Tag Archives: Meetings

Will the callers please identify themselves?

This day and age, when so much business communication is conducted by web-meeting and conference call, it can be difficult to know who is speaking.

No, the initial round of introductions on a call, typically performed by all on the customer side as quickly as possible so as to obscure themselves* and by all on the selling side as to impress and overwhelm the customer,** does not suffice.  A flight through fifteen names does not make anyone stand out.

Here’s a tip:

Throughout the call, when you feel compelled to speak, begin your portion with a simple “this is FirstName,” and then carry on with your question or comment.  It only takes a second, and now everyone on the call will know who is speaking.  After you’ve contributed two or three times the audience will know who you are and recognize your voice.  The other three or four active contributors to the call (the rest are happy to put themselves on mute and get some email done) will pick up on this trick. As a result, the key players will know who is speaking and some work will get done.

* “Otto Manfredjensenjen, IT Analyst.”
** “Hi, My name is Archie Leach, and I’m your Account Executive focused on our overlay solutions in the customer relationship space.  I’ve been working with BigVendorCo since 2004 and have covered many business disciplines and lines of business and am intrigued to learn more about yours.  Throughout the call today I’ll be making liberal use of the mute button, but forgetting whether it is toggled on or off, so if you hear me pouring coffee, playing with my dog in my home office, or sighing throughout the call.  Thanks!”
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Plus or Minus Three Minutes

You are entirely within the realm of business etiquette if you arrive to a conference call three minutes late.  You can, in fact, strategically arrive at three minutes past, just as the call really gets started.

But if you’re there three minutes early…

You’ll get the chance to talk with the host of the call one on one.  You’ll meet the other people who are ready to get something done. You’ll get to create, renew and enhance relationships with peers and customers in an informal, friendly atmosphere.

Show up a little early.

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Eventually…

If you stay in the game long enough, you’ll find yourself visiting the same customer in the same meeting rooms multiple times in a sales cycle.

If you stick around longer, you’ll find yourself visiting the same customer in the same meeting rooms in a different sales cycle with a different sales team.

When you’re a grizzled veteran, you’ll find yourself visiting the same customer in the same meeting rooms, but with different customer contacts and a different sales team.

Eventually…

You’ll find yourself visiting the same customer in the same meeting rooms, but this time you’ll be with a different vendor, selling the replacement to the solution you sold them a decade ago when the world was young and a quart of milk was still a quarter.

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Save the Day

Often, too often, the agenda is not clear, the audience is not understood, and the purpose of the meeting hasn’t been communicated.

As Pre-Sales it is our responsibility and delight to save the day:

  • Determine what the audience is there to learn
  • Volunteer to take over
  • Grab their attention and bring them value.
  • Be brilliant and brief

Look at that.  You’ve been memorable.

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Technology simplifies

For a recent demonstration…

I sat down to a web-meeting and conference call (VOIP telephony) and shared my desktop, while connected to my corporate VPN, running a virtual computing system (the demonstration system) accessed remotely (through a desktop emulator), which was itself running a virtual phone system / communications technology (the product being demonstrated), dialed into via cell phone by a peer on-site at the customer, which came back into my USB headset, which was itself full-duplexing the concall, the inbound call, and a conferenced demo role all at once through the same headphones and mic, recording the calls themselves to boot.  All from my laptop, wirelessly connected to a router connected to a cable-modem inside my home office.

I took a smooth sip of coffee and showed them how easy the products were to use.

I’m sure you would have done the same.

Rats! I forgot to show the email and chat features!
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Social Feedback Loop

Don’t you love it when you get a message from LinkedIn that people are looking at your profile?

Don’t you love it even more when the person doing the looking is the customer you just had a solid interaction with?  It’s like getting a firm handshake at the end of the meeting.

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Overheard

Imagine the following phrases uttered in a customer engagement:

“Most companies I see…”

“Jump in! This is for you!”

(While snapping fingers) “Very, very quick.”

“Everyone loves the mobility.  It’s fantastic.”

Customer: “Our biggest issue has always been data gathering.”  Response, without missing a beat, “Well, let’s talk about that then.”

“This is something new and cool.”

“When our customers have needs, we move quickly.”

“I want to tell you a secret.  Can I tell you a secret?”

When you get the opportunity to watch a peer present, take it.  And take notes.  All of these gems* were dug up in a single morning’s demo.

*Regardless of solution-space or industry, phrases like this are examples of the highest level of professionalism in any demonstration of technology.  What customer (or sales rep, our other audience) wouldn’t be thrilled to conduct a conversation in this manner?
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Second Person Narrative

You arrive at the customer site twenty minutes early.  Your sales rep and your client chat about the meeting ahead as you set up.  But something’s wrong. You can’t get onto the network, the projector isn’t cooperating with your tablet, and your sales rep starts talking about areas of the solution you aren’t prepared to cover.

I arrive at the customer site twenty minutes early.  My sales rep and my client chat about the meeting ahead as I set up.  But something’s wrong. I can’t get onto the network, the projector isn’t cooperating with my tablet, and my sales rep starts talking about areas of the solution I’m not prepared to cover.

Much is said about “I-talk” and “you-talk,” the idea that you should phrase your demo clicks in the first person or the second person.

Which of the two examples above had you more involved?  When it was happening to you* or when it was happening to me?  If you want to better involve your customers in your presentations, go with your gut.

* I was delighted to realize, upon review, that most of my posts here are in the second person narrative.
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Communication, understanding, problem-solving, relationship-building

When you get your hair cut, there’s usually a big mess on the floor when you’re done.  The same applies when you’re solving business problems with customers:

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Meddling Fools

As the subject matter experts, rock-stars that we are, we’re often burdened with taking the customer’s challenges and needs and developing our position, messaging, and solutions for the rest of the team.

We all know it is easier to edit than create, and therein lies the challenge.  After blood, sweat, and tears are invested in solution creation, the meddling fools who delegated the creation authority to us in the first place feel the need to take our effort and begin the process again from the beginning, turning over each stone.

And turning them over again.  And again.

The horse is dead.

Stop beating it.

Stop thinking on our time; We’ve invested our creative effort offline, previously, and have communicated it to you with good reason.  Be a professional, stay up to date, and be prepared.

The review is not the starting point; it’s the affirming close.

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