Nicole Soames is CEO and Founder of Diadem Performance, a leading commercial skills training and coaching company that has helped more than 2000 people become commercial athletes in negotiation, selling, marketing, presenting, leadership and management.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I learnt early in life that if you don’t ask you don’t get and was taught to always speak my mind. These lessons helped me land a big sales role very early on in my career and I suddenly found myself working for Unilever managing multi-million pound relationships with the large supermarkets.
It felt a little bit like a lamb to the slaughter. We were sent on training courses but they were very theoretical. The trainers were either theorists or explainers who hadn’t actually experienced what it was like to sit at the negotiation table with the supermarkets so I had to rely on ‘on the job training’.
As I became more senior I found myself spending more and more of my time helping my team develop their selling and negotiation skills and that was when I had my first eureka moment -– I discovered I loved giving people the tools and techniques to have confident commercial conversations.
Tell us about your business.
I am a highly qualified coach and EQ practitioner with extensive commercial experience gained from twelve years leveraging large sales teams for Unilever and United Biscuits, followed by thirteen years developing and delivering training programmes across the globe.
In 2009 I founded Diadem Performance – a leading commercial skills training and coaching company. We help people become commercial athletes in negotiation, selling, marketing, presenting, leadership and management.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
I recently wrote my first book. ‘The Negotiation Book’ is a practical guide to help you develop your emotional intelligence so you can become a highly skilled negotiator in all areas of your life – whether you’re negotiating with customers, colleagues, family or friends. It’s packed with expert advice and practical tools and techniques to help you put negotiation theory into practice.
- AC Accredited Certificate in Executive Coaching
- Full Associate Member for Association Of Coaches
- EQ Practitioner – Roche Martin
- ECR Accreditation
- DISC Accreditation
- StrengthscopeTM Individual & Team Accreditation
- My360 Accreditation
Where is your business based?
Diadem is based in London, but we have worked with over 85 different clients in more than 15 countries.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
In 2004 I decided to change track and leave my sales role at United Biscuits. I retrained, qualified as a coach and started running training workshops as a freelancer. Then in 2009, I decide to take the plunge and put a stamp on how I felt training and coaching should be done by starting my own company -Diadem Performance.
Step by step I designed a suite of training and coaching programs that I wished I’d had access to when I was climbing the career ladder in my 20’s, and 30’s.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Diadem’s best advocates are without question the people who have been on our training programs who then recommend us to colleagues and friends. So we always make sure we keep in touch with our alumni on a regular basis.
The Negotiation Book has also been a fantastic way of raising awareness of my business – we have received great coverage in the national press, lifestyle magazines as well as numerous business publications and websites.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
If setting up a training and coaching company at the beginning of a worldwide recession wasn’t challenging enough, at the end of last year I set myself the goal of writing a book.
As you can imagine this took some juggling – I was managing a team of 18 people, delivering a portfolio of programs to 85 clients in 15 countries as well as being a mum to 2 teenage daughters, walking the dogs, trying my best to stay fit etc – but I was determined to put pen to paper and write a book to help more people!
It was always on the bucket list, but by saying it out loud and carving out the time in my diary – I am very proud to say that I am now the author of “The Negotiation Book” – published by LID and available from all good book stores!
How did you overcome these challenges?
My strategy for overcoming challenges is to practice what I preach. The glass is always half full for me – I stay optimistic, take what I learn from setbacks and move on. I know that I can’t always win or please all of the people all of the time – but I firmly believe that if you are passionate about what you do – then you can literally achieve the impossible. You have to put in the blood sweat and tears and remain resilient at all times, no matter what.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
We all have bad days. I truly believe a problem shared is a problem solved so I surround myself with people who support me whether that’s a friend, a coach, one of my team or people in my network. Then I put my solution-orientated head on and write an action plan. Baby steps and quick wins help me get back on track quickly.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Most of our clients report that our use of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is their favorite differentiator. By combining EQ with traditional commercial skills development, we can help people make a seismic difference to their commercial performance and relationships.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
There are 3 main philosophies I live by – work hard play hard, love your network and they will love you and practice what you preach! There are many more but these three run deep.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Life is short, so if you want to be happy – spend your work life doing what you are good at and what you enjoy, know yourself, be yourself and above all remember if you don’t ask you don’t get.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
The world of sport – I am fascinated and inspired by the dedication and hard work sport men and women put into being at the top of their game. I constantly reflect on how athletes would handle the challenges we face in the commercial world – this thinking provides me with endless food for thought.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
“Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth about Success” by Matthew Syed.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
We are currently developing a Digital Training program that focuses on helping people harness the power of digital and create real value on a day-to-day basis.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Following the success of ‘The Negotiation Book’, I have just started writing my second book ‘The Influencing Book’ a practical guide to help people harness their EQ and become a strong influencer by making it easy for the other person to say yes.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Website www.diademperformance.com, www.thenegotiationbook.com