How a Credit Professional Can Have More Conversations that Count

What type of impression are you leaving? How effective are your communication skills? As you either thumb through your daily planner or scan through your smart phone, review your recent interactions. Did any of the following issues arise?

  • You were asked to speak up or repeat yourself
  • Your message was misunderstood
  • You couldn’t get the full attention of your audience
  • You didn’t get the results or reactions you had anticipated
  • You didn’t make the sale or close the transaction

These phenomena are quite common in the course of the typical business day. What causes these missed opportunities? Usually the missed opportunity stems from one of the following communications flaws:

  • Speaking too rapidly
  • Speaking with too low of a volume level
  • Slurring your words or mumbling
  • Speaking in a tone that lacks confidence, interest, or authority
  • Failing to organize your thoughts before speaking
  • Lacking eye contact or other non-verbal body language to support your message
  • Speaking too much and listening too little

Whether it’s nervous energy or just bad habits, the results are the same. Your message is not understood as you intended. Improving your communication skills takes time and practice. Even the best speakers benefit from rehearsal and preparation!

  • If you are preparing for an important call or conversation, take a few minutes to jot notes and
    organize your thoughts. Locate a mirror and smile as you speak on the phone.
  • If you find yourself speaking rapidly, try emphasizing the pronunciation of important words. Give the listener something to remember.
  • Ask questions! Check to see if your message is being understood by the audience.
  • Practice presentations in front of a mirror. Make sure your gestures and body language match your intentions.

Great communication skills set you apart from the rest of the pack. If it is worth saying, it is worth being understood.

About the Author

Accent On Business founder and CEO Ellen Dunnigan is a nationally-recognized voice and speech coach for business professionals. She is specially trained in voice, speech, and English improvement. For more information
or to schedule an interview or assessment with Dunnigan, call (317)843-2983 or visit her website at http://www.AccentOnBusiness.net

How to Use Influence Skills to Increase Efficiency and Gets Results, by Dan Goldes

How do you move people to action in order to increase efficiency? How do you get results from others without destroying relationships? These are burning questions in most organizations.

One thing is clear: the ability to influence people is not something you must be born with, but something you can learn.

Think about the best influencers in your life: clients, or people you’ve worked for, worked with, or even supervised. What made them great influencers? Was it their ability to ask questions and really listen to your answers? Did they paint a picture of the future that you found appealing and wanted to be part of? Were they able to convey their thoughts on a topic efficiently and directly and then invite your input as well?

Effectively using influence skills means learning some new behaviors – or, in some cases, refocusing behaviors your already use in order to be more efficient. Influence behaviors fall into three categories: push behaviors, pull behaviors, and push/pull behaviors.

Many people are well-versed in push behaviors, which have to do with stating your needs directly. Others are more comfortable with pull behaviors, with which you draw information out of the other party. Far fewer effectively use push/pull behaviors, which both increase commitment and move people toward action.

Most people have a default: a set of behaviors they use over and over because they work (or, often, because that’s all they know). The most effective influencer, though, is one who can pick and choose the best behavior for that moment, much as an artist decides which brush to use for each section of a painting. Using influence skills well, then, means being able to assess a situation in advance, think about the appropriate behaviors, try them, and pivot as necessary.

Planning for influence can’t be overlooked. While spur-of-the-moment opportunities to use influence skills do come up, far more often we know we’re heading into a meeting or making a phone call during which we want to influence the outcome. The investment in spending a few minutes thinking about what you want to get out of the situation, what you think the other party wants, and which of the influence behaviors you’ll use is well worth the effort. Does it take a little more time? Yes. Does it require you to change how you approach these situations? Probably. But the confidence that comes from having a plan – even if it changes mid-stream – can’t be overstated. Confident influencers are effective influencers.

Learning new behaviors often makes people anxious. But the payoff in developing influence skills is increased efficiency and better relationships, which will serve you now and in the future.

I will go into much greater detail about this during my interactive keynote presentation at the upcoming CreditScape Summit, April 12 in Garden Grove, CA.

Dan Goldes is a facilitator, trainer, and speaker based in San Francisco. He will speak on Influence Skills at CMA’s Spring CreditScape Summit on April 12. For more information about the event, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com

Coming Soon: How to Create a More Efficient Credit Department (and Ultimately Cut Costs)

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Your boss comes to you and tells you that you need to cut costs in the credit department, or that one of your resources (i.e., employees) now needs to split their time between credit and something else not related to credit. You’re already short-handed in your department. What’s a credit professional to do?

We work in a “do more with less” world. Practitioners in the credit department are impacted more than most. Dedication to process improvement is the only way to achieve high-performance results in the face of diminishing resources.

At CMA, late last year we conducted a research study where we spoke with more than a quarter of CMA’s members who told us that their biggest concern in 2017 is related to doing more with less. Whether it’s cutting costs or maximizing their efficiency, or a combination of both, CMA members are always looking for ways to streamline their credit operations. As a response to those conversations, CMA has tailored its CreditScape event to help credit managers with all levels of experience and expertise to leverage the knowledge and experiences of practitioners who have implemented new efficiency-maximizing processes in their credit departments.

The 2017 CreditScape Spring Summit, powered by United TranzActions, will feature a full day workshop that includes a keynote address on persuading internal and external customers, training sessions, expert practical and legal advice, and networking with other credit professionals. The goal of CreditScape is to provide an opportunity for credit practitioners at all levels of experience and expertise to come together to solve problems and provide solutions for their real-world issues they face at work.

Over the next few days, several participants in the event will be guest blogging about the power of persuasion and areas in your credit operations where you could be more efficient.

We invite you to join our guest bloggers at the Spring CreditScape Summit, powered by UTA, April 12, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County (or view the website at www.creditscapeconference.com), and to read their blogs, as the information you’ll receive can help you save time and resources in the long run.

What areas of your credit department do you think you could use efficiency to cut costs that you the most interested in learning about? We welcome your feedback.