Dominate the Conversation in Your Industry

Jeff Cochran


As a professional who has spent many years in your industry, you have the expertise to spot trends and potential problems. But how do you get your voice heard? By positioning yourself to sway the conversation in your industry, you can be a force of change and create credibility that increases sales as well. Follow the three steps below to become an influencer in your industry.

Focus on Your Niche

Unless you are Leonardo da Vinci, it is likely that your expertise is strongest in a particular niche. To be the authority on a subject, you need to devote your focus to one area that you are highly knowledgeable about. This means committing to staying current in your area of expertise as well as having the knowledge and foresight to analyze trends and anticipate where things are heading in the future. Broaden that niche too much, and you lose the ability to speak authoritatively on a subject in a way that makes your voice one that is listened to.

Make Time for Social Media

You probably are not going to be asked to be an expert panelist on CNN today. On social media, however, you already have an audience. For those serious about becoming an influencer in their area of expertise, social media isn’t a nuisance or waste of time. On the contrary, it is one of the first channels available to get your voice heard. Regularly plan time for creating concise and well-written statements for social media that highlight your expertise on a subject. This might involve a short daily block of time when you create a single post or two or a longer block on one day of the week where you create several posts that you schedule to release over the course of a week.

Book Seminars

As you begin to gain attention for your area of expertise, it pays to move beyond the screen to speaking to people face to face. Booking a seminar to educate people in your chosen field of interest can set you apart as someone worth listening to. Make time to attend seminars as well. This provides you with opportunities to network with others interested in your area of expertise as well as providing an opportunity to learn from others in your field.

Let your passion for your niche shine through and be a force of change for good. The benefits will not only be reflected in sales, but also in helping shape the future of your industry.

5 Recommendations For an Effective Leadership Training Program

Jeff Cochran


People throw the phrase “natural-born leader” around all the time these days. While some people may seem to have an innate talent for leadership, most of the time, leadership is learned through hard work and dedication.

Often, company leaders are employees who have risen up the ranks, getting promoted for great job performance. While good work should, of course, be rewarded, this can lead to managers and executives who are excellent engineers or salesmen, but who have very little ability as a leader. To counteract this problem, many organizations choose to implement extensive leadership training programs.

But what is it that makes an effective leadership training program? While our training is often a great fit for leaders and included within a leadership curriculum, we do not offer leadership training. As a result, here are a few objective thoughts on what separates the best leadership training from the rest:

1. Tailor the course to fit the situation.

When it comes to executive education, there is no such thing as “one size fits all.” Even  the core concepts that are usually covered are made relevant in a different way based on the audience. Simply put, training must be customized to suit your specific participants’ and organization’s needs. What specific goals does your organization have? What problems will you face that other organizations may not have to worry about? Putting in the work to understand your organization’s needs as you build your management training programs is a worthwhile exercise in itself and certainly makes the training more effective.

2. Prioritize listening over talking.

Whether you’re heading up a single project, leading a small team, or directing an entire company, the ability to listen will be one of the greatest skills you can develop. Great leaders are able to engage with their team members on a deeper level by listening to what they’re saying and acting accordingly. When those leaders are able to truly listen, they show their team members that the solution is about more than just looking good—it’s about real collaboration and finding a lasting solution. In our negotiation training courses, we emphasize listening to the other party to determine their interests, a skill that absolutely extends extends to leadership training. By listening to your team more than talking, you can gather additional insights, both into the situations at hand and into your team members themselves. Leading a team effectively involves having all the information, and paying careful attention to what your team is saying is one of the best ways to make that happen.

3. Emphasize accountability.

In terms of leadership training programs, accountability means two things. First, it means that you should hold your employees accountable for participating in the leadership training course. Your course should encourage your employees to constantly work on improving themselves. But accountability goes beyond just showing up at the class. Accountability also means that, while leaders delegate tasks, the responsibility is never delegated. A good leader holds himself or herself responsible for the results their team brings in, regardless of the outcome.

4. Don’t let it get bogged down with fluff.

What do we mean by fluff? Essentially, we’re talking about all of the abstract, unfocused techniques that commonly show up in so many training programs. While it’s important for your leaders to be motivated, those “motivational” technique can only get them so far. It may feel good in the moment, but real-world practical skills are what will lead to consistent, reliable leaders at your organization. What’s the best practice? Rather than standing up on stage reciting platitudes, present tools and demonstrate their potential impact on relevant situations that your leaders will face.

5. Reinforcement

Leadership training, like any other soft skill training, should go beyond individual events. Your company’s leaders are some of its most valuable resources, so it would be prudent to invest in them and make their training and development an ongoing process. Follow up on a regular basis after the initial training to refresh what they have learned, reinforce important lessons, and layer on more advanced material.

What Science Can Teach You About Sales

Andres Lares


Selling has traditionally been an area that is conducted based on the instincts of the best salespeople. Not surprisingly, in an era of big data and the ability to analyze techniques on a massive scale, we can learn a lot about what makes those instincts right or wrong. Science can provide some important insights on what makes sales.


Offering Multiple Options

Research has shown that offering a single product for sale leads to about a 10% sales rate. However, offering two products to choose from leads to a 66% sales rate of identical items. The psychology of choosing whether to buy one item assigns a higher level of risk to the purchase. However, when two options are presented, the psychology shifts from asking “Should I buy?” to “Which one should I buy?” Take advantage of this fact to increase sales, but don’t go crazy with it! Too many options to choose from leads to decision paralysis that could kill the sale.


Mirroring Body Language

Regardless of that you are selling, your actual product is trust. Trust in the product, but more important, trust in the person selling the product. Mirroring a customer’s body language creates a subconscious rapport that inspires a feeling of trust that goes beyond the customer’s belief in the product you are selling.

A study in 2009 showed those who mirror their partner’s speech and posture were able to reach agreement 67% of the time, while those who did not only succeeded in reaching an agreement 12.5% of the time. Use this to your advantage by subtly mirroring your customer’s gestures and expressions. Again, be careful that you don’t cross the line to mimicry or come off as insincere. The subtle use of mirroring is what builds a sense of trust.


Relentlessly Improve

Stanford University conducted a study that showed those who have a mindset that they can improve their skills through hard work are more likely to be successful. The top performers have a commitment to relentlessly improve their skills, continuing even after they were at the top of their game. Embrace a way of thinking that sees failure as merely feedback guiding you to a better way of approaching a problem and commit to continuously improving your skills to take your success to the next level.

You may not have been born with the gut instincts of a top performer, but with work and insights from science, you can achieve the results of a top salesperson.

Learning to Make an Impact at Work and in Life

Jeff Cochran


Everyone wants to be able to have an impact—to know that the things that they’re doing really matter. There’s a drive to influence our circumstances and the people around us. While the ability to influence others doesn’t come naturally to everyone, however, it’s certainly a skill that can be learned.

At SNI, we offer comprehensive influence training, teaching our clients how to work with and influence others by helping them to understand the people with whom they’re working. Our clients often call these types of courses we offer “impact training” as they are all about how to make an impact on others. The content we cover is more than we can lay out in a single blog post, but we’d like to introduce you to a few of the core elements. To get the full benefit, take a look at our influence training program.


Ancient Strategies Adapted to a Modern Environment

Whether you’re talking about influence training for salespeople or any other of our impact training programs to help in general interactions, it all goes back thousands of years to Aristotle. The ancient philosopher taught about three elements to influence: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos—credibility, emotion, and logic, respectively. What that means is that in order to influence someone, you need to convince them that you know what you’re talking about, then appeal to both their hearts and their minds. Even now, thousands of years later, Aristotle’s philosophies hold true.

Show What You Know

In order to persuade someone of anything, you first must convince them that you’re worth listening to. Essentially, you have to demonstrate your credibility to them. While the heart of this is proving your knowledge of the subject you are discussing—whether that is a product or service you offer or a policy you are hoping to influence—it goes beyond that. You must also convince them that you have a full understanding of the situation from all perspectives, particularly that of the other person. They need to feel that you have their best interest in mind. If you can’t show that you see where they are coming from, it will be difficult to have any effect on them.

In order to build credibility, you need to listen closely to what the other party is saying. If you are working on a sales floor, chances are the other person has come to you with some need they are hoping to fill. Ask them questions to figure out what that need is, then actively address it. To truly demonstrate your understanding, listening is at least as important as talking, so pay attention.

Forging a Connection

Although some people claim to remain detached during any negotiation, there is an emotional component to any negotiation. That’s why one of the core skills you will find as part of any impact training is the ability to forge a connection with someone else. As you demonstrate an understanding of your audience, you can establish common ground and use language that they will respond to. Some words are charged with particular emotions, and as you learn more about your audience, you can use those words to evoke an emotional response.

Quick Tip on Forging Relationships: Next time you have a conversation with someone listen to which sense they tend to use the most – do they say “I heard this…”, “I felt like…”, I keep seeing…”, “I could smell…”, or “I could taste…”? People tend to use one sense more than others, if you mirror (mimic the other side – in this case, focus on that describing an experience with that same sense) you will find that the other party is more receptive, which in turn can help develop a connection.

Walk Them Through the Steps

Once you’ve established your credibility and made a connection with someone, you’ve earned some degree of trust. This means that they are more likely to pay attention to your logical appeal. Careful not to be condescending, you should lay out each point, citing facts, statistics, and other evidence to back up what you are saying. During your logical appeal, don’t embellish with flowery language; simply lay out each point, leading them to your conclusion. End with a specific call to action to give your audience a purpose on which they can act.

Lead—Don’t Push

When you are trying to influence someone, whether to agree to a proposal or to make a purchase, it’s important not to push. The instant someone feels as though you are trying to push them in a specific direction, the natural response is to resist. In the end, even if you’re able to convince them, it will likely leave a sour taste in their mouth, which can cause distrust down the road. Someone once said that the definition of the word “diplomacy” is “the ability to let someone else get your way.” At SNI, that is what we teach, but we do it in a way that focuses on finding solutions that benefit you, while ensuring that others are satisfied in the process.

Business Lessons From Elon Musk

Jeff Cochran


Elon Musk has radically disrupted three major industries. Just a few years ago, his plan for SpaceX to land and reuse rockets was deemed impossible by most experts. Tesla’s mission to start a new American car company focused solely on electric vehicles was considered laughable as well. Musk’s plans to dramatically transform the electric storage industry with his Gigafactory was derided as a dangerously risky scheme. Yet despite his vocal critics, Musk is making waves and effecting change.

The principles outlined below that drive Musk’s success can drive yours as well.

Dare to Attempt a Unique Solution

In every business Elon Musk has been involved with, he has brought a vision of a new way of doing things that transformed the industry. It takes courage to do more than talk about thinking outside the box. It is a lot easier to present a slightly different spin on a tried-and-true sales pitch than to dare to try something unique. Great success often comes from those willing to put in the effort demanded to make such ideas succeed.

Align Your Goals with a Higher Purpose

Elon Musk works more hours in a week than many people work in a month. Tesla and Musk’s home power packs factory are driven by his conviction that we must take drastic action to stop pollution. SpaceX was founded on the belief that we must have a sustained presence on Mars to avoid potential disaster on earth. If meeting your sales goals is just a matter of keeping the manager happy or getting a bigger paycheck, those motivations will rarely push anyone to put in the effort needed to be truly successful. When you find the higher purpose in your life and see your sales goals as a way of achieving that purpose, you will find yourself working harder and succeeding more.

Embrace Your Failures

SpaceX’s first three rocket launches ended in disaster, and Tesla almost failed as setbacks mounted. Yet Elon Musk did not just move on from failure. Rather, he openly embraced it and owned up to it. Owning up to failure is a difficult and humbling process. We often experience the most growth because of what we learn from failure. Embrace your failures and make them a part of your success in the future.

While few people have the drive and ingenuity to succeed to the extent Elon Musk has, by drawing from his approach, anyone can enjoy greater success, meet sales goals, and find new ways to expand their business.

What the Navy SEALs Can Teach You About Leadership and Getting Results

Jeff Cochran


When it comes to high-pressure, time-sensitive missions, there are few people in the world more skilled at delivering results than the Navy SEALs. While the missions the SEALs go on are far different than you will face in the conference room or on the sales floor, the way they go about their business teaches valuable lessons you can apply today.

Meticulous Planning Leads to Success

While the missions the Navy SEALs carry out are undoubtedly dangerous, these soldiers are not thrill junkies who thrive on risk. In fact, the SEALs go into every mission confident of success and with reasonable certainty that everyone on their team will come back alive and well. This is accomplished through meticulously planning every aspect of the mission.

Planning your sales campaign should be just as thorough as the SEALs’ planning of their missions. What will you do if your original pitch doesn’t succeed? Plan and plan some more, and your odds of success rise dramatically.

Empower Subordinates

When the SEALs take a fortified position, not only must everyone be familiar with the plan, but also they must be ready to improvise on their own should something critical go wrong in their area of responsibility. That duty to improvise means the leadership must be willing to accept the decisions made by subordinates and support them to make them successful. While there’s never a doubt as to who is in charge, everyone has to have the ability to do what it takes to succeed.

You likely reached a position of leadership because you excelled on a regular basis. While empowering those around you may feel risky, it improves the chances of your success overall. Create freedom for anyone to deviate from the plan if that’s what success requires and back them up as much as possible to ensure success.

Humility Does Not Mean Weakness

After every engagement, the SEALs have an after-action briefing, often referred to as the “hot-wash.” Each member relates the action from their perspective and is honest about not only what they did right and wrong individually, but also about the actions of their team members. Everyone’s input is considered, and the newest member of a team may openly point out a mistake the commander made without fear of retribution.

This approach by the SEALs shows that takes humility to openly confront mistakes and to keep an open mind when hearing mistakes pointed out by others. Create an atmosphere where others are free to help you learn from your mistakes, and you will find success coming your way more often.

While most of us will not make life-and-death decisions, learning these basic principles from those who have put them into practice under extreme conditions can only make you stronger and more successful.

Five Trends in Training and Development for 2018

Jeff Cochran


Every year organizations evaluate their goals for the future and plan staff training aimed at achieving those objectives.  As technology is evolving at a lightning fast pace, it’s more important than ever to provide employees with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to stay ahead of the curve.

As a global provider of sales and negotiation training, Shapiro Negotiations provides the tools that can give your business a competitive advantage. Below are five key trends in training we believe will have a strong impact in 2018. Contact SNI today to find out more on how we can help your business increase its revenue.

Virtual Reality

Companies are already using virtual reality (VR) as an integral component of employee training. Hospitals, athletic facilities, and even fast food restaurants currently use VR to recruit and train staff. Kentucky Fried Chicken uses VR to teach cooks how to fry chicken without having to heat up an actual fryer. UPS uses augmented reality headsets to navigate road hazards. Walmart says all of its training facilities will soon use headsets to practice customer interactions. Sales teams and negotiators can also use virtual reality in anticipation of tense situations to practice dealing with objections.


It’s hard to set aside a whole week, or even a whole day, to attend a conference or workshop. Micro-learning breaks down training into bite-sized pieces users can access at intervals throughout the week, using short breaks and transition periods as productive learning time.

Emphasizing Quality Over Quantity

While it’s possible to learn more when it’s broken down into manageable chunks, the focus should be on providing employees with useful, helpful information. If staff feel like they aren’t receiving training that can help them meet their goals, work more efficiently or earn more money, they aren’t likely to put training into practice.

Social Learning

If you want your group to function as a team, some of their training should allow them to practice doing just that. When people interact with others during training, they are more engaged and retain more of what they’ve learned. Online learning is beginning to incorporate the ability to chat, share notes, and collaborate remotely to complete projects.

Improved Tracking

In the past, when employees attended training, it was difficult to tell if it was worth the investment of company time and money. Now strategic learning platforms provide employers with feedback that indicate how employees responded to each segment of training. Quizzes signal what concepts need follow-up, and surveys allow employees to express how they felt about the training and what they would like to see in the future.

Overcoming Cultural Differences and International Negotiations

Andres Lares


Because of cultural differences, international negotiations require a little more finesse than most other negotiations.  Navigating these cultural differences with ease can affect the outcome of your negotiations, so anticipating some of the issues can be helpful.  Detailed below are some of the most commonly faced issues in international negotiations and how to deal with them when they arise.


Differences in Time Perception

Being on time for meetings is important in most cultures, but when it comes to how time is measured and spent, other cultures think differently than Americans. While we measure time in minutes and hours, treating our personal time like something we must make the most of, some other cultures are not in such a rush.

Middle Eastern cultures measure time by events and considering how long it takes to complete a task. Asian cultures see time as more flexible. In Japan, early meetings are held to get to know one another, and attempts to rush can be considered rude.


Regional Differences in Behavior

While it’s good to know general behavioral standards specific to a country, different regions of a country may have a specific set of social behaviors. In Muslim cultures, long handshakes are polite. In Italy, people often talk loudly and interrupt one another, while in the south of the country, it’s considered impolite to address a woman as “Miss.”


Customs and Etiquette during Meals

Parties will often share a meal during negotiations. Dining habits vary widely so it’s important to spend time researching customs and practicing behaviors that are important to demonstrating courtesy.

In Asia, it’s considered impolite to point with chopsticks, and leaving them straight up and down in your rice bowl is taboo. In some cultures only certain types of conversation are appropriate for mealtimes, and in others it’s impolite to talk at all.


Appropriate Dress

In most cases, a suit is the best choice to wear to negotiations. However, some people use their apparel to stand out to potential clients. Research customs so your choice of attire doesn’t end up offending the parties you hoped to impress.



Even people who speak English well often feel more comfortable negotiating in their native language. A skilled interpreter can help prevent misunderstandings and make everyone feel more comfortable. Check credentials and make sure you’re not just selecting someone who happens to be bilingual, but hiring a qualified interpreter who understands the complexities and nuances of both languages and cultures.

With careful research into international customs, you can prevent cultural misunderstandings. You also have the opportunity to bring your businesses to new parts of the globe and facilitate a new level of respect between international partners.