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Just Say No…Thank You

If you haven’t been in this position already, it is only a matter of time. You have interviewed four or five candidates for your opening, and whether you are Human Resources or the hiring manager, one of the candidates is going to call you to find out if they are the lucky one and if not, why not (that is one of the perks to handing out your business card too freely!). How do you handle this situation? You want to treat everyone with a certain respect, but how much information is too much information? Let’s avoid a potential legal battle by reviewing a couple of simple guidelines for candidate notification and feedback.

Bullying at Work: An Ethical and Leadership Dilemma for all Project Managers

Employers are becoming more acutely aware of the human, legal, ethical and financial costs associated with workplace bullying. In order to directly and proactively address this issue, project managers and their organizations need to take action. Learn about sources of information and tools available to assist in this endeavor along with a selection of proactive tips.

How to Write a Letter of Permission (with Sample Letters)

How to Write a Letter of Permission. Letters of permission grant specific legal authorization to the recipient. To write a letter of permission designating temporary custodian of your child to another adult, include identifying information…

Employment Laws and Rights – Best Skills

Does your boss have to give you sick leave? Can you be fired without prior notice? Use these tips and resources to get legal and government policy information about employee rights.

Top the 7 myths about the sales profession

Top the 7 myths about the sales profession Selling is the most complicated profession in the world. Many people believe they know what the profession entails…many myths have continued throughout time due to these misperceptions, despite the sales and marketing statistics that show otherwise. Here are some of my favorite myths about selling. Myth 1: Marketing and Selling are the Same Thing! One of my professors I had while taking my Master’s Degree once told me that you can only do one of three things in business: make it, sell it, or count it. The problem is the definition of “selling it” comprises two divergent but inextricably entwined functions — sales and marketing. The more appropriate elements (especially in today’s world) should be, in business you can only: make it, grow it, or count it. I say grow it, for two reasons. One reason is the marketing department and the other reason is the sales department. The problem with the two professions is each of believe that their occupation is the dominant half of the pair. Marketers generally think of salespeople as golf-playing monkeys or pushy placement professionals whose sole purpose is to repeat the same sales pitch (that they have developed) over-and-over again to new prospects. Salespeople generally think of marketers as lazy liberal arts graduates who use the words “focus groups” and “corporate brand” to describe activities that is nothing but “a colossal waste of money.” Ultimately each function needs the other if the company is to GROW. To that end, sales and marketing are separate but equal professions from a business perspective. What’s less obvious is how we should all work together. Marketers believe that marketing should play the dominant role. After all, marketing defines the product, articulates the positioning, and creates all the sales tools (ranging from glowing CEO profiles in “Fortune” magazine to the ubiquitous corporate logo wear that serves as the de facto currency of the modern professional). All salespeople have to do is to follow orders, right? Salespeople believe that selling should play the dominant role. After all, selling is where the rubber meets the road, where the tough get going, where everyone gives 110 percent, and where slogans reign supreme. Salespeople bring home the bacon. All marketers do is provide brochures and take all the credit. The truth is more complicated but more rewarding. Suffice it to say, let’s just say that selling and marketing are NOT the same thing. What both departments SHOULD agree on is the need to stay focused on what the client’s and customers want, in an effort to provide them value. Can’t we just stay focused on that? That’s another book too. Myth 2: Selling is about Winning Over Your Customer! Selling isn’t about winning over anyone. It’s about helping your customer win. If you think of making a sale as “winning”, that means someone has to lose. If you are winning and your customer’s are losing, you’ll be selling a very, very short amount of time. It’s about both you and your customer winning. Enough said. I just wish that prospects and buyers thought that all the time too! Myth 3: Selling isn’t a Real Profession! If you’re embarrassed about being in selling, this is the myth you’re subscribing to. You have to be proud of being in selling in order to be successful. One way to do this is to realize the important people you’ll be working with on a daily basis. When sales professionals sell, they are often sitting across the table from the following formalized professions: Chief Financial Officer (formalized by the American Finance Association) Legal Counsel (formalized American Bar Association) Project Manager (formalized by the Project Management Institute) Marketing Professional (formalized by the American Marketing Association) Information Technology Professional (formalized by numerous associations and organizations) Procurement Professional (formalized by the Institute of Supply Management and the National Association of Purchasing Management) The question is, what exactly is a “formal” profession? Myth 4: Selling isn’t That Hard! Anyone Can Do It! Selling is a hard profession to master. It’s one of the most complicated professions in the world. Where else do you have to understand organizations and individuals with such depth and clarity? Where else do you have to build rapport with so many different types of people, in so many different locations, buildings, or business types? On top of this complexity is the reality that Selling is one of the few real pay-for-performance professions, with over of the compensation “at risk” or based on commission. A lot of sales professionals feel stress in their jobs. In the engineering profession, stress results from the application of a constant force to an immovable object. In selling, the force is your “quota” and the immovable object is your customer’s expectations. If you guess, you stress. It’s that simple. Selling is about taking the guess work out of what the future will hold. True, it isn’t as much as it sounds for real sales professionals. The key is to learn about the truth of the sales profession and banish the myths. When you accomplish this, you will find selling concepts that make sense that can immediately put into practice. Above all else, you will persevere when so many others will quit, and that’s what will make the difference to your company’s bottom line. Myth 5: Selling is a “Numbers Game”! Undoubtedly, you will hear this one within your first week of selling: “Selling is a numbers game.” Make the calls, make the presentations, and work your way through enough people, and eventually you will make a sale. You’ll hear it within three hours of being on your first job in Sales. Someone will say “it’s a number game” I guarantee it. It goes something like this. The more phone calls you make, the more sales you will make. “So, make 100 phone calls” someone will say. “Of those 100, send 10 proposals. And of those 10, you will close 2. The more numbers you have the more you will sell. Now, there’s your phone. Good luck!” Remember this always! Quality supersedes quantity. Your goal in selling must be to find prospects that have a propensity and a motive to buy your product or services. If they don’t want to buy or need to buy your product or service, then I don’t care about the numbers! I would rather make two phone calls and close two sales than make 100 like our example above, wouldn’t you? If someone is tracking your progress, how do they know you are calling the right people, with a want and a need? I know of a large insurance sales organization, which provided sales reps with contact lists for life insurance and investments. The only problem was most prospects lived in a low income area and were highly unlikely to buy any life insurance because they didn’t need, or want it. I don’t care if you call 1,000 people that don’t fit the profile. You’re still wasting your time. Quality over quantity. Rather than buying into the myth that selling is a numbers game, think of a game of darts. By aiming your effort (the dart) at a clearly defined target (your pre-qualified prospect on the dart board) your chances for hitting the mark (a sale) are greatly enhanced. Contrast that mindset with a pure numbers game, where you stand outside and try to get hit by lighting or crossing your fingers multiple times with the hope of attaining good luck. Myth 6: You Must Like Rejection! Many sales courses, sales books, and sales training will tell you to keep a very stiff upper lip when you get “rejected.” A rejection can occur when you are rebuffed on the phone, not granted an appointment, or simply told “no.” These courses will also tell you not to let a “no” get you down. The problem with this approach is the fact that once you accept the simple proposition that you have been rejected in the first place, you have given up the psychological high ground and put your self-esteem into retreat! Simply put, your sales team needs to reject the notion of rejection. Once salespeople understand that all they are doing is helping people, every outcome should be the same. If prospects don’t want your help or choose not to deal with your company for whatever reason, it is not your salesperson’s problem. He or she simply has to locate another prospect that needs your company’s products or services. Regardless of the response prospects give, the salesperson is still the same person with the same amount of product knowledge, experience, and competence. When you teach your team to stop actually linking their activity to a prospect’s response (no matter how subtly), selling ceases to be hard work and instead becomes a game. In general, the healthiest mindset for you to teach is: “You, Mr./Ms. Prospect, have made a decision to move forward without my services. I’ll be here when you come to your senses and change your mind. It’s not my responsibility to straighten you or your company out.” Myth 7: Selling is a Dead End Job! Did you know that 85 percent of the company leaders and entrepreneurs in America today were once salespeople? They carried sample cases, made cold calls, dialed for dollars, did product demonstrations and handled objections. Today, they’re the majority of corporate presidents, CEOs and the like. Selling is a dead-end job all right–especially when you consider that the end may be at the very top of an organization!

Government Workforce Adds Kathryn Medina, Executive Director, CHCO Council

ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) and The Public Manager are pleased to add Kathryn Medina, Executive Director, CHCO Council, to our outstanding line up of government officials, including John Berry and Scott Gould, and subject matter experts like Tom Fox from Partnership for Public Service and Gustavo Crosetto from the U.S Government Accountability Office. Kathryn Medina serves as the Executive Director of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council at OPM. The Council is responsible for the modernization of human resources systems, improved quality of human resources information, and legislation affecting human resources operations and organizations. As Executive Director, Ms. Medina oversees the activities of the Council and works with its members and other stakeholders throughout government, to support its mission and implementation of its objectives. Ms. Medina has over fourteen years of experience in human resources and legal administration, with a focus on Organizational and Human Resource Development. She joins OPM from the global law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, where she managed the human resources department in the Washington, DC office. Her work at Paul Hastings focused on the strategic development and implementation of HR and administrative best practices, and the day to day oversight of human resources functions for the DC office of over 230 employees. Join Kathryn Medina and other government professionals on November 2, 2011, at the Newseum, where you can learn all you need to know about how to develop collaboration and innovation throughout the government workforce. Click here to learn more.

Formalize Your Commitment – “Join Me and We can Rule the Universe!”

Formalizing Commitment WHAT does “formalizing commitment” (or any other sales competency) mean to an executive, corporate behavioral psychologist, or sales trainer? These Leaders want to build a BEST Sales Company. They are concerned about building a sales culture that focuses on business sales education, human performance and ROI measurement of training. WHAT vs. HOW The ASTD Sales Training Drivers World Class Competency Model defines the “WHAT” in sales training not the “How To”. It outlines a “framework” of competencies by which sales management can be managed. It also provides a “learning function” for building the sales organization and defines the roles that ensures sustainability. Formalizing commitment is a “competency”. It is NOT just about “closing the sale” which is a “how” factor in sales execution. There are plenty of books and research on “how” to close the sale. The World Class Competency Model supports an educational culture or departmental business “backbone” so that executing the “how” strategies ( like “closing the sale” or “overcoming objections, or teaching the team how to “bond and build rapport” can be taught effectively! Explaining to you what formalizing commitment means is just way of defining how a sales competency “fits” into the creation of a World Class Sales Organization. There are 5 actions that define the sales competency of “Formalizing Commitment”. Sales Trainers will also want to integrate teaching commitment concepts that integrate with human performance skill building including: business behavior modeling and building trust to ensure a successful long term client relationship. Try exposing your sales team to many forms of written contracts to formalize our relationships. Written literacy and laws, seals, signatures, and value of exchange via bills, checks, bearer certificates and accounting /bookkeeping systems are other examples ways we formalize commitments. The contract is the foundation of a strong marketplace whether it is a retail, wholesale, commercial, residential, corporate or a consumer sale. It can be a legal binding agreement for the exchange of a good, service or a barter, Formalizing commitments are also key when safeguarding or resolving potential conflicts that may arise from misunderstandings. NEVER make an agreement in business based on verbal commitment if you can help it. As trust is an issue here, in this age of marketplace exchange, business transactions are vulnerable to security breaches and hearsay judgment calls by unscrupulous types with fraudulent intent. Information security is a very important reality today that must be adhered to during business transactions. The Internet has allowed business professionals to secure new kinds of relationships in this new environment, just as contract law, business forms, and accounting principles have formalized commitments and secured business relationships on paper. Always be careful to use common sense when getting involved with any financial transactions. Make sure that all parties are in agreement and signatures are verified by 3 party witnesses. Listed below are areas where formalized commitment will exist in a sales and marketing business environment where employees and clients are involved. Sales Trainers will want to review this list with HR to make sure they are in compliance with delivery of training of sales professionals. While many of these guidelines are put in place to control sales and marketing actions and decisions, it may be difficult to enforce them within larger organizations. You may not be able to cover every situation in the daily conduct of a sales professionals many varied activities.

Big Skill: Communications

At its core, the moving of information. More broadly, the ability to both express oneself effectively through various and appropriate media (writing, speaking, graphics), including understanding audience requirements, needs/pain points, and knowledge, and also effectively listening to others express themselves. Part of communication is knowing what is “in it” for the audience. All communication has a credibility component. Communication strategies often need to be created. Having a weekly open house to combat a rampant rumor mill might be critical. As organizations and teams become more distributed, ad hoc (so called “water-cooler”) communication becomes less reliable, and so formal communication technique need to be established. Picking the right genre is important. Letters have different requirements than email. In fact, the best way to trash someone’s career is to circulate a colleague’s instant-messaging comments reformatted as a letter. Videoconferencing is more formal; web-cams are more casual. Dynamically customizing the content increases effectiveness. This could be based on audience questions, or for self-paced content, providing alternative paths through the content, such as using hyper-linking. An effective communication strategy might involve having the audience do some exercises to internalize the information. This could be everything from taking notes at a lecture to playing a marketing mini-game around the release of a new soft drink or movie. Emotional associations can also be critical. Politicians use the icon of the United States flag. Computer games might tie into famous athletes or movies. Advertisements shamelessly use idealized models, professions, or roles (showing a mother buckling up her children in a minivan while talking about some new fast food product). Create a verbal label for a complicated idea, and you shape the perception of the idea. There are legal requirements for communications, especially around product recalls and shareholder information. Organizations often have different uses of Public Relations and advertising. Some communication is passive. What we wear to work or how we style our hair broadcasts our affiliations and even aspirations. Corporations choose colors and fonts carefully. Some communication strategies are malicious. Spread a lie through so many channels that it becomes thought of as a truth. An ethically-challenged leader leaks a lie to a newspaper anonymously, and then publicly refers to the article as a source of credibility. In the computer world, there are “denial of service” attacks, where many computers try to communicate with a single site in order to overwhelm and shut down the site. And again, I ask the question that no one will answer. Do you have any formal learning programs around communication? If so, to whom and how? If not, why not: a) it is not important, or b) it is really important, but we don’t do it because _____.