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Lessons From the Avengers: How to Assemble a Super-Powered Sales Team

Cameron Johnson

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If we’ve learned anything from the rampant success the Avengers movies continue to see, it’s that if you pull together the right group of individuals, anything is possible. But it’s not just a matter of putting a bunch of talented people into the same room and telling them to do something amazing. It requires the right people with the right abilities and the right training, plus a dash of that secret sauce that turns a group of strangers into a team.

As you learn how to build a sales team, you’ll face some of the same challenges. Sure, you’re not trying to stop an alien force from destroying New York or fighting a megalomaniac robot with the charisma of David Spader, but you still want a group of people who know how to work together and produce results. You’ll need to assemble team members who have the right mix of influence training and natural-born talent to convince customers that they’re making the right decision when they choose to do business with your company. So let’s take a page out of Nick Fury’s handbook and have a look at some of the lessons the Avengers can teach about putting a team together.

Spoilers from the movies may follow.

Lay out and prioritize your requirements

Before you even start recruiting, you need to determine what exactly your sales team is missing and how you can fill those gaps. In order to find the right people to fill out your team, you have to know just what you’re looking for, whether that’s someone who can quickly understand customers and make a connection, someone who knows the product backwards and forwards and can recite intricate specs from memory, or a viking god with a billowing cape and the power to control lightning.

Personality

You want your team to be able to work well in a wide variety of circumstances. If one team member is trying to hog the spotlight and take sales away from another, it leads to bad blood. A team needs to be able to function as a team, and they need to be willing to place the team’s goals first.

At the same time, not just any temperament is cut out for sales. You need teammates who are willing to put themselves out there and chase down leads. They have to want to go out there and actively sell your product. You can usually determine whether an interviewee has the right personality when you meet them, but a DISC profile assessment can also be a helpful tool as you choose members for your team.

Experience

Experience is one of the most effective teachers you can find, but it’s not always the first requirement in sales. In fact, it’s generally a good idea to have a wide range of experience on your team. Team members who have been working in the field a long time have often learned which techniques tend to work and which don’t. Meanwhile, team members who lack experience also haven’t had time to develop any bad habits and can bring fresh new perspectives with them.

Skills

Different workers have different skill sets, whether inborn or trained, and you want to fill out your team with a variety so your workers can handle different situations. Recognize which skills are just a part of who a person is and which can be taught. Sales and influence training can boost an employee’s effectiveness more than you might assume, but the person has to be willing to learn.

Build an effective hiring process

Once you’ve figured out the type of people you need to fill out your team, you need to lay out a plan for how to attract and recruit those people. In the case of Mr. Stark and Captain Rogers, SHIELD sent in a grizzled veteran with an eye patch and a wicked scar to talk to them about the “Avengers Initiative.” Meanwhile, Dr. Banner’s rage issues required a lighter touch in the form of a visit from a femme fatale who could manipulate even the most hardened criminals—and could handle herself in a tight spot, if necessary.

Fortunately, the team you’re putting together probably doesn’t include an enormous, green rage monster, but you still need a plan of attack that will bring in the right people.

Searching for candidates

Without a vast network of satellites orbiting the earth, you’ll need to resort to more mundane search tactics. There are several different ways to go about your hunt for new sales candidates.

Putting out ads and posting on job search sites provide a quick way to circulate the word that you are looking to hire, and it reaches a wide range, while referrals and recruiting events can help to bring in specialized applicants who will actively get things done.

Advertising

Placing ads in newspapers and on job boards is one of the fastest ways to reach a broad audience, but it also contains the least amount of pre-screening. If you have the time and resources to invest in weeding out the less-qualified candidates, though, chances are you’ll have a wide variety of options to choose from in order to best suit your team. Posting on LinkedIn has the added benefit of looking through a candidate’s online profile for qualifications that may get missed in the basic application.

Referrals

These referrals can come from current employees, people with whom you do business, family members, or friends. As long as the recommendation comes from someone whose opinions you trust, referrals are basically a way to have your candidates pre-screened to some degree before you even interview them.

If you want to encourage your current workforce to submit referrals, be sure to create some incentives so they’ll be more likely to do so.

Recruiting events

Job fairs and other recruiting events provide a lot of candidates for a relatively low investment. People who attend recruiting events are typically hungry for work, but other companies seeking to build their own sales teams will be actively competing for the same candidates. Show what sets your company apart from others and why the best candidates would want to join your team.

The interview

Just about anyone who has searched for a job before can tell you that it’s the employee’s first chance to make a good impression, but don’t forget that the same goes for you. If you want the best people to work for you, then show them why they want to work for you. Try to predict the types of questions they will ask beforehand and have answers prepared.

Remember that job applicants are basically trying to sell you something during their interview—themselves. Keep an eye out for just how they do that and take note of things like the way they present themselves, their body language, their grooming, and just how comfortable they seem to be with you. If they seem overly aggressive and pushy with you during the interview, they likely will be the same with your customers. If they feel more natural and genuine in their interest, they will likely be better equipped to put customers at ease.

Continue to hone your team, even after you hire

Sometimes, even after going through the process of searching for and hiring a candidate, you may realize that someone is just not the right fit for your team culturally. If you notice that a team member is having trouble working with your other team members, you may need to step in and make some changes. Extra training might be in order. If things don’t improve, you may need to let a team member go and replace them.

Emphasize ongoing training

While a state-of-the-art training facility in upstate New York—fully equipped with the best tech money can buy—may not be in your budget, you still need to make sure that your team members have their instincts honed and are ready to take on any situation. By regularly putting your team through sales and negotiation training, they can learn and refine the skills they need when they talk to customers and pull in that hard sale.

Proper sales training isn’t just a “do it once and then you’re good” sort of thing, and it’s definitely not just something you do when you need to fix a problem. Proper negotiation is a process rather than an event, and negotiation training is no different. Once you spot a problem, the time for training has probably already passed! Training is an opportunity for your team members to develop new skills and sharpen the ones they already have. After you have a big professional sales training event, continue to hold regular, smaller trainings among your team to keep the things your team has learned fresh in their minds. Encourage your team to teach and learn from each other, and as your team grows and evolves, hold additional formal training events, like those Shapiro Negotiations offers, to build your team’s skill base and fortify other skills they’ve learned.

Don’t skimp on the manager

For the most part, Nick Fury wasn’t on the front lines, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t know how to handle himself in an explosives-riddled car chase against a dozen heavily-armed HYDRA agents. Your team’s manager should be familiar with each of his team member’s capabilities and know in which situations to deploy each. The manager needs to understand the job better than anyone, and be able to get involved as needed.

Even when they’ve got a team of incredible salespeople, a mediocre sales manager will eventually lead to a mediocre team. A good manager knows just when to step in and encourage, where to coach salespeople and teach them new skills, and when the time is right to come back from presumed death and give an inspiring speech before the team leaves their safehouse and fights an army of killer robots on a flying island.

Encourage cooperation

Team members need to be able to work together. Some sales managers operate their teams under the facade that having their salespeople constantly competing hones their “killer instinct,” but that wastes a lot of potential and can eventually lead the team to implode. Some healthy competition is fine in sales, but team members should still put the group’s needs ahead of their individual wants. Otherwise,  it starts with a disagreement over a sale, and eventually, your two best team members are leading opposing factions, throwing explosive trucks at each other while the new guy grows to the size of a small office building and tears the wings off an airplane.

… Well.

Okay, so it probably won’t reach that point, but pitting your team members against each other all the time can still lead to bad feelings and worse results. Emphasize the fact that your sales team is just that—a team. Customers can tell when there are bad feelings between workers, as well, and it gives off an unpleasant feeling when teammates are trying to undermine each other. They’re all on the same side, and by working together, your team can achieve some pretty incredible results.

Once you learn how to build a sales team and then pull together the right group of people, anything is possible. Whether you’re trying to save the world or save your business, you want the best team you can put together fighting by your side. So bring in the right people. Give them strong leadership to point them in the right direction. Make sure they’re equipped with the best resources and the best training you can give them. Keep them focused and working together on the same goals.

Then maybe, after a hard, successful day in the trenches together, go out and grab some shawarma as a team.

3 Tips for Negotiating Your Salary

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Many people avoid asking for higher pay for fear of sounding pushy or entitled. However, if you know your work is valuable to your organization and worth more than you’re receiving, you should be able to argue your case effectively. Remember preparation is the only aspect of a negotiation you can control.

First, you need to know you have a solid case for higher pay. Everyone wants to believe their work is worth more than what they’re paid – but you need to know it before you bring up the subject. Once you do, it’s time to decide how to approach your supervisor.

Pick Your Battles

When you choose to initiate the conversation about your pay is as important as deciding to do it in the first place. Although our emotions shouldn’t affect our performance at work, things rarely play out this way, so you need to assess your superior’s state of mind before broaching the subject.

Typically, the best time to ask for more money is when the company has been doing well for a noticeable amount of time. A small rebound after a slow or difficult season isn’t ideal. Wait until the company is posting gains rapidly or after a particularly good year. Also, never forget that your time spent working for the company is a crucial part of your conversation. A good rule of thumb is to avoid asking for more pay for at least a year in your role, unless you are churning out extraordinary work on a regular basis that’s above and beyond expectations.

Know What You’re Worth

Once you think it’s time to have the talk about more money, you need to check your ammo and understand any precedents. Not only do you need a strong portfolio of work that displays your value as an employee and contributions to the company’s success, you also need to have a figure in mind. Do some research on professionals in your field and find a number that sounds reasonable. If you approach your supervisor with a precise number, you’re more likely to get what you want, as your supervisor will assume you’ve done your homework and know your value.

Special Tips for On-boarding

Salary negotiations are a bit easier when you have history with a company. Things get a bit trickier when you’re negotiating a starting salary during the interview and on-boarding process. Keep the following tips in mind for negotiating your starting salary:

• Let the interviewer bring up money first. Once the salary talk begins, never be the first to name a number. Let the interviewer give you a starting point and you’ll be in the power position once negotiations start. If you offer a number first, you run the risk of low-balling yourself with what you consider a lofty figure when the company was prepared to offer more.

• Know your value and aim high, just don’t be surprised if you are shot down. As long as you demonstrate value, the company will recognize your value. If it doesn’t, you may be better off looking elsewhere.

• Don’t bring up your salary at your previous job. This isn’t a benchmark and it’s not a great figure to reference when you’re joining a new company.

 

Sources:
http://www.employmentspot.com/employment-articles/salary-negotiation-learn-how-to-negotiate-for-a-higher-salary/
https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-negotiate-salary-37-tips-you-need-to-know
http://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/how-to-negotiate-a-higher-salary.html
http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2014/03/31/job-seekers-8-tips-to-negotiate-your-starting-salary/#4453b77d548d
http://www.businessinsider.com/6-tips-for-negotiating-a-pay-raise-2013-10

Making Workplace Conflict Work for Your Team

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Workplace conflicts arise often. It’s important to know how to handle them and to recognize the opportunities within them. It’s easy to work past a conflict and then pretend nothing ever happened, but you may be missing valuable opportunities to fine tune your employees’ communication skills and grow your business.

Identify the Conflict

First, you need to know the source of the disruption. Workplace conflicts happen between employees and their superiors, between coworkers, and between employees and customers. The final type requires the most careful attention: you need to be able to defuse a conflict without alienating anyone. One of the golden rules of salesmanship is that it’s okay to lose a sale but not a customer.

Gain an understanding of the situation – often you’ll find that you can defuse a conflict easily if it arose from miscommunication or a small discrepancy.

Pinpoint the Cause

In the sales industry, conflicts arise most often from miscommunication. The wording of a return policy or product specification is ambiguous, an employee misspoke, or something else was lost in translation. It’s important to recognize what type of conflict is happening, but it’s more important to acknowledge why it happened.

When customers complain, they can sometimes pinpoint issues within your business you may have overlooked. Although this is frustrating, ultimately these situations are good things for both the company and its customers. Once you identify the source of a conflict, you can remedy the situation so the customer leaves happy and willing to return, and then you can address the underlying issue to prevent future occurrences.

Ask for Solutions

When two parties butt heads, one of your first steps to resolving the issue should be to ask each party what they want to see happen. When it comes to arguments or disagreements between employees, sitting down with the employees involved can uncover issues you may have overlooked, and then everyone benefits from mediation.

When you’re dealing with customer conflicts, you’ll typically need to make up for their frustrations in some way. This may come in the form of an extra coupon for a future visit, a one-time discount to make up for their lost time, or another similar measure. It’s important to stand your ground in the face of unreasonable customers, but do so respectfully. Even the most grating and disrespectful customers can be boons to your business if you know how to approach them.

Work Toward a Resolution

Once you’ve identified what’s happening, who is involved, and what each party wants to see happen, you can work toward resolving the conflict. Every situation is different, so you’ll have to use your judgment to determine the best course of action. Once you do, make clear each party’s responsibilities going forward.

Workplace conflicts happen all the time in every industry. It’s important that you approach them with a clear head and calm demeanor. Sometimes you’ll solve more than just the immediate problem, and fix a newly discovered issue you never knew you had.
Sources:
http://www.amanet.org/training/articles/The-Five-Steps-to-Conflict-Resolution.aspx

6 Steps to Conflict Resolution in the Workplace


http://www.learningpeace.com/pages/LP_04.htm
http://www.mediate.com/articles/bermanlj3.cfm
http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/BUS208-5.3.6-Steps-to-Resolve-Workplace-Conflict-FINAL.pdf

18 Proven Sales Tactics That Work in Any Industry

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Developing a strong sales program is the most critical aspect of any business. Without effective sales strategies, companies will not be able to compete and grow. Sales professionals must learn how to implement proven sales tactics that work.

As a sales team manager, one of your responsibilities is to provide your team with effective sales strategies that will increase your company’s profits. Effective sales processes are not just about working hard and putting in long hours. In fact, many sales teams work long and hard without experiencing results.

sales professional at work

Effective sales strategies involve employing the best strategies in the right situations. Here are 18 sales tactics that can work for sales teams in every industry.

  1. Be persistent with leads and develop the habit of following up with each customer. According to the latest sales research, 80 percent of sales transactions require 5 interactions after the first contact with a customer. Many salespeople are primarily concerned with immediate sales. If they do not get the sale at the first meeting, they silently give up and continue their hunt for the next immediate sale. However, savvy sales professionals understand that they must nurture viable leads until an action is taken. These ‘rock star’ sales professionals send emails, direct mail, make phone calls or send brochures to customers at designated intervals. By taking this action, your customers will think of you when it is time to make their next purchases.
  2. Solve your customers’ problems. Successful businesses thrive in competitive industries because they provide solutions to meet their customers’ needs. There are many sales professionals who do not fully understand their roles in the transaction. Consider this fact. As many as 70 percent of your leads are reaching out to you to solve their problems. When customers contact your sales team, your sales professionals must be able to demonstrate to them how they can quickly and easily solve their problems.
  3. Develop the ability to actively listen to customers. Customers have access to pages of information on the internet. In many instances, they may be as knowledgeable as your sales team. When sales professionals interact with knowledgeable customers, they might be tempted to talk constantly to show them that they are qualified. It is important to remind your salespeople that they should never get into a knowledge power struggle with customers. Sales professionals should always listen more than they talk. They should ask questions that probe into their clients’ thought processes and carefully consider the responses. The goal is to make customers feel as if they are respected throughout the sales process.
  4. Use polite terms when you discuss the competition. Your sales team should always strive to present themselves in a positive light and use professional language. There is nothing that screams unprofessional like using derogatory terms to discuss other people or companies. Although customers may participate in the negative conversation, bad mouthing any person or company is never a good sales tactic. If a competitor does not have a good reputation, the members of your sales team should remain neutral.
  5. Earn your referrals before you ask for them. Sales professionals know that referrals are the proverbial ‘holy grail’ of marketing. In fact, 91 percent of customers will provide a referral contact to a salesperson that they like. Before you think about asking your customers for referrals, you should focus on providing them with a quality customer service experience. During the transaction, your goal is to develop positive relationships with your customers. After you have determined that they are happy with your services, it is a good idea to pursue the referrals. When it comes to soliciting referrals, timing is important.
  6. Ask for referrals from your customers. You might not believe it but only 11 percent of sales professionals ask clients for referrals. According to this data, the majority of salespeople are leaving money on the table. Most customers are generous, and they would happily share your good customer service with friends, family members and colleagues, but you have to ask. If your sales team waits for their customers to initiate a conversation about referrals, it might never happen. Teach your sales team how to integrate referral conversations into the sales process at the appropriate time.
  7. Adhere to strict deadlines with your customers. Sales professionals must create a sense of urgency with customers, or the deals will take much longer than necessary. Changing deadlines according to the whims of each customer makes sales professionals lose credibility. The old adage, where there is a will there is a way, applies here. If customers want to meet the obligations of a transaction by the deadline, they will definitely find a way to make it happen.
  8. Develop relationships with your customers. Without customer relationships, it can seem as if you are always in the vicious cycle of trying to ‘drum up’ new business. Your past customers can be an excellent source of new transactions for years to come. When your initial transaction is completed, you do not have to end the relationship at that point. Find creative ways to keep in contact with your customers.
  9. Identify your customers’ needs and meet them. Sales professionals should never lose sight that the only purpose of the sales transaction is to help customers. Since transactions are closely associated with money, it is easy to lose sight of this fact. Create a list of questions that you can use to pinpoint exactly what the customer needs from the transaction. These questions will enable you to save time with customers and get to the heart of the matter. Once customers believe that you understand their predicament, they will work with you to meet their needs.
  10. Be able to distinguish a lead from a customer and act accordingly. Brace yourself for this disheartening fact. According to a report by Gleanster Research, only 25 percent of all leads are legitimate and ready to complete a transaction. Leads are potential transactions, and you cannot bank your future on potential. You should categorize your leads and create campaigns to interact with each type. For example, warm leads should have a different marketing strategy than cold calls. Time is a limited resource. It is best to use it wisely.
  11. Solicit targeted leads. A difficult lesson for many sales professionals to learn is that every person with a pulse will not be a customer. Since this is the case, sales professionals must create a strategic plan to attract customers that fit their target markets. One way to do this is to make good use of technology to find leads that could use your services. For example, credit professionals who are targeting people who are recovering from bankruptcy can use the public record to find people who fit this profile. Once you have found your potential customers, create a customized sales pitch that will appeal to each demographic.
  12. Learn to uncover each customer’s pain points. Television advertisements are known for pushing the viewer’s hot buttons in order to get them to take action. Fear of loss is the most common pain points that advertisers address. The primary mission of every sale professional, as emphasized in our negotiation training courses, is to find a customer’s pain points and use them to their advantage. Ron Shapiro said it best when he stated, “In order to get what you want, help them get what they want.” Sales professionals can start the search for pain points by asking closed-ended questions that only require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. As the customer begins to feel comfortable, the salesperson should ask open-ended questions that will prompt customers to reveal additional information. Once the vital information is discovered, salespeople can use it to help their customers take action.
  13. Master the art of storytelling. When sales professionals meet with customers, they are usually armed with all sorts of facts and data. Although data may seem important, studies suggest that only 5 percent of people remember statistics after a presentation. However, an impressive 63 percent of people remember stories after a presentation. Sales professionals need to arm themselves with stories about relevant experiences of people who have received favorable results after using their products and services.
  14. Stand by your product or service and offer some type of guarantee. If your customers are willing to part with their cash, your company should at least be willing to offer a guarantee on the product or service. The guarantee can be a refund or replacement. If you are afraid of most of your customers taking you up on a money back guarantee policy, you should not be. Less than 10 percent of customers return items each year. A product or service guarantee provides your customers with peace of mind that lets them know that they are protected in the event that something goes awry.
  15. Find prospects who want the things you have to sell. The best way to navigate through water is to go with the current instead of swimming against it. In sales, going with the current means that if you are selling chicken, your leads are people who like chicken. If your prospects are vegan, then it will be nearly impossible to sell your chicken products to them. If you want to be certain that your clients need the items you are selling, you should pre-qualify them before you actively market to them.
  16. Develop compelling goals and an actionable plan. Successful people know where they want to go, and they develop an action plan to help them propel toward their destination. Goal-setting and planning are critical to any sales team’s success. According to a study conducted by Inc. Magazine, sales teams that set goals realized a 28 percent increase in sales. Teaching goal-setting strategies should be a mandatory part of every organization’s corporate sales training manual.
  17. Show customers proof that your product or service actually works. When you look at infomercials for weight loss products, they often show ‘before and after’ pictures of previous users of the products. They understand that new customers are motivated by social proof. Sales professionals should keep customer testimonials in a binder or in their laptops to share with customers. When customers are able to view the visible proof, they will be more likely to invest in your product or service.
  18. Maintain a positive mindset. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by the number of sales professionals who develop a jaded outlook because of sales slumps. Sales professionals must make every effort to remain positive in good and tough times. Developing a positive attitude has many benefits. Customers can tell when you are not in a good mood, and it will affect the transaction. A positive outlook helps sales professionals look for solutions to pending problems. When your sales professionals are positive, they will be able to handle stressful situations.

In this competitive business environment, sales professionals need to learn all the tricks of the trade in order to close a deal. By using these sales tactics that work, your sales team can learn to thrive in any economic climate.

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.

Becoming Organized to Become a Better Manager

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Managing employees requires the ability to handle many tasks and many personalities at a time. Managing your time, workload, and team members can be overwhelming if you’re disorganized or unprepared. You can’t manage others if you aren’t managing yourself. Becoming organized isn’t as difficult as it seems; sometimes you just need to know where to get started.

Organizing Your Space

Your office can’t run smoothly buried under a mountain of clutter. Here are some ways to create a clutter-free environment so you can work as efficiently as possible:

  • Free up storage space – Decluttering begins with cleaning out all your drawers and file cabinets of unnecessary papers. If you don’t need it, don’t keep it.
  • Clear the desk – Your desktop should be clear of anything that you’re not currently working on. This will help you better focus on the tasks at hand.
  • Keep essential items within reach – Having the tools that you use regularly, such as your computer, phone, or fax, within reach will eliminate the need to leave your desk, helping you work smarter not harder.
  • Put everything in its own place – Using a variety of desktop organizers or trays to sort different tasks or projects will put what needs to be taken care of front and center for you visually.
  • See it through – You’re not truly done with a project until you’ve filed it away. Taking care of the finishing details right away will not only keep the clutter at bay, it’ll also keep your mind free of clutter as well.
  • Clean up before you go – Straightening up at the end of the day will give you a head start in the morning.

Managing Your Time

Time is usually what most people have the most trouble managing, probably because it can’t really be managed. Time is measured in seconds, but real life happens at its own pace. People often say, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” because you don’t feel the seconds, you feel the progress.

Here are some real ways to manage your time without falling into the trap of trying to master the clock:

  • Plan ahead – By setting aside the first 30 minutes of your day to plan your schedule, you’ll be able to set your priorities and keep them at the forefront of your mind for the day.
  • Schedule appointments – Ditch the to-do list and opt for an appointment book instead. There will always be more to do, but if it’s an important task, assigning it a time block with a beginning and an end and sticking to it will help you get it done.
  • Plan for interruptions – Life is full of surprises, and sometimes those surprises can lead to great discoveries while avoiding them can lead to huge problems. As a manager, you’ll need to complete your workload and make yourself available to others as well. By setting aside some time to be interrupted, you’ll be able to take care of both without spreading yourself too thin.

How to Invite Employees to Integrate Your Vision

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Onboarding can be an overwhelming time for new employees, but integration should happen as early as possible – without sacrificing the employee’s individuality. There are a huge number of personality types that get hired into the workplace, so there is no one-size-fits-all technique for inviting employees into the culture. There are, however, certain steps employers can take to ensure their company’s visions are upheld by both existing and new employees.

Be Clear About the Company’s Culture

Unless your company is forthright and precise with its descriptions of itself and its culture, employees will have no way of knowing where they should fit or, for that matter, what they are working to fit into.

Arm yourself with a variety of materials that detail what your organization stands for. Some helpful things to include in your onboarding process are an in-depth company history, the central tenets of the business, and a detailed code of conduct and dress. Dress codes are particularly important when communicating expectations. A relaxed dress code can denote a more laid back and open-minded organization, while strictly professional guidelines communicate that the culture is highly focused on professionalism.

Schedule Personal Time With Employees

New hires and existing employees both benefit from some personal face to face interaction with their supervisors. By sure to schedule coffee trips, lunches, and in-office chats with employees on a regular basis to keep your finger on the pulse of their experience. This personal time allows management to assess how the employees are fitting into and embodying the culture of their organization, and can be a great tool in assessing and addressing issues which may arise or have arisen.

Ensure Management Is Leading By Example

Employees often look to their supervisors or managers for cues on acceptable behavior. Therefore, it is essential that the managerial staff hold themselves to the highest standards when it comes to embodying company culture. If your establishment is a suit-and-tie organization, for instance, and one partner regularly arrives in a sweater and jeans, employees will see this as a sign that the culture isn’t entirely applicable. This will create a weakness within the organization and potentially lead to confusion for new hires.

Facilitate a culture in line with the organization’s values. This is one of the best ways to encourage your company to grow in the directions you would like it to. When taking on new hires or coaching existing employees, keep the heart of your organization in mind.

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.”

How to Lead Your Office in Sales

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There are certain personality traits and characteristics that enable an individual to be successful at sales. Temperaments, ways of approaching people, and even external appearance can all be a huge influence on a salesperson’s efficacy with clients. Most of these traits are applicable to more than sales, too; they’re valuable life skills that will travel with you throughout your career.

Being Self-Aware 

To understand the way others perceive us, we must first understand ourselves. Being self-aware and identifying our emotions is a useful skill at work and in life. Salespeople have the inherent ability to read their own and others’ emotions, which allows them to adjust their response. Once you can identify how you respond to certain stimuli, you can work on changing your actions, if necessary.

Think about how you react when you don’t understand something. Do you get mad? Do you make a reasonable effort to wrap your head around it? Or do you change the subject? Salespeople know ahead of time how they tend to react and what type of reaction will elicit a positive response in a given situation.

Solution Oriented

Salespeople are adept at solving problems; that’s what makes them so good at their jobs. When a salesman pitches an idea or product, they must first identify a problem for which the product offers a solution. They convince the person by explaining how the product or idea works to make their life easier. In the event that a customer has a complaint or a pitch goes sour, they know how to solve that problem, too. Understanding is the foundation for problem solving. To effectively solve a problem, you must first understand the nature of it.

Optimistic 

Optimism isn’t limited to salespeople. It is a healthy outlook everyone should embrace. Optimistic people are more confident, and confidence gets you everywhere. The key to becoming more optimistic is to thoroughly analyze your emotional response to situations. Imagine you wake up in the morning and stub your toe getting out of bed. You can either think: “oh great, it’s going to be that kind of day,” or you can think: “at least I’m wide awake now!” It’s this type of decision in your perception that alters your entire day.

Assertiveness 

Being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive. There are plenty of ways to convey your assertiveness without coming across as arrogant. When a customer tells an assertive salesman they would like to think about the offer and get back to them, the salesman will often ask for a specific time and date to follow up. This isn’t as passive as simply saying “okay,” and it’s less aggressive than saying “it’s now or never.” It is both firm and accommodating.

Sources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2013/04/12/the-unexpected-secret-to-being-a-great-salesperson/

http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/5-traits-of-highly-successful-salespeople.html

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/65984

How to Influence Management

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You don’t have to be a manager or CEO to influence others. Many people are born with the innate talent to influence. They seem to have a natural ability to compel others to listen; however, this is a talent that can be learned, as well. Influence training helps people learn to look within themselves and find the power to lead people. Leadership is an important skill to learn, whether or not you’re in a leadership role. It’s a skill that can be carried on throughout the rest of your career and life.

Be Logical 

When trying to get your point across, you must first address the logic within your cause. If you can convey to someone that your argument is a logical alternative, he or she will be more willing to listen to what you have to say. If you’re trying to come to problem solve with upper management, logical arguments usually create attentive listeners.

Be sure your side is clearly defined, and offer factual details to back it up. Be ready to address the downsides with effective solutions, as well. For example, if you’re trying to influence management to let you take on new responsibilities, explain how you will handle these duties. Address the common pitfalls that hinder those with new responsibilities and how you plan to handle them.

Speak to His or Her Emotional Side 

Another way to build on your ability to influence is to appeal to the person emotionally. Obviously, you need to understand your audience to do this. Speaking with great enthusiasm isn’t going to win over curt and fact-focused managers. Think about the person you’re trying to convince, speak to his or her emotion, and slip his or her name into conversation when you can. This age old trick is a proven way to get people to listen – just don’t use it too much or you risk sounding robotic!

Work Together 

One of the most time-tested approaches to influencing others is to convince them to get on board with you. “If you can’t beat em’, join em’,” as they say. With this tactic, you’re playing up the solution you will reach together. There are several ways to appeal to the cooperative side of the argument. For example, you could ask the person for help or new ideas with a topic, you could partner up and work directly with someone, or you can form alliances with those who already support your cause.

Many effective influencers use a combination of these three tactics. With practice, you will learn when and where each scenario works best. As you get better at reading people, you will get better at influencing them, and vice versa. This will also help you build essential leadership skills to advance your career.

Sources: http://www.forbes.com/2011/01/03/influence-persuasion-cooperation-leadership-managing-ccl.html