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What Is Emotional Influence, and How Does It Affect Sales

Our emotions guide us in our decision-making every day, sometimes without us even realizing it. We all have primal instincts that influence our choices. When we feel hungry, we seek out something to eat. We sleep – or find another cup of coffee – when we’re tired. When we see a small animal or new baby, we want to pet, cuddle, or hold them. These are all examples of instincts in action, emotional responses that affect our choices without much extra thought.

Most influencers and advertisers know about these emotional responses and understand how to use them to effectively market to target audiences. They use images and videos that incite our emotions, making us feel happy, relaxed, excited, or wanted – and “sell” these emotions to us, not just a product. These emotional responses can influence our buying decisions.

 

What Is Emotional Influence?

Emotions are what give color to our daily lives: happy, sad, angry, and many more varieties; and each of these affect how we feel, what we do, and yes, what we buy. And the emotions we feel when we make a decision, or a purchase will affect if we make that choice again. A positive emotional experience can easily create a repeat customer, or a customer that will share those positive experiences with friends, drawing in new business for you.

Good marketers know exactly how to use these positive emotional responses to encourage customers to buy, and to keep coming back. Consider the following example of two coffee shops. Shop number one is a basic café to grab a cheap donut and quick cup of coffee. Shop number two has a wide selection of fancy, while more expensive, coffee flavors and choices, comfy couches, hip music playing, and a vibe that says, “all the cool kids hang out here.” Even with shop number one’s cheaper prices, more people are going to flock to shop number two for the cool-kid vibe and comfy atmosphere. This is a prime example of emotional influence in action.

 

Why Emotions Are so Important

Even though consumers may believe they use their logical mind to make decisions, the truth is that most of these decisions are highly influenced by emotions. And this idea is well documented and studied. Advertising research shows that our purchasing decisions are influenced more by our emotional responses than the ad content itself – sometimes two to three times as much. Other research has even used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show how we use our emotions more than information, including facts, to make buying choices.

 

How to Use Emotional Influence

So, we know that emotional influence is important in understanding how consumers make choices, but how do we tap into this? Smart marketers appeal to these emotions by giving brands a personality. Rather than just stating facts about a product or brand, infusing a personality gives the brand life and will attract consumers that align with those traits much more easily. These traits can be expressed in everything from visual advertising to packaging, atmosphere, and the language used to describe the brand.

 

Creating Personas

One of the best ways to understand how to use emotional influence is to create personas for your ultimate target customers. A persona is a made up profile of a target customer, that can also be quite detailed in the specific traits and attributes of each. Getting to know the personas you want to target in your marketing helps to understand your audience, humanize them, and better understand how to appeal to their emotions.

When you create the personas to target (and yes, you can – and should – have more than one), you gain a clearer understanding of who your customers are. Your personal profile should include things like age, gender, location, job/career, marital status, and other demographics. You should even give them a name and attach a stock photo. What are their life goals? Their frustrations and pain points? Their motivations? Write up bios for each of the personas you create and want to target. These bios can be used by your entire marketing staff, to unify the team and make sure that everyone is on the same page.

 

Marketing to Your Personas

Once you’ve established your ideal personas to market to, you can tailor your approach when marketing your product or service. Ask what your persona’s needs are. What are their pain points and how can your product offer solutions and appeal to them? Consider these personas as real people and find a way to use their emotions to draw them in.

Think beyond your product and consider the feelings that your product gives to consumers. For example, think of how the latest technological gadget makes a consumer feel – happy and excited, but also possibly part of an “in” crowd, smart, and hip. They may be relieved to have solved a problem or updated from an older version of the gadget. Now, you are selling a lifestyle, not just a product, and appealing to your customers’ emotions. Marketing in this way sells the emotions that your product evokes, and will lead to greater success in sales.

 

Making a First Impression

First impressions matter, whether in meeting new people or seeing a new ad for the first time. Study after study shows that we form these first impressions in mere seconds, using our instincts and gut reactions – emotional responses. This is why knowing how to market your product is so important. The first exposure a consumer has to a product, or its advertising, will have an immediate impact on their feelings toward it, and create a bias for the future.

Your first impression should have a strong emotional appeal. Consider utilizing the psychological power of colors, as well as storytelling. Inspire your customers, create a sense of community, and project an ideal image of your product and the lifestyle it supports. Shapiro Negotiations has experts knowledgeable in emotional influencing and can help guide you through the process. Contact us today for more information on influencer training, and so much more.

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.

What Is Change Leadership?

Companies sometimes need a drastic change in order to fix a long standing problem or merely to adapt with the rest of the world. That shift only occurs when a single vision motivates the employees as a team and becomes strong enough to enact that change. Change leadership is important in renovating overarching aspects of a company by using an empowered vision of the potential of such radical change. To become a change leader, you must understand what it means before taking the first steps.

 

Definition of Change Leadership

Change leadership is a type of leadership that focuses on large-scale changes within an organization. Real change leaders (RCLs) are more concerned about a large, transformative vision for the business and how the employees become empowered enough to contribute to the creation of that vision. One risk of change leadership, however, is it has the potential to get out of control and not account for the smaller details in that line of work. In addition, a company may not act upon every proposed change to the established structure.

 

Distinction From Change Management

Change management is often associated with change leadership. Many consider the two synonyms. However, these two concepts approach the upcoming change at a company with different methods. Change management refers to “a basic set of tools or structures intended to keep any change effort under control.” Change management essentially introduces a company shift to a work environment that is usually resistant to the concept of change. Management keeps the distractions and effects of change under control at a small, gradual pace, rather than the disruptive approach change leadership takes.

 

The Role of People Management in Change Leadership

For RCLs to continue their ambitious vision for their business, first they need to embrace people management. People management focuses on having each employee reach their full potential by managing them. People managers lead their employees into training and developing their skills, meeting new goals, defending them by understanding employee law, and encouraging them to improve. Some of the practices in people management include:

  • Training and development. Managers ensure that employees receive enough orientation to start their job and that they receive evaluation and feedback to encourage them to grow and take on more responsibility.
  • Decision making. A manager must make the final decision when it comes to employee recognition or discipline with fair, objective decisions.
  • Managers must work as mediators for employee grievances, help the employees feel confident about their job, and carry out evaluations.
  • Overseeing teamwork. Despite delegating teamwork to employees, managers must make sure the team is performing its duties within budget and deadlines.
  • Role modeling. A manager sets a good example for the other employees by behaving like a professional and treating other employees with respect and dignity.
  • Managers oversee the progress of employees, and if necessary, set up programs and identify opportunities for improvement to ensure employee growth within the company.

By embracing something as structured as people management, RCLs can motivate employees to align to the greater vision for the organization.

 

Actions of RCLs

Advocates for change leadership are very different from regular management roles. While managers strive to keep everything controlled and running, RCLs are all about shaking the business up. RCLs have skills that make them stand out from other types of leadership.

  • Linchpin linkages. Forging connections in the marketplace, RCLs engage with the customers and find out what the competition is doing. Then, the leaders use the information to energize their work teams into improving their performance.
  • 360-degree impact. Often in middle management positions, RCLs inspire their vision first among the employees they are directly responsible for. Later, the leaders also try to influence the executives and people above them to bring changes, with varying degrees of success.
  • An expandable toolkit. RCLs have specific problem-solving skills or tools. However, they are always looking for new approaches and techniques, and do not get complacent in the techniques they already have. These leaders adapt to new situations.
  • Switch-hitting leadership capacity. In change leadership, there is no single type of leadership approach. RCLs have different approaches to leading depending on each of the employees. In the case their methods cannot adapt to the situation, RCLs delegate others to help lead the current vision for the team to completion.

 

Characteristics of RCLs

While individual change leaders may have their own unique approaches at leadership and driving the company to meet a unified vision, they all share a few characteristics:

  • Excited and committed to a vision that will improve the future of the organization
  • Courage to face and combat norms, power bases, and failures to fulfill their goal
  • Motivated and make sure to spread that motivation to others
  • Take the initiative in challenging the status quo and thinking outside the box to solve problems
  • Care for the way the company treats other employees, particularly the ones on their team and under their watch.
  • Sense of humor, even in the worst of times, to motivate everyone around them to keep focused on the larger vision for the company

 

Shortage of Change Leaders

Change leadership rarely comes from the top because the people involved have the least incentive to drive a large, overwhelming change that extends all the way to the smallest employees. Most RCLs originate from middle management positions. However, there is a shortage of RCLs since most management positions are traditional and more akin to change managers. Experts argue that the shortage can end by both bringing in outside talent specialized in real change and instructing managers on change leadership methods.

 

Boost Your Change Leadership Skills

Becoming a strong, efficient change leader requires patience and practice. Inspiring employees to follow your vision is a skill that develops over time. If you want to learn more about how to influence others, then consider investing in some lessons. SNI’s influence training course is based on Aristotle’s philosophy on the three elements of influence (ethos, pathos, and logos) to build credibility, engage emotion, demonstrate logic, and engage action. Call us today to join our program and maximize your leadership success.

Building Rapport With Sales Clients

One of the most essential skills salespeople must have is the ability to build a rapport with their clients. You can have an excellent product and a persuasive and researched pitch, but none of those elements will matter if you or your client do not have a connection with each other. If you want to excel at building rapport, you must have a clear rapport definition in mind. You must also develop your communication skills to bond with different clients. Learn more about rapport and bonding with clients by following the techniques below.

 

Rapport Definition

Before you even start thinking about approaching clients, you should understand what rapport means in a broader sense, and specifically within the field of business. For instance, the Oxford English dictionary defines rapport as “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.” Meanwhile, the Business Dictionary gives rapport the definition of “a positive or close relationship between people that often involves mutual trust, understanding and attention.”

Both definitions emphasize rapport as a close relationship. A salesperson must establish a connection with the client strong enough for the client to consider it “close”. The relationship should also be positive, harmonious, and facilitate the transfer of ideas. The second definition is slightly different in that it lists the components of rapport: the establishment of trust, understanding, and attention between the two parties.

The fact that the business-oriented definition does not differ much from the general definition also means that building rapport is not just a specific business technique, but a broader one that people use to meet their goals and improve their lives daily. Approaching the construction of rapport with a client the same way you would to have a pleasant, constructive conversation with any person can help put you at ease. If you are relaxed, you can share that feeling with the client, and that goes a long way when building rapport.

 

Mirroring Your Client

A subtle technique that creates a bond with your client fast is analyzing their body language and imitating it occasionally. Mirroring builds a subconscious connection with the person you are talking to, and when done correctly, is proven to achieve sales increases and positive evaluations. Anyone can accomplish mirroring through three steps:

  • Face your client and show attentiveness to their conversation via eye contact and nodding.
  • Match the client’s speaking volume and pace.
  • Identify the client’s punctuating action when making a point and imitate it the next time they perform it.

Remember to practice mirroring in moderation. Repeating these steps frequently can become obvious, make the customer uncomfortable, and break the connection instead of building it.

 

Asking Interesting Questions

One of the simplest methods a salesperson can use to build a rapport with clients is to learn more information about them by asking questions. When a salesperson shows interest in a client by asking questions, it shows the client they can trust the salesperson. This allows the salesperson to gather more information about the client to customize their sales platform, and keeps the client engaged throughout the process. Not every question is effective, however, so you should craft a rapport-building question carefully.

An effective question must consider the following aspects in order to build a genuine connection with the other person:

  • The question should apply specifically to the client you are seeing and the situation around both of you. Observe the person’s actions, clothing, mannerisms, and other specific details to build questions from.
  • Catching a person off-guard by asking them a nontraditional question raises their interest and keeps them engaged in the conversation.
  • At the same time, make sure that the question is not invasive or does not make the client uncomfortable.

Keep these elements in mind when coming up with the questions, and you can build rapport with a client and establish trust and understanding while also keeping their attention. A small sample of some of the best questions to ask the other person include:

  • What’s something most people don’t realize about [client’s city/state]?
  • Have you always wanted to work in [client’s field]?
  • What was your favorite class you ever took at college?
  • Are you subscribed to any newsletters or blogs about [topic, client’s industry]?
  • I noticed that your office is in [city neighborhood]. Do you like to go out to [local restaurant] to eat?
  • You seem like a busy person? Do you use any apps to keep organized? I am considering using them, so I’d appreciate some recommendations.

Asking questions that you can specialize to the client and are somewhat specific keeps conversation interesting.

 

Empathetic Statements

A salesperson must understand the client’s personality, needs, and wants in order to give their sales approach a direction. Understanding the client also helps establish a connection, as the client will feel less isolated and better about themselves. Using empathetic statements is an effective way of mirroring the person’s verbal messages, physical status, and emotions without parroting and putting off the customer.

You can build a simple empathetic statement by starting with “So, you…” followed by a small assumption about their words or their actions. Even if those assumptions are not entirely accurate, these statements demonstrate you are paying attention to the client’s actions and you are seeking to understand their feelings.

Some specific empathetic statements further develop a connection while also suggesting an action to a client.

  • Empathetic presumptive. This empathetic statement presents a presumption around a fact about the client but allows the client to interpret the fact. Whether the assumption is correct or not, the client can provide additional information that the salesperson can use to guide the conversation and dig deeper into what the client wants. For instance, if a client is looking around, the salesperson can ask, “So, you’re looking for [product].” The customer can confirm or deny it, and clarify the assumption.
  • Empathetic conditional. This statement keeps the focus on the client but adds specific circumstances where the client would decide. To follow on the previous example, after making an empathetic presumptive, if the client says they are looking for a product, but does not know if they can afford it, the salesperson can state, “So, you’d buy [product] if it was more affordable.” This allows the seller to identify with the customer’s specific issue and guide them towards a specific solution.

Using empathetic statements, you can get an understanding of the client’s goals and issues in reaching those goals without having to say much, and then you can help your client in a personal manner.

 

Listening to the Client

Gauging your client’s needs is important when understanding them, but sometimes, it is just as important to sit back and listen. If you establish a mutual interest or if the conversation takes a turn where the other person talks constantly about a hobby, a story, a problem, or any other topic, then simply listen. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the other person and how you can sell to them. In addition, the client will appreciate your consideration and interest, and when you discuss sales, they are more willing to return the favor and listen to you.

 

Establishing Trust

Another technique in presenting yourself as an ideal person to build a rapport with is establishing trust. Maintaining connections and making sales is easier if the customer believes you are reliable and dependable. There are a few steps you can take to establish trust in your client:

  • Respect the client’s time. Always arrive early when meeting with the client and never try to stop them from doing something else.
  • Sell only a realistic solution. Be honest about what you can offer to the client, and let the client make the decision.
  • Show respect towards the competition. In case the competition ever comes up in conversation, show respect and avoid trash talk. The customer will see you as mature and professional.
  • Practice authenticity. Rather than relying on programmed pitches or slogans, lead with stories or humor. This step makes you appear sincere, honest, and approachable.
  • When in doubt, offer referrals. In the rare case you cannot help your client in any way, do not hesitate to refer the customer to other qualified people who can do the task. This shows the client that you care about their wellbeing, not just their business.
  • Deliver on your promises. If you offer a realistic promise and the client takes you on it, make sure to deliver.

 

Keeping the Client’s Attention

Another important element required when building a rapport is keeping the customer’s attention. No matter how much you work to keep the conversation interesting and engaging, distractions will always manifest and hinder your communication efforts. These tips should help you keep your conversation with the customer lively, while also keeping your sale on focus.

  • Keep them involved with questions, listening to them, or filling in forms
  • Make your main point as soon as possible
  • Change the topic, pace, or emotion every 10 minutes to keep the conversation interesting
  • Use humor to ease them between points
  • Summarize your points occasionally to keep your focus

 

Take the Next Step in Building Rapport

The development of communication skills to bond with others is essential in everyday life and relationships. Now that you have a stronger sense of how to build a rapport with clients, you should take your knowledge to the next level and consider corporate sales training. The corporate sales training program at Shapiro Negotiations focuses on maximizing the effectiveness of salespeople. While the program works as a standalone sales process, it can also integrate into your existing sales skillset, giving it a boost. Sign up today to optimize your sales.

 

Are In-Person Networking Skills Still Important in a Social Media Age?

In the Age of Social Media, how important are face-to-face networking skills? Very, according to recent surveys. The majority (68%) of entry-level professionals place more value on face-to-face networking than online interactions. Furthermore, just over half (51%) of professionals do not have LinkedIn profiles, showing significant dissonance even with the most popular business networking site. Face-to-face networking skills are still critical for working professionals who wish to advance their careers or grow businesses.

 

The Importance of Business Networking

Sales center on people. People making connections and building relationships with other people are what keep companies in business. Networking is at the heart of business. This remains true whether the networking is online or in person. Business networking is essential for people who want jobs, career advancement, or business growth. Salespeople especially rely on networking. It is the number one way to establish trust, introduce oneself to potential customers, and increase brand awareness and product visibility.

The art of networking has undergone significant changes in the last few decades. From business cards to business Instagram accounts, everything has gone digital. Sites like LinkedIn target business people specifically, aimed at helping professionals build their networks, earn endorsements, and get better jobs. While connecting online might appear to widen a person’s career network and help forge relationships, in reality it still falls short of in-person networking for most business people.

Networking at corporate events, conferences, and sales meetings can help businesses and prospects connect. Sales professionals, for example, can exchange information with potential customers and leave lasting impressions from their face-to-face meetings. Virtual networking can also add value to professional relationships. It can help a person develop contacts, connect with important people in the industry, and get in touch with the right people. Despite the push toward online connections, in-person business networking is still highly valuable.

 

What Do the Numbers Say?

Many different sources agree: nothing is more effective than in-person networking. Research proves that face-to-face interactions tend to be more positive than online interactions. The people who achieve the greatest results from their networking efforts almost always engage in face-to-face interactions. When searching for a new job, 46% of people still find the most success in traditional, in-person networking.

While actual words are important, they make up only 7% of a person’s perception of sincerity. Nonverbal cues are much more important when it comes to discerning whether to trust someone. Facial expressions while we talk make up 55%, while inflection of tone makes up 38%. A whopping 72% of people say looks and handshakes influence their decisions. One survey from 2015 found that 9 in 10 people choose small, face-to-face meetings as their preferred communication method.

When it comes to personal preference, in-person is a clear winner across multiple surveys. Eighty-four percent (84%) of respondents in the Virgin survey say they prefer in-person meetings, while 95% say face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships. If companies eliminated business travel for in-person interactions, they would lose around 17% of their total profits. Despite the pull of the “Social Media Age,” it’s clear business professionals still value in-person networking highly.

 

The Benefits of In-Person Networking

The internet is growing as a way to network and build relationships. However, the media richness theory finds that seeing someone in person is still the richest form of communication. The next-best form is video conferencing, which still allows those in the conversation to see facial expressions and hear inflections. Then comes phone communication, then emails, and lastly, texts. The richer the mode of communication, the better it is for developing relationships. Although many online tools today facilitate networking, in-person interactions come with the following benefits:

  • Reading body language
  • Customizing the conversation
  • Showcasing your personality
  • Building a human relationship and trust
  • Establishing chemistry and sharing energy
  • Having more diverse and memorable conversations
  • Getting insider knowledge
  • Preventing harmful miscommunications
  • Taking business relationships to the next level
  • Bonding with others in a shared setting
  • Having fun during the interaction
  • Arranging the next (follow-up) action

No amount of sophisticated technology can replace in-person networking. Being with the other person in the flesh can forge stronger bonds and create a better foundation for a long-lasting business relationship. The numbers support this conclusion, with the majority of today’s business professionals preferring in-person interactions to digital ones. There is no question – it is still important to cultivate in-person networking skills. The next step is improving your face-to-face exchanges.

 

In-Person Networking Tips

Networking in person can give you opportunities you would not have over social media alone. To take full advantage of these opportunities, you need a few networking tips to help you make the greatest impact. The amount of time you spend preparing for your in-person interaction can make a difference in its outcome. Set yourself up for success by embracing available tools, tips, and tricks. If you’re planning an in-person networking event or situation soon, keep the following in mind for optimal engagement:

1. Prioritize building trust and credibility. One of the greatest downfalls of communication over social media is not knowing who to trust. Establishing trust is possible through smart marketing content, but it gets much easier when you can meet someone in person.

Whether your goal is to get a new job or clinch an important sale, prioritize establishing trust between you and the other person. Do this by showing others your similarities in the time you have together. People tend to trust what they know more than what they don’t. Make human connections with people to earn their trust and strengthen the relationship.

2. Use positive emotions to your advantage. Logic can help form a buying decision, but emotions seal the deal. Face-to-face interactions give you the power of using emotions to your advantage. Be open and transparent with the other person, supporting your words with the appropriate facial expressions.

Make an emotional connection with the person, whether it’s fear, compassion, empathy, or having fun at a business event. Connecting with a prospect or professional on an emotional level improves your odds of having a lasting positive impact.

3. Let your personality shine. You have the opportunity to truly show the prospect what you’re like during face-to-face meetings. Don’t miss out. Be professional, but don’t be afraid to show what makes you unique.

Show off your sense of humor, warmth, friendliness, and other traits that set you apart from other salespeople, brands, or job prospects. Let the other person see you’re more than just a social media profile – you’re a flesh-and-blood person who can check all the boxes of what they’re looking for.

In-person networking can be more daunting than an online interaction. You must put your best foot forward, or you could miss out on an important business opportunity. Everything must count, from the clothes you wear to the words you say. Pay special attention to body language, presence, and inflection during face-to-face meetings. Nail important aspects such as the first impression and initial handshake. Do your research, prepare talking points, and – most importantly – be yourself.

 

Improve Your Business Networking Skills Today

Whether you are a born social butterfly or you identify as an introvert, influence and persuasion training can help you. The training program at SNI helps participants influence others and the decisions they make. It focuses on credibility, emotion, and logic – Aristotle’s three elements to influence. It can help you become more persuasive and effective in your techniques during both in-person and social media interactions. Sign up today to start developing your networking skills.

How to Have an Effective Sales Meeting

If sales meetings feel more like necessary evils than productive meetings of the mind, you may have an issue with management. It is up to you to breathe new life into your weekly sales meetings. It is possible to get more from your meetings and make them more enjoyable for your team. All it takes is a little advice on how to run a meeting, and a few top-shelf sales meeting ideas. Use these tips to achieve more effective sales meetings at your enterprise.

 

Prepare Talking Points

As a sales meeting leader, it is your job to use the allotted time wisely. One of the most time-consuming issues many meetings encounter is lack of direction. Without clear leadership for the meeting on your part, your salespeople will lose focus and the whole meeting may run off track. This means more wasted time calling your team to order and figuring out what to discuss next. Preparation is key for a strong, productive sales meeting.

Create an agenda to make the most of your meeting time. Your agenda should be as detailed as possible, creating a step-by-step guideline you can use to walk your team through the meeting. The more you prepare for a meeting, the easier it will be to stick to your most important talking points. Prioritize your agenda in order from most important to least important. That way, if you run out of time, your team will at least have gotten the most critical points you needed to make.

Send a copy of the agenda to all reps who will be attending. That way, your salespeople can peruse the items on the list, prepare questions ahead of time, and be ready to dive right into the topics when they arrive in the conference room. This can eliminate wasted time reading over lists during the actual meeting, as well as give your team more time to come up with value-driven questions.

 

Ask the Right Questions

Productive sales meetings ask the right questions. The goal of a sales meeting is to answer important questions, come up with new marketing ideas, and to increase sales in the future. Write down a list of questions prior to the meeting so you can come prepared. Before you plan your meeting, ask yourself questions such as:

  • What is the purpose of this meeting?
  • What challenges are we facing today?
  • How long will this meeting need to last?
  • Who is in charge?
  • What actions do we need to take next?

Answering these questions will give your meeting greater direction and purpose. Once you have the answers to these questions, you can start giving your sales meeting agenda shape. The amount of time you’ll have, for example, can dictate how many topics you’ll have time to sufficiently cover.

 

Focus on One Key Issue

Another common problem with sales meetings is an overambitious leader. You may have a long list of things you wish to discuss with your team, but laying them all out at once might not be the most efficient way to run a meeting. Tackling too many talking points results in the inability to dive into the most important issues. Instead of covering more ground, you’ll really be taking a step backward.

Your meeting will run smoother and be more productive if you control the agenda by choosing one main item to discuss per meeting. This is why weekly sales meetings are often necessary – to cover a wider range of topics without stuffing too many discussions into a single conference. Your team will benefit from the ability to review one topic in-depth, with ample time to take notes and ask questions, more than several topics briefly discussed.

 

Think About Your Team’s Interests

The most effective sales meetings are the ones in which everyone feels encouraged to contribute to the conversation. Sharing ideas and bouncing ideas off one another can help you keep everyone engaged and review a topic more thoroughly. Generate a steady stream of sales ideas during a meeting with a bit of motivation:

  • Give incentives for good ideas
  • Build a more creative meeting environment
  • Be transparent with business goals
  • Ask your team questions and listen to their answers
  • Encourage “no bad questions” and mistakes
  • Provide positive reinforcement for idea-makers

Making your sales meeting more relevant for the reps attending can spark innovations, motivate salespeople to do better, build better workplace culture, and keep everyone on the same page for the duration of the meeting. It can show your reps you appreciate their hard work and loyalty, and make them want to show you the same kind of respect during meetings.

 

Start on a Positive Note

Most salespeople do not look forward to sales meetings. Yet if they know there is a chance a higher-up will recognize them for outstanding performance that week, they may have more of a reason to anticipate a meeting in a positive light. Start each sales meeting by recognizing performance. Consider giving incentives to top performers during each meeting. Put it at the start of the meeting to begin on a positive note, and to make sure you always have time to get to it. This can help your team look forward to attending each week.

 

Stick to Your Time Frame

Never host an open-ended sales meeting. This not only can allow your meeting to run on for an indeterminate amount of time, but it can also make your salespeople dread future meetings, since they do not know how long they may last. Your reps will benefit from having some expectation of meeting timeline and structure. Decide how long your sales meeting will last and stick to this time frame as much as you can.

Announce to your salespeople the exact start and finish times of your sales meeting. That way, they will know exactly how much time they will have to discuss a topic and ask their questions. A strict deadline to finish the meeting can create healthy pressure for everyone to focus, stay on topic, and use the time wisely. It can also help eliminate dawdling, chatting, and getting off-topic for an overall more productive meeting.

 

Come Away With Specific Action Steps

One of the most important aspects of any great sales meeting is how it will shape the future of the company. Sales meetings should not only review past performance and check in on where salespeople are now – it should set them up for success post-meeting. As the leader of a sales meeting, make sure to come away with specific action steps and a timeline for completing them. You should at least have the next step to continue moving the process forward. The next step may include:

  • Sending follow-up emails or calls to prospects
  • Initiating a new idea for better sales
  • Writing or rehearsing sales scripts
  • Developing new sales skills
  • Scheduling sales training sessions

Give your sales reps a clear next step post-meeting, for better direction and a more productive workplace. Show your reps that sales meetings are more than just a monotonous necessity, but a way to motivate real change and improvements in marketing. Giving actionable steps and advice for what to do after a meeting can give your employees a purpose and boost productivity.

 

Revisit Sales Training

Curious about how to make your sales meetings even more effective? Invest in corporate sales training for fresh sales meeting ideas, total meeting overhauls, or coaching on how to run a meeting. Sales meetings can make a real difference for your organization. Contact us for more information about sales training today. Your team – and your bottom line – will thank you.

SNI’s Guide to the 2018 Training Industry Report

The 37th edition of the Training Industry Report has been released by Training Magazine. From its results, training industry experts, corporate leadership, and company training staff can gain valuable insight into the current status of training programs across the country. In addition, the findings of this report enables industry professionals to benchmark against industry standards and trends.

The Shapiro Negotiations Institute (SNI) is not exempt from this learning opportunity. We find this annual report very valuable and as a result have decided to create this post in order to pass along some of our takeaways to our community.

 

Report Methodology

The first Training Industry Report was released 37 years ago and the publication is now a trusted source of data for industry professionals and corporate leadership alike. During May and June 2018, an independent research company collected data from Training Magazine member companies via an online survey. Only U.S.-based corporations from Training Magazine’s database were included in this report.

Out of the 271 responses to the study:

  • 36% of responses came from small companies of 100 to 999 employees
  • 41% came from midsize companies with 1,000 to 9,999 employees
  • 23% came from large companies with over 10,000 employees

Survey demographics show a wide range of industry classifications and job functions.

  • 17% of respondents worked in the health/medical services industry
  • 11% came from finance and banking companies
  • 10% worked in manufacturing

Top job roles include managers and high-level company leadership (61%), developers and instructional designers (17%), and mid- and low-level company employees (22%).

 

Time, Money, and Services: Training Expenditure Data

According to the report, training expenditures across respondents’ companies decreased by 6.4%. Total expenditures, including payroll and training products and services, totaled $87.6 billion. Of that total, $47 billion was spent on payroll for training professionals and $11 billion was spent on external goods and services.

In addition, professionals selected top training materials that they plan to purchase in the upcoming year. The most popular products and services include:

  • Online learning tools and systems (41% of respondents)
  • Learning management systems (33%)
  • Classroom tools and systems (32%)
  • Content development (31%)
  • Authoring tools and systems (27%)

It is no surprise that the data shows that professionals continue to transition more spending from classrooms to online. That said, it is interesting to know that classroom tools are still a priority. Consistent with this report, SNI has spent a great deal of effort developing new online learning tools and seen a great deal of success; however, we still believe that classroom is the best environment for an original session and online is the best medium for reinforcement.

 

Delivery Trends and Techniques

Companies utilized a mix of classroom learning, online learning, and blended techniques for training administration over the past year.

  • 79% of small companies, 86% of midsize companies, and 43% of large companies utilized blended learning techniques in 2018.
  • 39% of small companies, 35% of midsize companies, and 31% of large companies used instructor-led classrooms only.
  • 8% of small companies, 10% of midsize companies, and 14% of large companies used a virtual classroom.
  • 24% of small companies, 28% to midsize companies, and 24% of large companies used an online method without an instructor.
  • Mobile and social learning were used significantly less than the other methods, ranging from 0% to 3% per company size and category.

It was interesting to note that blended learning techniques are the most common across all company sizes – this is not only what we would expect but also what we recommend. We were surprised to see that a very small percentage use mobile and social learning but we expect those numbers to grow as organizations are willing to give it a try, especially with the steadily decreasing average age in the workforce and as new technology and platforms continue to be developed.

 

Training Outsourcing and Expert Mobility

Many companies recognize that they lack expertise in some subject areas. They also understand and recognize the value of expert training programs and organizations like SNI. As a result, we were pleased to see that this report found the companies were increasing their expenditures for training outsourcing. On average, companies spent $422,321 in 2018 on training outsourcing versus $219,265 in 2017.

  • 56% of small companies, 55% a midsize companies, and 49% of large companies indicated that they outsourced instruction and facilitation services in 2018.
  • 48% of small companies, 50% of midsize companies, and 54% of large companies outsourced learning management system operations.
  • 34% of small companies, 53% of midsize companies, and 60% of large companies outsourced custom content development.

It is important to note that there are hybrid models available. For example, we recently implemented a large train-the-trainer program with a client that wanted to train thousands of sales people across the country. In this case we developed the curriculum, customized it, and then taught our client’s internal trainers how to teach the class. The result – our expertise, content, and customization combined with internal control and flexibility, and the cost savings that come with it.

 

2018 Training Industry Takeaways

Training industry professionals can learn key lessons from this data.

  • Most companies have been investing in technologically-based training materials and methods, such as learning management systems, custom content development, virtual classrooms, and other e-learning tools for years. Those who have not are now the minority and likely considering it in 2019. SNI has experienced this first hand with clients and as a result developed several online training platforms and online training programs – many of which are mobile-friendly or mobile-based in order to be ahead of the curve and continue to push the envelope the use of technology in education.
  • Companies are increasingly strategic in how they incorporate expert knowledge from outside sources. SNI has seem this first hand as organizations reach out because they are looking for a fresh perspective or simply do not have expertise around negotiation training. We have seen this in particular with smaller firms that simply do not have the staff or larger companies that are looking for world-class expertise.

 

If you have any questions about this summary, or for more information about our training, feel free to contact SNI at 410-662-4764.

RFQ vs. RFP: What Is the Difference?

When a company engages in business with other corporations on a business to business (B2B) basis, they will have to navigate tricky clientele attainment processes. With thousands of businesses to choose from, it can be difficult to find the best price for goods and services without putting in hours of research. Companies engage in large-scale B2B operations through the distribution of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Request for Quotes (RFQs).

These documents allow companies to send out requests to potential contractors and vendors for certain goods and services. In turn, these vendors will send quotes and project proposals to the company for approval and, hopefully, hiring. Usually, the procurement department of a company will distribute these documents.

Though they are similar documents, different situations can lead to choosing RFQ vs. RFP use by a company. A key factor in successful corporate sales is knowing when to appropriately use one over the other. Luckily, there are a few key differences between an RFQ and an RFP that can help corporate professionals navigate these documents.

 

Request for Quote

A Request for Quote, or RFQ, is a document that companies use to gather information about goods from the potential vendor. Before the procurement of these goods, this document explains that the company wishes to purchase a certain type and amount of goods from a vendor. The RFQ will detail the specifications and quantities of those goods.

The company will send the RFQ to specific companies they are interested in working with. In response, potential vendors will send quotes and price estimates to the company who put the RFQ out. From these responses, the company can choose which vendor can provide the best products at the best prices. Usually, a company uses an RFQ if they need to make a large-scale purchase.

For example, imagine that an office is in the market to purchase a large quantity of paper for an upcoming conference. They need to purchase 2,500 reams and are trying to find the best price for their project. The office will send an RFQ to various paper suppliers in their area to find the best quote for the amount they need.

RFQ may also stand for “Request for Qualifications.” Companies use this document to solicit vendor and contractor qualifications to narrow down choices for a project bid.

 

Request for Proposal

A Request for Proposal, or RFP, is a document that companies use to gather information about services from a potential supplier or contractor. These documents are more complicated than RFQs since they ask for more than just a price.

Since the document is a request for services, not products, the information contained in the RFP is more detailed than information in an RFQ. The RFP will detail the goals and nature of the project that the company needs completed. In addition, it will detail the number of pages and illustrations that the proposal should contain, what laws the project is subject to, and what qualifications the contractors should have. The company may request the proposal contain other information as well, depending on the project.

In return, the potential contractor will submit a proposal detailing:

  • What the contractor needs for project completion
  • The estimated costs of labor
  • The estimated costs of management and other fees
  • The total project cost

The company will use this proposal to decide whether to hire that contractor. Companies who lack the expertise to detail the scope of the project they want to complete use RFPs to solicit assistance from more knowledgeable contractors.

For example, imagine that a corporation is looking to open a new store location in a different state. They need to find a contractor to renovate their property to match the design of their other locations. They will send an RFP to various contractors in the area detailing the nature and goals of the project, the different building codes that the contractor will have

to adhere to, the company’s style guide, and the licensing requirements the company is seeking. Contractors will return proposals to this company and the company will select the best proposal for hire.

 

What About RFT and RFI?

Other documents that companies use to solicit information from potential suppliers are RFIs and RFTs. RFI stands for Request for Information. Companies use RFIs to gather information on what steps to take next in a contract negotiation. Usually, RFIs are the last stage in the RFQ or RFP process.

RFT stands for Request for Tender. Companies use RFTs to solicit offers from potential suppliers for specific goods and services detailed in the request document. These documents help companies make informed decisions based on pre-identified criteria before hiring or purchasing goods and services.

 

If your company is looking for effective corporate sales training, look no further than Shapiro Negotiations. Our comprehensive workshops for sales professionals will equip your team with the tools, habits, and knowledge necessary for corporate success. Contact Shapiro Negotiations today to learn more about the program and to schedule a free consultation.