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How to Develop Competitive Sales Skills

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Feb 9, 2017 4:22:00 PM

Developing competitive sales skills focuses on being prepared to perform under pressure, in any type of situation or environment.

Sales professionals who have competitive sales skills are the ones who think of sales in the same way professional athletes think of their jobs: with confidence about their own abilities and fear of their equally skilled competitors who may be better at using their abilities.

Confidence, born from focus, attention and ongoing skill development is the chief ingredient for success, no matter what industry you are in.

So, whether you’re training yourself, or your team, it can be challenging to determine specific areas of development that are important to focus on.

 That’s why, in addition to the insights shared by Steve Bookbinder in the video above, there are 4 important lessons that you must also focus on in order to gain a competitive advantage and own your success.

Approach big challenges differently than you do day-to-day challenges

Thinking about the future tends to cause our brains to minimize the obstacles we'll face and instead focus on desired outcomes. We look at goals differently based on whether they are a short-term or long-term goals. For instance, 3-months ago when you booked a trip home to see your family, you were focused on abstract ideas like “quality time with my family and friends” or “downtime.” But I would imagine when it came time to actually leave for your trip, you were more concerned about your immediate needs like: "what should I pack" or “how am I getting to the airport?” It is only when goals get closer and more immediate that people start to think about them more concretely. So, focus on making small, incremental lifestyle changes that may feel less glamorous, but will have a much greater chance of creating real change in your life.

Always be realistic about your starting point when facing a big challenge.

There is no advantage in exaggerating your abilities or skills; it’s more productive when you acknowledge areas in need of development and then set out to improve upon those areas in order to achieve your goals. Asking the right questions will help lead you down the right path. But that requires being honest with yourself, and not coming up with an unrealistic plan that you’re overwhelmed by, instead aim to take stop steps each day. And remember, play within your own abilities, and recognize constraints of your product, your company, and the marketplace.


Focus on identifying everything that can go wrong, rather than blindly trusting optimism.

While it is good to remain positive and confident that you will prevail, that is not the fuel that will help you prepare fully and give you the confidence you will need to overcome your biggest fears. Fear makes most people stop. But we can use our fear and feeling of being uncomfortable to propel us forward. Consider holding yourself accountable by involving a friend, co-worker, or partner to hold your feet to the fire. When we have support as well as keep pushing ourselves forward by stepping out of our comfort-zone, those are times that test our abilities and help us grow and gain a better understanding of our own work styles.

Don’t stop until you reach your goal.

The competitive sales professional will stop at nothing. They are driven, focused, and persistent.

Whatever you’re selling, you’ve got competition. Somebody besides you is selling to your clients and customers on a regular basis.  Assume that it’s a zero sum game, which means that if someone is getting “more”, then someone else is getting “less.” While we can’t control all of the factors involved in making a sale, we can certainly take all the right steps to properly prepare.

In a competitive situation like a playoff game or a race, every player wants to win at the start of the game --- the consistent winner isn’t the person who wants it bad enough at the starting line; it’s the person who was willing to prepare on all of the days leading up to the big game day!


Competitive salespeople beat their competitors as well as their own best records from previous years by focusing on all four of these lessons.

To develop your skills as a sales professional, you must work towards understanding yourself and equally as important, you need to understand your competition.

The best competitive sellers are willing to do whatever it takes and they ask themselves:

  • What are my competitors doing that I should be doing? Or shouldn’t be doing?
  • How many prospecting calls will they make?
  • How will they prepare for their sales meetings? Oh and by the way, these are sales meeting that are with the same type of people you want to meet with.
  • How will they handle objections?
  • How will they answer the tough question: “how are you different from your competitors?” How will they make their offering sound compelling and ROI+?
  • What are they doing to prepare for a successful year that includes beating you at your game?

Unless you consider these questions — even if the answers scare you — you will not as likely prevail like a competitive salesperson. So gather your confidence, skills, and go out there and conquer the sales world!

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Topics: training, sales tips, sales training, goal setting, how to be your own coach, Investing in Sales Training, salespeople, high performing salespeople, sales tools, competitive selling, how to, confident, confidence

How to Use Deadlines to Achieve Sales Goals

Posted by Steve Bookbinder on Aug 22, 2016 8:25:00 AM

Deadlines. It’s a powerful word that strongly suggests we must meet the time limit that’s been set, otherwise we’re dead if we miss it.

Most people have a love-hate relationship with deadlines. In most cases, deadlines are set for us by other people and can make us do crazy things. Things we don’t normally want to do like: get up extra early, work outside our comfort zone, or stay up extra late. All because we have to meet the deadline.

The ironic thing is that nothing provides more focus on our priorities and time management skills better than setting a deadline. We are usually at our best when we are racing to meet the timeline that’s been set because we are determined and focused on completing the assignment or project at hand.

With this in mind, imagine what we could accomplish by not waiting for someone else to assign a deadline, and instead give ourselves deadlines for everything we need to get done. But how do you assign yourself a deadline that will actually stick?

We’ve outlined 3 simple, but not easy, steps to help you use deadlines to achieve your sales goals:


Step 1: Commit

The first thing you must do is identify your goal and then commit to achieving it by a certain date.

Whether we are talking about a big or small goal, the best way to fully commit is by breaking down your goal into smaller steps that you can work on each day or week.

As a general example, let’s say you’ve just set yourself the goal of landing a new account with a large revenue opportunity.

In your experience as a seller, you understand there are a lot of internal and external factors that must be taken into consideration when mapping out your goal. And depending on your process and sales cycle, closing a large deal may take anywhere from a few months to a year.

That’s why we must break the larger goal down into smaller goals by creating a backwards timetable, like this:


When you look at your goal this way, it helps you think about what sales meetings need to be scheduled and what activities you should focus on during the months leading up to your target close date.

Let’s break this down:

If you need to close a sale in August of next year, then you need the verbal agreement by Q2, let’s say June.

Before that, you need to present a proposal that outlines the right solution for the client. Keep in mind this is the time when negotiations may happen, which could possibly delay this step. But on average, let’s say this will take about 1 to 3 months.

Now, that brings us backwards to Q4 of this year when you want the prospective client to express their interest, timetable, and confirm they have a budget for your product or service.

Even before the prospective client can express interest, we must get a better understanding of their business goals and challenges by launching a discovery process to gather more information. That will take about 1 to 3 months.

Naturally, we had to have a number of first meetings and conversations with a variety of stakeholders throughout the organization before we could get to the discovery phase. And depending upon the number of decision-makers involved, getting these meetings scheduled could span anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

That brings us to now. It all starts with your outreach efforts and making the first contact. So, when is your deadline to get started? Today!  

Get committed and start thinking about: What do I have to do to make sure I hit the goal?

Step 2: Be Realistic & Honest

When it comes to setting and achieving an audacious goal, it’s important to consider timing.

Be realistic about your process and sales cycle in terms of knowing how long each part of the sale will actually take. If you started today, how long would it take to secure a qualified first appointment with a large sized account? And then once you’ve conducted the first appointment, how long after that would you get to the proposal stage?

Be honest with yourself about your time and priorities. Are you already working on a long-term project that requires a lot of your attention? Do you have anything going on in your personal life that could interfere?

More often than not, everything takes longer than initially anticipated due to the inevitable “things” creeping up and stealing your time. However, it's amazing to see how much harder people work when they are running out of time, as opposed to when they have plenty of hours to burn.

This is why the most successful salespeople set deadlines for themselves. It creates a sense of urgency and helps push you forward to completion.  Deadlines create determination and focus while discouraging you from delaying steps or becoming sidetracked on something else.

Step 3: Use the Power of Negative Thinking

Yes, you read that right. The power of negative thinking.

The idea here is that when things go well we seldom assess or analyze how we achieved the end result. On the other hand, when things go badly we suddenly have 20-20 insight into what we should have done.

Thinking about what might go badly, while you still have time to do something to change the outcome, will help you create a solid action plan outlining the right activities and behaviors to focus on.

So, leverage negative thinking by imagining it is August of next year and you missed your goal and didn’t close that big sale. What should we have done?

You should have filled your pipeline with similar opportunities. When you create parallel initiatives with several other potentially large deals, you put yourself in a much better position to reach your goal.

Remember, today is the last day to get that big sale you want to close next year. Today is your deadline. Don’t miss it, or you will push out the close date – possibly to 2018 unless you hurry. So now is the time to get committed, be realistic and honest with yourself about timing, and use the power of negative thinking to ensure you reach your goal.

Tune-Up Your Sales with Steve


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Topics: deadlines, sales tips, goal setting

6 Tips for Setting and Achieving Your Goals

Posted by Buff Parham on Jun 2, 2015 9:30:00 AM

puzzle_pieces_one_different-1In many ways, professional selling is a game.  And every game requires a way to keep score.  It’s hard to imagine what a contest in any sport would look like without one.  The same goes for sales.  Usually, your employer will have goals for both the organization and for you.  But the goals that really matter are the ones that you set for yourself.  Those are the ones that will really help you to grow and prosper regardless of other circumstances.

Here are six tips to help with that critical personal objective:

  1. Don’t set goals just for the sake of setting goals.  If it’s nothing more than an obligatory “exercise”, don’t waste your time.  Effective goal setting takes time and commitment, and most importantly, honesty.  Taking a hard look in the mirror and being willing to work on specific skill sets shouldn’t be taken lightly.  “Cursory” goal setting won’t accomplish much, and may even prevent you from needed personal growth!
  1. Get input from others before finalizing your goals.  Gathering the opinions and assessments from trusted colleagues and friends will give you a more global picture of where you stand.  We tend to be either too positive or too negative about ourselves—having the perspectives of a select few will help balance out the picture.  Encourage those that you approach to be as candid and open as possible—tell them you want the truth, not just what you want to hear.  Synthesize as much of that feedback into your goal setting process as possible.
  1. Personal goals need to be in sync with your organization’s goals.  It’s unrealistic to embrace goals that run counter to your company’s respective philosophy and priorities.  Being at odds with your employer about what needs to be addressed here will only lead to confusion and conflict.  Your managers should be more than happy to offer you guidance if you ask for it.  Better that you approach them about goal setting than vice versa! 
  1. Great goals are a “stretch” that require personal growth in the process.  It’s simply “no pain, no gain.”  Goals that require little or no real effort are a waste of time.  Push yourself at least slightly beyond a “comfortable” range.  Don’t go too far with something that’s just unrealistic—that’s a non-starter also.  The sense of satisfaction when you achieve something that was just beyond your reach is very satisfying and lasting.  Making stretch goals on a consistent basis will only encourage you to do more of the same!
  1. Every goal needs its own action plan.  Mapping out the route to the goal is as important as the goal itself.  Anticipate as best you can “what will it take” to get you there.  If the basic necessities are not available, then it might be time to reconsider setting that particular goal.  Careful mapping to the goal will also improve your level of confidence that you can actually do it.  This process helps to make the goal much more tangible and therefore “real”.  It’s also the first and biggest hurdle to getting there!
  1. Once you commit to a goal, stick with it.  Giving up on a goal is a serious downer.  That surrender will attack your own sense of self-worth as a performer.  It also negates all of the effort that you put into setting up the goal in the first place.  Like it or not, giving up on a goal is nothing more than quitting.  “Quitters never win and winners never quit” is more than just a cliché—it’s true!  Giving up on a goal that you were committed to may be easy, but in the long run, it’s a real detriment to your development as a top-flight sales professional.  Don’t even entertain the word “surrender”!
4 Steps for Improving Your Time Management & Sales Skills - Download eBook Now


About the Author


Buff Parham is a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He believes that hard work matters and that raising the bar and having greater expectations tend to generate greater results. In his spare time, Buff finds cooking and playing golf to be two of the best therapies for a somewhat hectic existence!

Connect with Buff via LinkedIn 

Check out Buff’s Blog www.BuffParham.com

Follow @BuffParham

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Topics: setting goals, goal setting

How To Present 1-On-1

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Jun 5, 2013 8:30:00 AM

one_more_callToday, let's talk about presenting one-on-one, either over the phone or in person.  There are four things to consider:


1. Let’s begin with the goal. 


When I ask salespeople about their goal, in almost any context, I often get vague answers.  “Well, my goal is this, but my boss’s goal is that, but my ideal goal is this, but I would be willing to accept that.”  For the purposes of making a great presentation, we want to be very specific about what our goal is, and in order to get there, there are two kinds of questions that we want to explore before the meeting.  The first is:

How many sales conversations is this sale worth? 

In other words, if the sale is potentially worth less than your average order size, you may want to consider the fact that the entire sales effort is not worth more than one or two conversations, maybe with an email.  It’s certainly not worth 15 conversations.  On the other hand, if it’s potentially worth more than your average order size, it could be worth three, four, five, ten or more visits and conversations. In this case, you may have to adjust your goal for this particular meeting.  The second question you want to explore is, “In your view, what is the very next thing needed to eventually close the sale?  So when you look at those two things together, you want to be more specific about your goal. Are you aiming to get a decision in this meeting?  Or is your goal simply to get the prospect to say, “You know what, this is potentially worth exploring. Let’s talk again” or “Let’s talk again and bring somebody else to the meeting.”  Get specific as you can with that goal, and have a plan A and a plan B in place as you always do. 


2. Second, positioning. 

Now, some of these you can’t do until the moment of the meeting.  You’re sitting down, and you’re talking to somebody, and you’re immediately putting him or her in a bucket.  Or at least you should be.  And that bucket is one of maybe five or six buckets that are common to your business.  Now, what do I mean by that?  Well, when I’m talking to somebody, it’s likely that he or she is sitting in one of these buckets. Those sitting inside a bucket include a financial buyer, a commercial buyer, a technical buyer, the owner, the President, or the person that runs that company.  He is a person of influence and can make decisions.  Does he know more than you about what you’re selling?  Does he technically know what you’re selling but have no financial influence at all?  Adjust your presentation so that it speaks to the one that you’re presenting to in the same language that he’s already accustomed to speaking in. 

Stay tuned for part 2!


About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.


What did you think about this post? Was it helpful? Feel free to leave your comments in the box below.

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Topics: goal setting, positioning, presentation, presentation strategy, goals

How to Be Your Own Coach: Uncovering Next Steps (Part 2)

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Apr 16, 2013 9:17:00 AM

Next, find many steps.  Here is the trick: everyday, you want to find as many small steps that you can fit into each new day as you can. That should be the totality of your day - constantly taking the small next steps – and don’t count on any one of them to be the one that gets you to the final success.  You need to know that most of the roads you begin traveling down will not necessarily lead to whatever success you’re looking for right away.  Chances are that the bigger the goal, the longer it’ll take to get there and the greater the number of different routes you can take.  But if 99 won’t work, and you’re only working on 50 of them, something isn’t working.  You want to be on the constant outlook of the little baby steps that need to be taken so that you’ll eventually bump into or cause, by virtue of all the interactions that you’re creating, the success that you’re looking for.
And finally, understand the shape of the road.  Everyone runs into obstacles.  What’s interesting is that if you break that down into their core, you’ll reflect on your personal methods of dealing with challenges. What is your reaction to an obstacle?  Would you stop while some people keep going?
Think of it this way: There is no such thing as an obstacle.  To use the term "obstacle" means to see the thing in front of you that might look like a big rock or a high wall, where there’s nothing to hold onto, and say, “Oh, my goodness.” 
By saying it this way, what you’re really thinking is this: The road was nice, flat, smooth, consistent, and safe.  As you were walking down the road, there would be nice signs pointing ahead saying, “Success just 500 yards ahead.  Just keep strolling down this solid clean road.” We think it’s supposed to look like that, and when it doesn’t, we think there’s an obstacle.  When we see an obstacle, we treat ourselves very differently. If there’s a road, we keep walking, and if there’s a sudden high wall, we suddenly stop in our tracks.
Some of us are conditioned to stop when we see an obstacle.  Think of it this way:  There are no such things as obstacles. What there is, however, is the road taking on the shape of a wall sometimes.  The road can even take on the shape of a high tree that you must climb if you want to continue on that road to success.  That’s what the road looks like.  Treat the obstacle as you would any other road. You just have to adjust to it and perhaps even slow down.  Maybe you can’t keep running.  Just keep walking.  You can even crawl, but don’t stop advancing on that road.  Keep finding the small steps that you can take that will move you forward.
Remember to uncover your next steps by focusing on these 4 concepts:
1. Find the smallest step
2. Enjoy the moment
3. Locate many steps
4. The Shape of the Road


About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.




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Topics: training, tips, value, skills, life lessons, setting goals, goal setting, how to be your own coach, strategy

How to Be Your Own Coach: Uncovering Next Steps

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Apr 15, 2013 8:05:00 AM

This is part 1 of 2 installments. Hopefully, you have now decided on what your number one desired outcome in life is. The very next thing to think about is the next step. Think about the steps, the series of individual steps, that will eventually get you to your goal.
 These are four aspects that you need to focus on:
1. Find the smallest step
2. Let yourself enjoy the moment
3. Find many steps
4. The shape of the road.
First, find the smallest step.  Very often, we’re daunted by the challenge. We want to get to the top of the mountain. 


Right now, we’re at the bottom of the mountain, and it just seems like it’ll take forever to climb up.  But of course, the very first step is the most important one.  In fact, when most people don’t accomplish their goals, it can be attributed to two main causes: getting started and maintaining the momentum.  Generally, getting started is the most difficult aspect. What I want you to do is make that easy for yourself.  If you were to begin an exercise program that involved getting up early and doing a series of activities, what would be the hardest challenge?  Well, if you could just learn to get up early, then you will find that the first small step you take is the most essential step that will eventually get you to all the other steps.
And in this way, you want to break down your big goals, and start saying to yourself, “What’s the very next thing?” Most business or social goals have to do with either being introduced to someone (sometimes it’s not who you know, but who knows you) or getting someone’s permission.  If I’m an actor, I want to get the director’s permission to be casted.  If I’m a professional salesperson, I need to get the decision-maker’s permission so that the company will buy from me.  Generally, it boils down to these 2 things.
What do you need to do to break it down?   You need to make a phone call, send an email, and get a name.  You must meet someone who could eventually introduce you to your target person. Where do you need to go? 
This is the kind of reverse engineering and granular thinking needed to come up with an easy-to-take, can’t-miss next step.
Second, let yourself enjoy the moment.  After you have achieved in taking even the smallest step, actually enjoy it for a moment.  Allow yourself to feel good because you’re realizing that the only difference between where you are and where you want to be is that you haven’t finished taking all the steps to get there.  You deserve to enjoy it, so take a moment to fully realize it. 


 In tomorrow's post, we will cover the 3rd and 4th aspects.

About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.

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Topics: training, tips, value, skills, managing, life lessons, goal setting, how to be your own coach, business

How to Be Your Own Coach: Setting Goals with an Impact

Posted by Molly Depasquale on Apr 12, 2013 9:45:00 AM

Your success or failure is absolutely determined by your ability to coach yourself well.
As your own coach, the first challenge that you need to grapple with is deciding on your number one desired outcome.  After figuring out what that number one desired outcome is, think about four things: (1.) think bigger, 2. make it meaningful, 3. make it specific, and 4. challenge yourself.
1. Think bigger.  This applies to not only accomplishing your personal goals but your professional goals as well.  And as sellers, our professional and personal lives are so tightly intertwined that it’s extremely relevant to think bigger in terms of both of these aspects.  Think bigger and challenge yourself.
Allow me to illustrate.  People often ask, “How can I motivate myself?  How can I do what you’re doing?  How can I get up early and – and work hard and stay busy?  How do I do all of that?" What they’re asking for is the magic answer, a sort of magical motivation tool that can magnetically pull them out of bad and jump start their day at a great speed.
The reality is that there are days when you’re not going to feel like getting up.  In fact, this is an important symptom that you should look out for.  If you are having trouble getting out of bed, perhaps it’s because the payoff for getting out of bed is not something that really matches what you defined to be life's number one desired outcome.  Again, what is your number one desired outcome?  The moment that you latch onto this idea, you will find the reason, the goal, and the magical tool that will help you get out of bed every day.


2. Make your goals meaningful.  Make it personally meaningful. If climbing a mountain is a big challenge but is not especially meaningful to you, then don’t do it.  Maybe learning how to play the piano is the better challenge for you.  Tap into the things that you will want to have accomplished when you look back on your life – 10, 15, 25 years from now. What’s that one thing that will make you say, “You know what I wish I had done?”  What is that thing?  Because on your deathbed, it will certainly become clear as day to you, but you don’t want to have to come to this point with regrets.  Just make sure that it your personal goal is meaningful to you and place this with highest priority.
3. Make it specific.  People tell me that they want to make a lot of money.  What’s a lot of money?  For some, this means $5, 000, 0000,000.00.  For others, this means being able to get through the week and still have money remaining.  It’s surprising to note that at times, the value of money can still be subjective.  I frequently travel to other countries with $5.00 in American currency in my pocket and see how far I’ll get. There will be times when I couldn’t withdraw cash and I’ll have wished for a $50 instead. The $50 that’s there for me when I need it most is a great deal of money, compared to that $5.00 bill.
If making a lot of money is your biggest priority, then come up with something meaningful that the money can acquire for you. Of course there’s always an exception. For some, aiming to hit a specific dollar amount in and of itself is personally meaningful.  Chances are it’s what you do with the money that is the key driver.  The more specific and personal you can make your goal, the more likely you’ll be driven out of bed every morning to go for the gold and get it done!
4. Challenge yourself to grow.  When you aggressively pursue a new goal, you will, very early on, encounter the one thing that you hate doing.  And what you’ll realize is that as a grown-up, it’s very easy to avoid the discomfort of doing something you hate to do.  As a grown-up, if you don’t like eating vegetables, you could stop eating vegetables and no one will be able stop you (unless it’s a persistent fellow that’s making you consume your greens).
The problem is that those things that you like to avoid can stop you like a fence and block you from going forward. For example, if you don’t like technology, it’s absolutely necessary for you to learn to master it to take one more step forward.  And so, challenge yourself to break through those fences and try the things that used to make you afraid. 
 I leave you with this: Don't be afraid of being afraid.

About the Author:


Steve Bookbinder is Co-founder and CEO of Digital Media Training, a training partner to some of the most successful sales organizations around the world.  DMT delivers training which treats sales as a competitive sport and changes behavior needed to help sellers consistently win.  DMT is a leader in M-learning training reinforcement with a proven track record of improving sales through training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.





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Topics: training, tips, value, skills, life lessons, setting goals, goal setting, opportunities, improving, strategy, coaching