Posts Tagged ‘Theory of Self Determination’

Isn’t It Time to Stop the Must Have Leadership or Sales Skill?

Is it just me or are you as tired as I am about all the postings about having this must have leadership or sales skill?  Do this or learn that and “wala” you will be a top sales performer or authentic leader.

Please give me a break!

This desire to find the magic number one skill, trait, quality, call it what you will, regardless of role is complete and total hogwash. Fact – There is no number one top sales skill.  Those seeking the “must have” are really seeking the quick fix to cure what ails them.

Many sales coaches, marketing experts or leadership consultants who write about this or that being the must have or top sales skill recognize the never ending desire for the quick fix.  They are meeting a need, but their solutions are potentially unrealistic for their clients.

Human Beings Are Unique

When we look to find the must have sales skill or leadership skill, we are forgetting this basic premise about human beings.  We are all unique.  We have different experiences.

From those different experiences, our brains are wired differently.  We may be intrinsically motivated by Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose as it relates to people (Theory of Self-Determination).  However, how those motivators are connected to each other is unique based upon his or her own life experiences. This uniqueness can be further identified through the work of Dr. Spranger and Allport.

Take Advantage of this Labor Day Special Opportunity (until 9/5/2017) to

Learn What Motivates You as well as Know Your Talents and Behaviors

If there truly existed a must have sales skill or leadership skill, doesn’t it make sense that everyone who have this skill would be able to increase sales?  So why do so many sales professionals still fail to meet annual sales goals? Why do we keep reading about a new must have sales skill?

Human beings are unique and complex. Our brains co-exist with our minds where all our experiences reside. Add in our emotions and we realize there is not just one “must have” sales skill.

If you disagree, then take this free 170904-Short-Sales-Self-Assessment and identify the one must have top sales skill. Then have another salesperson take the same assessment. Do you both share the same top sales skill?

May you enjoy a most prosperous and enjoyable Labor Day.

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Sales Numbers Matter, But Never More than People

Today there is incredible emphasis on sales numbers.  CRMs churn millions of bits of data each day for sales managers to pour over with the hope to discover what is missing in their goal to increase sales.

A past article published by Harvard Business Review entitled “Know Your Customers Jobs to be Done,” examined the gap between data gathering and improved business results.  What created this gap was this two-fold simple question:

  • Why did the customer buy from you or your organization?
  • Did the customer gain progress in working toward his or her goal?

People buy from people they know and trust because they are seeking forward progress, seeking to achieve a goal or goals. This seeking is determined by a variety of factors both external (driven by others) and internal (driven by the buying individual).

What is interesting to note in this article is the indirect reference to purpose.  When people put purpose behind data collection and data analysis (number crunching), they lose sight of the “why” people buy. Believe it or not there is a direct correlation between one’s purpose and why people buy from that person or organization.

For example, my purpose is to be a trailblazer.  This purpose attracts forward thinking people who are experiencing repetitive problems as they blaze their own trails.  My ideal customer profile is geared toward these individuals yet many of my clients do not meet this ideal profile.  And that is Okay.

Personally I believe in sales numbers.  If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

However sales numbers should never take a front seat to why you do what you do.  You do what you do because purpose as it relates to people is one of our three primary motivational drivers (Theory of Self Determination)  as noted by Deci and Ryan in their research.

Remember people buy from people they know and trust.  When you remember that sales axiom, you will be ahead of the business and sales flow.

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Self Leadership Is Required in Sales

In business there has always been a lot of attention directed to leadership.  Yet far lesser attention to this idea of self leadership.  As has been noted earlier, many presume people know how to lead themselves through earlier educational experiences.  However, research shows self leadership which falls into that bucket of people or soft skills is sorely lacking.

self-leadershipPeter Drucker said leadership is all about results.

Self leadership is about the individual getting results.

To secure the desired results begins with these two mindsets:

  • Continuous improvement
  • Motivation

Continuous improvement is a mindset where one is always challenging the status quo; looking toward the future and making changes if and when necessary. Sometimes the status quo is working and to make a change for the sake of making a change is simply ridiculous.

Motivation is also a mindset because the mind is what controls all behavior.  Using the Theory of Self Determination allows individuals to identify what is limiting their motivation:

  • Mastery
  • Autonomy
  • Purpose (as it relates to people)

In some sales training or business leadership programs, self leadership is included as a subset of sales skills or even talent development. Again there is a presumption people have the capacity and consistently demonstrate this capacity.

If this was true,

  • why do 44% of salespeople give up after making one call? (Source: Scripted)
  • why do the average salespeople make only two attempts to contact a sales lead or prospect? (Source: Sirius Decisions)

Continuous improvement and motivation are essential in securing results and working with the other aspects within the 5 Star Sales Leadership Model. Top sales performers do not rely on the business in providing the incentive for ongoing learning or motivation through recognition or rewards.

In today’s world with so many solo entrepreneurs as well as businesses with under 20 employees, business leadership and sales leadership are partners. These two roles must work together to achieve sustainable business growth.

Until 2/28/2017, learn what motivates you as well as how your behave and what is driving your decision making process through this special opportunity.


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Are These Words Hurting Your Sales Conversations?

Words are powerful. Words can make a break a sale. So what words are hurting your sales conversations?



One of the most damaging words is “need.”  This word implies judgement and suggests potential incompetence on the part of the sales lead.  What is even worse most sales training focuses on “needs” and “wants” and reinforces this word within the salesperson.

Sales Coaching Tip: The word “need” fails to be emotionally intelligent.

Then how about the word “think?” Here is another word within most sales conversations that also may be viewed as emotionally unintelligent because it implies judgment.  The salesperson who uses this word may also be viewed as too egotistical as the sales prospect may be saying to himself “Who is this person telling me what to think?”

Now we come to the word “you.”  Again another word that can imply judgement.  These three words, “in your opinion” can be substituted.

“Should” can also be added to the list of words to remove from one’s sales conversations.  Most of us probably remember our parents telling us “you should” do this or do that.  Even back then we had an emotional reaction because it removed our ability to make a choice as discussed within the Theory of Self-Determination.

There are other words that may not be judgmental, but are so overused people are impervious to them.  How many times in the B2B or B2C marketplace we hear this word “help?”  “We help people, blah, blah, blah.” Everybody is helping everybody.  Really? With all the words in the English language, another word cannot be found?

Sales Coaching Tip:  Help is how you do what you do; not what you do.

Then there is this word, “challenge.”  Within the sales process during the fact finding meeting, salespeople are encouraged to discover the challenges being faced by sales lead.  In some instances, this word may create some negative feedback because of overuse or the salesperson sounds like all the other salespeople.

Download this 7-Step-Sales-Process-ADVSYS PDF to better understand the overall sales process.

One word, a slip of the tongue so to speak, can potentially doom any blossoming relationship. This is way integrating the most emotionally engaging words in all sales conversations is essential for sales success.

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Why SMART Goals Are No Longer Enough

SMART goals have been with SMB sales professionals and owners for over 50 years.  Yet how many executive leaders and salespeople consistently fail to achieve both professional and personal goals?

smart-goalsAs SMB has evolved, now is the time for SMART goals to evolve as well.  In the past, the SMART acronym was:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistically set high
  • Target date, time driven

Lee Iaccoca is quoted as saying:

“The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.”


Other research supports the act of committing something to writing increases the odds that it will be achieved.  Did you know the earliest empirical study of goal achievement and writing goals was undertaken in 1935?


Research by Gail Matthews at Dominican University has proven strategies for effective goal achievement must be actionable. This goes beyond writing goals down. There must be action steps, the sharing of goals and some personal accountability process for goal achievement.


Remember as a child when your parents wanted to demanded you achieve certain things like good grades, good discipline to even keeping your room clean?  Do you also remember feeling a little to a lot of resentment? Having those feelings was quite natural.

When we embrace the Theory of Self Determination as developed by Deci and Ryan, we understand this intrinsic motivation of choice.  When we have choice through autonomy, we are more likely to own the decision we are making.

Choice in goal setting is about truly owning the goal as our own. 


Within the pre-existing SMART, the A stood for achievable.  Today we know that when we align our actions to our purpose, our plan and our passion, achievement is far easier.

By adding WAY before SMART goals and replacing Aligned to Achievable, we now have a goal setting and goal achievement criteria that has evolved with current research and works with intrinsic motivation.  WAY SMART goals reflect what was possibly implied in the past, but never clearly articulated.

P.S. If your current goal setting worksheet is not working, consider this goal sheet that embraces the WAY SMART criteria plus digs a little deeper into committing that goal to writing.


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Freedom Is Intrinsic to Our Motivation

Have you ever considered freedom to be intrinsic to motivation? Many times we think of freedom in different terms such as the freedom to walk the streets, the freedom of free speech, etc.

motivationYet if one understands the Theory of Self-Determination, freedom is the authenticity to be one’s self while being responsible to ourselves and others within our community. Choice is infused within freedom.

We chose our behaviors. When we ignore others in the quest to assert our own freedom, we are no longer making responsible choices. We truly are not free.

Autonomy is the ability to make choices.  This intrinsic motivational driver is usually the most difficult one to engage because others make choices for us.  In some instances, this is necessary as with a young child.

When we understand how choices are essential to motivation, parents, managers and even individuals can further expand human potential and consequently performance.

If  you want to learn more about The Theory of Self Determination, this book, Why We Do What We Do, by Edward L. Deci, s a great read and a must read for those in any position of authority including:

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Team Leaders
  • Supervisors
  • Managers
  • Executives
  • Vice Presidents
  • Presidents
  • SMB Owners
  • Sales Professionals
  • Board Members

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth. Call her at 219.508.2859 Chicago USA time.

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Giving Directions Is Value Articulation in Action

Value articulation is, according to decision makers, is essential within the sales conversation.  In speaking with a colleague, I was attempting to explain this concept when I suddenly realized how giving directions was a great example.



When someone asks for directions, they have a need and they are the decision maker.  How you respond to this request will demonstrate your knowledge (mastery) and your purpose (relating to others).  Additionally depending upon how you frame your response you may be providing choices for the other person.

Sales Coaching Tip: Understanding the Theory of Self Determination can be extremely powerful within any sales conversation.

When you give directions with extreme clarity, conciseness and simplicity, you are articulating the value within your solution, your answer, specific to this need.  Then you can also further connect with the other value drivers of the individual by sharing a shortcut, how to avoid tolls or excessive traffic. You can also provide recognizable landmarks as well as any other information.

Value articulation can be quite simple but not necessarily easy.  You as the salesperson must sometimes go with your intuition, your gut brain.  By picking up on body language, verbal syntax, actual spoken words, there is an opportunity to further identify what is important to your sales lead, hopefully your ideal customer.

For it is what is important to your sales lead that matters not what other past customers said or why they bought. This is why value creation is not possible because you don’t know initially what is driving the desire to solve a particular problem.  You may not even know what the real problem is.  In many instances, the experienced problem is a symptom.

Your goal is to successfully connect to the sales lead within your sales conversation. Value articulation is your connection bridge, your ability to give directions and ultimately your path to increase sales.

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip 06 – Cold Calling Etiquette

With caller ID, many SMB people are reluctant to answer their phones. For me, if I want sustainable sales success, I answer all calls. What I have noticed is many who engage in cold calling have failed this important aspect – etiquette.

sales-successCold calling interrupts the sales leads from doing what they are doing.  For me in many instances, it is working on the back end of executive coaching clients’ engagements, doing administrative work or engaging in content article marketing such as this blog or LinkedIn Pulse.

Yesterday I received a call from a number I did not recognize.  I answered it and there was this momentary delay which suggested it was one of those prerecorded robotic messages or a real salesperson dialing for dollars. In this instance, it was the later.

However I was not 100% sure because of technology, so I waited the few seconds for the voice to come onto the line.  The real salesperson introduced himself and his company, yep cold calling for dollars, and attempted to identify me as a qualified sales lead with the question: “Are you the owner of the home?”

His first mistake was he failed to ask this question: “Do you have a moment to speak?”  By giving me a choice and recognizing I may have been engaged in another activity, is the polite action to take.

Sales Coaching Tip:  The Theory of Self Determination recognizes autonomy as one of the three elements of intrinsic motivation common to all people.  Autonomy is the most important element. By giving people a choice, the salesperson is working with the intrinsic motivation instead of working against it.

I then politely told him he failed to ask this question and had he asked this question I might have listened to the rest of his sales pitch (sales script).

In cold calling, remember to always be polite.  Ask if this is a good time to speak. Respect the potential buyer from the first moment of contact for it is always about the buyer and not you as the seller.

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Remember This to Unlock Sales Motivation

In response to this LinkedIn Pulse article, 7 Top Tips to Hire & Keep Rock Star Salespeople, a SMB owner shared his own frustration in hiring and keeping commissioned salespeople.  In his efforts to improve the sales motivation of his salespeople, he bought books, made recommendations for sales seminars and only one salesperson made any significant sales revenue growth.

sales-motivationMy response to him was two fold:

Use of Psychometric Assessments Unlock Sales Motivation

The use of psychometric assessments help to weed out truly motivated salespeople from those not so motivated. Possibly the first assessment to use is the Values Index followed up by the Attribute Index.

Understanding the Theory of Self Determination

Sales motivation like all motivation must come from within each salesperson.  Psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan in their work discovered all humans beings share the same three basic intrinsic motivators. By knowing these motivators, SMB owners, sales managers and salespeople can take actions to ensure their own actions are not creating sales motivation barriers.

One of the biggest fallacies respective to motivation is outside encouragement.  As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Your goal is to understand how to either make the horse thirsty or understand when the horse is thirsty.

External motivators have been shown time and time again not to be effective or sustainable. Now if the person values financial reward; has the talents to achieve financial reward and you as the SMB owner or sales manager do not place obstacles in front of that person, you have probably increased the chances for sales success.

Yes, you can increase sales by investing time on the front end to identify those people who are internally motivated to increase sales. Yes it may be difficult and frustrating, but it can be achieved with the use of the right tools and understanding of human motivation.


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Sales Continues to Be the Want To More than the Know To

How many times for those in sales have they been instructed, trained or directed to find the wants and needs? A recent LinkedIn Pulse posting by a colleague, Nancy Nardin, entitled “Why the CRM Industry is Ripe for Dispurtion” hit the “want” nail on the head with this one quote:


Several years after I started my SMB sales culture development and sales coaching practice, I was fortunate to listen to another colleague, David Herdlinger, who developed the K.A.S.H. Box. With his permission, I expanded his idea to The K.A.S.H. Box for Sustainable Change. (See graphic below)

salesAs I shared this concept with my very forward thinking, engineer husband, he made this comment:

It is not question “Do I know it?”, but always a question of “Do I want to do it?”

How many of us know what we need to do?

Salespeople know they probably should use CRM, but do not use CRM because they do not want to.

Salespeople know they must increase sales leads by prospecting, but they do not want to.

Most people know they should eat healthy, but do not eat healthy because they do not want to.

Most people know they should exercise, but do not exercise because they do not want to.

Most SMB people know they should take different actions, but do not take those actions because they do not want to.

I could continue this “know to, want to” list, but you get the drift.

salesMy wise husband also said “If I want to, I will find a way to know what I need to know.” The want to is the impetus for taking action, for execution.  This is why knowledge is not power, but applied knowledge is where true power resides. The application of knowledge is all about the “want to” not the “know to.”

The want to is 100% about your attitude (beliefs). When you have a positive, forward thinking “want to” attitude, you will increase sales because you have incorporated the strongest of the three intrinsic motivators, Autonomy, from the Theory of Self Determination:

  • Mastery
  • Autonomy (Choice)
  • Purpose/Relatedness

Want to schedule a time to talk with Leanne?


Leanne Hoagland-Smith is Trusted Authority for Forward Thinking sales culture. She works to close the knowing doing gaps that restrict sustainable business growth.

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