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Archive: May 2020

How to improve your employees listening skills

Posted: May 28, 2020 9:38 am
Listening is a crucial component in positive communication, which provides a strong foundation for effective business practices. Becoming an active listener can enable an employee to be more productive and make fewer mistakes and means less time is wasted asking the wrong questions. It can create an open and positive atmosphere in the office and make people across the business feel genuinely valued. So, what steps can you take to help employees improve the listening skills they are already have?

Parrot style can be a good approach

While we don’t recommend employees parrot everything that is said to them, repeating what someone else has said to ensure that you have it right can be a useful listening technique. It will ensure that employees are genuinely listening and also means that comments or questions can be posed straight away. This technique demonstrates to the speaker that they are being heard and can help to avoid miscommunication.

No interruptions

This may seem obvious and yet so many of us don’t let people finish before we start talking. Proactive listening isn’t about waiting for the opportunity to speak but actually sitting and taking in what is being said without looking for a chance to interrupt. Interrupting is learned behaviour frequently seen where junior staff or female staff are speaking so it’s important to emphasise how key it is to listen well and wait for the speaker – whoever they are - to finish before providing a response.

Opting for objectivity

Emotions and feelings are natural but when it comes to listening they can cloud the situation. Encouraging employees to listen actively and without judgment will make it much easier to open channels of clear communication. Empathy is crucial in a listener as it will enable them to identify with the speaker and perhaps see issues or complaints from their perspective. Encourage employees to listen and react as professionally as possible to improve basic listening skills.

Ask your employees to use nonverbal cues

These can be very useful in encouraging the person speaking and ensuring that they know that they are being heard. Eye contact and the occasional nod of the head demonstrate that the person speaking has the full attention of the listener and that they are taking in what is being said. Slouching, yawning, fiddling with pens or standing with hands in pockets can give negative signals to the person speaking and damage communication as a result.

Distractions mean poor listening

There are a lot of distractions in an office that can interrupt good listening. From a phone screen lighting up to the sound of an email arriving in an inbox, an open window or being to close to a break out area, all can detract from the conversation. Especially for important conversations, advise employees to choose the right location and put away devices etc that could interrupt. Being a good listener can improve employee career prospects and help individuals to interact more positively with each other. It’s a skill that all employees should be encouraged to develop.  

Our 15 tips to improve your sales skills

Posted: May 14, 2020 10:40 am
Being successful at sales requires a particular skill set. Studies have found that those who go through sales training can be 15+% more effective at closing deals and improve profit margins too. With that in mind here are our 15 top tips for improving your sales skills.
  1. Invest time in training. Training will help you to hone specific skills, gain more insight and understanding of the process as well as how to make the results that you’re aiming for happen.
  2. Work on being a confident communicator. It may be useful to tackle a big fear to help improve this skill – public speaking. Around three quarters of us hate public speaking and yet it can be essential for everything, from product demos to sales presentations. The more you practice public speaking the better you’re likely to get at it and the more confident a communicator you’ll be.
  3. Ask others. If something goes wrong, ask for advice from others about why they thought that was and what they would have done differently.
  4. Include roleplay. Anything can happen in a sales situation and roleplay can help you to be prepared for it. Practice every day situations as well as the more challenging, such as overcoming common objections, extreme conversations and finding out why prospects are stuck.
  5. Stay up to date. The sales industry is constantly changing and you can improve your sales approach by staying informed, whether that’s via publications or podcasts.
  6. Review your sales calls. A review approach will allow you to identify if the same issues are coming up repeatedly and to find a different way to tackle this next time around. Your attitude, authenticity and how well you grasp buyer pain points will all be important.
  7. Look for a mentor. A quality coach can help you improve performance by at least 19%. Look for a successful sales person who will be able to provide feedback and advice, as well as inspiration and participation in roleplay.
  8. Be ready for questions and objections. If you’ve practiced and prepared for this it won’t throw you off track when it happens.
  9. Work on prospecting. For example, use techniques such as warm calls and webinars.
  10. Listen to feedback. Constructive feedback is crucial to improving your sales skills. When you get it be open to it even if it’s hard to hear, as this will enable you to identify a path to improvement.
  11. Be authentic. It’s important to understand how to build a rapport with a customer and most of the time this starts with having authentic conversations about work or life.
  12. Try different closing techniques. There are lots of approaches you can take to closing a sale, such as a summary close where you reiterate key information in order to move the sale on.
  13. Iterate on your sales cycle. This will make it easier to improve both skills and numbers.
  14. Learn how to listen. Active listening and paying attention are essential for a sales person, whether that’s with respect to identifying potential obstacles and helping to close the deal.
  15. Track and monitor. Set yourself goals and track how far you get each month. Identify metrics, such as close rate, so you can compare your progress from one month to the next.
If you want to improve your sales skills these 15 tips will provide a firm foundation. Find out more by booking onto our Advanced Selling Skills training course…

Our top 10 ways to innovate at work every day

Posted: May 7, 2020 10:36 am
You know what they say, only boring people get bored. No matter how mundane you find some of your every day tasks, if you apply some innovation to daily problems then you can not only get more from what you do but help to move your career forward too.
  1. Buddy up. If there’s someone else looking for similar progress, who has a similar mindset to you, buddy up to help encourage and motivate each other. This is a great way to ensure you have accountability that will keep you inspired and moving in the right direction.
  2. Small-scale innovation really works. You don’t have to focus only on the big ideas and projects to make a difference. Making lots of small, innovative changes can add up to a greater whole, from something as simple as altering the wording on your email signature to getting up an hour earlier every day.
  3. Look for inspiration. From travel images to movie posters or tycoon quotes, use anything that gives you a feeling of motivation to help boost your daily mood by surrounding yourself with it at the office.
  4. Make it visual. If you have ideas then put them into physical form, from images and graphics to prototypes – visuals make more of an impact and people are much more likely to understand what you’re trying to achieve if you present it in this way.
  5. Consider the option of standing up. From meetings to informal chats, standing instead of sitting changes the entire dynamic. You might find you get more done this way and that others are more efficient too.
  6. Identify when you’re sleepwalking. All of us have moments in the day when we’re just on autopilot. Identify the times when this happens to you and find ways to do those jobs differently so that you’re always present.
  7. Look around you. Make sure you spend enough time out of the office each day to feel refreshed and remain alert. Use your time outside to be fully present and notice everything around you, from the smallest blade of grass to huge buildings and the details of human faces.
  8. Explore the idea of a ban. You can force yourself to do things differently if you take certain things off the table. So, for example, you might ban yourself from using a word that you tend to write a lot or certain communication tools. See how innovative you can be when your regular patterns are disrupted.
  9. Feed creativity with creativity. Spend the first hour of your day immersed in creativity, whether that’s listening to music or podcasts, sharing ideas or doing something like sketching or singing. You’ll find your imagination sparked by this far more than just diving into your emails as soon as you wake up.
  10. What would Obama do? It doesn’t’ have to be a historic ex president but take your hero and think about what they would do if faced with a situation like you’re in and use that inspiration to approach it differently.
It’s simple to innovate at work every day – try these 10 steps and see how much more inspired you feel afterwards. Find out more by booking onto our Creativity & Innovation training course…