Articles

Latest News

Cold Calling Reluctance

30/05/2016

Cold Calling Reluctance.

Most salespeople consider cold calling a dreadful, but essential activity in our profession. Even those who are good at it rarely like it. Nevertheless, those who are successful in sales do it regularly because without prospects, one does not sell anything.

If you hate cold calling to the point where you won’t do it, you’ve got a serious problem. Let this go on long enough, and you’ll watch your commissions drop from low to zero as you lose your job.

If you truly hate cold calling to the point where it is really hurting your sales, I may know one of the reasons why.

Where’s The Pressure?
Too many salespeople take the bulk of the pressure on themselves in the sale. We’ve been conditioned into it by a society that teaches us that buyers shop, and sellers are there to “serve”. You’ve heard this before… “serve the customer”.

In “serving the customer”, we feel that we have to do whatever they ask to get the sale. Some prospects act like bratty children that just have to have their way. This can be quite annoying to deal with.

In letting this belief “serving the customer” dominate our attitude towards buying and selling, we give up a lot of power. It’s kind of crazy if you really think about it. The prospect is the one who does or does not have a problem to solve. Its not your problem – you are just offering a potential solution.

If your prospect does have a problem to solve, then it is his responsibility to solve it – not yours. What you can do is help him figure out how to solve it, and offer your products or services if they solve the problem.

When cold calling, you are looking for problems that you can actually solve. How effective you are at cold calling is really a matter of how effective you are at uncovering problems that you can solve. It is *not* a game of how good of a “pitch” you can deliver over the phone.

If you plan your cold calling by trying to craft the most interesting, exciting, and sparkling pitch to wow your prospects into meeting with you, then you are putting way too much pressure on yourself. This may just be stressful for you, or it can even be disabling to the point where you can’t or won’t do any cold calling.

I have a simple formula to take the pressure off of yourself and put it where it belongs – on your prospect.

Cold Calling Formula

  • Introduce Yourself, Your Company, and Your Results.
  • Get Permission To Ask Questions.
  • Ask Questions To Uncover and Amplify Problems and Opportunities.
  • Simple, huh? So simple, it may seem too easy.

The secret to the cold calling formula is how you do each step. Here’s an example:

“Hello, this is Shamus Brown calling.”

“I am with Jupiter Financial Partners, and using private equity, I help people get high investment returns without the risk and volatility associated with the stock market.

“Do you have a few minutes to let me ask you a few questions about your investments?

“What percentage did your investment’s increase this past year?

“Oh, they didn’t increase… they declined by how much?… hmm, sounds bad to me, but I am not you – is that kind of performance OK with you?”

This follows the simple format outlined above. Introduce yourself and your company, and wrap that introduction with a statement of the results that you provide for your customers. This is one of the keys to making cold calling easier.

The only thing your prospect will likely hear at the beginning of the call is your results. When you are cold calling someone, you are interrupting them in some way. Their attention is elsewhere. When they hear the results that you offer, you will get their attention IF they are interested in those types of results.

Next, if they are interested in those results, they will more than likely answer yes to your request to ask a few questions and talk further.

Finally, you immediately get into probing for problems, and amplifying the consequences. Once you are there, you will stir up their motivation and desire to talk further about your product or service.

Stop using lengthy introductions in your cold calling. If you get that slightly uncomfortable or nauseating feeling in your stomach while delivering your phone “pitch”, it is because your pitch is too long. The longer your pitch is, the more you are “at risk” because you do not know how the message is being received.

Shorten your cold calling opener to just the essential results that you provide, and then get right into probing for problems. You’ll sell more this way.

Read more

Goal Setting – Achieve Your Sales Goals by Focusing on ACTIVITIES

30/05/2016

Goal Setting – Achieve Your Sales Goals by Focusing on ACTIVITIES
by Alan Rigg

When I broke into sales in 1986, I read several books that talked about how important it was to set goals if you wanted to achieve success. I bought into the idea completely, and started writing down extensive lists of goals that I expected to achieve, along with due dates for each goal. Per the advice in the books, I made my goals nice and lofty. You know, make a six-figure income, buy lots of nice toys, go on fabulous vacations, that kind of stuff. And, every day, several times a day, I visualized what my life would be like after I had achieved my goals.

So, how much impact did those goal-setting and visualization exercises have on my performance?
None – nada – zero – zilch! During the next two years I didn’t come CLOSE to achieving ANY of my goals! In fact, I wasn’t even making enough money to pay my bills. I had to keep tapping credit cards to make ends meet, and I was going further and further into debt.

I finally became so disgusted that I threw away the books and tore up my pages of written goals. I decided that, from that point on, I would focus on my daily activities. In other words, I would work hard to do the right things at the right time, each and every day. If I accomplished that, I figured that I would at least be able to pay my bills and not go any further into debt.

I became a fanatic about prioritizing my activities. I would ask myself at least 20 times a day:

Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing right now to make a sale?

Can I push off what I’m doing right now to before or after selling hours, and use this time to do something that I can’t do before or after hours?”
Do you know what I discovered when I started asking myself those questions? I discovered that I was not prioritizing my daily activities very well. In fact, a lot of the time I was just responding to requests whenever they came up. For a salesperson, that’s suicide. After all, time is the only inventory we have!

Because of my new focus on doing the right activities at the right time, I started asking people when they needed the things they were asking me for, and why they needed them then. Frequently we came to the joint conclusion that the tasks were not as time-sensitive as the original request made them appear to be. I could push off many tasks to late in the day or early in the morning. That gave me more time for prospecting and qualifying opportunities during selling hours (9:00 to 4:00).

Yes, I worked a lot of ten to twelve hour days because of the amount of work that I pushed off to before and after selling hours. But, you know what? It was worth it!

After one year I had increased my income by approximately 45%. I could finally pay all of my bills each month, make more than the minimum payment against my credit cards, and still have some money left over for fun. The second year I DOUBLED the prior year’s income and achieved the six-figure income that I had NEVER approached when it was one of my written goals. I was able to pay off all of my credit cards, make a down payment on a new car, save some money, and begin to enjoy “the good life”.

Conclusion
If setting goals has worked for you, by all means, keep doing it! However, if you have been less successful that you want to be in achieving your goals, try the alternative approach that is described in this article. Focus on your daily activities. Ask yourself 20 times a day, “Am I doing the most important thing that I could be doing right now to make a sale? Can I push off what I am doing right now to before or after selling hours, and use this time to do something that I can’t do before or after hours?”

Be honest with yourself when you answer these questions, and hold yourself accountable. Become a master at prioritization. Switching your mental focus from goals to activities could be your path to success, just like it was for me!
©2005 – Alan Rigg
About the Author
Sales performance expert Alan Rigg is the author of How to Beat the 80/20 Rule in Selling: Why Most Salespeople Don’t Perform and What to Do About It. His company, 80/20 Sales Performance, helps business owners, executives, and managers end the frustration of 80/20 sales team performance, where 20% of salespeople produce 80% of sales. For more information and more FREE sales and sales management tips, visit http://www.8020salesperformance.com.

NOTE: You are welcome to reprint this article as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the “About the Author” information at the end), and you send a copy of your reprint to alanrigg@8020sales.com.

Read more

Sales Process – How to Overcome Sales Objections

30/05/2016

Sales Process – How to Overcome Sales Objections
by Alan Rigg

If you have been in sales for any period of time you have run into sales objections.  Objections are what happen when you ask a prospect for an order and the prospect responds with anything other than “Yes.”

My experience has been that most objections arise because a salesperson hasn’t done a thorough enough job of sales opportunity qualification.

NOTE: For more information on the topic of sales opportunity qualification, read The Secret to Closing More Sales and How to Avoid Wasting Time on Prospects Who Can’t or Won’t Buy.
How do you become expert at sales opportunity qualification?
If you do a great job of answering the following questions and build the answers into your everyday sales approach, you will consistently do a superior job of sales opportunity qualification…and thereby receive fewer objections!

Which business problems do your products and services solve?

Does your prospect have any of these business problems?

What is the impact of these business problems on your prospect, both professionally and personally?

How significant is the impact?

Is the impact significant enough to enable the prospect to justify making an investment to make the impact “go away”?

Can the prospect quantify (i.e., attach dollar figures to) the impact of their business problems?

How does this quantified impact compare to the cost of your products or services?

Does the prospect understand exactly how your products or services will make their business problems “go away”?

What else can you do to overcome objections?

1. BRAINSTORM objections

Sit down with your sales manager and the other members of your sales team and do some brainstorming.  Write down every objection that any of you can remember, then work together to develop an effective response for each objection.

2. DOCUMENT objections and responses

Put the results of your brainstorming session into a document and make it a “living document” (which means the document should receive frequent updates over time).  When any of your company’s salespeople hear an objection that is not listed in the document, add it to the document.  Bring up these new objections in your sales meetings, discuss the best way(s) to respond to the objections, then add the responses to the document as well.

3. PRACTICE responding to rejections

You and your fellow sales team members should hold each other ACCOUNTABLE for learning EVERY objection and how to respond to the objection effectively.  Get in the habit of giving each other “pop quizzes” where you spontaneously suggests objections to each other and practice providing effective responses to the objections.  Over time you will learn how to respond to each objection in a manner that is comfortable and natural for you.  You will also learn where the gaps are in your sales opportunity qualification processes that cause prospects to raise objections in the first place!

4. PROACTIVELY address objections

If one or more objections come up frequently when you and your fellow salespeople work with prospects, figure out how to proactively address these objections during your sales calls.  In other words, you should bring up the objections yourselves and respond to them rather than waiting for your prospects to raise them.
Conclusion
If you learn 1) how to do a great job of sales opportunity qualification, and 2) how to respond to objections effectively, you should dramatically improve your close ratio and your overall sales performance!
©2006 – Alan Rigg
About the Author
Sales performance expert Alan Rigg is the author of How to Beat the 80/20 Rule in Selling: Why Most Salespeople Don’t Perform and What to Do About It. His company, 80/20 Sales Performance, helps business owners, executives, and managers end the frustration of 80/20 sales team performance, where 20% of salespeople produce 80% of sales. For more information and more FREE sales and sales management tips, visit http://www.8020salesperformance.com.

NOTE: You are welcome to reprint this article as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the “About the Author” information at the end), and you send a copy of your reprint to alanrigg@8020sales.com.

Read more

Sales Performance – What’s at the ROOT of Your Sales Performance Problems?

30/05/2016

Sales Performance – What’s at the ROOT of Your Sales Performance Problems?
by Michelle Argyle-Rigg

When I was young, my mother and I would spend our weekends tending our vegetable garden. Taking care of the garden meant ensuring the plants had proper nutrients, plenty of water, and an environment that was free of weeds. My mother explained that weeds steal water and nutrients from desirable plants and keep them from thriving. She also said that if you just remove the visible part of a weed, it may grow back. This taught me the importance of going deep into the ground to destroy the root.

Most weeds were easy to spot and even easier to pull out. However, there were certain types of weeds that were deceptive in appearance and incredibly well-rooted. These weeds disguised themselves as respectable vegetable plants. My untrained eyes could never tell the difference between these weeds and the vegetable plants, yet they never got past my mother. She eventually taught me how to identify them and, more importantly, how to eliminate them for good!

Why an I writing about weeds in an article on sales performance? Because there may be a pesky “weed” or two sabotaging your sales success!

Here are four examples of common sales “weeds”

Not Connecting to Your Client: Do you ever find yourself focusing a sales call on you and your agenda, rather than focusing the call on your client and his or her problems and concerns?

Bad Timing: Have you ever been in a conversation with a prospect or client and the timing of the conversation “just felt off”? This often happens when we try to force the rhythm of a sales cycle. A better strategy is to use questions to help the client set the rhythm of the sales cycle, then respect the rhythm from that point forward.
Bad Fit: Have you ever tried to “force fit” your product or service into a client’s situation? In other (gardening) words, have you ever proposed a green bean when the client really needs a radish? This is often the result of Weed #4, which is…

Not Being Detached: As salespeople we need to be willing to accept that our products and services may NOT be a fit for a particular client’s needs. The more detached we are, the more powerful our sales performances will be.

Here are three steps you can take to help you eliminate your sales “weeds”
Develop a trained eye so you can identify cleverly disguised weeds in your communication and relationship skills.

Learn how to go down deep to permanently remove the behaviors, patterns and beliefs that support your weeds.
EXAMPLE: You are in a meeting with a prospect or customer and something just doesn’t feel right. Stop and take a look at what has transpired so far during the meeting. Pay special attention to the internal dialogue that is going on in your head. Does it include any of the following thoughts?

This should be going faster!

They are talking too much!

I really need them to buy!

If you are thinking these or other negative thoughts, try to identify the belief that is causing you to have that thought. Do you believe that prospects like to waste salespeople’s time? Do you believe that some people are too social and don’t know how to get down to business?

Once you identify the belief that is at the root of the problem, you can choose to reject that belief and adopt a different (more powerful) belief. Unfortunately, you can’t make that choice until you first identify the belief that is holding you back!

Be willing to take action when you see a weed. Identifying a weed doesn’t do you any good unless you pull it out.

It really is that easy!
You can stop creating negative sales outcomes IF you are willing to let go of habits, patterns and beliefs that, like weeds, are choking the wins from your life. Are you ready to get your hands dirty and see your garden flourish? If you are, then start finding your “weeds” and pull them out, roots and all!

©2006 – Michelle Argyle-Rigg

———————————

About the Author
Personal power expert Michelle Argyle is the author of The Strength of Being Out of Your Mind: A Guide to Focused Strength, Clarity, and Purpose in Your Life. Her clients usually see remarkable improvements in income, relationships, communication, focus, and clarity in just four to six weeks. For more information and a FREE “power leak” survey, visit http://www.createpersonalpower.com.

NOTE: You are welcome to reprint this featured article as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the “About the Author” information at the end), and you send a copy of your reprint to michelle@createpersonalpower.com.

Read more

Sales Commission

30/05/2016

Sales Commission

After reading this:

You’ll be able to work out how much commission you’re owed or will be paid for sales you make in your new role

As Most salespeople and business development staff are on some form of commission structure. This means that they are incentivised in that the more products / services they sell, the more money they will make over and above their basic salary.
When you’re leaving your job to go to a new role, you need to assess how much commission you think you’re entitled to but for a number of reasons this may not be as easy as it sounds.

Your Contract of Employment:

Your employment contract may detail your initial commission structure however, the longer you are with the same company and the more successful you are, this structure is likely to change. In this case, you should have been informed of these changes in written form without necessitating a change of contract. Dig these proofs out because you’ll need them!
What type of commission are you on?

Commission can be paid on sales in a number of ways:

1. Simple Commission
The most obvious is to pay commission as a percentage of value of the product or service sold. So for example, if  sales person  sells 10 printers for £150 each and is on a commission of 5%, then he will be entitled to £75.
If you are on a similar “percentage of sale” commission structure then calculating how much you are owed at the end of your employment should be relatively easy.

2. Accumulative Commission.
Slightly more difficult is if you are on an “accumulator” commission package where you are paid say 3% for the first ten products / services sold in a set period and then a higher percentage for the next ten. This is also often used for revenue bands.

3. Pyramid Commission.
Another form of accumulator commission is where for example, the manager of a sales force gets not only their own commission for items sold but also receives a share for the number of items sold by the rest of the team. Also known as “Pyramid commission or override commission “, this is very common in many companies and calculating the amount of commission one has earned can be a minefield so in other words make sure you write it all down,keep a record.

4. Percentage of Profit Commission
This applies if you are on a “percentage of profit” commission structure, especially if profit is related to both the profit on a given sale and the company’s profit overall. For example, an Account Manager within an Internet firm may be paid commission on any profit made from the building of a client web site. In other words, profit made from one individual project. They may also be promised payment on the whole company’s performance over a year. Commission thus becomes more a question of trust using figures that you may not have immediate access to.

Finally:

Whatever the case, when calculating commission, ensure that:

  1. You check your employment contract.
  2. You find and refer to any new commission structures that you’ve been notified of but may not form part of your original contract.
  3. In case of doubt, always speak to your Manager or HR department.
Read more

Winning or Losing

30/05/2016

Are You Winning over the Clients you Want or Losing Out?

Jan Potgieter

How many times in the course of a day have you found yourself negotiating a situation? I would be willing to guess that you encounter both planned and unplanned opportunities for negotiation several times a day, yet more often than not, you may find the act of negotiations difficult. If you push too hard, the deal goes astray and if you’re too soft, you become known as a pushover. The key to sound negotiation is not just having a positive style, but includes proper preparation, framing, recognising the techniques and ploys of others, as well as settling on agreements that stick. It is crucial that you are armed with the appropriate tools, which maximise the return on your relationships with suppliers, customers, shareholders and other important business or personal relationships. Consequently, whether it is for the new contract that is up for bid or the negotiation with a business associate, in all likelihood your attempts to win more may need some reevaluation.

What exactly is “Negotiation?”

According to the dictionary, to “negotiate” means “to confer with another so as to arrive at the settlement of some matter.” Yet, it is a fact that nearly 75% of individuals faced with having to conduct crucial negotiations do not realise success at their negotiation efforts and rarely have a clue as to how to win more during a negotiation. Instead, most negotiators have learned only how to push against others, criticising and attacking rather than identifying one another’s strong points. Typically, criticism, rather than creativity, has become the norm during most negotiating efforts.

Although we, as intelligent individuals, possess countless tools for success, negotiating presents a different type of problem that often leaves us somewhat baffled. Perhaps it’s because we feel vulnerable, afraid of losing out or, worse, having to make what appears to be an unfair concession. Or possibly we have the need to control the situation, which, of course, interferes with our practical powers of reasoning. In any case, whether your negotiations involve a corporate situation, a small business transaction or simply a personal endeavor, conceivably throughout your lifetime you’ll spend endless hours in arbitration, mediation and bargaining.

The Right versus Wrong Syndrome

Allow me to bring this home a little more clearly. Envision yourself presenting a proposal to a potential business associate. You have worked hard on the proposal and proudly present it for review. Upon analysis, ninety percent of the proposal is perfectly acceptable and meets your associate’s needs, but 10% of it falls short. More than likely, your associate will reject the proposal not because it wasn’t a good proposition, but simply because they were blinded by the 10% that is wrong. Instead of coming from a place of agreement, they have based their overall decision on the 10% of the proposal that doesn’t work, leaving you to start from scratch. This is the stage where most of us abort important negotiations.

The problem stems from the fact that we have actually been conditioned into believing that someone’s ideas can be improved by criticism, although experience has taught us that when it comes to negotiating, so much more is achieved when focusing on what’s right rather than on what’s wrong. If we seek to improve upon what we see and hear, rather than diminishing someone’s suggestions or ideas, amazing results occur.

Our conclusions and means of handling negotiations are based upon the conditioning we’ve learned through our educational institutions and from our general upbringing. A sad commentary, that culturally we have become so focused on what’s wrong instead of recognising what’s right, we often miss opportunities. Rather than working together to create a mutually acceptable solution, negotiators merely play the role of judge, deciding who is right and who is wrong. When both negotiators come from the standpoint of being right, they’re unable to hear each other’s opinions. Hence, conflict and frustration is frequently the result, and this can be avoided.

If You Want to Win More!

Are we doomed to remain in the half-empty cup syndrome or is there something that can be done to change and improve upon our conditioned negotiation skills? There are usually numerous obstacles standing in the way of a successful negotiation, but with the proper tools and a little bit of “unlearning,” there are many options available that will allow us to win more. As Albert Einstein observed, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Negotiators who fail to keep pace with today’s ever-changing business landscape are destined to find themselves stuck in old ways. Accordingly, if negotiators remained open to the positive aspects of ideas or suggestions presented by each side, deliberately identifying the positive aspects first, negotiators would find things moving forward rapidly. By way of illustration, when one person at the negotiation table quickly finds a flaw in an idea presented by the other, even if the majority of the transaction is effective, he or she is using negative thinking habits to focus on what’s wrong. To solve the problem we have to begin focusing more on what’s right. The principle that I encourage is a win more/win more parameter, where parties explore and seek to become more together than apart, i.e. win more/win more as opposed to merely win/win.

Effective Negotiation Tools!

We need intelligence and sharp focus when we begin the negotiation process but more importantly we need a good measure of wisdom to widen our perspective. Whether you are currently in the process of negotiating a business deal or contract, or simply trying to develop a new set of tools that can empower your negotiation skills, the following are some tips that will help you start moving in a new direction.

  • When beginning to negotiate, try not to be tempted into attaching absolute value labels to points of view or persons/parties, e.g. good, bad, right, wrong, shrewd, co-operative, etc.
  • Avoid labels and stereotyping and do not prejudge a person or problem before sufficient information is provided.
  • Bring more to the negotiation table by eliminating reactive and proactive thinking instead, become a projective thinker.
  • Spend less time thinking about what worked in the past; historical perspectives may no longer be valid or applicable and often freeze our perceptions.
  • Negotiation is a future oriented skill, therefore, look at negotiations as the art of the possible, not the impossible.
  • Instead of defining or describing the situation, try thinking in terms of what can be done, i.e. “how can we create a situation where people will be happy to buy our products, rather than, “what is causing people to dismiss our web site?”
  • If someone says no to a request you make, do not immediately retreat from the negotiation rather retreat within the negotiation.
  • If, during a negotiation, one party becomes stressed and tense, decrease the rate of your speech, lower the tone of your voice, breathe more deeply and more slowly, and generally convey a relaxed image.

Successful negotiations aren’t about getting your own way or giving in to another. It is useful to remember never to leave “victims” as a result of your negotiation style as they often have a habit of exacting revenge! Successful negotiations are about reaching a positive end where both parties feel satisfied with the negotiation. The most important part of a successful negotiation is that it becomes a win more/win more situation for all involved and, with the right tools, everyone can leave the negotiation table feeling satisfied and compensated fairly. With knowledge, skills and practice, negotiating can become a truly enjoyable and winning experience.

———————

Jan Potgieter is Director of The Negotiation Academy – Europe Limited, a negotiation skills training and consultancy organisation based in London, frequently conducting engagements in the USA and internationally. He is highly skilled in the science of negotiations based on real life practical perspectives as well as a sound academic grounding in the principles of negotiations. Jan successfully helps companies and individuals around the world reach their negotiation objectives through dynamic workshops and seminars. You can learn more about The Negotiation Academy – Europe at www.negotiationeurope.com , contact Jan Potgieter at +44(0)8451 298 554 (UK) and 1 888 299 9733 (USA) or send an e-mail for further details.

The Negotiation Academy (TNA) is a negotiation consulting and negotiation skills solution provider. Committed to delivering best practice based negotiation solutions, TNA collaborates with clients to instil an organisational negotiation capability With deep industry experience, global resources and a proven track record, TNA is ideally positioned to assist clients in achieving optimal results from negotiations across all functional areas: Negotiation Skills Training

Read more

Salary Negotiations

30/05/2016

Salary Negotiations

Calum Coburn

Whether you’ve found that perfect job or are in hot pursuit of it, sooner or later you will be negotiating salary. If you follow our advice, not only will you earn more money, you will win the respect of your new manager.

Power is one of those subjective forces that’s best understood and harnessed to your advantage. Many mistakenly believe that the employer has the power. Their reasons include the fact that the employer is the one paying the salary, the employer has the choice of other candidates, the employer has already decided the salary grades and bands, the manager has seniority or position power etc. Yes these are all sources of power, and yes they all demand adequate respect and research. You only really need pay attention to one source of power. This source of power stands taller than all others stacked up. I’m talking about the power of having another job offer. Just because you have found your ‘perfect job’ doesn’t mean you should stop interviewing. Similar to romantic partners, nothing makes you more attractive to a prospective employer than having offers from the competition. You may even discover that the job you thought was perfect isn’t so perfect after all.

An objection you will probably hear in response to a request for time or other concessions is “We can’t do that, it’s Company Policy.” Of course if you back down and accept this objection at face value you will be dealing your employer all the best cards. I recommend you challenge this objection immediately by asking if your employer is aware of the reason why the company policy was originally made. Often employers don’t really know, and in answering you they need to re-evaluate a possibly outdated in non-applicable policy. Getting more information arms you in knowing how best to get around this stonewall response. Your employer may be worried that making an exception for you could open the floodgates for all other employees to request the same concession. Remember that rules always have exceptions. So help them out by thinking through how your valid reason is special and unique enough not to be used by all their employees.

Trading is equally valid for salary negotiations as with company negotiations. An example can be “If I forego my current holiday leave to start early for you, then I would like the company car.” Make sure your concessions are not given away freely. Use If-Then statements. After ranking each of your interests, predict which interests make good trades – yet remain flexible.

Nowadays most positions carry an associated salary range or ‘band’ for their grade. This makes salary negotiation more challenging and demands more from creativity in creating an ideal package. In negotiation – information is power. So find out the salary range before interviewing. If you are already working for your employer and going for a promotion, your task is simple. If you know someone already working for this prospective employer – ask them. Alternatively you could ask personnel. I recommend you not ask your prospective manager, as this could open the door to premature discussions around your salary expectations.

Grade has become increasingly important given the narrow salary ranges grades dictate. As a client related to us, he was so glad to accept the title “Financial Director” that he only later discovered that most other company directors were a grade higher and were paid handsomely more. So do ask about the differences between the position you are being offered and the next 2 grades above. It may be that there are 2 grades between you and your manager. At worst, if you are not awarded a higher grade, you will at least have shown ambition and foresight. Your interview is an important time to gain insight and agreement on performance measures that spell the difference between grade promotion.

Performance bonuses are no longer the domain of sales professionals. Bonuses can be thought of as part of your salary offering. Of course since bonuses are paid only if you exceed a target, you would do well to discover just how stretching the target is. So ask about how often this quarterly or annual bonus has been paid. Often performance targets are only paid if a target is met or exceeded. The risk to the company is of managers either easing their foot off of the accelerator after target is achieved, or of deferring invoices into future periods. As an ambitious manager or executive, you have an opportunity to propose your being paid a higher bonus for every pound or dollar above target.

Time is arguably your most precious of your tradable commodities. So before you promise away valuable time to your employer, you owe it to yourself to do your arithmatic. One useful calculation to perform is that of dividing your salary by your hours to get your effective hourly rate. So a position paying 70’000 with 60 hours per week pays less per hour than 60’000 with only 46 hours per week (22.4 versus 25 per hour). Yet which figure would grab your eyes first in an advertisement? So rather than negotiate salary up, you may find it easier to negotiate your time down. If you are confident of meeting the goals, ask for more vacation or to work 4-day weeks.

External principles and measures are your best source of objectivity and fairness in assessing your salary offering. If you object to a proposal as being too low, no doubt they will ask you why you feel this way, and why your counter proposal is any better than their offer. Since we are persuaded by reason, and moved by emotion – research your reasoning with care. Some common comparisons to draw include: what their competition pays similar grade professionals, pegging salary increases to inflation or government salary rate increases, case studies of where a new practice that breaks the ‘company policy’ has worked well for another company.

When should you mention salary? It’s true that “Until you have created value, any price is too high.” So mention salary only after you’ve convinced your employer of your future value to them – so towards the end of your negotiation. This presumes you have worked together with your prospective employer in calculating how much more profit they will be earning through employing you, and how much less risk they will be facing. Be careful not to leave salary for very last. Why? If you have nothing left to trade and want 70’000, whilst they are offering 60’000 – you will most likely settle somewhere near 65’000 (and the battle of wills probably won’t be an enjoyable way to start your business relationship) . To strengthen your trading position, find out what they are most interested in, and keep this in your back pocket for when salary comes up. This way you will be able to trade something of great value to them (which may be of little or no cost to you, e.g. an early starting date) for a higher salary. It is not important who mentions salary first.

‘Salary Expectations’ boxes from agencies or employers – should you fill them in? NO! As without your knowing the hours, bonus package and benefits, office size etc this figure is meaningless. Routinely this figure will be used as a price ceiling against which to bump your head in later salary negotiations. So always leave the box blank.

Leveraging benefits is a concept every professional negotiator understands and uses. Put simply, you want to ask your employer to make concessions that cost them very little – while in return make concessions that are of great value to them. How do you do this? You start by stepping into their shoes and asking which interests they value the least and which the most. So rather than bump up your salary, an employer may find it comparatively easy to pay for: your insurances (health, life or redundancy), a laptop computer, home broadband or extra telephone line, car allowances, subscriptions, training and development, relocation, better/ larger office space, title, flexi-time. These benefits either cost your employer nothing or are tax deductible.

Stepping into the shoes of your manager is almost always an illuminating and vital experience. To make sure you are really in their shoes, ask a friend to be you, whilst you play at being your ‘manager to be’. The more real you make the experience of being someone else, the higher your chances of mind-opening discoveries.

So what can you discover whilst in their world?

This all depends on the quality of your questions, here are some to start with whilst in their shoes:

  • What challenges & ambitions does hiring this candidate promise to solve?
  • What interests underlie these?
  • Can you rank these interests in order of importance?
  • What concerns and reservations do you harbour?
  • What past achievments should I be most interested in learning more about?

The employer’s cost of hiring is one terrain few candidates pay enough attention to. If they choose to hire another candidate to save a few thousand in salary, what might be the cost if this person proves to be a poor performer? Agency charges are commonly large. Most candidates take at least 6 months to have a positive ROI (return on investment) – whilst they are being trained and get into the role and used to the company. If they are being managed out or under performance review, this can take some time and consume considerable organisational resources. Then of course they would need to scout for a replacement. I’ve yet to meet an executive who relishes injecting valuable company time scanning résumés and interviewing all over again. Of course they would rather not be stealing time from profitable company projects. So don’t dismiss whatever advantages you have over the next candidate – your skills will have a tangible payoff to your employer.

How honest should you be with your prospective new manager? Prior to the 1990’s, many negotiation texts focussed on ethically questionable tactics to gain the advantage. We don’t advocate the use of dishonest tactics, and teach delegates how to counter these tactics when presented with them. Since a good long-term relationship between you, them, and the company is essential, we would suggest you be as honest as is customary. A quick generalised cultural contrast will illustrate: A résumé in Holland will likely be an accurate objective description of the experience gained. Whilst a résumé in Britain by contrast is more likely to be slightly ’embellished’. So a Dutch person wishing to enter the British job market may find themselves at a disadvantage if they were not to alter their résumé.

“How much are you earning in your current position?” A dangerous question usually aimed at using this figure to cap your current salary ambitions. In the words of Edward E Cummings “Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question”. So ask to learn more about the position before you get into detailed salary discussions. If asked a second time, have ready your research into the salary of the offered position and similar positions. If your current position either doesn’t provide a meaningful comparison or is comparatively low, then briefly spell out the reasons why this figure should not guide current discussions. Think about the message this question conveys – that your new manager trusts someone else’s historic judgement more than their own judgement. So make sure your new manager has all the information they need to make up their own minds by accurately assessing and valuing your future contribution.

“What are your salary expectations?” In reply, ask what the normal salary range for this position is (assuming you haven’t already uncovered this information). If asked again, distinguish yourself from the thundering masses by stating “I am much more interested in doing (type of work) for (organisation’s name) than I am in the size of the initial offer.” If asked yet again, a great final response is “I will consider any reasonable offer.”

Your story telling skills are vital at interviews. Invest time in remembering and rehearsing the stories of how you saved your previous employer “X” and completed project “Y” on time. The simple fact is that words on a résumé are not read, most are skimmed or glossed over. So you can’t afford to leave any of your relevant achievements to chance. Stories will also stick in your interviewers mind, helping you stand out from the pack when they come to remembering which candidate they want to invite back. It is largely through succinct storytelling that you give yourself a platform to start creating value in the eyes and ears of your employer.

Some people are great at negotiating for others, yet pushovers when negotiating for themselves. Your interviewer is likely to be acting as an agent for the organisations’ interests. Conversely you will likely be acting on your own interests as principal. So how can you fight harder for your own corner? If you do fight harder for others, then think of the benefits your family or those closest to you will gain through your getting a better deal. Since to most people money is meaningless on its own, think of all the things you would like to enjoy from your salary, then imagine life without these things and experiences (if you don’t negotiate well). The reason I add this last step of ‘life without’ is simply that I’ve found most business people are more likely to take action to prevent loss, rather than to achieve something new.

Silence should be your close friend. So avoid lowering your offer to break the silence. Either wait out the silence or ask if you can help with their thinking. So remember to be silent whilst you think through your options.

Various psychology studies suggest that our first few moments of meeting someone new are the most important. This is because we form an opinion and decide whether we like or dislike someone in this small passage of time. Some studies suggest that as much as 90% of our impression is formed at this stage. So our ‘chemistry’ with others is made or lost in roughly the first 60 to 90 seconds. Some reports even suggest this happens in our first 4 seconds! Considering you won’t have exchanged very many words at this time, and most certainly nothing of real meaning, that only leaves what isn’t said. So consider carefully your clothes and how you hold yourself, how friendly you come across, your vocal qualities, and of course your attentiveness and rapport skills. A large unspoken question you will be answering every moment of the interview is “Does this person fit in with the team and organisational culture?” Whilst you should be yourself at interviews, be yourself at your best!

Finally, be careful not to negotiate yourself into a job you don’t really want. Salary negotiation is only one of many significant facets of a job interview. So prepare and ask all the important questions necessary for you to assess whether the job, team, boss and organisation are worthy of you.
You are permitted to re-published this article provided the below resource information is included at the end of the article and you provide a link back to this site.
The Negotiation Academy (TNA) is a negotiation consulting and negotiation skills solution provider. Committed to delivering best practice based negotiation solutions, TNA collaborates with clients to instil an organisational negotiation capability With deep industry experience, global resources and a proven track record, TNA is ideally positioned to assist clients in achieving optimal results from negotiations across all functional areas:
Negotiation Skills Training

Read more

CRM Tools

30/05/2016

CRM Tools – An independent view

If you work in sales the chances are you will be using or will come across CRM Systems, where you can turn interactions with customers into potential sales with customer relationship management software. CRM software, however, can be fairly complicated to implement, and some businesses don’t need it.

If you’ve ever wondered why it takes so long to fix a problem with over the phone regarding services or products, you’ve experienced poor customer service firsthand. Usually this is because one department doesn’t have key information that another department already has.

So how can you avoid this type of problem and improve customer service in your business? And how can you turn interactions with customers into potential sales? One option is customer relationship management (CRM) software. CRM software, however, can be fairly complicated to implement… Here’s how to decide whether CRM software is right for your business.

What does it do?

A CRM system helps you manage customer relationships, close sales, improve your customer support, and consolidate important information that employees need to do their jobs, all in one place. It does this by recording transactions for each customer and sending alerts to employees for different tasks, such as when to call back the customer or when a contract will expire. You can also use it to filter data according to customer preferences (such as customers who like to buy hats and gloves). This can help you develop sales promotions.

Use it to improve your service

You can filter data with a CRM system to show you patterns from service calls and figure out, say, that a certain product has been responsible for a lot of your company’s time. You might also find data that help you streamline your operation. Let’s say you’re a small electronics store, and you discover that a large number of customers don’t know where the on switch is in a popular device. You can include instructions to be included in the packaging and make that the first question your support people ask when called.

Look at your business needs, not your business size

CRM makes the most sense when you have a high volume of repeat customers, especially if they’re handled by a relatively small staff. An artist who repeatedly sells reproductions of his works to a client list of 10,000, a 12-person travel agency with 500,000 customers, and a small to midsize insurance or manufacturing business are all examples of companies that could benefit from CRM.

On the other hand, if you mainly look for new clients and keep in touch with just a small number of current customers, you can get by with simple contact management software. One key question to ask is whether your company tracks customers for support issues as well as sales leads. If so, CRM software can probably help.

Go with an entry-level CRM application (or even a point-of-sale system) if your needs are modest

Full-scale CRM is not a solution for every business. There is no sense in spending money on extra software and maintenance if you don’t track customer support issues and don’t need to integrate the system with an elaborate, pre-existing computer network.

Consider hosted CRM if you don’t have the IT resources available

Implementing full-scale CRM requires additional computers, software, and (most likely) at least a few IT employees to maintain the system. If that’s too much firepower for your business, try a hosted CRM system instead.

A hosted (or on-demand) CRM solution such as Salesforce.com (prices start at ?15/user/month) or SageCRM.com (?35/user/month) lets the CRM vendor (instead of your company) store all of the data on its servers. Your employees can then use the different modules, such as managing contracts, marketing automation, and document management, from a Web-based interface without IT having to maintain the system. If you go this route, look for a smooth migration policy to an in-house product as your needs grow.

Some of the most popular CRM Tools currently available

Read more

A Career in Sales

30/05/2016

Sales Advice

A career in Sales

For people who enjoy negotiating, planning, customer communications and clinching deals with people, a Sales career offers an excellent career path with great prospects for career development and responsibilities within the early years.

It has long been held that the best route into sales is with a larger company where plenty is invested in the recruitment, training and development of its personnel. Typically such companies have well-known brands and the employees of these businesses are deemed to have been classically trained. Some Sales roles are field based where many individual accounts are managed; other roles are head office based from where major accounts, such a national retail chains, are managed. Career success in the sales sector is ultimately down to the individual and their ability to take initiatives and achieve results.

A typical career path in Sales

Territory Telesales/Field Sales Executive – ?16,000 to ?22,000
this role is usually the first rung on the ladder to a career in Sales. Much time will be spent on the telephone and road visiting significant numbers of customers and putting all training into practice on the job. Typically there will be ongoing training throughout the first year and Sales employees can expect to meet up with regional colleagues on a regular basis.

Key Account Manager – ?24,000 to ?30,000
A Key Account Managers role is frequently split between?field work in a region and working in head office. Higher value accounts are often the focus, or companies with several outlets or branches. This position is often a first step into man-management. Training can be frequent in a Sales career as companies focus not only on personal development but also on educating their teams about new products and up and coming promotional activities.

National Account Manager – ?34,000 to ?44,000
this role carries a high level of responsibility and requires an in-depth knowledge of the company’s products and where they are positioned within the marketplace. A full appreciation of marketing promotions, product data and category management is essential.

Sales Director – ?60,000 +++
A Sales Director will be responsible for the entire sales performance of a company, or of major brands within a large organisation. Few people progress to director level before the age of 35.

The Typical job responsibilities of mid to senior level National Accounts Management

Day to day

  • Meeting customers and selling
  • Recruiting new staff
  • Motivating, training and monitoring.
  • Man-management

Longer term

  • Setting targets and budgets
  • Major client entertaining
  • Developing sales and marketing strategies
  • Board liaison
  • Setting trading terms

Want a career in sales?.Do`s and Don’ts

Do close the sale, both in your cover letter and your interview for a sales position. Employers hiring sales people want candidates who know how to close a sale. Thus, make sure that your “close the sale” in your cover letter by getting the interview

Don’t forget your transferable skills. If you have no direct experience in sales, think about all the sales-related things you’ve done that you can describe in an interview as transferable and applicable to sales. Have you done fund-raising? Given presentations? Solicited local businesses to participate in events? Demonstrated great people skills? Persuaded or convinced people to do things your way? Memorized food and drink orders as a waiter/waitress? These are just a few of the activities and traits that relate to sales. Coaching, teaching, playing on a sports team, and participating in university activities all provide appropriate transferable skills for sales

Do seek out employers who will invest in a solid and structured Sales training program, and support your professional growth, especially if you are new in sales.

Don’t pass up opportunities to learn more about sales and network with those who can help advance your career, such as through job-shadowing, and informational interviewing.

Don’t let rejection get to you. To be successful in sales, you can’t take rejection personally. You also need to be able to explain in a sales job interview how you will overcome the customer objections that can lead to rejection.

Do be persistent. If you have less sales experience than an employer seeks, you may be able to make up for it by being persistent. Persistence, after all, is one of the marks of a good salesperson.

Do seek out products and services to sell that you are already passionate about. Your enthusiasm in an interview will be much more convincing if you already believe in the employer’s offerings.

Don’t be negative. A positive, upbeat attitude is a must in sales. If you have difficulty breaking in right away, don’t start getting the blues. Keep your chin up and continue to show employers what an energetic, likable, confident person you are.

Do consider, if you’re a student, making your target company a project. Writing for Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, Aissatou Sidime reported on Lanita Wiltshire, who pursued an MBA before hitting the job market but “focused all her individual class projects on then-emerging Merck Pharmaceuticals. She trotted out her presentations during an interview for an internship with Merck and landed the job.”

Do maintain a professional appearance. Many companies recruit sales people at career fairs, because they want to see your appearance, what kind of a first impression you make, and how you handle yourself before they even consider your qualifications.

Networking ?Successful sales representatives are individuals who take an aggressive approach to expanding their client base and sales.” Your personal/professional network is no different, and your ability to network will demonstrate your skills in relationship-building.

Learn more from an older, more experienced sales person who can show you the ropes.

Don’t abuse the perks of a sales career, such as your company car and expense account.

Do be prepared to work long hours, often by yourself or on the road.

Don’t forget the first rule of sales and marketing: The customer always comes first.

Read more

Age Discrimination and Recruiters

30/05/2016

Age discrimination and recruiters

Since 1 October 2006, age discrimination has been unlawful in the UK.? This has been heralded as the biggest shake-up of employment law since the 1970’s, when sex and race discrimination became unlawful.? Workers of all ages are now protected from discrimination at all stages of the employment relationship, starting with recruitment, and there are some particular areas which recruiters need to look out for.

Policy and language

Recruitment and application policies and procedures must comply with the new age discrimination legislation.? In particular, the following areas should be examined: job advertisements, job descriptions, person specifications, interview questions, company publicity and recruitment materials.

Avoid Comment
Requests for age or date of birth (which should be removed from application forms). Instead details of age should be included in diversity monitoring forms to be retained by the employer’s HR department.
References to age or a certain number of years of experience in job descriptions or candidate specifications. Instead concentrate on the quality and relevance of experience, or else be in a position to justify the requirement.
Words such as “young”, “dynamic”, “senior”, “reliable”, “ambitious”, “mature” and “energetic” or “needed to join a lively team”. All of these words could be seen to have age related connotations.
The term “graduate” as it is associated with someone in their early 20s. Instead advertisements should make it clear that it is qualifications that are relevant, and not age.
Phrases such as “only people with GCSEs need apply”. This discriminates against many older people who left school before GCSEs were introduced.? The qualifications requested in job adverts must not disadvantage any particular age group.?
Therefore, alternative ways of asking for the required experience should be considered.? For example, ask instead for GCSEs or equivalent experience.
Age-specific images. Ensure that any images used do not communicate an age discriminatory message.

Interviewing

Recruiters need to make sure that they are not discriminating on the grounds of age during the interviewing process.? To reduce the likelihood of this, if possible appoint a mixed-age interview panel and include an objective double-checking process in the selection decision.? Recruiters should ask candidates only job-related questions and use a selection criteria to mark candidates against.? This serves to not only provide a record of the fairness of the process but also helps with the decision-making.?

Employment agencies

There are specific provisions for employment agencies.? It is unlawful for an employment agency to discriminate against a candidate on the grounds of age when providing its services or its terms of business.? For example, an agency could not refuse to add someone to their database of candidates because the candidate was 60 years old and they felt that their clients would only be interested in younger candidates.?

Agencies will also be held liable if they follow the discriminatory instructions of a client.? For example, if a marketing company instructs an agency to find them a young marketing assistant who might suit their “young and trendy” image, and the consultant recruits on this basis, this would be discriminatory.?
The agency will not be liable for recruiting in an age discriminatory manner if they can show either:

  • That there was a genuine occupational requirement; or
  • That their client had made an incorrect statement that there was a genuine occupational requirement, and that it was reasonable for the agency to rely on this statement.?

Therefore if a client seeks to impose a genuine occupational requirement on any recruitment process, it would be prudent for the agency to obtain written confirmation of the details from the client.

Employment advertising agencies

As yet it is not entirely clear whether employment advertising agencies will be liable for discriminatory recruitment adverts.? However it is worth bearing in mind that advertisers may be liable as an agent of their client.? Therefore advertising agencies should discuss any concerns they have about potentially age discriminatory wording or images with their clients.

The law

The law prohibits direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the ground of age.

Direct discrimination will occur if someone treats a candidate less favourably, on the grounds of their age, than they treat or would treat other candidates in an equivalent situation.? For example, an advertisement stating that only candidates under the age of forty should apply for a job is directly discriminatory.? Indirect discrimination will occur when a provision, criterion or practice which is applied to all candidates causes a particular disadvantage to candidates within a certain age group.? Requiring GCSEs (as opposed to requiring GCSEs or equivalent experience) is indirectly discriminatory, as described in the table above.?

It will be lawful to directly and indirectly discriminate on grounds of age, if the discrimination can be objectively justified and shown that it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.? If the legitimate aim can be achieved by a less discriminatory means then this must take priority.?

In some circumstances, if it is a genuine occupational requirement that the candidate must be of a particular age, it will be lawful to discriminate on grounds of age.? It is necessary to consider the context and nature of the work before deciding whether this exception can apply.? For example, the role of a young character in a film may have to be played by a young actor, or a bar tender serving alcohol will have to be a minimum of 18 years old.?

Penalties

An agency which commits an offence under the new age discrimination legislation could be liable to pay potentially unlimited compensation to the candidate discriminated against.? The tribunal also has the power to make a declaration relating to the rights of the candidate and confirming that discrimination has taken place.? In addition, a recommendation that the agency take action to remove the discriminatory practice may be made.

Conclusion

To avoid falling foul of the new legislation always make sure that your client’s instructions are non-discriminatory and that your policies and procedures are objective and clear.? In addition, it is a good idea to keep appropriate records so that if your policies and procedures are questioned you can show that they were fair and not age related?

Read more

CV Tips

30/05/2016

CV Tips for Candidates

Curriculum Vitae from the Latin, the way your life has run’ or meaning life story’

The purpose of a CV is to get you an interview and a meeting with the firm you want to work for a CV alone will not get you a job.

Your CV should reflect how your career to date and your education are suitable for the role you’re applying to. It’s your selling tool essentially it’s how you advertise yourself to a potential employer. So your CV has to be as good as you can make it.

 

General Advice
There is no exact format for a CV
Try to keep your CV concise ideally two to four pages long depending on how much experience you have
Have a well laid out CV that is easy to read
It should be written in the first person i.e. I did this, I was responsible for that
The appearance of your CV is a good indication to a potential employer of the type of person you are

  • Bullet points work well as long as they are informative

Spell check your CV there is nothing worse than a CV with glaring spelling mistakes
Ask a friend to read your CV to make sure it makes sense
Stick to one font type (preferably Arial or Times New Roman) avoid excessive use of italics, underlining and large, flowery fonts styles, lots of different colours
Make sure the tense of your CV is correct present tense for your current job and past tense for previous roles
Don’t include salary details on the your CV
Aim to use short sentences, as these are easier to read
Be honest especially about academic qualifications as employers (especially within financial services) often ask to see proof of grades.
Be positive remember your CV is your selling tool

Suggested CV Structure
Name/Contact Details this will most likely include your home address, email address and mobile number.
Personal Details – include your date of birth, nationality and marital status.
Profile Paragraph this should be an introductory paragraph about you highlighting your USP (unique selling points) and what kind of role you are interested in. It should be punchy and precise and written in full sentences (rather than bullet points).
Technical / Business Skills include a fairly comprehensive list of the technologies you are familiar with (probably broken down into: development languages, relational databases, operating systems, methodologies and other). Business skills should include a list of the products you have worked with and could happily discuss at interview

Work Experience / Career History
List this in reverse chronological order (i.e. most recent first). Include full dates (i.e. January 2001 to March 2013′ rather than 2001 to 2004′), job title / position and company name. Include an overview of your job and try to incorporate your responsibilities and achievements. If some of the companies you have worked for are not well known, it is worth including a brief description of their business.

Academic / Professional Qualifications
This should include A-Levels (and equivalent) with grades and details of any higher education including the institutions you studied at. For example, you can include details of your final year project / dissertation or thesis. Also include details of any relevant professional training you have undertaken

Additional Skills
Additional industry knowledge, commercial skills, managerial experience, analytical skills or any foreign languages you speak (and to what level)
Personal Interests – keep this limited (and don’t write anything that may be construed as too wacky or too dull). Also consider what it says about you? E.g. are you a team player or an individual? If you have been involved in any type of volunteer work, do give details

Referees
Listing referees on a CV is optional but recommended. List two but make sure the referees are willing to give you a reference. Alternatively you could write Details of referees are available should an offer of employment be made?
There are two main types of CV:

Chronological
The most common format. Information is included under general headings such as education, work experience, hobbies etc. Your work experience should be listed in reverse chronological order. Make sure there are no gaps in the dates and account fully for any time when you were not working. This CV should be able to highlight your career growth from job to job.

Functional / Skills Based
This lists relevant skills, achievements and responsibilities by topic (rather than in a date order). It can be used when needing to hide gaps in a CV but is not always preferred by recruiters.
Why CV’s can get rejected:
For being too long.
Too much information.
Not enough information.
Unnecessary and irrelevant information.
Grammar and spelling errors.
Badly laid out with lots of different font types.

Read more

Interview Tips

30/05/2016

Interview Tips – How to succeed at an interview.

Fail to prepare; prepare to fail. Remember that f irst impressions count.

Beforehand.

  • Research the firm ? look at the company’s web site, check up-to-date company literature, read the press and talk to people you know who work or who have worked there
  • Know your CV inside out ? the interviewer will expect you to be able to answer questions about anything (and potentially everything) that is written on your CV.
  • Check out the interview process; how many stages will there be, is there going to be a written technical test, who will you be meeting (get their full name and job title)
  • Review the job description ? think of how your experience would benefit the company
  • Remember the interview is a two-way process ? it offers you the opportunity to get all the information you need on the company / team in order to be able to decide if you want the role.

On the day.

  • Make sure you know the location of the interview (e.g. if the employer has more than one office in London)
  • If you’re going to be late, let the company know
  • It’s a good idea to arrive 10 minutes early for the interview to give yourself time to gather your thoughts and to be calm before meeting the interviewer.

Some top tips.

  • Smile and maintain good eye contact throughout
  • Dress conservatively / appropriately for the interview
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask
  • Answer questions with more than just a “yes” or “no” – always try to back up answers with examples which illustrate your skills and how you could contribute to the company
  • Let the interviewer bring up the subject of salary
  • Don’t criticise your current/previous employer

Body Language.

  • The way in which you present yourself will tell the interviewer much more about you than your CV ever could so be aware of any bad habits you are prone to such as fidgeting or gesticulating
  • Keep your handshake firm, but not too forceful
  • Aim to maintain good posture throughout the meeting ? try not to slouch
  • Listen – acknowledge the interviewer’s comments with nods and if you are being interviewed by more than one person, engage the whole panel when answering their questions
  • Maintain good eye contact throughout the interview

Controlling Jitters Before Your Interview.

The prospect of sitting alone in a room with a stranger and talking about yourself can be terrifying. You certainly don’t want the stress to overwhelm you. If an interviewer’s strongest impression of you at the end of the interview is the sweat on your brow, quiver in your voice, and the twitches in your limbs, you’re in trouble. Here’s how to put things in perspective.

Remember:

  • Someone at the organisation likes you and thinks you have a chance to contribute. You’ve haven’t been called in to be tortured – you have a real shot at getting hired.
  • If this interview doesn’t work out, you will have another one. There are a lot of jobs out there.
  • Every interviewing experience you have will prepare you to do better in the next one.
  • The person sitting across from you was once sitting on the hot seat just like you, and they survived and got the job even though their voice trembled a bit and their knees knocked a little. Everyone’s been through the situation and knows what it’s like.
  • Just like everyone else, this person interviewing you has friends and casual acquaintances with whom they hang out. They aren’t always so formal. Try to connect with your interviewer on a human level, without being too goofy and informal.

Dealing with anxiety.

It would be a shame to let something as insignificant and short-lived as an attack of nerves conceal your winning attributes. Here are some tips to prevent nervous tics and other imperfections from interfering with your best interview ever.

If you’re concerned with a piece of clothing in your interview ensemble, change it. In addition to favourably impressing your interviewer, your clothes should do nothing but support and feed the confidence and comfort of the intelligent, sensitive creature wearing them.

During the interview you’ll want to look neat, clean, and well composed. You should always wear a suit. Even if the workplace where you’re applying is business casual (or has no dress code whatsoever.) Even if the interviewer tells you that you don’t need to wear a suit. It’s always better to overdress than under-dress. Stick to conservative navy, grey or black, wear tights and closed-toe shoes.

If a deficiency on your CV worries you, don’t obsess on it and let it sink your spirits. Think about this deficiency and how you will explain it before you go in for the interview. It’s there, so deal with it and move on. Remember, they’ve agreed to interview despite this flaw, so it can’t be a show stopper. If there is any way of putting a positive spin on it without making it a feature of the interview, plan a short but sweet response.

On the day of the interview, breathing exercises can help you relax and focus your energy. Closing your eyes, imagine a peaceful place. Or, visualise yourself acing the interview. Here’s another one: place your tongue at the roof of your mouth just behind the teeth and then breath quickly and forcefully through your nose for as long as you can. If you push yourself at this, when you then inhale deeply through your mouth again, you should feel energised.

Commonly Asked Interview Questions.

This is a range of questions that are frequently asked at interview:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How would you colleagues / manager / team describe you?
  • Describe your management style.
  • How do you handle working under pressure?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why are you interested in a career in this industry?
  • What are you looking for in a company?
  • Why are you looking for a new job?
  • What do you dislike about your present job?
  • What do you look for in a job? What do you want from your next role?
  • Where would you like to be in two to five years?
  • What are your key strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are you really good at?
  • What can you offer our company / would you do for us?
  • Why should we hire you? or Why should I give this job to you?
  • What is your greatest achievement to date? What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
  • What are the biggest decisions you have made in the last year?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or in a group? Why?
  • What is your ideal working environment?
  • What kind of people do you like working with?
  • Are you a self-starter? (Back up an answer with examples)
  • What are you interests outside of work?
  • What do you do in your spare time?

Questions to ask the interviewer:

  • How has the position become vacant?
  • Where does the role sit within the team / department / organisation?
  • How will my performance be assessed?
  • What are the longer-term opportunities involved in this role?
  • What are the key challenges involved in this role?
  • Describe the company / team culture
  • Tell me about the company’s training programme / employee career development programme
  • What could I expect from the first 6 to 12 months in the role?
  • What skills and attributes are most needed to progress within the team / company?

Interview Question Corner – How You Think.

Your interviewer will want to measure how well you think on your feet, on your seat – how you think, period. How does that brain of yours channel and process information – rationally, creatively, periodically? Companies prize the ability to think analytically. Many of the most successful people in business attribute their success to the fact that they surrounded themselves early on with intelligent people.

A number of questions in the interview will give you an opportunity to demonstrate how your mind gathers, sorts, files and discards information. Sometimes the best thing to do when faced with a difficult question is to take a deep breath or to ask for a minute to consider it, instead of launching into a hurried, muddled answer. The interviewer will respect your decision to think your answer over carefully.

In addition to being a necessary attribute on the job, possession of a rational thought process can be a tremendous asset in terms of getting a job. If you can offer an impeccably reasoned, airtight case for why you should get the job, the interviewer, having difficulty refuting it, may simply surrender and hire you.

  • Describe the most creative things you’ve done in past jobs. In your personal life.
  • If you were hiring someone, what attributes would you define as being the most desirable and why?
  • What criteria did you use to determine your career path?
  • If we could form a perfect job for you within this organisation, what would be some of the primary characteristics of this job?
  • What are the criteria you would use to determine success? How should a company determine success?
  • Describe your most rigorous intellectual challenge to date.

Points to consider – what interviewers are looking for at interview.

  • Your academic and personal achievements as well as distinctions / success at work
  • Your business training, aptitudes, positions of responsibility
  • Your career motivations and ambition
  • Quickness of mind, initiative, judgement and flexibility
  • Your general appearance and suitability of dress, speech and self confidence
  • Your work ethic ? are you receptive, persistent and adaptable to change?
  • How you project yourself in terms of assurance, communication style, manners, leadership qualities

In addition:

  • They will want to know if you can do the job
  • They want to know if you WILL do the job ? i.e. are you motivated?
  • They will want to see if you fit in with the organisation’s culture

What’s your greatest weakness? Answering The Weaknesses Question.

This query has been an enduring weapon in the hiring manager’s arsenal, but most people still have trouble with the dilemma it poses: answer too frankly, and you’ll torpedo your prospects. Give a canned answer and you’ll seem fake, or worse, evasive (“My greatest weakness is that I’m a perfectionist and work too hard.”). In search of a better way, Vault asked several HR managers and career experts for answers to this interview toughie.

“It’s a tricky question,” admits Andrea Kay, a syndicated career advice columnist and author of Interview Strategies That Will Get You the Job You Want. “I would suggest, number one, that you be ready for it, anticipate it, because it is still a question that gets asked over and over again.”

Some HR managers suggested the old approach of naming a fault that’s not really a fault. “I am impatient, and I like to get things done and done quickly and get frustrated when politics and red tape slow down projects,” was how a recruiting and staffing manager for a trucking company answered.

A related strategy: name a “weakness,” but link it to more egregious faults demonstrated by others. “When I was asked that question, I responded that ‘My weakness was getting frustrated when “leadership” fails to make decisions or lead,'” said the director of human resources at a manufacturing company. “I’ve also answered the question with ‘I get impatient when organisations or groups say they want something, don’t take the initiative, or make the decision to make it happen, pass it off to someone else, and then criticise how it’s done.'”

Jerry Houser, the director of the Career Development Centre of Technology, says students should consider a skill, mention the down side of this skill, describe how they keep that weakness in line, and then give an example.

“This can be done with each skill anyone has,” Houser said. “A weakness is just the flip side of a strength taken too far. Great customer service may mean being too talkative. Ability to concentrate for long periods may result in seeming unfriendly. Being realistic can become uncreative. Juggling many projects may mean lost details or follow-up. Strengths and weakness are situational. You have to know how to read your environment and use or moderate your skills in context.”

Of course, you can always chose not to answer the question at all or ask the interviewer to rephrase the question, in hopes of drawing out the real concerns about your qualifications and temperament. “I always tell clients, if they’re comfortable enough in their own skin while they’re being interviewed, to respond with either of these,” said Ruth Luban, a careers advisor and author of Are You a Corporate Refugee? “‘My CV, and our discussion thus far, are about my strengths and what I can bring to this position. I’d prefer to focus on what you’re looking for, rather than respond to a negative question,’ or ‘What would my weakness have to do with this job?'”

But be warned: each of these strategies can have drawbacks. The first can seem too pat. The second might be seen as condescending. The third might be regarded as evasive, even dishonest.

If you’re not comfortable with any of these strategies, try mentioning real weaknesses, but only those that have nothing to do with the job they’re applying for. “I would say, if they asked me what my weakness was, that I’m not good at math, because I’m not, and it has nothing to do with anything I will ever do,” Kay said.

Or name a real weakness, but one you’re taking steps to improve. “Pick something you’ve decided you need to get better at, like, ‘I need to know more languages. All I speak English, so I’m going to make it goal to learn Spanish and French,'” Kay said. “It’s saying I’m really aware of what it is that I need to be doing, and I take action on it.”

Again, try to name only weaknesses that have little to do with your prospective job. “Not everybody’s great at everything,” Kay said. “But you don’t want to say “I don’t get along well with people. You don’t want to open up a can of worms, or go down a path that gets you in trouble. Don’t talk about people issues.”

So why do HR people continue to ask this question, with all its attendant perils? Is it fair?

“Absolutely!” said the HR director. “It’s thought-provoking and if posed correctly is one of those questions that can open the door for further discussion.” He adds, “It’s especially useful for further probing of a very strong, decisive, dominant type personality, then I use it to see if they are as in tune with their weaknesses as they are with their strengths.”

But other HR people had differing opinions.

“The only thing it could possibly measure in a positive light is the candidate’s diplomacy quotient,” says one HR staffer. “I stopped asking the question long ago.”

After the interview.

If you have arranged the interview through a recruitment consultant, call them immediately after the meeting with your feedback. They will want to talk to you before the interviewer calls them. If you are interested in progressing, it will assist if your feelings towards the role are known together with what you think the interviewer’s perception of you might be.

If you are not successful at interview, make sure you get feedback from the recruitment consultancy as this will enable you to amend your interview style / responses for the next interview.

Following Up After the Interview.

When you leave an interview, you should leave the building as gracefully as you entered it. Make sure you’re as cordial to people on the way out as you were coming in. Then, as you decompress, take some time to review the interview while it’s still fresh in your mind. Because interviewing is a beneficial skill, use the experience to help you in the future.

Ask yourself: how could you have better answered the questions? Where did you succeed? Where did you fail? What will you do differently next time?

In assessing the interview, don’t let the fact that you didn’t feel a connection with the interviewer frighten you away from a great job. And lastly, consider what you’ve learned about the company and whether or not, all things considered, it would be a good place for you to be.

A thank-you note is essential. Get it in the post the day after the interview. If competition between you and another candidate is intense, the thank-you note just might be the extra burst of effort that propels you to victory. Avoid hyperbole and excessive enthusiasm. Keep your note cordial, brief, and let the tone bespeak its having been written from a cool remove. Thank the interviewer for inviting you to the interview. Say that it was a pleasure to meet him or her. And then mention something you learned during the interview and assure them of your continued interest in the position – provided you are still at all interested.

Follow-up calls can also provide that extra thrust over the job wall in some cases. But it’s a good idea to assess the situation before you call. Calling can make you look overeager and can, if overdone, turn off prospective employers. After interviewing with a large and busy company along with several other candidates, it’s probably better to just send a note and wait for the response. And until prospective employers make their decisions, everything you say to them can be used against you at decision time.

For this reason, both calls and letters should be viewed as extensions of the interview. The last thing you want is for a clumsy follow-up call to dash a favourable impression of you. To wit: ONE call, e-mail or letter to follow up is just fine. If it’s been two weeks, follow up again. That’s it. Pestering your interviewer can earn you a hasty journey into the rubbish bin or trash file.

On the other hand, a well-placed follow-up call or letter can give you an opportunity to state an idea you failed to mention in the interview, to position your name in their memories, to demonstrate perseverance, and to separate yourself from the majority of candidates who don’t follow up.

Here’s one warning. As tempting as it may be, don’t call to check up on a CV you’ve sent – and then start quizzing the person on the other end of the phone (or e-mail) about the position and necessary qualifications. Eager is fine, but desperate is a turn-off.

This article is excerpted from .com
(http://www.vault.com/europe).

Reprinted with permission

Read more