How Networking and Social Media Help Negotiation Skills

Jeff Cochran


Many people consider social media a waste of time in the workplace, which is one reason why most employers block employees’ access to social media accounts during work hours. In general, visiting social media sites during work hours is a bad practice, but social media does have certain benefits that businesses can take advantage of. For example, social media provides a great environment to practice and develop negotiation skills. The following are a few of the benefits of social media for negotiation and how to keep the distractions of social media out of the office.


1. Build your image before negotiations: Social media allows people to build up an image and reputation, in essence creating a persona. This means that negotiators will be expecting to negotiate with the persona and may give you the advantage of appearing stronger or tougher than you really are. By influencing what your competitor knows and thinks about you using social media, you can also influence the outcome of the negotiations.

2. Learn about your competitor: When you research the person you will be negotiating against, look at their social media profiles to get an idea of their character. However, as they may very well be practicing the same methods as you, focus less on what they say and more on their style of writing. For example, concise statuses or comments that express strong opinions and are posted regularly indicate a person who makes quick decisions and wastes little time, striving to be as efficient as possible. By paying attention to how they write and the language they use, you can get a better insight into how their mind works.

3. Practice and learn about emotional control: One of the most prevalent problems with the internet is the number of hate-filled comments posted on every social media site. Some internet users post angry comments and statuses due to personal issues, while others respond irrationally to ideas or statements they disagree with. One way to potentially practice negotiation skills is to join some of these more explosive conversations and control your anger when responding to hate-filled comments. You will also learn what types of comments most affect other’s ability to control their emotions.

4. Practice self-management: Social media often draws users in and keeps them distracted for hours, preventing them from getting work done. When you do go on social media, have a goal of things you want to look at and a time limit for how long you can spend, and stick to those restrictions. By using social media as a tool to learn to control your impulses and manage your time, you can become a more effective employee and a more effective negotiator.

Considerations for Building a Remote Workforce

Jeff Cochran


Strong leadership is integral for a remote working environment to be successful, as is a firm grasp of negotiations training to boost interview skills. Remote opportunities offer flexibility for workers, expand the hiring pool, and reduce overhead costs for companies, provided you’ve hired employees you can count on to follow your lead. Because hiring the wrong worker can negatively impact your business’s success, look for employees with the following four traits.



When working from a remote location, there are myriad potential distractions. From kids coming home after school to the temptation to check social media during work hours, remote employees are susceptible to procrastination, diverted attention, and poor productivity. Seek candidates who have a strong history of self-motivation. Generally, these individuals are more focused, determined, and efficient when completing work-related tasks. Hire managers equipped with the knowledge provided by sales training and negotiations training to quickly identify whether a candidate is a self-starter.

Previous Experience

Like applicants for any other position, previous experience is a definite plus. While performing required tasks and navigating company processes can be taught, accomplishing goals while working remotely brings an entirely new set of challenges if the candidate lacks experience. When interviewing candidates without previous experience working remotely, ask pointed, situation-based questions and carefully evaluate their response. Questions like, “Given the requirements of this position, how would you structure your day?” will help determine if an unexperienced candidate has potential to succeed.

Problem-Solving Skills

Unlike a physical office, working remotely requires the ability to independently problem solve. Though leadership should be accessible for complex questions, remote workers must think critically, quickly, and have confidence in their ultimate conclusion. Exceptional problem-solving skills are essential for remote employees, but you can’t always take a candidate’s stated strengths at face value. Negotiations training is recommended for leaders and hiring managers, as it helps hone interview skills. Asking the right questions at the right time during an interview will reveal whether a candidate is truly an experienced problem solver or merely added a buzz word to their resume.

Good Attitude 

Job flexibility is attractive to many workers, as is working from home (or any convenient location). However, it’s important to hire remote employees who maintain a good attitude and are dedicated to fostering a positive team environment. Ask candidates how they might handle a stressful task, rude co-worker, or a request to perform a service outside of their job description. Often, responses will provide you with telling information about their on-the-job attitude.

Building Strong Remote Leadership

Jeff Cochran


Many businesses are offering flexible work arrangements or completely remote capabilities. With this, a need arises for different recruiting, training, and leadership skills. Remote leaders are responsible for creating a common vision everyone can follow, allowing for team cohesion even at a distance. From providing remote negotiations training to conducting company-wide sales training, remote leaders inspire unity when adhering to four specific rules.

DeathtoStock_Creative Community7

Set Clear Expectations 

As opposed to working in a physical location, remote employees are scattered throughout the country (and perhaps the globe). To keep everyone on the same page, remote leaders must establish a set of clear expectations. While performing individual tasks is the responsibility of the employee, leaders are expected to clearly outline the following:

  • Work hours. When a team works remotely, it’s important to get everyone on the same page regarding expected work hours. If employee improvement, such as negotiations training, must take place, clearly specify when trainings are held.
  • Regular meetings are essential to keep communication flowing. Establish expectations for company meetings, including when they will take place, the protocol for missing a meeting, and recurring topics to be discussed.
  • Leading from afar requires confidence in a team member’s ability to work independently while meeting productivity goals. Remote leaders are responsible for setting clear guidelines outlining expectations.

Don’t Hide Behind the Screen

Being available to remote employees is one of the best ways to keep workers engaged, motivated, and informed. When leading a team of remote employees, don’t hinder your availability by hiding behind the computer screen. Particularly when conducting sales training, leaders need to be accessible to workers to address questions and concerns. If time constraints are a concern, establish set hours of availability during which employees can contact you and receive a prompt response.

Leverage Technology to Facilitate Training

Most companies operating a remote workforce lack the option to conduct business free of technology. Between collaborative online tools, productivity tracking programs, and digital communication, technology is the conduit that facilitates ongoing dialogue, training, and employee improvement. Use digital solutions that bring remote employees together and increase access to members of your leadership team.

Extend Trust and Confidence to Employees

All employees benefit when leaders extend trust and confidence in their abilities. When managing remote teams, it’s important to clearly communicate this level of trust. Provide remote employees with confidence-boosting compliments, but don’t stretch the truth. Focus on an employee’s strengths and how those strengths contribute to the company’s goals, and offer positive feedback on recent projects. Communicating your belief in an employee’s abilities will inspire them to work harder to reach established goals.

2014 World Cup: Lessons for Success

Jeff Cochran


The World Cup is the largest sporting event on the planet and has been dominating conversation for the past few weeks. The event has drawn soccer teams (football teams in the rest of the world) together from all over the world to determine which country has the best team. However, we can learn more from the World Cup than which soccer team is the best. There are three important business lessons to be found in this year’s World Cup.

1. Embrace change: FIFA, the organization responsible for the World Cup, managed to incorporate the use of technology in a way that was not possible in previous Cups and increased fan involvement on a tremendous scale. By utilizing mobile technology to promote the games, FIFA was able to get the greatest access to the largest number of fans. The number of attendees who took and sent selfies and cell phone pictures was higher than in any other sporting event, and Facebook and Twitter were constantly buzzing with status updates and comments about the games.

FIFA was able to encourage this by embracing the use of mobile technology and social media. If companies learn to embrace changes in technology and changes in culture, they too can raise awareness of their products and develop a loyal customer base.

2. Learn effective teamwork: Soccer is a team sport, and like any team sport it requires excellent collaboration and communications skills between players. Teams in the World Cup this year boasted some of the most famous and skilled players in the world, and yet those teams fell to less skilled players who were able to work together more effectively.

Businesses need all of their employees working together to become successful. If a few employees are hardworking and extremely productive, their efforts might be cancelled out by other employees who tend to slack off. Successful business requires communication at all levels and between all employees as well as hardworking and dedicated employees who know their jobs and do them well.

3. Build community: In addition to collaborating to become an effective work force, employees should enjoy working together. The World Cup drew together fans from all types of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds and made them into one community, bound by one common interest. USA fans who had never met each other cheered and celebrated together with every victory, and groaned and comforted one another with every defeat.

Successful businesses like Google, Apple, and Pixar take great strides to create a sense of community among their employees. Individual workspace decoration is encouraged, video games and board games are available at breaks, and ideas are welcomed from even the newest employees. Making work a place where employees feel comfortable and happy is a great way to create a more successful business.

5 Tips to Negotiation Training Online

Jeff Cochran



Using a virtual environment for leadership and corporate sales training has a proven success rate, but some still question whether it adequately communicates the necessary leadership qualities. Making sure communication, trust, and management skills are properly taught is necessary to achieve success. If you think your company is ready to take negotiation training into a virtual environment, we have some tips and ideas to ensure you accomplish your goals:

Give information in chunks.

When a person opens a website or a training page that is stuffed with text, they are immediately intimidated. Even if the text is simple and refers to interesting concepts, the sheer volume of words on one page can discourage people. By presenting the information in smaller portions, a few topics per page, with slightly larger font and more white space, it makes readers more receptive.

Use images correctly.

Images are great for drawing the viewer’s attention and emphasizing a point. Too many images, however, cause a page to look crowded and make it difficult for the reader to not become distracted. When inserting images into a training document or slideshow, make certain they are tasteful and relevant instead of random images that only serve the purpose of breaking up text.

Make sure the speaker’s voice is audible.

One of the most insufferable parts of an online class or online training session is when the teacher or instructors voice is too hard to hear. It’s audible when all is quiet and still, but the slightest noise can cause you to miss an important piece of information. Often, the problem is not due to any sort of technological glitch but rather the volume of the speaker’s voice.

When this is the case, the simplicity of fixing the problem and the fact that it hasn’t been corrected are a mark against a company. It is important to ensure when conducting or preparing negotiation training that all technical volume issues are worked out and the speaker is projecting at an appropriate volume.

Ensure the speaker is understandable.

If the instructor giving the training has a hard to understand accent or speaks quickly or with any type of speech impediment, it causes numerous problems with negotiation training. As with volume control, making sure the audience can hear and understand what they are being told is imperative to successful virtual training. Clarity is one of the more important aspects of negotiation training.

The instructor should be an effective speaker.

Being an effective speaker and communicator is more than proper enunciation and speaking volume. It involves communicating a sense of authority and assurance to the audience. By lowering the pitch of his or her voice, a speaker impresses upon the listeners a sense of power and trustworthiness. Similarly, modulating the tone and pitch of one’s voice leads to a more engaging presentation.

By following these tips and being aware of feedback from audiences, your company will greatly improve the efficiency of its virtual negotiations training sessions.

Are Virtual Environments the Future of Leadership Training?

Jeff Cochran


Businesses are searching for a more effective way to conduct leadership training using virtual environments. Learning in virtual environments has many benefits, as training sessions can be led completely online and a wide range of simulations can be created for more effective lessons. Read on to learn more about how virtual environments are being used in leadership training, why companies and organizations are benefiting from this new movement, and how you can implement these strategies at your organization.

 Effective Leadership Training & Virtual Environments

A recent study conducted by ON24 and Training Industry, Inc. uncovers the importance of effective leadership training for organizations and discusses how virtual environments allow them to create more effective, efficient leadership training. Overall, leadership training is an estimated $2 billion industry in the U.S., which means maximizing ROI in this area is critical. While the organizations in the study were investing about $684 in leadership training per employee, the largest obstacle to the effectiveness of that training was sustaining its impact over time.

However, for organizations that use virtual environments for leadership training, those undergoing the training rated it as more effective. Furthermore, the study found that effective companies invest 44% more in leadership training than ineffective companies. This study shows that effective leadership training is important for business success, and using virtual environments leads to more effective training.

How Virtual Environments Are Being Used

When virtual environments are used for leadership training, this training is most commonly conducted through simulations. In the military, simulation-based training is used to both practice and develop the skills that soldiers need to succeed. There are many advantages to using such simulations in leadership training. Simulation-based training is beneficial because it can be completely customized to meet the needs of the trainee. Furthermore, research shows that it is helpful for those undergoing such training to watch themselves perform tasks in the virtual environment, as this allows for greater reflection on the process.

Building Virtual Teamwork

When it comes to virtual leadership training, the most important element is building virtual teamwork. However, there are a few challenges faced by virtual teams that are important to keep in mind when implementing these strategies at your organization.

  • Communication: While virtual communication can be difficult, there are a number of tools that your organization can utilize to alleviate this challenge. The key is to ensure that you are using the right tools for each individual situation.
  • Trust: Building trust can also be a major challenge in building virtual teamwork, particularly when team members come from different cultures. It is important to ensure that the manager in the situation invests in relationships with the virtual team and is prepared to work with individuals from diverse backgrounds.
  • Management: Finally, managing virtually can also be a significant challenge. Fortunately, studies have shown that employees who work from home actually work harder, which means that less management is necessary.

Getting the Most out of Your CRM

Jeff Cochran


Customer relationship management (CRM) is evolving almost on a monthly basis. What it’s taken to get here is almost unbelievable in terms of programming, technological progress and boundary-pushing software innovation. Over the last few years enterprise has been adapting to this tsunami of information, learning how to filter it and implement what they learn.

The utilization of business-based metrics is absolutely critical in our modern hypercompetitive environment where 70% of the consumer journey takes place online. Within a few years from right now hundreds of millions of people will join the internet marketplace as well. By then, CRM efficiency will have increased ten-fold.

Here are the three ways to increase the amount of bang you get for your CRM buck moving forward.

#1) Develop a Holistic Data-Driven Approach

Part of bringing your CRM systems to their full potential is allowing the data to become a transparent part of everything. From top to bottom the business needs to become holistically data-driven. That’s not to say completely cold. It means that hard data needs to be at the forefront of all sales and marketing decisions.

  • The sales team is likely accustomed to this mindset already, but how about everybody else within the organization?
  • All internal activity can be tracked now, and used to increase efficiency. Measure. Train. Optimize.
  • Because data now governs the marketing world, both online and otherwise, it must be layered throughout all initiatives and mediums.

#2) Choose 5 Primary-Focus Points

It’s almost too easy to drown in information. Or, spend a fortune on digital mountains of data that at the end of the day your organization really doesn’t need. Instead of trying to overwhelm yourself into metrics oblivion, choose 5 primary focus points. Don’t think you’re stuck with the five you choose, because to survive these days takes consistent adaptation.

  • Start simple rather than going for the most complicated and expensive forms of tracking information.
  • When choosing which metrics to focus on, ascertain which provide the most insight and bridge the most gaps between you and your clients or customers. What provides the most visibility, and accountability?
  • Three of the big hitters for modern companies are going to be volume, overall and specific sales funnel conversion rates and the speed at which platforms are expanding.

#3) Merge Sales & Marketing Forces

Because the sales and marketing environments are progressing as the modern world does, it’s important to define them as you go. Where is the line between them? As Bonnie Crater puts it,

“Have clear definition of stages, steps, processes, and hand off. Be sure they are well understood and documented. It is time for sales and marketing to become BFFs.”

CRM is quickly becoming one of the most powerful and influential tools for modern businesses. No brand can expect to “wing it” and compete without serious CRM. Everything is being tracked, and this information is critical! Through implementing these three tips and then growing as your CRM grows, you can get the most out of it.

Complimentary Webinar Invitation

Jeff Cochran



training magazine free webinar series

Give The Sales Team What They Need…When They Need It

Date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern

SNI, in conjunction with Brainshark, Training Magazine, and Sales and Marketing Management will be conducting a complimentary webinar: “Giving The Sales Team What They Need…When They Need It!”

To make training stick and actually drive results, it must be practical, customized, and accessible when needed. How can you leverage on-demand training and tools to improve your sales team’s ability to execute?

Join as our EVP of Design and Production, John Buelow, and Brainshark’s VP of Sales Enablement, Marc McNamara, present examples of training content that it can be easily created, consumed, and tracked. They will share:

  • A systematic approach to sales and negotiation that increase accountability and drives results
  • Tips and tricks for delivering training content to boost engagement
  • How to measure and track results

To register for our webinar, please go to:

Five Rules For Choosing A Mobile App Platform

Jeff Cochran


When designing a mobile app, it isn’t enough to just code into the void and then launch the app to consumers. No – there are numerous ways in which apps should be optimized for maximum user enjoyment, starting with the selection of an appropriate mobile platform. Follow these five rules when choosing your mobile app platform to ensure ease of use and top performance.

  1. Choose a hybrid platform. Using a hybrid platform will allow your app to translate across different platforms and environments. This makes it less expensive to design and avoids the pitfalls of trying to translate a platform specific application. Make sure your hybrid platform is compatible with mobile coding, can run background activities, and can manage secure on-device backup.
  2. Adopt HTML5. HTML5 still has its problems, but because as a platform it embraces so many different functions, from messaging to data semantics, it is unwise to forego this platform entirely. Making HTML5 part of your hybrid platform will help to integrate your app into the growing community of HTML5 users, while still providing it with some firmer ground in the form of a joint platform.
  3. Engage with the cloud. It can feel strange to back-up your devices and programming in what seems to be the equivalent of thin air, but the cloud is the way to go these days. Don’t overlook more traditional back-end systems, but combine them with public and private cloud structures to improve the overall integration of your app with other programming.
  4. Choose your provider carefully. With the rapid changes that app platforms are undergoing resulting in constant turnover, it is important that you choose a supporting provider who is financially solvent and that has an extensive roadmap for product evolution. Your provider should be able to make new formats available to you rapidly, and their company framework needs to align with your service level agreements.
  5. Emphasize collaboration. Nothing in today’s marketplace is designed by a single person. Rather, it is much more common to find multiple teams of people engaged in the problem solving process of designing an app. With that kind of diversity, however, it is not uncommon to find different coding languages and conflicts between the groups. Make sure to choose a platform that can help to integrate the multiple groups into the final product and that offers collaboration software, resulting in a seamless experience for the consumer.

A New Face For Customer Relationship Management

Jeff Cochran


Let’s face it: customer relationship management (CRM) is a jumbled mess. We come to CRM with an empty box, and then an uncoordinated group works to add information to it. The leads generated by various parts of the sales force simply don’t come together into a coherent image of who our customers are. But with evolution in the field of CRM, there is potential for that to change. From the revolutionary no software world of Salesforce, CRM is evolving. The CRM of the future won’t require an entire team of its own, generating leads and pouring information into it. The only CRM worth having in the future will be one that provides those leads on its own.

Many highly successful companies have found that there is only one good way to deal with their CRMs, and that is to assign an entire team to the projects, along with thousands or even millions of dollars. The empty box that every current CRM starts out as gets filled by these teams, but only large companies have the resources necessary to make this happen. Instead, the rest of us are forced to work with conflicting information or missing updates. With a system like that, it’s impossible to know who needs our products.

A properly functioning CRM in the future will have the answer to that question. Right out of the box, new CRMs will have a set of customer recommendations. And, to make the system even better, those recommendations will be consistent across departments. If one department discovers that recommendations are wrong, the CRM will update across all departments. Leads should be singular and consistent in this CRM of the future. There shouldn’t be duplicates or entire CRM-dedicated teams. And those leads shouldn’t cost millions of dollars to uncover.

Finally, to really have an optimized CRM will mean that we get the big picture. The new CRM should be able to tell us whether our customers are on Facebook, or if they are Twitter users instead. A wide variety of information should be available within the CRM, and the system should be smart enough to know which representatives need which kinds of information. This may sounds like a stretch, but we are rapidly approaching this phase in the world of CRMs.

It was exciting when Salesforce first revolutionized the market by getting rid of the extensive software needs that CRMs used to come with, but the future holds even more exciting prospects. CRM may still be a hassle, but coming down the road are changes that will streamline the lead process in ways we never imagined before.