We are not in Kansas anymore.

Remember the disappointment Dorothy felt when Toto pulled back Oz’s curtain?

I feel the same about marketing curtains, things like PR releases, award ceremonies, bland something yet nothing keynotes, blog posts that say the same thing again and again but in a different bottle.

When the curtain is pulled back the truth is revealed. But we don’t challenge because, well that’s just fuckin’ impolite mate. We are all, me and you, therefore complicit and the show moves on to another town.

On first sight marketing curtains seem compelling. If it’s written by a Prof or some old sage it must be good surely, which is fine if we see actual relevance, reliability, purpose and functionality. Let’s stick our necks out even and maybe ask for something like, I dunno, evidence?

But instead we more often than not are dealt vague and vacuous and we sort of lap it up. It is the stuff of ‘hit and hope.’ And my cynical head can’t help feeling, nice fee for the keynote, travel and expenses included.

If we don’t see what we have been lead to believe then trust has been compromised. And everything today is built on trust. That’s right. Not technology, innovation or efficiency or any of those things that there is an award for but trust.

So please just tell us how it really is because that’s what I want. “I do. I do, I do, I do.”

The dog ate my homework

When something goes wrong the easy option is to look for a scapegoat, someone or something else to blame. This mindset starts when we are young, “sorry sir, the dog ate my homework.”

I’ve heard them all and pretty much used them all at one time or another but as my late father once said, “sooner or later you have to look at yourself in the mirror.”

My share is that sooner rather than later is better because if you can’t be open and honest with yourself then you have little chance with anyone else. And in a world that sometimes lacks authenticity being open and honest is bordering on revolutionary.

So next time something goes not to plan take 5-10 minutes and ask yourself some simple questions and be really honest. Remember it’s between you and you, no one else gets to listen in. To help you here is a sample list I use:

  • Did I really do my best?
  • Did I connect?
  • Did I miss something?
  • Did I really care?
  • Did I ask the questions I wanted to?
  • Did they trust me?
  • Did I help them?
  • Did I add value?
  • Did I fully understand their problem?
  • Did I make a difference?

The answer ‘no’ will probably come up a lot when you begin but that’s okay. Now you have something to work with.

Once you are comfortable asking yourself these questions try making it part of your every day routine, not just in work but in your life because it won’t benefit just you, but also all those around you.

Want to learn more?

I provide small insights to empower people and help them achieve their goals, individually or as a collective team. If you would value an informal discussion or a team workshop please contact me. 

Nice to have but…

Too often in sales this is what we get told by the prospect, “it would be nice to have but…”

Sure there are always ‘compelling needs’ (“we need to be more efficient” is a common one) but they are not enough. Too vague, no timeline, all too easy to delay, ending up in “nice to have but…”

The hard bit in sales is finding ‘the compelling event.’ Hard because finding it means you have to leverage trust and engage human to human. But if you find the compelling event your sale cycle will completely change. Let me illustrate this with an example.

Some years ago I was leading a significant software opportunity. It had been running for a few weeks but I didn’t really know if the client was in ‘nice to have but…’ mode or not.

I decided to ask my contact who’d I’d built up a strong and open conversation with a simple question: “What is the compelling event?” I pushed him a little further and explained that “based on our many conversations I can’t see one and if there isn’t one I am not sure if there is any value in developing our engagement much further. Could you help me?” (Notice how I asked him for help, small but important detail).

“What is a compelling event?” he asked.

So I explained. “I can understand why you are interested in what we do but what happens if you don’t buy it? What are the consequences of staying as you are and not buy our solution?”

His reply was revealing.

“Our GC is well regarded in the business and she is ambitious for her department and its status in the wider business. The Board has given her a KPI to solve x problem by deploying y system in this financial year. If she doesn’t deliver then she won’t receive the bonus that has been agreed for achieving it. And nor will I.”

What my contact revealed was that there was a consequence of doing nothing. Missing a KPI, no bonus for the GC, loss of political kudos in the eyes of the Board, department continuing to run inefficiently, no bonus for my contact. But there was also a specific event; this financial year.

If there is no consequence in doing nothing, no timeline, then don’t be surprised if your prospect doesn’t buy and eventually says “it would be nice to have but…”

Next time you start an engagement one of your first questions should be “what is the compelling event?” You have every right to ask.

Want to learn more?

I provide small insights to empower people and help them achieve their goals, individually or as a collective team. If you would value an informal discussion or a team workshop please contact me. 

The audience

When I read about a success metric of “finding an audience” I don’t think that is enough. It falls into the safe zone, the status quo. At its worst it becomes fawning and ultimately vacuous. Reputations get tarnished.

You’ve found them, you have the following, the likes. That is powerful, you’ve earned that but what next? More of the same, maybe repackaged, maybe slicker, maybe shinier? No big leaps required, keep it steady Eddie. That may buy you an hour but what about after that?

Our purpose, all of us, should be to “empower an audience” because when the audience is truly empowered, has real responsibility, then it will have the confidence to change and improve things, step by step.