How to Negotiate with Influence [Complimentary Training]

Everyone negotiates, every single day. It's how life and business gets done

So whether you're a CEO, teacher, sales professional, manager, parent, hospital administrator, or anything in between, negotiating, terms, price, agreements, settlements, deals, quantities, whatever, it's in your best interest to sharpen your negotiation skills.

Enjoy this complimentary training, and let me know if you or your people have questions, or need further assistance in honing your negotiation prowess.

If you’d like to schedule a complimentary, no obligation, 1-hour training session for your employees, please complete the form below.

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Hold More Effective Meetings

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Meetings are a part of business, whether it’s meetings with your team members, with your business associates, or with community groups. Here are some ways that you can make your next meeting a success as well as a pleasant experience for all those who attend.

Provide sufficient advance notice

Plan your meeting well ahead of time and make your invitations informative. Include details such as the meeting venue, the starting and finishing times, the agenda and what should be brought by those attending. If possible, give those you want to attend a minimum of a week’s notice so they can either schedule it in or tell you well ahead of time if they’re unable to attend.

Start and finish on time

The meeting should always begin at the time stated on the invitation. Even if you know others will be arriving shortly thereafter, start the meeting on time and don’t let latecomers interrupt it.  It’s also important that your meetings finish as scheduled to show that you respect the value of other people’s time.

Work to an agenda

To be effective a meeting should be run to an agenda, with each issue managed so as to stay within a stipulated period of time and to stick to the point. If people know exactly what’s expected of them in the meeting they’ll be more likely to focus on the topic under discussion and avoid becoming distracted.

Pay attention and use eye contact

If you’re the only person speaking it’s not a meeting – it’s a lecture. Encourage others to participate and when they do, use eye contact to show that you’re listening to them and thinking about what they’re saying. When they’ve finished you might summarize what they’ve said or ask a clarifying question. This is not only courteous, it will also enable you to continue managing the meeting even if others are speaking.

Make your guests comfortable

If you anticipate the needs of your guests during the meeting they’ll be impressed by your professionalism. Have a pitcher of water and glasses available for all participants and put some bowls of mints on the table too. If it’s an especially long meeting allow for a five minute comfort break at least each hour - but be sure to restart the meeting promptly at the end of the break period. If your meeting overlaps a mealtime provide food that can be eaten comfortably by people standing up and allow a twenty minute break to eat it.

Have all materials on hand

Each participant should have a pad of paper and a pen or pencil at their seat. A copy of the agenda is also essential.  Rather than having things passed around the table during the meeting, have a copy of every item at each place. If you’re concerned about attendees ‘jumping the gun’ and seeing something ahead of time, put it in a sealed envelope and let them know at the start of the meeting that it’s to be opened later on when you ask them to.

Don’t let big talkers dominate the meeting

In most groups there are ‘talkers’ and ‘listeners’. Giving too much time and attention to the talkers can mean missing out on valuable contributions from those less inclined to speak up. You might go around the room and ask individuals what they think about what’s been said rather than asking for them to put up their hands, or simply assign everyone a one or two minute opportunity to give their view about what’s been discussed.

Record ideas on a flip chart or whiteboard

As people in the audience contribute, make a note of their comments on a flip chart or whiteboard. This will remind everyone of what’s been said during the meeting and give you the chance to invite comments from anyone who hasn’t yet spoken up. It also makes it much easier for you to give a recap of what’s been covered at the windup of the meeting.  If appropriate, summarize the meeting’s highlights and send a copy to everyone who attended.

Audit Your Approach To Customer Service

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The focus of every business today, from corner shops to IT multinationals, is on providing customer service. The driving theory says that keeping customers happy is the key to customer retention; and customer retention is the key to profitability.

And these days if a business doesn’t please its customers it won’t be long before they go somewhere else – there are plenty of places to go.

To remain competitive every business needs to examine just how it’s handling the fundamentals of customer service and look for opportunities to improve what they do. A team brainstorming session centered on a few key topics is a good way to bring new ideas to light and assess how you are performing.

What needs of your customer do you satisfy?

Every business has to offer a reason to buy from it rather than the competition – they have a unique core differentiator, or UCD. Think about how you would complete this sentence; ‘My customers prefer to buy from me because my business offers…

What do you know about your customer’s needs?

UCDs work to the extent that they really do satisfy customer needs. So knowing what’s important to your customer is vital to developing, and changing if necessary, your UCD. Is it fast no frills service, salespeople with specialist knowledge, the 5% discount you offer to loyal customers?

How can you personalize your offering to customers?

Even better is if you can tailor your offerings to particular customer groups. For instance, if you sell computer software or offer a package of software as an incentive to buy computers, you could develop different software packs to appeal to different buyer types like young singles and families.

How could you improve your relationship with the customer?

Real customer service goes beyond just offering products for sale. You need to establish a relationship with every customer that gives them a reason to return the next time they want to buy something. Sales are too often won on the basis of price; relationships are won through effort and dedication. Are your premises set up to sell something or are they intended to make customers feel something – perhaps make them feel comfortable or happy? Is your training all about pushing through a sale or is it based on providing genuine customer service? What do you do to make customers want to come back and see you again? Do you substitute electronic devices (telephone answering trees, for example) for people and end up losing touch with customers?

A customer service audit is only the beginning of what should become an ongoing process within your business. The knowledge you gain from conducting it needs to be addressed by immediate action that will make you a leader in pleasing your customers. Thereafter you should monitor your customers to stay aware of their likes and dislikes, and learn what you can do to please them even more.

How to Become A Better Communicator

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Most of us perform better in one part of the communications process, as either a Speaker or a Listener, but don’t go to the effort to make the most of our communicating abilities by improving the weaker skill. But our communication is likely to be so much better and more effective if we did. It’s not too difficult.

Speakers need to be aware of their audience

Speakers are good at sending out a message. They’re focused on what they’re saying and how they say it. What they too often miss is how it affects their audience – the listeners. Speakers who don’t think about their audience when they speak are likely to be talking mostly to themselves.

Listeners should think about what they hear

Good listening involves thinking about what the speaker is saying and integrating new information with the existing body of knowledge so it becomes relevant on a personal level. Good Listeners actively work to understand what the speaker is saying and focus their thoughts on the content of the message directed to them. Listeners who don’t listen actively will miss out on much of the speaker’s message.

Listening isn’t the same as just hearing what other people say - that’s what the ears do. It’s the brain that does the actual listening, and the more mental power you apply to what you hear, the more you’re going to understand.

You’re only going to apply this extra effort if you’re interested in what you’re hearing. That means thinking about what’s being said, word-for-word. Repeat the other person’s words in your mind and analyze what’s been said.  Don’t try to think about what you’re going to say in response; that will take you away from active listening and make you partially disconnect from the conversation.

A message is more than just the words

The content of the message isn’t just what the speaker says; it’s also the thoughts and feelings the speaker is trying to communicate. It’s the sum of what the speaker’s words really mean, which can also be conveyed by their facial expressions, body language, and even their tone of voice. The ideal communicator is aware of all the subtleties involved in communication and understands that it’s not just about the words used in a conversation.

Give feedback and learn how to receive it

All human communication is a two-way process.  Getting feedback from your audience is important so that you know if your message is being understood and also whether it’s being accepted or generating a hostile response. It can help to imagine yourself as your audience and ask: “How is this speaker going? Do I understand everything or do I need clarification?”  Good speakers always get audience feedback and can adjust their presentation accordingly.

Improving your technique

The simplest way to improve your speaking technique is to invest in a simple webcam and record yourself giving a 60-second talk on your favourite subject. When you play it back you’ll notice so much about the way you speak and quickly get an idea about how to improve it.

By thinking about how we speak, how we use our voice, and how we sound, we can greatly improve our skills of communicating to an audience, whether it’s to one person or to a roomful.  Establish a communications link with your audience and maintain it while you speak. Eye contact is essential, but you should also watch for changes in facial expression and posture to see how your message is being received, and pause from time to time to give the other person a chance to respond.

Communications are the way we relate to other people. They’re the basis of how we make friends, influence others – and do business. Start working today to become a better communicator and it will have a positive impact on every aspect of your life.

Acquiring And Managing Lead for Your Business

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The process of gaining new customers can be summed up in two steps - ‘getting leads’ and ‘converting leads to customers’. Although the first step is the responsibility of marketing and the second is the responsibility of the sales function, the two have to work together to optimize their effectiveness.

Generating the leads themselves is always the first task of any successful marketing exercise. Leads can be purchased, as in buying a mailing list of prospects, but gaining your own isn’t difficult. Just know that you should be prepared to use a variety of ways to attract qualified prospects rather than depending on just one source.

Promote yourself and manage inquiries – Think about how some companies are always announcing the results of a market study or survey. They get a lot of airtime and press space and are perceived as being experts in their area of operations. You can conduct your own survey and publicise the results, becoming an ‘instant expert’ in your own industry.

Team up with an affiliate – Find a business that’s not a direct competitor but whose customer base represents a list of good prospects for your own firm. Exchange mailing lists or do a joint promotion to both groups of customers and create a campaign that specifically targets them.

Create articles for other companies’ newsletters and websites – If you can come up with something really interesting that others will publish it’s like gaining their recommendation for your business. There are literally thousands of newsletters and websites that are happy to receive high quality, useful content for their readers.

Do your research - media like daily newspapers, Internet blogs, newsgroups and websites where people can post queries are great places to look for people who might be interested in your products. They’re also good sources of business intelligence about developments in the marketplace that might provide opportunities to open up new markets for your products or services.

Get out and be seen – Trade shows and exhibitions are surprisingly undervalued, but mainly because so many exhibitors aren’t good at following up the leads they get from them. They’re always a good way to meet seriously interested prospects, especially for B2B marketers.

Regardless of how they’re acquired, one of the most critical areas in any business is managing the leads that come in. Unfortunately, because a lot of good leads don’t respond immediately to sales efforts they aren’t pursued long enough, even though in time they may have become customers.

One way to cope with this situation is to create a follow up system that will automatically contact leads at designated intervals, perhaps by email or by sending them a piece of print material created to reflect their area of interest.  If all leads are followed up for a set period of time it keeps them ‘warm’ until the sales process finally closes them.

This type of follow up is especially useful for leads gained at large scale events like trade shows. The process can commence immediately after the event and then be maintained by some form of contact on a regular basis – perhaps weekly or bi-monthly.

To begin designing such a follow up system go back over your previous sales records and answer these questions:

1.    How many contacts did it take before a sale resulted?

2.    What was the frequency of contact with those customers where the sale was finally closed?

3.   What kind of contact method proved the most effective?

4.   How long did it take before the lead was converted to a customer?

5.   What percentage of leads became customers?

This information will guide you in creating the system so that you can determine such aspects as the type and frequency of contact and what kind of results you should expect.

Gaining leads and then following them up are all part of the overall job of staying in business. Get the two working together and you’ll have a much better chance of success than if you let them function independently.

How Negotiation Skills Can Improve Your Sales Results and Your Career Opportunities

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I recently had one of my class participants reach out to me and share the results he was able to achieve, shortly after attending our Negotiation Skills Workshop. Though this wasn't the first time I'd heard back from a participant who'd achieved significant results from the training, this time was different, because it showed how a little creativity, on the part of the participant, can turn simple principles and strategies into a world of opportunity.

Here's his story, if you'd like to hear it first hand.

The bottom line is this: When you know how to negotiate effectively, in any given situation, you can create, unstick and even improve opportunities for yourself, your company, your customers and anyone else with whom you have the privilege of negotiating.'

This gentlemen who reached out to me was able to close his first million dollar plus sales with a large account, as an account executive, and then turn around in less than a moth after, and land his ideal professional role as a VP of Business Development.

So, how did he do it, exactly?

  1. He focused on reaching a mutually beneficial outcome for his customer, then his new employer and, in both instances, for himself.
  2. He engaged both, his customer, and then his new prospective employer, in creating value based solutions that did NOT exist in past interactions and discussions.
  3. He let go of, and set aside his own agenda, in both scenarios, to focus on and fight for the other parties' outcomes, over his own.

As simple as it sounds, this is the very formula he followed to make extraordinary strides very shortly after attending the training.

If you'd like to learn more about what I taught this AE turned VP, to help him secure tremendous opportunities in his career, I've put together some free training that will help you get measurable results, immediately. You can request that complimentary training here.

 

Product Knowledge and Sales Training are NOT Enough to Sustain Sales Growth

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Obviously product knowledge and sales training are imperative to success in sales. After 21 years in sales, I would never argue that they weren't.

But when we consider that . . .

  • Statistically speaking, an average of 47% of sales people fail to make quota each month, and
  • On average, 90% of the company's training budget is spent on product knowledge training, and only 10% is spent on some form of sales training,

there's obviously something missing. There's a gap.

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Some would justify that an increase and decrease in sales, occasionally or seasonally, constitutes a normal cycle that the business or industry naturally goes through. "It's the nature of our business." At least that's the conversations many Sales VP's have with their CEO's when the numbers are down.

After working for more than 15 sales organizations during my sales career, and with more than 100 companies, across many industries, since starting my company, I would argue that this "cycle" shouldn't be the norm, acceptable, or even a necessary occurrence in any sales organization.

The reality is that this gap between product knowledge, sales training, and the achievement of ongoing, sustainable sales growth can be bridged, intentionally, with the right playbook on the part of the sales leadership, and the proper education of the salespeople, beyond product knowledge and sales training.

The bottom line is, in addition to product knowledge and sales training, salespeople also need to be equipped with right type and amount of . . .

  • Communication and Listening Skills
  • Advanced Questioning Skills
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Presentation Skills
  • Leadership (yes, leadership) Skills
  • Business Writing Skills

Over the past 8 years, small, medium and large companies like Abbot Laboratories, SAP, Baker Hughes, Verizon Wireless, Merrill Lynch, DELL and others have hired me to come in and teach their sales professionals these disciplines separately.

When they have, they've spent a small fortune to get the results and outcomes they desired. And though I love making more money each time they want to bring me in to teach each of these skills separately, one day it dawned on me . . .

"Why not take the very best practices, content, principles and concepts from each of these courses, and create one comprehensive solution that would help my clients achieve their desired outcomes, without having to destroy their training budget?"

I call it Comprehensive Sales Influence, and you can sample it for free through a complimentary video training course I created to help you/your sales team get measurable results, without having to make an investment.

You can access the first video in this complimentary course (without an email) by clicking here. If you enjoy the first video, and would like access to the second and third, simply request them by entering your name and email underneath the first video.

Don't have time to watch it now? No worries. I'll send it to your inbox and you can watch it at your convenience. Just tell me where to send the videos.

If you'd prefer a quick overview of the course description, you can get it here.

Obviously, if you like the complimentary course, and are able to get a measurable result from the content I share, I'd ask you to consider bringing me in to do the full live training with your team.

However, if all you do is watch and benefit from the free training, I will have done my job.

Go ahead and jump into the first video here. I can't wait to hear about the success and victories you/your sales team have as a result of apply what you/they learn.

How Negotiation Skills Can Help You Increase Your Sales

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Bottom Line: Learning how to negotiate will help you learn to have conversations that even the best sales training in the world can't and won't teach you to have.

These conversations are what open the doors to, and help you create, opportunities that many times don't even exist before you have said conversations. After all, your biggest sales opportunities come from 67% of your market who aren't actively looking for what you are selling.

As a result, you learn how to increase the frequency and size of your sales, increase sales revenue, and protect your margins. All the product knowledge and sales training in the world simply can't teach you these skills, and you simply won't acquire them until you learn to negotiate.  

Now for the specifics . . .

I learned the value and power of negotiation skills early in my sales career, when I read the negotiation skills classic, "Getting to Yes." That book started me on a journey to devour as much information as I could on the subject. But it wasn't until much later, when several mentors in my life, showed me how actively apply these principles in my sales conversations, that the whole game changed for me. 

I stopped letting customer and prospect "no's, not now's and maybe's" shut the door to opportunities. I started realizing that it was when they actually said "no, not now or maybe," that the real negotiation/selling conversation began. And I learned how to take those obstacles and delays, and literally transform them into more and greater sales opportunities. 

Here's how you can do the same in your own selling process . . .

1. Get to "no" faster. Make your customer/prospect tell you "no, not now or maybe" faster. Some call it "qualifying in and out early," but that's not enough. When you encourage, and even demand (professionally, of course) that the customer/prospect give you an answer, one way or another, the negotiating actually begins. How do you do this without being aggressive, confrontational, pushy, slimy or salesy? 

2. Activate tension, avoid pressure. "What's the difference," you ask? Tension is internal, pressure is external. When you ask a question of your customer/prospect that requires a "no, not now or maybe" answer, and then refuse to let them off the hook, or say another work until they give you that answer, you've activated tension in their mind. It's all on them, not on you. However, if you keep asking them that question, or any other question, or start trying to encourage them to say yes, you're pressuring them. And nobody, not even you, like that feeling. (Props to my mentor Lisa Sasevich for teaching me that little pearl of wisdom).

3. Commit yourself to their win, as much as you've committed to yours. Two of the most powerful words I've ever heard used in a negotiation, to foster a win-win outcome are the words "fair" and "comfortable." When you verbally express to your customer/prospect that you refuse to offer or provide a solution that is not both fair and comfortable for them, and for you, you've demonstrated your commitment to their win. 

4. Align with the "no, not now or maybe," and then spitball. I once brought a creative idea to my supervisor who, before even hearing the details or specifics about my idea, said, "we tried that and it didn't work." In other words, he said "no."

However, instead of tucking my tail and running away, I said, "interesting, can you tell me a little more about how that played out?" He gladly expounded, almost pounding his chest because he just knew he had me in an almost a checkmate-like position. (Side-note: Leaders don't treat their people this way, only poor managers. But I digress).

Once he finished elaborating, I acknowledged his obvious genius and profound insight by saying, "Wow! I can definitely see why that would fail miserably. You guys were very wise to shut that down when you did." Then without missing a beat, I asked, "what would you think about trying it this way?" I explained my intended approach, and then I went silent and waited. 

Without much delay and hesitation, he said, "Hey, I like that, and it just might work. Yes, go ahead and give it a go!" The spitballing happened when I asked "what would you think about . . . ?" Other forms of spitballing include, "suppose that, what if, how about, would you consider, have you tired, etc."

The moment they engage in the spitballing by saying, "well, we tried that, and it didn't work, but let's talk more about this . . . or some similar form of reciprocation, now you're collaborating - co-creating. And according to John C. Maxwell, "people support what they help create."

5. Add aligned value. "Adding value" has become, in my opinion, just another platitude. However, adding "aligned value" is a completely different approach. We constantly offer things to people in a negotiation that we believe they should want. In fact, countless businesses fail every year because they've attempted to offer customers what they believe they should want, but don't. Likewise, frustration and failure abound when we take the same approach. 

It's better to spend time learning what the other part truly values before we start offering concessions to facilitate an agreement. We could potentially lose the opportunity and not even know why.

Take these 5 insights, and immediately infuse them into your current sales process. I believe they will help you produce even greater results than you're currently experiencing. 

However, no matter how much you study, read, watch and listen to these negotiation skills being taught, you can't fully learn to effectively leverage and apply them to your own situation in a vacuum. It's imperative that you seek out an interactive learning experience that will allow you to test, and work through, the principles you learn. For this reason, I'd like to personally invite you to join me for our upcoming live seminar. You can get all the details here.

 

  

Where Most People Drop the Ball in a Negotiation

I'm sure you've heard this before, but it bears repeating, time and again, especially if you're anything like me:

"If you want to "win," and truly get what you really need, want and expect when you negotiate . . . prepare, prepare, prepare.

See, I told you that you've heard that before. But are you doing it? Enough? Consistently?

Or do you consistently drop the ball when it comes to the preparation because you're busy, overwhelmed, over scheduled, or plagued, like me, by a touch of "adult-onset-of-ADHD."

I admit it, I have the best intentions, I really do. But as good as those intentions are, there are far too many times I let "good enough" derail my "very best" because, let's face it . . . preparation takes time.

Honestly, though, I stated taking this whole preparation thing much more seriously when someone pointed out to me that, on average, across industries, professional buyers (anyone whose job, or job in part, is to purchase stuff for their company) invest 3 hours of prep time for every hour they plan on negotiations. Wow! 3 to 1! I know I hadn't been investing that much time. Not even close.

I am glad, however, that I took this statistic to heart when I was preparing to negotiate my salary at the last employer I worked for before I started my company, Influence Seminars. I literally spent close to five hours preparing for what turned out to be a thirty-minute conversation. I prepared three pages of notes, a spreadsheet, and had printed copies of evidence I would use as proof and salary justification, should I need to.

It's a good thing I prepared for this conversation as thoroughly as I did. Ultimately it came down to a one-on-one negotiation with the CEO, who I was certain had tons more negotiation experience than I did. And he had ALL the leverage (or at least it seemed).

When all was said and done, and all the smoke had cleared, the CEO and I both emerged with a win. He, with a world-class Director of Training (who had absolutely no experience on that role, only mad skills as a trainer), and me, with a salary, benefits and perks that would rival any other person in that role, in the United States.

All because I was prepared. Over prepared!

So let me ask you . . . what is your time in preparation worth to you? What if you were absolutely "loaded for bear" the next time you stepped to the negotiations table? Can you put a number on it? If so, please don't forsake the preparation process ever again. You now know what is at stake.

So when you prepare, here's a checklist to help you do so effectively, efficiently and meticulously, so that you can get exactly what you need, want and expect:

1.    Know whom you're negotiating with. Spend time with the person if you can. That's the best way. If not, spend time researching them on social media, talking to people who have worked with them, or picking up the phone and having a conversation with them prior to the actual negotiation.

2. Add value to their business or life. Once you know who they are, what they like, what they think about, what they focus on, and what they value, help them get more of it. One of my mentors, John Maxwell says it best: "Influence is adding value to the lives and businesses of others. There's a story of a lady who landed a ten-minute interview with Warren Buffet. When she entered his office for that ten-minute interview, she entered carrying his favorite beverage. The first thing out of his mouth was, "young lady, you can have as much time as you need."

3. Get clear and specific with what you want, how much and why. Write it down. Going in with vague expectations in your head is a recipe for disaster and failure in negotiations. Know what you want, need and expect in advance. Then write it down to carry in with you.

4. Anticipate their need, wants and expectations. Just like you, there's a reason they're at the negotiations table. Find out what that may be. If you're not sure, just ask. If they won't tell you it's because you haven't yet built a relationship of trust. Or it's because you asked them first without sharing yours first.

5. Have a list of questions. Now how much time, effort and energy you invest into preparation, there are always going to be things you still don’t know. Write down questions that will help you uncover the answers during the conversation. The last thing you want is to be caught like a dear in the headlights, searching for the right question to ask.

I sincerely hope this article served you. If you'd like to learn more about how negotiate a win-win, every time you have an opportunity to negotiate, join me for one of our upcoming live seminars. I'd be honored to work with you and help you achieve the outcomes you deserve.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Run your Business, So You Can Live the Lifestyle You Want to Live

Did you start your small business to that you could baby sit a bunch of adult children, stress out every month about making payroll,  or eat crow while angry customers rail on you? 

Or did you  start your company because you wanted to call the shots, be in control of your own destiny, grow it being enough to sell it, or because you just wanted to make a go at something you were passionate about?

So, is the business you created living up to your expectations? More importantly, is it affording you the opportunity to live the lifestyle you envisioned when you started the business?

In this video, I share the one essential element you need to focus on, to make all the moving parts come together, so you can have your business run the way you need it to, to live the life you lifestyle you want.

Would you like to discuss more creative ways to make your business run like clockwork? Schedule a complimentary, no obligation consultation, and I'll be glad to brainstorm some possibilities with you.

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