Training and Coaching
> Sales, Negotiation and Influence Skills

We have provided formal sales training in many countries: to sales, marketing and technical support staff; at levels from secretary-receptionist to company president. Similar programs have been delivered to engineering, production and general management groups. In all cases, our intention has been to enhance the persuasiveness of people and their ideas—not with empty motivation or manipulative techniques, but by helping to develop clear and compelling plans, messages and understanding of others' needs. Many of our customers have been referred from earlier clients, with corporate value multiplying as more people are supported in applying the newly honed skills. Actual content is diverse, ranging across


Production of credible, attractive plans and other offerings

Platform/presentation and meeting-management skills

Rapport-building, conflict resolution and responsibility-sharing

High-performance hearing and self-management

This diagram relates to purposeful communication—moving from "just schmoozing" or "get the deal done" to a finely focused transaction that respects everyone's attention, converges quickly on a mutually beneficial result, and leaves (more) time for camaraderie when appropriate:

Communication intentions: affirm, inform, affiliate, influence, act

Purposeful, in this context, explicitly balances instrumental (get it done) and relational (strengthen connection) objectives. Acknowledging that real life is dynamic and only partly subject to command and control, it is very much possible to apply outcome thinking and milestone planning to influence situations. In preparing for and running meetings, it is valuable to stay aware of four areas of experience and four time-frames:

What do we want them to know, think, feel, do

Know, Think, Feel, Do:  Know is about information: facts, intentions, plans, logistics. Think is about how those present process the new information. (And since they may then re-present it to others, the original presenter is responsible for providing an easily grasped conceptual framework and good methods of explanation.) Feel relates to acceptance and motivation. And it all leads up to Do, in whatever way is needed: agree, provide feedback, act as advocate going forward, provide resources, accept the offering as customer, etc. Understanding, acceptance and then commitment are best secured in the meeting, where visual, verbal and other feedback is available to guide course-corrections as needed. Great meetings are carefully planned, including diverse contingency options; then flexibly and responsively managed.

That can be a lot to bear in mind amid an intense discussion, even with people assigned and trained to cover various relational and process functions. So in addition to theoretical discussion and practice, role-plays provide experiential learning and an opportunity to re-work past or anticipated challenges to ensure a better (and more predictable) future.

The simplest ways to resolve conflict sometimes seem to be escalation (through blame) or denial (walking away). Neither creates much ground for future collaboration. We demonstrate and guide the practice of a range of approaches to minimizing heat and friction while maintaining relationships. We especially emphasize contingency planning: careful analysis of relational or business "failure modes" that permit the deflection of problems before they occur, and provide graceful recovery options when necessary. (See also Risk Management.)

Creative collectives
Collective Objectives: some type

An example is the recognition that any two people or organizations may be committed to many simultaneous objectives, not all of which can be satisfied at once. Part of the magic of successful negotiation is in learning to detect what is really important to each party (operational values, as distinct from espoused values), and determine how each may best be satisfied (criteria and evidence procedures). It is often then possible to turn structural conflicts into true win-win solutions or, at least, unrelated and non-conflicting intentions.