Posts Tagged ‘small business coach’

The US vs THEM SMB Sales Mindset

For mid-size to small businesses (SMB), there is a very real US (those not in sales) vs THEM (the salespeople) sales mindset.  Since in many instances, the salespeople are the greater salary earners, there is a resentment by some of the non-sales employees.



This resentment happens because executive leadership allows it. Instead of creating a collaborative workplace culture where everyone shares the same vision and values (business ethics), executive leadership fails to actually take the necessary actions to ensure everyone is united.  Their inactivity creates a void that is filled with distrust and envy.

Having word in a SMB, I experienced this US vs THEM sales mindset. Rush or emergency sales orders would come in near closing and the warehouse manager would decide these sales orders could wait until morning or the salesperson of record could make the delivery.  He could care less if the salesperson was two (2) hours away.  What happened in many instances is I would take the sales order to the customer on my way home.

Then there was the watercooler gossip about this salesperson earning so much or that salesperson earning so much.  Of course all this watercooler gossip was speculation, but that still did not stop the gossip. Even the inside salespeople would sometimes engage in this gossip because they had salary resentment.

Those who resented and gossiped did not realize or understand our salespeople were 100% commissioned.  The salespeople were responsible for all their own marketing costs including entertainment to donations for golf outings.

Now working as a small business coach, I continue to observe the US vs THEM sales mindset within the larger context of workplace culture.  What is so unfortunate is the US do not understand how the THEM as well as the SMB makes and keeps money.

Workplace culture is very much like a picture puzzle. Each piece is shaped by the beliefs, emotions and experiences of everyone present as well as those no longer present.  The US vs THEM sales mindset can be one or more than one pieces of the overall workplace culture puzzle.

If you are a SMB owner or sales manager, it is your leadership responsibility to eliminate the US vs THEM sales mindset.  By taking this proactive action, you will not only make the overall workplace culture better, you will increase sales as well as profitability.

Take this affordable workplace culture assessment to determine where there are gaps draining your productivity and profitability.

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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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Sales Training Is Not Just for Big Business – Part 05

Even mid-size to small businesses can locate good sales training that meets their needs. This requires the following:


  • Letting go of the quick fix mentality
  • Realizing training must be a continuum with development and then coaching the next steps
  • Investing time to find the right person such as a sales coach, business coach or sales training consultant

The Quick Fix Mentality

Unfortunately, there are still quite a few small business owners and sales managers who live in the quick fix, band aid world.  Sales training is not the panacea for ineffective to poor leadership.  Additionally without a strategic plan, there is the definite possibility of misalignment as noted in the book Fail-Safe Leadership.

Another aspect of the quick fix mentality is the promotion of super salesperson to supervisor or sales manager.  The technical sales skills that made the salesperson great are not the same skills for an equally great sales manager.

Training Is a Continuum

Training is the first step.  Once everyone has the basic sales skills, understands the corporate objectives and all united as a team working for the best results then further sales development is required. This development goes beyond the basic sales training.  It may involve further role play when a new product is introduced or a new market is being targeted.

Depending upon the size of the sales team, further development may require hiring a business coach or sales coach to work with individual team members or the entire team. This outside resource can quickly bring new insight and fresh ideas to the team because the sales coach has not been tainted by the same experiences.

Finding the Right Sales Coach, Business Coach or Sales Trainer

Not everyone is the right fit for your mid-size to small business. You must find the right fit to ensure that your investment of time, energy, money and emotions returns a positive and hopefully significant investment.

LinkedIn is a great place to start through the use of key words.  Internet searches also help to locate that right fit for your company.  Probably the best way is to ask your clients to your colleagues along with others within your B2B or B2C business network.  More than likely there will be someone local (within 5-25 miles) who can meet your needs and wants.

Then invest a little more time to interview at least three (3) of these individuals.  Ask them about their overall sales training process and business philosophy. The sales training should be spread over several weeks with follow-up sessions because a one time exposure to a learning event results in less than 2% retention after 16 days.  Multiple exposures to the same learning event increase cognitive retention up to 85%.  If you disagree, how come you quickly know how much 10×10 is without even thinking?

Listen to learn if they assess the people and the situation first before providing any sales training.  Without any assessments or diagnostic tests, this is like going to the doctor with a headache and being told you need brain surgery. Finally ask each for two (2) or  three (3) referrals that you may call.

The Attribute Index with 75% Accuracy Can Identify

Your Top Sales People.

Whether you believe it or not, your mid-size to small business does require sales training.  And the generic workshops or seminars are mostly likely too generic, probably do not offer any proven assessments and lack any significant return on investment. These sales workshops are for a quick feel good and reflect the quick fix mentality.

P.S. If you missed any of the first four parts of this series, Sales Training Is Not Just for Big Business, here are those links:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

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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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Are You the Hare or the Tortoise in Your Marketing Approach?

Do you remember the Hare and the Tortoise fable?  This little story exemplifies the marketing approach embraced by many small businesses.  What appears to be happening is a lot of hurry up, make the “disguised” Hare sales pitch and then take a rest.

marketing-approachYesterday within my LinkedIn account, I received two LinkedIn emails that reaffirmed this fable.

#1 – Disguised Hare Sales Pitch

The first email had the subject line of  “I Would Like to Talk.” Then without any first name, any words to emotionally connect to me, I read the following:

“With the ever increasing focus on employee benefits, many companies are challenged with lowering health insurance benefit costs while maintaining a benefits package that will help you attract and retain the right talent for your organization…I would like to set up a meeting with you to discuss the variety of options Combined Insurance can provide to you and your team.”

Clearly this person had failed to do his homework because he did not even take the time to read my profile and recognize I am a sole proprietor. I responded to him that I was a sole proprietor without any employees. Again, he raced to the sales pitch and wrote:

“That’s fine… Our products work for individuals, families and businesses. Can we still talk about the products and see if you a need?  Let me know.”

My last words to him were: “I have insurance with people I already know and trust.”

What also happened for me during this interchange was distrust was established, not trust.

#2 -Disguised Hare Sales Pitch

The second email was what I presumed to be an expensive email marketing letter. This individual had enough insight to use my first name and to let me know how I knew him. After that, I read another did not do my homework, hurry up sales pitch.

Hi Leanne, I’m reaching out to you because we are both part of a LinkedIn group (name withheld). I coach successful women business owners who want to grow their businesses, but are held back by perfectionism, aversion to conflict, or procrastination, obstacles which stem from a lack of confidence.

Clearly this individual did not know what I did as a small business coach or talent management consultant. Just because we share a group, are second degree connection and I am a female, he thought I was primed for his sales pitch. Really? Once again instead of establishing trust, distrust was created.

The Buyer Has Changed

What both of these individuals and many other small business owners fail to realize is today’s buyer has changed. He or she is far more educated as evidenced by ongoing research that suggests 60% of the buying decision is made before any outreach to a salesperson or firm.

The old way, quick way, to attract attention no longer works for today’s educated buyer.  What does work especially for B2B small businesses within the professional service industry is building influence and credibility through education based marketing. This marketing approach looks to educate and establish authentic relationships.

The Sales Process Has Altered

Many are now writing the sales process has changed. No it hasn’t. The three phases of marketing, selling and keeping are still very much present.

Download this 3 Phase Sales Process to gain clarity.

What has happened is the sales process has altered. More and more time and probably dollars because time is money will be directed to marketing. Of course Peter Drucker realized the importance of marketing when he wrote:

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

These two individuals also failed to do their homework.  They believed an email pitch without knowing who they were pitching too would work.  They did not know and understand their ideal customer at all.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Just as the tortoise won the race through a slow and steady approach, small business success will also be achieved through a slow and steady marketing approach. Leave the quick and false starts to others. Learn to build real relationships instead of spending a lot of money on bad email marketing letters or other “Hare Brain” marketing efforts.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith, M.S.,  is an executive coach and business growth consultant for mid-size to small businesses that are seeking sustainable results.  Her task is to support you in bridging the gap between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals. She can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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High Growth Coaching Model, What Is That?

So how do you replicate success as an executive coach, business coach or even sales coach? The answer to that is to have a proven high growth coaching model.

high-growth-coaching-modelWhat I have discovered is those who engaged in professional executive coaching sometimes confuse their high growth coaching model with their overall coaching process.

For consistency of communication, a model is the overall structure of something much like a house. The process is inside of the model and is how things flow within. Now sometimes there are additional systems (think rooms) that have their own processes. All of these processes work together to ensure the high growth coaching model continues to deliver the best results possible.

This analogy helps to explain why one size does not fit all and why customization specific to each executive coaching, small business coaching or sales coaching client is essential.

The model I have developed is BAR Beliefs drive Actions (behaviors) generating Results. Unless the beliefs many of which are subconscious are identified, the actions remain the same and restrict the results.  Think Einstein’s definition of insanity doing the same things over and over again, hoping for different results.

Now beliefs for some are attitudes or “habits of thought” as defined by Zig Ziglar. From my experience, beliefs may contain many attitudes and hence why discovering the hidden beliefs are so important.

Actions (behaviors) can be thought of one of two ways:

  • Conditioned or automatic pilot
  • New behaviors

Uniting both beliefs and actions together also works with the brain and how new information is processed. The brain is quite selfish due to its flight or fight internal wiring and prefers automatic pilot behaviors because those actions take far less energy and save energy for those fight or flight moments.

Another reasons I constructed this high growth coaching model is because I can begin with the results currently being achieved and the results the client wants to achieve.  By beginning with the end in mind, then it is somewhat easier to work backwards to determine existing actions and therefore existing beliefs that have generated those results.

This model works with this simple process of ACE:

  • Assess
  • Clarify
  • Execute

Through the use of proven tools I assess clients both personally as well as organizationally.  Any executive coach to small business coach to sales coach who does not begin with an assessment, in my humble opinion, is committing malpractice. How can anyone identify the existing gaps within personal or organizational performance without proven assessments defies explanation.

The assessments provide the clarity along with key questions specific to each client.  For without clarity, one is walking forward in a fog not knowing where to take the next step.

Then execution takes place using proven tools such as action plans to SMART goals along with assessing progress for additional clarity.  As you see, the process is a continuum and works in any situation.

So if you are thinking of hiring an executive, sales or small business coach, ask him or her these questions:

Do you use a high growth coaching model?

If so, would you please explain it to me along with your overall coaching process?

If you do not employ a high growth coaching model, how does your coaching consistently deliver improved results?

By asking these questions on the up front just may save you thousands of dollars not to mention time, energy and emotions.

P.S. Here is the talent assessment I use with a special offer until 1/5/2014.


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What Customers Are Driving Your Small Business Growth?

Years ago during a lunch and learn, I asked the facilitator who was a small business coach to identify the customers of business growth he was discussing, internal that being employees or external that being buyers.  He looked at me quite perplexedly and said that was a nice theory, then he moved on with the discussion and never answered my question.

business-growthI must admit I asked this business growth question tongue in cheek because I already knew the answer. My goal was to observe if others had heard of internal and external customers respective to business growth including marketing.

When the external customers or buyers of your solutions aka the market place drive your solutions, there is a greater likelihood you are meeting the demands of the market and will experience business growth provided the quality and delivery of your solution are acceptable.

Unfortunately due to best practices of the mid size to big firms with over 100 employees,  there is a belief that internal customers (the marketing department) drives business growth. If the firm does not support an internal marketing department, then an external marketing firm is hired with the same beliefs that their paid efforts increase sales. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  If you are considering hiring an outside marketing firm, ask for three referrals and call those firms to learn if they actually experienced business growth.

Today’s small businesses who engage in social media are more inclined to allow the marketplace to drive business. Blogs, social media interactions all are a response to what the market is seeking – quality content or other words knowledge.  This knowledge explosion is being captured into actual sales dollars through the quality of the content along with compelling calls to action. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Your call to action when an extension of your content has a greater chance to increase sales such as this blog: Is a Plan to Improve My Sales Team Really Necessary?

Additionally through banner ads, Google ads, Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads and paid links dollars are being generated for these sites as well. Then with Adsense by Google, even bloggers and other content writers have the opportunity to increase sales.

One of my clients has this sign hanging throughout his three (3) different manufacturing plants:

CATER or Customers Are the Entire Reason

Maybe this sign should be adopted as a marketing mantra? For when we focus on the needs of current and future external customers as the drivers of the business growth, our small businesses are indeed ahead of the flow.


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Heuristic Sales Anyone?

Years ago I learned of this word “heuristic” and today after reading a couple of blogs regarding sales and selling including becoming the buyer’s assistance I was reminded of this word and how much it pertains to top sales performers in the small business marketplace.


Heuristic is from the Greek word “heuriskein” meaning to discover.  My handy dandy Webster’s 7th New Collegiate Dictionary expands that definition “to guide, discover or reveal.” If you are a small business owners responsible for sales or a professional salesperson, this word does aptly describe what you do when marketing and selling your solutions (products or services). What is even more interesting is in old Irish it is “akin to I have found.” Just an aside,  Thomas Edison was a heurist as well as a scientist.

Do we not think when meeting a new potential customers thoughts similar to “I have found” a new client, a new sales lead or a new opportunity.

By having crystal clarity specific to your role as someone who engages in the buying/selling or sales process allows you to truly stay focused.  If all you had to do was to remember your role is to:

  • Guide potential ideal customers or prospects to you (think attract attention and build relationships – marketing)
  • Discover potential customer’s value perception, wants and needs (think fact finding)
  • Reveal how your solutions connect to that potential customer’s value perception, wants and needs (think presenting the case to make a decision to buy in your favor)

Then do you think you would increase sales?

Of course, many people probably do not know of this word and it might confuse them.  However just imagine the look on someone’s face when you answer that all too common question “What do you do?” with “I am a heurist.” (Note: A heurist someone who engages in heuristic behaviors.)

Do you think they just might want to learn more about what is a heurist?

Who knows?

However it does sound a lot more interesting than I am a realtor, accountant, health care provider,  financial advisor, engineer, marketing consultant, small business coach, etc., doesn’t it?

P.S. Consider applying your heuristic behaviors to this FREE Webinar – 3 Dirty Words in Business.  Discover if these 3 words are keeping you from sales success?

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A Coach Is an Emotionally Intelligent Contrarian

The very essence of any small business coach, sales coach, executive coach or athletic coach is to be a contrarian.  Now the differentiating factor between ineffective (average to poor) and effective (good to great) coaches is being emotionally intelligent because emotional intelligence begins from a place of these 3 As: acknowledgement,  agreement and appreciation.

A contrarian is someone who challenges the existing course or the status quo. This is an individual who may make people somewhat uncomfortable by saying or doing things that are opposite as to what others, usually the majority, are doing.

Coaches also challenge the current status quo. Their goal is to have their clients or charges to go further, to possibly take an opposite course of action.

The approach moving from the current status quo to the future desired place begins with emotional intelligence (EQ). This EQ capacity is having the demonstrated ability to recognize and understand the emotions and others and then leverage those emotions for improved results.  Emotional intelligence becomes the key springboard that propels average results to great and sustainable performance.

Just being a contrarian is not enough. For all individuals can at some time and place take on this opposing role.

However by infusing the capacity of emotional intelligence into this role, the client or charge does not feel devalued for his or her beliefs or behaviors. The coach will:

  • Acknowledge where the person current is
  • Agree to some common knowledge
  • Appreciate what is happening in that person’s life

Then from this common ground of acknowledgement, agreement and appreciation, the coach can ask those contrary questions which are the inert seeds for potential growth.

Being an emotional intelligent contrarian is not for everyone and make help to explain why there are so many average coaches and far fewer great ones.

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Emotions Count in Your Marketing Message or Sales Pitch

Do emotions count in your marketing message or sales pitch?  You betcha they do according to a recent report by Motista. Even though this marketing research report was geared for retailers, the data is good information for any salesperson who wants to increase sales.


One of the key findings was purchasers who felt an emotional connection to the retailers are four times more likely to return to those retailers when their next need happens. Now plug in the mobile device phenomenon and this emotional connection jumps to 10 times. Some very valid findings especially if you seeking ways to increase sales.

What this report suggests is that your marketing message or sales pitch must strike some emotional chords with your potential customers or prospects. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  People buy on emotions first then justify that decision with logic.

This leads to the obvious question:

How emotional is your marketing message or sales pitch?

In the book, Pitch Anything, the author goes into considerable detail about the primitive brain or what he calls the crocodile brain.  If you message cannot pass through this first obstacle, then your message is quite dead.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Read my review at Amazon or over at EzineArticles.

Just listen to what is being said at most business to business networking events.  How many responses to the infamous “What do you do?” question immediately are thrown into the mental circular file?  And possibly the only emotion is negative such as “Gee, another realtor, another accountant or worse yet another small business coach or sales coach.”  Are these the responses you want to increase sales? As Dr. Phil has often said:

How is that working for you?”

To make that emotional connection requires some research on your part, some testing and the ability to reframe your message quickly because if it is working others will quickly copy it.  Also, you will know it is working when others come up to you and not your competition.

Invest the time to revisit what you are saying when you communicate with others.

Are you making that personal, emotional connection or

do you sound like, heaven forbid, everyone else?

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X Leads to Y Leads to Z of Increase Sales

In science there is predictability or a process where X leads to Y leads to Z.  In business the Z would be increase sales from the salesperson’s perspective.  So what constitutes X and Y is a fair question?

For some the answer may come from their numbers.  An example could be for each speaking presentation a sales coach or small business coach delivers, he or she receives 6 qualified sales leads that generate one new client. This new client is on average worth $5,000 or increase sales by $5,000.

Now another way is to sequence your questions so that the potential customer or prospect has immediate buy-in and actually sells himself or herself.

X Question is “What is most important to you in _______?  Fill in the blank with words such as “your business” or “your department.” This is the desired results or “Z.”

Y Question is “How do you know when you have ________? This would be “Y or X restated.”

Z Question is “If I could give you Y (fill in for Y), would you get Z (which is actually X)?

Sometimes there is a disconnect between X and Y. These three questions helps to determine that disconnect and separate what may be an underlying problem from a known symptom.  Sales training coaching tip: In many cases, problems are disguised as symptoms and the real problem has never been discussed.

Sales Scenario

A small business coach or sales coach is speaking with another small business owner and asks permission to ask a question. He or she receives permission and the question is:

What is most important to you in your business right now? (This is the X question.)

The small business owners responds with ” Meeting my sales revenue projections and I have less than four months to do so.”

Then the sales coach or small business coach asks “How do you know when you have meet those sales revenue projections?” (This is the Y question.)

The small business owner responds “Given our sales cycle and past historical experience, when I have 25 new qualified sales leads being worked by myself and my sales team.”

Finally, the sales coach or small business coach asks “If I could give you those 25 new qualified sales leads, would you meet your sales revenue projections? (This is the Z question)

The small business owners responds “Well, possibly, but I am not sure with the time frame since our sales cycle is usually 6 months.”

Conversation continues until the small business coach or sales coach can create clarity around a realistic objective.

Problems Posing as Symptoms

Many times prospects or potential customers have awareness, but it is not assessed.  This creates a false sense of clarity that impedes or even derails execution.  Using the X to Y to Z questioning approach may help to truly clarity what can realistically be achieved. Sales.

The other benefit of this type of questioning is it builds emotions into the sales process. Since people buy first on emotions justified by logic, these three questions work with that sales buying rule instead of against it.

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What’s the Point to Your Marketing?


Why do you:

  • Post to your business, marketing, or sales blog?
  • Attend business to business networking events?
  • Submit articles as in article marketing?
  • Send electronic newsletters (Ezines)?
  • Make telephone calls?
  • Send emails?
  • Write sales letters?
  • Give speeches or presentations?
  • Engage in direct mail?
  • Ask for referrals?
  • Reconnect with existing customers?

The simple answer is these activities all are ways in how to increase sales.  For until someone knows about you (the purpose of marketing is to attract attention), you cannot sell them your solutions be them products, services or a combination. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Marketing is not glossy brochures or fancy websites unless these actions attract attention and help to build the relationships.

Now to increase sales in the most efficient (doing things right) and effective (doing the right things) implies that you have already:

  • Completed your market research
  • Identified your target market
  • Understand both the demographics and psychographics of your potential customers (a.k.a. prospects)
  • Created your ideal customer profile
  • Aligned your marketing to your sales, customer, growth and innovation action plans
  • Constructed your strategic plan

From these actions you are now:

  • Consistently monitoring and measuring the results
  • Making necessary course corrections
  • Realizing increase sales

So when you are asked in a forum such as Focus, about how often “do you blog” you can provide a succinct answer and support it by your existing demonstrated actions.

The simple point of marketing is it opens the door to your ability to increase sales.  Every marketing action should generate specific results. When the marketing fails to generate those predetermined results (based on past history) then corrective actions need to be taken. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  All marketing tactics such as those listed above need to demonstrate a positive return on investment.  If not stop investing your limited resources of time, energy, money and emotions and redirect your activities to more results bearing ones.

During the past several weeks I have been working with several small business owners and connecting their marketing activities to predetermined results.  For example, if you are a small business coach and secure one client from every speaking engagement (marketing) at a value of $5,000, then to earn $100,000 you need 20 speaking engagements. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Knowing your sales numbers including average value of a client to average client acquisition cost to lifetime value of a client to sales to earn ratio (close ratio), etc. are critical to the point of marketing.

How to increase sales begins with marketing, not selling. The end result or point of marketing is to increase sales. When you can gain clarity around marketing, selling and sales you will Be the Red Jacket in the sea of Gray Suits.

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People buy results or rather people buy the feelings the results deliver.

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