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.