Archive for November, 2008


Management Rewards, Sales Management Abundancy, Sales With Purpose No Comments »


Dear Manager,

If not an art, there is certainly a skill required for all managers and salespeople within the process of negotiations. This is one of the primary skills needed to be highly effective in any profession. We began learning this skill early on, long before we spoke our first words. To get what we wanted, we pointed our finger, pleaded with our eyes and, if it served our purpose, we cried. If you think about it, has our approach changed much over the years?!

We have since learned to negotiate with our minds and through verbal communication. We all like to think our approach to negotiations is fair and should be accepted by those around us. “Why can’t others understand my position on this issue?” I believe this is a consistent theme for most managers in conversations with their associates. Just for fun, let’s add some very strong emotions, opinions and egos to the equation. What was a relatively simple issue has now taken on a life of its own.


I know individuals who seem to turn all levels of negotiations into a battle. Determine the priority of the current topic and its worth in risking future consideration. Most negotiations are simple in nature and can avoid confrontation entirely. Similar to crying wolf, all parties become skeptical of an individual who is consistently emphasizing their position on what they believe to be equitable. If the only acceptable conclusion as you approach a negotiation is your own, is your objective to be fair or to win at all costs? Of greater importance is how your approach to the current topic will impact future negotiations. If productive, long-term relationships are your objective . . .


If two parties are sincerely interested in the development and proper maintenance of their business relationship they will each establish a high degree of sensitivity to their individual approach. Set aside your desire to be right and, at all costs, avoid pointing out who might be wrong. An approach such as this will only be interpreted as self-serving and will further compromise a sense of mutual benefit.


1. Share the foundation for your perspective. Prepare your thoughts in advance as to why you believe in your position. Give the proper background of the equation to insure the discussion is on a common plane. Do not assume that your sense of priority for this issue is shared by others.

2. Show consideration for another perspective. Accept that no one can fully understand your perspective or sense of urgency. Neither can we fully understand the pressures, demands and dynamics of our counterpart. Acknowledge the value of the other position.

3. Be willing to accept responsibility. There are aspects in any circumstance that, in retrospect, we could have handled better. Don’t be unwilling to admit it! Rather than weakness, this only exhibits your strength while enhancing your objectivity to the issue at hand.

4. Learn from prior negotiations. Perspectives can best be understood through experience. Begin to anticipate what others’ initial objections might entail. There is nothing more effective than diffusing potential objections up front!

5. Never corner the tiger. At all costs, never force a decision at a time of high emotion. When pride and emotions take over, bail out. Allow for cooler heads and the ability for all parties to save face on another day.

6. It is human nature to prefer to be asked rather than being told. This is the most critical aspect in obtaining your objective. Granted, by asking you accept the risk of a negative response; it is worth it. People enjoy helping people, and it is natural to want to be a part of a positive conclusion. Provide the opportunity.

Do not underestimate the value of making a list of your topics or concerns on paper. Outlining your thoughts prior to any negotiation allows you to give focus to the discussion and lessens the opportunity for the conversation to change tracks. As you prepare your words and approach, do not overlook an equally important aspect of negotiating. While verbal communication is effective, body language, and learning how to read it, can also play a major role in the outcome of your negotiations.


As I referenced, we began developing our negotiating skills before we could speak. At that time, a motion of the hand, facial expression or a well-place tear could work wonders! If you know what to look for as your discussions progress, you can develop a direct line to your counterpart’s honest feelings.

In face-to-face negotiations, watch the eyes, gestures and expressions. Are they relaxed, perhaps leaning slightly forward, indicating they are involved in the discussion, or are they leaning back, arms crossed, seemingly detached from the conversation?

At some level, most people will tip their hand regarding their level of comfort in your discussion. They will rarely share these honest feelings verbally, but with proper awareness you will absolutely know when you have touched a nerve. Restating your previous thought with a more acceptable twist will confirm your suspicions. Absolutely listen to their response. You may actually catch yourself forgetting what is being said simply because you have more confidence in the signals you are receiving from their demeanor. Reading body language is the closest thing to reading someone’s mind, and by developing the proper skills I firmly believe that, in most cases, you can.

While it’s a bit more difficult, you can develop this skill and become very effective with it on the phone as well. Begin your conversations with small talk to develop a sense of their current mood. If they have just completed a difficult or unpleasant conversation, or the day has challenged them, you will want to know. In this instance, have a back-up conversation in mind and delay more challenging topics. Listen for a “smile in their voice”, as this is your best time to proceed. Draw out their concerns with simple and direct questions. An unexpected pause in their voice or change in inflection (let alone tone), will signal the need to review your approach.

Once someone has stated their position, it becomes very difficult to reverse. Patience and effective timing are your best allies. Be sure to give thought to the optimum time of the week for dealing with delicate discussions. For example, I would never approach someone on a Monday morning when, for most of us, our only objective is to get back on track. Think of the high and low points in your own week. When will you be at your best, and when would you guess the best time for others to be? As a general rule, avoid Monday mornings and Friday afternoons all together!


Let’s be honest. We all enter into the negotiating process hoping to “get what we want;” if we didn’t care, we wouldn’t negotiate! While most individuals desire to be perceived as fair, fairness as an objective cannot be negotiated until both parties have agreed to a similar point of view. How often have you struggled to get across what seemed to you to be a very obvious point in your negotiations? There is validation for all of us in being correct. I also believe there is entirely too much emphasis and personal pride in being right and pointing out who is wrong. What is the value of being “right” if the resolution of the initial objective collapses and critical relationships are compromised? We can all learn to become more effective and aware in our approach with others. The most successful negotiators, the ones who truly win, are those who realize that the victory lies in the satisfaction of all parties.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2008. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM


Management Rewards, Marketing, Marketing Glitz No Comments »


Dear Manager,

As individuals, we would never consider defending ourselves in a court of law; the outcome’s too risky. We would never consider performing surgery on ourselves; simply too much blood. We would never consider risking our personal net worth with an amateur; those winter nights can be cold on the streets!


I am constantly amazed by the willingness of management to risk their hard-earned profits in areas where they hold little or no expertise. While it may seem very exciting, creative and (with some rationalization) motivated by increased profitability, management can too quickly come to the conclusion that “we can make those.”

Management then proceeds to make “those,” often without a basic knowledge or understanding of why or what “those” are. Substantial amounts of capital are often “invested” in a project or product that, with more inside knowledge, could have been more wisely invested, or not invested at all!

Consider this scenario: Management asks their staff to figure out how to make “those.” The staff proceeds, finds a resource and gains what surface knowledge they can. The new resource is very excited to assist (perhaps motivated by its own profits), offering encouragement and support for the project to the staff members.

Management is very enthusiastic, and it is the objective of the staff to please management. In most cases the staff carries minimal personal risk, as the final decision to proceed is always that of management. Given this scenario, does management have all the valuable information it needs to make an informed decision? The entrepreneurial spirit has taken hold with limited awareness of the down side – it’s the unknown that will kill you.

In many cases, thousands of dollars have been flushed away for lack of timely, product-specific information. All of a sudden, there seems to be more to making “those” than was initially anticipated. This is certainly a trap for small companies, and has put many out of business. It is also a fundamental flaw for large companies who rely too heavily on their past success.

Just because you have succeeded in one area, there is no reason to believe you can automatically succeed in an area outside of your given expertise. In fact, your previous success alone will rarely serve your needs in any new endeavor. Instead, your confidence may provide you with false security and ultimately betray you.


I believe that in most cases, unnecessary risks are taken as a result of management’s failure to calculate the collective strengths and weaknesses of the organization. When I think of a management team, I think of it in relationship to ones involvement in a college or university. College students spend four or more years developing a major. This major becomes a personal strength, and is what they are individually noted and recruited for upon graduation. Along the way, these same students have developed a minor, enhancing their strengths and overall value, both personally and in the marketplace.

Individuals within a management team should be looked upon from a similar perspective. Each member has major and minor strengths which define their capacity to contribute to the organization. These may have been developed through a college curriculum or over a period of years in their careers. It goes without saying that for each individual on our management team there are classes that simply have not been attended!

This is no reflection on them individually. Just as we each have major and minor strengths, there are many areas in which we have no knowledge. All too often, individuals cross their own line of expertise at the very great expense of their organizations. Pride and ego play a role for all of us, yet it is self awareness and good judgment that will save the day. It is our responsibility as managers to not only have a true understanding of our own capacity, but to maintain a full accounting of the individual strengths and capacity of our staff.


These are the words that management should translate to their staff. Without an expert, how can we possibly proceed? There will certainly be instances where a staff member is capable of providing you with very good advice, and in most all cases it will be human nature for them to provide you with their best advice regardless of its true value. Make them prove to you that they can consult with you like an expert!


Without question, the most under-utilized management resource is a consultant. I have personally invested and lost in areas in which I had no business assuming I could succeed. If I had simply proceeded with a bit more caution, been more patient in the process, and demanded of myself that I find a qualified individual to assist in the early stages, thousands of dollars could have been saved. Once again, would we risk our own personal financial future with an individual who has little or no expertise? In retrospect, the greatest lesson learned was to insist upon the use of only expert advice.

The first dollar invested in any new endeavor, let alone in solving an ongoing problem, should be in gaining timely information and options of how best to proceed. A minimum of 5% to 10% of any new product development budget should be set aside for consulting services. It would be very interesting to see how often this single investment would save the balance of the 90% to 95%!


With the need for protecting personalities, multiple priorities and increasing our profits, we are often too close to the center to maintain our objectivity. If for no other purpose, this is the first reason to hire a qualified consultant. A consultant’s sole objective (and professional future), is based on their ability to provide you with their major on a focused task. Their objective is to perform for one individual: you.

Because we cannot financially afford a staff of qualified experts in the many areas that impact our business, I believe all organizations should make use of consultants in some form. Be it in marketing, product development, customer services, key account development, employee management or computer technology, the list of consulting resources goes on and on.

First, define those areas of your business that, from experience, carry what I call the nagging anxieties. Are you absolutely confident in all aspects of your business? We all have areas that we know are not performing well. Now define the primary role or objective an expert in the field could provide.

Now is the time to pull out all of your resources to find the right individual to assist you. This can be accomplished first by looking within your own industry, researching companies who seem to excel in your areas of concern. Does your staff have an area of strength that could assist in their needs? Could an exchange of these resources be accomplished without a compromise to your organization? Next, look into the option of asking a retired executive from your industry or a similar industry to assist in a specific objective. The resources are there.

Initially, a little pride may need to be swallowed by staff members, and a few egos will need to be left at the door. If there is an unwillingness to freely assist and participate in management’s objective to provide the very best product or service possible to their customers, they have firmly planted themselves in a position as part of the problem.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2008. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM