Paul Bickford knows world-class training, and he says that’s definitely what he found when he attended SPASIGMA’s Battle for Margin negotiation seminar, Feb. 9 and 10, in Miami. As Epicor Software’s Senior Manager, Sales Training and Enablement, Paul is an award-winning senior learning and development professional, and selling and negotiation expert. We recently had a conversation with him about his experience at Battle for Margin. Here’s what he said makes this training stand apart.
1. Attention to Detail
Paul said SPASIGMA’s attention to every training detail, from the venue to the speakers to the content, was exceptional.
“The venue was amazing. Even before the event kicked off everybody knew that this was going to be an elevated, first-class experience,” he explained. “Kudos to SPASIGMA!”
2. Compelling Speakers
That initial positive first impression was confirmed when the speakers took the stage.
“Skip (Tucker), Marc (Jablon) and the other speakers were really fantastic,” he said. “That’s the world I live in, and I’m probably hypercritical of that element of it. I teach that PowerPoint is not a presentation, you are the presentation, and they did a fantastic job with that.”
3. Professional Audiovisuals
He noted, however, that their audiovisuals could have very easily stolen the show.
“The videos they used were diverse and dynamic; I’ve done training videos and these were professional. They used 35 millimeter film, like they use to make movies, you could tell there was professional lighting and editing,” he explained. “It was very, very polished and engaging. SPASIGMA understands that these nuances matter.”
4. Real-World Content
But while all of these elements enhanced the education, it was the content itself that Paul found remarkable.
“The best trainings have opportunities for skills practice in the learning environment. And they did that,” enthused Paul. “There were multiple opportunities to do practice negotiations, and the scenarios were real-world situations that you would run into. Even though I’m a subject-matter expert in negotiation, I definitely learned things.”
He relates that during one practice negotiation, the other team excelled at framing a situation and came in at such low price he would have accepted their offer almost immediately. But he let his partner lead. Instead, Paul practiced a technique SPASIGMA taught: He simply stayed quiet. As a result, his partner was able to negotiate a deal that was $15,000 better than what was initially offered.
“If it was just me, I would have taken the previous offer,” admitted Paul. “I learned a lesson on how to be patient and not be snake-charmed by the frame of reference the other party wants to create. That was really nice for my personal growth.”
He was also impressed with the Personality Quotient Training, which enables you, almost at a glance, to determine someone’s personality type so you can communicate with them more effectively.
“I am familiar with multiple models for this type of science,” notes Paul. “But I am always intrigued to see different ones.”
He appreciated how SPASIGMA made sophisticated, complex information simple. “They explained it in terms anyone could understand and not be intimidated, so they could apply what they learned,” he said.
5. Leading Training Techniques
While many negotiation seminars Paul has attended devoted most of the time to teaching theory, with a small opportunity to practice it at the very end, he was pleased SPASIGMA took the opposite approach.
“They had such high quality materials, and everything was real-world specific instead of broad-based academic techniques,” he said, noting that while what SPASIGMA teaches is academic, they showed attendees how to use this theory on the job.
“They made it bite-sized. They taught, then you practiced what they taught. And then they taught a few more techniques, and you practiced them in addition to what you touched on earlier,” he continues.
Their approach reminded him of what training professionals call “spaced learning over time” which maximizes learning retention. This is one of the reasons why everyone who attends SPASIGMA’s seminars are automatically enrolled in SPASIGMA’s 90-day online learning-management system. There is nothing like this in the industry. It uses highly professional, interactive online education to reinforce and expand on what is taught in the seminar.
The One Issue
Paul would have preferred to see more sales professionals at Battle for Margin because the content speaks to both buyers and sellers.
“There was general information that could be utilized throughout the sale, just not negotiation, like how to use value propositions and questioning skills,” he noted.
He said lack of training puts today’s sellers at a disadvantage, but Battle for Margin can help make up for that.
“When the economy collapsed, companies slashed sales training by 50%, meanwhile they increased procurement training by 50%. This has created a gap, and now buyers have the leverage,” he explained. “The content at Battle for Margin speaks to both. Sellers, like myself, will learn some things that a lot of sellers may not be aware of, because as a function, sales doesn’t invest in training like that they did a decade ago.”
If you want to give both your selling and procurement professionals a sharper competitive edge, sign up for the next Battle for Margin. It’s set for June 8 and 9 in Las Vegas. In addition, one-day seminars are scheduled throughout the next quarter in Chicago, Baltimore, San Francisco, Seattle, and Dallas.
We look forward to seeing you there!