice, I had numerous sales opportunities where the client wanted a quick fix.  I knew that a one time learning event provided very little long term cognitive retention.

How can anyone change his or her behavior when he or she forgets the knowledge to change that behavior?

When the client insisted on a one time learning event and wanted “loosey goosey” outcomes such as “improve communications with customers” or “be better leaders,”  I respectfully declined and stated my sales solution would not be sustainable.

Every potential client told me “well, so and so” said he or she could do it.  I would respond with “Then I would reach out to that individual. I know from my education and experience, what you want will not happen in a one day or two day training event.”

Many people will always be attracted to the quick fix for a variety of reasons.  The only way to provide sustainable solutions is to stop selling to the quick fix.  Take the hit in your sales.

And before you hear some internal response such as “this is what the client wanted” to justify selling to the quick fix, remember your sales solution should be effective (doing the right thing) and sustainable.  You should be able to quickly provide a measurable return on investment (ROI).

As Dan said:

“Success is you doing the right thing. When no one is watching. When it’s hard to do.”

Dan goes on by saying:

“It’s the mindset and the actions created by that mindset that lead to the outward evidence of your success. Stop buying into other people shortcuts.”

The last sentence could be easily rewritten as “Stop selling into other people’s quick fixes.”  For the “quick fix” is a shortcut and truly not sustainable.

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The Cheap and Easy Quick Fix Is Not Cheap, Easy or Quick

How often do sales managers to SMB owners to even sales professionals seek the cheap and easy quick fix to increase sales?  Then how often do companies create viable tools, but those tools are abused and misused because of this ongoing desire for the quick fix?

What usually happens is disappointment sets in and those in charge seek another cheap and easy solution to what ails their businesses and specifically their sales.  Einstein’s definition of insanity is alive and well not only in these SMBs, but all other organizations.

As an elected school board trustee and public educator, I saw this behavior through the application of grants.  Most grants have a three year funding cycle and then the school must fund the solution of their own.  Instead, they seek another grant because this was a viable way to get money and money drove the decision making process, not results. There was a constant turnover of programs that only diminished student engagement and effective instruction.

For profit businesses and other not for profit organizations also seek the easiest solution in the quickest time frame.  Investing in long term solutions is rarely considered.

We know this to be true because of the lack of return on investment for the majority of sales training and development programs. There is and remains a quick fix mentality by executive leadership because they have not engaged in any strategic planning nor understand how people learn and what keeps the application of newly learned sales skills on the back burner.

Today I submitted my 40th article to Worldwide Coaching Magazine.   The subject of this article looked to artificial intelligence (AI) and executive coaching.  Possibly the future will be “Coach Data.”  Unfortunately, even two entrepreneurs who have built AI into at their AI executive coaching program recognize this solution should never replace face to face interactions.

Executive coaching is a skill set that is often confused with consulting or worse yet traditional training and development programs. The first significant difference between executive coaching and traditional training and development quick fix is return on investment.  ROI is a demonstrated and measurable result.

Time is the next significant difference. Changing behaviors does not happen overnight.

Reflection of application of newly learned skills is the third significant difference. Executive coaches continually ask for their clients to share what has happened since the last coaching interaction. They also request application of new behaviors between sessions.

Beliefs probably are the fourth and probably the greatest difference.  Our beliefs, our attitudes drive our behaviors. Traditional sales training and development to leadership development to customer service training looks to the behaviors first instead of looking to the beliefs.

All of these differences demonstrate that executive coaching, sales coaching, leadership coaching or business coaching is not cheap, easy or quick.  If you are seeking the quick fix to your people problems, save your money until you can afford to do it right.

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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.

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Executive Coaching, Sales Coaching, Coaching Is Not Transactional

Over in a LinkedIn discussion group, there were several comments about the necessity for online executive coaching, sales coaching or business coaching.  The argument was to justify additional income.  My observation was simply this:

executive-coaching

Coaching, be it executive, sales or business is not transactional.

My fear is by focusing on the online courses, this will take a proven performance process that is not based on dollars and cents and turn it into one that is all about dollar and cents.  Of course, many coaches do not have a proven process and possibly this is why they are turning to online solutions. Note: There is a difference between telephone coaching and an online course.

I don’t know about these coaches, but my sense is they are attempting to capitalize on the quick fix mentality.  By signing up for an online course at anywhere from 50% to 90% savings from the in person fees, will deliver the same results.  I truly wonder what type of sales these coaches are currently achieving.

There is one word for this – Baloney! 

I would use another word, but that would not be polite.

As a trained instructional designer (M.S. in Education with a concentration on how people learn and the best way to design instruction or curriculum), the best way to learn is a blended learning environment. Blended learning means face to face, in person; online; group learning and self directed learning.  To focus only one type of learning delivery channel will not deliver a significant return on investment (cognitive retention).

Imagine for a moment, being coached for a sport via a webinar or some other online channel.  The human connection is weakened because the person is not physically near you. There is a big difference between seeing someone online and seeing someone in person. The coach cannot see your entire body nor sense your feelings. Technology blocks energy being transmitted from the coachee to the coachee.

Executive coaching, sales coaching or business coaching works when there is a process.  The delivery of phone or in person does not diminish the results because the process supports the desired results.

If you are interested in avoiding the quick fix and truly want to experience sustainable change along with a positive return on investment, give me, Leanne, a call at 219.508.2859 (Text) or schedule a quick phone call by clicking HERE.

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The Quick & Easy Sales Fix Flops

Believe it or not, many in sales especially those sole proprietors engage in quick and easy sales fixes. Possibly this is everything from just mailing postcards to writing content on various social media sites to just continuing to churn salespeople.

salesSeveral times within past blog postings,  I have referenced the soliloquy from the movie The Executive Suite. The main character portrayed by William Holden delivers a 10 minute exceptional speech on leadership, on sales and on the ramifications of the quick fix. (This is 10 minutes worth watching at least every 6 months.)

Another colleague just wrote a quick LinkedIn Pulse posting about cold calling and how it actually works.  Cold calling is not the quick fix when done correctly as Tibor Shanto illustrated in his real world experience.

Sustainable sales growth and consequently business growth comes from time invested in planning, in thinking and then in executing.  Unfortunately as another of my colleagues, Bill Napolitano. noted in his story of Captain Wing It, there are far too many SMB owners, executives and sales professionals engaged in this role. These folks spray their actions all over the place and then pray something sticks. (My translation of a Captain Wing It)

Possibly Peter Drucker realized when he wrote a business has only “two functions, marketing and innovation.” He then continued everything else is operations.  Operations take time especially for those engaged in selling. This investment of time is because people buy from people they know and trust.  Attracting attention and building trust does not happen overnight.

If you want to increase sales, look at your current behaviors and be hones with yourself. Are you expecting results from the quick and easy fix?  If so, maybe it is time to return to the planning table and begin to think more long term.

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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.”

leadership-challenge

Credit www.gratisography.com

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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In Sales, Is Seduction Necessary?

If we are professional salespeople, do we need to seduce our ideal customers or potential buyers?  I recently read a marketing blurb sent to me where the word “seduce” appeared respective to sales.  For me, this word suggests that our potential customers or clients will not accept us on face value and so we must undertake some other questionable behaviors to lure them to buy from us.

sales-zig-ziglarZig Ziglar said “sales is the transference of feelings.”  I firmly believe in his simple definition because people are emotional creatures first and foremost.  When we recognize the power of feelings, we can not only increase sales, but build powerful and enduring relationships that will last for years to come.

Words are important and how we employ those words in our marketing to sales scripts are also very critical. Additionally, many in business are seeking the quick fix.  Words like “seduce” conjure an easier way, a quick fix to bolster lack luster revenue.

As William Holden noted in the 1954 movie, The Executive Suite, the quick fix starves everyone. There is no quick fix in sales, in business or in life.

Sustainable business is built upon authentic relationships where people walk the walk, talk the talk or as some say walk the talk.  When we believe we must “seduce” customers, this sounds to me like we must trick them.  No wonder so many believe that those in sales are like the carnival “hucksters” or used car salespeople where trickery is very prevalent.

If you or your small business wishes to increase sales, then just build and develop authentic relationships with your ideal customers.  Remember not all sales leads are good ones.  Be discriminating in what sales leads you wish to pursue. You may find you will not need to “seduce” less than good fit customers.

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Do You Really Have Bad Business Strategy?

Are you one of those business executives desperately seeking a new business strategy because this year’s results were pardon the expression “all wet?

business-strategyIs seeking a new business strategy a fairly common end of the year or quarter business behavior?

Are you reaching for some quick fix instead of truly assessing the real problems and not the usual symptoms?

Have you ever considered your business strategy might be OK to even good?  Maybe the problem is something else?

Do you feel right now that I am pointing my finger at you?  Are you feeling a little uncomfortable?

Well, you should because before you hire that next business strategist, small business coach, executive coach or high price consulting firm possibly you may wish consider the following reasons why today’s results will not get you to tomorrow’s goals.

 

Assessment

Some business executives believe they know how to assess their business operations and immediately jump into their profit and loss statements. This is one way, but not the only way and such an organizational assessment will miss many other limitations and opportunities.

Imagine for a moment going to the doctor with a headache and your doctor immediately schedules you for brain surgery without ordering any diagnostics or assessments.  Would you have confidence in his or her recommendation?

business-strategySo if your current business strategy is giving you a headache, why are you considering brain surgery before you assess what is really going on?

Additionally, if your current business strategies are not working and new ones are sought year after year because today’s results are not realizing tomorrow’s goals, then investing the time to assess the organization is the first step.  This organizational assessment can be informal to formal. However, employing  a more formal organizational assessment every 3 to 5 years based upon specific criteria such as Baldrige can uncover critical gaps.

One such assessment I recommend is D.I.AL.O.G which looks at an organization from 5 to 10 employees to hundreds of employees through these seven criteria:

  1. Leadership
  2. Strategic Planning
  3. Customer and Market Focus
  4. Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management
  5. Human Resource Focus
  6. Process Management
  7. Business Results

As an instructional designer what is so great about this particular assessment is its affordability and speed of delivery. Much larger consulting firms will construct a tailored organizational assessment that will cost your business an arm and a leg.  This Internet driven assessment is affordable; provides relatively quick insight and has the capacity to deliver additional insight through the 20 minute one on one conversations with a selected sample of the employee population.

business-strategy-5-star-model

Business Misalignment

Jay Galbraith developed a simple graphic to illustrate why gaps exist in organizations.  Gaps prevent results from happening. His 5 Star Model for organizational development or what I prefer to call organizational excellence is where I begin with all clients.  I listen for gaps between:

  • Strategy
  • Structure (Organizational and physical)
  • Process/Systems (Operations)
  • Rewards
  • People

Of course many do not know if business misalignment actually exists until a formal assessment is undertaken.

business-strategy

Communication

Usually because business misalignment exists, this creates another barrier to effective execution of business strategy. Many organizations fail to consistently communicate their strategies in ways for their people to understand.

Much of this failure is because of the lack of trust in employees or the “We can’t tell them that!” attitude. Unless employees have crystal clear clarity regarding the business strategy from their perspective results will continue to limp along.

In today’s world where so much can be discovered via the Internet, keeping secrets from employees or believing them to be mindless robots is illogical and simply ridiculous. No, you do not need to give them the proprietary, financial information, but you can communicate to them with purpose and illustrate why this or that business strategy is critical to the organization’s success.

Leadership

business-strategyUltimately the buck stops here or at the door of leadership. The authors of Fail-Safe Leadership were ahead of their times when they published this short read on organizational excellence.

  • Organizations are comprised of people.
  • People lead and manage other people.
  • People are responsible for misdirected results or poor business results.

Unfortunately, the people at the top because of their failure to assess; misalignment and poor communication tend to blame everyone else.  Leadership more often than not is the real enemy for a business strategy not working. And yet leadership continues to blame the customesr, the employees, the competition or the economy.

Captain Wing It and the 4 Letter Dirty Word

Years ago a colleague shared a story about Captain Wing It. To condense that story is there are a lot of business executives who spray their actions (think strategies and tactics) all over the place and then pray something will stick. These folks are the Captain Wing Its.

Also the Captain Wing Its believe the word plan has all the connotation of a four letter dirty word.  I can say with 100% complete confidence that at least 80% of all businesses from 100 employees or less do not have a well thought out written, goal driven strategic plan that is actively revisited on a weekly basis.  Leadership leads with the ever present excuse of “I or we don’t have time.”

President Dwight Eisenhower said “Plans are worthless,planning is everything.”  This is even more true today.  Time must be invested to plan for tomorrow’s goals and to ensure today’s results are being achieved.

business-strategy

 

Your Next Step

If your business strategy is not working, then before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, consider re-reading this blog. Personally I do not like pointing fingers at people especially my readers, but enough is enough!

Now is the time to take intentional and purposeful action that will stop this yearly insanity of seeking that next quick fix business strategy to cure what ails today’s business results.

My final questions to you are these:

How many opportunities have you lost?

How much have you already invested in solutions that are not sustainable?

Can you afford another year of bad business results?

 

 

 

 

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The Biggest Small Business Dilemma

 

small-business-dilemmaRight now possibly the biggest small business dilemma involves technology specific to the apps that will deliver the best results specific to sales productivity and management. In the last 24hours, I had 10 different app companies follow me on Twitter. These apps ranged from sales compensation to hiring to individual sales productivity (CRM).  A small business owner could literally spend hundreds of hours determining the best app or apps for his or her small business.

There are what I call two shadow problems to this small business dilemma.

small-business-dilemma

Time and Learning Curve

Loading up even the basic information, “playing” with the app and then determining if the app is the right fit for the company must be considered with every app. Many software producers offer a free trial period.  Free involves the cost of the app only and does not include the time and learning curve costs that the small business owner must bear.  If the app doesn’t work, those dollars now become lost profits.

Quick Fix Mentality

small-business-dilemmaBy reading much of the marketing copy, one might be led to believe these apps will fix everything that ails a small business.  Additionally, there are small business owners and entrepreneurs who are desperate to fix critical issues and believe this or that app will be the magic cure.

Years ago there was a proverb that is still true today “A fool and his money are soon parted.”  Today this proverb might be re-framed for this small business dilemma:

In sales, only fools believe tools (apps) are the magic pill for what ails them.

 

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Time for Small Business Mindset Flip

How many times have you heard small business owners discussing the cost verb?

  • “I cannot do this because it costs way too much”
  • “Money doesn’t grow on trees, this will cost me a fortune”

small-business-mindsetThen there is the all too common small business mindset about how “employees are costing me.” I cannot count the number of times I have heard that one.

This cost verb implies there is no return on the money being exchanged.  These dollars are being washed down the profit drain, day after day to the angst of the small business owner.

What would happen if that cost verb was flipped to the invest verb? For example, “Let’s invest in our people so they can do their jobs better and hence increase profits.”  Or, “If we invest in the right marketing solutions for our small business, we will continue to receive strong sales leads.”

The cost verb is a mindset of scarcity while the invest verb reflects a mindset of abundance.

When the small business mindset is flipped from cost to one of abundance, what has happened is the small business owner is seeing with new eyes and not seeking new landscapes.  The  landscape (the marketplace) has not changed. This flipping of the mindset is not easy because old habits, conditioned behaviors can quickly reappear and once again this small business mindset of cost is driving the all business decisions and therefore all  behaviors.

Additionally, this scarcity mentality creates starvation in the small business because the small business owners are seeking quick fix solutions which result in more costs instead of seeking long term investments. These quick fix solutions suck the oxygen as well as the profits out of small businesses. In many instances, because there is no long term strategic plan, the future is the next 24 hours not the next three to five years.

If you are a small business owner ask yourself “Do I think in terms of cost or in terms of investment?” Be honest with yourself because not being honest may indeed cost you far more than you realize.

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