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Keeping Your Sales Team Motivated During Summer Months

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As summer settles in for the season, you may have noticed a dip in employee engagement and motivation. Longer days and warmer weather may tempt your employees to take more days off and spend less time thinking about the company’s sales goals. Unfortunately, when several employees ramp up their sick leave, your productivity may suffer. Maintaining employee engagement can be difficult in the summer months, but there are several strategies businesses can leverage to beat the heat on their bottom line.

 

Encourage Vacation Time

Planned vacation time is always better to work around that absenteeism. That aside, even your most productive workers face burnout, especially if they haven’t taken a vacation in a long time. Summer is the best time for your employees to rest, recharge, and have fun with their families. If you encourage vacation time, they’ll come back well-rested and ready to take on new sales challenges.

 

Schedule Some Company Summertime Fun Activities

It’s natural to want to relax over the summer. There are a couple of ways that you, as a company, can also relax a little over the season without hurting your sales quotas. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Organize a summer company outing. This may be a picnic, potluck, or barbeque, or a competitive activity such as whirlyball or mini-golf. No matter the activity, summer outings can encourage team-building skills and make your employees more engaged in your company. Photo-based documentation of these activities also works well on your website to emphasize your employee-centric culture.
  • Consider an abbreviated schedule. Many companies use a shorter schedule during the summer – most notably a shorter day on Fridays. However, you’ll want to stress that a shorter deadline is contingent on meeting deadlines or other sales goals.
  • Incorporate casual Fridays. Allowing workers to wear informal attire on Fridays has been linked to higher productivity.

 

Be More Flexible

As long as your employees are being productive, allow them some more flexibility during the summer. This may mean letting them work from home a day or two each week or holding meetings outside with a catered picnic lunch. This will help your employees feel more engaged with the summer season – after all, no one likes sitting in the office on a beautiful day.

Follow these tips and you’ll see a boost in productivity from your summer employees. A little flexibility and fun in the sun do a lot to help even your most unmotivated workers.

3 Ways to Warm Up Cold Leads in 2017

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Cold calling and cold lead marketing still have their place, even in today’s technology driven world, but, with the digital revolution, there are some new tricks to the trade. We live in a consumer-driven economy, so they’re more ahead of the curve than they used to be. Cold lead marketing is now a combination of digital and traditional techniques, but it has the same end goal: leading a prospect one step further down the funnel. Here’s how to do it in 2017:

1.  Foresee and Derail Common Objections

Rejection is simply a part of the business, and most cold callers know how quickly rejection can derail a call, but doing some customer research can help you identify sources of common objections so you can tackle them before they arise.

Each company will handle an objection differently, but, no matter your response, practice it over and over. For example, a common objection is that a product or service is cost-prohibitive. Be prepared to offer alternate solutions, such as an exclusive promotion, instead of hanging up the phone.

2.   Leverage Multiple Channels

If you’re still exclusively cold-calling, it’s time to come to the 21st century. The digital revolution has opened up several channels for cold lead marketing: email campaigns, social media outlets, and even things like Adwords.

One of the best ways you can nurture a cold lead is by posting relevant evergreen content on your company blog. Evergreen content, like its name, is long-lasting and sustainable. It’s not breaking news or information about the latest trends, so it remains relevant for long past its publication date. This allows traffic to build over time.

To build evergreen content for your website, consider your customers best pain points and design your work around it. These are ideas that will stand the test of time and that you can share through different channels over time (email marketing, social media, etc).

3.  Prepare With Email

Cold calling can be a valuable tool in your sales arsenal, but you can warm up a cold call by sending a quick email. Create a compelling, personalized subject line, then offer a paragraph of content that addresses a customer’s pain point or business concern. Tell them you plan to call to discuss the issue further. Avoid being too “salesy” since you’re not really selling them anything at this point. Focus on providing them with VALUE at this point.

Cold lead marketing has become more sophisticated than ever thanks to today’s technology. Follow these tips to turn cold leads into loyal customers.

How to Prepare for Sales Training

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Sales training is a crucial step toward increasing your sales performance, becoming an effective negotiator, improving your skills of persuasion, and fostering strong interpersonal relationships. On the other hand, if you’re not adequately prepared for your sales training seminar, you may not get the most out of the valuable information you learn. Here’s how to get ready for your sales training event:

Take Ownership of the Process

Some employees look at sales training as the cost of doing business, but this isn’t the right approach. To make the most of your training, start with the right mindset. This means:

  • Acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers. Everyone, even those who are posting the highest numbers every month, can learn something new. A growth mindset is essential for becoming the best salesperson you can be.
  • Talking it up. Take on a leadership role and get everyone else excited about the seminar, too. A collaborative approach will ensure you’re all getting as much out of your time and investment. When you get home from your training, work together to implement what you’ve learned.
  • Giving it your all. Don’t show up just to fill a seat. Minimize distractions by telling everyone when you’ll be gone and you won’t be responding as quickly to messages in that time frame.
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone. Most salespeople naturally enjoy talking to others, but everyone has a comfort zone. Make an effort to step out of yours by collaborating with others outside of your immediate circle and actively participating in your learning experience.
Prepare Beforehand, Not During

If possible, get an outline of the session so you can better prepare. Take a few moments to plan a learning goal for yourself. What do you hope to get out of the session? What are you expecting to learn? Once you have a plan in mind, it will be easier to ask questions and take notes to ensure you’re meeting your goals.

During the seminar, pay close attention and enjoy yourself! Training sessions are usually informative, fun, and offer plenty of opportunities for collaboration. Once you return from your sales training, don’t forget to apply it: sales skills are like muscles – if you don’t flex them often, they’ll lose their strength.

Getting the most out of your sales training is a matter of having the right mindset, showing up prepared, and using what you’ve learned. If you follow those steps, your professional life will benefit.

How to Measure the Returns of Influence Training

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Many employers consider influence training for their staff but are unsure of how to measure their return on investment. Often, managers must provide metrics to the C-Suite to justify the expense of such programs. There are several ways to assess the benefits of influence training:

Take A Look At Their Actions

People may say a lot about their training experience. They may say they were engaged with the materials and they learned information, but actions speak louder than words. That’s why quantitative measures, rather than qualitative ones, are more effective in discussing further training with the C-Suite.

For example, use a simple response system like Poll Everywhere to conduct a short quiz to assess knowledge before and after a training session. This will help measure the returns on your training efforts and justify more training for your employees.

Here’s another idea: create a series of benchmarks before sending employees off for influence training. Once your employees return, list a series of scenarios to work through, and see if those benchmarks were met. This not only helps you determine who was engaged with the sessions, but it gauges the value of the sessions themselves.

Here are some other examples of assessments you can sell to management:

  • Best answer questions. A multiple-choice assessment will provide good quantitative data to give to your higher ups.
  • Peer review. Have trainees put together a product (either alone or in teams) that the rest of the workforce can review. Have them make suggestions for improvement or comment on the quality of the work.
Look at Metrics Over Time

One of the best ways to measure the return on your influence training investment is to look at quantitative trends in your business outcomes over time. Here are some examples of metrics to measure:

  • Productivity and output
  • Sales volume
  • Customer satisfaction, including retention and the number of customer complaints
  • Employee metrics, including  average length of employment and revenue per employee

Just be sure your metrics are relevant, measureable, and provide value to your stakeholders.

If you are looking to convince your employer to pay for your influence training because you feel it will have business and personal benefits, don’t forget that proving the former to management is the key. Prepare a plan to measure the returns on your training investment and follow through accordingly. You’ll find that influence training is well worth the cost.

Why You Need a Sales Training Course

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The art of the sale is about more than making a pitch. A compelling salesperson has both strong communication skills and powers of interpretation. These are abilities that are suited not just to people in sales, but those in virtually every profession. Consider these reasons why sales training can benefit any industry:

It Improves Customer Communication

Every business has customers, and you’re usually trying to sell them something, whether it’s a product, service, or experience. Sales training fosters important skills like listening to understand what the customer needs and wants. You’ll learn how to ask the right questions during an interaction, guiding a prospect through the funnel and turning them into a loyal customer. An added benefit of sales training is that is enhances communication with all personality types.

Customers also have unhappy moments, despite our best intentions. A sales training course will enhance customer service skills so a worker can navigate objections and offer solutions that enhance the consumer experience.

It Develops Leadership Skills

At its core, sales is service. No matter your industry, you want to make people feel good about working with you and cultivate long-term relationships. Good leaders display strong communication skills and develop valuable interpersonal relationships with shareholders and employees alike.

A sales training course teaches leadership skills by promoting an understanding of people and delivering value to both customers and workers. Reaching the right people at the right time to solve a problem is the heart of sales.

It Helps People Overcome Hurdles

We all suffer rejection from time to time. Customers want to find a reason not to buy, or a manager might have a hard time buying into a new idea. No matter the cause, objections happen. In some cases, it’s tempting to give up after a rejection, but sales training teaches people how to get to the root of an objection and overcome it.

One of the most common ways to teach this concept is with role playing. For example, in a training course, we may have a “prospect” give objections to a salesperson during a presentation. This allows the trainee to think through and discover possible reasons for objections in a mock scenario.

Sales training benefits people in all different industries. A sales mindset is essential for delivering superior customer service, cultivating quality relationships, and resolving objections before they become a problem. Consider adding a sales training course to your job teaching repertoire.

How to Prevent Objections in a Negotiation

Cameron Johnson

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Whether you are pitching a sale or negotiating a deal with one of your suppliers, the other party will almost inevitably have an objection that can stop the discussion in its tracks. In transactional sales, potential customers become fixated on a specific issue, whether that is a missing feature or a price point that is higher than they would like. Often, these objections have no real bearing on the customer, but the customer is either looking for an excuse to put the conversation off until later or possibly even avoid the conversation entirely.

Potential negotiation partners get hung up for several reasons, from a genuine lack of interest in what the other party has to offer to other alternatives that may seem like a better fit. While Shapiro Negotiations can teach you and your team a variety of ways to effectively overcome these objections, sometimes it’s more effective to stop them before they become an issue.

 

Ask a lot of questions early on.

During a negotiation, knowing as much as possible about the other party’s interests and motivation can be a great advantage. If a negotiation feels adversarial or competitive from the start, the other person or group will often shut down communication in an attempt to “win.” Rather than a competition, a negotiation should feel like a collaborative effort, where both parties are working together to create the most beneficial outcome for everyone involved. For that to work, though, you need to know exactly what it is the people on the other side of the table want.

From the beginning, ask questions about goals, what is being done to achieve them, and then figure out where you fit in achieving those goals. Questions like “What is most important about [a particular aspect of the negotiation],” lead the other party to start talking about what they’re looking for and opening up more to possible solutions. Clarifying follow-up questions, like “Why is that important?” help you to narrow down exactly what they are looking for and tell you how to show you can help them to accomplish those goals.

 

Negotiate with people.

Once you know what the other side is looking for, it’s easy to over-focus on pushing that aspect. But remember that, in the end, you’re not only dealing with an organization, you’re negotiating specifically with the person or people sitting across from you. Try to figure out how this negotiation will benefit the individual or group you’re working with and cite specific examples.

 

Demonstrate genuine expertise in the field.

If you are offering a specialized service or product and a potential customer feels that you’re just a salesperson with no real knowledge of your product, you’re going to get very little benefit of doubt when you  attempt to persuade them of anything.. For example, if selling in the medical device industry, even someone who has extensive sales experience  will have little success if they’re not able to match that sales experience with medical knowledge.

It’s not enough to try and fake it, either. The people you are working with know their fields, and they will be able to spot a phony the instant you open your mouth. Study the subject so that you know it backwards and forwards. Then, rather than seeming ignorant and ruining your credibility with the customer, you will build that credibility by showing that you are an expert.

 

Make sure the person you are working with has the authority to make decisions.

One of the most popular objections customers like to throw out is that they’ll have to ask their supervisor, since they’re not the one who makes the decisions about your product. We call this “higher authority” and it can be real, a tactic, or both.  Right from the outset, make sure that the person with whom you’re negotiating is the person who can actually make the decision. Even if you’re able to come to an agreement with the other party, if they’re not able to back that agreement up with the proper authority, you’re going to need to start the whole process from the beginning once you get to the person who is actually authorized to make decisions. That doesn’t mean that you should be rude or ignore a gatekeeper, however. This person can turn into either an ally or an adversary as you negotiate with the next person in line, so always be sure to treat everyone you encounter along the way with respect. We recommend, early on, asking questions like “What is your decision-making process?” in order to gain that valuable information without offending anyone.

 

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If handled properly, you can overcome most objections put before you, but often, it’s even more effective to never encounter those objections at all. By asking the right questions, knowing your audience, and putting in the proper research, you can avoid potential pitfalls before they even occur and find a clear path to a successful negotiation.

Successful Sales Goes Beyond What You Say

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So much of sales training focuses on what you say and how you say it that many people forget to think about body language. First impressions, posture, and microexpressions all factor into sales communications. To succeed, sales people must come across as approachable, credible, and confident.

 

Why Does Body Language Matter?

 A great product will sell itself, but it will not always eliminate the need for effective sales. Today, the average consumer can choose from at least two or three viable competitors who meet their needs in the marketplace. In these cases, the only thing standing between your company and competitors is the sales interaction.

From the moment you enter a consumer’s field of vision, you’re influencing sales – even if you never directly speak to the individual. Consider your own experience with sales and the sales people you automatically like and trust compared to those who leave you with a feeling of unease. That gut feeling of insecurity often arises from nonverbal communication cues, like a shrug here or a diverted glance there.

 

Tips for Improving Body Language

 Practice strong body language everywhere. In addition to an effective sales tool, body language can change your experience at the grocery store checkout line, when you greet your neighbors during a morning jog, and when you walk into a job interview. Actively practice a few of these techniques for a week. You may find they change your attitude, feelings of self-confidence, and your verbal communication, too.

1. Stand up straight. While appearing as a stoic and straight-backed British royal guard is unnecessary, standing up straight shows confidence and openness.

2. Practice your handshake. The handshake is not obsolete. People will still judge you for a clasp that is too tight or limp. This first physical connection can immediately impart notions of credibility and confidence to others. Make it count.

3. Stay natural and upbeat. Salespeople often exaggerate their smiles, responses, and hand gestures in an effort to come across as approachable. Consumers can easily see a fake and phony performance a mile away. You’re a unique person. Discover what works for you. Pay attention to the way you talk with your closest friends – that is your genuine self and often the best way to connect with strangers.

4. Listen actively. Avoid feigning interest. If you can’t focus on what someone says when you’re looking directly into his or her eyes, then don’t. Look up occasionally, but take notes, ask questions, and stay engaged in the dialogue first. If you focus too much on coming across as accessible, you may miss a key customer motivation.

5. Read your customers’ body language, too. While prospects are making snap judgments about you, you are almost certainly making judgments about them even if you don’t realize it. If you feel uncomfortable, insecure, or incapable of meeting the needs of a client, pass off the communication to someone who does feel comfortable.

 

Much happens in the average sales communication. Those who can balance verbal and nonverbal communication with a number of different client personalities will excel in any negotiation. Effective sales training means practicing as many body language tactics with others as you can to find the behaviors that work best for you.

Psychological Concepts Influencers Need to Know

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Influence is essentially a person’s ability to effect change in another. Ethical influencing is not manipulation. It is effective communication that resonates with others. If you understand the psychology behind influence and persuasion, you can build rapport with anyone and meet your goals in any industry.

 

Understanding Influence

Influencers amass hundreds of followers on social media. They win elections. They serve their communities, shape young minds, and build companies. Anyone can act as an influencer. In fact, everyone can benefit from understanding the psychology of influence. The concept dates back to ancient history, and many psychologists, self-help gurus, and businessmen have developed their own tactics from the basic understanding of communication.

 

Aristotle’s Rhetoric

At SNI, our understanding of influencing and our program dates back to Aristotle’s teachings in 350 BC. The wise ancient Greek philosopher dissected the psychology of influence into three different elements – ethos (character or credibility), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic). To successfully win over an audience, a person must establish credibility, appeal to the audience’s emotion or perspective, and appeal to the audience’s sense of reason.

The next time you listen to someone deliver a speech, listen out for these elements. Most political candidates and public speakers will address all three elements over the course of the communication. Once established, an influencer may only need to appeal to emotion and logic to effect changes in thoughts, beliefs, and actions.

Today, many professionals sell their own methodologies and understanding of influence. However, every program and book that promises results today originates from the fundamental teachings that Aristotle imparted so long ago.

 

Influencing Tactics

If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your own ability to appeal to the ethos, pathos, and logos of an audience, consider some of these popularly used techniques and ideas:

  • Conversion theory. First posited by psychologist Serge Moscovici, conversion theory states that a consistent, seemingly unbiased, and vocal minority can have an uneven effect on the beliefs and actions of the majority. An example of real world use of conversion theory is women’s suffrage in the early 1900s. The theory teaches us that you don’t need a popular or majority-backed concept to effect change.
  • Reciprocity norm. Reciprocity is the societal understanding that we should return favors. If someone offers an appetizer on the house, a diner may reciprocate the gesture and leave a larger tip. If someone buys you a gift for your birthday, you may feel obligated to do the same for that person. These returned niceties are acceptable and often expected behaviors in society and can help influencers create a desired behavior in an individual or an audience.
  • Priming. The concept of priming speaks to the subconscious influence we have on one another. Someone can use word associations and representations to encourage another to reach a certain conclusion on his or her own. For example, a clever magician might use this tactic to suggest a certain card or location during a trick setup.

The art of influencing includes many other tactics, but these three represent the range of techniques influencers can use to secure a better dining table, encourage public action, or strengthen a business relationship. With understanding and practice, anyone can learn the art of influencing.

Putting the “We” in Team

Cameron Johnson

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While it’s long been said that “many hands make light work,” a team is more than just a group of people working on the same task. For a team to truly succeed, the individuals need to develop a cohesive bond that allows them to work in synch with each other. Even after you’ve assembled the right people for the job, your work isn’t done. Crafting a team is an active, ongoing process. An efficient team is like a complex machine, and like any other machine, it requires maintenance.

Outline clear roles for each team member.

One of the best ways to build team unity is to make it clear what each team member’s role is. Build a specific process that your team members follow when performing regular tasks, and make each team member’s part in that process very clear. This helps to prevent a situation where one team member ends up doing all the work, which can foster resentment. The other team members may be performing other crucial job functions, but even the feeling of unfairly getting stuck with work that should be divided can lead to a toxic environment. Make sure your team members understand what their role is, as well as the roles of their coworkers, if possible.

Make sure every member of the team feels valued.

In addition to ensuring that team members are aware of their roles, they should also recognize the value they bring to the team. According to a Gallup poll, the number one reason Americans leave their jobs is because they don’t feel that they are appreciated. This certainly includes paying them a fair wage, but it goes beyond that.

When you meet with your team, you should encourage feedback. Make sure that everyone is included in the process and has the opportunity to speak. They don’t have to speak up all the time—in fact, some team members may prefer not to—but it’s important that they know they’re welcome to add to the discussion and that their feedback will be given fair consideration.

Actively listen to your team’s recommendations, as well. Even if you disagree with an idea or suggestion, don’t just dismiss it out of hand. Give it fair consideration. If a team member feels that his or her thoughts are being ignored, it can lead to a toxic environment and damage the team’s cohesion.

Train your team, and revisit that training. (Just once won’t cut it.)

Teams evolve over time. Key team members leave, new workers are hired, dynamics shift, and over time, you can end up with a completely team than you started with. Turnover is particularly common within a sales team, which is why it’s crucial to train them on a regular basis. New employees of any type need to be shown the way things are done within your organization, but veteran team members also often need a course correction. Whether it’s sales management training to unite your team around the best way to move a lead through the sales pipeline or a refresher course on workflow management, training your team helps to ensure that everyone is at the top of their game.

Monitor and discuss team dynamics.

As a manager, it’s your job to keep an eye on the business process, but it’s also one of your key responsibilities to be aware of the dynamics between your team members. Take note of what is working and what is not.

When you meet with your team members as a group, have open discussions about how you can solve problems the team is having. Don’t use the time to criticize each other or whine about circumstances—use the meetings as opportunities to solve the problem together. Encourage discussions, and recognize positive team achievements.

Meet with your team members individually, as well. Sometimes, there are things a worker doesn’t want to say in a group setting, but they will often open up in a more private environment. Take note of your workers’ concerns and address those concerns.

Hopefully, over time, your team members will learn to communicate better and grow to trust one another. Healthy communication is at the heart of any effective team, and encouraging that communication is one of your most important jobs. Invest the effort into facilitating a conversation among all members of your team and they’ll start to come through for you and, perhaps more importantly, for each other.

Tips for Negotiations When the Going Gets Tough

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Everyone can negotiate from a place of strength. When you know you offer the best product, service, or customer support, you can easily push through the tough talks. What happens when your company asks you to keep producing results after a major professional or organizational setback? Knowing how to negotiate at your weakest will give you strength.

 

Create a Mindset of Resilience

 Perhaps a powerful client wrote a scathing review of the business online or you gave a client the wrong quote and need to backtrack in your negotiations to meet your sales targets. In any tough situation, a negotiator could crumble or could look for ways to turn those seeming setbacks into opportunity. Negotiation resiliency is a concept that describes a person’s ability to recover quickly in the light of adverse negotiation outcomes.

Anyone can train his or her mind to immediately go into problem-solving mode, persevere, and see opportunity in the face of adversity. If you can master negotiation resiliency, you can salvage the deal and/or relationship.

 

Recognize Your Own Value

Use your newfound resilience to take a second glance at the situation. Assess the situation placing an emphasis on the other party’s needs, weaknesses, and attitudes. If you understand the motivations driving someone else, you can craft a pitch or negotiation argument to match even the most powerful positions. You always have something of value to offer. Find your competitive advantage and deliver. Actively listen in negotiations to find the opportunity in every interaction.

Successful negotiation is about finding a way for both parties to succeed. Look for the mutual benefit in promotion negotiations, client relationships, and contract negotiations.

 

Engage Effectively

With the right mindset and research supporting the claim, a negotiator can move into an engagement phase. Many people benefit from negotiations training as a way to put preparation into action. Tone, appearance, diction, and even handshakes build confidence and credibility.

Practice the following negotiation techniques to maintain your position of strength:

  • Avoid rushing your speech. Take measured breaths, pause for effect, and practice your position until you can present it with confidence.
  • Ask questions. Ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to answers. Take notes and use the other party’s comments to strengthen your own position.
  • Give the other party time to think. In difficult negotiations, avoid forcing someone into a decision too early.

Every interaction builds a narrative. You can choose to react to the other person’s point of view or create your own. In negotiations, the person who shapes the narrative often receives the most support. Look for ways to counter weaknesses without appearing defensive. Take responsibility for shortcomings while firmly promoting your strengths.

 

Shift Your Definition of Success

 Consider the big picture in every negotiation. Occasionally, conceding terms can set you and/or your organization up for future success. If, for example, you might lose a client if you refuse to drop a small contracted service, altering the terms of the contract may make more sense than enforcing the terms of the full contract.

Prioritize your mindset, conduct research, and carefully engage the other party to negotiate from a point of weakness. Handling a difficult situation with grace, maturity, and ease can turn a defeat into an unmitigated success.