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Archive for the ‘Sales Management’ Category

Megatrends in MOOCs: #9 Flipping the MOOC

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On May 21, 2014 No Comments

flipped_classroomAs digital learning environments, MOOCs are incredibly flexible—they can be used for fully online courses, in hybrid courses, as supplementary materials, and more. One of the offshoots of the growth of MOOCs has been an interest in “flipped classes,” which is commonly conceived as a reversal of in-class time and out-of-class time. For example, the typical formula for flipping a class is to assign video lectures as homework and use in-class time for collaborative activities including role play and problem-solving. Here, we’ll look briefly at how to use MOOCs to flip a corporate classroom in this way as well as explore a broader perspective on what it means to flip an online course.

Flipping class time

When people talk about “flipping” a classroom, what they are usually talking about is a way of integrating technology into (more…)

Megatrends in MOOCs: #3 Updating the Competency-Based Training Model

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 9, 2014 No Comments

Competency-Based Training Over the past several years, the educational requirements for jobs have been increasing. According to a study by Georgetown University, 63 percent of all jobs will require a bachelor’s degree by the year 2018. However, although students have been scrambling to get their degrees, employers are experiencing an unprecedented gap between the skills they need and the skills their employees have. In a survey conducted last year by Adecco, 92 percent of U.S. senior executives reported a workforce skills gap. The major areas of weakness were soft skills, technical skills, leadership, and computer skills, and these gaps are negatively impacting U.S. businesses, particularly in terms of their ability to obtain investment.

The problem can be traced to inadequacies in traditional education as well as a lack of sufficient workforce training. Nearly 60 percent of survey respondents reported that U.S. colleges and universities are not adequately preparing students for the workforce, and although 89 percent believe corporate apprenticeships or training programs could be a solution, more than 4 in 10 said that cost was a major impediment to developing in-house training programs.

The apparent disconnect between what students are learning in their degree programs and the skills that employers require has sparked interest in competency-based training programs, as well as digital learning environments like MOOCs that can greatly facilitate this training. Businesses need employees with skills, and they need them now. (more…)

Top 5 Sales Commandments

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On November 8, 2012 No Comments

Maintain high sales numbers and satisfy your customer’s needs at the same time by using these Top 5 Sales Commandments.

There are many rules of thumb to follow in any sales process. As a salesperson, your ultimate goal is to maintain high numbers while satisfying your customer’s needs. There are five simple sales commandments that will help you do both – in every sale.

One: Sell Relationships. There is no such thing as a single sale. Businesses have come to depend on repeat customers and word of mouth. So instead of selling a product, sell a relationship and trust. Let the customer know that you will be there the next time they have a need, and explain why your range of products can help them in the future. Your customer will come back – and they will tell others.


Training Alchemy: How Sports Teams Use Training to Achieve Success

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On August 30, 2012 No Comments

Sports team training is no longer limited to physical training only – corporate-type training is being used today for both professional and amateur sports teams. When we think of training and sports teams, we usually think of physical training – the intense workouts, simulations, and training camps that put athletes into peak performance condition. But sports teams, both amateur and professional, are turning to more academic training to ensure the mental fitness of athletes, as well. There are training centers springing up all over the world that cater to both physical and mental training for athletes. On the same lines, some corporate training programs, especially leadership programs, are bringing activities for sports teams into the boardroom. One of the common training elements is communications training. From the basic levels to the intricacies of game day communication, some sports teams are taking up classroom training to learn the art.

Another area of focus for sports teams is personal development training, or mental training. It was once a wide belief that an athlete’s natural talent and hard work could propel him or her into the winner’s circle. Now, performance coaches argue that a big part of athletic success belongs to attitudes, beliefs, or thought processes – some of the very criteria standard corporate training programs are built upon. Through this type of personal development training, athletes are learning better focus, game-day composure, and self-confidence through mental strength.

It would also seem ironic that sports teams need team building training activities, but they do. Just as in corporate teams, changes to pro sports teams make them go through cycles of building, infighting, and performing. Some team training consultants offer ropes courses, firewalks, board breaking, and outdoor survival-type training. And on the opposite side, corporate teams are taking part in the Olympic-style team sports games and survival activities that may have once been reserved for football or baseball teams.

Change management is another traditionally corporate course that’s being used in the world of professional sports. Think about a football game and how each person’s decisions, from coaches down to individual players, can impact the entire game and the entire teams’ success. Teams use change management courses to teach quick decision making based on individual and group needs. Through this type of training, players learn to quickly assess the situation from what they already know and can see and then make decisions.

The notion of “coaching” in the corporate world stemmed from sports coaches to begin with. The corporate world has taken coaching techniques and turned them into processes and models, such as coaching for peak performance or situational leadership. Coaches have begun to move back into the classroom to learn the new corporate techniques – peak performance can be used for athletes and employees.

Because of the unlimited income potential for pro sports teams, many are building serious training programs for their employees, as well. Sales and customer service training has become popular for the concierge staffs, ticket sales, general management, and group sales areas for many pro teams. Owners and team managers see that the experience begins before the fans sit in their seats on game day.

The next time you watch a team game, whether it’s professional or amateur, think about the types of training that may have been applied to put the teams and individual athletes where they are. Think about the similarities between your teams and sports teams – we can borrow training ideas from both sides.

Copyright 2009-2012 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– offers 25+ years of training and talent management for executives, business owners, and top performing sales executives in taking the leap from the ordinary to extraordinary. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.

Learn more about Bryant at LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/bryantnielson

Bryant Nielson - EzineArticles Expert Author



Sales Forecasting

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 12, 2012 No Comments

Summary: Continuing with our series on Sales Cycle Management, we now move to the second component, Sales Forecasting. Now that you’ve identified opportunities, a good forecast will allow you to realistically plan future sales.

The second component of Sales Cycle Management (SCM) is Sales Forecasting. Many times, salespeople and sales managers do not take a realistic view of how many sales they can undertake during a particular time period. This view makes time spent on Opportunity Management less worthwhile, and makes a traditional sales pipeline stale. What are the benefits of Sales Forecasting?

When you take the time to forecast, you’ll be able to analyze past sales, annual growth, and sales and growth as opposed to industry competitors. In addition to this, forecasting allows you to more closely analyze your price and cost structure, which means you have a better idea of where profit starts to kick in. In other words, a realistic sales forecast can allow you to virtually guarantee profit. When you look at the numbers, sales forecasting is a great way to look at the future from an objective standpoint. But how do you go about creating a sales forecast?

The first piece is to have an accurate record of past sales. For some organizations, this is easy, but for others, record keeping may have been less than accurate. Collect the most solid past data you can, going back several years if possible. From the past and current standpoint, it’s a good idea to understand what factors, both internal and external, have acted on sales and continue to act on sales. Make a list of these factors, just to be sure they are understood. For example, external factors could range from seasonal demand for the product or service, general economic conditions, to the activity of competitors – and their product, as well as consumer conditions such as income and employment. But what about internal factors, such as labor conditions, the organization’s credit policy, and inventory? Are there changes in the manufacturing process, price, or production numbers at any point? Once you’ve determined what factors act upon your sales, you can ask further, more detailed questions about the sales forecast itself.

First, what products or services are you going to be forecasting? Are they grouped or separate? In most cases, it’s a good idea to create at least separate product or service groupings for the forecast – this way, your forecast will start out as precise as possible. Next, ask about the time frame of the forecast. How far in the future can you realistically go? Third, consider frequency. What is the frequency of actually creating the forecast, and what is the frequency of review and/or revision? Finally, it’s a good idea to come up with an acceptable margin of error based on cost, expense, and profit. The margin of error is also a good test of the realism of the forecast. At this point in sales forecasting, you may have to take an analytical look at account records, financial statements, sales reporting, and post sale activities. For example, you’ll want to look at all of the activity that occurred up to the point of sale and after to get a good idea of cost and expense. These sales records should be part of your Opportunity Management system, anyway.

As you move forward, you must finally determine if you’d like to see a qualitative or quantitative forecast. In simple terms, quantitative analysis takes into account all of the factors we’ve discussed and makes an estimation of sales based on those factors. The qualitative analysis will use a mathematical formula to create a numbers-based sales forecast. If your organization is smaller, you may want to try a quantitative approach first, as a realistic starting point. This is especially true if your financial staff is smaller. In larger organizations with a larger financial staff, a qualitative approach is possible. When looking at these approaches, keep in mind that a stable, consistent product can use a standard mathematical formula for forecasting. On the other hand, an unstable product may find a forecast in varied mathematical formulas.

However you decide to move forward with your sales forecast, you’ll be taking a less realistic pipeline and rooting it to more realistic sales possibilities. Once you’ve created your forecast, you’ll be ready to move to the next component of SCM, Account Planning.

Copyright 2009-2012 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– offers 25+ years of training and talent management for executives, business owners, and top performing sales executives in taking the leap from the ordinary to extraordinary. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.

Learn more about Bryant at LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/bryantnielson

Bryant Nielson - EzineArticles Expert Author



Five Focuses For Sales

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 9, 2012 No Comments

Many of us believe the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” idea when it comes to our sales processes. Although this is a great way to keep a good thing going, there are some sales concepts you can focus on for the New Year that will not only keep your sales moving, but may improve them, as well. Some of these items may be part of your process already, but becoming aware of them and how you execute them can lead to progress. Make an effort to focus on these five sales elements in every customer interaction.

To begin with, always go for the benefits. This may be elementary to some salespeople, but it’s sometimes easy to forget. While preparing your sales presentation, remember to ask how your product or service will benefit your client – and answer the question. Remember, the client is not concerned about features as much as they are about how the product will improve their lives, their bottom line, or their business. Put yourself in your client’s shoes and determine why he or she might need your product or service. Your presentation should focus on that aspect.

Next, try spinning your sales language. The words and phrases you use every day become part of your rote usage, and it may be difficult to identify which ones could create a negative connotation for your potential client. And remember that clients are becoming more savvy, more aware, and more sophisticated every day, so words like sold, contract, and signature might be falling out of use. Instead, try words like acquire, agreement, and approve. So analyze your sales presentation for words that may not work anymore. The opposite side of this, of course, is to analyze your presentation for words that have a positive connotation – and use them where appropriate. To make this exercise work, you must again put yourself in your client’s shoes and think about the last experience you had as a client and not a salesperson. The simple act of redefining your language can bring new life to your presentation – and create a much more positive experience for your client.

Third, try to get the best out of your prospecting process this year. Determine what your best prospecting method is by analyzing your response ratio in various mediums. Be sure to count every medium you use, whether it’s phone, email, direct mail, networking or face-to-face. It may also be beneficial to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on your prospecting, as well. For example, do the costs of direct mail far outweigh its benefits? If so, is there a way to take your direct mail to email and eliminate a majority of the cost? While looking at your prospecting methods, be honest with yourself and determine if it’s time to make additions to those methods. For example, do you avoid email because it seems impersonal? Try writing an email in a conversational tone – there’s no need to be completely formal just because you’re writing instead of speaking. Keep in mind that more sophisticated clients may be found in newer locations, such as social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. The analysis of your prospecting methods requires you to take a hard look at yourself and your methods – and make additions and corrections as needed.

Next, regroup your referrals. Many of us know that referrals keep business going, maybe even more than prospecting. But look at your referral process to determine when customers respond best. In many instances, your customer may respond best right after the sale, when they are excited about the product or service. But, depending on the product or service, customers may need to try it out for a time before you ask them to refer. Once you’ve determined where referrals have the most “bang” in your sales process, try to add the referral request at that point every time.

Finally, make this year the time to discover your competition. In many cases, we’re all offering the same products and services, with minor changes in product and major changes in brand and delivery. That’s no excuse to ignore the competition. Find out who the competition is, what they offer, and what makes clients likely to use their product. What do you perceive as the competition’s strengths and weaknesses? Use this information to handle objections and to explain the difference between you and your competition. Taking the time to get to know them will help you improve sales.

Make these five activities a part of your regular sales review this year.

Copyright 2009-2012 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– offers 25+ years of training and talent management for executives, business owners, and top performing sales executives in taking the leap from the ordinary to extraordinary. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.

Learn more about Bryant at LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/bryantnielson

Bryant Nielson - EzineArticles Expert Author



The Sales Learning Curve

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 21, 2012 No Comments

<span lang=”EN”>Psychological and learning theories tell us that learning curves are a continuum of four basic competency levels. It may seem like a stretch to apply theoretical knowledge to your sales process, but simply being aware of the levels of knowledge and how they can impact your sales is a great place to start. Think of this as your own sales competency continuum, a way in which you can continually improve.</span>

The first level of knowledge is called “unconscious incompetence”. It sounds like a terrible label, but if you’re in this area you’re not really aware of what your knowledge deficiency is. The only way to move to the next level of knowledge is to watch someone else perform the skill, or explain it to you, so that you become aware of its existence. New salespeople may be in this stage in regard to products and services, but can also be unaware of various sales techniques. But with more experience comes the feeling that you cannot improve – which means you may be missing out on new or improved sales processes and techniques. Obviously, new salespeople will attend training and observe the pros to find out what they need to learn. But if you’re highly experienced, you can also take the time to observe others and discover some areas of unconscious incompetence.<!–more–>

Once you’ve become aware of the knowledge you don’t have, you move to the next level of learning, which is called “conscious incompetence”. In this stage, you obviously realize the skills you lack – or the skills you need to make improvements in your sales process or client handling techniques. With awareness, you might even practice a new skill or technique, because you know that practice will help you incorporate the skill into your everyday work. In the conscious incompetence phase, it is absolutely vital that you make the commitment to learning and practice – even if you are a highly experienced salesperson. Set a goal to attend seminars, read on the subject, and even to find a mentor who can help you improve. But becoming aware isn’t the end of the road on new skills.

The third stage is called “conscious competence”, in which you learn to practice the new skill or technique reasonably well. If it’s a new technique, such as remembering to research your competition before every sales presentation, you’ll start to roll it in because you’re constantly thinking about it. And even though you think about it, it’s still easy to forget because it’s not quite a “rote” skill that you practice every day. You may even be able to demonstrate the skill to someone else, but it’s probably difficult to pull the skill apart and explain it to someone who doesn’t yet have it. In sales, and many other professions for that matter, the best thing you can do in the conscious competence stage is to practice, practice, and practice. And only through practice can you move to the next new skill or technique, so make a commitment to deploy the new skill in your sales process every time you make a presentation.

The final stage of learning is the “unconscious competence” phase, where your skills and techniques are second nature. Often learning theorists will describe driving, walking, and writing as unconscious competencies, because you can perform the skill without thinking. As the skill becomes more developed, you may even discover that you can teach it to others. But the main thing to remember about unconscious competence is that it does not exempt you from comparing yourself to new standards and consistently observing others to find even more unconscious incompetence. In sales, you can make a commitment to observation and to asking for feedback from others to evaluate yourself. In addition, with unconscious competence comes responsibility, because you can observe others and mentor them with your highly developed skills.

It’s easy to settle into a sales process that works – and continue using techniques that always generate results. But when you consider the sales competency continuum, your skills should always be undergoing change and improvement – and will therefore improve your bottom line.

Copyright 2009-2012 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– offers 25+ years of training and talent management for executives, business owners, and top performing sales executives in taking the leap from the ordinary to extraordinary. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.

Learn more about Bryant at his LinkedIn Page: www.linkedin.com/in/bryantnielson

Bryant Nielson - EzineArticles Expert Author


Marketing vs. Cost Cutting

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On January 10, 2012 No Comments

Every single interaction is an opportunity to do marketing, not a chance to cut costs.

3 C’s for Success

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On January 8, 2012 No Comments

There are three (3) things that are always included in the successful conclusion to a successful goal cycle. They are: commitment, completion and closure.

Commitment. Unless the person making the goal is committed to working on and towards a particular goal, it is at best nothing more than a wish. Commitment is the spark that ignites the fire that moves a person.

Completion. What is the use of working a on goal and stop when you are just feet from the finish line. Working towards 80-90 or even 95% of the objective is nothing more than falling short. We need to focus on completing the goal! 100% is only what can be acceptable.

Closure. When you first establish a goal, you set your destination. Our commitment to working on the goal is our vehicle that will take us towards that horizon. Completion is insuring that our vehicle has sufficient gas to reach our destination. Closure is our reviewing our goal and enjoying the achievement that we have done.

By employing the 3 C’s in every goal situation, we insure that our overall plan and actions are successful and our long-term direction is still where we are seeking.

Powerful Written Goals In 7 Easy Steps!

By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On January 3, 2012 No Comments

Your bags are packed and you’re ready to go, your first overseas trip. From the Midwest town of Chicago to the rolling hills of Rome Italy, you’re going to see it all. You throw your bags into a cab and your off to the airport.

A little while into the trip you you encounter some huge public works program that had blocked all of the traditional routes to the airport. You ask the driver to check the map because you’ve reached an intersection you’re not familiar with. You panic for a moment because you realize he does not have a map.

But you say the heck with it because you know where you’re going. You take a right, change the radio station and keep on going. Unfortunately, you never reach the airport prior to your plane leaving!

Too many of us treat goal setting the same way. We dream about where we want to go, but we don’t have a map to get there. Or fail to plan for obstacles that we may encounter along the way.

What is a map? In essence, the written word. (more…)



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