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Retail Sales Training: What it Takes to Succeed in Retail Sales

Cameron Johnson

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Working as a salesperson in retail has evolved into a very unusual profession. When people walk into a store, it’s a fair assumption that they would like to buy something. Otherwise, they wouldn’t really have any reason to enter the store. Ironically enough, though, many people will do everything in their power to avoid engaging a salesperson. They will avoid eye contact, “casually” wander into a different part of the store, or sometimes, just turn around and walk right back out the door.

It turns out that people typically do want to buy something when they enter a store—but they don’t want to be sold to. For centuries people have been bombarded with images and stories of the crooked salesman. And, even the salespeople that don’t have shady intentions, are portrayed as being a “hassle.” How often do you go into a clothing store looking for something in particular and tell the salesperson you are “just looking” in response to his/her offer to help you?

So how does a good salesperson succeed? How can you sell something to someone who doesn’t want to be sold to? What can sales workers do to go beyond the negative stereotypes and help their customers to walk out the door satisfied with their purchase?

While some parts of finding success in retail sales come naturally, there are other skills that can be taught and honed through retail sales training. Our team at Shapiro Negotiations can help you and your team to develop these skills and so that not only will you be able to make the sale—your customer will be happy with their purchase.

So what are some of the skills your team will want to develop to be really successful in sales?

Sincere Customer Service

One of the most important skills any retail salesperson can develop is customer service. After years of distrust, most customers are wary of salespeople. In some instances, they see the salesperson as their adversary, someone who is trying to sell them something that they don’t want to buy.

Part of a salesperson’s job is to convince the customer that they are not, in fact, an adversary who is trying to convince them to buy something they never wanted. Instead, the salesperson is an ally and a facilitator. The salesperson is there to help them buy something they do want. Considering the fact that they have already taken the first step of walking through the door, this is a fair assumption.

When working with customers, be sincere. The minute a customer suspects that a salesperson is trying to manipulate them, they will snap a wall into place. Once this happens, any potential sale essentially becomes a lost cause.

Communication

When we are trying to convince someone of a point, the natural tendency is to talk more. After all, the more a salesperson talks, the more of a positive impression they can give of their product. If the salesperson talks enough, the customer is sure to by, right?

Hardly. A successful salesperson listens more than talks. In order to better determine what the customer wants, it is important for them to ask sincere, probing questions. As it becomes clear what the customer is looking for, the salesperson can then help to guide them to an appropriate choice. Dale Carnegie put it best with a short couplet in his 1936 book, How to Win Friends and Influence People: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

SNI’s retail sales training is based upon our founder Ron Shapiro’s book, The Power of Nice.  The goal is to find a situation where everyone wins. After all, if a customer walks out the door satisfied with the purchase he has made, he’s much less likely to regret the purchase and return it. Meanwhile, he is more likely to return and even recommend the store to others.

Product Knowledge

In order to convince someone that a particular product will meet their needs, a salesperson should have a solid working knowledge of that product. The salesperson serves as an expert on the product and should be able to answer any questions the customer asks. If a salesperson demonstrates that they are unfamiliar with the product they are pushing, it can seriously damage their credibility in the customer’s eyes. After all, if a salesperson doesn’t know anything about the product they are selling, then how can they honestly know that it will do the job the customer needs?

A good salesperson must be able to identify and capture the value that their product will deliver to the customer. To do so, they need to know the product backwards and forwards. The customer will naturally have objections, and a salesperson will need to overcome those objections. SNI’s trainers can instruct sales teams just how to do so through a five step process and help them to develop answers to some of the most common objections in our clients’ fields.

Industry Knowledge

A salesperson’s knowledge should go beyond just the individual products they are trying to sell. Knowledge of the industry is important as well.

By knowing about recent innovations in the industry, a salesperson can make recommendations to a customer, sometimes even beyond those that they have available to sell (see Sincere Customer Service above). SNI’s trainers can teach your team to discern what exactly a potential customer is looking for and then apply industry knowledge to direct them to products they may not even know about.

All of these skills can be significant assets when negotiating with a customer or helping to direct them to the right product. Also, keep in mind that many customers will come in seeking to use their own set of tactics to negotiate a lower price. As part of our training, SNI can teach your sales team how to recognize and respond to these tactics. For more information, contact us, and we will help you to determine how best to train your sales team so they can achieve the best results possible.

Do You Have These 5 Negotiations Skills?

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Andrea Kupfer Schneider, Marquette University Law School professor, recently wrote an article for the Washington University Journal of Law and Policy explaining the importance of teaching five specific skills for negotiation, rather than teaching with negotiations style labels alone. These five critical abilities, according to Schneider, are assertiveness, empathy, flexibility, social skills/intuition, and ethics. Consider how each plays a part in the process.

Assertiveness

Negotiations are a two-way street, but it’s easy for some people to get bowled over and taken advantage of. Schneider’s first key skill for negotiation is to stand firm in your decisions. If you’re a self-doubter, this can be especially difficult to master, but it’s absolutely vital to making sure you’re getting the compensation (benefits, etc.) you deserve.

Empathy

Empathy and assertiveness might seem counteractive, but there’s a special balance a good negotiator must achieve. You must remember that you’re building connections with other humans, so listening and truly discussing their concerns with honest empathy is important.

Flexibility

The world includes a whole lot more gray than black or white. Things can’t always be the same or stay set in stone. Flexibility is key for better negotiation. You’ll be faced with unique situations and problems whether you’re ready for them or not, so being able to change plans and tactics will keep you ahead of the competition.

Social Skills/Intuition

Even though they’re about business, negotiations are just another form of conversation. Naturally, you need to have polished social skills if you want to excel. If, for example, you can ready body language cues, you’ll be able to adjust your tactics to suit extra-eager or finicky clients. Every person will provide live feedback about the conversation if you only know what to look for.

Of course, your social skills can’t be limited to watching the other person. You need to be able to communicate clearly and project yourself in a friendly, confident way. For many people, approaching others is the hardest part of negotiating, so polishing your intrapersonal skills can help everything else go smoother.

Ethics

The fifth skill Schneider listed is a dedication to ethics. No matter how badly you want to make a deal or come to an agreement, you still need to know when to draw the line. Polished ethics skills ensure you always stay on the right side of the law and don’t compromise your personal or business integrity at any point.

If you’re a little lacking in one or more of these areas, don’t worry. That’s exactly what SNI negotiations training is for.

4 Tips for Answering Influence Skills Questions in Interviews

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We’ve all been on that interview where a prospective employer asks you to “Give me an example of a time when…” It often feels as though the interviewer is just reading off a list of prepared questions. Well, he or she most likely is.

But what does the prospective employer really want to know?

These questions, also known as competency-based or behavioral interview questions, are designed to discover how you may respond in real-world situations. They’re useful for helping hiring managers weed out applicants who look good on paper from the ones who will deliver the results that they need.

Some examples of influence skills questions are:

  • Tell us about a major challenge you encountered in your current position. How did you adapt and overcome?
  • How do you handle projects that require a lot of initiative and team work?
  • What is your approach to dealing with an angry customer? Can you tell us about a specific time when you solved this type of situation?
  • How do you contribute to your organization’s long- and short-term goals?

Even though this style of interviewing has become increasingly popular, questions like these can still throw you for a loop. Here are four tips for answering these questions that will help ensure you project competence and highlight your value.

 

Reach for the STAR

The challenge with influence skills questions usually isn’t thinking of an example; it’s organizing your thoughts efficiently and communicating them powerfully. The STAR acronym outlines four steps to breaking down an influence skills question – no matter how complex it may seem. Keep this in mind when a hiring manager lobs one your way.

  1. Situation. Describe the situation or context of the example. For instance, “We were far behind our projected sales goals and had lost two key members of our team.”
  1. Task. What goal were you trying to meet? What obstacles were you trying to overcome? “We had three weeks to make up 50% of the difference.”
  1. Action you took. Take ownership and use “I” statements frequently. Remember, they are interviewing you – not your former coworkers. “I pulled some long hours running numbers and I discovered missed opportunities…” Also, specifics are crucial here. Try to use actual facts and figures instead of generalizations. “I analyzed three months of account revenue and found 30–40 instances of missed opportunities.”
  1. Results. Again, using “I” statements and specific facts, sum it all up. Example: “I restructured the working hours of the staff to allow for more coverage during high-volume times, resulting in a 35% increase in our closing rate and an additional $500,000 in revenue. My department ended up exceeding our goal by $10,000–$15,000.”

Follow STAR and the other tips outlined above. The next time an interviewer tries to surprise you with an influence skills question, you’ll be more than prepared.

How to Influence Without Being Pushy

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Sometimes leads are already interested before you start your pitch, but how you attempt to influence them will make or break the deal. There’s a big difference between influencing and selling – your audience is less likely to take your words to heart if you come off as pushy, rehearsed, or “salesy.”

When it comes to influencing people, a few key strategies will lead you to more effective interactions with more positive results. Keep the following in mind.

Build Trust

When you have rapport with other people, it’s easier to speak with them. You need to be able to reach people on a personal level while staying professional. Carefully listen to their concerns and address them fully. Try to take your resolution a step beyond what they may expect from you to show them you are acting with their best interests in mind. Find common ground and work from there. You cannot force people to do things. Instead, you should try to persuade them to want what you want.

Focus on Positives

Of course, you want to be able to relate to the other party if you want them to see things your way, but it’s important to stick to your guns while staying positive. Instead of sympathizing with their complaints, get them to focus on the positive aspects of your discussion. Demonstrate value and emphasize how they will benefit from the decision you want them to make.

Speak Naturally

You may work on your speaking technique in private, but it’s important to be prepared without sounding rehearsed. If you want to influence people, the number one way to fail is to to be unprepared and not know what you are trying to say or sound like you’re selling something or reading from a script. Speak as you would in any other conversation (again, remember to stick to your professional boundaries) and be relaxed. Pay close attention to body language – both the other party’s and your own. Don’t come off as rigid, closed-off, or unapproachable. People will be more willing to converse and be influenced if it feels natural.

Generate Enthusiasm

One of the best methods of influencing others to do what you want is to demonstrate what an amazing opportunity they have and make them excited to see it happen. Generating energy and enthusiasm is a great way to get others on board with your vision and get them to see things from your perspective.

Be Adaptable

Your conversation style needs to be flexible – you can’t speak with everyone in the same way, and every interaction has unique factors that you need to consider. This is the biggest reason that maintaining a natural demeanor is important – when you lock yourself into a routine, it becomes much harder to deal with the unexpected. To influence the other party, you need to be on your toes and ready to handle any question or concern they have. .

Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for your next major conversation. Remember that influencing is all about getting other people to want what you want – not hammering them until they see things your way.

4 Simple Ways to Build Credibility (And Influence People)

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Building credibility is the first step toward influencing others. You wouldn’t want your team to say yes to someone who walked off the street with zero credentials—and neither does the client you’re pitching to. How does one build credibility in a world where businesses come and go at supersonic speeds? With honesty, authenticity, and a little bit of good old-fashioned gumption.

#1: Learn What Today’s Businesses Want to Hear

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, a global survey on corporate credibility, a certain set of factors typically influence corporate reputation. When asked what the most important factors were to corporate reputation, 83% of subjects answered, “Transparent and honest practices.” Another 83% answered, “[A] company I can trust.” Compare these responses to a mere 45% of subjects who believe “financial returns” to be the most important factor—or the 58% who said, “prices fairly.”

#2: Establish Your Brand’s Authenticity

Businesses don’t want to hear about how well your company is doing this quarter. Sure, that might establish that your enterprise isn’t going under anytime soon, but it doesn’t express your trustworthiness. Instead, touch on these points during a negotiation:

• Your company’s loyal customer following
• The values your company commits to 100%
• Topics your company is passionate about
• Your company’s authenticity, proven by a blog or social media presence

By focusing on what gives your company heart, you can establish your brand’s personality. When you let the party you’re influencing get to know you and your brand, he or she will make a judgment based on an emotional connection.

#3: Support Your Claims With Statistics

Nothing builds credibility like cold, hard facts. Numbers don’t lie. If you have relevant statistics about your brand you can cite during negotiations, client will have no choice but to see that you’re credible. For example, simply stating that your client base is made up of “a lot” of returning clients sounds weaker than stating, “75% of our clients are repeat customers who come back to our company for consistent high quality.”

#4: Stick to Your Guns

A brand that wavers on its core values, beliefs, and life’s work is a banner brand for fickleness. Don’t change your values according to what you think a client wants to hear. Instead, establish your brand based on original intent for the company. During negotiations training, teach your employees to stand firm on your company’s core values. Steep your brand in concrete beliefs and confidence, and your clients will recognize you as a voice of authority—someone they trust and want to work with.

Rebuilding Bridges: How to Salvage a Broken Business Relationship

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Business relationships are just as focused and dependent upon trust as any other relationship. Sometimes, deals fall through, deadlines aren’t met, or the result doesn’t meet expectations. Failings such as these can lead to resentment, but that doesn’t have to be the end of a business relationship. When you’re thinking about whether you should try to fix a damaged business relationship, keep this framework in mind.

Assess the Relationship’s Value 

It may sound harsh, but sometimes it’s better to let a relationship go rather than labor to salvage it. You need to make sure your effort is going to pay off. While this may sound like a cold calculation, rebuilding a business relationship is different from regaining trust from a friend. Emotional attachment may be important to personal relationships, but in the business world, both parties need to bring something to the table.

Know When You’re Wrong

We build relationships on trust, and if that trust is broken, it can be very difficult to repair. Rebuilding trust is possible, but it takes a great deal of effort and sometimes takes quite a long time. First, you need to take accountability for anything you may have done to contribute to the failed relationship. It can be difficult to recognize our own faults, but in the business world, it’s crucial that you’re able to own your mistakes so you don’t repeat them. Remember, you’re not just representing yourself – you represent your organization. Personal pride shouldn’t impact those types of decisions.

Open the Communication Channels

Once you have accounted for where you may have gone wrong, it’s time to open a dialog. This can be most difficult when trying to regain a frustrated client or customer, but it’s not impossible. Ask the other party what could have been done differently and if there’s anything you can do to resolve the issue now. Sometimes a singular issue can uncover a larger problem within your organization, so take the time to hear the other party, and then ask if you can do anything to improve your organization as a whole.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

This adage rings true in the business world. If you’ve determined where a business relationship has gone wrong, believe that it’s worth salvaging, and have reopened communications with the other party, it’s time to start making moves. If both parties have something to gain from continuing to do business with each other, it makes the process much easier. While emotions don’t play as much of a role in the business world as they do with personal relationships, the wronged party needs to see that you’re willing to accept failings on your part and are taking measurable steps to correct them.

Any business relationship has potential, so they’re almost always worth salvaging. Take the time to extend an olive branch and try to rectify your past mistakes. You don’t want to be known as an organization that doesn’t play well with others.

How to Encourage Corporate Social Responsibility

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The younger generations entering today’s workforce are far less concerned with benefits and compensation than previous generations were and are more concerned with sustainability, personal freedom, and responsible corporate citizenship. Today’s workforce wants to work for companies that are more concerned with helping their fellow man and the world than they are with their bottom lines.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a company’s commitment to sustainable operations and giving back to society and environment. It isn’t just the right thing to do – it has significant benefits for the companies that embrace it. Consumers do more research today on the products they buy and the companies they support than ever before, and they can do this research almost instantly from anywhere in the world.

CSR Encourages Innovation

Some companies have trouble maintaining high employee morale and some are looking for ways to make their employees feel more valued and engaged in their work. Driving a CSR-focused campaign is a great way to encourage creativity and boost workplace morale if the employees think they’re making positive changes for the world. Emphasize the importance of a CSR initiative during training sessions, so employees know why they’re doing what they’re doing, and why it matters to the company, their community, and the world.

Using CSR to Cut Costs

Corporate social responsibility can entail pursuing more sustainable energy solutions. Lean operations are quickly becoming the norm in the corporate world, and organizations are looking to cut unnecessary expenses, time sinks, and operations to work more efficiently. Doing so often involves adopting more eco-friendly solutions to workplace operations and saves operating costs at the same time. Your company’s employees and shareholders will be proud to associate with an environmentally responsible company.

CSR Sets Your Brand Apart

Committing to sustainable operating procedures, engaging in philanthropy (such as charity events), and adopting ethical labor standards are ways your company will stand apart as one that is concerned with the world’s wellbeing and wants to make a positive impact on it. The younger generation of consumers is also going to be more likely to support brands that are committed to sustainability and ethical operations, rather than simply looking for the best deals.

Building Long-Term Relevance

Creating a company culture with CSR as a bedrock value is a surefire way for a business to stay relevant in a constantly morphing world. Employees are more likely to find value in their work and daily routines when they know their organization is committed to helping make a better world for everyone they touch – their customers, partners, employees, shareholders, and their local communities all benefit from CSR-focused values and programs.

How to Negotiate an Extra Day Off from Work

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The workforce is more competitive than ever these days. With the economy on the upswing, more businesses are trying to find employees and entice those who may have given up on finding steady work. This being said, we all need a day off from work occasionally. Whether you’re sick, dealing with a family emergency, or just need a “mental health day,” a day off gives you the chance to rest, recharge, and breathe. You can negotiate for extra time successfully if you follow the right tips.

Know Your Workplace’s Policies

Every workplace, and often every department supervisor, has a different policy when it comes to time off. Some companies, such as Xerox, allow employees to buy extra vacation time, deducting from your pay using pre-tax dollars. Others have similar leave without pay (LWOP) policies, and some will allow leave with pay depending on the circumstances.

For example, you are more likely to get leave with pay to take care of a chronically ill child or other family member. However, never take any policy for granted. Do your homework, especially in regard to your department or supervisor. How often does this department or person grant extra time off? Under what circumstances? How many vacation or sick days are negotiable? Answer these questions before ever bringing up extra time off.

Be Calm

Negotiating extra time off can sometimes be emotional. You may want the extra time because you’ve been given a heavier workload than usual, or perhaps you are expected to do others’ work without overtime or credit. You may need the extra time because you’re unexpectedly ill or because a family member has a serious need.

These situations can tempt you to get angry or even cry during negotiations. Try to avoid this. Although most employers are understanding, too much emotion is off-putting. Anger especially can make you look disrespectful or ungrateful. If you have a pressing need or a grievance related to extra time off, take a deep breath and prepare yourself. You could even practice the request with a trusted colleague.

Respond to Needs

Ideally, you’ll ask for extra time off when it’s convenient for both you and your boss. Sometimes though, this isn’t possible. If you must ask for extra time off during a busy season, be prepared to compromise. If you really want a week, perhaps you could compromise and take three days. If you need four days, maybe you can take two.

Empathize with your supervisor. Say something like, “I know we’re in a busy time. What can I do to help?” Offer to check in during your time off, or come in on a day you’d normally be absent to make up for the extra time. Additionally, offer to work with the people who’ll cover for you so they know exactly what your duties entail.

Be Confident and Warm

When negotiating for time off, be confident, but be friendly. Avoid “closed” body language like crossed arms; this can make you look demanding. Emphasize your hard work or remind your boss of something you’ve done well, but don’t say things like, “I deserve this.” If you’d like extra help, check out our negotiation training for assistance.

The Impact of the Gettysburg Address 152 Years Later

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November 19, 2015, marks the 152nd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, a speech that is regarded as one of the most masterful public addresses in history. Some of the elements of oratory artistry Abraham Lincoln used that day remain relevant to negotiation training and really, any persuasive pursuit, to this day. That fact is a bit ironic since the content of Abraham Lincoln’s speech itself, dismissed the importance, and life expectancy of the words he spoke.

“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here …” he said, “… but it can never forget what they did here.”

The fact that Lincoln humbly shrugged off the content of a his own message, reducing his own words to simple phonemes that ring through the air for just a split second then disappear into the aether forever points to his rhetorical  techniques. He set the stage with a string of words that explicitly demerited the person who spoke them and pointed the hearts of the audience away from the persona, and toward some other truth. That is not to say that persuasive speaking takes the form of misdirection, although there may be sleight-of-hand involved. As the 20th century French language scholar, Jaques Derrida once wrote, “Speech never gives the thing itself, but a simulacrum that touches us more profoundly than the truth, “strikes” us more effectively.”

Derrida’s use of the verb, “strikes,” directs our attention to the centerpiece of our Gettysburg Address commemoration, which is this. Speech is an act. It’s a thing that a person does. In spite of Lincoln’s own dismissiveness, history certainly remembers both what he did, and said that day. So, let’s talk more about Lincoln’s actions on that day and the legacy they left behind.

The Battle of Gettysburg

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The American civil war saw some of the bloodiest battles in U.S. history. The Battle of Gettysburg, which had taken place months earlier, July 1-3, 1863, was the worst of them. At the end of the three-day conflict, more than between 46,000 and 51,000 servicemen were either killed, wounded, or missing. It was far more bloodshed than the public on either side of the conflict could rationalize.

The price of war in the aftermath weighed heavily on the hearts and minds of the Northern public where a peace movement had been gathering support for some time. Reluctance to continue also crept into minds of the soldiers, and military commanders, as well as President Lincoln. It also weighed on the Confederacy. The Battle of Gettysburg marked a major turning point in the conflict. The Confederacy’s campaign to invade the north in full force had been pushed back. Robert E. Lee’s long-standing reputation for invincibility in battle was permanently dispelled.

Strategically speaking, however, the immediate southern reaction to the battle was that it was a setback, not a disaster and that many of the Confederacy’s military goals had been largely achieved. The sentiment was that Lee won the day on July 1. Confederate troops fought valiantly the following two days, but failed to dislodge the Union Army from strong defensive positions outside the city. And once defeated, the Confederates successfully stood their ground on July 4, and retreated further only after realizing the Union lacked the will to pursue and attack. Ultimately it was a defeat that Lee handled with his usual mastery. The full scope of the events at Gettysburg were not understood to be a turning point until later.

The Battle of Gettysburg had opened up a critical opportunity for Union forces to destroy the Confederate Army once and for all. But, it was an opportunity they had missed when the moment was ripe. According to one historian, President Lincoln complained to Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles stating, “Our army held the war in the hollow if their hand and they would not close it.”

How the Speech Set the Tone for Victory

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Northern enthusiasm dissipated in the months between July and November that year, as workers labored to construct the Soldier’s National Cemetery at Gettysburg, and word spread that Lee’s army had escaped destruction and the war would need to continue. President Lincoln needed an opportunity to muster the Union’s resolve and press the advantage while there was still time.

Reburial of Union soldiers from Gettysburg Battlefield graves to new grave sites at the National Soldier’s Cemetery had begun October 17. President Lincoln had been invited to “formally set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks,” by David Willis of the committee for the consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg. The occasion presented Lincoln with the opportunity rededicate public resolve to seeing the war all the way through. Lincoln’s address followed a tiresome speech lasting more than two hours given by the well-known Massachusetts statesman, Edward Everett. Lincoln needed only two minutes to accomplish his goals.  

Multiple historians noted significant parallels between the timing, context, and rhetorical tone Lincoln’s speech, with the speech given by the Athenian politician, Pericles’, recorded by Thucydides in The History of the Peloponnesian War. For one, the timing and setting for The Gettysburg Address precisely mirror Pericles’s speech. Public funerals commemorating the sacrifices of fallen soldiers were an established Athenian tradition by the fifth century B.C. And even though it’s uncertain how much influence the History of the Peloponnesian War had on Lincoln, the rhetorical parallels are very plain to see. Lincoln began with an acknowledgment of revered predecessors, with the phrase, “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent…”

Like Pericles, Lincoln praised the uniqueness of the State’s commitment to democracy by stating, “..a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…government of the people, by the people, and for the people…” Like Pericles, Lincoln Addresses the heavy emotional burdens carried by speakers on such occasions, “…we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.” And ultimately, like Pericles, Lincoln exhorts the survivors to vindicate the dead by emulating their deeds, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the great task remaining before us.”

Lincoln’s Legacy

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Speech is an act, and a powerful one at that. Despite any appeals to humility, great speeches and great speakers like Abraham Lincoln, and like Pericles before him, are always remembered. The Gettysburg Address is regarded as one of the greatest, most concise, yet most influential statements of national purpose on record. In two minutes, Lincoln reiterated the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence. He equated the Civil War with a struggle for the preservation of the Union that had been rent asunder by the secession of the southern states. At the same time he redefined the war to be more than just a partisan political struggle to preserve the Union and federal authority over states, but also to preserve the very paradigm in which partisan struggles could be moderated by a fair democratic process for generations to come; another parallel to Athenian history. We all know the final outcome. The Union Army pressed the advantage and eventually won the war. And a year-and-a-half after speaking at Gettysburg, Lincoln was assassinated.

Conclusion

We believe that there is always a model for success that can be studied, repurposed, and followed. We also teach that persuasion, whatever, and wherever the context, is far more than just words. Abraham Lincoln’s techniques are as good a model for someone to follow today, as Pericles’s techniques were for Lincoln 152 years ago.

In his eulogy to the slain president, Senator Charles Sumner referred to The Gettysburg Address as a “monumental act,” also noting that Lincoln had been mistaken in his thought that “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.” Rather, Sumner remarked, “The world noted at once what he said, and will never cease to remember it. The battle itself was less important than the speech.”

The Impact of Body Language in Negotiations

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Whether you are negotiating for a raise, time off, or the sale of a new product, every word and movement in a negotiation is crucial. Most people know to choose their words carefully while negotiating, but body language is often forgotten. The way we toss our head, flail our hands and crisscross our legs all influence negotiations in distinctive ways, so using the right body language is vital to success.

Copycat for Success

Researchers often find that the longer two people are in the same room, the more they mimic each other’s body language and gestures. For example, you might come into your supervisor’s office to negotiate a raise and find that after twenty minutes, you’re both leaning back with your legs crossed. Most people feel silly when they realize this is happening or worry that mimicry will make them look like they are brownnosing, so they stop doing it.

Researchers, however, tend to agree that mimicry is positive. Mimicking someone else’s body language or gestures, even unconsciously, shows a desire to build rapport. Additionally, most people find that clients who mimic them are more persuasive and honest than those who do not.

Stay Constructive

If you negotiate frequently, chances are you will eventually come across someone who you find challenging to converse with. This person may ask you the same type of questions over and over. He or she may pronounce a common word in a way that annoys you or unconsciously drum his or her fingers on the table. No matter the behavior, it can be difficult to hide your irritation.

 

Researchers have performed studies to determine whether people can hide their reactions to emotionally charged images. The studies found that although discomfort is difficult to hide, untrained observers do not often detect it. In other words, your client may not realize his finger-drumming distracts you, or your boss may not realize you’re nervous during a meeting. That being said, experts recommend that you stay as constructive as possible. Use neutral body language, and phrase criticisms constructively.

 

Have a Handshake

 

For decades, experts have advised employees to maintain a firm, warm handshake. While firm handshakes are still preferable, handshakes of any kind make people feel comfortable and respected. If you can’t grip someone’s hand as firmly as a colleague, or if your hands are naturally cold, don’t despair. The fact that you made the gesture will show the other person you are serious about negotiations and care what they have to say.

 

Keep Eye Contact

 

Eye contact is difficult for many people. In fact, some people from countries outside the US may find it offensive. However, good eye contact is key for US and Canadian negotiations. Maintain it to show your honesty and interest in the other person. Try not stare or focus too long on one point. This can be interpreted as aggression. Feel free to look away while thinking or deciding how to word something. If you naturally have trouble with eye contact – for example, you are from a culture that frowns on it – let the other person know. That way, he or she won’t assume you’re being evasive.

 

If you would like more tips, you can visit us online to find out about negotiation training.