Core Skills

After acquiring product and technical knowledge, every professional, to be more successful, should be trained in 4 core skills:

  • Presentations
  • Business Writing
  • Selling
  • Negotiating

Here’s a brief explanation of why.

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Presentation Skills

All professionals have to present. They have to prepare clear, concise and compelling content and they have to deliver it to different audiences.  Whether they present standing in front of a live audience, virtually on a call or on a videoconference, presenting is always a huge challenge:

  • How do I control my nervousness?
  • How do I make my message more interesting for my audience?
  • What do I include or omit in the content?
  • How do I prepare quality visuals?
  • How do I handle questions, comments and attacks from my audience?

Your professional image is at stake. Your company’s reputation will be evaluated. Winning or losing is on the line.

Business Writing

Professionals today basically write all day. Whether it’s an email to a client, an internal document, a text or a tweet; writing presents its challenges. Our readers have minimal time to read and digest a message. The writer has  a short time to draft the document. It has to be organized, clear, concise and convey the proper tone. Spelling and grammar should be correct.

Business Writing is a must-have core skill and a good training investment.

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Selling

Whether you’re part of a sales force or work in Operations, Finance, Administration, Marketing, IT or any other division, selling and consulting are core and critical skills.

True, the sales force has to be highly trained. They provide the gasoline that keeps the motor running. However all employees have to sell ideas, strategies, improvements. They must learn when and how to pitch and how to listen and probe. Better selling skills lead to targeted solutions that are key for success.

Negotiating

Once again, quite obvious for the sales force. However so often, the sales force lacks a negotiating methodology, They make excessive concessions or show inflexibility. They need to be well trained.

All professionals need these skills. Internal negotiations are critical for efficiency and harmony in an organization. All areas need to negotiate agreements and require skills to do it well. 

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A well-trained team in these core skills will produce  a more motivated staff,  a better professional image and reputation , a more positive work environment and better company results.

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Sales Wisdom

Wisdom begins in wonder
— Socrates

Starting a new year offers rare opportunities for reflection.

I found the Socrates quote that opens this article around a year ago. I loved it, I knew I wanted to write an article with it and I had no idea of what I could do with it.

Then I thought of an awe-provoking experience that added to my wisdom.

Several years ago, I was on a sales call with my father (and President of ERC) David. On our way to the meeting with our client, we spoke about our understanding of the situation, so we could craft a strategy. Not much was definitive – It seemed like the more we spoke, the less we understood.

We arrived. David opened the meeting and proceeded to listen and probe – exclusively.

Our clients spoke and argued, presented and countered. David only spoke to elicit more information.

It turns out that they did not understand their own issues. They needed a good listener to discover their own needs.

My instinct would have been to offer a solution five minutes into the meeting. My wonder at my father's ability to listen made me wiser.

 

Listen to Sell

The days of the smooth taking salesperson are gone. Customers are smarter, wiser and more prepared than ever before. Most have done some internet research prior to buying, Today's salesperson must have product or service expertise. However, as important as product and service knowledge is, it is simply not enough. Successful salespeople today must be good listeners.

Good listeners will understand what a potential customer is really seeking. They understand the nuances, the details, the concerns, the fears, the excitement prior to presenting their solutions. They develop sincere relationships which are as important as closing. We have found that when salespeople and consultants really listen, customers, more often than not, want to do business with that person.

Listening is not easy. We all think we're good listeners. Most of us tend to react and assume instead of trying to fully understand the customer's needs. desires, concerns and motives for buying. The good thing is that listening can be learned and improved. Simple techniques will greatly help.

First, concentrate on the customer, not on you and what you wish to offer. Play back and probe often. Occasionally rephrase your customer's message and interests and ask questions to go deeper. Talk less and listen more. We recommend that the customer speak at least 60% of the time. Our golden rule is, don't make a proposal unless your confident that you understand your customer's needs.

Good luck!

 

It's About Communication

You're smart, eager and technically prepared for your job. You have a great attitude and you want to grow professionally. You focus on improving every day.

In our 30 years at ERC, we have found that what stifles most professional growth is not the lack of technical ability, desire nor enthusiasm. It's the ability to communicate well in a variety of venues.

Communication has always been important – today it's vital! Here are just a few examples:

Presenting: Presentations are critical for success. The demand for our Executive Presentation Skills programs in English, Spanish and Portuguese has increased 200% over the last 3 years. We have adapted the content of our program to today's technological realities. In addition to standing and presenting in front of live audiences, professionals today need to virtually present and sell messages on conference calls. They need to handle videoconferences through TelePresence and other technologies. They must present to 5 critical decision makers or 5000 through video streaming, and many more in a recorded time-shifted format. This requires critical skills that few have learned.

Writing: The average professional today writes and receives many more documents than ever before. Emailing, texting, tweeting and posting are so prevalent in the work place today. One must write quickly, clearly and make an impact. All documents, even the simplest email, must have structure and clarity and convey the proper tone.

Everyone writes, however few write strategically. We have seen a sharp increase in the number of companies contracting our Effective Business Writing program.

Selling: Competition is fierce. The need to distinguish yourself from your competitors is critical. We market, we present, we try to convince and persuade. We present our arguments and highlight our benefits and features. Where most salespeople and consultants often fall short is in their ability to truly listen to their internal and external clients. Listening, and fully understanding, before proposing is the key. Most salespeople and consultants are not trained in the most important communication skill: Listening.

Negotiating: To reach a fair and positive agreement for all parties requires strategy and communication. One must strategically prepare prior to a face-to-face encounter and be able to communicate that strategy. Many believe that negotiating is an innate trait or they don't believe they can learn skills to enhance their abilities. For these reasons, they don't seek training. This leads to too many concessions or inflexibility. Either way, there is no win-win relationship. Excellent communicators in a negotiation reach faster and better agreements for all parties.

These are just a few examples of how the ability to communicate delivers professional growth and success. My message... read, train, develop and improve your communication skills!