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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

Ten Traits of an Ideal Annual Sales Event Speaker

Jeff Cochran

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The annual sales event is important for your sales team – maybe even the most important part of the year. It’s an opportunity to accomplish several different things, from boosting morale to developing your team as professionals and even making an operational forecast for the coming year. It’s a social event, as well as an educational opportunity.

The keynote speaker at your annual sales event will be the foundation for a successful event for your organization. The ideal speaker can accomplish everything you set out to do and leave you feeling fulfilled and your sales team eager for success in the coming year. Given this, it is important to put time and consideration into choosing the right speaker. First, consider what is important to accomplish at the event, given your professional goals as well as your sales team’s expectations.

 

  • Focus on the team. There are specific points you will want to cover with your team. For instance, you may want to talk about quotas for the coming year, or forecasts for the industry in general and your team specifically. You may want to give them information on sales growth. It is also a good idea to solicit input from your team. What topics do they want to cover? What information do they feel they need to know or learn better?

 

  • This is an excellent chance to provide ongoing education to your sales team. Are there areas where they might need improvement? Perhaps you just want to give them a good review of policies and practices. Everyone needs refreshers from time to time, and the annual sales event is the perfect time to do it while adding an element of fun and camaraderie to the event.

 

  • Sales is about motivation and drive. Your sales team needs to look forward to their work and be excited about their prospects. A good charge of inspiration at the annual sales event can mean a lot for the coming year. This is a good opportunity to think big, to talk about broad topics like leadership or perseverance. Often, a person outside your organization is the ideal candidate to do this.

 

  • Recognize excellence. Nothing generates excitement like the pride a salesperson takes from getting their due recognition. Your team has worked hard over the course of the year, and now is the time to make sure they know you value their contributions. You can hand out awards, for instance, for achievements. Try to include everyone in some way, and don’t leave the planning for this until the last moment.

 

With these goals in mind, you can begin your search for the ideal keynote speaker for your annual sales event. There are certain traits that indicate the right person, the one who can develop your professionals and motivate them. The one who can uplift them with deserved recognition and prepare them for the coming year. These are ten key traits to look for when choosing the keynote speaker for an annual sales conference.

 

1. They have a strong social media presence. Modern conference speakers engage with a following on social media. The number of followers can be faked, but true audience engagement cannot. Look for a speaker who knows the importance of social media engagement.

 

2. They don’t work for free. They say you get what you pay for, and this usually proves to be true. A gifted speaker is in demand and unless it is for a cause, does not usually choose to donate his or her time for free. A lot of work goes into making a good keynote speech for any type of conference, and a good speaker is going to charge a fee for that.

 

3. They are active on Slideshare. Professional quality slides are a given with an ideal speaker. When a speaker has put in the effort to make slides of quality, they will cultivate a following on Slideshare. Look for engagement there as a sign of a worthwhile speaker.

 

4. They know audio and video. A good speaker will ask you questions about your setup. They will want to know the projector display ratio and whether there is WI-FI available. They will ask about mobile apps for the event. A good speaker is knowledgeable and their questions will demonstrate this to you.

 

5. Their slides are professional quality. The slides are a key component of the speech, and will aid in maintaining audience engagement. If a speaker has poor slides, the audience will lose trust.

 

6. They solicit the audience’s opinion. Every event should poll the audience while it is going on. A good speaker will be familiar with the practice and use it him or herself.

 

7. They know your audience. A good speaker will get to know your audience before the event. This way, he or she can address specific points important to your team and even participate in the recognition portion of the event. The more the speaker tailors the speech to the audience, the more engaged the audience will be.

 

8. They get audience members to interact with each other. When a speaker has electrified the audience, they will engage with each other, not just sit there and passively listen to the speaker.

 

9. They engage with the mobile app of the event. Every event should have a mobile app, and a sign of a good speaker is that he or she engages with that app to make the most of the event.

 

10. Their content is meaningful. A modern speaker knows how to use social media like Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube videos to make their content relevant and accessible before, during and after the show.

 

The right keynote speaker at your annual sales conference can give your sales team a sense of satisfaction in what they have accomplished, give them some professional development and leave them eager for the coming year’s challenges. The event should be a reward and an inspiration. Knowing what to look for in potential keynote speaker candidates is vitally important to choosing the right speaker for your event. Keep these qualities in mind when the time comes to find the right speaker for your annual sales event.

How a Keynote Speech Transforms an Event

Jeff Cochran

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The keynote speaker sets the tone of a meeting or event. He or she will usually kick things off with a speech that is longer than most or all other speeches or addresses delivered during the event, such as a weekend conference. The keynote speech will be a broad speech, covering many topics. The other speakers will then dig deeper into one aspect of the keynote speech. Whatever the theme of the conference, the keynote summarizes the ideas that follow and generates excitement for the event.

For people who do not attend the event but still have some interest in the topic, the keynote speech is what they will most likely listen to later. For this reason, the keynote speech can serve as an advertisement for the entire conference. It is quite common, therefore, to get a popular personality or a person of prominence or notoriety to deliver the keynote address.

A keynote speaker is often confused with other kinds of speakers, such as a motivational speaker. However, while a keynote speaker can motivate people, the terms are not synonymous. A keynote speaker is the one who delivers the big picture speech to the audience, who develops the overall theme of an event and creates expectations for what is to come. In whatever manner he or she chooses to do that, whether by motivation, humor, edification or other method, the speech that kicks off the event with the broadest coverage of what is to come is the identifiable keynote speech.

 

What Kind of Keynote Speaker Is the Right Choice?

Some occasions call for a specific kind of keynote speaker due to the type of event, while other occasions lend themselves to a less-specific style of speaker. It all comes down to subject matter, audience and what the goals of the organization are. An event organizer needs to consider what the specific goal of the event is for the organization. There are several possibilities.

  • It could be a scientific symposium or a political event about an important issue. If the main goal of the event is to educate the audience, the speaker will have to have a familiarity with the topic. If the audience is going to consist of experts in the field, the keynote speaker must have impeccable credentials. If it will be a general audience, the keynote speaker will need to be adept at communicating material to a lay audience.

 

  • Motivation is often the goal for sales conferences, or other industry-specific events open to people working in the field. In this case, the keynote speaker will need a flare for oratory. However, it will also be important to set an example. At a sales conference, a motivational keynote speaker should have achieved something notable in the field, or in some way done remarkable things through dedication and effort.

 

  • An inspirational speaker is like a motivational one, and often the same person can deliver both kinds of keynote address. An inspirational speaker often focuses on overcoming the odds. This type of keynote speaker, for instance, might have excelled as an editor despite being dyslexic, or lost his or her legs in combat and has learned to live a fulfilling live despite their setback. An inspirational speaker focuses on a feeling and a lesson, while a motivational speaker focuses on action.

 

  • Promote change. If the goal of an event is to achieve change in behavior or attitude, a keynote speaker who can motivate as well as educate might be the best solution. The purely motivational speaker is often speaking to people who already share a common goal and are just looking for some emotional energy to get them going. An educational speaker is usually addressing an audience that came eager to learn. An organization that seeks change may have to overcome biases and predispositions in the audience, and so a more complex approach is warranted.

 

  • Increase Awareness. If there is an important issue that an organization deals with, the first step on the path to promoting change could be raising the awareness of the general public. An educational speaker may tell an audience of professionals about a new cancer therapy, but a keynote speaker who seeks to increase awareness will speak more about the prevalence and consequences of cancer to a more general audience. If the goal is to increase awareness, expertise in a subject matter may be less important than the high profile of the keynote speaker.

 

  • Promote development. This sort of keynote speech is usually for professionals of a common industry. There should be an element of education as well as motivation. The keynote speaker must have experience in the industry, a recognized leader with many stories to tell and a wealth of wisdom gained from experience. In dynamic, evolving industries the keynote speech may highlight the latest advances and developments in the industry.

 

  • Sometimes the goal is simply to entertain. Rather than giving an overview of a theme or delivering the essence of a conference, the keynote speech is more about setting the right mood. The event may not have a single topic and thus there is no core theme to sketch during the speech. The event organizers simply want to make sure the audience enjoys themselves. The keynote speaker should have a gift for connecting with an audience. A proficiency in humor is also important for such a speaker.

 

There are many ways to deliver a keynote speech. One should consider the audience and the subject matter when determining the tone and approach of the speech. Smaller conferences might have more specialists in a field and therefore the keynote speech can reflect this with more in-depth coverage. For a large audience or a lay audience, humor may work better.

The keynote address could be the most important part of a rally, meeting or conference. It is important to choose the right person who knows the subject matter but can also bring a higher profile to the proceedings.

The keynote speaker needs to understand the size and composition of the audience to fashion the appropriate speech for the occasion, and he or she must also understand the tone the organizers of the conference wish to imbue to the occasion. The success of a conference often hinges on the effectiveness of the keynote speaker; getting the keynote address right is a large part of the battle.

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.

Leading by Influence: Are You Ready?

Jeff Cochran

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With the right amount of influence, an individual can compel others to join a cause, dedicate themselves to a goal, and successfully fulfill a unified vision. Contrary to popular belief, an authentic leader does not have to maintain a position of power. Whether you are a manager or employee, you have the capacity to become a leader if you put effort into it.

A highly influential person is generally one who uses leadership traits and skills such as effective communication, dependability, and the strength of influence to lead others while on the job. In many cases, employees will follow a leader’s example with no regard to what position they hold. Leading by influence can have an exceptional effect on your business’s prosperity. If you are ready to embrace leading by the power of influence, here are some ways you can become a model for leadership in the workplace regardless of your title.

 

Contribute

If you are a director or manager of a region in a business, take the time to do some of the duties your employees would normally do. Since people don’t like it when the person giving them orders hasn’t demonstrated his or her ability to contribute, a director who is eager to be hands-on will help encourage employees to be proactive as well.

 

Remain Positive

Even though no one can be positive 100% of the time, it is important to try to remain upbeat no matter what the circumstances. Positivity can be contentious, and employees are far more likely to respond positively to someone who is kind and demonstrates an ability to maintain a good attitude. Express gratitude toward others by making them feel good about their achievements and rewarding them for making progress toward their goals.

 

Have an Open-Door Policy

If your employees or associates are uneasy when approaching you, they will have less respect for you as their leader. Make sure your associates know you are accessible at any times and are willing to address any concerns they have. Being approachable helps cultivate a strong sense of mutual respect and understanding between you and your employees.

 

Be Consistent

If you tell your employees something and don’t follow through or do the exact opposite, you will damage your integrity. Losing credibility with your employees is extremely hard to come back from, so once you commit to do something, always honor it.

 

Communicate

As a force of inspiration, effective communication  helps guide others in pursuit of achievement, so it is essential to be an excellent communicator in order to lead by influence. Enhancing communication skills will enable you to use your inspirational power to motivate others so keep the following notions in mind when expressing ideas to employees and associates:

  • Understand what you want to achieve.
  • Consider the perspective of your listeners.
  • Pay close attention to how they respond.

 

Use Rewards

Being in a position of power allows leaders to use rewards to motivate others, but outstanding leaders can recreate the notion of coercive power by transforming it into influence no matter what their position is. Handing out rewards, including bonuses and promotions, in accordance with a clearly expressed batch of criteria helps promote productive activity. Maintaining a rewards system also includes adhering to rules and being fair always, which will increase your credibility and establish a foundation of trust between you and your employees.

 

Be an Example

The referent influences you have, the more others will want to align themselves with your cause.

You can increase your referent influence by being ethical, reliable, and embodying the qualities of professionalism. Illuminate the values of honesty, fairness, respect, and company pride to establish a strong model for others to look up to.

I removed the link here to the influence training page and instead placed it under “leading by influence” as that anchor text is more relevant to the link.

5 Tips for A Great Business Presentation

Jeff Cochran

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Some individuals jump at the chance to make presentations, whereas others detest the task. But no matter whether you love them, or you hate them, work presentations are something most people must do at some point in their professional lives, so iit can be very valuable to learn how to be a good presenter. Before you start preparing to deliver your next business presentation, review the following five tips to help ensure your demonstration is not only effective, but goes as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

 

1. Develop Content Wisely
  • Create a story. Presentations can linger on and appear pointless when they display scattered information without context or underlying significance. Rather than bore your audience with facts and figures, use a story to express them.
  • Shorten your introduction. A lengthy introduction can be counterproductive to your goal of capturing the audience’s attention, so do your best to limit your opener to a brief sentence or two.
  • Make your presentation short and to the point. The longer your presentation continues, the more you risk losing your audience’s concentration. Make your display as compact and precise as possible without sacrificing important information. To sustain audience engagement, make sure to shorten it to at least half the length you first expected it to be.
  • Use simple graphics. Too many complicated tables and charts do not help cultivate your listeners’ attention. Instead of attempting to dazzle with the use of graphics, animations, or fonts, put the spotlight on only the most important data points.
  • Refrain from using fancy backgrounds. Presentations with fancy backgrounds can easily distract viewers from the main points of your display. Keep their focus in check and use a simple background style with neutral colors.
  • Be simple. Rather than focusing on adding special effects, make your content simple in hopes of ensuring your audience remembers the message you want to communicate better than any other elements of your display.

 

2. Plan Your Presentation
  • Check equipment carefully. If you must use equipment like a projector or laptop in your presentation to show videos or broadcast your presentation, double check beforehand to make sure everything is working as it should be.
  • Concentrate on your audience. Ideal public speakers maintain their focus on the viewers rather than their notes. Keeping your eyes on your audience will compel them to concentrate on you and the point of your presentation.
  • Eliminate all unnecessary or redundant slides or information before you make your presentation to avoid having to skip over them while you are on front of your audience, which will make you look unorganized.
  • Be timely. Listeners can become distracted at certain times, so try to schedule your presentations around these points in the day. Always avoid making presentations at the end of a work day, before lunch hours, or a few days before a holiday.
  • Have questions prepped. If you are planning on having a Q&A when your presentation is over, prepare a few questions ahead of times to get a head start at encouraging discussion. You can introduce prepped questions with phrases such as “I am frequently asked …” or “You may still be contemplating …”
  • Make a handout. If there is information you want the audience to have during or after your presentation, make a handout to distribute before or after you talk.

 

3. Clarify Goals at the Beginning
  • Present your viewers with the purpose or objective of your presentation at the beginning to help them connect the purpose with the material you talk about during your display. This will increase the chances of the energizing the audience to act.

 

4. Introduce Ideas With Memorable Quotes or Visuals
  • To increase viewer engagement and make a lasting impact, introduce all separate topics and concepts with a related quote or image. Consider adding a sentence or two about the topic or say it out loud while allowing the image to speak for itself. These techniques not only help to break up the content of your presentation, but it will grant your topic more influence, as a relevant quote or visual will remain in the audience’s mind throughout your display as you introduce related material.

 

5. Make Your Closing Short and Sweet
  • End your presentation effectively and incorporate a short closing after you complete your Q&A. Use this time to briefly touch on the vital points of your presentation and heighten the emphasis of your call to action.

 

An exceptional training program concentrating on how to inspire by influence can help individuals gain presentation skills to deliver a winning presentation. Shapiro Negotiations can help teach people to become more influential in presentations and other forms of professional interaction. Learn more about their influence training program to become a remarkable influencer today.

 

The Importance of Negotiation

Jeff Cochran

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Technology advances rapidly in the business world. However, some things will always stay the same. The art of negotiation is as important a business skill as it ever has been. Why is negotiation important? Strong negotiation skills can be the difference between a beneficial compromise and a loss. There will always be conflicts in life, and the ability to solve them, particularly in the business world. That’s why negotiation is important in business —  it is what creates success. What are some important negotiation skills, and why are they so critical?

  • Confidence. Don’t be intimidated; bullies know how to get their way. The business world has its fair share of tyrants, as some people intimidate their way to success. Feeling intimidated means you’re already on your way to defeat. People can sense when you’re emotionally not up for the fight, and they take advantage of it.

In the business world, this can mean lost profits, promotions, and opportunities. Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated during negotiation. If the other person appears more confident, understand it’s typically not because they deserve something more than you do; they’re just convinced they do. By bringing this conviction to the table, you can win a negotiation.

  • The importance of negotiation skills includes knowing when to walk away. Some battles are not worth fighting. When business decisions hang in the balance, it’s imperative to be willing to — and know when to — walk away. If someone is transparently trying to get their way with no concessions to you, it’s best to exit the negotiation.
  • Playing fair. In most negotiations, the goal is to be fair. If both parties can understand this and be sympathetic to the others’ needs, both stand to benefit far more. A competition for money or business resources isn’t a true negotiation. In any negotiation, each side has something to offer, and some things they can reasonably concede. Be open, fair, and honest, and you can gain the most from business negotiations.
  • People skills. More often than not, it’s not what you say – it’s how you say it. By presenting your case in the right light, you stand to gain much more from any negotiation. Approaching a negotiation nervously or aggressively gives the other party the upper hand. Be calm, civil, and direct. A good sense of humor and open demeanor, as well as being a good listener, go a long way to realize a successful negotiation.

The importance of negotiation skills cannot be overstated. That’s why, as a business skill, negotiation is here to stay. But by not only understanding why negotiation is important in business, and  prioritizing having good negotiators on your team, you create the perfect environment for business success. Remember, negotiation should be approached not as a competition, but as a compromise in which everyone leaves satisfied.

18 Proven Sales Tactics That Work in Any Industry

Jeff Cochran

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Developing a strong sales program is the most critical aspect of any business. Without effective sales strategies, companies will not be able to compete and grow. Sales professionals must learn how to implement proven sales tactics that work. These sorts of sales tactics do more than just help them to close individual sales; they help to generate additional prospects for future sales.

As a sales team manager, one of your responsibilities is to provide your team with effective sales training and sales strategies that will increase your company’s profits. Effective sales processes are not just about working hard and putting in long hours. In fact, many sales teams work long and hard without experiencing results.

Effective sales strategies involve employing the best strategies in the right situations. Here are 18 sales tactics that can work for sales teams in every industry.

  1. Be persistent with leads and develop the habit of following up with each customer.

    According to the latest sales research, 80 percent of sales transactions require 5 interactions after the first contact with a customer. Many salespeople are primarily concerned with immediate sales. If they do not get the sale at the first meeting, they silently give up and continue their hunt for the next immediate sale. However, savvy sales professionals understand that they must nurture viable leads until an action is taken. These ‘rock star’ sales professionals send emails, direct mail, make phone calls or send brochures to customers at designated intervals. By taking this action, your customers will think of you when it is time to make their next purchases.

  2. Solve your customers’ problems.

    Successful businesses thrive in competitive industries because they provide solutions to meet their customers’ needs. There are many sales professionals who do not fully understand their roles in the transaction. Consider this fact. As many as 70 percent of your leads are reaching out to you to solve their problems. When customers contact your sales team, your sales professionals must be able to demonstrate to them how they can quickly and easily solve their problems.

  3. Develop the ability to actively listen to customers.

    Customers have access to pages of information on the internet. In many instances, they may be as knowledgeable as your sales team. When sales professionals interact with knowledgeable customers, they might be tempted to talk constantly to show them that they are qualified. It is important to remind your salespeople that they should never get into a knowledge power struggle with customers. Sales professionals should always listen more than they talk. Simply listening to customers’ answers can be one of the most effective sales tactics in your team’s arsenal. They should ask questions that probe into their clients’ thought processes and carefully consider the responses. The goal is to make customers feel as if they are respected throughout the sales process.

  4. Use polite terms when you discuss the competition.

    Your sales team should always strive to present themselves in a positive light and use professional language. There is nothing that screams unprofessional like using derogatory terms to discuss other people or companies. Although customers may participate in the negative conversation, bad mouthing any person or company is never a good sales tactic. If a competitor does not have a good reputation, the members of your sales team should remain neutral.

  5. Earn your referrals before you ask for them.

    Sales professionals know that referrals are the proverbial ‘holy grail’ of marketing. In fact, 91 percent of customers will provide a referral contact to a salesperson that they like. Before you think about asking your customers for referrals, you should focus on providing them with a quality customer service experience. During the transaction, your goal is to develop positive relationships with your customers. After you have determined that they are happy with your services, it is a good idea to pursue the referrals. When it comes to soliciting referrals, timing is important.

  6. Ask for referrals from your customers.

    You might not believe it, but only 11 percent of sales professionals ask clients for referrals. According to this data, the majority of salespeople are leaving money on the table. Most customers are generous, and they would happily share your good customer service with friends, family members and colleagues, but you have to ask. If your sales team waits for their customers to initiate a conversation about referrals, it might never happen. Teach your sales team how to integrate referral conversations into the sales process at the appropriate time.

  7. Adhere to strict deadlines with your customers.

    Sales professionals must create a sense of urgency with customers, or the deals will take much longer than necessary. Changing deadlines according to the whims of each customer makes sales professionals lose credibility. The old adage, where there is a will there is a way, applies here. If customers want to meet the obligations of a transaction by the deadline, they will definitely find a way to make it happen.

  8. Develop relationships with your customers.

    Without customer relationships, it can seem as if you are always in the vicious cycle of trying to ‘drum up’ new business. Your past customers can be an excellent source of new transactions for years to come. When your initial transaction is completed, you do not have to end the relationship at that point. Find creative ways to keep in contact with your customers even after you close the deal.

  9. Identify your customers’ needs and meet them.

    Sales professionals should never lose sight that the only purpose of the sales transaction is to help customers. Since transactions are closely associated with money, it is easy to lose sight of this fact. Create a list of questions that you can use to pinpoint exactly what the customer needs from the transaction. These questions will enable you to save time with customers and get to the heart of the matter. Once customers believe that you understand their predicament, they will work with you to meet their needs.

  10. Be able to distinguish a lead from a customer and act accordingly.

    Brace yourself for this disheartening fact. According to a report by Gleanster Research, only 25 percent of all leads are legitimate and ready to complete a transaction. Leads are potential transactions, and you cannot bank your future on potential. You should categorize your leads and create campaigns to interact with each type. For example, warm leads should have a different marketing strategy than cold calls. Time is a limited resource. It is best to use it wisely.

  11. Solicit targeted leads.

    A difficult lesson for many sales professionals to learn is that every person with a pulse will not be a customer. Since this is the case, sales professionals must create a strategic plan to attract customers that fit their target markets. One way to do this is to make good use of technology to find leads that could use your services. For example, credit professionals who are targeting people who are recovering from bankruptcy can use the public record to find people who fit this profile. Once you have found your potential customers, create a customized sales pitch that will appeal to each demographic.

  12. Learn to uncover each customer’s pain points.

    Television advertisements are known for pushing the viewer’s hot buttons in order to get them to take action. Fear of loss is the most common pain points that advertisers address. The primary mission of every sale professional, as emphasized in our negotiation training courses, is to find a customer’s pain points and use them to their advantage. Ron Shapiro said it best when he stated, “In order to get what you want, help them get what they want.” Sales professionals can start the search for pain points by asking closed-ended questions that only require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. As the customer begins to feel comfortable, the salesperson should ask open-ended questions that will prompt customers to reveal additional information. Once the vital information is discovered, salespeople can use it to help their customers take action.

  13. Master the art of storytelling.

    When sales professionals meet with customers, they are usually armed with all sorts of facts and data. Although data may seem important, studies suggest that only 5 percent of people remember statistics after a presentation. However, an impressive 63 percent of people remember stories after a presentation. Sales professionals need to arm themselves with stories about relevant experiences of people who have received favorable results after using their products and services.

  14. Stand by your product or service and offer some type of guarantee.

    If your customers are willing to part with their cash, your company should at least be willing to offer a guarantee on the product or service. The guarantee can be a refund or replacement. If you are afraid of most of your customers taking you up on a money back guarantee policy, you should not be. Less than 10 percent of customers return items each year. A product or service guarantee provides your customers with peace of mind that lets them know that they are protected in the event that something goes awry.

  15. Find prospects who want the things you have to sell.

    The best way to navigate through water is to go with the current instead of swimming against it. In sales, going with the current means that if you are selling chicken, your leads are people who like chicken. If your prospects are vegan, then it will be nearly impossible to sell your chicken products to them. If you want to be certain that your clients need the items you are selling, you should pre-qualify them before you actively market to them.

  16. Develop compelling goals and an actionable plan.

    Successful people know where they want to go, and they develop an action plan to help them propel toward their destination. Goal-setting and planning are critical to any sales team’s success. According to a study conducted by Inc. Magazine, sales teams that set goals realized a 28 percent increase in sales. Teaching goal-setting strategies should be a mandatory part of every organization’s corporate sales training manual.

  17. Show customers proof that your product or service actually works.

    When you look at infomercials for weight loss products, they often show ‘before and after’ pictures of previous users of the products. They understand that new customers are motivated by social proof. Sales professionals should keep customer testimonials in a binder or in their laptops to share with customers. When customers are able to view the visible proof, they will be more likely to invest in your product or service.

  18. Maintain a positive mindset.

    This may seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by the number of sales professionals who develop a jaded outlook because of sales slumps. Sales professionals must make every effort to remain positive in good and tough times. Developing a positive attitude has many benefits. Customers can tell when you are not in a good mood, and it will affect the transaction. A positive outlook helps sales professionals look for solutions to pending problems. When your sales professionals are positive, they will be able to handle stressful situations.

The above list isn’t just a collection of interesting tips—these are proven sales strategies that work. In this competitive business environment, sales professionals need to learn all the tricks of the trade in order to close a deal. By using these sales tactics that work, your sales team can learn to thrive in any economic climate.

To learn more about our sales, negotiation, or influence training for your organization please click here.

4 Tips for Answering Influence Skills Questions in Interviews

Jeff Cochran

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We’ve all been on that interview where a prospective employer asks you to “Give me an example of a time when…” While building rapport is very important in the interview process, it often feels as though the interviewer is just reading off a list of prepared questions. Well, he or she most likely is.

But what does the prospective employer really want to know?

These questions, also known as competency-based or behavioral interview questions, are designed to discover how you may respond in real-world situations. They’re useful for helping hiring managers weed out applicants who look good on paper from the ones who understand how to influence others and deliver the results that they need.

In almost every field, from government to project management to customer service, these negotiation and influencing skills can have a strong impact on a worker’s success. Negotiation interview questions allow prospective employees to demonstrate where these negotiation and influencing skills have helped them in the past—situations that may not show up in the applicant’s cover letter or résumé.

Some examples of influence skills questions are:
  • Tell us about a major challenge you encountered in your current position. How did you adapt and overcome?
  • How do you handle projects that require a lot of initiative and teamwork?
  • What is your approach to dealing with an angry customer? Can you tell us about a specific time when you solved this type of situation?
  • How do you contribute to your organization’s long- and short-term goals?

Even though these types of negotiation interview questions style of interviewing have become increasingly popular, questions like these can still throw you for a loop. SNI offers a variety of courses to help develop the communication skills necessary to excel in situations like these, but we’ll start with the basics. Here are four tips for answering these influence skills questions that will help ensure you project competence and authority, highlighting your value from the moment you enter the room.

Reach for the STAR

The challenge with influence skills questions usually isn’t thinking of an example; it’s organizing your thoughts efficiently and communicating them powerfully. The STAR acronym outlines four steps to breaking down an influence skills question – no matter how complex it may seem. Keep this in mind when a hiring manager lobs one your way.

1. Situation. Describe the situation or context of the example. For instance, “We were far behind our projected sales goals and had lost two key members of our team.”

2. Task. What goal were you trying to meet? What obstacles were you trying to overcome? “We had three weeks to make up 50% of the difference.

3. Action you took. Take ownership and use “I” statements frequently. Remember, they are interviewing you – not your former coworkers. “I pulled some long hours running numbers and I discovered missed opportunities…” Also, specifics are crucial here. Try to use actual facts and figures instead of generalizations. “I analyzed three months of account revenue and found 30–40 instances of missed opportunities.”

4. Results. Again, using “I” statements and specific facts, sum it all up. Example: “I restructured the working hours of the staff to allow for more coverage during high-volume times, resulting in a 35% increase in our closing rate and an additional $500,000 in revenue. My department ended up exceeding our goal by $10,000–$15,000.”

Follow STAR and the other tips outlined above. The next time an interviewer tries to surprise you with an influence skills question, you’ll be more than prepared to demonstrate your strengths when it comes to getting results.

To learn more about our sales, negotiation, or influence training for your organization please click here.