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A Year in Review: 2016 Training Industry Report

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On average, negotiations training and other training expenditures increased for both small and large companies in 2016, while remaining consistent for midsize companies. Seems like good news, right? Underneath this seemingly bright information for companies that specialize in training and consulting, is the raw truth that businesses are spending more on training because they have more employees.  They are spending about 10% of their budgets on training, which is down significantly from last year…

What does this mean? As training becomes less focused on in-person facilitation, and more focused on online learning tools, training and influencing companies have begun to offer products that reflect the market. Companies are looking to train the largest number of employees for the least amount of money. There is little evidence that online training is as successful or impactful as in-person facilitation but, none-the-less, the shift towards mass, online training is underway.

Personal facilitation is still a relatively big part of training budgets, but the use of blended learning techniques is rising significantly, as the combination of instructor-led classroom training, virtual classroom/webcast training, online and computer based training, mobile device training, and social learning becomes more readily available. These blended learning techniques are often delivered in one of two ways: learning management systems (e-learning) or virtual classroom/webcasting. Why? Overall, technology use among companies is rising, meaning their sales or negotiations training programs are beginning to mirror this.

Looking ahead at 2017, training and influencing companies need to understand the current and adjust accordingly. Outsourced training programs are likely to be more successful in small (100-999 employees) and midsize (1,000-9999 employees) companies, which will be looking to invest in the programs with the best blend of innovative learning techniques.

Cheers to a new way of training and to a profitable year!

The Pros and Cons of the Indirect Sale

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Many companies—particularly new or small firms—may wonder if there’s profit in indirect sales. The debate has been going on for many years, and any simple internet search will render countless opinions about the best business decision. Like most things, there are pros and cons that you need to examine fully before you make your choice.

Pros

  • Indirect sales channels have more visitors. Since these websites and businesses are already established, they have an existing customer base. People get exposure to your brand during their regular shopping, even if they’ve never heard about it before.
  • A sales channel can be more functional. Larger companies may have access to better programs and technology, making for a more sophisticated customer experience. You can eliminate the need to build your own website when you list products with an affiliate or on a marketplace.
  • They provide lower maintenance once established. Since you’re not in charge of the channel itself, you don’t have to worry about upkeep or updates. The initial setup may be a bit extensive, but after that, your ride may be significantly easier.
  • Expansion is at your fingertips. Working with an indirect sales channel can give you nationwide or global access Instead of having to build your own team, you can rely on their existing resources to get your brand into the far corners of the world.

Indirect sales are a clear answer for some businesses, but not others. Considering the downsides of third-party involvement is important when choosing the future of your business.

Cons

  • They’re not as passionate. Since you have your own time and money invested in your business, you want it to work. It may be a lifelong dream or even your lone source of income. But no matter how incredible your products are, an affiliate will never be as eager. They have their own companies to run, and if you want maximum drive, you’ll have to do it yourself.
  • There can be conflict. The world is full of competitors, and it may be hard to find a channel that can work for you—particularly in more heavily populated areas.
  • You have more competition. Most partners aren’t going to stock only your brand—after all, it’s less profitable for them. Customers enjoy having options, and it’s likely that the product of your hard work will be right next to its biggest contender.

With the proper relationship and platform, indirect sales can be incredible. They may reach far greater heights than you ever could alone, but it won’t come without cost. Consider all the facts and make the choice that’s best for your business.

EDGE Program Reflection

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By: Ronald M. Shapiro, co-founder and chairman at SNI

As I reflect back on my opportunity to impact the participants of a Global Executives program known as EDGE, I wanted to share some background on the program, what my role was, and a participant’s testimonial on how The Power of Nice has enhanced his negotiation skills.

What is EDGE?

EDGE stands for Baltimore Emerging & Developing Global Executives.  It is a program that was started in September of this past year by the World Trade Center Institute (WTCI).  For those of you who are not familiar with WTCI, it is a non-profit, 501 C3 organization that helps to educate, support and connect Maryland companies to opportunities around the world.

What was it about the EDGE program that intrigued you?

As a teacher, I am always intrigued by the opportunity to interact and train business professionals on the art of negotiation, but the EDGE program, in particular, stuck out to me.  It was a program that I knew I could have a profound impact on the participants.

The goal of the EDGE program is to enhance each participant’s business acumen and to increase Baltimore’s international competitiveness.  The program’s duration lasts about 10 months, which includes an off-site retreat, multi-cultural training, meetings with c-level executives, and seven half-day sessions on topics of leadership and global business importance.  This is where I came in.  WTCI invited me to present at one of the EDGE program’s training sessions called the Art & Science of Global Negotiation.

With over 50 years of experience negotiating deals in similar industries to those of the participants, I was able to draw on my experiences and illustrate real-life negotiation examples.  By relating these examples to the participants’ world, they are better able to connect the negotiation principles they have learned to experiences they have had, bringing new light to the principles presented in the program.

Who were the participants in the EDGE program?

The participants were business professionals from a variety of different industries.  These business professionals came from companies such as Under Armour, Legg Mason, Northrop Grumman, Proctor & Gamble, TESSCO Technologies, and T. Rowe Price.  Each participant had 10+ years of experience within their defined industry.

By having an experienced, diverse group of less than twenty participants, I was able to focus on problems that each individual was facing and customize scenarios to replicate real-life negotiations. Through an interactive presentation that included live negotiations, each participant was able to use the negotiation principles presented and apply them in a live simulation – a key to maximizing impact.

Reflecting on your experience with the EDGE program, how impactful was your presentation?

I have taught tens of thousands of business professionals throughout the world – and the reason I continue to teach is because of the impact these programs have upon the participants.  Below is a quote from Perry Menzies of Terminal Corporation, a participant in the EDGE program, as he reflected on his experience.

“For me, some of the key takeaways from the EDGE program came from the powerful session on Global Negotiation presented by Ron Shapiro. This session was very interactive and allowed participants to engage in a mock negotiation situation. This proved to be incredibly well-timed as Terminal Corporation was going through annual rate negotiations as well as quoting new business in an effort to diversify into more inelastic cargoes. Using knowledge from this seminar we were able to successfully negotiate all rate increases as well as negotiate new business that we are confident will minimize the exposure we previously had in handling mainly forest products…” – Perry Menzies, Terminal Corp.

As exemplified by Perry’s testimonial, The Power of Nice is a program that brings real results to real people and can positively impact the negotiation skills of professionals in all industries.

How to Handle High-Pressure Negotiators

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Everyone has their own ways of handling high-stress and high-pressure situations, and negotiators often employ manipulative tactics to gain the upper hand. Don’t let them!

Emotional Ploys

Your opposition may feign offense or indignation at your offer, as if it is far below a reasonable expectation. If you know your offer is fair, it’s important to stand your ground and start a dialog about what the opposition thinks is unreasonable. If there is no acceptable, logical answer, your opponent may be trying to bait you into making a lowball offer.

You may encounter a good cop/bad cop routine. One member of the opposition may seem to be on your side and on board with an offer, while another seems inordinately opposed to it. This tactic is meant to encourage you to compromise. Be wary.

Sometimes, you may see emotional outbursts that are meant to make you uncomfortable and speed you toward an immediate agreement for the sake of social propriety. While you may be tempted to give in, your best response to any outrageous emotional behavior is silence: Wait for the display to end and carry on professionally.

Distractions

A red herring tactic is one where the opposition will bring up a completely unrelated topic to derail a conversation. Saying the topic has nothing to do with the issue at hand  may make you look aggressive. Instead, shelve the topic until you finish handling the important issues.

The opposition may sometimes try to bombard you with data that appears to support their position but is nothing more than a distraction. Once you realize this, ask what specifically this information has to do with the conversation at hand.

Refusals and Walkouts

In extreme cases, the opposition may attempt to stonewall you with a negotiator who absolutely will not budge on any issue. Don’t be afraid to ask for a new representative. The opposition may also demand an immediate resolution and threaten to leave if you don’t acquiesce. The best thing to do in this situation is to let them leave. More often than not, they’re trying to gain the upper hand by forcing you to make a play. The best play you can make is to show them that you’re not interested in working with someone who is willing to walk out on a deal. If they need the business, they’ll change their tune.

These may be some extreme examples, but every negotiator is going to resort to some tactics to get the best deal for their side of the table. While you may be tempted to resort to some of the sleazier tactics (especially when you’re sure they’ll have the desired effects), it’s important to maintain the high road and represent your company with integrity, honor, and grace.

 

Sources: http://www.bakercommunications.com/archive/apr13/negotiation040113.html?campId=70140000000flkz

https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/10-dirty-negotiation-tactics-and-how-to-beat-them/

http://www.calumcoburn.co.uk/articles/negotiation-tactics/

http://negotiatelikethepros.com/overcome-the-top-ten-neg-tactics/

 

 

Three Selling Techniques to Avoid and What to Do Instead

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Through Corporate Sales Training, you can learn that sometimes your potential clients may be interested in what you have to offer, but your demeanor turns them off. While the temptation to “go in for the kill” on an interested lead may arise, it’s important to be mindful of the image you project. Are they going to feel valued? Will they have a positive impression of your interaction that they’ll remember for future sales?

You may be surprised when you hear some of the more manipulative and underhanded sales tactics being used today. Negotiation is an art, and the compromise is the key to successful negotiation. Tricking customers won’t enhance your organization’s reputation or your own as a trustworthy salesperson. We’ve compiled a list of some sales tactics that may be tempting but which you should certainly avoid.

Bait and Switch

A customer enters a store planning to buy a promotional item, only to find it isn’t available or wasn’t depicted accurately in the advertisement. The salesperson then immediately encourages the more expensive option. While it may be tempting to try to get something into the hands of every customer who comes to your store, they’re going to leave disappointed if they can’t get what they intended to buy, and will only grow more frustrated if you attempt to upsell them on something they don’t want.

Instead, turn the interaction into a conversation. Ask them why they wanted that particular item and find out what they thought it would do for them. You can then offer something that fits their needs or correct any misunderstandings they may have had about the initial item. You may be able to turn a failed sale and frustration into a future sale. They’ll appreciate the time you took to answer their questions and address their needs, even if you didn’t have the right product at the time.

The “Flyfish” Close

This technique puts pressure on the buyer to make an immediate decision, possibly by offering a percentage discount if the item is purchased immediately. While you might assume that instant savings would appeal to buyers, customers know when you’re pressuring them into buying something they don’t need.
Rather than pushing for an immediate close, take the time to find out exactly what your customer is looking for and what you have that fits the bill. By taking the time to address their needs, they see you are more concerned with them being pleased with their purchase than you are with just making a sale.

Assuming the Sale

You want to ask for the sale, not assume you’ve made it. Using assumptive language with a customer is an excellent way to turn them off from buying anything from you again. Assuming the sale usually stems from the seller’s expectation that if the customer seems to be indicating that they’re buying something, they’re rude if they don’t. What actually happens is that the customer feels rushed.

Don’t assume that because the buyer displays interest that you’ve got the sale. Wait for them to make closing statements and ask them if they want to complete the sale. They may have lingering questions; address them fully so they can feel confident about their purchase.

 

How to Negotiate with Different Genders

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Successful negotiations often depend on how well you relate to the other person. For example, many people wonder how to negotiate with different genders. If you find yourself negotiating with people of different genders on a regular basis, there are tips you can follow to ensure everyone walks away friends.

Empathy vs. Aggression

In today’s culture, striking a balance between empathy and aggression is vital, but can be difficult. For example, women are often taught not to be assertive. They are told that assertion is the same thing as aggression and that it makes them seem uncaring. Therefore, women sometimes take an overly empathetic approach to negotiations and don’t push for what they want or need.

On the other hand, men are often taught that aggression shows strength, while too much empathy shows weakness. They are told that if they are too empathetic, they will lose negotiations, letting themselves and others down. Thus, some men “play hardball” more than they should.

The key to solving both these quandaries is to find your personal balance between empathy and aggression. To do so, analyze the type of negotiation you are in. If you want to sell a product or service to a client, for instance, you need to find points of agreement and empathize with his or her needs, rather than push for a decision.

Establishing Authority

Establishing authority is another tricky part of negotiating with different genders. Authority equals control, and exerting too much control could be seen as arrogant or demanding. Both genders tend to have a difficult time with this, although women are often more reluctant to take seats at the head of the table, make wide gestures, or use up space.

Experts agree that there are key ways men and women should establish authority without looking aggressive. For example, spread your materials out instead of keeping them in a small, neat stack. As much as possible, avoid reading from your material; this can make you look unprepared and not confident. Maintain friendly eye contact. Use silence to emphasize a point or give people time to think through what you have said.

Listen

When most people think of negotiations, they think of talking. Talking is a big part of any negotiation, but listening is even more vital. Both genders can be accused of not listening, or of using silence to plan what they want to say next. Learn how to actively listen, perhaps through professional negotiation training. When the other person is talking, maintain eye contact, nod, or say things like, “Tell me more about that” to show engagement. If you didn’t hear or understand something, be honest and ask for it to be repeated.

Don’t Bow to Stereotypes

Don’t let stereotypes influence your success in negotiations. If you are a woman who needs to be more assertive, ask for tips or assertiveness training from other women you trust. Seek opportunities to negotiate with men, and learn from key phrases they might use such as “I think” or “you know.” If you are a man, don’t be afraid to compete as much with women as you do other males. Learn from women as well – for example, women are less likely to “wing it” during negotiations, and this can help them succeed.

What Are Sales Enablement Tools, and How Do They Work?

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Automation software can be greatly beneficial for sales and marketing professionals. Not only does it make sales processes and marketing campaigns easier to design and launch, but it can enable a sales team itself. A variety of sales enablement tools exist, each offering a different way to manage your sales and marketing team. Here’s how a bevy of sales enablement tools can help you gain real insight into your customers and empower your teams to sell.

Go Beyond Leads

Most sales and marketing departments use sales enablement tools for generating leads. Some go beyond that and use these tools to follow up with prospects, as well. But sales enablement tools have the potential to do more. In fact, using their data collection capability, you can gain insights on your buyer and mitigate a lot of legwork.

Gain Insight 

Sales enablement tools let you collect deep pools of data for developing buyer insights. You can find out who has buying power in a certain company, what their company challenges are, and what industry trends are influencing their behavior. This type of data, paired with market research, gives you the information you need to empower your sales team. Enablement tools like Amacus automatically collect and analyze data like this and display real-time sales analytics.

Stay in Front of Your Customers

Following up with your prospects and providing them with valuable content keeps you in the forefront of their minds. Content marketing is a great way to do this across a variety of channels. You can keep your customers up to date with social media, e-mail newsletters, and blog posts. However, some busy sales teams might not have time to dominate all these channels.

Platforms like LogicBay help you create and optimize multiple sales channels and manage individual leads. Likewise, Eloqua by Oracle is marketing automation software that optimizes both sales and marketing efforts. It analyzes prospect behavior and delivers it in a way you can use to launch new campaigns and improve old ones.

Manage Your Sales Team

Some enablement tools put everything you need to manage a sales team right in your hands. Help your sales team perform like they are meant to with coaching tools, best practice policies, call management, and playbook development. The PlayBoox platform, and other platforms like MindMatrix, let you manage the processes and tools you use to run your sales team efficiently. These platforms offer insight as to what material you need at any given point in the sales cycle, and they then help you develop them.

Using a combination of these tools, you can manage every step of the sales cycle. From lead generation to prospect nurturing and follow up, and even managing sellers themselves, sales enablement tools give you full control.

Sources:

http://www.docurated.com/all-things-productivity/top-54-sales-enablement-tools

http://www.customshow.com/sales-enablement-best-practices-solutions/

https://salesenablement.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/work-in-progress-list-of-sales-enablement-vendors/

 

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

4 Traits the Best Salespeople Share

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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.