Great New Ideas For Special Touches On Holiday Presents

As anyone who knows me can attest, Christmas is my favorite holiday. I begin shopping for gifts on December 26, scooping up bargains throughout the months. By late summer, everything on the gift list has been purchased, allowing me to relax. Some of my best Christmas ideas have come to me while out cruising the mall looking for that perfect gift.

Many of us have more products than we know what to do with, making it difficult to create a wish list. Homemade gifts are often more used and cherished than those purchased in a store so I make gifts for people I know best. I make soap in cute shapes for the children in the family, baked treats for grandma and grandpa, and beautiful ornaments for my aunt who seems to have everything.

Wrapping often makes even the most basic present more elegant. All of my packages feature tissue paper with designer patterns and ribbons with custom messages. Recipients love the cute messages I get inscribed on the ribbon and they often save the decoration to reuse the following year. When I organize the work holiday party, I wrap favors in boxes with our corporate imprint. Everyone is always impressed by the quality of the container and imprinted logo.

Holiday parties are always a fun time and I learned that activities sometimes make the event more fun. When it is my turn to hold the holiday festivities, I bake a gingerbread house and let everyone decorate it with candy canes, gumdrops, and frosting. Decorating the Christmas tree is another event that guests enjoy and since we have our holiday dinner on Christmas Eve, the ceremony is particularly meaningful. Guests string the lights, outfit the tree with my ornaments, and delight when the tree is lit.

Though I do not claim to be a creative genius, I have learned to make my own Christmas wreaths and garland and often sell these at local school or charity fairs. People seem to love the different styles and colors, purchasing several items to give as gifts. If they realized how easy these were to make, they might think twice about buying from me!

One idea I plan to implement this coming year is a neighborhood decorating contest. We live near the town center so it should not be difficult to get some retailers to donate prizes. Everyone already seems eager to participate and our neighborhood will look so fabulous that this event should become a tradition.

Negotiation is not a Destination

You’ve heard about negotiation before, perhaps you agree that it’s needed. But how will a negotiation process that’s specific to sales enhance your strategy and help you win deals?

If there’s one thing everybody knows about sales, it’s that serious negotiation starts when you and your customer or prospect sit down together to close a deal. Right? When people hear the word ‘negotiation,’ they think, “Oh, that happens at the end of the sales process”. The best salespeople start thinking about negotiation much earlier — sometimes even before they’ve made the first contact.

Negotiation is not a destination that you reach at the end of a sale, nor is negotiation about one party winning and the other losing. Negotiation is part of each step of the sales process, not a one-time event. It begins prior to the first sales call and ends with customer recognition of the value your product or service brought to his business.

Interests, options and deal-breakers
Too often, salespeople don’t dig enough to find the customer’s real interests. They need to find out whether the client’s focus is around price, or around the terms and conditions or around something else.

In general the goal is to satisfy clients and provide them with service they consider valuable. When you negotiate from the very beginning of the sales process, you uncover the buying organization’s interests and can therefore generate more creative options. You learn the criteria on which their interests are based, and you discover deal-breakers. You explore how both parties can win. Perhaps even more
importantly, you discover if both parties can win; after all, it’s far better to lose quickly and exit the situation, thereby wasting fewer resources, than to lose slowly.

Achieving the end goal
Additionally, since the end goal is repeating customers, there’s no advantage in creating a situation where you win and your client loses. If your negotiation leaves a bad taste in your customer’s mouth, it’s less likely that they’ll come back to you for more products or services. Conversely, by negotiating in a way that allows both parties to win, you set up an environment that is conducive to a long-term
relationship.

Incorporating negotiation into the early stages of a working sales process leads to deals–and client relationships–that are more mutually beneficial.

Improve Your Presentation Skills: Crisis Communication in Emergency Situations

Crisis communication is a vital part of not only our presentation skills, but of our leadership skills as well. A crisis situation creates uncertainty, leading in some cases to panic. So you need a crisis communications plan to deal with anyone who will be concerned if your group has a major problem, and those problems can range from an unexpected drop in stock prices to a bad production run, product recall, environmental spill, legal problem, critical accident, bankruptcy or natural disaster.

While each of these emergencies benefit from unique handling, the idea in this article is to give you some general approaches which will help you to develop and improve your presentation skills for a crisis situation.

Essential Elements

First and foremost, your role is to reassure your immediate listeners and others who may be significantly affected by the emergency. Here are a couple of suggestions:

Get the word out as quickly as you can to as many affected people as you can.

That means that for at least one person, this has to be top priority when disaster strikes. It is useful to have a backup person somewhere else or with another organization if there is a small staff on the scene.

The Air France crash in Toronto is an example of where this could have been useful. The entire local staff went out to help rescue passengers, but it meant that people waiting to greet people who were on the plane had no one to turn to for information or reassurance. Despite the positive outcome of the situation, the company received a strong negative reaction for the lack of a spokesperson.

Most crisis situations are fraught with a lack of information, or worse, a mix of real and disinformation. So when we say “Get the word out,” don’t jump into the latest rumour you have heard.

Even though your listeners may be frantic for facts, they still appreciate you telling them what you are doing to find those facts if you don’t yet have them. “We are looking into it” is more likely to incense than reassure. Tell them, “Our hydraulics engineer is testing the pressure to determine a safe level,” or “The vice-president will meet with all managers and union leaders on October 1 to determine a back-to-work strategy.” Now they have something to sink their teeth into.

Be empathetic.

This is truly the time to “walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins.” Whether it’s a random case of product-induced illness or a full-scale natural disaster, people are fearful. They are often exhausted, uncomfortable and angry.

Use a lot of inclusive language (we, us, our). Indicate that you are aware of their collective uncertainty, discomfort or loss, and that your primary intent (along with that of your organization) is to ease their concern as much as you can and as soon as you can.

As part of the overall corporate, association, governmental or political risk management plan, select the people who can best convey reassurance and empathy. Is that you?

If you have nothing else to offer, provide basic human compassion.

Patience, at this time, is truly a virtue.

Give your statement and then allow people to ask questions, even if you have already answered what they ask or are not able to supply the answer they need.

Unless the resolution of the crisis is something your organization can control and knows exactly how to do it, don’t outline specifics of what you plan to do. Simply indicate time frames for steps to resolve it.

Be flexible.

Every situation is unique. An experienced presenter, you know that each audience member deserves a tailored approach. This is especially true in crisis situations.

Plan ahead.

Even if your organization has no formal crisis communications plan, take a look at the possible situations which would call on you to reassure people, then plan ahead.

Improve your presentation skills and your ability to cope with unexpected situations by following our tips for crisis communication. Such situations give you the opportunity to either cause outrage or to display your formidable leadership and presentation skills. Choose the latter options, and with a solid crisis communications plan, your team should be able to handle any situation.