Procurement Skills: 9 Steps to Boost Your Persuasion Skills Through Improved Presentations

Presentations are an inherent part of today’s workplace… business presentations, public speaking and general communication. All involve formal and informal levels and ultimately impact your career progression. So here is a 9 step process for how you can improve your persuasion skills and so become a more effective persuader.

  1. Understand the issues faced by your audience. It is often said that a busy person (and who isn’t busy these days?) can only deal with 5 topics at any one time. If you are going to get air time with busy people you need to make a connection from the very beginning with what is currently on their mind. So you need to link the subject matter of your presentation to one of these key items which means you need to research your audience.
  2. Decide what kind of presentation it is. Is your presentation a pitch for something (such as resources for a project, agreement to go ahead with something or even a pay rise), is it informing the audience or is it to build goodwill (for example at a supplier event)? Is it a formal presentation in front of many people, an informal presentation to a few or even a one-to-one conversation with someone?
  3. Decide your objectives. What is it you want as a result of the presentation? Do you want people to leave feeling enthused for your project? Do you want commitment to give your project money? You need to decide what you want before you design your presentation.
  4. Create a “hook”. This is a vital part of your presentation. You need to grab your audience’s attention from the very beginning. For example, Robert Cialdini has found that the most absorbing presentations and articles start with a mystery. The presentation then engages the audience as they unravel the mystery together.
  5. Create your memorable opening. This is closely linked to the hook. In their book “Made to Stick” Chip and Dan Heath tell the story of someone pitching to venture capitalists for investment in developing a new laptop computer. He started by throwing onto the table a plastic folder and declaring that this was his new laptop. Clearly it wasn’t but it started a discussion about how a laptop could be made so thin and small.
  6. Craft your action focused ending. Too many presentations follow the formula “tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you have told them”. This might work if your objective is to inform the audience. For every other type of presentation it is insufficient. What you want is action of some kind so finish with what you want them to do – a “takeaway” list of actions.
  7. Use graphics for impact. Most people respond better to images than to text. Think about all of the slide shows you have had to sit through that are crammed full of text and bullet points. Images have more impact as long as they are relevant to the topic and are unique. Avoid stock photographs that bear no relation to the point you are trying to get across.
  8. Pull it all together into a coherent story. Do not underestimate the power of a story. We are conditioned from a very young age to engage with and respond to stories. Don’t get “cute” but do have a story that unfolds with a well-crafted opening, middle and end.
  9. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. As a golfer once told me, amateurs practice until they get it right – professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.

Building a “Successful-Product Pyramid”

Basically, businesses that are into tangible products are on a dead end today. It is because they don’t have an idea on how to create a successful product. Most of the businesses today only adds more features on a certain product and increase its price. They market it as new products even if it is only an improvement of the latter.

It is true that we are lacking enough minds to create a successful product, but deceiving the public is not something that businesses should do. The richest man in the Philippines once said that you have to be honest with your customers if you want them to stay and be loyal in your brand. Well, how can you expect them to stay and be loyal to your brand if you are not giving them what they deserve?

If you wanted to build a successful product, here are some of the important things that you need to know.

Put Innovation as your Product’s Foundation

When creating a product, you should always put innovation as the foundation because in the end, everything comes down on how your product is unique from the others. It is really hard to create a unique product and it is also the reason why every company spends a lot of time, effort and money to create a new product.

Instead of wasting time thinking of adding new features on an already existing product, think of a new product. It will take time, but you don’t have to release new products on a regular basis. You can always add features and tell them that it will be a new addition to the products. You don’t have to add features and increase the price of the item.

Your Product should be Functional

The term “Functional” is not only for electronic products. It can be applied to all the other products on the market today. Let’s say that you already have an idea on what to product, the question is how can you make it functional? You cannot sell an idea. Your idea should be functional if you want people to buy it. If your product will not live up to what you are claiming, it will never be successful no matter what you do.

If you think that the idea of the product is good enough or the design, it should be functional first. It should be a step by step process. You can determine the functions of a product unless you innovate first. You cannot make a design unless you do the first two.

Think of an Attractive Design

Don’t overdo the design because you are not selling a product just because of designs. Make it look attractive and make sure that the functions will not be affected in any way. This is the last step in the successful product pyramid. Even if it is only about the design, it plays a very important role in the marketing of the product.

Many business owners and Filipino billionaires know about this, but only a few are using this. It should be done by business owners if they want to make a successful product.

Procurement Skills: How To Demonstrate Your Value To Your Organisation

As procurement professionals we have to continually demonstrate our value to our organization by focusing on the key activities that deliver the most added benefits. What gets in the way of doing this is the myriad of other things that we have to do each day. Often there is more to do than we are able to achieve in the time available to us.

At this point we need a good process for prioritizing our tasks, planning our work and working our plan. The best analogy I have ever heard on prioritizing work came from Stephen Covey; it is called the “rocks, pebbles and sand” analogy for time management.

The story as told by Mr Covey is that an expert was addressing a group of business students. He reached beneath the desk to produce a large glass container and proceeded to fill it with rocks. When he could fit no more in he asked the group whether the container was full to which the group replied yes it was.

He then produced some pebbles and through a process of shaking the container managed to fit them all in the gaps between the rocks. Similarly, he managed to fill the gaps between the pebbles with sand. The group then thought the container was full until the expert successfully poured a jug of water into the container.

The lesson of this story is clear. If the container represents the time we have available to us in a period of time and the rocks, pebbles, sand and water represent the tasks we have to carry out then we can only do them all if we do the rocks first and the rest in order of size. In other words, start with your biggest tasks first and only go to the next level of tasks once the big ones are complete. If you do the tasks the other way round, you will never get to the big rocks (tasks).

So what are the big rocks that procurement professionals need to do first before they give their attention to the smaller tasks? I would suggest the following:-

  • Understanding your supply markets – what is their scope, who are the major players, are they growing or declining, is there scope to bring in new entrants and so on.
  • Understanding the demand for products and services in your organization and how this relates to your supply market knowledge. For example, is there a need to develop a particular market by stimulating innovation or attracting new entrants?
  • Organizing price and cost analyses and carrying out bench-marking exercises to understand the opportunities for savings. This might be linked to value analysis and value engineering exercises.
  • Carrying out supply chain risk assessments so that you understand the potential vulnerability for your organization and then put in place effective monitoring and mitigation.
  • Working with key suppliers to bring about product, service and cost innovations, improve delivery processes and carry out joint planning and product/service co-design (all part of a supplier relationship management program).
  • Building effective working relationships with other parts of your organization.
  • Measuring performance (both the procurement organization and suppliers) as the basis of designing and delivering improvement programs.
  • Continually improving your capability through knowledge exchange, training courses and coaching.

Do these big rock activities well and you will show your organization what great value you can add. This then becomes a “no brainer” case for investing in more resource to do the other, smaller tasks if you can’t do them all yourself.

Why We Shouldnt Be Afraid of Emotions

For so many decades we’ve been taught that Intellectual Intelligence (IQ) is what gets us places in the corporate world, yet nowadays we are seeing that it is more Emotional Intelligence (EQ) that gets us places. IQ is what gets us our position, EQ is what enables us to keep our position and become a great leader.

However we are not taught EQ skills at school, nor at Varsity and certainly not in the workplace. At least not until recently when mentoring and coaching started becoming a profession. And even then, it has only really been aimed at the Senior managers and Executives of an organization.

Its a known fact that the higher up the corporate ladder you climb, it is more about EQ and less about IQ as your day to day duties largely revolve around managing people, teams and divisions to ensure deliverables and business objectives are met.

So what is being done to help the newly appointed junior managers to develop their EQ skills and become better managers and leaders?

If they are the future of a business and are being groomed to take the lead at some point, then surely it should be key for them to as eligible for the development of EQ skills?

There is a huge need to help up and coming managers develop their EQ skills to become better managers. Often they struggle with the transition from being on the same level as their peers to at times having to manage those very same peers.

By becoming self aware of our own emotions and what drives our actions and behavior, we can better self manage as well as others who come into our space by being conscious and aware of the relational space between two people. This is termed as Self Mastery.

If we can practice self mastery in our personal and peer relationships, not only do we become a better, more authentic person, but we also have better quality relationships. Self Mastery teaches us important skills such as: effective communication, hearing vs. listening, conflict and diversity management, empathy, compassion and understanding. It also helps create trust and safety in relationships.

And this is where HR departments can play a big role in creating an environment that enables mentoring and coaching as part of everyone’s career path to help create more authentic, emotionally attuned leaders resulting in a healthier working environment and happier employees all round.

Tips On How To Create A Powerful Online Presence As A Small Business Owner

We are living in the internet age and for your business to be successful you should ensure that you have a strong web presence.

The first thing that you need to do is to have a website. Here you need to purchase a unique domain name and sign up for a web host. Although, there are many free web hosts and portfolio sites that you can use, you should avoid using them.

This is because such sites tend to make your business look unprofessional. To be on the safe side you should always go the paid hosting plans. The good side is that the hosting plans are usually cheap and almost every small business can afford them.

Once you have done this you should now design a stylish and user-friendly website. If you don’t have the skills to design a website, you should consider hiring a professional who will do it for you. To be successful you should ensure that your website has a current design.

In addition to having a website, you should also ensure that you have profile pages on the popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

The main function of the social networks is to help you communicate with your customers. To ensure that you are able to easily communicate, you should put links of your social profiles on your website.

To increase your followers on social media, you should share content that is beneficial to your customers and clients. When sharing content, you should be very careful and avoid spamming your readers.

If you are a lover of videos, you should highly consider using YouTube videos as a way of marketing your business. The good side is that it’s very easy to create the videos; however, if you don’t have the skills to create them, you should hire a professional to do it for you.

Another great way of having a strong online presence is by purchasing advertising space that is relevant to your readers and followers. A great way of going about it is buying advertising space on Google. You can also write articles and post them on websites that are relevant to your readers.

Although, you might be desperate of having a strong online presence, you should avoid deceitful ways of marketing. For example, you should avoid “sock-puppeting.” This is because such methods can easily create serious backlash against you which would be devastating to your business.

How Penetration Testing Tools Can Help Secure Your Business Operations

When it comes to online selling, one important thing you should remember is that there will always be customers who will abandon their shopping carts. For one, there are consumers who visit online retailers merely for research and do not really have an intention to finish a transaction. There might also be issues that hinder them from completing the purchase. These may include poor user interface, hidden or high shipping costs, or a lengthy checkout process. Another issue that online merchants have to face is security.

If you work hard for your money, then it follows that you simply won’t hand it over to an online entity promising to exchange a product or service for it. Consumers want to feel secure when they are making an online purchase. Your buyers want to make sure that the exact item they purchased will be delivered to their doorstep.

At the same time, they’d want their credit card information as well as other sensitive data kept secure. As an online merchant, you’d want to keep cart abandonment to a minimum. That is why it is worthwhile to invest in website design and SEO and offer the best pricing, shipping and payment options. But merchants should never put customer safety and even their own network security as an afterthought. One significant step toward guaranteeing your network’s and your customers’ safety is PCI credit card compliance.

From there, several things can go awry if you remain complacent. Although many would like to think of the Internet as a true democracy, it is still far from that. The truth is that it is somewhat akin to a public market place where there are legitimate businesses plying their wares alongside shady sellers and even pickpockets biding their time, waiting for an unwitting customer to make a false move.

It doesn’t help that these baddies are shrouded by the veil of anonymity and even geographical distance. A proactive approach that online sellers use and even enterprises which rely on an IT infrastructure, is to enlist the services of specialists in penetration testing tools. Hackers have, rightly or wrongly, gotten a bad rap for compromising network security and even stealing sensitive information. Indeed, many of these hackers have made a living out of these illegal deeds.

However, some have reformed their ways and now help organizations pinpoint weaknesses in their network infrastructure through network penetration testing. Through this test, a business can learn its vulnerabilities and put into place the necessary remedies that will reinforce security. With the aid of these experts, you do not have to watch at the sidelines.

How to Exude Power: A Few Practical Steps

Let us start by clarifying that this article is not meant for those who were lucky enough to be born powerful. First of all, unlike money and other material things, power is an abstract concept which we should analyze and understand in order to use it to our advantage. In fact, rich and poor people alike can easily trick others into believing that they are powerful, thus making it easier for them to attract friends, clients, customers and even success. For example, every experienced salesman will tell you that people analyze every single aspect of your personality and appearance in order to get a general idea of who you are and what you can do for them. If we keep this simple and yet extremely important rule in mind, it will only take a few easy steps to start exuding power.

Personality and Tricks: Whether you are confident or insecure, you cannot exude power while interacting with people unless you pretend to be confident about yourself. Look into their eyes, be firm, talk about things nobody would disagree on, such as higher values (i.e. the importance of friendship, ethics, morals, love, and professionalism). If you are not a born smooth talker, stay quiet and get others to talk more than you by asking them key questions about their work, family, love life, general views etc. Always try to stay away from sensitive topics, such as religion and politics, as if you disagree with your interlocutor, he will lose his interest. A very useful piece of advice most personality coaches give their patients and clients is that people love hearing their own names, which is why we should do our best to say their names as often as we can during a conversation. Last but not least, do not mention sad or depressing stories and do not talk about your problems, otherwise people will not see you as a charismatic, powerful leader.

Looks and Appearances: If you want to exude power, it is very important that you start paying attention to what your clothes say about your social status and professional achievements. What kind of clothes do powerful people wear? Dolce & Gabbana suits, Ralph Lauren polo shirts, Tommy Hilfiger chinos, designer sunglasses, leather briefcases and expensive smartphones. “Cool, but I can’t afford to spend a fortune on clothes every month!” you may say. Well, most of us can’t, so relax. Fortunately for us, there are alternative ways to get clothes and accessories that can help us exude power. Auction websites, promotional offers and used clothes are your best bet! Nowadays, it is very easy to find cheap designer clothes and expensive accessories online. Look for special offers and used clothes (make sure that they are in excellent condition, though), and stay away from fake clothes as wealthy people who are used to wearing designer clothes and accessories will notice straight away and at that point, they will not respect you anymore.

Quality Furniture

Events are synonymous with real-world marketing for businesses across industry verticals. They are being leveraged by brands small and big alike to reach out to customers and convey their messages. A growing number of firms trust events to build their base, expand their horizon and tap into the potential in the market. Quite clearly, a lot is at stake when a business decides to host an event and penetrate the market deep. Right from launching a new product or service to enhancing the goodwill of the existing resources, businesses know where to turn to in the need of hours.

With so much benefit to take, it’s natural to expect your event to be successful so that all goals are realized with ease. For that, an expert agency will be needed familiar with every aspect of event, including from planning to strategics to hosting to customer servicing. The job at hand is not that easy for the agency as well as it has to take care of a lot of aspects to ensure success for the planned event. Among other things, it has to make sure that the brand messages are conveyed in the way they should be.

Further, a good event is one that seamlessly merges the concepts of aesthetics and functionality in true sense. And this is where furniture do have a role to play as they often add a great deal of value to any occasion. Their market is stuffed with inventive, high quality event furniture which can really make a big impression on your product launch party or customer get-together occasion. Right from chairs, sofa seating, stools, benches, poseur tables, dining tables, bars and plinths, your event can benefit from a wide range of furniture and surely stand out from the crowd.

Further, event planners know how to place furniture at right places and positions to have maximum impact out of them. They add a creative approach to occasion and make guests and potential customers impressed in true sense. It’s also a cost-effective approach to not buy all of those furniture and rather hire them and add great value to the whole affair. Whether classic touch or contemporary styles, you can select what suits your interests and events the best and win maximum attention out there. After all, the purpose is to create a vibrant atmosphere and let the brand benefit in more ways than one.

In overall, furniture hire is a very helpful and innovative concept to benefit from as make the event a big success. It has the potential to enrich your business even without asking for resources to be put at used. So, your business can benefit from furniture by adding value to the event for brand building efforts. For that, you have to find a right agency with years of experience in the domain and you will also need a company that rents out furniture. This is how your event can become as successful and impact as you’d expect it to be in a real sense.

An Effective Dinner For A Home Business Proprietor

When you want to take your client for dining out, make sure that they are considered in the final selection. If they have any allergic reaction, you must allow for them by going to places where they will not be left with a scenario that makes them unpleasant. Showing that you care about their desires can make for a wonderful first impact. It could also be a respectful reaffirmation of why they do business with you to begin with you, which is because you have their best interests at heart.

If you say that you are going to be at the restaurant at a particular time, get there early. If you arrive before they do, you can take the extra time to make it certain that you are not located someone noisy or near a high-traffic area so that you talk business and hear each other without disturbances.

Based upon the restaurant, paying the bill in advance could be a good strategy. If the customer sees the bill, they may feel a little bit nervous about the prices. You could have the staff members run your card and add a tip percentage just before your client arrives or if you can step away mid-meal. This can leave you with the choice to get the check just before you leave or have them mail it to you. These options will all depend on where you eat, though.

As it comes time to order items, keep your intake somewhat balanced with that of your client. This means ordering similar items and eating at an equivalent pace. Follow your client’s lead is the way to go with food orders and with light drinking. Things could get uncomfortable if you finish your plate before they do.

Be well-mannered to wait of staff. If something comes to your table that isn’t that great, do not get upset or abusive towards the staff. Showing condescension and rudeness can show the client that this is how it is to work with you.

Adding some small talk in with the business talk while you eat can help you get to know or reconnect with each other individually. They will be also examining to see if you dominate small talk or if you listen well. Any major business talk is best reserved for the main course where wait staff tend to interrupt less.

Finally, remember the important parts of your dinner and accomplish any requests your client made during the dinner. Nothing will hurt you and your business more than showing that you cannot follow through with promises and requests.

Connecting with clients is essential to a home business, and dinner is one of the best ways to do this. Take the time to make it an enjoyable experience for you both to build a better working relationship.

Your Business Needs Steady Cash Flow

The ability to make critical purchases from your vendors, pay down loans, and meet employee payroll has become a common problem among businesses across all industries. Cash flow has always been a major issue with all businesses and without positive cash in your bank your business could fail. By the time a business realizes their cash flow isn’t going to support their payroll, or pay vendors, the owners make rash decisions by going to companies/banks that can destroy their business.

If you realize your business is about to fall into this position, don’t panic. Review your financial situation with your accountant or CPA. But don’t act too fast. There is another option.

So what can you do to avoid this problem?

Before telling you the solution, let’s talk about the 3 things you should NOT do.

1- Bank Loans. If you think a bank will help finance your old or slow paying customers, well they are not.

2- Factoring Invoices or Receivables. Another myth. When companies rely on this method of cash flow, it just reduces your profits. Plus, once your invoices or receivables have been factored, most often this “third” party who now owns them will be so aggressive with your customers to collect the money that it can ruin your business by losing a customer.

3- Collection Agency. If all you want is someone to harass your customers, then call a collection agency. Odds are, they will just irritate your customers with strong-arm tactics that never work and here again you will lose another customer.

What you need is positive cash flow, right? Well you can have positive cash flow and retain your customers by using a reputable company that knows how to talk to your customers in a manner that will actually convenience them to make timely payments without losing them as a customer.

A credit management system can provide effective cash flow by acting seamlessly with your accounting department. This should NOT impact your accounting staff when handled properly. The slow paying customers and poor receivables from your accounting department should be quickly identified and presented to management in a timely manner. It is best you do not use a middleman, or off-shore calling, These will just hurt your business more because your customers know these types of calls who only want to collect the money, not help make a payment plan.

There are many articles to help find a good credit management resource. Do your research and seek out those that have a solid reputation and work with you as your in-house accounting department.