BLOG

How to Choose the Right Sales Training Program

A sales training program is crucially important to the success of your sales team. Every individual needs the right introduction into the sales environment. No matter how naturally talented a person is, he or she requires the polishing that comes from good instruction.

When it comes time to choose a sales training program for your team, be very careful and thorough with the process. This program is going to mold your team as well as provide them with continuing refreshers over the course of their careers. A mistake at this stage could prove highly detrimental to the success of your enterprise.

It is best to take a systematic approach. With a plan in hand for how you are going to approach the process, you will be able to find and even tailor the sales training program that is right for your industry and for your team’s needs. Here are some important factors to consider when choosing your program.

 

Preplanning

Before you start looking at sales training programs, you need to understand your own sales team. Some programs maybe great programs but they aren’t for every team in every environment. Look at yourself and evaluate where you are and where you want to be so you can be in the best position to evaluate the training programs you will choose from.

 

  • What are your team’s needs? Not every product is the same. Some approaches need to be different. Not every clientele is the same. What are the needs of your team? This is the core concept in determining which sales training program will work for you.

 

  • What areas do you want to focus on? Is there a specific weakness in your team? Do you feel you could spend a little less time going over things they already have mastered? A sales training program can cover a wide variety of topics. You need to decide the best way to apportion this time.

 

  • How long should the training be? More training can always help, but there comes a saturation point when it loses its benefit and the trainees start to get bored with it. What is the appropriate amount of time to spend on training?

 

  • What about continuing education? As time goes by, we forget more and more of the specifics of what we learned. It is always a good idea to give refresher courses, even to experienced veterans. What sort of continuing education goals do you have for your team?

 

Finding the Right Program

Once you know what your goal is for your sales team and know what you want out of a training program, you are ready to see what’s available. Some of the metrics, such as course length and follow up, are easy to gauge. There are, however, other considerations to make during the selection process. There are several considerations when determining how effective a sales training program will be for your specific sales team.

 

  • Consider location. Sales training can consist of in-person training as well as e-learning. Most will make use of both. Do you prefer more of one than the other?

 

  • What is their selling philosophy? No amount of tinkering with the program will solve the problem of differing philosophies when it comes to sales training. If your core philosophy is at odds with that of the training program, it’s not going to be a good fit.

 

  • Look at the sales management section. Your sales management needs to reinforce the principles taught in the training program for salesmen and women. The training program should have a component for sales management as well.

 

  • Do you need an assessment? If you already have an assessment process you trust, this probably won’t be necessary. However, you may want to investigate whether the training program provides assessments as well.

 

  • Does the program have all the desired formats? Some people learn better by reading; others by watching a video. Make sure the training comes in a variety of formats to reach every representative on your team.

 

  • What is the ratio of showing to doing? Some training programs are mostly show with only a little do. Most people learn better by doing, so be sure to check the ratio in any potential training program.

 

  • Can they tailor course content? No sales training program is worth it if they can’t modify their content according to your needs.

 

Other Considerations

When you find a program that you believe will serve your needs, you will need to ask a few more questions. There are some other aspects you should ask about to be sure you are getting the best version of the program that you can. You can further verify effectiveness or the appropriateness of the fit, or even improve the offer on the table. Here are some suggestions for what you should look at.

 

  • Get a sample of the curriculum. This is the best way to evaluate the quality of the program you are considering. Many programs can be discarded with this step.

 

  • Ask about return on investment. How does the sales training program measure results? Is this in accordance with your philosophy and goals?

 

  • Look at the client list. Different sales industries require different approaches. Look at the client list of a prospective program to see if they have experience working with sales teams in your specific field.

 

  • Ask for a money-back guarantee. If a sales training team makes claims about the quality of their product, they should back it up with a guarantee of some sort. If they don’t offer it, see if you can bargain for one. You will be investing a lot of time and money into a program and you need to make sure you see results.

 

When you know how to approach the process, you can confidently find the best program for your company. Though many sales programs seem to be made from the same cast, there are some that stand out. With these tools, you will be able to separate the imitators from the truly high-quality programs and make sure your team has all they need to be the most successful sales representatives possible.

 

How to Use Any Negotiation Location to Your Advantage

When it comes to negotiating, everyone wants a leg up on the competition. How can we get the best deal for ourselves? There is an abundance of books on achieving an advantage through every conceivable angle in bargaining. One that gets a fair amount of scrutiny is location.

While most experts agree that location can affect the proceedings, not everyone agrees on just how location affects things and what sort of location is best. It seems that different sites offer different advantages and disadvantages. The one you choose may depend on your own skill set.

 

Negotiating at Their Place

While your first instinct might be to avoid playing an away game, there are several reasons why it can be to your advantage. If you feel comfortable with the idea, taking a trip to the other party’s home base can provide you with a few subjective as well as objective advantages.

• Confidence. A willingness to visit the other side’s turf can be a keen demonstration of confidence. Confidence is always a good thing to demonstrate during negotiations and can elicit concessions that otherwise would not have been forthcoming.

• Opportunity. Going to the other side’s place is a chance to demonstrate respect for them. A good negotiation is usually more of a partnership than a battle, and visiting them can set the right tone to achieve that partnership. It also tells the other side that you don’t fear them either.

• Comfort Zone. By allowing the other party to remain in his or her comfort zone, you might make them more amenable to a partnership-based negotiation rather than a more hostile encounter. You may increase the chance of cooperation rather than competition.

• Intelligence gathering. By visiting their site, you afford yourself the opportunity to learn more about them. You might discover what drives them, or where they are weak. Knowledge like that can be an advantage in a critical moment.

• Information. When you go to their place, you deprive them of the excuse that they don’t have certain information on hand. Their files are right there, ready for perusal. It also gives you that same excuse you have just taken away from them.

 

Negotiating on Home Turf

If negotiating on the road can be advantageous, then for the same reasons negotiating at home can give the other party those same advantages. Nevertheless, there are ways to make a home field negotiation work for you.

• Impress. When they come to your home turf, you can put on a display of your strengths. You can show your prowess and influence the way they see you. If they come to the bargaining table properly impressed, you may have an easier time getting concessions from them.

• The Ego Wall. In your office, you can build your own personal Hall of Fame. You can fill it with awards and newspaper clippings and anything else that portrays you in the light you want to convey.

 

Neutral Location Negotiations

A neutral site is often seen as a fair way for both parties to meet in the middle. No one will have the benefit or detriment of a meeting in their own territory. However, even in neutral space, the playing field may not be entirely level.

The site chosen is still likely to be in the orbit of one of the two parties. It can still be a way for one party to be ostentatious about how they do things, or miserly if that is the tactic they have chosen. They can choose a noisy site where communication is difficult, or a place where business negotiations are prohibited. Every choice sends a message of some sort.

 

A Few More Tips for That Extra Advantage

If you can choose the site of the negotiation, you may be able to manipulate things to your advantage. There are a few psychological tricks which studies indicate can be helpful for you at the bargaining table.

• A hot drink. Studies indicate that the temperature of an object we hold in our hand affects the way we perceive the world and other people in it. According to research, when we hold a warm object in our hands, we tend to have “warmer” thoughts about other people. Likewise, a cold object makes us more negative about those around us. If your negotiating partner views you more warmly, you may be able to get better concessions from him or her. The next time you negotiate, you may want to offer the other party a warm beverage.

• A soft surface. Psychologists believe that in our childhood we develop associations with the hardness and softness of objects, and with their smoothness and roughness. Smooth and soft objects are associated with comfort and security, while rough and hard objects the opposite. If you want the other party to drop his or her guard and relax during the negotiations, you might consider providing them with a chair with a soft cushion. Make sure the negotiating table is smooth to the touch. You can combine this with a warm drink for extra effect.

• Seating arrangements. The seating arrangements can have a subtle yet significant effect on how the negotiations turn out. According to some experts, you should arrange the seats based on your strategy. If you plan on establishing a warm rapport with the other party and have a friendly negotiation, it might be better to put the seats closer together. On the other hand, if you want to establish a logical, formal negotiation, it might be better to separate the chairs more. More distance allows for more dispassion and can avoid emotional reactions to objective information.

• The environment. Contrary to what some suppose, an active background with ambient noise and the activity of other people can promote good negotiations. Background activity keeps us alert and aware of the surroundings, which aids in the negotiation process. If your negotiations seem to have reached a stalemate, changing the location might be an emotional cue that gets things going again. If you choose a vibrant background, this can aid your cause even more.

 

Sometimes, even a small advantage can make a big difference. Negotiators are always on the lookout for that small aspect that makes them more competitive as negotiators. Choosing the right location can give you that edge, but be sure you know yourself and your opposing party. Each location comes with drawbacks along with advantages.

Can “Dealing With Difficult Conversations” Be Trained?

Difficult is defined as needing much effort or skill to deal with.
Conversation is defined as a verbal exchange between two or more people.

Why are difficult conversations such a hot topic in articles, academic literature, social media, and training? Because they are so important and unavoidable.

Whether it is bringing up a potentially sensitive subject with a coworker or talking through contrasting opinions with a difficult client, there are many instances in people’s careers when the need for difficult conversations will not only arise, but be necessary. Avoiding these conversations is an option, but rarely the most effective.

Knowing how to have a difficult conversation is an invaluable skill as a professional in any industry or place of work. SNI can help you prepare, script, and role play for situations in which these kinds of difficult conversations may arise. We do this by pulling content from our sales, negotiation, and influence training and focusing on improving the interpersonal business skills that will improve you or your team’s ability to manage these challenging interactions.. The result? More successful navigation of tough conversations without hurt feelings or potential damaging conflict .

Here are some of the topics you can expect to learn about and master with difficult conversations training from SNI:

 

Focus On What You Can Control

Going into a tough conversation, the first thing that you need to do is focus on the things that you can actually control. This is a critical mindset. For example, on some occasions that may be when and where you talk to the other person, such as a location that is both professional and comfortable for both of you. Or, you may wish to strategically select a very public or public place, based on the nature of the topic.

While generally people focus most of their time thinking about how the other person will make a difficult interaction even more challenging, we should instead be focusing more on ourselves. Only you control your preparation (see next topic), state of mind going into the interaction, emotion during the meeting, etc. Control yourself and your emotions, and you will be more successful in these difficult interactions – it’s that simple.

 

Prepare

Preparation is the only aspect of a difficult conversation over which you have control. As such, it should be where you focus most of your time. You cannot control the other person’s responses, emotions, or feelings, so, outside of preparing various outcomes there is little value in spending time worrying about the other side. Rather, work on thinking through (even writing down when possible) the most likely directions the conversation will go – e.g. objections they make, questions they may ask, etc. – and how you will respond to each. Think of it as a sports team practicing a play before they run it in a game. Won’t you feel more confident responding to a tough objection you have already methodically thought through rather than hearing it for the first time during a heated exchange?

In our years of research and experience we have found that most people do not prepare adequately for these kinds of situations because they feel they neither have the time nor do they know how to. This is where SNI comes in. We provide your team with a preparation checklist that provides a process and systematic approach for them to use.

 

Write a Script

An excellent use of your prep time is to write a script for the conversation. This process starts with drafting out everything you want to say. After you write down your script, take a step back and read it again with a fresh but critical eye. Perhaps you should consider having someone you trust read it and play devil’s advocate. . Finally, read it out loud to see how it all sounds and feels.

The first step -writing everything you want to say – can be cathartic, in addition to a great brainstorming process. The second step, reviewing it or having someone else do so – is where strategy comes in. It’s what allows you to refine and fine-tune your messaging. Finally, the third step – practicing the delivery – is what gives you confidence going into the real interaction.

Scripting your conversation and potential responses will make you feel more prepared, increase your confidence, improve your strategy, and ultimately make you more successful during difficult conversations. And, as counter intuitive as it may seem, it’s the process of scripting which provides the most value not the final product. Even if the interaction does not go as planned, having systematically thought through it helps in the “heat of the moment.”

 

Keep your Emotions in Check

As mentioned above, your emotions are one of the few areas that you can and should control during these challenging situations. Thus, one of the most important factors of learning how to have difficult conversations is understanding how to keep your emotions in check. Keep in mind that you can prepare for their emotional outbursts, but you can’t control them.

 

Role Play

The scripting process introduced above plays a crucial part of preparing for a difficult conversation. However, we suggest taking this one step further, when needed, byactually role playing the situation. This might just come in the form of running through the conversation in your head or asking your trusted devil’s advocate to play the other party. Either way it’s a worthwhile experience.

Pro Tip: Consider recording yourself, audio only or with video, using your phone as you roleplay and then looking back at the tape.

 

Keep Perspective

When all is said and done, perhaps the most practical and actionable piece of advice when entering difficult conversations is simply to remember to keep perspective. Take a step back for a minute and think about how this conversation is not that daunting after all. When you look back after years of professional and personal growth, you likely will have had tougher conversations, and possibly even forget that this conversation took place at all. Keeping this kind of perspective may be a huge help in making this conversation seem much less intimidating.

Taking part in SNI’s difficult conversations training can provide you with valuable lessons and experience in navigating challenging conversations in all kinds of business environments and situations. Our proven methodology will not only give you greater peace of mind, but actual deliverable results. So whether it is a difficult client or sensitive coworker, contact us today to turn those “difficult” conversations into easy and successful ones.

15 Reasons Successful Influencers Admit Their Mistakes

To err is human. As we go through life, in any endeavor we are going to make mistakes from time to time. Even experienced professionals make mistakes in their field.

A mistake does not have to be a disaster, though. In fact, a mistake can strengthen your position as a leader and make the group you are a part of more cohesive. There are several reasons why a mistake can ultimately lead to better things in the future.

  • Learn from your mistake. A mistake can be a great teacher. It is best to learn from others’ mistakes, of course, but when you make your own mistake, don’t miss the opportunity to grow from it.

 

  • Earn respect. When admit you were wrong, you will earn the admiration of your colleagues. Admitting a mistake is hard and everyone knows it. When you show you can admit your own, people will notice and think better of you.

 

  • Establish trust. If a person is honest about his or her mistakes, people will trust that they will be honest in other areas as well. This builds team cohesion.

 

  • Lead by example. The best way to lead is with your own actions. If you want those who follow you to admit their mistakes and thereby improve the cohesiveness of your team, you can start by showing them how it is done.

 

  • Face your fears. You can gain a great deal of personal growth by facing your fears. Everyone fears admitting a mistake. This is a chance to display your emotional maturity. There is no courage unless there is fear to overcome.

 

  • Prevent larger problems. Don’t wait for mistakes to pile up and turn into a disaster. When you admit your mistake quickly, it allows for an earlier course correction, which avoids larger mistakes in the future.

 

  • Get rid of your pride. Humility is important in a leader. People will follow a person they love and admire. Humility in the face of error earns the admiration of those you work with, and will help to cleanse you of your own pride. It makes admitting future mistakes that much easier.

 

  • Improve relationships. Relationships sour when one party believes another party owes them an apology that never comes. Admitting a mistake smooths over hurt feelings and resentment.

 

  • Gain defenders. Many people will flock to your defense when you admit your mistake. They will be moved by your humility and good judgment.

 

Sometimes, a mistake is minor and hardly needs more than a simple acknowledgement. Other times, a mistake is more damaging, or even involves a lack of good judgment. In many cases, you may owe someone or a group of people an apology for what you did or failed to do. No matter how much you may have learned from making a mistake, without a proper apology many people may not be ready to move on.

There is an appropriate way to apologize when the time comes. A poorly fashioned apology can sometimes be worse than the mistake, and worse than not apologizing at all. There are a number of factors that go into a true apology, one that mends the damage that has been done and allows for team and personal growth.

 

  • Express remorse. Use the words, “I’m sorry.” It is important to use the first person. Don’t say an action was regrettable, and don’t use the passive voice. Mistakes were not made, YOU made a mistake. Be careful not to word it in a way that makes it seem like you are shifting blame.

 

  • Explain what you are sorry for. You don’t want people to think you are not fully sorry for the entirety of the act, or that you are only sorry that your error was discovered. An apology comes with a reason. Make sure the people to whom you apologize are on the same page about what exactly you are sorry for.

 

  • Take full responsibility. Apologize for what you said or did, or failed to say or do, and leave it there. When you try to explain what you did, it starts to sound like you are making excuses. It is best to simply admit you were wrong and fully own up to it.

 

  • Don’t give a false apology. If you aren’t sorry, you aren’t ready to apologize yet. A false apology is never a convincing one. Instead, think back on the mistake and try to understand why and how this has affected others. When you are ready to make the apology, make it sincere.

 

  • Don’t spread the blame around. Even if you were not the only one to blame for the mistake, don’t try to highlight anyone else’s role. Apologize for your part and leave it at that. If you start talking about the fault in others, it sounds like you are trying to duck the blame you have earned.

 

  • Explain your new understanding. If you ever explain why you did something, be sure to follow it with how you realize that it was wrong now. Never let your apology get covered up with excuses. When you explain how you see things differently, you can follow with how you plan to do better in the future.

 

If you are a team leader, you may have to apologize for someone who works for you, even if you had nothing to do with the mistake and were not there. As a leader, you are ultimately responsible for your employees. If you apologize for an employee, apply the same rules as if you were apologizing for your own mistake. The apology needs to be sincere and you need to take responsibility.

A mistake, even a major one, can lead to growth and improvement.  It can lead to your improvement as a person, a team member and a leader, it can improve relations and even performance in your group, and it can act as an important demonstration of what not to do and how not to do it.

When you make a mistake, own it. If an apology is warranted, make an honest one and do it the right way. It says a lot about you as a person, and that will only make you a better, more respected leader in the future.

15 Factors to Consider Before You Start Negotiating

Negotiating is a part of life. It doesn’t always have to involve money, but sometimes another party has what we want and we want to make a deal. Naturally, we want to make the best deal for ourselves that we can.

There are important factors to consider before you enter into negotiations with another party. Preparation is essential and can make the difference between coming out of a deal with excellent terms or leaving the negotiating table with no deal at all. This preparation involves knowing yourself and your own goals, knowing the other party and understanding the field in which you are negotiating.

Before you sit at the negotiator’s table, consider these factors and what they mean for you when it comes time to trying to convince the other party:

 

1. Have a goal. The goal of a negotiation is not merely to negotiate. Negotiation is a means to an end. What is that end for you? What is it you want? If you go into a negotiation without a firm sense of what it is you are after, you are unlikely to come out satisfied. Always clearly define your ideal outcome before you start to negotiate.

 

2. Form a plan. A plan is not just imagining how you want the process to go. A plan is about contingencies. You must picture the hypothetical scenarios, to expect the unexpected and figure out how best to react to each scenario. If you are prepared for all the likely responses to your entreaties, you can transition smoothly and confidently into a new tactic because you already prepared for it beforehand.

 

3. Know your disadvantages. You need to be honest with yourself. In what aspects of the talks is your position weak? If you are asking for a pay raise, for example, you may be hampered by the fact that you use a lot of sick days. Anticipating possible objections beforehand allows you to counter with your strengths at the right time.

 

4. Know what you are willing to part with. In a negotiation, each party sacrifices something in exchange for getting something else that they want. You have a goal, you know what you want to achieve with the bargaining. But do you know what you are willing to give up? Some things are off limits; have a firm idea of what this means for you before negotiating.

 

5. Know what the other party wants. You have a goal, but so does the other party. They want something if they are going to give up something else. This ties in with the previous point. What is the other party going to ask for, and are you willing to give that up? If so, under what conditions?

 

6. Know when to say when. Sometimes you must walk away. If you go to the negotiator’s table unwilling to just say, “No thank you,” you put yourself at a disadvantage. Being willing to walk away gives you a certain power in the proceedings, and the other person will sense that. After you walk away, you may find that they reopen the negotiations with you on terms that are more favorable to you.

 

7. Know your limits. How experienced are you as a negotiator? How experienced is the other party? Is it reasonable to think you will be able to walk in and smooth-talk the other side until they give you what you ask for? The more practice you get as a negotiator, the better idea you will have of what you can achieve and how far the other side is willing to bend to your ideas.

 

8. Gather background information. Don’t just study the other party. Learn about the field you are negotiating in. What are the typical salaries? What are the trends? What is hot and what is on its way out? No matter what it is that you want, external factors can play a decisive role in the outcome of any bargaining talks. Know which way the wind is blowing before you even set your goals for the process.

Preparing yourself along these lines will set you up for a strong negotiation. However, you still have to do the actual bargaining before you can achieve your goal. Even the best preparation is no cure for weak technique. After you have prepared, make sure you put your best foot forward when the time comes to go after what you seek.

 

9. Confidence. Confidence at the negotiating table gives you more bargaining power. If the other side senses hesitancy or uncertainty, they will become emboldened and demand more.

 

10. Self-Interest. There is nothing wrong with looking out for yourself. The other party is going to take care of their own interests. You need to take care of yours.

 

11. Objectivity. Don’t be carried along by undue optimism nor held back by pessimism. Make a realistic assessment of the situation before you start, and revisit your assessment at key points during the process.

 

12. Creativity. Price is not the only aspect of a negotiation. Is there something else you would be satisfied with if the other party cannot agree to a price? Are there other concessions you are willing to make if the other side asks for too much?

Finally, after you prepare yourself beforehand and enter the process with good technique, there are three maxims to keep in mind. These ideas can help put everything into perspective.

 

13. Everything is negotiable. It all depends on the price.

 

14. No one is going to give you their last dollar. If they are at the negotiating table, it’s because they are willing to bargain. Don’t let them tell you that they are down to their last dollar.

 

15. Ask for more to get more. The first step to getting more for yourself is to ask for it.

Negotiation is a delicate process. It is part willpower and part social agility. There are many factors to consider and if you come ill-prepared you are likely to be disappointed with the result. The more important the result of a negotiation is to you, the more time you should spend preparing for the process. It’s about getting the best deal for yourself that you can, and that means adequate preparation.