“Be The Red Jacket” to Be the Best Salesperson

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be the red jacketEvery year golf enthusiasts fix their gaze onto their televisions (or these days, online) for The Masters tournament.  Each year they watch another professional golfer receive the coveted Green Jacket in the heart of August, Georgia.  When you think “green jacket,” sports insiders know it refers to the Masters and the Augusta National Golf Club.

When it comes to business, that kind of identity, though with a different hue, can mean success.  At least that’s what it means to Leanne Hoagland-Smith (@coachlee), author of “be The Red Jacket in a sea of grey suits.

Leanne is no stranger to many businesses, particularly in northwest Indiana and Chicago.  She is owner of Advanced Systems, a business strategy consultancy, and hosts a friendly business group, the South Shore Business Club, from the Purdue Technical Center.  An accomplished networker, she is a stand out sales expert – listed by Openview Labs as among the 2013 Top Sales Influencers.

I met Leanne at a networking event a few months ago. When I learned about her sales book, I thought her terrific manner would potentially translate to text.

An Overview of How Sales Really Gets Done

And translate it did.  Terrific is definitely an apt description for how this book unlocks the small personality and psychological blocks that hinder execution.  Hoagland-Smith opens with how you can be your own worst obstacle for gaining sales:

Being in sales is an ongoing, formidable task. This role probably demands more developed and consistent self-leadership skills than any other job or position.  No matter who you are, your beliefs (attitudes) are driving all of your actions (and) creating your results.

Her recommendations to get past the emotional sales roadblocks can easily translate into how you establish your sales practices. Take this example of setting a value statement:

If you truly love to sell, then your ethics about selling should reflect that desire. What I have discovered is that many in sales do not have a written core ethics or Value Statement. Even if the company has one, all professional salespeople should have their own.

One nice aspect of the writing is that the imagery of the jacket and what it represents supports the presented ideas.  Check out how Hoagland-Smith explains how the aforementioned value comment fits into one’s sales objectives:

For most garments, a loose thread indicates a weakness somewhere in the seams to a small hole. Ethics and values are the threads that bind the seams together to keep the jacket in one piece…When the threads are strong, the jacket is strong. Conversely, when your values are strong, your sales will also be strong.

The chapters include examples from Hoagland-Smith’s experience – the CSI-style role-playing she does with her clients is a must-review. They also include “Sales Coaching Tips,” concise details that are smart but do not require heavy theory to appreciate their value.

What Does This Book Compare To?

Selling In a Skirt is a comparable book with respect to brevity. But Jacket has meatier details than lengthier sales books such as How To Sell When No One Is Buying.  The material will appeal to beginning salespersons as well as those who are beyond their freshman year of sales school, so to speak.

Interview with Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Jacket has been available for a while, so I asked Leanne for her latest reflections on the sales professional field:

Q: You mentioned how striking a balance between a personal and professional life increases sales. From your view since the book’s publication, what has been surprising as sales professionals seek to gain a life-work balance?

A: What is surprising is this still remains true. Clients come to me to increase sales and yet they find that path begins with clarity around their own personal lives. In some cases, there is also required clarity around their leadership and overall business growth. However, to achieve business growth or professional growth starts inside of each individual because success and failure both start and end in the same place – between one’s ears.

Q: In the book you mention how your coach David Herdlinger introduced you to the concept of weasel words – weak words in which their usage gives us “permission to fail.” As sales cycles increasingly include digital marketing, with its demand for transparent, to-the-point content, have sales professionals become better at removing weasel language?

A: My sense is by developing emotional intelligence and being very intentional, one’s clarity respective to one’s role awareness including talents is a great place to start. What I know to be true is that well over 95% of my clients initially lack clarity about their top 3 talents and almost that same percentage knew their lowest 3 talents.

Q: You mentioned that a red jacket must have separate pockets for marketing, sales and productivity. Do you think that the adoption of smart devices has confused some sales professionals in using them effectively for each “pocket?”

A: I believe there is confusion and this confusion starts with the belief that technology is the cure all for marketing and sales. People still buy from people. It is essential to pick up the phone, to physically meet people face to face when possible.  Technology can have us confusing motion with progress and activity with results.


Because so many sales books are released, many salespeople find themselves confused by what to read and what to put aside. My two cents is to not put this book aside. Be The Red Jacket in a Sea of Grey Suits offers simplicity in strengthening one’s sales technique.

You will better clarify who you are in your industry and how you can make a difference with your customers.

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Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.

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