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Building Rapport With Sales Clients

Andres Lares

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One of the most essential skills salespeople must have is the ability to build a rapport with their clients. You can have an excellent product and a persuasive and researched pitch, but none of those elements will matter if you or your client do not have a connection with each other. If you want to excel at building rapport, you must have a clear rapport definition in mind. You must also develop your communication skills to bond with different clients. Learn more about rapport and bonding with clients by following the techniques below.

 

Rapport Definition

Before you even start thinking about approaching clients, you should understand what rapport means in a broader sense, and specifically within the field of business. For instance, the Oxford English dictionary defines rapport as “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.” Meanwhile, the Business Dictionary gives rapport the definition of “a positive or close relationship between people that often involves mutual trust, understanding and attention.”

Both definitions emphasize rapport as a close relationship. A salesperson must establish a connection with the client strong enough for the client to consider it “close”. The relationship should also be positive, harmonious, and facilitate the transfer of ideas. The second definition is slightly different in that it lists the components of rapport: the establishment of trust, understanding, and attention between the two parties.

The fact that the business-oriented definition does not differ much from the general definition also means that building rapport is not just a specific business technique, but a broader one that people use to meet their goals and improve their lives daily. Approaching the construction of rapport with a client the same way you would to have a pleasant, constructive conversation with any person can help put you at ease. If you are relaxed, you can share that feeling with the client, and that goes a long way when building rapport.

 

Mirroring Your Client

A subtle technique that creates a bond with your client fast is analyzing their body language and imitating it occasionally. Mirroring builds a subconscious connection with the person you are talking to, and when done correctly, is proven to achieve sales increases and positive evaluations. Anyone can accomplish mirroring through three steps:

  • Face your client and show attentiveness to their conversation via eye contact and nodding.
  • Match the client’s speaking volume and pace.
  • Identify the client’s punctuating action when making a point and imitate it the next time they perform it.

Remember to practice mirroring in moderation. Repeating these steps frequently can become obvious, make the customer uncomfortable, and break the connection instead of building it.

 

Asking Interesting Questions

One of the simplest methods a salesperson can use to build a rapport with clients is to learn more information about them by asking questions. When a salesperson shows interest in a client by asking questions, it shows the client they can trust the salesperson. This allows the salesperson to gather more information about the client to customize their sales platform, and keeps the client engaged throughout the process. Not every question is effective, however, so you should craft a rapport-building question carefully.

An effective question must consider the following aspects in order to build a genuine connection with the other person:

  • The question should apply specifically to the client you are seeing and the situation around both of you. Observe the person’s actions, clothing, mannerisms, and other specific details to build questions from.
  • Catching a person off-guard by asking them a nontraditional question raises their interest and keeps them engaged in the conversation.
  • At the same time, make sure that the question is not invasive or does not make the client uncomfortable.

Keep these elements in mind when coming up with the questions, and you can build rapport with a client and establish trust and understanding while also keeping their attention. A small sample of some of the best questions to ask the other person include:

  • What’s something most people don’t realize about [client’s city/state]?
  • Have you always wanted to work in [client’s field]?
  • What was your favorite class you ever took at college?
  • Are you subscribed to any newsletters or blogs about [topic, client’s industry]?
  • I noticed that your office is in [city neighborhood]. Do you like to go out to [local restaurant] to eat?
  • You seem like a busy person? Do you use any apps to keep organized? I am considering using them, so I’d appreciate some recommendations.

Asking questions that you can specialize to the client and are somewhat specific keeps conversation interesting.

 

Empathetic Statements

A salesperson must understand the client’s personality, needs, and wants in order to give their sales approach a direction. Understanding the client also helps establish a connection, as the client will feel less isolated and better about themselves. Using empathetic statements is an effective way of mirroring the person’s verbal messages, physical status, and emotions without parroting and putting off the customer.

You can build a simple empathetic statement by starting with “So, you…” followed by a small assumption about their words or their actions. Even if those assumptions are not entirely accurate, these statements demonstrate you are paying attention to the client’s actions and you are seeking to understand their feelings.

Some specific empathetic statements further develop a connection while also suggesting an action to a client.

  • Empathetic presumptive. This empathetic statement presents a presumption around a fact about the client but allows the client to interpret the fact. Whether the assumption is correct or not, the client can provide additional information that the salesperson can use to guide the conversation and dig deeper into what the client wants. For instance, if a client is looking around, the salesperson can ask, “So, you’re looking for [product].” The customer can confirm or deny it, and clarify the assumption.
  • Empathetic conditional. This statement keeps the focus on the client but adds specific circumstances where the client would decide. To follow on the previous example, after making an empathetic presumptive, if the client says they are looking for a product, but does not know if they can afford it, the salesperson can state, “So, you’d buy [product] if it was more affordable.” This allows the seller to identify with the customer’s specific issue and guide them towards a specific solution.

Using empathetic statements, you can get an understanding of the client’s goals and issues in reaching those goals without having to say much, and then you can help your client in a personal manner.

 

Listening to the Client

Gauging your client’s needs is important when understanding them, but sometimes, it is just as important to sit back and listen. If you establish a mutual interest or if the conversation takes a turn where the other person talks constantly about a hobby, a story, a problem, or any other topic, then simply listen. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the other person and how you can sell to them. In addition, the client will appreciate your consideration and interest, and when you discuss sales, they are more willing to return the favor and listen to you.

 

Establishing Trust

Another technique in presenting yourself as an ideal person to build a rapport with is establishing trust. Maintaining connections and making sales is easier if the customer believes you are reliable and dependable. There are a few steps you can take to establish trust in your client:

  • Respect the client’s time. Always arrive early when meeting with the client and never try to stop them from doing something else.
  • Sell only a realistic solution. Be honest about what you can offer to the client, and let the client make the decision.
  • Show respect towards the competition. In case the competition ever comes up in conversation, show respect and avoid trash talk. The customer will see you as mature and professional.
  • Practice authenticity. Rather than relying on programmed pitches or slogans, lead with stories or humor. This step makes you appear sincere, honest, and approachable.
  • When in doubt, offer referrals. In the rare case you cannot help your client in any way, do not hesitate to refer the customer to other qualified people who can do the task. This shows the client that you care about their wellbeing, not just their business.
  • Deliver on your promises. If you offer a realistic promise and the client takes you on it, make sure to deliver.

 

Keeping the Client’s Attention

Another important element required when building a rapport is keeping the customer’s attention. No matter how much you work to keep the conversation interesting and engaging, distractions will always manifest and hinder your communication efforts. These tips should help you keep your conversation with the customer lively, while also keeping your sale on focus.

  • Keep them involved with questions, listening to them, or filling in forms
  • Make your main point as soon as possible
  • Change the topic, pace, or emotion every 10 minutes to keep the conversation interesting
  • Use humor to ease them between points
  • Summarize your points occasionally to keep your focus

 

Take the Next Step in Building Rapport

The development of communication skills to bond with others is essential in everyday life and relationships. Now that you have a stronger sense of how to build a rapport with clients, you should take your knowledge to the next level and consider corporate sales training. The corporate sales training program at Shapiro Negotiations focuses on maximizing the effectiveness of salespeople. While the program works as a standalone sales process, it can also integrate into your existing sales skillset, giving it a boost. Sign up today to optimize your sales.

 

Are In-Person Networking Skills Still Important in a Social Media Age?

Andres Lares

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In the Age of Social Media, how important are face-to-face networking skills? Very, according to recent surveys. The majority (68%) of entry-level professionals place more value on face-to-face networking than online interactions. Furthermore, just over half (51%) of professionals do not have LinkedIn profiles, showing significant dissonance even with the most popular business networking site. Face-to-face networking skills are still critical for working professionals who wish to advance their careers or grow businesses.

 

The Importance of Business Networking

Sales center on people. People making connections and building relationships with other people are what keep companies in business. Networking is at the heart of business. This remains true whether the networking is online or in person. Business networking is essential for people who want jobs, career advancement, or business growth. Salespeople especially rely on networking. It is the number one way to establish trust, introduce oneself to potential customers, and increase brand awareness and product visibility.

The art of networking has undergone significant changes in the last few decades. From business cards to business Instagram accounts, everything has gone digital. Sites like LinkedIn target business people specifically, aimed at helping professionals build their networks, earn endorsements, and get better jobs. While connecting online might appear to widen a person’s career network and help forge relationships, in reality it still falls short of in-person networking for most business people.

Networking at corporate events, conferences, and sales meetings can help businesses and prospects connect. Sales professionals, for example, can exchange information with potential customers and leave lasting impressions from their face-to-face meetings. Virtual networking can also add value to professional relationships. It can help a person develop contacts, connect with important people in the industry, and get in touch with the right people. Despite the push toward online connections, in-person business networking is still highly valuable.

 

What Do the Numbers Say?

Many different sources agree: nothing is more effective than in-person networking. Research proves that face-to-face interactions tend to be more positive than online interactions. The people who achieve the greatest results from their networking efforts almost always engage in face-to-face interactions. When searching for a new job, 46% of people still find the most success in traditional, in-person networking.

While actual words are important, they make up only 7% of a person’s perception of sincerity. Nonverbal cues are much more important when it comes to discerning whether to trust someone. Facial expressions while we talk make up 55%, while inflection of tone makes up 38%. A whopping 72% of people say looks and handshakes influence their decisions. One survey from 2015 found that 9 in 10 people choose small, face-to-face meetings as their preferred communication method.

When it comes to personal preference, in-person is a clear winner across multiple surveys. Eighty-four percent (84%) of respondents in the Virgin survey say they prefer in-person meetings, while 95% say face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships. If companies eliminated business travel for in-person interactions, they would lose around 17% of their total profits. Despite the pull of the “Social Media Age,” it’s clear business professionals still value in-person networking highly.

 

The Benefits of In-Person Networking

The internet is growing as a way to network and build relationships. However, the media richness theory finds that seeing someone in person is still the richest form of communication. The next-best form is video conferencing, which still allows those in the conversation to see facial expressions and hear inflections. Then comes phone communication, then emails, and lastly, texts. The richer the mode of communication, the better it is for developing relationships. Although many online tools today facilitate networking, in-person interactions come with the following benefits:

  • Reading body language
  • Customizing the conversation
  • Showcasing your personality
  • Building a human relationship and trust
  • Establishing chemistry and sharing energy
  • Having more diverse and memorable conversations
  • Getting insider knowledge
  • Preventing harmful miscommunications
  • Taking business relationships to the next level
  • Bonding with others in a shared setting
  • Having fun during the interaction
  • Arranging the next (follow-up) action

No amount of sophisticated technology can replace in-person networking. Being with the other person in the flesh can forge stronger bonds and create a better foundation for a long-lasting business relationship. The numbers support this conclusion, with the majority of today’s business professionals preferring in-person interactions to digital ones. There is no question – it is still important to cultivate in-person networking skills. The next step is improving your face-to-face exchanges.

 

In-Person Networking Tips

Networking in person can give you opportunities you would not have over social media alone. To take full advantage of these opportunities, you need a few networking tips to help you make the greatest impact. The amount of time you spend preparing for your in-person interaction can make a difference in its outcome. Set yourself up for success by embracing available tools, tips, and tricks. If you’re planning an in-person networking event or situation soon, keep the following in mind for optimal engagement:

1. Prioritize building trust and credibility. One of the greatest downfalls of communication over social media is not knowing who to trust. Establishing trust is possible through smart marketing content, but it gets much easier when you can meet someone in person.

Whether your goal is to get a new job or clinch an important sale, prioritize establishing trust between you and the other person. Do this by showing others your similarities in the time you have together. People tend to trust what they know more than what they don’t. Make human connections with people to earn their trust and strengthen the relationship.

2. Use positive emotions to your advantage. Logic can help form a buying decision, but emotions seal the deal. Face-to-face interactions give you the power of using emotions to your advantage. Be open and transparent with the other person, supporting your words with the appropriate facial expressions.

Make an emotional connection with the person, whether it’s fear, compassion, empathy, or having fun at a business event. Connecting with a prospect or professional on an emotional level improves your odds of having a lasting positive impact.

3. Let your personality shine. You have the opportunity to truly show the prospect what you’re like during face-to-face meetings. Don’t miss out. Be professional, but don’t be afraid to show what makes you unique.

Show off your sense of humor, warmth, friendliness, and other traits that set you apart from other salespeople, brands, or job prospects. Let the other person see you’re more than just a social media profile – you’re a flesh-and-blood person who can check all the boxes of what they’re looking for.

In-person networking can be more daunting than an online interaction. You must put your best foot forward, or you could miss out on an important business opportunity. Everything must count, from the clothes you wear to the words you say. Pay special attention to body language, presence, and inflection during face-to-face meetings. Nail important aspects such as the first impression and initial handshake. Do your research, prepare talking points, and – most importantly – be yourself.

 

Improve Your Business Networking Skills Today

Whether you are a born social butterfly or you identify as an introvert, influence and persuasion training can help you. The training program at SNI helps participants influence others and the decisions they make. It focuses on credibility, emotion, and logic – Aristotle’s three elements to influence. It can help you become more persuasive and effective in your techniques during both in-person and social media interactions. Sign up today to start developing your networking skills.

How to Have an Effective Sales Meeting

Andres Lares

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If sales meetings feel more like necessary evils than productive meetings of the mind, you may have an issue with management. It is up to you to breathe new life into your weekly sales meetings. It is possible to get more from your meetings and make them more enjoyable for your team. All it takes is a little advice on how to run a meeting, and a few top-shelf sales meeting ideas. Use these tips to achieve more effective sales meetings at your enterprise.

 

Prepare Talking Points

As a sales meeting leader, it is your job to use the allotted time wisely. One of the most time-consuming issues many meetings encounter is lack of direction. Without clear leadership for the meeting on your part, your salespeople will lose focus and the whole meeting may run off track. This means more wasted time calling your team to order and figuring out what to discuss next. Preparation is key for a strong, productive sales meeting.

Create an agenda to make the most of your meeting time. Your agenda should be as detailed as possible, creating a step-by-step guideline you can use to walk your team through the meeting. The more you prepare for a meeting, the easier it will be to stick to your most important talking points. Prioritize your agenda in order from most important to least important. That way, if you run out of time, your team will at least have gotten the most critical points you needed to make.

Send a copy of the agenda to all reps who will be attending. That way, your salespeople can peruse the items on the list, prepare questions ahead of time, and be ready to dive right into the topics when they arrive in the conference room. This can eliminate wasted time reading over lists during the actual meeting, as well as give your team more time to come up with value-driven questions.

 

Ask the Right Questions

Productive sales meetings ask the right questions. The goal of a sales meeting is to answer important questions, come up with new marketing ideas, and to increase sales in the future. Write down a list of questions prior to the meeting so you can come prepared. Before you plan your meeting, ask yourself questions such as:

  • What is the purpose of this meeting?
  • What challenges are we facing today?
  • How long will this meeting need to last?
  • Who is in charge?
  • What actions do we need to take next?

Answering these questions will give your meeting greater direction and purpose. Once you have the answers to these questions, you can start giving your sales meeting agenda shape. The amount of time you’ll have, for example, can dictate how many topics you’ll have time to sufficiently cover.

 

Focus on One Key Issue

Another common problem with sales meetings is an overambitious leader. You may have a long list of things you wish to discuss with your team, but laying them all out at once might not be the most efficient way to run a meeting. Tackling too many talking points results in the inability to dive into the most important issues. Instead of covering more ground, you’ll really be taking a step backward.

Your meeting will run smoother and be more productive if you control the agenda by choosing one main item to discuss per meeting. This is why weekly sales meetings are often necessary – to cover a wider range of topics without stuffing too many discussions into a single conference. Your team will benefit from the ability to review one topic in-depth, with ample time to take notes and ask questions, more than several topics briefly discussed.

 

Think About Your Team’s Interests

The most effective sales meetings are the ones in which everyone feels encouraged to contribute to the conversation. Sharing ideas and bouncing ideas off one another can help you keep everyone engaged and review a topic more thoroughly. Generate a steady stream of sales ideas during a meeting with a bit of motivation:

  • Give incentives for good ideas
  • Build a more creative meeting environment
  • Be transparent with business goals
  • Ask your team questions and listen to their answers
  • Encourage “no bad questions” and mistakes
  • Provide positive reinforcement for idea-makers

Making your sales meeting more relevant for the reps attending can spark innovations, motivate salespeople to do better, build better workplace culture, and keep everyone on the same page for the duration of the meeting. It can show your reps you appreciate their hard work and loyalty, and make them want to show you the same kind of respect during meetings.

 

Start on a Positive Note

Most salespeople do not look forward to sales meetings. Yet if they know there is a chance a higher-up will recognize them for outstanding performance that week, they may have more of a reason to anticipate a meeting in a positive light. Start each sales meeting by recognizing performance. Consider giving incentives to top performers during each meeting. Put it at the start of the meeting to begin on a positive note, and to make sure you always have time to get to it. This can help your team look forward to attending each week.

 

Stick to Your Time Frame

Never host an open-ended sales meeting. This not only can allow your meeting to run on for an indeterminate amount of time, but it can also make your salespeople dread future meetings, since they do not know how long they may last. Your reps will benefit from having some expectation of meeting timeline and structure. Decide how long your sales meeting will last and stick to this time frame as much as you can.

Announce to your salespeople the exact start and finish times of your sales meeting. That way, they will know exactly how much time they will have to discuss a topic and ask their questions. A strict deadline to finish the meeting can create healthy pressure for everyone to focus, stay on topic, and use the time wisely. It can also help eliminate dawdling, chatting, and getting off-topic for an overall more productive meeting.

 

Come Away With Specific Action Steps

One of the most important aspects of any great sales meeting is how it will shape the future of the company. Sales meetings should not only review past performance and check in on where salespeople are now – it should set them up for success post-meeting. As the leader of a sales meeting, make sure to come away with specific action steps and a timeline for completing them. You should at least have the next step to continue moving the process forward. The next step may include:

  • Sending follow-up emails or calls to prospects
  • Initiating a new idea for better sales
  • Writing or rehearsing sales scripts
  • Developing new sales skills
  • Scheduling sales training sessions

Give your sales reps a clear next step post-meeting, for better direction and a more productive workplace. Show your reps that sales meetings are more than just a monotonous necessity, but a way to motivate real change and improvements in marketing. Giving actionable steps and advice for what to do after a meeting can give your employees a purpose and boost productivity.

 

Revisit Sales Training

Curious about how to make your sales meetings even more effective? Invest in corporate sales training for fresh sales meeting ideas, total meeting overhauls, or coaching on how to run a meeting. Sales meetings can make a real difference for your organization. Contact us for more information about sales training today. Your team – and your bottom line – will thank you.

SNI’s Guide to the 2018 Training Industry Report

Andres Lares

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The 37th edition of the Training Industry Report has been released by Training Magazine. From its results, training industry experts, corporate leadership, and company training staff can gain valuable insight into the current status of training programs across the country. In addition, the findings of this report enables industry professionals to benchmark against industry standards and trends.

The Shapiro Negotiations Institute (SNI) is not exempt from this learning opportunity. We find this annual report very valuable and as a result have decided to create this post in order to pass along some of our takeaways to our community.

 

Report Methodology

The first Training Industry Report was released 37 years ago and the publication is now a trusted source of data for industry professionals and corporate leadership alike. During May and June 2018, an independent research company collected data from Training Magazine member companies via an online survey. Only U.S.-based corporations from Training Magazine’s database were included in this report.

Out of the 271 responses to the study:

  • 36% of responses came from small companies of 100 to 999 employees
  • 41% came from midsize companies with 1,000 to 9,999 employees
  • 23% came from large companies with over 10,000 employees

Survey demographics show a wide range of industry classifications and job functions.

  • 17% of respondents worked in the health/medical services industry
  • 11% came from finance and banking companies
  • 10% worked in manufacturing

Top job roles include managers and high-level company leadership (61%), developers and instructional designers (17%), and mid- and low-level company employees (22%).

 

Time, Money, and Services: Training Expenditure Data

According to the report, training expenditures across respondents’ companies decreased by 6.4%. Total expenditures, including payroll and training products and services, totaled $87.6 billion. Of that total, $47 billion was spent on payroll for training professionals and $11 billion was spent on external goods and services.

In addition, professionals selected top training materials that they plan to purchase in the upcoming year. The most popular products and services include:

  • Online learning tools and systems (41% of respondents)
  • Learning management systems (33%)
  • Classroom tools and systems (32%)
  • Content development (31%)
  • Authoring tools and systems (27%)

It is no surprise that the data shows that professionals continue to transition more spending from classrooms to online. That said, it is interesting to know that classroom tools are still a priority. Consistent with this report, SNI has spent a great deal of effort developing new online learning tools and seen a great deal of success; however, we still believe that classroom is the best environment for an original session and online is the best medium for reinforcement.

 

Delivery Trends and Techniques

Companies utilized a mix of classroom learning, online learning, and blended techniques for training administration over the past year.

  • 79% of small companies, 86% of midsize companies, and 43% of large companies utilized blended learning techniques in 2018.
  • 39% of small companies, 35% of midsize companies, and 31% of large companies used instructor-led classrooms only.
  • 8% of small companies, 10% of midsize companies, and 14% of large companies used a virtual classroom.
  • 24% of small companies, 28% to midsize companies, and 24% of large companies used an online method without an instructor.
  • Mobile and social learning were used significantly less than the other methods, ranging from 0% to 3% per company size and category.

It was interesting to note that blended learning techniques are the most common across all company sizes – this is not only what we would expect but also what we recommend. We were surprised to see that a very small percentage use mobile and social learning but we expect those numbers to grow as organizations are willing to give it a try, especially with the steadily decreasing average age in the workforce and as new technology and platforms continue to be developed.

 

Training Outsourcing and Expert Mobility

Many companies recognize that they lack expertise in some subject areas. They also understand and recognize the value of expert training programs and organizations like SNI. As a result, we were pleased to see that this report found the companies were increasing their expenditures for training outsourcing. On average, companies spent $422,321 in 2018 on training outsourcing versus $219,265 in 2017.

  • 56% of small companies, 55% a midsize companies, and 49% of large companies indicated that they outsourced instruction and facilitation services in 2018.
  • 48% of small companies, 50% of midsize companies, and 54% of large companies outsourced learning management system operations.
  • 34% of small companies, 53% of midsize companies, and 60% of large companies outsourced custom content development.

It is important to note that there are hybrid models available. For example, we recently implemented a large train-the-trainer program with a client that wanted to train thousands of sales people across the country. In this case we developed the curriculum, customized it, and then taught our client’s internal trainers how to teach the class. The result – our expertise, content, and customization combined with internal control and flexibility, and the cost savings that come with it.

 

2018 Training Industry Takeaways

Training industry professionals can learn key lessons from this data.

  • Most companies have been investing in technologically-based training materials and methods, such as learning management systems, custom content development, virtual classrooms, and other e-learning tools for years. Those who have not are now the minority and likely considering it in 2019. SNI has experienced this first hand with clients and as a result developed several online training platforms and online training programs – many of which are mobile-friendly or mobile-based in order to be ahead of the curve and continue to push the envelope the use of technology in education.
  • Companies are increasingly strategic in how they incorporate expert knowledge from outside sources. SNI has seem this first hand as organizations reach out because they are looking for a fresh perspective or simply do not have expertise around negotiation training. We have seen this in particular with smaller firms that simply do not have the staff or larger companies that are looking for world-class expertise.

 

If you have any questions about this summary, or for more information about our training, feel free to contact SNI at 410-662-4764.

RFQ vs. RFP: What Is the Difference?

Andres Lares

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When a company engages in business with other corporations on a business to business (B2B) basis, they will have to navigate tricky clientele attainment processes. With thousands of businesses to choose from, it can be difficult to find the best price for goods and services without putting in hours of research. Companies engage in large-scale B2B operations through the distribution of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Request for Quotes (RFQs).

These documents allow companies to send out requests to potential contractors and vendors for certain goods and services. In turn, these vendors will send quotes and project proposals to the company for approval and, hopefully, hiring. Usually, the procurement department of a company will distribute these documents.

Though they are similar documents, different situations can lead to choosing RFQ vs. RFP use by a company. A key factor in successful corporate sales is knowing when to appropriately use one over the other. Luckily, there are a few key differences between an RFQ and an RFP that can help corporate professionals navigate these documents.

 

Request for Quote

A Request for Quote, or RFQ, is a document that companies use to gather information about goods from the potential vendor. Before the procurement of these goods, this document explains that the company wishes to purchase a certain type and amount of goods from a vendor. The RFQ will detail the specifications and quantities of those goods.

The company will send the RFQ to specific companies they are interested in working with. In response, potential vendors will send quotes and price estimates to the company who put the RFQ out. From these responses, the company can choose which vendor can provide the best products at the best prices. Usually, a company uses an RFQ if they need to make a large-scale purchase.

For example, imagine that an office is in the market to purchase a large quantity of paper for an upcoming conference. They need to purchase 2,500 reams and are trying to find the best price for their project. The office will send an RFQ to various paper suppliers in their area to find the best quote for the amount they need.

RFQ may also stand for “Request for Qualifications.” Companies use this document to solicit vendor and contractor qualifications to narrow down choices for a project bid.

 

Request for Proposal

A Request for Proposal, or RFP, is a document that companies use to gather information about services from a potential supplier or contractor. These documents are more complicated than RFQs since they ask for more than just a price.

Since the document is a request for services, not products, the information contained in the RFP is more detailed than information in an RFQ. The RFP will detail the goals and nature of the project that the company needs completed. In addition, it will detail the number of pages and illustrations that the proposal should contain, what laws the project is subject to, and what qualifications the contractors should have. The company may request the proposal contain other information as well, depending on the project.

In return, the potential contractor will submit a proposal detailing:

  • What the contractor needs for project completion
  • The estimated costs of labor
  • The estimated costs of management and other fees
  • The total project cost

The company will use this proposal to decide whether to hire that contractor. Companies who lack the expertise to detail the scope of the project they want to complete use RFPs to solicit assistance from more knowledgeable contractors.

For example, imagine that a corporation is looking to open a new store location in a different state. They need to find a contractor to renovate their property to match the design of their other locations. They will send an RFP to various contractors in the area detailing the nature and goals of the project, the different building codes that the contractor will have

to adhere to, the company’s style guide, and the licensing requirements the company is seeking. Contractors will return proposals to this company and the company will select the best proposal for hire.

 

What About RFT and RFI?

Other documents that companies use to solicit information from potential suppliers are RFIs and RFTs. RFI stands for Request for Information. Companies use RFIs to gather information on what steps to take next in a contract negotiation. Usually, RFIs are the last stage in the RFQ or RFP process.

RFT stands for Request for Tender. Companies use RFTs to solicit offers from potential suppliers for specific goods and services detailed in the request document. These documents help companies make informed decisions based on pre-identified criteria before hiring or purchasing goods and services.

 

If your company is looking for effective corporate sales training, look no further than Shapiro Negotiations. Our comprehensive workshops for sales professionals will equip your team with the tools, habits, and knowledge necessary for corporate success. Contact Shapiro Negotiations today to learn more about the program and to schedule a free consultation.

5 Essential Presentation Skills to Develop

Andres Lares

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Presentations are a part of most jobs in the business world; you must be able to give a solid, informative presentation. Though they may seem simple, there are many aspects of a presentation and skills that you need to deliver a successful one. The experts at Shapiro Negotiations understand the importance and impact of a great presentation, and know how best to teach professionals the skills they need to give one.

 

1. Enthusiasm and Honesty

One of the most painful things in a presentation is listening to a presenter who is clearly bored and uninterested in the topic. For a presentation to be effective, you need to get the audience excited. It is almost impossible to excite your audience if you are dull or monotonous. Show enthusiasm about the topic and people are more likely to be engaged.

Along with being enthusiastic, you need to be honest. Even a distracted audience can tell when a presenter is lying or exaggerating. If they sense you are not being honest with them, both you and your presentation will lose credibility. A great presenter is honest and transparent with the audience, while simultaneously showing enthusiasm about everything.

 

2. Focused on the Audience

Effective presenters build and deliver presentations centered around the audience, not themselves. Focus on what the audience can get out of your presentation.

The key to any great presentation is engaging and appealing to your audience. Each audience is different, so it is important to keep in mind the people you are talking to and what interests them. You are more likely to gain their attention if the topic is relevant and helpful for them.

 

3. Ability to Keep Things Simple

Great presenters know how to make complex topics simple. Often, you will give a presentation to a group of people who do not have any previous knowledge about the topic. If you use complex language or concepts, you will confuse your audience and they will not listen as attentively.

A presentation is essentially a teaching tool. You are teaching your audience about the topic. Any great teacher knows that you need to simplify things to ensure everyone can learn and understand what you are trying to say. Effective presenters can do this for their audience.

 

4.Being Personable

Being personable is a great quality for every aspect of business, including presentations. People will listen more intently if they like you and see you as relatable. Some good ways to be personable are by making eye contact with your audience and smiling. These simple actions build rapport and increase the chances of the audience feeling like they can connect with you.

 

5. Great Body Language

Your body language says more than you think. More than three-quarters of communication is non-verbal. Though your speaking holds the meaning, body language could determine whether an audience listens to you and how they interpret your speech.

Great presenters stand up straight and confidently. They do not cross their arms in front of their chest, as this comes off as cold and distant. They also avoid pacing or holding their hands behind their backs because it makes them seem nervous. Keep your body language open and welcoming, and your audience will see you as more credible and trustworthy.

At Shapiro Negotiations, we know what skills are most important for people trying to become excellent presenters. Our presentation skills training works to help many businesspeople become persuasive and effective presenters in the workplace.

 

 

What Science Can Teach You About Sales

Andres Lares

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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.

Overcoming Cultural Differences and International Negotiations

Andres Lares

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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.

 

Interpretation

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.

What Their Body Is Saying While Negotiating

Andres Lares

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A negotiation begins before greetings or opening remarks – if you know what to look for. How each person carries his or her self, sits, and interacts with others can say more than all the words spoken during that meeting. Learning to read these signals gives insight into that person, information you can use to close the deal. From opened or closed postures to mimicry of motion, this negotiation training will show you how to bring that deal home.

 

Understanding Body Language

Albert Mehrabian, a renowned psychology professor at UCLA, concluded these three elements make up verbal communication:

  • Words
  • Voice tone
  • Nonverbal language

Mehrabian says each element accounts for a different percentage of the communication. Only 7% of what people say is verbal. Tone accounts for 38% of the meaning conveyed, and body language carries the other 55% of the message. The listener might say they accept what you’re telling them, but if their arms are crossed, they avoid eye contact and one leg is bouncing with impatience, their body language disagrees. Here are some of the ways the body transmits meaning.

 

Smiling

Smiling is a learned behavior. People smile because they’re being polite, because they’re nervous, or to mask uncertainty. A real smile goes all the way to the eyes, causing the corners to crinkle. If you suspect a smile is fake, ask for feedback. You shouldn’t fake smiling either, lest you appear untrustworthy.

 

Closed Body Language

During negotiations, if stakeholders cross their arms across their chest, it may indicate tension or resistance. It often means the person is not willing to be persuaded.

 

Fidgeting, Doodling or Slumping

At the beginning of your presentation, your audience was sitting up straight in their chairs with their eyes on you. If later you notice them moving restlessly in their chairs or shifting their focus to items on the table, they’re bored. Assess your delivery and find a way to reengage.

 

Mimicry

If you notice when you uncross your ankles, the person listening does the same, you know they feel a connection with what you’re saying. Nod to show agreement and you’ll notice they don’t just nod back, they actually feel agreement with what you’re saying. Mimicry is a natural behavior that improves negotiating success.

When reading body language, use common sense. Some people just have a hard time sitting still, others cross their arms when they’re cold. Look for groups of cues instead of just one at a time to read what your audience is feeling for more successful negotiations.

Successful Sales Goes Beyond What You Say

Andres Lares

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So much of sales training focuses on what you say and how you say it that many people forget to think about body language. First impressions, posture, and microexpressions all factor into sales communications. To succeed, sales people must come across as approachable, credible, and confident.

 

Why Does Body Language Matter?

A great product will sell itself, but it will not always eliminate the need for effective sales. Today, the average consumer can choose from at least two or three viable competitors who meet their needs in the marketplace. In these cases, the only thing standing between your company and competitors is the sales interaction.

From the moment you enter a consumer’s field of vision, you’re influencing sales – even if you never directly speak to the individual. Consider your own experience with sales and the sales people you automatically like and trust compared to those who leave you with a feeling of unease. That gut feeling of insecurity often arises from nonverbal communication cues, like a shrug here or a diverted glance there.

 

Tips for Improving Body Language

Practice strong body language everywhere. In addition to an effective sales tool, body language can change your experience at the grocery store checkout line, when you greet your neighbors during a morning jog, and when you walk into a job interview. Actively practice a few of these techniques for a week. You may find they change your attitude, feelings of self-confidence, and your verbal communication, too.

 

1. Stand up straight. While appearing as a stoic and straight-backed British royal guard is unnecessary, standing up straight shows confidence and openness.

2. Practice your handshake. The handshake is not obsolete. People will still judge you for a clasp that is too tight or limp. This first physical connection can immediately impart notions of credibility and confidence to others. Make it count.

3. Stay natural and upbeat. Salespeople often exaggerate their smiles, responses, and hand gestures in an effort to come across as approachable. Consumers can easily see a fake and phony performance a mile away. You’re a unique person. Discover what works for you. Pay attention to the way you talk with your closest friends – that is your genuine self and often the best way to connect with strangers.

4. Listen actively. Avoid feigning interest. If you can’t focus on what someone says when you’re looking directly into his or her eyes, then don’t. Look up occasionally, but take notes, ask questions, and stay engaged in the dialogue first. If you focus too much on coming across as accessible, you may miss a key customer motivation.

5. Read your customers’ body language, too. While prospects are making snap judgments about you, you are almost certainly making judgments about them even if you don’t realize it. If you feel uncomfortable, insecure, or incapable of meeting the needs of a client, pass off the communication to someone who does feel comfortable.

 

Much happens in the average sales communication. Those who can balance verbal and nonverbal communication with a number of different client personalities will excel in any negotiation. Effective sales training means practicing as many body language tactics with others as you can to find the behaviors that work best for you.