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5 Common Negotiation Mistakes

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Negotiating is an art form, one that requires skills honed over time, but there are some mistakes you can avoid no matter how new you are to the game. Here are some common mistakes made by rookies and experienced negotiators alike.

They Don’t Listen

Negotiators can be so focused on presenting their piece and closing the deal they forget to listen. This alienates the person you’re trying to persuade. Show up prepared and know your stuff, but make sure you know your audience. Ask questions to find out where they’re coming from and what matters to them. No matter how great your pitch, if your listener feels un-listened to, it will likely fall on deaf ears.

They Talk Too Much

Have you ever been in a situation where someone communicated successfully, then kept talking so long you forgot what the original point was? Don’t make this mistake. Clearly and concisely present your case. Allow the other party a chance to ask questions. Answer them as clearly as possible, but be concise.

They Don’t Define What They Want

Before entering a negotiation, define exactly what you want from the other party. Decide your best hoped-for outcome and the minimum terms that will be acceptable to you. Use these as fixed points to ensure you won’t get derailed by emotion or manipulation.

Plan to get what you want, but don’t expect it. Have alternative solutions prepared ahead of time. Often, you’ll find you get what you want or you’re able to find a similar option that’s agreeable to both sides.

They Lack Confidence

Projecting confidence means putting in preparation time and being able to demonstrate you’re the expert in your field – no matter what the question. It doesn’t mean being loud or pushy. Know everything you can possibly know about your subject, then carry yourself accordingly.

They Don’t Build Relationships

A good negotiator is always building relationships. If you are meeting someone for the first time, try not to start at the negotiating table. Meet for dinner the night before to establish rapport and get to know the person you’re going to be dealing with.

Build time into every day to strengthen personal connections with others. Let people know you aren’t just in it for what you can get from them, but you care about them personally. Ask questions about things that interest them and really listen. Return to those topics every time you see them to build a deeper connection.

Be prepared, be credible, and let the other side know you care about what matters to them. Negotiation is an art that takes practice, so keep these blunders in mind before you start the process.

How Aristotle Invented Influence Training

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While we may think the basics of public speaking starting recently, it was actually 2,300 years ago that Aristotle recorded his theory on effective public speaking. He espoused the importance of ethos (credibility), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic) to influence behavior. His principles are still the key foundation for negotiations training. Here’s how Aristotle’s tenets have shaped the art of argument and influence in business today.

Ethos – The Speaker’s Character

To persuade anyone of anything, you must appear credible. Regardless of what you wear, how solid your company is, or even how your reputation may precede you, if your listener has reason to question your credibility, your negotiations will suffer. Aristotle says a credible speaker conveys three qualities:

  • Competence – The knowledge and ability to do what you say you can do.
  • Good Intention – You intend to do good for your listener.
  • Empathy – The listener feels as if you have been in their shoes.

Ethos is both articulated and nonverbal. Your demeanor, body language, and tone all play a role in your perceived credibility. It’s about your audience’s perception of you and your ability to control that perception. To improve ethos, develop expertise in the subject you’re going to be speaking about. Learning more and growing more comfortable in the subject matter will allow you to speak confidently and convey knowledgeable insight.

Pathos – The Speaker’s Emotional Influence

If your goal is to persuade, you must make an emotional connection. Aristotle said if people feel anger, the speaker should discover with whom they are angry and why. The first step in doing this is to have a basic knowledge of your audience. What are their values and beliefs? Use techniques that appeal to their emotions and offer something they desire.

Choose presentation techniques with which your audience can identify. Use humor to get them laughing with you. Tell a story to draw them in and help them make personal connections. Use words that are charged with the emotion you seek to convey. Offer carefully chosen visuals so your audience sees what you have seen.

Logos – The Speaker’s Appeal to Reason

Only after you have established credibility and made an emotional connection, should you proceed with your logical statement. This step is as important as the other two, but, without ethos and pathos, logos will fail.

Evaluate your message to be sure it makes sense. Use plain language that everyone in your audience can understand. Repeat key ideas so they stand out. Present facts, statistics, and evidence to back up what you’re saying. Give your audience a clear call to action so they know what to do with what they’ve experienced.

Keep ethos, pathos, and logos in your mind the next time you come to the negotiation table.

 

What are the Sales Pipeline Stages

Cameron Johnson

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When you work in business and sales, one of the most effective tools you can develop is your sales pipeline. This is the sequence of stages that a sales team follows and takes customers through in order to convert them from prospective customer to actual customer and finally—in the most successful cases—to returning customer.

If you want to be successful, you can’t just sit back and wait for people to come to you. An effective sales pipeline is proactive, regularly going out and seeking qualified leads. To do that, you need to know how to talk to people, understand what exactly it is that they are looking for, and then find a way to meet those needs.

Like most successful negotiations,  a solid sales pipeline starts with PLEASE. And while manners are indeed important in every negotiation, in this case, PLEASE is an acronym that stands for the six sales pipeline stages:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Lead Qualification
  3. Engage
  4. Action
  5. Support
  6. Evaluate

Each of these stages is a key part of an efficient sales process, so we’re here to walk you through each one.

1. Prospecting

Before you can start sending leads through your sales funnel, you actually have to find and/or generate those leads. So where do these leads come from? How do they actually become a lead, rather than just a random stranger or company with whom you’ve never had any interaction?

The best way to acquire leads is different in each industry, but there are certain steps that are useful no matter what industry you’re in. Train your team to recognize what makes a good lead in your industry and keep an open mind about coming up with a lead wherever you/they go. Identify your target demographic, then do market research to find out what companies and individuals within that demographic are looking for. Develop your marketing campaigns to target those demographics to bring them in.

2. Lead Qualification

In the context of your sales funnel, not all leads are created equal. There are some leads who are golden—eager to work with you, and almost ready to buy right out the gate. And, there are others who seem like, no matter what you do, they’re really just not interested in what you’re offering. One of the most important sales pipeline stages is determining which category each lead falls into so that you know how best to work with them and how to best manage your time.

In order to determine how to work with a lead, you should reach out to them. But, before making any contact, make sure you doo some outside research on that business to learn who they are and what they want. Then, put yourself in their shoes and think through what their challenges and interests might be. Remember, even the first communication is a “negotiation” so be strategic and treat it like one. Make a good impression, show genuine interest, and don’t just write anyone off immediately. Sometimes, leads that don’t seem promising at first can become some of your most loyal clients.

3. Engage

After you have qualified your lead and progressed them a bit farther down your sales pipeline, you need to actively engage with them. Ask thoughful open ended questions  and really listen to the answers. Find out what goal(s) they are trying to achieve. What problems are they trying to fix? What aspect of their business are they trying to improve? It is based on this information that you can position your product to meet those needs. They will almost inevitably have objections. You should be able to  anticipate many of those objections and have a solution already prepared. Ultimately it all comes down to, did you create a relationship, and how can you tie your product or service to the solution they are looking for?

4. Action

At some point in the negotiation, it will be time for your prospect to make a decision. While it seems like a “no” is your worst-case scenario, it’s actually worse if a prospect is stuck in a state of indecision and unwilling to make the call (or take your call). Your job is to get them to say yes, but, at some point, the objective becomes to force a decision, even if the answer is no. Do everything you can to get to a yes, but if a yes doesn’t seem likely, then the next best option isn’t “maybe”—it’s no.

5. Support

Every year, there are dozens of studies researching which companies provide the best—and worst—customer service. The best organizations realize that customer service starts with the salesperson. Not only does this lead customers to keep coming back, it often spurs them to to spread the word about your business. It’s much easier and more cost effective to sell to and develop already existing clients than it is to find new ones.So, the best salespeople do enough to get the sale but leave themselves with room to over-delive..

6. Evaluate

Evaluation is possibly one of the most often overlooked sales pipeline stages. In order to become the best sales person or team you can, you should be constantly evaluating your performance. Look for ways you can learn from every sales opportunity negotiation. What did you do right in your successful interactions? How were you able to provide what the customer wanted? And what did you do wrong in the unsuccessful interactions? Sometimes, failures provide the best learning experiences and reveal opportunities for improvement.

Take the information that you gather from each sales/negotiation your team enters and find a way to organize it so that you can correct weaknesses and develop strengths in the future. Use it to improve your entire sales team rather than just a single individual. You can use each success and failure as a way to make everyone on your team better.

Once you’ve set up your sales pipeline, keep an eye on it. You should constantly be looking for ways to improve each stage in the process. Recognize strengths and faults and work to hone it to a fine edge. Ultimately, it all comes down to generating more leads, managing your time, developing strong relationships, and over-delivering – that’s the secret sauce that keeps them coming back and providing referrals.

The Right Relationship With Your Sales Team

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Managing a sales team is often rewarding, but it’s not without its stresses. There’s a fine line between your relationships with your team members – they need to trust you for support and feedback but should also feel comfortable enough to come to you for advice. Sales managers often struggle to toe the line between trusted professional confidante and friend. Here’s how to keep your relationship with your sales team professional while still instilling a sense of confidence and trust.

 

There’s No “One-Size-Fits-All” Approach

Your sales team is a group of diverse individuals. As such, they’re all motivated by different things. Some of your employees may be experienced and have honed their salesperson persona, while others are less experienced but hungrier to prove themselves. One of the biggest mistakes sales managers makes is treating everyone the same way. You’ll want to train people based on their own unique motivators. Some seek approval and praise, while others are focused on self-improvement. Find out what makes individual team members tick and work with the results.

 

Training’s No Such Things as “One-and-Done”

Sales training isn’t simply a matter of holding a bunch of exercises and calling it a day. It’s not enough for your team to simply hit the objectives; they should be constantly vying for the next goal. Encourage this attitude by viewing training as an ongoing process. There are several ways you can incorporate training into your sales team’s everyday lives. Consider periodic lessons on cold-calling and generating leads. Ask your top performers to lead a class on what they’ve learned during their years in the business.

Lastly, cater your lessons to each individual on the team. Some may struggle with cold calling scripts, while others may have trouble with lead generation. With concentrated and individualized attention, your employees will feel more engaged in their work – and your sales will benefit.

 

Create a Team Attitude

In sales, sometimes workers feel more like they’re competing than working collaboratively. As sales lead, it’s your job to bring your workers together to drive success. Create a shared view of the competition and you’ll be rewarded with a boost in company morale and an increase in your company’s ability to sustain growth.

Managing a sales team isn’t for the faint of heart. If you follow these tips, you’ll set a healthy foundation and forge relationships based on mutual respect and team effort.

Increasing Sales For Your Product

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Creating a new and innovative product is exciting, but it’s not without its challenges. One of the most difficult aspects of marketing an original product is convincing your target audience why they need it. Many businesses throughout history have prevailed in this effort, but even more have failed. Here’s what you need to know about selling new and unique products to your customers successfully.

 

Know the Product Inside and Out

Have you ever been in a sales interaction where you felt that you knew more than the salesperson? This might happen at an auto dealership, appliance wholesaler, or virtually anywhere you make a purchase. It’s also a red flag to a consumer.

If you’re marketing and selling a new or novel product, there’s no room for error. You must be prepared to answer any question and speak intelligently about every aspect of the product you’re selling. As a sales professional, it’s your job to be the expert and to tell people exactly how the product can help serve the customer.

 

Know Your Customer

You’ll also need to know to whom you’re selling your product. Define your market as accurately as possible. For example, your target market might not be Millennials, but Millennial moms with children under the age of 5. The more accurate your market, the better you’ll be able to target your efforts and learn about what makes your target market tick.

Once you really know your customer, you can develop a sales plan. These are comprised of several parts, including:

  • Sales goals. Specific, measureable sales goals will help you stay on track. A good example of a sales goal might be selling 50 units within the first 30 days, not simply “selling a million units.”
  • Channels. Are you going to sell directly to the consumer, or do you plan on partnering with local retail stores?
  • Timelines. Take these pieces and put them together in a timeline that’s realistic and manageable. In an ideal situation, these timelines are flexible – for example, if you’re struggling to meet one sales goal, you can take corrective action and move the timeline back.

 

Selling a new product may be exciting, but it’s also not easy. You face an uphill battle in helping customers understand the value in your product and how it will improve their lives and in meeting several quotas. With clearly defined goals and a strong knowledge foundation, however, you can win customers over and help them see what they’ve been missing all along.

3 Uncommon Negotiation Preparation Tactics to Try

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Preparing is the first important hurdle in any negotiation. The person who spends more time preparing is naturally better equipped for a positive outcome. If you’re looking to gain the upper hand in a negotiation, research and evidence gathering are your first and most important line of defense. For example, if you’re negotiating for a raise, you’ll want to have examples ready of how your flexibility, talent, and work ethic have helped the company in the past.

Research and evidence are necessary tools to apply in negotiation and thus a good starting point. If you’re looking for even more ways to ramp up your negotiation preparation game, try one of these tactics:

 

Role Play

People sometimes hesitate to role play because they feel a little silly doing it. However, role playing can be a powerful technique to use during negotiating planning. Role playing helps you see the flaws in your argument and anticipate defensive scenarios. In other words, you’ll be able to formulate your responses to criticism before negotiations begin – not in the heat of the moment. It may feel awkward at first, but it’s a huge confidence booster for when it matters.

Roleplaying also helps you see the negotiations from your opponent’s point of view. This allows you to play out any arguments, and it will help you understand the other party’s priorities and how they may affect your case.

 

Be Creative

People sometimes are mistaken by the notion that negotiations are formulaic and require x amount of tactics. Truly talented negotiators understand that negotiation is an art form not a science. As such, it requires no small amount of creativity. The goal of any negotiation is to come up with the best solution of the ones available.

In your preparations, try this: Write down plenty of ideas related to a negotiation. Imagine what the other side is thinking or dream up the best possible scenario. These ideas can be out-of-the-box and may even seem hard to apply. Often, a flawed idea becomes a more viable option throughout the process. Each solution you create in your mind’s eye might not fit the situation perfectly, but these ideas may pave a path to the best possible outcome over time.

 

Find Your Leverage

Finally, every good negotiation involves taking advantage of your own strengths. A little introspection before the negotiation will help identify the direction in which you’ll want to steer your negotiation.

A negotiation is only as powerful as your preparation. Apply these tips to your next negotiation, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

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.