Posts Tagged ‘strategic action plan’

How to Unleash More Selling Time

Do you have a time management problem in your selling efforts?  Are you running out of time as you balance work with your personal life?  Have you tried time management training, seeking time management tips or reading time management articles and books?  And you still have a problem?

Guess what?  You are not alone. This is because time management is not about time management but rather about self management through planning and goal setting. Please let me explain.

Why are you managing time?  Because you made commitments to do that or be here.  In other words, you made promises based upon your sales and business goals within your strategic plan.  If you did not have these goals, would you have a time management problem?  Probably, not.

Take a moment to envision a triangle.  The bottom two thirds of the triangle are all of your goals.  The top one third is time management. Do you see how time management is really the apex of goal setting and goal achievement?

If time management is a problem, my first question is have you committed all of your  business and sales goals to writing?  Then the next question are those goals aligned to your overall strategic action plan or action plans? Finally, are these goals yours or someone else’s?  If they belong to someone else, do you think that maybe you are resisting achieving them?  Would that not affect how your use your time?

Speaking of your plan, does it include a Purpose, Vision, a Values and a Mission statement?  These core foundational statements are extremely necessary when scheduling your time as well as using time. Returning to the earlier diagram, the core foundational statements are between your goals and your time management.

When you have all four foundational statements, you can reduce the time that you spend on decision making. If something comes across your desk that is not in alignment with your core foundational statements, you can quickly discard it and not waste those precious minutes pondering “Should I or should I not?”.

TAKE ACTION: Stop believing it is a time management problem. For as Pogo so eloquently said: “I meet the enemy and he is us.”  Next you need to invest some time into planning your selling activities and overall business success. Finally, if you do not utilize a proven goal setting and goal achievement process, find one to work with your business and sales action plan. Then and only then, will you get unleash your selling time and receive even greater results from the same amount of time.

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Forward Thinking Small Business Owners Make Time For…

“Got no time” is not a statement you will hear from any forward thinking small business owners.  No, these small business leaders will make time for:


  • Answering the phone
  • Returning phone calls
  • Continual education
  • Working on their strategic plan
  • Working ON the business
  • Listening to a friend or colleague
  • Enjoying the company of family
  • Helping their communities
  • Celebrating their religious faith or spirituality

Yes surprise, surprise, forward thinking leaders have the same amount of time as those who are not forward thinking. However because they understand that once time is spent, it can never be recovered, they look at time as an investment. They prioritize where and when to invest their time.

Even when their schedules are full to even overflowing, these small business leaders will do their best to make time for whatever comes across their desks.  Excuses are not their mantra.

Planning is why forward thinking small business owners can do everything they do.  They plan and prioritize travel time, meeting times, work time and family time.  Each day is viewed as an investment with the attitude of how much of a return can I receive for today’s efforts.

So when you hear someone in small business say “I’ve got no time,” you can probably ascertain this person is allowing time to control him or her instead of being in control of time.

We all have the same amount of time, 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, 86,400 seconds each day.  The difference is some invest time far better than the others who spend time.

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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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7 Tips to Real Estate Agents’ Success

With over 2 million real estate agents (2006) according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), becoming a successful real estate agent takes more than just a license and knowledge of current laws and regulations. The first year drop out range estimated to be from 40% to 80% demonstrates that many real estate agents are not as successful as they could be and research suggests that 90% give up after 3 years. The following 7 tips may help you avoid becoming one of these statistics.


#1 Tip – You Are a Business

First and Foremost YOU are a business. Real estate agents work for a broker, but are independent, commissioned sales people. This means that you are a small business and must run your practice as a business. Again, remember you are a small business owner.

 #2 Tip – Embrace a Planning Attitude

If you don’t have a plan, then you are on some else’s plan – usually the successful real estate agent’s. During the last 10 years, what I have learned as a performance improvement consultant or executive coach is that most people place more value in planning a trip to the grocery store or a vacation than planning their lives either professionally or personally. President Dwight Eisenhower said it best:

“Plans are worthless; Planning Is Everything

 #3 Tip – Research Your Market Plan

Since you, as the real estate agent are a small business owner, you are responsible for your own expenses.  Invest the time to do your research specific to your marketing plan within your strategic action plan. Time spent in constructing your marketing plan is definitely well spent. NOTE: Remember a business plan usually is data driven, while a strategic action plan identifies who does what by when.

Far too many small business owners attempt to short cut the planning process and jump into the creation of a marketing plan usually on the advice of some marketing firm. The marketing plan comes after your strategic action plan has been developed not before.

#4 Tip – Establish Sales Goals

Using your strategic action plan, establish sales goals. If you are new to this industry, it may take 6 months before the first sale. HINT: Use the W.A.Y. S.M.A.R.T. goal setting worksheet and criteria.

#5 Tip – Create a Financial Budget

Budgeting is critical given the up and down of this volatile market place. Your financial budget should plan for your marketing costs, any additional costs such as education and your forecasted income.

 #6 Tip – Make Managing Yourself a Priority

Building a small  business is not easy. You must learn how to manage yourself especially in the area of time management, ongoing real estate business training coaching continuing education units, and personal life balance. Real estate is said to be a 24/7 business much like any small business. However, it is important not to lose sight of your personal life including family, friends, physical health, etc.

#7  Tip – Find a Mentor or a Real Estate (Small Business) Coach

Going it alone is not easy. Take the time to find a mentor who can help you steer through some of the known obstacles and help you during the “peaks and valleys.” If you have the resources, you may wish to hire a real estate coach or an executive coach who specializes in small business help and sales.

Being an incredible salesperson and entering the real estate market does not guarantee similar sales success. However, these 7 tips may help you avoid many of the pitfalls by not being one of the four real estate agents who quit within one year or one of the nine who give up after 3 years.

Note:  This article was written in May of 2006 and published at To date this article has received over 49,000 views and has been republished in a variety of local associations from Chambers of Commerce to realtor associations.

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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 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn

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The Future of Sales Training Ignores the Reality of Today

This morning I just read another article about the future of sales training in which they quoted the publisher of Selling Power that by 2020:


  • “80% of all B2B transactions will be automated”
  • “11 million lost jobs in sales”

I always find these statistics interesting in that 97.7% of all businesses here in the US have under 20 employees and such predictions about the future of sales training are usually based upon the minority of businesses, 2,.3%, with over 20 employees. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Now I ask you, does this make sense?

Where I did find partial agreement was the impact of:

  • Technology
  • Social Media


Technology – The Now Ever Present Tool

As the telephone, especially the pay phone, was to salesmen of the 20th century the best technology, today’s mobile technology with all the various apps will become common place. With respect to the future of sales training, the challenge will be three-fold:

  • The constant evolving of technology
  • Keeping up with the various changes (learning curve)
  • Knowing what technology the customer or client is using


Social Media – The New Bridge for Relationships

This article also talked about the future of sales training specific to social media especially LinkedIn being the new bridge for relationships.  Through various marketing actions such as LinkedIn profile viewing, posting in LinkedIn groups, responding to birthday announcements and sharing one’s blog’s links, sales people can expand their influence and presence. However, again this article and many similar articles ignored the reality of today.


The Disconnect Between the Present and the Future of Sales Training

No where in this article did the authors specifically talk about this one skill as part of any future sales training trend. That one skill is effective writing.

The majority of salespeople, again those employed by small businesses with under 20 employees, will need to hone their writing skills because as the authors of this article noted 60% of the buying decision is made online. Today’s B2B buyers are better educated than ever before. They are reading the blogs, the various online publications as part of their decision making process. Salespeople will be the authors of those blogs.


Writing Is Timeless Bridge

The written word is indeed powerful and can be emotionally compelling, From the Bible to the Declaration of Independence, words have given purpose to people in all walks of life. Now for those in B2B sales, writing will be the key competitive differentiator. Those who can write well will connect the present to the future.

If you wish to increase sales, then before you send your salesperson to salespersons to that next sales training session, maybe you may wish to consider sending them to creative writing class. Of course it would be of immense help if your small business had a strategic action plan that would enable your salespeople to integrate that critical information into their writing efforts.

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Moving Beyond the Sales Goals Worksheet

One of the regular key words within my website analytics is “sales goals worksheet.” There must be a lot of salespeople seeking this tool with the goal, I presume, to increase sales. The question to be asked is “Will finding this tool improve your sales success, or it is something else?”



From my experience, there is a whole lot more of “something else.”  What that something else is, well, that all depends. However, what I have found to be true is there are two other factors consistently needed, but ignored by many in sales.

The first factor is a proven goal setting process.  Unfortunately,  the reality is most people plan their vacation or even the weekly trip to the grocery store with far more diligent, attention to detail than their personal or professional goals and that includes sales goals.

Any sales goals worksheet does not work in isolation but works with a goal setting process.  This process for many is not successful for a variety of reasons and three of those key reasons are:

  • Not a WAY SMART goal
  • No emotionalizing of the desire for achievement or for failure
  • Little to no applied critical thinking skills

Now the second factor is the integration of the sales goals worksheet into thorough planning process that not only includes sales goals, but other areas that may successfully impact the ability to increase sales. Salespeople are truly their own business regardless if they are employed by someone else.

Acknowledgement and then acceptance of his reality will propel them forward ahead of all those in sales who are still engaged in the role of Captain Wing It. 

Each salesperson does require his or her own goal driven strategic action plan especially those who work for firms with less than 20 employees. Sales Coaching Fact: 97.7% of all US firms have under 20 employees

When salespeople move beyond the sales goals worksheet and begin to act more like a business instead of a role, they will not only increase sales, but more than likely reduce their stress not to mention having a lot more time for family, friends and their own personal endeavors.

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Monday’s Marketing Mayhem or Magic?

Monday morning and once again your small business marketing resumes.  You glance at your calendar and see all the networking events, meetings and all the other activities required to keep your small business name in front of your target audience. Mayhem or organized chaos call it what you will seems to be your middle name.

marketingYou are tired before you even begin the week. Then you discover someone bought something off your website.

Now your tiredness is quickly reversed because you think to yourself, the marketing is working. It’s like magic. You pulled a rabbit (think sale) out of the hat.

Of course you know it isn’t magical because of all the hard work you have invested between your inbound and outbound activities. Yet seeing that purchase gives you the boost you need to keep moving forward, through the daily, weekly and monthly mayhem.

Marketing is for small business owners and even sales professionals the single biggest daily to weekly challenge because unless people know about you and your firm, you will never have the opportunity to share your solution.

The second biggest challenge is what works for one small business may not work for another.  You have discovered this have spending countless hours and hundred to thousands of dollars on past marketing actions.

However what does work to overcome both challenges is consistency.  By taking daily actions you can determine what works and what does not work.  Of course this does mean to give it a try for more than a couple of days or weeks.

To further reduce the daily mayhem is to have a calendar not only of your outbound activities such as business to business networking, chamber luncheons or just get to know you meetings, but your inbound actions as well such as:

  • Social media posts such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest
  • LinkedIn discussion groups and updates
  • Blog – yours
  • Micro blogging – commenting on other blogs
  • Emails such as newsletter

Also monitoring the results of your marketing on a daily basis also reduces the mayhem.  Some of these metrics may originate from the key performance indicators that you determined within your strategic action plan.  Additionally there are FREE websites that may also help measure your social media influence such as Klout or a new one called SumAll.

By investing the time to schedule and monitor the results of your outbound and inbound marketing, you will have less mayhem and more magic.  And possibly no longer dread Monday mornings?

This social media one page action plan may help you organize your inbound marketing goals.

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Just When You Thought You Had Your Marketing Bases Covered

So you have your marketing calendar in place, you are blogging regularly, sharing the social media posts of others and doing your follow up with all those new sales leads.  You are feeling pretty good because it has taken you months to get your daily, weekly and monthly marketing all in place. Then all of a sudden your baseball field is upset and you realize you now have another base added to your playing field.

marketingYou scratch your head and consider throwing up your hands because the last thing you need to your already time stretched to the limits day is another social media action. And worse yet this new social media opportunity is geared to your business to business (B2B) target market and ideal customer profile.

So what should a time strapped, stressed out and energy depleted small business owner or sales professional do?

Stop and breath is the first step.

Second step, take the time to reflect upon your current marketing actions as written within your strategic action plan and determine where you can make the necessary shifts and course corrections to accommodate this new inbound opportunity. Right now clarity as to what you are doing and the results you are receiving is paramount. This is not the time to be reactive.

Third, consider this new opportunity to be one of focus. Select one or two specific topics such as thought leadership, exceptional customer service or optimizing supply chain management. Determine the best 5 keywords and then align all of your actions so you can quickly become the recognized expert in this new opportunity.

Fourth, maybe now is the time to outsource (think delegate) some of your marketing activities especially if you have already leveraged automation tools such as Hootsuite. For nominal investment, you can hire others to execute some of your other social media marketing.

Fifth and probably the most important step is to recognize that change in today’s technology driven marketplace will only increase.  As new inbound marketing opportunities open along with the traditional outbound ones, having an open mind to all of this change is essential.

Yes, you can deal with any new small business marketing opportunity as long as you remain in the role of Captain Focus It and not Captain Wing It.

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Are You Overlooking the Obvious in Your SMB Marketing?

Sometimes in the quest to increase sales through new SMB marketing actions, obvious opportunities are often overlooked. This appears to be true if a recent report by Direct Marketing News is correct.

Marketing-SEO-BI-F-00What this report tells me is the basics of having a SEO friendly site with relevant and dynamic content is still lacking by many small businesses.  Also there appears to be alignment gaps between the website, email campaigns and even face to face business to business networking.

Google and the SBA (USA) have suggested that 50% of all small businesses in the US do not have websites.  Also those small businesses with websites for the most part have ineffective ones.  These SMB are still under the impression build the website and they (sales leads) will come. Small Business Coaching Tip: is a great trending tool to measure Internet traffic over time and overall Internet marketing penetration.

Even though this report was for retailers, much of the information is appropriate for those engaged in business to business (B2B).

Human nature appears to be very much evident with SMB marketing.

Look for this new solution (think quick fix) and my small business will instantaneously increase sales leads.

Unfortunately that is not how it works.

Effective SMB marketing begins within the strategic goal driven action plan. Key research and analysis have already been undertaken including:

  • Market (current)
  • Market trends (past, current and future)
  • Competitive – internal
  • Competitive – external
  • Ideal customer profile
  • Responsiveness to innovation

Without investing the time to complete the strategic action plan, the small business owners to the executives may continue to overlook the obvious.

Yes the quest to increase sales through SMB marketing is necessary to stay in business. However misdirected and misaligned actions will only decrease the opportunities to increase sales and increase the likelihood of an early demise (business failure).

If you truly want to sustainable business growth including increase sales, then scheduled a no risk 20 minute Business Growth Accelerator Session with Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.759.5601219.759.5601 CST where you will receive:

#1 – Quick assessment of your current sales process

#2 – One business growth strategies to increase results by 20% in 60 days

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Business Coach or Executive Coach, Who Are You?

This past week I was asked to take a survey from a national firm regarding the state of coaching.  What was interesting was how this firm defined these two roles or solutions:business-coach-executive-coach

  • Executive Coach – Changing behaviors
  • Business Coach – Providing strategies

As I worked my way through the survey, I once again realized how the definition of terms can alter the results because internal conflicts have been created.

Research has demonstrated professional coaching when executed well can have dramatic results.

For me personally, coaching is about securing clarity regarding specific Beliefs that drive Actions (behaviors) generating Results. To raise the BAR of individual performance starts with the beliefs. Since beliefs comprise thoughts as well as attitudes (habits of thoughts) thinking is required and more importantly strategic thinking is necessary.

As it has been said “If you do (think) what you have always done (thought), you’ll get what you have always gotten (thoughten)”  [Source: Tony Robbins without the parentheses.]

From those revisited thoughts and strategies, behaviors begin to change especially when aligned to a written strategic action plan.

Being a literal person,I define being a business coach as working with small business owners. Here they gain clarity about their current business strategies and alignment of those strategies to their behaviors. The decision maker is the small business owner.

An executive coach, in my opinion, works with executives usually within a corporate environment. In other words, more often than not I am hired by an organization to bring clarity to an executive through his or her own self discovery using the coaching process.

Even though this survey did not separate  a sales coach from the other two definitions, I define sales coaching as working with those engaged as professional salespeople who wish to improve their overall performance. For me, when I am hired as a sales coach, the client is paying me from his or her income.

In all roles, executives, small business owners and salespeople there exists both strategies and behavioral changes.  To suggest being a business coach  is only about strategies or an executive coach is only about behaviors  is a disservice to both the coaches and those being coached.

So to answer the question as to “Who are you?”

For me, I may now have to consider I am both a behavior coach and strategy coach or BS Coach for short.


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To Be or Not To Be The Facebook Social Media Dilemma

Today I had a conversation with a colleague and friend who was attempting to wrap his arms around Facebook and the social media world.  His question was similar to the opening phrase of a soliloquy from William Shakespeare’s play of Hamlet “To be or not to be.”

My colleague had interviewed a couple of so called social media experts and recognized they knew about as much as he did.  So he ask for some of my time because he had witnessed my results over the past five to six years. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Ask for 3 references when interviewing social media coaches and then ask their clients

“What results did you get from this social media marketing activity?”

The first question I asked him was who was his target audience for his sales leads?  His answer reaffirmed that Facebook is probably not his primary social media platform.  LinkedIn and YouTube would be far better along with Google Plus.

However, he did need to link everything together to ensure consistency of his message and his presence on the Internet. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Do a search of your name on Google.  On the first page of Google, there should be a link to each of your social media sites, your website and your blog.  Your name should appear in all ten places linked to significant websites.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Check how many hits your name generates monthly to monitor your Internet presence.

We then discussed specific search engine optimization strategies (thinking) and tactics (doing) to ensure that his efforts generate the greatest results.  I emphasized the need to continually research keywords as keywords do change over time much like business trends. What was hot today may be cold six months from now. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  The right keywords do generate sales leads.

To be or not to be on Facebook should be based upon your marketing plan and sales plan located within your strategic action plan.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  If you don’t have a plan, then you are someone else’s plan.

The better question to be asked is “How much time should I devote to Facebook?”   Imagine  you have 45 minutes for your social media efforts. Allocate the following:

  • 10 minutes per day to Facebook
  • 5 minutes for Twitter
  • 5 minutes for Google Plus
  • 25 minutes for Linked

If you are writing a Blog, then you may need to invest some additional time and that holds true for posting to YouTube.

The key is to go to where your target audience is and then interact with them to increase sales leads and to increase sales.  Facebook may have Centers of Influence (wives of those CEOs, CFOs or small business owners).  So to ignore Facebook is foolish.

Yes social media is here to stay.  To not be is no longer a viable business strategy or tactic.

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