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5 Reasons Your Sales Team Needs Integrated Sales Training

Josh Jenkins

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A formerly high-performing sales team has appeared to hit a slump, and the sales manager can’t seem to make sense of the cause behind this drop in performance. The team seems to continue relying on the sales tactics and negotiation strategies that guided them toward success in the past, but these methods seem to lack their previous effectiveness. In this situation, the sales manager needs to carefully assess potential remedies that will not only pull the sales team out of their current funk, but also empower them for continued success in the future.

Integrated sales training provided on a consistent basis is a vital component to any company’s success. Even the best sales teams need consistent training. Changes in consumer behaviors, new sales methodologies, and new research findings all impact sales strategy, and staying current on these issues is one of the best ways to ensure continued success in any type of sales.

 

Consistent Sales Training Helps Make Your Sales Team Unique

Your business is unique, so your sales team should be, too. Consistent training helps your team avoid complacency. For example, a fresh sales representative may discover a negotiation technique or pitching strategy that works very well, eventually coming to rely on this stratagem for future use. Eventually, the effectiveness seems to fade. The unique spin this representative puts on their sales negotiations is not unique anymore and has simply become a mainstay of their sales tactics.

Consistent training helps your sales team adapt their practices and strategies over time so they don’t lose their effectiveness. Instead of allowing your sales team to fall into complacency, provide them with regular opportunities to practice and sharpen their skills while introducing them to new approaches to sales negotiations. Over time, these consistent training sessions help ensure your team stays uniquely competitive.

 

Customer Habits Are Constantly Changing

The consumer base of 2019 is very different from the consumer bases of 2009 or 1999. While some of those consumers are still making purchases today, their habits have changed. No matter how long you are in business, your sales team will eventually need to adopt new tactics to connect with new customers. Regular training sessions can help your sales team reconnect with modern consumers and better understand their spending habits, needs, and desires.

Some sales managers may wonder why this is necessary for industries that cater to specific niches or rely on the same types of customers year over year. Even if your business is the definition of consistent, you still need to learn how to approach new customers and adapt to your buyers’ changing habits. For example, if you have had one customer for 20 years who purchases consistently, regular sales training sessions can help your team remain focused on providing that customer with true value and understanding the customer’s changing business needs. This is yet another way to help your team avoid complacency and stagnation.

 

Your Sales Force Represents Your Brand

Your sales team is the front line between your brand and your customers. To ensure your sales team is always putting the best foot forward, work to make strong, memorable impressions with old and new customers alike. An integrated sales training program ensures your sales team remains aligned with the company’s goals and can remind them that they represent your brand to every customer they contact.

Consistent sales training through an integrated program also shows your sales team that your organization is willing to continue investing in them and wants to help them hone their skills over time. When you show your employees that you remain committed to their individual success, this builds confidence and helps ensure your sales team knows they are a valued part of the company.

 

Consistent Training Keeps Your Sales Team Engaged and Motivated

Every business is different, and your company likely experiences peaks and lulls when it comes to sales year after year. Falling into routine can be beneficial in some ways and detrimental in others. Remember, complacency is not a good thing when it comes to your sales force. You need to do everything you can to continue to improve upon your sales team’s skill and effectiveness, and an integrated training program that offers consistent training sessions can do just that.

Training sessions for your sales team are opportunities to explore new sales strategies, unpack the latest market research, and collaborate. These sessions can reinvigorate a team that has experienced a recent lull in productivity and motivation, encourage them to expand their sales strategies and capitalize on newly discovered information, and ultimately reignite their desire to work harder.

 

Well-Trained Employees Feel More Confident and Empowered

Providing your sales team with access to an integrated sales training program is a sure way to grow your business. When your sales team has access to the latest sales techniques, industry information, consumer behavior reports, and up-to-date research, they will inherently feel better equipped to not only meet their quotas but also explore beyond their typical day-to-day operations to find new opportunities to excel and grow the business.

Personal investment into your company’s sales force is one of the best investments any business leader can make. Providing an integrated training program not only helps your sales team perform better and protect the company’s bottom line, but also shows that you value them as individuals and consider them worth the investment. This, in turn, boosts employee retention rates, which cuts overhead from hiring, training, and replacing employees who decide to look elsewhere for more fulfilling work.

 

An integrated training program offers these and several other distinct benefits to any sales-oriented business. If you are searching for ways to improve the bottom line, improve sales team performance, or reignite the spark for a previously high-performing sales team, a training program could be the answer you’ve been seeking.

Negotiating Strategy: How to Compromise to Win

Andres Lares

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Every good negotiator needs to understand the value of compromising as well as recognizing the right time to seek compromise. Compromise is a powerful negotiation tool, and the way you achieve compromise is also important. If you want to learn how to compromise to win, you need to understand how to compromise effectively.

 

 

Take Your Time

Some negotiations may be time-sensitive, but that does not mean you should rush through to whatever result you can obtain as quickly as possible. Reaching an acceptable compromise with the opposition often requires taking more time than you may have originally planned for a negotiation but doing so ultimately leads to more favorable results for both parties.

Take your time and don’t negotiate too quickly. Gather as much information as possible from your opposition, learning everything you can about their desires, hopes, and fears concerning your discussion. When you offer something up haphazardly or cast aside some items of your negotiation without giving them the appropriate attention, you inherently weaken your position. Ultimately, taking your time during a negotiation increases the chances of finding the ideal “win-win” scenario for both sides of the table.

Negotiating isn’t mindreading – the party on the other side of the negotiating table may be more flexible than they initially appear or their goals may vary wildly from your initial assumptions. This is why taking your time is so important. If you’re striving for a compromise, you need to allow adequate time to learn everything you can about the situation before giving any ground or advancing your position.

 

If You Give, Be Sure to Obtain in Kind

A large part of compromising for a win is to never give anything up without obtaining something of equal value in return. Remember, compromise is about ensuring that both sides feel good about the outcome of a negotiation. You shouldn’t need to sacrifice the strength of your position to secure whatever deal you can, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make some concessions to your opposition as long as you get something in return.

The potential for compromise varies in every negotiation in every industry, so there is no solid formula for determining what is acceptable to give up and at what price. Instead, strive to remain flexible during your negotiations. If certain terms of your deal are non-negotiable, look for other parts of your deal that might not be so rigid and explore the potential for compromise in these areas instead.  Ultimately, as long as you’re getting something in return and you reach favorable terms with the opposition, you haven’t lost but simply compromised for more mutually agreeable terms.

 

Always Strive to Minimize Your Losses

To obtain something, you need to be willing to lose something of equivalent value. Remember to focus on interests, not people. Do not allow your negotiation team to become fixated on the people on the other side of the table. Instead, have them focus on their goals and interests. This applies to your own side as well; do not allow your team to become fixated on reaching terms with the opposition and exceed your threshold for acceptable losses in the negotiation.

Buyers and sellers have different priorities, and this often leads to competitive tactics, attempts to split the difference, and other strategies that can prolong the negotiations and frustrate both parties. Stay focused on your organization’s goals and your immediate goals for the negotiation. Find out what you can offer the other party that does not require conceding ground.

As you work toward a compromise, your opposition will begin to show their hand and you’ll be able to more easily identify room for compromise that doesn’t require taking additional losses. Try to approach each negotiation with a firm idea of your best alternative to a negotiated agreement or your “consolation prize” compared to your ideal outcome. This should provide you with the right framework to decide where to make concessions and where to remain firm so you can mitigate your losses.

 

Use Implied Compromise to Stall for Time, If Necessary

Don’t shy away from telling the opposition that you might be able to agree to the suggested terms, but you need to verify some details first. This type of “implied compromise” not only gives you more time to work with but also shows the other side of the table that you’re looking for a compromise. Take this opportunity to formulate a new strategy or approach the negotiations from a new angle. Perhaps while verifying the proposed terms, you discover more information that alters the course of the discussion or find room for another type of compromise. A little bit of breathing room can go a long way toward helping you reach a more favorable outcome.

 

Know When a Loss Is Unavoidable

When a negotiation takes a turn for the worse, it’s important to recognize when it’s time to cut your losses. Sometimes the best compromise possible is making no deal at all. While this may not be an ideal outcome, it may be more beneficial to your organization than offering undue concessions to simply try and save face.

It is possible to eventually turn a loss into a win as long as you take adequate time to determine if a strategic position for the future is obtainable. Continuing negotiations even when you know a loss is imminent may not be a bad idea as long as there is something to gain in the future. Your discussion may uncover alternative routes toward a compromise or pave the way for future negotiations while minimizing your loss.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for compromising for a win. Negotiations can take unexpected turns, and you may not have all the information you need to solidify your bargaining position right away. Remember these five tips for your future negotiations and that compromising for a win can not only help your team advance your organization’s goals, but also cultivate professional relationships and hone your negotiation skills for future success.

9 Negotiating Techniques to Avoid

Jeff Cochran

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Negotiation can be a tricky skill to manage. Solid negotiation tactics can not only help a company achieve short-term success but also forge long-lasting partnerships and business relationships. Unethical negotiation tactics, however, ultimately harm the company, even when they seem to have positive results. If you allow these behaviors to continue unchecked, they will not only diminish the effectiveness of your team as a whole, but also ultimately harm your organization’s reputation.

 

Why Do People Use Questionable Negotiation Tactics?

Negotiation can be difficult, but that does not mean it is ever acceptable to delve into ethically questionable territory or use abusive negotiation tactics. Unfortunately, some professionals use these tactics for a number of reasons:

  • The “power motive” encourages people to exercise power over others to gain prestige or personal power. An individual may engage in questionable negotiation tactics simply for the personal satisfaction of obtaining power over the opposition.

 

  • The “competitive motive” encourages people to outperform their competition. Some professionals may feel compelled to win at any cost, including using deceptive or abusive negotiation tactics.

 

  • Survival can encourage an individual to use whatever means necessary to close a deal if doing so helps keep the individual in their job or a company afloat. If an organization has hit dire circumstances, this might compel some members of the organization to engage in questionable negotiation tactics.

 

These are just a few of the most common motivations behind some individuals’ decisions to employ marginally ethical negotiation tactics. If your team relies on negotiation skills on a regular basis, keep an eye out for any of the following negotiation tactics. These situations could ultimately become great opportunities for retraining or coaching on proper negotiation technique.

 

Negotiation Tactics to Avoid

Your team’s negotiation skills should rest on an ethical foundation of proper modern training and a commitment to advancing the organization’s goals in healthy, respectable ways. Stay alert for any marginally ethical or questionable negotiation tactics, including:

 

  • Competitive bargaining. Although this negotiation style is largely considered ethical, it is mostly used in situations where the customer-client relationship isn’t considered a long-term investment. Placing customers in a win-lose situation or presenting them with a “take it or leave it” stance does nothing to foster long-term relationships and may instead cultivate resentment.

 

  • Emotional manipulation. Intentionally inflicting emotional distress on the opposition to secure a superior bargaining position is underhanded and reflects poorly on your organization. You should strive to prove the value and benefits of what you have to offer rather than try to back the opposition into a corner out of fear, shame, or guilt.

 

  • Duping someone into agreeing to your terms is not a successful negotiation, it is a successful deception. Always ensure your team represents your organization’s products, services, and bargaining position accurately. Never leave out key details or misrepresent what you have to offer, otherwise the opposition will simply feel taken advantage of and will probably never do business with your organization again.

 

  • The decoy. A negotiation decoy is essential the practice of making a big deal out of one aspect of your discussion that ultimately doesn’t matter much in order to draw attention away from your true aim. Encourage your team to be straightforward in their negotiations, arguing from positions of strength while remaining committed to offering real value rather than hoping a distraction will dupe the opposition into agreeing to their terms.

 

  • Red herring. A red herring in the negotiation world is simply an illogical argument that sounds believable, something to throw the opposition off your “scent” and lulling them into a false sense of security. Do not allow your team to bluff or attempt to throw off the opposition by introducing distractions. Doing so only harms the reputation of your organization, so encourage honest and straightforward bargaining at all times.

 

  • Cherry picking. This tactic involves aggressively and systematically scanning the terms of a deal and highlighting those found agreeable and pointing out those found to be disagreeable. This is an attempt to exercise power over the opposition, causing them to second-guess their most desired outcomes. Encourage your team to refrain from terms that imply a deal is contingent on specific items and engage in more holistic discussions instead.

 

  • Deliberate mistake. Leaving out a crucial detail or hoping the opposition overlooks a key term of a deal is unethical, a tactic your team should avoid at all times. Duping another party into a deal after depriving them of necessary information is not a successful deal; it is simply a successful deception. It’s also one that could tarnish your company’s reputation and sully the relationship you could have cultivated with that customer. Ensure your team is always forthright will the terms of every deal they discuss, with every customer, every time.

 

  • Backing out of a negotiated offer. Breaching a legally binding contract is illegal in most cases, but backing out of a negotiated offer before the contract is signed falls more within the realm of unethical. It may not be illegal to back out of a negotiated deal before signing, but this should only happen under extreme circumstances when there is a very good reason to avoid going through with the deal.

 

  • Revoking an offer. This, like backing out of a negotiated offer, should only happen under extreme circumstances and in good faith. Revoking an offer in bad faith is generally viewed as unethical, so never allow your team to do so out of a desire to secure a more favorable bargaining position.

 

Teaching your team to avoid these tactics will help evolve their skillset and ultimately cultivate a stronger reputation for your business. The people with whom your team negotiates will respect straightforward discussions and ethical negotiation tactics.

4 Signs Your Team Needs Negotiation Training

Andres Lares

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Many professional teams experience issues that can impact performance, deteriorate team cohesion, and ultimately drive down the business’s bottom line. Some members may be underperforming for any number of reasons, from failure to capitalize on their potential to personal struggles that bleed into their professional work. Slow business periods, missed opportunities for connections with new customers or business partners, and interorganizational hiccups can all eventually hamper a professional team’s performance.

Managers who encounter these problems often find themselves struggling to find room for improvement. Helping team members realize their potential isn’t as easy as it might sound, and the answer isn’t always obvious. One of the most overlooked solutions is negotiation training. All types of professional business teams can benefit from a solid negotiations training course. Look for these signs that negotiation training might be the best available route to help a team out of a rut.

 

Your Organization Is Falling Short of Its Goals

Negotiation skills are necessary for every team at every level of a company, not just the sales force. A business professional in almost any department in any industry can benefit from knowing how to negotiate the right way. An organization failing to meet its goals may contain several teams that would all benefit from negotiation training. Consider how the following teams can benefit from negotiation training.

  • Negotiation training can assist teams that work with vendors, ensuring the organization’s concessions for vendor contracts are reasonable and advance the company’s goals.
  • Senior management across all departments within an organization may all offer input on internal budget decisions. Negotiation training can assist these managers in making strong cases to ensure the budget discussion flows in the right direction.
  • Organization members in all departments can enjoy smoother interactions with their colleagues, partners, supervisors, and clients when they know how to negotiate the right way. Negotiation inherently teaches one how to successfully navigate difficult conversations, regardless of who is on the other side of the table.
  • The right negotiation tactics can mean the difference between simply closing a deal with a client and forging a long-lasting partnership with that client. Some team members may be relying on heavy-handed tactics, which, while successful in the short term, ultimately create division between the organization and its vendors, partners, and clients.
  • Successful negotiations build confidence, which not only increases performance metrics but also boost overall job satisfaction. Happy employees are productive employees who want to remain with their organization, so negotiation training may ultimately boost employee retention rates.

These are just a few examples of how negotiation training can potentially benefit all levels of virtually any company, from entry-level employees to upper management at the C-suite.

 

The Organization Has No Systematic Approach to Negotiation

Your company likely has firm policies in place for handling specific issues, but does it have a solid system for handling negotiation? Negotiation training can become the foundation of your organization’s negotiation philosophy, and this will eventually permeate through all levels of your organization and lead to several surprising benefits. Each member of your team will likely evolve their own individual negotiation styles; that is perfectly fine as long as all those skillsets stem from the same foundational training to keep everyone in tune with the organization’s goals.

A systematic approach to negotiation inherently encourages team cohesion; when your team has all the fundamentals of negotiation down to a science, they will work better both individually and as a unit. Systematic negotiation means the team subconsciously creates its own check and balance system. When every member of a team completes the same negotiation training, they will instinctively discover and begin to capitalize on each other’s strengths and learn from one another simultaneously.

 

Your Team Doesn’t Have Opportunities to Practice Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is somewhat of a “use it or lose it” type of skill. If your team doesn’t have many opportunities to practice their negotiation skills, those skills will inevitably deteriorate. Negotiation training doesn’t just provide a framework for how to negotiate; it also helps your team shake the dust off their existing skills and hone them more finely. If your team doesn’t have many opportunities to practice negotiation, a professional negotiation training session can ensure they are fully prepared when the next opportunity arises.

Your team may also feel as though they have been lacking opportunities to practice negotiation skills because they simply aren’t recognizing them. Negotiation training can help your team quickly and accurately identify the times when negotiation skills are most important and recognize opportunities to negotiate on behalf of the organization. These opportunities may come in the form of interorganizational discussions with colleagues, interactions with clients, and discussions with other businesses that support your company.

 

Overall Lack of Training or Outdated Training

If it’s been years since your team’s last negotiation training or if they have never received any formal negotiation training, they may be simply out of touch with the latest research and methods in the professional negotiation realm. Even if a team member has decades of industry experience, complacency can take a toll and diminish even the most hardworking employee’s skillset. This is especially true when it comes to negotiation skills; this type of training should happen on a somewhat regular basis to ensure the team is fully up to speed with the latest negotiation methodology and information that influences their day-to-day interactions inside and outside of the company.

If you have noticed any of these warning signs within your organization or your team, it’s important to take decisive action and capitalize on the potential that negotiation training offers. A professional negotiation training program can help your team feel more aligned with the organization’s goals, more easily recognize opportunities to negotiate, and complete their negotiations in healthier and ultimately more successful ways.

 

Highlights from the 2019 ATD SELL Conference in Las Vegas

Josh Jenkins

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The ATD Sales, Enablement, Learning & Leadership (SELL) Conference recently took place in Las Vegas. Our Director of Business Development, Joshua Jenkins, attended. and we decided to share some of our/his insights from this event.

 

ATD SELL Conference Highlights

The conference’s focus is on the changing landscape of sales leadership in the modern marketplace, providing attendees with useful, empowering advice, and information built upon the foundation of the ATD Sales Enablement Competency Model. ATD created the SELL Conference to fulfill a distinct need within the community of Sales Enablement– a place to meet with like-minded successful business leaders where they could share their insights and practical advice to create high-impact sales enablement processes.

The ATD SELL conference drew attendees from various roles within sales such as sales reps, sales enablement leaders, coaches, sales trainers, sales operations managers, and learning leaders from several disciplines. The goal of this conference was to help sales professionals across industries increase proficiency in several key areas, including:

  •  Learning how to leverage the power of analytical tools and encouraging alignment between sales management and sales enablement to accelerate sales growth and develop sales talent.
  • Cultivating stronger alignment between sales enablement professionals and sales leadership to reach talent development goals and boost shared revenue.
  • Developing innovative sales coaching and teaching programs that increase sales performance by truly changing sales behaviors.
  • Critically analyzing current sales data, products, sales enablement talent, and processes to maximize sales growth.

Attendees gained valuable information and insights from notable sales enablement leaders. The event kicked off with a welcome and opening keynote delivered by Andy Rose, Vice President of Sales Operations, Small Commercial Insurance at Chubb.

 

ATD SELL Welcoming Keynote

Andy Rose’s opening keynote speech titled “Attract, Develop, and Export: New Truths That Sideline Conventional Wisdom” covered various important topics to the modern sales enablement sphere. His speech encouraged attendees to adopt a selfless and goal-oriented mindset- this meant helping talented salespeople and sales enablement professionals hone their skills. The old way of thinking involved keeping the highest level of talent concentrated on high-production roles. While this created short-term benefit for many companies, it did nothing to account for long-term individual development. Andy Rose encouraged a new way of thinking that encourages multidisciplinary development, individual engagement, and better sales performance.

Andy Rose’s keynote speech drove home several salient points. One we appreciated was “there are no silver bullets except for your people,” meaning that individual talent is the key to meeting sales targets, but this requires loosening the grip on the security blanket of reserving top-performing salespeople to high-production roles. Instead, focusing on individual development allows business leaders to increase engagement, boost satisfaction and retention rates, and increase productivity.

Andy’s keynote speech also covered the importance of the hiring process and how important it is to increase your odds of overall success with close attention to every facet of the hiring process. Andy drove home the point that while it is essential to view potential candidates through the company’s lens to determine whether they would fit with the company culture and align with company goals, but to also try and see things from a candidate’s perspective and determine if a position is the right fit for them. Focusing on individual growth and development ultimately builds a company’s reputation as a great place for top talent, capturing the attention of potential candidates who will see the company as a place to cultivate their individual skills.

 

The Learning Track at ATD SELL

Following the Welcome Keynote and General Session hosted by Sharon Ruddock, attendees participated in a Learning Track featuring three speakers, each with valuable sales enablement insights to share:

  •  Stephanie Trotter, the Executive Coach at GSK delivered an impactful speech titled “Catalyzing Connections Through Conversations: How Sales Enablement Contributes to \Leadership Development.” This presentation focused on diversity, psychological safety within sales teams, and the importance of creating sales goals that team members will align with on a personal level.
  • Cindy Ames, the Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing Training at Senior Lifestyle delivered the next presentation of the Learning Track, “Building a Learning Partner Program to Accelerate Development.” This speech focused on shared practice and layered learning, which help sales professionals at all levels develop their personal skill sets and achieve their career goals with individualized training and learning opportunities.
  • Mike Kunkle, the VP Sales Enablement Services at SPASIGMA delivered the final presentation of the Learning Track, “An Innovative Sales Onboarding Approach to Radically Reduce Ramp-Up Time.” Mike’s presentation honed in on the importance of the onboarding process for sales teams and accelerating the rate at which sales professionals achieved high-performing status.

 

The Leadership Track at ATD SELL

The final round of presentations included the Leadership Track, presented by three influential speakers with a diverse range of background experience in sales and sales enablement:

  • Karl Kapp, Professor, Instructional Technology at Bloomsburg University delivered his presentation “Sales Enablement Through Games? You Bet and Bottom Line Results Prove It!” This unique take on sales training focused on the value of games and simulations as training tools.
  • Mark Donnolo, Managing Partner at SalesGlobe delivered the second presentation of the Leadership Track, “Quotas! Design Thinking to Solve Your Biggest Sales Challenge.” This presentation focused on Sales Design Thinking, a new methodology to address quota-setting problems.
  • Liz McCormick, Global Director of Sales Manager Enablement at PEGA delivered the final speech of the Leadership Track, “Establishing a True Partnership to Enable Sales Managers.” This presentation covered the importance of alignment between sales enablement professionals and front-line sales teams, including the importance of training for new managers and management-specific sales enablement development.

These presentations helped attendees understand the multifaceted environment of modern sales enablement and provided inspirational and useful advice for cultivating higher-performing sales teams with a focus on individual development.

 

Final Thoughts

The ATD SELL Conference concluded with a series of sales enablement presentations from thought leaders from companies such as Allego, Brainshark, Bridge, Caliper, Rehearsal, Richardson, and SalesFuel. ATD SELL was an invaluable opportunity to learn from some of the top-performing sales enablement professionals in the industry.

ATD strives to curate and deliver the best content from the world’s leading sales enablement professionals and thought leaders to help sales leaders develop their teams, cultivate individual talent, and to reach and exceed their sales goals with innovative thinking and leveraging the latest technologies. The ATD SELL Conference was an invaluable experience for attendees looking for new ways to help their sales teams grow and capitalize on their individual strengths with forward-thinking strategies

The Big Ask: How to get That Promotion

Andres Lares

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Quick! What are you worth to your company? If you hesitated before answering, you are not alone. Most people are uncertain about their actual value in the corporate structure of a company. In fact, after initially accepting a job, people tend to use their starting salary as a guide. While this might be helpful, if you accepted the job at a lower-than-market-rate salary, you will be starting promotion/salary negotiations at a disadvantage.

Before you ask for a promotion, you should consider the following:


Find out the salary range for the promotion you want. Obviously, you are not going to get this information from your company. Consult online salary surveys, and speak with other people in similar positions (if they are willing to share their information). Once you have at least a ballpark figure, you have a starting place.


• Research the position for which you want to be considered. Check your company’s website for job descriptions, research competitors’ job descriptions and speak with people who have done the job.


Be sure you are performing your current job at your optimal level. That means you need to be able to show you go above and beyond at your job. Be willing to take on additional projects and look for leadership opportunities.


Some companies only consider promotions during annual performance reviews. These are often dependent upon the organization’s fiscal year (which may or may not be in sync with the regular calendar).
If you are hoping to ask for a promotion before your yearly performance review, be prepared to face some pushback. This does not mean that you should give up; rather, it just means you have to be a bit more creative in your approach.

Action Plan


Experts suggest having a roadmap before you approach your boss to request a promotion. Most agree that the following are important steps:


Keep an ongoing record of your accomplishments. Be sure your manager is aware of your hard work and what you contribute to the team. This does not mean you should brag or oversell yourself; that could backfire.


Increase your knowledge base. Continue to add to your wheelhouse of skills by learning all you can. Enroll in some evening courses, ask about continuing education opportunities provided by your company — these efforts will increase your value to your employer.


Take your annual performance reviews seriously. Be sure to ask questions of your manager, including ways you can improve and grow within the company.


Look for opportunities to communicate with your managers about your career goals and aspirations. If they do not know your plans, they cannot help you achieve them.


Self-Assessment


Some companies offer employees the opportunity to do a “self-review” as part of the evaluation process. This, no doubt, can be an uncomfortable task: Most people are not accustomed to citing their own accomplishments, or facing their own shortcomings. This is an important task because it forces the employee to be honest about his/her career.


Career counselors and hiring managers recommend that employees who are looking to grow find a mentor. This can be as simple as meeting with someone in your company over lunch to discuss a path forward. This person should be someone who can help you grow your career. Or, a mentor might be someone out of your company whose career has followed a similar path to you the one you are seeking.

Passed Over


OK, so what if you’ve done everything suggested here and you still do not get that promotion? What’s next? There are myriad reasons that you did not get the promotion. Perhaps there was someone more seniority. Maybe the job in which you are interested is not available. Or maybe your manager simply does not feel you are qualified for the position. If that is the case, ask for a follow-up review prior to your next yearly evaluation. Ask your manager what you can do to improve your chances of getting that promotion.

Be The Closer

Josh Jenkins

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Even the best salespeople run in to prospective clients who seem impossible to please. You know you have the best product or service, and you know you can help this client improve his/her bottom line, but how to convince them to give you the sale?

Sometimes, a salesperson approaches a prospect on a bad day. It happens to everyone. Maybe the potential client is dealing with a crisis at the company and simply is not focused on your presentation. These circumstances are frustrating, but they can be overcome with some clear-cut strategies.

 

Distracted Client

It’s important to keep the client’s focus on your sales pitch. Try to discern what is distracting the client, and work to bring him/her back to the table. You can also help refocus the energy in the room with an interactive presentation. By involving the client with active rather than passive content, you can help get your message across.

 

Find the Decision Maker

Oftentimes, a company’s decision maker will send an assistant or other representative to a sales meeting to collect preliminary information. Though you are never guaranteed a face-to-face with the actual decision maker, be sure to contact him/her directly prior to the meeting and introduce yourself. This way, when the associate returns with your sales information, the decision maker will already know your name.

 

Project a Genuine Concern

The more you can empathize with your client, the easier it will be to find common ground and close a sale. Your pre-meeting research should give you plenty of information about the client’s business, its challenges, its successes and what your products or services can do to improve productivity. Putting yourself in the client’s shoes can help you feel confident in your ability to address their needs.

 

Learn About the Competition

This refers to both your competition and that of your potential client. Knowing about the other companies in your industry will help you differentiate your products and convey to the client why you offer a superior solution. You also need to be familiar with the client’s competition. You need to tell the client why your products will give them the edge.

 

Set a Deadline

Part of the sales process needs to involve a deadline. Do not give the client too much time to make a decision. This is especially true for challenging clients. There is a fine line between being pushy and creating a sense of urgency. Make it clear to the client that you plan to follow up with them in a few days. Also be sure to let them know your offer has a shelf life. If the client knows you will not wait around forever, you will have a better chance of closing the sale.

 

Have the Answers

In any sales presentation, there is bound to be pushback. Address your client’s objections head-on. Be prepared to defend the cost of your products, and explain why your company provides value-added service. Work with your sales team to come up with a list of all possible concerns your client might bring up. This will help you avoid being caught off guard and pausing to come up with an appropriate answer. If you can anticipate potential objections before your meeting, you will be better prepared to make your case.

Focus on the results you can provide for your client. For example, be prepared to show the client how you can help cut their overhead costs, increase productivity, and improve their company’s bottom line.

When it comes to dealing with challenging clients, preparation is key. All of the sales leads in the world do not matter if you aren’t creating actual sales. Be persistent: Follow up your meeting with a phone call (or phone calls), because emails are much easier to ignore. Remind the client why you can provide the best solution for their needs. Being able to anticipate a client’s concerns and questions will make you a more successful closer.

How to Help your B2B Sales Team Conquer the Field

Andres Lares

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Sales in the B2B space are complicated. As the business landscape becomes more and more crowded, sales teams need an edge to stay at the top and create a path to successful sales.

In a traditional corporate structure, sales and marketing do not always work together. That’s not to say they function as adversarial departments; however, the need to collaborate has never been more important. In some cases, the marketing department can become a sales team’s best resource.

Why? We live in an active, visual world. The tried-and-true sales meetings of a few years ago are not always the most effective way to woo a potential client. People need to be engaged. They do not want to be told, they want to be shown. Clients want to be an active participant in a sales presentation. They want to make sure you earn their business. Your marketing department can help you create augmented- and virtual-reality presentations that can take your clients into to the heart of your presentation. PowerPoint does not always suffice.

Make your sales presentation content active, rather than passive. You can let the customer experience your products and services in a virtual environment, which can encourage them to work with your company.

Here are some ways to create active content to engage your potential clients:

  • Work with your marketing department to create easy-to-use apps.
  • Create or obtain specialized software that works with your product or service.
  • Make your displays interactive and engaging. Active content is two times as effective as passive content.

 

Lines of Communication

Open communication sounds like a given, but salespeople often struggle with the best way to reach potential clients. Cold-calling emails often end up in the recipient’s junk file, which means you’ve lost a lead. Find out who the decision makers are and address them directly. Once you secure a meeting, then you can put your new strategies into place.

Do your homework before your first meeting. Sure, everyone knows to research the prospective client. But it’s equally important to research the client’s competition. This is a crucial step because it will allow you to show the prospect how your product or service can help take the client’s business to the next level — above and beyond that of their competition. You also need to include some deep-dive research into your own competitors. You know that your products and services are the best, but you need to convince your prospects of your company’s value. This is how you differentiate yourself from your competition. This will help prepare you for any off-the-cuff questions you may receive.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Know your audience. Are you pitching to the CEO of the company or to one of his/her assistants? Gear your presentation to the appropriate person.
  • Identify with your client. Try to empathize with his/her needs and approach your presentation from a place of understanding.

When it’s time to close the sale, perhaps the most important thing you can do is to set a time limit for a decision. Do not leave the meeting without a firm deadline to close the sale. Open-ended timelines give the client too much time to look for other options — and to forget why you can provide the best solutions for the client. Be sure to follow up within a reasonable time prior to your deadline. You want to keep your company fresh in the minds of decision-makers.

It sounds cliché to say you need to think outside the box, but innovation really is the key sales in the 21st century. The more your sales team can differentiate itself from the competition, the more sales they will make. Combining efforts with the in-house marketing department is key to creating fresh, interesting, compelling sales presentations.

Negotiation tactics, strategies, and skills to win you a better deal.

Andres Lares

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Negotiation is a balance between the science of preparation and strategy development and the art of connecting with the other side’s needs and wants. The trick is to know just how much you have to ‘give’ in order to get all of your needs met (and with solid negotiation habits… some or most of your ‘wants’ as well). 

 

Better habits will lead to better results in all of your negotiations whether it is a business deal, a personal purchase or even ‘Where are we going for dinner?’ decisions made under the stress of being hungry and in a hurry with family and friends!

 

SNI has a proven method for maximizing your objectives in a negotiation while maintaining a careful eye toward improving relationships. We firmly believe in using a system for negotiation not only because it improves performance, but also because it makes it repeatable and sustainable across an organization. 

 

Our relationship based approach to negotiation is based around the core principle – the best way to get what you want in a negotiation is to help them get at least some of what they want.

 

Below are a host of negotiation tactics, strategies, and skills based on our negotiation training that will surely positively impact your negotiations. 

 

Negotiation Strategies for Getting What You Want and Need

 

Don’t ever overestimate your weakness, nor underestimate the other side’s. 

Many negotiators give in too easily when they believe they are weaker than the other side. One aspect of preparation is to identify the strengths and weaknesses for both sides. 

You need reliable transportation, and you want a car that is $2000 over your budget. It is not unreasonably priced, but it is $2000 over your budget. 

  • Experts don’t haggle here. They weigh the other side’s needs (to move cars) and wants (to make commission) and with that leverage, they walk in and make a reasonable offer below their target price (leaving room to move).  
  • When faced with options to maximize the price (or switch to a less desirable car), the experts stick to their initial offer for a specific car. 
  • The experts point out how their offer meets the salesperson’s need to sell a car today. 
  • When the price starts to drop, the expert sticks to their offer and asks if the desired price is possible. 
  • If/when an expert does need to make a concession, they remember the three keys to making concessions- move slowly ($100 up), show pain (“my wife won’t be happy”), and ask for something in return (“but I’ll need free oil changes for the first year”). 

And so on until they reach their target price. Sticking to your first reasonable offer and using the laws of concession forces the other side to start conceding in an attempt to get you to ‘trade’ with them. Resist the temptation to change your offer until you get your primary goal(s) met. 

 

Scripting Your Exchanges

It is always a good idea to write out your needs and wants, along with their relative values, to plan for the exchange of value in a negotiation. 

You are in the final stages of a salary negotiation with a great candidate for your team, and the candidate asks you for $5000 more than your budget for the position. 

Experts:

  • Already know what they are going to say when this situation arises. They plan to:
    • Ask the candidate to reconsider the offer. 
    • If that is rejected, the next ‘offer’ should be worth far less than $5000 but should still be a move in the right direction. Ideally it’s a combination of moving in salary along with other variables. 
    • Trades such as an extra week of vacation, a 1% bump in 401(k) contributions or stock, ability to telework, flexibility in schedule and subsidized parking cost you less than the hard cost of that $5000 that is not in your hiring budget. These solutions will have less impact on your cash flow.  

Writing out your strategy is the science and knowing when/how to offer these exchanges is an art. Fortunately, it is a strategy that you can learn and practice to get better. Here is another technique to help you practice this strategy and close difficult deals. 

 

Offering 3 Options

An excellent closing strategy is to offer three options. Buyers like to feel in control. By presenting three choices: a premium package, an enhanced package and a basic package, you can usually influence the other side to choose your preferred option by simply offering it as the last choice. Three options balances people having a feeling of choice with not being overwhelmed by too many choices (paralysis by analysis). 

You are selling a subscription service and the other side is asking for your most expensive package at a 20% discount. 

Let’s assume that you have a basic service at $1200, enhanced service at $1500 and premium service at $2000. Your customer is trying to get you to offer premium service at $1600. You can’t mix and match components of your services a la carte, so:

  • Offer the premium service hard at full price. Set the bar high. 
  • Next compare it to the basic service. They don’t want that. 
  • Ask questions and listen to their needs/objections. 
  • Make an offer to meet most of their needs and wants with the enhanced service at the price of $1500 saving the customer more than the 20% discount they requested while meeting most of their needs and wants. 

Most negotiations will end with the other side choosing their price point (the enhanced service) or your value (enhanced at $1500 or the premium service at $2000). A nice win-win. 

 

Negotiation Tactics for Dealing with Difficult People

Some negotiators bargain in a difficult way because they are in a bad spot, while others use power, tricks and tactics because they often work! In either scenario, you can counter the positional or argumentative negotiator by changing your mindset about these difficult deals, and utilizing some of their own tactics to neutralize them. 

Here are some quick tips for dealing with tactical negotiators.

 

Neutralize your own emotions. 

Take a deep breath. This isn’t about you. You have prepared well and you are negotiating in good faith. 

Your customer says “I thought the customer is your first priority!? You have to help me out with a discount on this job so I can win US BOTH more business.”

Count to ten and stay in your ‘safe harbor’ of asking questions in the face of objections and power plays. 

Ask questions:

  • Tell me about your agreement with your client? 
  • Do you have a contract ready for this future work? 
  • Can I help you with the response to this RFP?

Use hypotheticals:

  • Hypothetically, could we approach this customer together? With our combined buying power, we might be able to offer more value if we can win a bigger order.
  • If we agree on X can we talk about Y?

 

If your gut tells you it’s a tactic, name it and neutralize it. 

Sometimes you think the deal is done, and then someone new enters the deal for ‘final approval’. You suspect something (we call it “Higher Authority” or the “Nibble” if they ask for something last minute), but you’re not sure. Your gut says this is a tactic. 

You’re probably right. 

Here’s one way to handle it…

Your longtime customer Jenny says you have to meet her new budget manager to get your agreement approved. 

“This is Bruce. We want to give you the business, but you have to lower the price to get his buy-in.”

The expert greets Bruce and asks him what he needs to make a decision. Bruce replies “Lower your price.” 

The expert responds with a prepared response: 

  • “I believe you’re negotiating in good faith, but having you come in now with only one need – ‘Lower price’…this makes me feel like you’re using a ‘good cop-bad cop’ tactic. 
  • “Jenny and I have had many discussions. Can we catch you up on some points before we talk about price?” 

Whether they confess or deny it, you have blocked the good cop/bad cop strategy because:

  • You named it. They have to adopt another approach. 
  • Be polite, but know that you are on moral high ground. 
  • Protest (gently) and take the opportunity to restate your offer (or an alternative).

You cannot be wrong when you tell someone how their behavior makes you feel. When you feel it, name it and neutralize it. Try to get back to having a two-way dialogue. 

 

Silence is a great tactic when combined with active listening.

Your negotiation has reached a moment when there seems to be an impasse. Try staying quiet. A pleasant, unworried and perfectly calm expression while your last offer is considered can be powerful. 

A customer says the following at the last minute: “Thank you for your revised proposal, we like everything about it but need it for 5% less.” 

Expert response: Let there be silence. It may feel uncomfortable but it’s ok to take a few seconds to think and put pressure on them. Then, eventually, if you need to break the silence, ask a question such as “What if that is the best I can do?”

As long as you stick to your offer and stay quiet, you cannot concede. 

  • Encourage the other side to state their objection(s) precisely and simply listen.
  • Let them talk. Take notes, and ask them to clarify. 
  • Make the other side work hard to justify their position (objection) by simply staying silent or using a probing encourager (such as “Tell me more”). 

Use silence and thoughtful probing to break the impasse. The other side may start sweetening the deal to move toward a resolution. It is now your decision whether to move from your last offer if you decide it is worthwhile. 

 

Use time to your advantage. 

Have you ever noticed how many deadlocks (strikes, Congress, bedtime) come down to a flurry of negotiating right before the deadline? There’s a reason why people believe it’s smart to buy cars at the end of the month (or at year-end). They believe that these deals might go away. Now is the time to buy. 

We often react to perceived scarcity and allow the pressure of a deadline to drive bad decisions.   

A new client sends an email stating: “If you cannot meet our conditions by midnight, then we have no choice but to select your competitor.”

Slow down. Nothing about your deal has changed, or needs to change, simply because the hands of the clock change or the calendar flips. The product or service costs nearly the same tomorrow as it does today. Deadlines are usually a power play, pure and simple. 

To fight it:

  • Ask the other side “What’s changing? Why can’t we continue to negotiate?”
  • Use a hypothetical: “If, hypothetically, we decide to continue negotiating, we might be able to enhance our offer.”

On the other hand, most people seem to fall for it. Use it whenever you can. ”This offer is good until Tuesday” works as well as any other tactic. 

 

Negotiation Skills for Winning More Deals, Faster and Getting Better Results

We teach a systematic approach to negotiating based on 4 primary skills – Preparation, Probing, Listening and Proposing. By using these skills in a systematic way, you can negotiate more confidently and minimize your emotional reactions to the other side’s positions, tactics and strategies. 

 

Preparation is the only aspect of a negotiation under your complete control. 

Our Preparation Checklist helps negotiators capture, organize and prioritize the information you gather prior to a negotiation. Your level of effort in preparation directly correlates to your results when the negotiation concludes.

Even with little or no time to formally prepare, the Checklist will help you focus your questions on issues that are relevant to finding a mutually acceptable solution. 

If you want to get paid, use P.A.I.D. to remember these 4 crucial components of every negotiation. 

  • Precedents – Past deals that could affect this deal for both sides
  • Alternatives – What options are available from a highest goal down to a walkaway?
  • Interests – Beyond positions, what does each side really need and want?
  • Deadlines – When does a deal have to be done to satisfy each side? 

Additionally, you should prepare strengths and weaknesses for both sides, a list of your needs and wants, a situation summary, information on the other side’s style, and a script for exchanging value in the negotiation. The more you prepare, the more successful you will be. 

 

Probing is a safe harbor when under pressure. 

Ask questions instead of taking positions or making offers too early in a negotiation. The other side might use tactics to make you concede. Rather than reacting to the tactics, probe to find precedents, alternatives, interests, deadlines as well as their goals and priorities. Your objective is to find leverage for your side. 

Ask these questions to do your preparation on the fly. 

  • Precedents – “How did you come to that price? What are you basing that on?”
  • Alternatives – “What options are you considering?”
  • Interests – “What is important to you? What else? What else?”
  • Prioritizing Interests – “Which is most important? Why is that important to you?”
  • Deadlines – “Is there a deadline? When? Why is that deadline important?”

Notice that we are trying to flush out all of the important factors for the other side before we address each. 

Here is a sample exchange: 

What is important to you?  Price

What else is important to you? On time delivery

What else?  A strong warranty

What else? Those are the top 3

Great. Of those top 3, what is most important and why?

Now you have a list of the decision-making factors and can address each carefully and strategically, with a sense of how they rank in importance to the other side.

 

Active listening is harder than it looks. 

In a negotiation between two or more parties, everyone involved wants to be heard but the parties often spend too much time talking instead of listening. The Greek philosopher Epictetus stated, “Nature gave man two ears but only one mouth so he might listen twice as often as he speaks.” 

You can increase your active listening skills by connecting with the speaker. 

  • Eliminate distractions. Put the phone away. Find a quiet place to negotiate. 
  • Make a point of being ‘present in the moment’ and consciously focus all of your attention on the speaker. 
  • Encourage the other side to continue speaking. “Tell me more about that.”
  • Take notes. When a great idea comes to you and you don’t want to forget, do not blurt it out, write it down so that you can continue to listen without the distraction of trying to remember.

You should also consider your response before replying. 

  • Listen to hear instead of waiting for your turn to speak. When we listen to reply, we tend to miss critical information.
  • Pause for a moment to check your preparation checklist before responding to an offer or position. Don’t ‘wing it’. Use your preparation to full advantage. 
  • If you are asked a tough question which puts pressure on you, answer their question with a question of your own. “I’m interested in why you asked that question? Help me understand.”

Last, you should confirm what was said and agreed to. 

  • Restate, paraphrase and summarize the agreements at the end of a negotiating session. Focus on creating mutual understanding and a clear path to a full agreement. 
  • Follow up in writing to solidify agreements. Sending a short memo of understanding after a session in a negotiation creates a stronger commitment to those agreements. 
  • Deliver on your commitments. Nothing erodes trust and confidence faster than a missed commitment during a negotiation. 

 

Proposing rules to maximize your wins. 

When it comes to proposing, there are four critical skills to use when coming to a final agreement. It is where the results of your hard work and strategy come to fruition. 

  • Be strategic about the first offer. If you both know the market very well, go first in order to ‘anchor’ the negotiation at the best reasonable first offer you can make. If you get the sense that the other side does not know the market very well, let them go first. You ever know what they will say or share. At best you have an offer better than you expected, at worst you know where they stand and can educate them with precedents on the market. 
  • Aim reasonably high (or low). When you do make an offer, whether it is the first or not, make the best (for you) reasonable offer you can based on precedents and other information you have prepared. Reasonable is key here – if your offer is too high (or low), the other side may elect to move on to other options. 
  • Avoid using (or responding to) ranges. A recruiter asks you for a ‘ballpark figure’ for your salary requirements. Experts never reply with “I’m looking for something between $60 – 70,000.” The only number the recruiter heard was $60,000 and you will probably end up slightly south of that low end of your range. Why do we use ranges? Because we are not confident in our ask. Get rid of that crutch. Ask for $70,000 and let them respond. 
  • Don’t accept the other side’s first offer too quickly. If you immediately accept their first offer, they will feel as if they left money on the table. Even if it is a really fair deal for you, pause at least, and counteroffer if it makes sense. Often the other side will feel better about the deal because they will believe they worked for it. 
  • Don’t settle for ‘splitting the difference.’ It is a lazy way to end a negotiation, and the only benefit is a perceived sense of fairness and getting the deal done quickly. Splitting the difference rarely satisfies each side completely and can become a ritual of haggling to meet in the middle on future deals. Use a ‘nibble’ tactic to get something ‘extra’ so you get the bigger ‘win’. 

By combining negotiation strategies with tactics and skill, you can win more deals while also developing long-term relationships. The approach above has helped organizations maximize their results since 1995 and proven that negotiation is a skill anyone can learn to improve outcomes. 

If you are interested in learning more take a look at our various programs (sales training, negotiation training, influence training), give us a call (410-662-4764), or fill out the form below to schedule a call.  

 

Saying Thank You

Jeff Cochran

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Some people believe writing thank you notes is an archaic practice — a lost art. The truth is, certain social niceties never go out of style. In fact, the simple courtesy and acknowledgement of a thank you note can mean the difference between closing that sale and becoming another blip on a customer’s screen.

 

Getting the Job

Interviews can be taxing: The potential employee feels pressure to perform, while hiring managers often meet with multiple candidates in a day. Standing out to an employer is one of the most important things a potential hire can do during the hiring process. It’s crucial to be prepared for the physical interview, but it’s just as important to make sure the follow up has positive impact.

Manners matter. Sending a thank you note via email soon after an interview is the best way to let the potential employer know you are serious and really want the job. Back in the pre-digital era, people were expected to send handwritten thank you notes, sent through the mail. There is definitely something to be said for crafting a well-written, neatly printed note; however, by the time that lovely note arrives, other candidates’ emails have already been written, received, read and, perhaps, acted upon.

 

Closing the Sale

Job seekers are not the only ones who should realize the importance of thank you notes. Selling requires account managers and executives to interact with potential clients and differentiate their products and services from those of their competitors. Wining, dining and golfing with potential clients may or may not be possibilities, but sending a follow-up thank you note after a meeting is an easy to way to solidify your interest in doing business.

 

Crafting the Perfect Thank You Note for a Job Interview

Email thank you notes do not require fancy stationary or cards, so focus on content. Here are the key things that should be included in a thank you note to a potential employer:

  • Be sure the name of person with whom you met is spelling correctly. Double-check his/her title. If you met with more than one person, be sure to send separate notes to each. Misspelling or misidentifying someone in a note is a sure way to have your resume placed in the round file.
  • Review at least one important topic discussed during the interview. For example, reiterate your interest in the company’s corporate stewardship initiatives and how your background will complement the company’s mission.
  • Proofread your message before you hit the send button. Poor grammar, spelling and punctuation are off-putting. The best thing you can do: Draft your email, then put it aside for at least an hour. Come back and look at it with “fresh” eyes.

 

Sending a Thank You Note to Potential Clients

You meet with numerous clients. Be sure you are addressing the correct person in your email. There are many anecdotes floating around about salespeople addressing an email to the name of a competitor. That’s a surefire way to lose a sale.

  • Review notes from the meeting and include a few points that were discussed.
  • Reiterate why your product or service is the best solution for the client.
  • Thank the client for his/her time. This sounds obvious, but simply acknowledging your appreciation for a meeting can go a long way.

 

Bottom line:

The digital age has caused most people to seek instant gratification. The truth is, hiring the perfect employee, or selecting a great vendor, takes time. Your contact may have to discuss his/her choice with a committee, a board of directors or other higher-ups in the organization. A well-written thank you note after an interview might be the item that pushes your resume to the top of pile. It shows your interest in the position and reiterates your skills and why the company should hire you.

From a sales perspective, clients have many choices when it comes to contracting with a supplier. Make your product or service stand out by reminding the potential client of your dedication to providing the best possible service.