Posts Tagged ‘strategic business growth’

Do You Sound Like a Professional Salesperson or a Politician?

The now 365 day a year social media postings to political campaigns, buyers and voters see and hear a lot of politicians pitching what they can do for the electorate. This is a great opportunity to learn what is takes to be a professional salesperson.

professional-salespersonFirst, stop with the sales pitches.  “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” These words of Theodore Roosevelt are still very true.  Those who make sales pitches ignore their customers because their egos are front and center along with their pocketbooks.

Look at me; look at what I can do for you!

Second, go beyond the 15 and 30 second sound byte. Invest the time as a professional salesperson to develop a relationship and establish some credibility.

Third, leave your ego at the door.  No one cares about you, your company or your solution.  They care about having a problem solved that usually has been solved without success by some other salesperson.  So they are very jaded in listening to what you have to say.

Fourth, as a professional salesperson be knowledgeable about your solution and more importantly about the potential customer along with current and future market trends.  What may earn you the sale is your ability to demonstrate your knowledge and then your ability to educate your ideal customer.

Fifth, remember to be emotionally intelligent.  People will ignore a lack of emotional intelligence if their pain is so great and you speak directly to that pain.  However, to walk this path can be very dangerous because you may be viewed as an ego maniac to bombastic blowhard.

As a professional salesperson, the last thing you want to sound like is a politician pitching for votes.

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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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Sometimes Leadership Is Ugly as It Should Be

Here in the US there is a lot of angst about the leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives.  We can hear a lot complaints about the current selection process being messy and this squabble, this indecision does not look pretty. Funny I have yet to read any definition that included pretty in its definition.

leadershipLeadership is not pretty and it can be very ugly mess.

Why would anyone want pretty?  Leaders arise from ugliness, from messy fights, from the aftermath of others who believed in pretty.

Ugliness, messiness, are part of what separates the followers from the authentic leaders who can build collaboration and who aren’t afraid of making decisions that aren’t pretty.

Returning to the annals of history, we have accounts of real messes such as Truman not knowing about the Manhattan Project to Eisenhower deciding when to land on the beaches of Normandy. Then there is also George Washington at Valley Forge.

All of these leaders faced ugly messes.  Moving forward when others recommended retreating is something that is not easy to do.  Authentic leaders know that leadership is making those tough choices and hard decisions.

Today’s culture gives the appearance that leadership should be pretty.  Everyone should come together in a Kumbaya moment.  Unfortunately, this is not reality, but a reality created by those who never, ever held a significant leadership role where people’s existence depending upon that next decision.

Younger people have been taught by many who have never been responsible for a payroll; for paying vendors for keeping the lights on and the economy moving forward. This culture of consensus driven leadership has created a void in today’s business world.  Business executives are concerned about the lack of future leaders within their organizations.

Maybe it is the time to start telling the real truth about real, authentic leadership and all its ugliness.

Authentic leaders are:

  • Not liked by everyone
  • Human
  • Not perfect

Being a business leader is not easy, no it’s tough and requires a strong mental attitude along with resiliency.  Possibly this is the message we should be sharing with younger people instead of the one of “everyone (leaders) gets a trophy.”

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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 1-219-508-2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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The Human Touch Still Prevails in Workplace Culture

To improve workplace culture from employee happiness to hiring, many mid-size to small businesses are relying on software to find potential problems.  I even use several workplace culture assessments when working with my corporate clients.

workplace-cultureWhat some consultants and those in executive leadership roles forget is software will always be secondary to the human touch.  What I mean is it is essential to talk to employees face to face to gauge their emotional reactions.

When employees are asked open ended questions and know their answers are confidential, this human touch can provide incredible insight to the workplace culture.  This is not really possible when only technology is used because most of the workplace culture assessments may not cover a specific emotional issue being faced by an employee.

Of course the employees must believe these one on one interviews are completely confidential.  Their responses would be recorded in a general way without revealing any key behaviors such as specific vocabulary usage.

Skilled interviewers can identify potential and specific problems within the workplace culture that may go undiscovered through software applications. These interviews are much like having a check-up with your physician.  He or she uses technology diagnostics to secure an accurate assessment on your current health.  However, the physician does not totally rely on technology. Employing the human touch is part of the overall assessment process.

There are many good software programs and probably equally number of bad software programs to assess workplace culture. Just remember an organization is comprised of living organisms, people.

Your people respond to other people in ways that technology can never assess. The human touch will always be essential until the time we have a 100% robotic workplace.

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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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Maybe It Takes More than Just Sales Skills to Increase Sales?

During the last quarter of most calendar years, businesses begin planning for the next year especially when it comes to sales training.  Sales managers to small business owners look to sales skills to increase sales.  This may be a mistake.

sales-skillsAfter being in industrial sales for over two decades, I personally witnessed our sales teams working hard to increase sales.  Their major barrier was not sales skills, but the workplace culture.

For example, the warehouse superintendent who was responsible for scheduling deliveries was a definite roadblock.  His negative attitude was transferred to the truck drivers and warehouse personnel.  Getting him to make a late afternoon delivery after all the trucks were in and the drivers were gone was next to impossible.  He would demand the salesperson who was 60 miles away come and make the delivery. Never mind the salesperson could not make it in time was not his problem.

Then sometimes even other support personnel were not cooperative.  Groans about “You mean they want it now and it’s my lunch time” were quite common. Forget the customer rarely made demands, paid its bills on time with a higher profitability.  No, lunchtime was lunchtime.

Personally I cannot count the number of times my lunch was cold or I made those late afternoon delivers.  My goal was to support the customer.

Workplace culture is in many instances an impediment to strategic business growth.  Making it difficult for a new customer that the salesperson wined and dined to do business is just ridiculous.  Yes there are processes and procedures to follow. However, they should be customer friendly.

Many times the way I secured new customers was to expedite opening up the account because the customer needed the product immediately. I secured a promise from the purchasing agent or in many instances the field superintendent that the bill would be paid.  Believe it or not, our firm never had a bad debt over those types of accounts.

When salespeople work hard to increase sales and then the workplace culture puts up one barrier after another, the issue is not more sales training to improve sales skills. No the real obstacle to increase sales is the workplace culture. Until workplace culture is addressed, sales will still suffer along with other symptoms such as high turnover of salespeople.

Consider this workplace culture assessment to identify barriers keeping your from increase sales.

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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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Handling the Peaks and Valleys in Meeting Sales Quotas

Have you experienced the frustration of peaks and valleys when it comes to meeting sales quotas? For the majority of mid-size to small businesses, you are not alone in that frustration.

meeting-sales-quotas

Credit http://gratisography.com/

Possibly one reason for this frustration is there has been no time in reflection.  Peaks and valleys for many are a repeat of history.  For example within the consulting and training industry, November, December and January are historically slower months because all dollars have been spent.

When I was in corporate, the month of December was very slow because of this one reason – shutdowns.  Our industrial maintenance and repair customers would shutdown their facilities for one of these two reasons:

  • Very slow to no business
  • Maintenance

If the shutdown was for maintenance, our customers made their purchases in October and November in anticipation of this shutdown.

What I did as sales manager was to analyze the peaks and valleys for the past several years to determine how to improve meeting sales quotas.  The result was a recommendation to secure a more stable product line that would be in demand every month and would generate a consistent profit.  My analysis also revealed the valleys had lower profits than the peaks.  As I had already identified the product, my boss approved my analysis and recommendation. Within several months we had secured that product line.

Another strategy to handle the peaks and valleys in meeting sales quotas is continue with the marketing.  Most mid-size to small businesses do not have separate marketing departments.  Their sales team are the ones responsible for marketing, attracting attention.

Unfortunately, when the sales peaks happen, the sales team becomes so busy with the increase sales, they forget about marketing.  Then the sales drop off and without any additional marketing, a valley happens.

My recommendation to my clients is marketing should always be 50% of their time.  They must have their name continually in front of their existing customers as well as potential customers.

Social media through automation software helps to alleviate the time shortage.  By investing 30 minutes once a week, any company can have a weekly presence on the Internet.  Now if the mid-size to small business decides to add a blog to that social media presence, this addition will increase the time commitment.

Yes the peaks and valleys can be handled in meeting sales quotas. The first barrier is to decide to take a proactive response and not stay in the all too common reactive response behavior.

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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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Time to Go Beyond the Every Day To Do List

Grab your most recent to do list.  If you are like many of the people I know, you may have one list or several of these lists.

to-do-listTo do lists have been around for years, probably hundred of years.  Yet how many people still fail to get things done?  From my experience, the answer is a lot.

Yes writing what we must get done is essential for most people. There are those few special folks who can keep everything in their brains without writing things down.  However, those individuals are few and far in between.

So the question is why aren’t we getting what we need done?  Possibly because of two common barriers:

  • Word Association
  • Prioritizing

Word Association Barrier

Words are powerful because they have emotions and experiences embedded within them.  The phrase “to do” is one that almost gives us permission not to do.  After all, it is just a list of tasks that can keep until tomorrow or the next day.

What would happen if we exchanged the phrase with “to do” with this one word – Commitment.

The word commitment has a different meaning and implies a subconscious agreement.  Have you not committed to yourself or to someone else to complete the tasks on your to do list?

Prioritizing Barrier

Take a quick glance at your to do lists for the last few days. Are the same tasks still not completed?

What would happen if you did this quick sort? Separate the tasks into two piles.  The first pile is market as “Must Do.”  These are the commitments where you promised to do something or if by not taking action someone might experience harm.  For example, making phone calls as promised, sending emails as promised or reading a book for review as promised.

The second pile is “Should Do.”  Here are those commitments that are not promises such as clean out email,  file paperwork or balance checkbook.

If a task remains on the “Should Do” to do list for more than a couple of days, this actually may be a goal in hiding.  You may wish to turn the to do into a WAY SMART goal.

to-do-list

The To do list is like the big elephant in the room.  People attempt to eat the entire elephant at one setting instead of just eating it one bite at a time. By overcoming these two barriers of word association and prioritizing, you may find your own to do list a little less overwhelming.

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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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Time to Go Beyond the Interpersonal Skills in Sales

We hear and read all the time about the top interpersonal skills in sales. From my experience, looking at top sales performers, their interpersonal sales skills are never the same.  Each salesperson is unique and that uniqueness affords him or her different skills or talents.

interpersonal-skills-in-salesA quick review of the last five top salespeople (those earning $100,000 or more) I have assessed revealed each had a different top attribute or talent:

  • Personal accountability
  • Concrete organization
  • Following directions
  • Developing others
  • Realistic goal setting for others

The commonality was they all shared an internal temperament bias in how they viewed their selves and their lives.  Even though a neutral bias is preferred, this was not the case with these top sales performers or any of the other 45 plus top sales performers I have assessed.  They all shared this same temperament bias.

When we look for what makes a top sales performer it is easy to get into the habit of identifying key interpersonal skills.  Creating assessments to identify these top interpersonal skills in sales makes for good income for those publishing those psychometric assessments.  Digging a little deeper takes time, money and a more statistically reliable instrument.

Daniel Pink in his book To Sell Is Human suggested that top sales performers are not extroverts, but rather omniverts (a combination of extroverts and introverts). He recognized that both interpersonal and intrapersonal skills make for a good salesperson.

Looking for and measuring salespeople on interpersonal skills in sales is just part of the answer.  Now is the time to dig a little deeper and leverage the different strengths each salesperson brings to the table and more importantly discover his or her internal temperament bias.

Want to know if you or your sales team has this top sales performers’ temperament bias?

Then call me at 219.508.2859 CST

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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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3 Reasons Why SMART Goals Fail

SMART goals have been around for several decades.  Yet, goal achievement is still very allusive for most people.

smart-goals

  • How many New Year’s resolutions fall to the wayside by late February if not before?
  • How many sales professional fail attain sales goals?
  • How many executive fail to achieve their revenue, market share or profitability goals?

Yes, SMART goals no longer work for these 3 reasons.

W = Written

My sense is this action has always been presumed.  From my experience, very few people actually write their goals down.  Their goals are in their head or on some list somewhere.

If you disagree, then just consider what happens when you fail to bring your written grocery list with you.  The end result is you buy more, buy what you don’t need, spend more,waste more time and are emotionally upset upon returning home.

A = Actionable

At the heart of all goals is action. When goals are written using action verbs, this helps to gain greater clarity and focus on what needs to be done.

Y = Yours

People still set goals for other people from parents to sales managers. Behavior research overwhelming suggests that intrinsic motivation is far more powerful that extrinsic.

When others set the goals, this actually demotivates people because there is no internal buy-in. Since human beings are naturally goal setting creatures, providing a way for the goals to be created by each individual works with internal, intrinsic motivational drivers.

Yes SMART goals are no longer smart as we look to the results.  By adding these 3 criteria to your goal achievement, may help provided you also take this other action that will be revealed in tomorrow’s blog.

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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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How Do You Define a Real Salesperson?

Isn’t interesting there are so many books on selling to sales consultants more than willing to define what it means to be a real salesperson?  Possibly all these different definitions can explain the numerous selling styles such as:

real-salesperson

  • Consultative selling
  • Question based selling
  • Relationship selling
  • Socratic selling
  • SPIN selling

The reason I bring this question forward is because so many are quick to say being this way is what makes for a real salesperson or a real executive coach, a real consultant, a real … (fill in the blank). Real becomes a way to dismiss anyone who does not share the exact same characteristics, education,  experiences or training.

What I know to be true is to be a real salesperson is unique to each individual.  There may be some common data points from talents, decision making style, motivators to behaviors. Yet, the ability to be successful in sales returns back to how Zig Ziglar defined sales.  Ziglar said “sales is the transference of feelings.”

Anyone can transfer feelings. Some are able to do it better than others.  Of course outside of empathy, this ability to sell is different for each individual again because humans are unique.

When we as salespeople attempt to adopt this type of selling versus that type of selling we have the potential of losing what makes us unique. We fail to leverage our own unique strengths (talents). Worse yet we become unauthentic because being this way or that way is not natural to us.

Authenticity builds trust. 

Being unauthentic builds distrust.

Currently I am working with a client who has a salesperson with “natural instincts” that have not been corrupted by adopting this selling style over that one.  She has had no “sales training” and yet instinctively she knows what to do.

Her strength is recognizing that sales is the transference of feelings and she has good empathy. She is focused on getting results and is driven to achieve.

As we work together, she is learning about more about sales especially understanding how to forecast sales and leverage business to business networking events.  The last thing I want to do is to force her to be this type of salesperson or that type.

Is she a real salesperson?  Absolutely. Would she be hired by a large firm for sales? Probably not because she would not fit how they define an real salesperson.

As in any other aspect of life, when we attempt to define what is real we lose sight of the potential that exists within others. Now if we what to learn how to define top sales performers (those who earn or have the potential to earn $100,000 or more) , that is another question and can be learned by taking this talent assessment to learn if you have the one shared data point.

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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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Business Growth Is More Than the Number of Pickles

How many pickles does a Whopper have?  According to a presentation I heard this week, the answer is exactly four.   However Burger King did not significant experience business growth because each Whopper had exactly four pickles.

business-growthBurger King grew because of its brand “have it you way.” This brand was a promise to its customers they could have the Whopper and any other hamburger, the way the customers wanted it.

So often when mid-size to small businesses look for business growth, they tend to focus on the minutiae and fail to realize why their customers buy from them. Customers buy because of your brand.  In many instances, that brand is probably not the brand envisioned by the small business owners.

Brand is simple yet illusive.  As Gus Olympidis CEO and Founder of Family Express recently shared, “brand is not your logo, … not something tangible.” 

“No, your brand is your promise.”

Olympidis should know as his Midwest convenience stores focus on finding people to demonstrate its brand every time a customer enters a store. On each door is this signage “Our Family Serving Yours.” For every person who applies for a position at Family Express, only one is hired.

For those mid-size to small businesses seeking business growth, consider rethinking what your brand really is.  As Burger King and Family Express realized, your brand is what you deliver to your customers.  This is why strategic plans begin with a base strategy to help solidify brand through a competitive advantage of:

  • Commodity Driven Focus
  • Technology Driven Focus
  • Quality Driven Focus
  • Service Driven Focus
  • Customer Driven Focus

Today your challenge the status quo and change it is to rethink what your brand really is.  Look beyond your probably expensive logo or positioning statement.  Think about what promises you make to your customers or clients.  Then think what promises you keep to your customers or clients.

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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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