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  1. How to plan a successful presentation

    Preparing a presentation doesn’t have to be the intimidating and overwhelming experience that many people fear it will be. In fact, with the right planning, it’s a simple and straightforward process that can help you to deliver great results. When you’re approaching a presentation, break this down into three key stages – research, content and delivery – and you’ll find it much easier to ensure that you’re confident and ready when the time comes.

    Stage 1: Research

    At this point it’s all about getting some insight into why the presentation is necessary and who it’s for. So, you’ll need to look at details such as:

    • Who are you going to be presenting to and what are their expectations, values and interests?
    • What are you going to be speaking about – choose an angle that is of interest to you.
    • What are you hoping to achieve with the presentation, what do you want the audience to learn or take away with them?

    Stage 2: Content

    Start by preparing the body content of the presentation, as this will give you an idea of how much there is to talk about and the level of detail that you want to cover. Define the ideas that you want to present during the content stage and then look for ways in which to support them. You might want to find relevant quotes, as well as data and statistics. Many people rely on their own personal experiences to make content relevant during a presentation and this can be a powerful tool.

    It’s also important to ensure that you’ve prepared an introduction and a conclusion in advance. This is often where people struggle with presentations but these are some of the most important moments, as they will create your first and last impressions. The introduction should make an impact, whether that’s with striking visuals, a key quote, a personal story or humour. The conclusion is your opportunity to reinforce the main messages of the presentation so that what you’ve said will be retained.

    Stage 3: Delivery

    There are three main options when it comes to delivery: speak from memory, use notes or speak from text.

    • Although speaking from memory gives you the freedom to move around and interact without notes or text this kind of delivery can sometimes sound rehearsed if you’re just trying to remember what comes next. It may still be necessary to have notes on hand to jog your memory if you lose your train of thought.
    • Using notes may mean cards or paper, or the technology of a presentation tool. This is often the easiest approach, as it will enable you to speak knowledgably while still maintaining some eye contact and interaction.
    • If you’re very nervous you may be tempted to speak from text i.e. writing out the entire presentation word for word and then reading it. This often results in a less engaging delivery, especially when it comes to audience engagement.

    These are the key stages that are involved in planning a successful presentation.

    Get in touch today for more tips on planning successful presentations

     

  2. 9 tips on how you can improve your communication skills

    Communication skills are fundamental to everything in working life, from success during the process of recruitment to getting promoted or moving into a managerial role. In fact, potential employers often rank communication above everything else, including a strong work ethic and honest and integrity. If you feel like your communication skills could use a little work these are our top tips for improvement.

     

    1. Focus on being better at communication. If this is an area you really want to improve on then put some effort into it. Take a course on better communication, read up on the subject, listen to podcasts and talk to others. The more you prioritise improving this key skill the better you’re likely to get at it.

     

    1. Learn how to engage others in a conversation. Communication isn’t just about speaking, it’s the back and forth between people that creates the essential interaction. Asking questions is crucial to this, as is seeking out feedback and inviting people to share opinions.

     

    1. Don’t overcomplicate what you want to say. The simplest communication is the most powerful. You don’t have to be wordy or very intellectual to get your message across. In fact, some of the most powerful communications in history have been just a couple of hundred words long.

     

    1. Make understanding a priority. Take the time to listen and to process what someone says to you so that you’re sure you understand. If in doubt, ask more questions and seek more information until you have grasped the topic.

     

    1. Respond when you’re ready. When you’re communicating with someone there is nothing wrong with taking some time before you respond to them. This is especially important if you need a few moments to process what they have just said and compose a reply.

     

    1. Listen. If you don’t listen, your communication skills will always be poor. Instead of jumping ahead to what you want to say next, actually engage with what is being said to you.

     

    1. Don’t forget the physical side. Upwards of 65% of communication is non-verbal so don’t forget your body language – and that of your listener too. Are you standing with crossed arms? Is their posture open or turned away from you? There are many little signs of interest and engagement that can be useful in communication terms.

     

    1. Hold eye contact. You’ll not only be demonstrating commitment and enthusiasm if you hold eye contact but it will make you appear more trustworthy too. This applies whether you’re communicating with a room full of people or just one other person.

     

    1. Who are you talking to? It’s important to understand your audience if you want to improve communication skills. What do they need from this, what perspective do they bring and what are the benefits of listening to you?

     

    It’s simple to be a better communicator when you know how. From the way you speak to how you listen, there are many different factors that can have an impact.

     

    Our Communication Skills course is designed to help delegates communicate more effectively with customers and colleagues.

  3. Our key benefits of customer service training programs

    Customer service is at the heart of every business, whatever the sector. Without strong customer service it’s difficult to attract and retain consumers to your brand. However, what many businesses overlook is that every single interaction a customer has with your brand will contribute to overall experience. That’s just one of the reasons why customer service training programs are becoming increasingly essential.

    More committed employees

    Investing in a training programme sends a clear signal to employees that they are worth nurturing. This can lead to higher levels of loyalty and commitment to an employer and staff who are willing to go the extra mile. It also provides the opportunity for employees to understand more about the organisation that they work for, which can lead to higher levels of motivation to help it grow. Staff who have been given the tools to do their job well tend to exceed expectations and a customer service training program is a very effective way to ensure this.

    The impact on the bottom line

    Investing in customer service training programmes can have a tangible impact on the figures that matter. There are a number of key ways in which this works:

    • Better customer service improves customer retention, which leads to more sales with less investment required from the business to generate each sale than with a new customer
    • Techniques to acquire new customers are more successful, whether as a result of positive word of mouth recommendations about customer experience or the interactions potential customers have with the brand
    • Employee turnover is reduced and so recruitment costs decrease

    Improving the overall level of customer service

    Ad hoc focus on customer service can improve elements of the way that consumers experience your brand. However, customer service training programs provide a comprehensive opportunity to increase the level of customer service being provided overall. Employees are trained consistently on the same level of competencies, and skills such as communication, listening and problem solving are improved across the board.

    Customer satisfaction

    Providing customers with a better experience of your brand is probably the number one reason that most businesses invest in a training program. This is particularly important when it comes to being able to deal with issues, concerns, faults or problems that customers may raise with your business. The way these are handled can be crucial in terms of whether there is an ongoing relationship with that customer and how they talk about your brand to others. Staff who have been on a customer service training program are often able to handle situations at the first point of contact, resolving issues satisfactorily, boosting the positive experience that the customer has of the brand. Well trained staff understand how to make customers feel valued and important to the business in any situation and this contributes heavily to customer loyalty and retention.

    Customer service training programs are designed to optimise human resources within the business and enable your staff to become a key tool in the experience that your customers have.

    Our Outstanding Customer Service Skills course is ideal for delegates who want to build upon their knowledge, skills and will to support their customers.

  4. Tips for improving your public speaking skills

    If you’re not a big fan of public speaking then you’re not alone – a 2013 survey found that fear of public speaking is a more pressing concern than death for many people. However, public speaking can also be a great way to communicate ideas and information and may be an essential part of your job. Even if you’re not a big fan of doing it there are lots of ways that you can improve your public speaking skills.

     

    1. Allow yourself to be nervous

      Sweaty palms, a fast heart rate – these signs of anxiety are all completely normal when you’re getting ready to speak in front of people. The key is not to let yourself believe that nervousness means you won’t be any good. Instead, allow the nervousness and focus on preparing as much as you can.

    2. Create a strong structure

      Start with something that will grab the attention of the audience in the first 20 seconds. Identify your main topic and both the general and specific points that you want to ensure that you cover.

    3. Focus on your audience

      . The talk you’re about to give is actually more about them than you. Prepare with this in mind, structuring the message and content to ensure that you communicate effectively with the people in the room.

    4. Learn to adapt as you speak

      Your audience will subconsciously (or consciously) give you feedback as you’re delivering your talk or speech and this can be helpful when it comes to improving its effectiveness. If you’re losing their attention, change direction, if you’re getting a lot of interest on a particular topic, develop it. It’s important to stay flexible when you’re speaking so that your talk can evolve alongside the reactions of the audience.

    5. Be yourself

      . There is nothing more engaging than someone who is allowing their personality to provide the context for a speech or talk. If you’re ‘real’ and authentic then your audience will be far better engaged with what you’re saying. Show some passion and enthusiasm for what you’re talking about and you’ll take the entire room along with you – and don’t be afraid to use humour.

    6. Don’t use a script

      Reading your speech or talk will result in something less than engaging, as you’ll spend most of your time looking down at the page. Instead, give yourself an outline structure to work from and make sure you know the topic inside out. Maintain positive eye contact with your audience and don’t be afraid to pause if you need to find your way back to a specific point.

    7. Avoid too many distractions

      Media and visuals can be very useful but use them sparingly so that your words are the main focus for your listening audience. Try to eliminate any other distractions, such as over using your hands or succumbing to lots of nervous gestures.

    8. Don’t forget the conclusion

      You might be so relieved that it’s over that you just want to get out of the room but the conclusion is what you leave your audience with. It’s as important to make sure this is meaningful as to have a strong opening line.

     

    Public speaking may feel like a nightmare but it’s actually a great opportunity to make an impression and get a point across. These tips will help you to make progress in tackling what most people consider to be a key, but challenging, skill to acquire.

     

    Our Public Speaking training course is designed to teach delegates how their confidence, enthusiasm and professionalism are demonstrated by the way you look and speak.

  5. How to run effective meetings

    Meetings can be useful, innovative and constructive – a great use of everyone’s time. However, they can also be quite the opposite. Recent research established that ineffective meetings waste an estimated £29 billion a year. Not only that but it’s become accepted that meetings are often a waste of time, even for those who wouldn’t dream of being inefficient with their working hours in any other way. Being able to run effective meetings not only ensures positive use of resources within the business but also marks an employee out as someone with useful skills. So, how do you do it?

    When is a meeting not a meeting?

    When it’s a presentation, an update or an assessment. When you’re setting up a meeting in the first place, make sure that you’ve given it the right description. Then, trim the guest list to ensure that those who you’ve invited to attend really do actually need to be there.

    Prepare for the meeting in advance

    Create an agenda and make sure that everyone gets a copy of it beforehand – this not only ensures others will be prepared but will also highlight if the meeting is actually necessary. 40% of meetings start late so be clear about the need for attendees to be punctual. It might be useful to assign roles to people for the meeting before it starts and to schedule a check in with those in the room every 10-15 minutes to ensure everyone is still engaged and participating.

    Encourage active listening

    The more engaged participants are with the meeting the more effective and useful it will be. This requires active listening, which you can encourage in a number of different ways:

    • Create the right environment. Comfortable (but not too comfortable chairs), effective lighting and food and drink can all be useful
    • Start the meeting with an engagement exercise e.g. an icebreaker
    • Ban tech. Make sure that everyone in the room is focused on what’s happening in the present, not on their phones
    • Schedule the meeting for the right time – avoid the afternoon slump, first thing in the morning or right at the end of the day

    Nurture more participation

    If meetings are just one or two people speaking they can quickly become ineffective. You can nurture participation by making attendees feel that they are encouraged to speak and contribute and by creating an open forum for discussion. It might also be useful to break the meeting down into chunks, each of which is led by a different person – or to have break out sessions within it where attendees work in small groups.

    Sum up and create next steps

    When participants leave the meeting room they should have a good sense of what just took place – and what is required next. Sum up at the end of the meeting, assign action points and think about whether it might be useful to circulate minutes for reflection after the meeting.

    A well run meeting can deliver a wealth of benefits to business and make you a very valuable employee – it’s a skill that is well worth nurturing.

  6. Our top 7 tips for closing sales over the phone

    Closing sales over the phone can be a real challenge. Without being able to read body language or look someone in the eye it can be tough to navigate your way to closing a deal. However, it’s not impossible – and once you acquire the skills for closing sales over the phone you’ll feel unstoppable.

    1. Nurture client-centred selling

    Rather than talking solely about yourself, your business and your product, focus instead on the client. What do they want, what issues do they currently have and what do they think? Switching perspective to a client focus is more professional and will make it easier to engage over the phone.

    1. Avoid following a script

    It’s very difficult to be conversational if you’re reading from a script and most customers will be able to tell if you’ve gone through it a hundred times before. Instead of a script, prepare an opening question – something that will get the client to describe their ideal situation or identify the biggest issues. From there it should be a natural progression into talking about their business’ market, budget etc.

    1. Do plan a few questions

    Blank airtime isn’t productive in cold calling so, although a script is inadvisable, it is often a good idea to have some questions prepared, as well as the one you open with. Start by planning general questions you could use at the start of the conversation and then move to those that are more specific. Make sure the questions are tailored to the individual client and not generic.

    1. Keep it simple the first time you speak

    In the same way as you wouldn’t want to overwhelm a client with facts, figures, presentations and spiel if you were meeting for the first time in person, keeping it simple also works over the phone too. Provide enough information so that the client or customer is interested and then plan to follow up with more rather than pushing everything at them straight away.

    1. Don’t make selling your focus

    The first cold call should be all about gathering information and establishing a relationship that could potentially lead to a sale further down the line. If you go for the hard sell straight away it’s likely that the customer will simply switch off, as most find this type of approach over the phone off-putting and overly aggressive.

    1. It’s important to get the customer to relax

    Whether you use humour or familiarity, the more relaxed the customer is when you’re speaking to them, the more likely they are to be open to what you’re saying and selling. This means being personable and taking a step back in terms of the hard sell.

    1. What is the customer’s trigger?

    Everyone has something that will make them buy from you and all you need to do is find out what that is. That could be identifying a specific benefit or overcoming an obstacle or doubt. That’s why it’s so important to ask questions and listen when you start cold calling.

    These tips will make closing sales over the phone easier to do.

  7. 7 tips for customer commitment

    Customer commitment doesn’t necessarily mean closing the sale. However, it’s just as important in terms of achieving a desired outcome. The process of obtaining customer commitment requires a careful approach – so many customers are put off by feeling like they are being forced into something, and so the sale is lost. Instead, working with the customer to create that commitment as a series of collaborative milestones is much more like to generate the best results.

    1. Give yourself an overview of what’s likely to happen next. Few – if any – customers go straight from the point of interest to the point of sale. So, map out the journey that you think this customer commitment is likely to take, including what you think is going to happen – and when – what input you’ll need to provide and what the customer will need to do at specific points, and why.
    1. Avoid a one sided process. The more collaborative the process feels the more likely the customer is to commit to it. There are many ways in which you can do this, from using joint language such as ‘we’ as opposed to ‘I’ or asking for feedback and input from the customer at various different points. You could even hand over control of a demo to the customer or ask them to contribute during a presentation so that they feel much more involved early on.
    1. Fast forward to the future. This means providing the customer with some insight into what a future of working with you might look like at this stage. So, be super responsive to emails, available on the phone and answer questions with clarity and transparency. Demonstrating the quality standards you adhere to now will make a customer much more likely to commit for the future.
    1. Ask the right questions. These are the “closing” type questions that might signal to the customer it’s time to commit. “Have we met your expectations” and “Is there anything we could have done better” are good examples.
    1. Share your timeline with the customer. You don’t have to reveal the overview that you already created but you can share the sense that this is a time critical process. This is most easily done by agreeing deadlines jointly and then following up to ensure that those deadlines are met.
    1. Prepare some commitment closing ideas you can call on if you need to. For example, you could ask the customer to proof parts of the final document, arrange follow-ups or ask that the customer gather views internally for research.
    1. Don’t be oblivious to the signs of imminent closing. Sometimes, the closing itself is not as far off as it might at first seem. It might be the simplest question, such as “shall we go ahead?” that triggers the start of the closing process.

    Understanding the process of getting customer commitment is key to successful closing. Our Gaining Commitment on the Telephone course is designed to help refine style and techniques over the phone to achieve better results

  8. Top sales skills each professional must master

    Developing sales skills is an essential part of becoming a fully fledged sales professional. For most people, the art of selling – and selling well – does not come naturally. It’s something that needs to be acquired and nurtured through training and development. These are just a few of the top sales skills that anyone with ambitions to be an exceptional sales professional needs to master.

    Understanding your product

    Deep product knowledge is the most basic part of great sales – if you don’t really understand the product and its benefits it will be impossible to sell effectively. Product knowledge includes understanding how a product works, what its benefits are and how it can deliver value to your target customers.

    Establishing remote rapport

    Selling over the phone is often more challenging than face-to-face. So, it’s a real skill to be able to build a remote rapport. Advance research can help here, enabling common ground to be established, as well as the ability to empathise and understand the other’s point of view.

    Listening proactively

    Selling isn’t just about speaking or convincing others, listening is just as important. Proactive listening means focusing entirely on what the prospect is saying, the objections they raise and the potential opportunities that may exist for progress. Listening actively and then asking intelligent questions are both crucial to professional sales.

    Effective communication

    Studies have found that only 7% of communication is based on the content of what is being said. 38% of communication is about the way it is said, such as the tone of voice. Effective selling requires some attention to these attributes of communication, from subtly mirroring the prospect’s tone of voice, to ensuring you’re not speaking in a monotone and letting just enough personality shine through.

    Asking clever questions

    Many salespeople approach a prospect by being convinced of the benefits of their product and aggressively pushing these. The better approach is to start by asking a series of questions that are designed to identify what that person actually needs and whether there are issues that your product could solve. Then you can apply the benefits of the product to the actual needs of the customer to demonstrate specifically where value can be added.

    A strategic approach to objections

    Dealing with objections is just part of the process in sales. Taking a strategic approach to this not only means being prepared for likely objections but taking steps in advance to prevent them. Where objections are common it may be possible to pre-empt them before they have even been raised, clearing the path for the sale to progress.

    Closing and commitment

    This essential part of the process includes a number of different stages. It will be key to ensure that the right people are included in the pitch – i.e. those who are the decision makers – and that there is a focus on securing commitment from the prospect. Closing doesn’t have to be aggressive it’s much more about guiding your prospect towards reaching mutual agreement with you.

    These key sales skills are essential for anyone looking to progress in a sales career. Our Key Selling Skills course will teach you how to maximise your selling potential and get ahead in your chosen career.

  9. Top tips for negotiating to a close

    Negotiation skills are essential to a successful sales process. Without them you’re unlikely to get to the point of close with any frequency. Luckily, these are skills that can be learned and, once you’ve got the right perspective and honed an effective approach, you’ll be able to improve your outcomes on an ongoing basis.

    Negotiating to a close – top tips

    Here are our top tips for negotiating to a close:

    Set out the process before you begin

    If negotiations aren’t going well it may be because the roadmap for navigating through them was not defined at the start. This can be an incredibly useful way to begin a negotiation process, as it involves setting key boundaries such as when certain isues will be negotiated and what the ground rules are.

    Acknowledge that the clock is ticking

    It’s going to be important to identify certain milestones along the negotiation journey – and also to have a final deadline that everyone is aware of. Although you may feel like this puts pressure on you, it will also be the same for the other side who are likely to be equally under pressure to reach objectives.

    Identify when it’s time to take a step back

    Discussions may have gotten heated – or just gone on too long – so, sometimes it helps to take a step back from the situation and have a break. This allows time to pause and reflect, to identify what has been achieved and regroup before returning back to the negotiating table.

    Consider locking out the competition

    Depending on the circumstances, you might find it useful to suggest an exclusive negotiating period during which all your competitors are locked out. This can provide a useful forum in which to reach agreement but you may need to offer incentives to agreement, such as access to valued networks.

    Switch your team

    If you’re working with others on a negotiation and one or more is not contributing, or having difficulty with the closing, it’s often a good idea to bring in fresh talent with new ideas.

    Suggest a neutral third party

    Depending on the negotiations in question in can sometimes be useful to bring in an objective third party with no ties to either side. This could enable everyone to disclose to that third party – confidentially – what their bottom line really is to see whether there is any realistic potential for meeting in the middle.

    Don’t quit at the close

    When you reach a stage in negotiations where you potentially have agreement it’s often worth looking at a condition, such as bonuses for specific delivery – or penalties where certain objectives aren’t met.

    Our Negotiating to a Satisfactory Close course is designed to help improve negotiating skills and build confidence. It will focus on the importance of creating a negotiating strategy and then being able to execute it simply and effectively. When talks don’t reach the point of close it’s often simply because negotiation skills are poor – it’s entirely possible to do something about this so that you can change the outcome of your negotiations in future.

  10. Top tips for closing more sales

    What does it take to be a great closer? If sales are key to your career then improving your numbers is important progress to make. However, there is an art to closing more sales and it’s often much more subtle than many people think.

    Don’t get too hung up on closing

    That’s right, if you want to close more sales you need to stop focusing on the closing. Instead, look at this as a process of encouraging the customer to take a series of steps, overcoming their objections and helping them to move towards an end goal. If all you’re doing each time is helping them to take another pace forward, the pressure is off and it’s easier to perform.

    Be ready to make your product relevant

    You may know all the benefits of your product and the USP of your brand but the secret to being successful at sales is to make what you’re selling relevant. Ensure you’re able to show the features and functions that are the most relevant to customers if you want to get them to engage.

    Put the customer first

    Your motivation might be to sell because you need the sale but it’s the customer’s interests you need to focus on if you want to close more sales. Think about why the sale should be important to the customer, as opposed to you, to achieve that essential perspective shift.

    Make sure you know your customer

    You’ll struggle to make your product relevant or to understand what the customer’s needs are if you don’t know anything about the customer. There are many different ways that you can research your customer today, from reading press releases and browsing a company website to going on LinkedIn to look for information and updates.

    Avoid the sledgehammer approach with your competitors

    It’s often a good idea to ask the customer whether they are speaking to a rival business. However, it’s important to avoid trashing that company’s product or reputation. Say something positive about the rival and then don’t mention them directly again. Instead, subtly work into the conversation the ways in which your product or service is the better choice.

    Be a valuable resource

    As soon as you become a valuable resource to your customers then you go beyond a straightforward selling relationship. This is what helps to build trust, especially if you’re able to use your knowledge, insight or connections to make the customer’s life easier.

    Ensure you’re well connected

    The reality of closing a sale with a larger organisation may be that you’re dealing with multiple approvals at different levels throughout the business. Where you know that there is more than one decision maker involved try to make connections at various different levels so that you can have more influence over the eventual outcome.

    Closing more sales is often much more about understanding and supporting the customer than driving them towards your own goals. Our Closing The Sale & Dealing With Objections course is designed to analyse the way that you currently handle the process and identify opportunities for improvement.

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.