Posts Tagged ‘talent management consulting’

Got Discipline To Market Your SMB?

Remember the Got Milk campaign?  Possibly it may make sense to adopt your own Got Discipline campaign as you market your SMB.

SMBOne of the most frequent complaints I hear from SMB owners and salespeople is “I don’t have time to market my business.”  This complaint reflects a simple lack of discipline. And is 100% false as most people admit to wasting 12 minutes a day or 1 hour a week.  Time is not the issue but rather self management through better discipline is.

This week I will be attending a monthly B2B networking event, traveling with another colleague who invited me to a business breakfast; meeting another colleague for breakfast and then working and meeting with several clients.  Additionally I have 5 incoming phone calls scheduled and a lunch tentatively scheduled with a client. Since I will be out of town later in the month for 7-10 days, I must honor my writing commitments to the Post Tribune/Chicago Tribune, Worldwide Coaching Magazine as well as to this blog.

Yes marketing a SMB feels like a 24/7 job.  Checking email to ensure sales leads receive a quick response to reviewing comments and shares on LinkedIn Pulse postings all take time.  A schedule is definitely required along with daily to do list.

For SMBs marketing is difficult.  Wearing all the hats including, sales, operations and actually being the delivery person takes incredible stamina and energy.  Yet, no one said being a SMB owner or independent sales professional was easy.

This is why each morning I have the discipline to monitor the previous 24 hours of marketing actions, to handle all emails, to attend to any pressing operational issues before I start making phone calls or meetings.  Additionally, by having a process for researching sales referrals as well as other sales activities helps to reinforce my own internal discipline.

WAY SMART goals also support me in ensuring I maintain the discipline necessary to keep moving ahead of the flow. Without a marketing plan and my WAY SMART goals I sincerely doubt if I could have maintained the discipline necessary for marketing my executive coaching and talent management consulting practice.

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The Truth Barrier in Sales

“You can’t handle the truth” is a well known line quoted from the movie A Few Good Men.  In sales sometimes the truth is a very real barrier and may become a sales objection.

Yesterday after the conclusion of a podcast recording (to be aired 7/23/14)  for Small Business Talent, the moderator, Stephen Lahey and I started a conversation that eventually led to Stephen making an observation about “there is a small market for the truth.”

Stephen’s comment reminded me about an encounter I had with an experienced instructional designer when I was an active and yet still novice instructional designer.  I was listening to a seasoned instructional designer talk about a project and how he was giving the client what the client wanted, but knowing the client needed something else. I found his statement somewhat perplexing and asked him to provide some greater clarity.  His response was “The client paid more for what they wanted even though the truth cost a lot less.  The client did not want the truth and who am I to say otherwise?”

How often do small business owners and sales professionals because of the desire for the quick fix, desperation to make sales goals or the inability to handle the truth, side step or worse yet walk away from the truth?

In the professional service industry of  executive coaching, business coaching or talent management consulting and probably most other industries, ignoring the truth in the short term might be beneficial, but in the long term has disaster written all over it. Yet those basic human desires overrule common sense and even good business ethics.

Being honest and truthful does have consequences and sometimes those consequences have a negative impact on business growth. Yet the positive side of being truthful is those ideal customers will get your message and the overall ability to sell them will be far easier because they bought you first for your truthfulness.

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Why Not _____ Leadership?

Anymore leadership has become more about fill in the blank than actually focusing on the essence of what it means to be a leader.  By putting a noun or adjective in front of leadership serves for the most case the reason to sell another book or charge thousands of dollars for a speaking gig.

leadershipWhen we trace to the origins of the word leadership, we must begin with the word “lead.”  This word is from an Old English verb and akin to an Old High German verb meaning “to go.” Then the first definition from my Webster’s Seventh Collegiate Dictionary is “to guide on a way especially by going in advance” and “to direct on a course or in a direction.”

Looking at the lead as a noun it is “the position in front: vanguard” and “initiative.”

So being a leader is about going or guiding while being in front and having initiative.

Pretty simple.

Years ago when reading the book Fail-Safe Leadership: Straight Talk About Correcting the Leadership Challenges in Your Organization, I read Peter Drucker’s definition:

“Leadership is all about results.”

Later in his professional career, Drucker expanded his definition to:

“Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, raising a person’s performance to a higher standard and the building of a person’s personality beyond its normal limits.”

What would happen if we as leaders focused on the essence of leading as simply defined by Drucker?  Would we secure better results and more importantly consistent results?

For me in working with executive coaching and talent management consulting clients, I share that leadership is all about results using clearly articulated positive core values. The purpose  is exactly what Drucker defined in his second definition.

Do we really need agile, servant, authentic, social, fill in the blank?

The other missing piece with fill in the blank is the lack of focus on results.

We know this because execution is still the number one challenge for leaders.

We see this lack of focus in today’s world.  From the well publicized news events such as the VA scandal here in the US to challenges within both for profit and not for profit organizations, results continue to suffer.

Excuses are made.

Fingers are pointed.

Blame is given to everyone else but those in front, those who have been elected or promoted as leaders.

Now is the time to return to the simplicity, the essence and purpose of leadership and forget all the adjectives.

After all, for most of us, we know good leaders when we see them because we can see the results.


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Marketing Is Brand Sustainability

When people hear the word sustainability, they tend to think of  “green” or environmental projects.  Rarely do these folks think about marketing. Sustainability is about enduring, keeping up, without having to take additional actions.

sustainabilityNo where is there more sustainability in any business than in its brand. Possibly this is why there continues to be so much discussion about small businesses and their brands to the actual actions of branding.

Imagine how much time is spent on determining a logo for a company.


Because those logos transcend time and over decades are immediately associated with their companies. From the McDonald’s Golden Arches to Apple, each of these logos are the embodiment the entire organization. They ride the tides of time through the high and lows waves, the rough and calm seas.

Of course it takes money to keep any brand in front of the market. And for years, only the larger firms had the resources to promote their brand and leverage that sustainability.

However, the tide has changed and small businesses have a more equal footing because they can employ social media to market their brands, to keep their names out within their own market place. Then throw in automation tools such as HootSuite and even the smallest of the small companies can have a much stronger market presence and now have far more sustainability than ever before.

A sustainable brand goes beyond visual recognition.  There are emotional feelings behind those graphics and letters.

When you see a specific brand, hear the name of a specific company or even a person, certain unconscious feelings suddenly become conscious. Now these may be positive or negative depending upon your personal experiences or your current beliefs.

For example, Steve Jobs invested incredible time in Apple’s brand. From what I have read, he was extremely focused on the packaging of Apple products.  He understood the Apple brand meant simplicity to its customers yet with a contemporary sleekness that would continue to transcend time.

Ford has returned to its brand roots of vehicles for all hard working Americans with the adding of Mike Rowe as its spokesperson.  The American audience believes Mike Rowe understands hard work from his Dirty Job series and associates hard work through Rowe to Ford is almost as they say a “no brainer.”

My own logo is not as well as known as my name, Leanne Hoagland-Smith.  That is Okay because for me, my logo reaffirms my commitment to my clients and why I do what I do.

The AS stands for the name of my executive coaching and talent management consulting firm ADVANCED SYSTEMS. For me those two words represent human beings who are the most advanced systems in my world.  As to the graphic in the middle between the letters, this is the individual person who is always moving, always in a state of change (through the three arcs) and sometimes not understanding that change (the variation in the gray color in the circle representing the head).

Possibly now is the time to think about the brand for your company and how you can further your marketing through specific sustainable actions. Remember, in today’s world, you are no longer as limited because so much of your actions will only cost you some time and will not cost you any dollars.

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Can You Answer the One Question Being Thought By Small Businesses?

Each day small businesses are thinking this question both consciously and more often than not subconsciously:

small businesses

Do I know you?

This question surfaces with every ring of the unfamiliar phone number on the ID screen to each unsolicited email to every piece of snail mail.

Lately for my own small business sales research I have been responding to these unsolicited marketing and sales messages with  this question:

Do I know you?

The answers are unbelievable from the mundane “You signed up for this” to almost righteous indignation for me to even dare to ask this question.

In many instances, this question revealed the following about the small businesses:

  • Cluelessness about me
  • Cluelessness about how the contact information was received
  • Cluelessness about my executive coaching and talent management consulting small business
  • Cluelessness about permission based marketing and double opt in feature for email marketing

The “Do I know you?” question is a great way to place an obstacle in front of the unsuspecting salesperson.

Also this question acts as a filter to discover those unethical companies that will not admit to spamming or buying lists.

If sales is the “transference of feelings” (Zig Siglar), then those who reach out should be looking to establish the most positive feelings from the very first contact. Given the marketing bombardment by small businesses seeking other small businesses to larger businesses in their efforts to increase sales, if the first contact is creating negative feelings including this question of “Do I know you?” then maybe it may make sense to rethink your overall marketing and sales strategies.

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

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