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  1. How to generate more business by telephone

    Generating business over the phone can be challenging. Many people lack the confidence or the understanding to do this effectively and negative responses to cold calls and pitches can be difficult to deal with. However, this remains a very effective way to generate positive results and drive a business towards growth, so it’s a skill worth acquiring.

    Target your efforts

    No matter how good a salesperson you are, or how much of an engaging speaker, you will struggle to connect with those who are clearly not interested – at all – in what you’re offering. So, the first step is always to refine your contact lists to ensure that the people you call are genuine prospects.

    Step back from the selling

    If you take a hard sell line from the very first conversation you could lose your prospect early on. The first conversation(s) should be less about selling and more about establishing a relationship and opening up the conversation. What do they need to know about what you’re offering and where could you add value to their experience right now? If you try to sell without establishing this essential context first then you will find it difficult to generate enthusiasm.

    Your list is key

    As well as rooting out those on your list who have zero interest in what you’re offering, it will also be important to refine the list as much as possible so that it is both suitable and high quality in terms of the potential leads it contains. It’s worth noting that the GDPR doesn’t prohibit cold calling but does impact the way that it is done. Essentially, you will need to have permission to call the people on your list now that the GDPR is in play.

    You’ll also need to be calling those people about the products and services you originally requested permission to contact them about. The new GDPR rules actually represent an opportunity to refine the list you’re using and ensure that the people you speak with want to speak to you.

    Follow up after the call

    It’s essential to ensure that you make contact by email after a successful phone call, as this will help to lay the ground for next steps. You may do this using CRM automation or you may be working with a smaller list that you can follow up with manually. If you’ve put in the effort of initial contact don’t waste it by failing to follow up.

    Accept the numbers

    It may take you 100 calls to reach just 20 people, only a few of whom will be ready to be converted. There is effort involved in generating business by phone – the number of people you need to reach out to will be high. However, more often than not, that effort put into the numbers will pay off in the results.

    Our Generating New Business by Telephone course is designed to help build confidence to make calls professionally – and to use them to achieve great results.

  2. Learn how to recruit good candidates in the new year

    There is an art to recruitment – those businesses that tend to recruit the best people understand how it works. If you’re looking to find great candidates for your business in the new year then you might have to rethink in terms of the process that you use.

    The trick is to start recruiting before you need to

    Mistakes in recruitment tend to happen if you’re forced into going through the process under pressure. You may not have the resources in place to find the best people and you might feel that you have to make a decision using a basis that you’re not entirely clear on. You don’t have to wait until you’re hiring to start building relationships with great candidates. or to work on the perception of your business that future employees are likely to encounter. The more you establish relationships and systems, the easier it will be to activate them when the time comes.

    The key components in recruiting good candidates

    When you embark on the recruitment process make sure that you have the following in place:

    A useful job description

    This should “speak” to the right potential candidate, informing them not just about the job itself but the type of person who would excel at it and the business culture that exists in your organisation.

    The time to dedicate to the recruitment process

    Particularly at the initial screening stage it can be time consuming to go through CVs – but it’s important to do it thoroughly.

    A strong interview structure

    It’s key to develop interview questions in advance – avoid any with a “yes” or “no” answer and focus on the questions that will give you insight into the characteristics of the candidate, not just skills and experience.

    Where to find your ideal candidates

    Many organisations make the mistake of looking in a limited number of places for candidates – which effectively restricts the talent available. In fact, there are lots of places where you can seek out new people for your business.

    Word-of-mouth and employee networks

    If your employees love working for you they are the best brand ambassadors when it comes to recruiting other top talent.

    Industry groups and memberships

    Your own networks and organisations and events (such as conferences) that regularly take place within the sector can be fertile recruitment ground for any business.

    Your website

    Dedicate a section of the website to “jobs” or “work for us” and provide any potential candidates with the information they might need to get in touch about making an application. Many of the best candidates are proactive in their job search and will find you first online, so ensure that your website shows the business off in its best light, including what the perks are for employees.

    Open communications

    You may have a pool of fantastic candidates but only be able to recruit one – that doesn’t mean you need to let the others escape you. Stay in touch with those who are interested in working for your business, from giving them the chance to sign up for the newsletter to sending out regular recruitment briefings.

    There are lots of options out there to help support every aspect of your recruitment process. From agencies and headhunters through to online recruitment websites and social recruiting experts, you don’t have to do it all alone.

    Our Recruiting the Best People course is designed to help you find and recruit the best possible people for your business. Book your place today.

  3. How can you implement great performance management techniques?

    Performance management is about so much more than just individual reviews and assessments. It’s an ongoing process that involves identifying goals, tracing the steps to take towards those goals and monitoring the progress that is made. Rather than something that happens once, maybe twice, a year, performance management is an ongoing process of guiding employees in the direction of progress. Although essential, performance management is often not a skill that many managers have – but it’s something that every great manager needs to learn.

    Performance management skills and techniques

    The ability to use SMART goal setting

    Guiding employees onward with SMART goals is a very useful technique for performance management. Those goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. They should integrate the overall values and vision of the business but also be broken down into achievable steps for the employee to follow.

    A system of ongoing feedback

    Giving constructive feedback can be essential to employee progress. However, so many organisations wait to provide this feedback at a single performance review. More effective is an approach by which feedback is given as soon as the event or experience that triggered it has happened. Finding ways to instantly feed back to employees will make it much easier to manage performance on an ongoing basis.

    Balancing analysing the past with looking to the future

    Performance reviews often get too bogged down by what an employee has already done. Whether these are achievements or moments that left room for improvement, it’s never particularly constructive to dwell on them for too long. It’s essential to be able to balance this assessment with a forward-looking approach to achieve great performance management.

    Reflections on the past are always best positioned in the context of what could be done better in the future. Identify obstacles, issues, slow progress, as well as wider situations that may be affecting the team and then look for solutions, as opposed to getting stuck in too much analysis of historical events.

    Keep it simple

    It often seems that the less frequent a performance review is, the more complex it tends to be. Steer clear of extensive questionnaires, lists or forms to fill in and instead have regular face-to-face performance management sessions that require little or no preparation.

    These meetings can highlight issues, deal with areas where the employee needs help, identify achievements that can be built on and shift priorities appropriately. Most importantly of all, these regular management meetings ensure that communication is positive and frequent.

    Give the process credit

    Perhaps the most important part of performance management is gaining an understanding of just how important it really is. Managers who are doing it simply to tick the right box are unlikely to see – or reap – the full potential of successful performance management. It’s crucial to get behind the process and the vision to see real results.

    Our Performance Management course gives managers practical ways to help employees set and achieve realistic objectives. It’s ideal for those who are looking to improve performance management techniques.

  4. How can you improve the way that you manage credit control?

    Credit control is an important part of financial management for any business. It not only allows an organisation to build strong relationships with customers and accelerate sales but also helps to avoid potential problems that can arise from non-payment and bad debts. Improving the way that credit control is managed can be transformative.

    The consequences of poor credit control

    Credit control starts the moment that an order is placed. It’s a function that needs to be integrated throughout the rest of the business to ensure that it provides maximum input. Without effective credit control it’s easy for late payments to spiral into non-payments and bad debts. The consequences of this can range from a lack of cash flow in the business to the company being unable to pay its own debts. If credit control is currently poor then it’s crucial to take steps to improve the way that this is being managed.

    Improving credit control management

     

    Establish a clear credit control process

    It’s all too easy to overlook the need to have a clearly defined credit control process in place. This should cover all the stages involved, from the moment the order is placed to the point at which polite phone calls chasing invoices become more formal action.

    State your terms and conditions clearly up front

    It’s important to ensure that your customers know how long they have to pay. Equally crucial is making clear the steps that you will take where payments are late, including applying interest and fees.

    Carry out customer research

    It really pays to take the time to establish the viability of your customer before extending credit to them. Make sure you have key data such as name, address, company details and registration, as well as who is responsible for making the payments. You may even want to look into whether it’s worth getting a credit expert to carry out a credit check on your behalf (with the customer’s consent).

    Make sure your invoicing process is sound

    Be efficient when it comes to invoicing and make sure customers get theirs as soon as possible. Ensure that the invoice is correct, clear and addressed to the right person. It can be useful to include your payment terms on the invoice too.

    Give customers plenty of payment options

    The easier you make it for customers to pay (e.g. cheque, bank transfer, standing order, PayPal), the less likely you are to run into issues of non-payment.

    Keep a note of problem customers

    Maintain a regularly updated list of businesses or customers who have proven problematic in the past so that you don’t end up overextending credit to them in the future.

    Take action as soon as credit terms are exceeded

    Credit control requires swift action to avoid a late payment situation escalating. Don’t be afraid to take action – it is usually possible to preserve a positive relationship with a client by politely but firmly setting out what is required in terms of action on their part.

    Our Credit Control course is ideal for anyone looking to have a better understanding of credit control and how to manage it. Get in touch to find out more today.

  5. The importance of facilitation in the workplace and how to achieve this

    Facilitation is essentially a process by which consensus can be achieved. It is a method that enables more productive outcomes and so has significant value to any business. Managers with facilitation skills can help to ensure that outcomes are positive and group sessions or meetings remain focused and efficient. But what does facilitation look like in the workplace and what kind of skills does it require?

    Why is facilitation important?

    Having a facilitator in a meeting can completely change the experience of that meeting. Not only will the facilitator ensure everyone remains focused on the issues, saving time and resources often wasted on distracted discussion, but they will also be able to keep the momentum of the meeting moving. Facilitators can resolve disputes, manage difficulties and find a consensus that might otherwise have been out of reach.

    Achieving facilitation in the workplace

    Individual facilitation

    This type of facilitation is usually required where two people have found themselves at odds with each other. Being a facilitator here requires standing as an arbitrating figure, setting mutual goals or providing a debrief on a project or experience. It’s about finding consensus and a way to move forward past a dispute, as well as helping the individuals concerned to develop.

    Group facilitation

    The challenge in group facilitation is dealing with all the parties involved and keeping multiple minds focused on the same topic. This can be achieved in a number of ways:

    • Creating a structure for the meeting beforehand, designed to help achieve specific objectives and maintain momentum.
    • Ensuring that information or data is being presented simply and in a way that everyone at the meeting understands.
    • Getting everyone invested in the outcome of the meeting so that there is a sense of shared responsibility.
    • Establishing a process that will engage participants in achieving objectives before the meeting has even begun.

    Facilitation skills

    A number of key skills and characteristics are required for a good facilitator, including:

    • Being empathetic and developing strong listening and communication skills
    • A good understanding of interpersonal dynamics and how to manage them, for example creating a group signal that any of the participants can use to indicate the need for a
    change of pace, such as taking a time out or intervening to make a point.
    • Effective group leadership
    • Being able to structure training and team building so that everyone feels the desire to participate
    • Developing an understanding of communication, both verbal and non-verbal, such as using signals (e.g. a wave or eyebrow raise) to indicate that it’s time for someone else to speak or the topic needs further discussion.
    • Comprehension of group dynamics and not being afraid to intervene where necessary to preserve the flow of the meeting or session
    • A sound understanding of the infrastructure and processes of the workplace.

    Our Introduction to Facilitation Skills course is designed for those looking to use facilitation as a means to engage, enroll and enthuse people to adopt a change in working practices.

  6. 6 ways to manage your team more successfully

    People skills are essential for managers at any level. From difficult individuals to situations that require careful handling to resolve, there are many instances in which a skilled manager can make a difference. 70% of an employee’s motivation is influenced by a manager so businesses really value people who are able to handle a team successfully. If your goal is to progress in a management position then there are a number of key skills to learn.

    1. Empathy

    Empathy in a management context is demonstrating an understanding of an employee’s own individual circumstances when making decisions that affect them. So, that could be approving a holiday request that coincides with a child’s time off school or presenting concerns raised by the team to upper management to argue their case for change. Empathy is a very powerful force for connection and essential for managers keen to succeed.

    2. Engage with your team

    If you want to improve team management then your presence in the team needs to be felt. Engage with all team members on a regular basis don’t sit in your office behind a closed door. Attend team events and company parties, start random conversations, have an open door policy and ask questions so that you can begin to understand your team and build stronger connections as a result.

    3. Avoid micromanagement

    Micromanagement will suck the motivation from any team because it demonstrates a lack of trust in their abilities and doesn’t give them room to thrive. Provide the support and guidance that your team needs to move forward of their own accord and then take a step back. With the space to grow and develop your team will feel nurtured but not controlled and could go on to do great things.

    4. Support ongoing professional development

    The first step is always to provide regular opportunities to assess performance and progress, and identify ways in which these could be improved. Once you start to acquire more knowledge of where your team members succeed and fail you can design solutions that help them to do better. That may be finding training or courses to improve a skill set or giving them more opportunities to do a specific task every day.

    5. Keep the lines of communication open

    Successful managers know when to listen to their team. Even if it’s negative feedback or complaints, it’s important for everyone to feel like they have a voice within the business. Equally, when it comes to talking about progress or development within the business, make sure your team is kept well informed and isn’t the last to know.

    6. Reward success

    Reward and recognition is essential to good management and has a key role to play in how engaged employees are and whether motivation is maintained. Look for ways to recognise and reward everyone, not just those who regularly do best – that way the whole team will progress in the right direction and no one is left behind.

    Our People Management course is specifically designed for managers looking to progress, from those at the early stages to more experienced individuals. Book your place today.

  7. How to perfect your CV ahead of job interviews

    A concise, well-structured and informative CV is absolutely crucial for ensuring you make it through to the interview stage of a recruitment process. Most employers make decisions about CVs in a matter of seconds and it takes just a few errors or a lack of information for yours to end up in the wrong pile. So, how do you perfect your CV ahead of job interviews to ensure that you make it through to a face-to-face?

    Be concise

    Your CV has roughly eight seconds to work its magic on the person viewing it, so a lengthy tome is going to be almost useless. In terms of your career, focus on the best bits and the headlines, ensuring that everything is relevant to the role you’re applying for – you don’t need to tell your entire career history.

    Say why you’re the best person for the job

    You may think that the skills and experience in your CV make it clear why you’re the best person for the job but a potential employer may not make the same links. A personal statement is a short, direct paragraph that sets out exactly why you are the ideal candidate, making the connection in case the employer hasn’t.

    Make sure your CV is up to date

    You’re wasting a huge opportunity if your CV doesn’t have all your most recent experience on. Employers tend to be suspicious if all the experience listed is old and out of date so take the time to keep your CV up to date. You’ll also need to explain any gaps in your career timeline – find a positive way to illustrate time spent on something that wasn’t work and why this has been valuable to your development and growth in the long run.

    Never lie

    Yes you should always use your CV to reflect the best possible version of everything you’ve achieved. However, embellishing or lying about what you’ve done and what you’re capable of just means you’re likely to get caught out at interview or when your references are checked.

    Don’t be that person…

    … who ends up in the “no” pile simply because they didn’t check the spelling. Employers will always be put off by spelling and grammar errors so it’s just not worth letting such unnecessary mistakes slip through the net.

    If your CV is online, include keywords

    If your CV contains keywords that are relevant to the sector you work in and the role that you’re looking for then you’re much more likely to get employers coming to you.

    Make your CV stand out

    There are a number of ways you can do this, including identifying any statistics, figures or other ways of quantifying what you’ve achieved to give your CV more credibility. Remember that the CV needs to look good and flow easily so pay attention to paragraphing, use bullet points and apply a little bit of graphic design so the end result is professional and easy to understand.

    Your CV is the key to the door of the interview room so don’t neglect it. With a great CV you’ll be able to increase the opportunities that are available to you and find that dream role. Take a look at our Half Day Masterclass in Brushing up your CV Writing and Interview Skills for more tips.

  8. How to improve your consultative selling style

    According to Gallup, less than half of customers feel that their needs are adequately addressed by sellers. This is a big issue for sellers, not just with respect to customer satisfaction levels but also whether the best use is being made of resources and effort in terms of results achieved. If you want to be more effective at selling then it’s crucial to understand how to meet the needs of the customer – and there is no better way to do that than with a  consultative selling approach.

    Why use consultative selling?

    Consultative selling focuses first and foremost on building a relationship with the customer. It’s from that relationship that insights and trust can be built so that it becomes possible to position more compelling solutions for the customer. A consultative approach works best for everyone, as the customer gets what they need and the seller achieves results. While it’s not always the easiest approach to master       there are lots of ways to improve your consultative selling style.

    Don’t overdo the questions

    Yes, it is crucial to question the customer so that you can understand what their problems are, which will enable you to position the best solution. However, a barrage of questions will quickly make a customer disengage. The key is to pick your questions carefully, don’t waste them, and balance those questions with insights so that you come across as credible and the questions feel like a logical next step from your insight sharing.

    The value of knowledge

    Consultative selling is much more of a conversation, which means that knowledge gaps or a lack of industry understanding can be easily revealed. So, it’s important to ensure that you have done plenty of research about the business and the sector in advance – the conversation may be short so you need to be ready to impress.

    Establish reliability

    If you’re selling over the phone then building credibility can be a challenge. However, if you can establish yourself as reliable and knowledgeable then you are half way there. An easy way to demonstrate this is to ensure that you achieve at least one follow-up after the call. The important element here is not the follow-up itself but the fact that you deliver on it. This will establish credibility, reliability and give the customer reason to believe you can deliver.

    Learn how to communicate without being dominant

    If you’re dominating the conversation, customers can quickly switch off. Moments of silence can provide emphasis and it’s crucial to listen as well as speak. Ideally, a consultative selling conversation is one that is guided by a seller who is concise and well-informed.

    View every piece of feedback as valuable, even the negative

    Although you might hear an obstacle when someone articulates negative feedback, what is actually being communicated is a need. Effectively, even negative feedback is useful when it comes to refining customer need and identifying how the relationship could progress.

    Our Consultative Selling course is ideal for those who are looking to develop a selling style that achieves both better results and stronger relationships.  Get in touch for more advice and course options today.

  9. How can you improve your key account management?

    Key accounts are those that are the most valuable to the business. These are the clients whose loss would make a significant impact, whether that’s purely financial or reputational too. Given their importance to any enterprise, it makes sense to invest time and resources in key account management that nurtures these critical contacts. But how do you make sure that key account management is generating more sales and entrenching longer-lasting relationships, as opposed to increasing cost and lowering margins?

    Key account management – the when and how

    When you adopt key account management – if you haven’t already – depends on your particular business. You may choose to wait until you have a dedicated key account team or until it’s obvious that your competitors are reaping the rewards of this kind of investment. For key account management to be really beneficial, a relatively long sales cycle is required and this type of programme often works best where there is upselling and cross-selling potential.

    It’s important to make the distinction between key account management and selling – sales is often a very short-term perspective whereas key account management is all about prioritising the future. Identifying key accounts isn’t just about revenue. Other criteria may also be important, such as cultural fit, solvency, the possibility of becoming a channel partner and product fit.

    Improving key account management

    Make sure your team has the right skills

    Effective key account management is all about the people who you assign to do it. They should have an in-depth understanding of the client company, from strategy to market position, and able to provide custom services, offers and products, as well as handling both short and long term planning. The right training can make all the difference when it comes to generating real ROI on key account management investment.

    Delegate different responsibilities

    Separate your key account management team from your sales team. As already noted, the two are not the same thing.

    Create a customised key account management plan

    The purpose of the plan is to help you identify where the opportunities lie when it comes to growth, what the potential obstacles are to that growth, as well as where competitors present a threat. Key information for the plan includes account targets and strategy, as well as information about the customer, such as business plan and financial health.

    Be selective in terms of the accounts that you focus on

    Define your key accounts using a set of established selection criteria and regularly review whether these are providing the right foundation. You’ll also need to review the accounts you define as key accounts fairly frequently, as relationships can change over time.

    Have an infrastructure

    A CRM is essential to ensure that you can keep track of interactions with key accounts and make sure every opportunity for growth is taken.

    Track and measure

    What you’re looking for is a constant upward trend in terms of the account’s engagement and loyalty. Part of the process will be regularly checking in with the client to get their feedback about their experience with you.

    A sound key account management process is essential for any business – our Developing Major Accounts course can help any of your salespeople currently trying to develop skills in this area to deliver more to the business overall.

  10. 5 personal skills that every successful administrator needs

    Administrators are the unseen heroes of almost every business. They not only keep the wheels of the business ticking over but have the knowledge and insight to suggest innovative change within an organisation. With the right combination of experience, ability and personal skills, an administrator can become crucial to the future success of the business.

    5 key person skills administrators need to have

    Strong communication

    The ability to clearly communicate, both in writing and verbally, is essential for an administrator. You might be the first person clients or customers come into contact with, as well as the reference individual for all the teams internally. Given the range and diversity of people you’re likely to have to deal with it’s essential to be able to clearly and concisely communicate with each one, whether you’re explaining or persuading.

    Able to handle the pressure

    As an administrator you will often find yourself in challenging situations, whether you are stretching the limits of your skill set or dealing with individual demands. Being able to handle any pressured situation with composure and calm is an important skill for an administrator. You’ll need to be able to assess the situation and make decisions on your feet in order to find the right solutions.

    Embracing the new

    Being an effective administrator requires a desire to get into the latest technology and systems so that you are primed to identify the best option for the business. Knowledge of key systems, such as Microsoft Word, Outlook and Excel is a basic requirement and a breadth of understanding when it comes to everything from payroll through to PowerPoint will also be incredibly useful. The most valued administrators are often those who are always testing out new ideas and willing to learn new systems and processes so as to be of benefit to the business. For example, an administrator with a sound understanding of social media who is able to kick start this channel for an employer – and explore its potential for the business – will be a huge advantage.

    A cost effective mindset

    Every business is always keen to make cost savings. An administrator with a natural eye for opportunities to reduce costs and introduce efficiencies will be a huge asset to any organisation. The person in an administrator role is often privy to a wide range of information and insights that others in the organisation may not have. As a result they are often perfectly placed to be able to suggest cost cutting solutions that could prove to be invaluable to the business.

    Always having one ear to the ground

    Being an industry insider is a crucial skill for an administrator, both when it comes to understanding the language of the sector and the systems and technology that support and drive it. Being in touch with industry trends and able to identify those that might be beneficial to the business is also a great skill to have.

    Our Effective Administrator course is designed to help nurture all the key skills that are likely to be most useful to an administrator in developing a long and fruitful career. Get in touch today to find out more.

In-House Training with PTP

PTP stands for Practical Training for Professionals and our aim is to make our training as practical as possible so delegates can return to the workplace with skills they can implement immediately. PTP now delivers training to over 40% of the FTSE 100.

What you get for your money

What is 1-to-1 training?

1-to-1 training can be based on any of the 100 plus courses that PTP provides, it includes an initial telephone conference of up to 1 hour, a 1/2 day (3.5 hours) on-site one to one training session at your premises with one of PTP's expert trainers and then a further telephone conference call of up to an hour within 2 weeks of the on-site visit.

You have the option of a line manager being involved in both telephone conferences, the second telephone conference which can be for feedback and action planning is generally scheduled during the on-site visit.

Who does 1-to-1 training suit?

Individuals taking on a new challenge or responsibilities. Professionals who want a trusted "sounding board" and thinking partner. Executives or managers who want to enhance their leadership effectiveness to achieve organizational and career success. Executives and professionals wanting to compete successfully but still retain balance in their life. Individuals who want to understand their blind spots so that they don't stand in their own way on their path to success. Executives and Professionals who want to improve their interpersonal skills so as to be more effective with bosses, peers, subordinates, or people in general. How much does 1-to-1 training cost?

A 1-to-1 training session costs from as little as £400 + VAT and will include an initial telephone conference of up to 1 hour, a 1/2 day (3.5 hours) on-site training at your premises and then a further telephone conference call of up to an hour within 2 weeks of the on-site visit.

What is U-Choose?

Choose from any of the 150 plus courses that PTP provides, and choose from 1 of our 50 plus UK wide training venues. You must book for 2 or more delegates and at least 4 weeks in advance, but that’s it, the course you want where you want it. The reason we ask for a minimum of 4 weeks notice is to enable us to market the course you have scheduled to other companies and organisations. However, if we fail to sell any additional places we guarantee to run the course just for you.

How much does U-Choose Training cost?

U-choose costs the same as our normal open courses i.e. the normal delegate rate. This includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day, framed certification and comprehensive training notes. A U-Choose booking can only be confirmed once we receive payment which can be made via credit/debit card, BACS or cheque. Payment is due at least 4 weeks before the date you request. Please note to be eligible for U-Choose you must book a minimum of 2 delegates on the same course & date.