Putting Your Sales Team, and Your Enablement Program, into the Presentation Gauntlet

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

Here’s something you don’t see everyday: a post that combines Marcus Lemonis and Bruce Lee.

Last week, I wrote about how Mr. Lemonis debuted his CNBC TV show The Partner, and quickly put 10 experienced job candidates through an initial test: an impromptu, solo #presentation task two-and-a-half minutes in length in front of an unexpected conference room filled with several dozen well-dressed extras to go with bright lights, at least one television camera, and one senior-level decision maker. 10 candidates entered the room. All good people with solid, professional credentials. A few did alright, but most did not fare well. As executives, all should have been able to handle the task, but it was clear that there was presentation work to be done across the board.

In the third act of Bruce Lee’s unfinished 1972 film The Game of Death, Bruce’s character enters a pagoda with two associates in an attempt to fight their way up the building to the top floor. Standing in the group’s way is a martial arts expert on each floor. For Bruce and his friends, the object is simple: fight and defeat the bad guy on one floor, and move on to the next until they reached the top – where an indoor sunglasses-wearing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar waits in a dimly lit attic. Defeat Kareem, and it’s mission accomplished.

Unfortunately, Bruce died in 1973 before he could finish his movie, but material found over 10 years ago reveals about 40 minutes of footage unseen for 30 years. It shows how Bruce is the only one out of his trio capable of defeating the bad guys. His associates try to fight, but they’re no match for the pagoda inhabitants. In fact, at times they’re used as comic relief. On the #sales and #marketing front, this footage reminded me of how a senior-level account executive will take junior sales and marketing reps on visits to customer sites. The junior reps would stand no chance at closing a deal with major league decision makers – some arrogant enough to claim they eat salespeople for breakfast. But a more seasoned rep will walk out of these meetings with a signed contract.

Now combine observations and lessons learned from Bruce Lee’s film and Marcus Lemonis’ TV show.

I appreciated Mr. Lemonis putting the candidates through the presentation challenge, but the reality is that challenge was basic. Barely table stakes for any business leader. If executive-level candidates have trouble handling a short, surprise, professional presentation situation, they’ll have little chance of walking into and orchestrating any presentation scenario – planned or unplanned. No matter how good their sales enablement content is.

Now back to Bruce.

His Game of Death character was able to fight and defeat all pagoda opponents, no matter the fighting style or weapons they used. He was experienced, and prepared. His associates were not. No matter the style of opponent, Bruce’s friends couldn’t win. It was up to Bruce to save the day.

Now to your sales team, your sales enablement program, and the presentation gauntlet.

I view the premier episode of The Partner as an example of the senior-level presentation deficiencies which run rampant throughout the corporate world. I also draw upon my experience watching presentations of all shapes and sizes over the past 30 years. Early on in my professional life I used to be surprised at what I saw on the trade show, conference, webinar, and corporate event circuit. Not anymore. What I saw on The Partner confirmed my observations, and the same observations certainly shared by many of you reading this article. People need help in this area of professional development, and many companies either overlook it, don’t care, don’t want to spend the money or shortchange it, feel as if it’s not important, or leave it up to individual employees to fend for themselves. The real-world results speak for themselves.

Which brings me to the other side of the coin: salespeople (and marketers, and customer service reps, and executives, and IT pros, and numerous other departmental staff) who crave the help, practice, coaching, and continual improvement they need and want in their presentation game. Like the candidates on TV, and similar to those who benefit from content-rich support: your colleagues – at this very moment – are seeking options to improve their skills to better communicate and interact with audiences across multiple channels because the market demands it. The business world demands it from them, they need the skills to do their job, yet help is hard to find – if it’s available at all.

Your sales team equals the candidates on a TV show, working through a surprise presentation challenge in order to compete, and win.

Your sales team also equals Bruce Lee and his associates on a raid of a sales pagoda having to conquer different presentation formats and styles on each floor.

You, as an enabler, have to equip your people with #content and personal performance skills to succeed, and pass, every test. To advance, and win business.

My presentation gauntlet for your sales team is simple: a series of presentation challenges throughout the business day, using various styles and formats, incorporating sales enablement content made available to them. If I looked at a typical Outlook calendar day for a typical salesperson, I’d expect to see conference calls, in-person sales presentations, a webinar or virtual session, various internal and external #meetings, product #demos, partner activities, and on-camera, #video meetings. Maybe some booth duty at a trade show or even an interview with an industry reporter. Not only is it reasonable to expect that these type activities would fill the average day of the typical salesperson, it’s mandatory to see this on a regular basis.

Specifically, make an internal event out of the presentation gauntlet for a day or two. Imagine, one conference room in your office is set for your salespeople to conduct individual, executive-level sales pitches, the next, a webinar. On another floor, a larger room doubles as your trade show booth, while still another houses a laptop camera to mimic a video conference call. Employees play the part of the audience, and judges. Put your colleagues through the gauntlet of different presentation styles and formats. Score the performances. Mix it up and make it a competition. Have fun.

Prepare everybody, throw curve balls and surprises throughout the exercise, customize the activity, and practice the #communication techniques and personal skills needed to succeed in any format, in front of any #audience, with or without content, computer, and modern-day presentation crutches.

To be certain, while some high-performing closers will do well in an area or two, ways to improvement performances for all will undoubtedly present themselves. For others outside of #business development and not used to #publicspeaking, my prediction is that the gauntlet results will be even more revealing.

The other day, my friend and communication expert Bob Parkinson said something apropos on the subject of business presentations, a presenter’s physical and vocal skills, and communication effectiveness: “If it was all about content, we’d all be Shakespearean actors.”

The point is clear. Shakespeare’s content has been available to all for hundreds of years. Yet only coached and experienced actors can deliver a performance worthy of the material. Because it’s the skill of presenter, working with the content, that makes for an effective performance. Getting to that high-level of performance doesn’t just happen overnight, and the process of practicing, staying sharp, and improving performance never stops. Now more than ever, this applies to professional performance in the business world.

Just ask Marcus Lemonis about the ability to present yourself, your story, your brand, and your message. Then imagine what Bruce Lee would say about what it takes to prepare for competition, and to succeed and win.

Or maybe you could ask Michael Jordan, who was the first one to practice in the morning and the last one to leave at night – even while he was at the top of his game.

So now if you’re really enabling your sales team for success, and preparing them for any given situation, in front of any type of an audience, sign yourself and your team up for your internal presentation gauntlet. Observe the performances, measure the results, and improve. Because most aren’t doing this, and you’ll have a communication advantage over so many who are lacking.

Your team will love it.

Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

Turning On Your Mobile Camera Is Not An Accomplishment

Tony Compton, Managing Partner
GettingPresence

To quote Carly Fiorina,“Flying is an activity, not an accomplishment.” 
(Carly Fiorina is a Republican candidate for President of the United States.
This post isn’t an endorsement of Ms. Fiorina’s candidacy.)

Politics aside, her statement is correct.

Same applies to turning on your business’ mobile cameras without strategy, creativity, or professionalism. That accomplishes nothing. It’s just an activity.
And it certainly does not create a viable audience experience.

Inspiration, On the Path to Accomplishment

Imagine yourself standing before a social media marketing fork in the road, and you have a decision to make. You stand with your mobile device in one hand, loaded with the Periscope and Meerkat apps. You’re dressed in your best business casual attire, and your briefcase is slung over your shoulder. Streaming live video for business purposes is definitely part of your company’s future.

To your left is the Keep Doing What You’re Doing Trail. This is the route for those who believe that the simple act of turning on their mobile phone camera, wherever, whenever, is an actual business accomplishment. Good enough to embrace live video technology, and just enough to boast about social media prowess. Whether or not people are prepared to go on-camera doesn’t matter. Neither do the questions regarding the look of those on-camera, an environment’s visual elements, how people sound, and whether or not an audience will find the content interesting enough to watch.

To your right is the Trail of Sales, Marketing, and Social Media Excellence.
(I was tempted to call it the Trail of Give a Damn, but that name seemed somewhat harsh.) On this trail, you’ll find leaders creating a blend of sales and marketing strategy mixed with social media innovation and breakthrough, interactive video content.
It’s an agile concoction which compels audiences to tune in to, and interact with, timely content. And it’s a mix that’ll drive branding, awareness, demand generation, and opportunity.

By the looks of some of the corporate videos I’ve seen, the left-hand trail is doing quite well.

Stop What You’re Doin’ – ‘Cause You’re About to Ruin…

Channel surfing business videos on Periscope and Meerkat has been a surprising, confusing, and eye-opening experience. Some good content exists, but I’ve also seen material which would prompt me to throw in the towel and stop the video “fight.”
I’m talking about business videos, that have featured a global brand or two. As CEO,
I would have closed my eyes, taken a deep breath, and pulled the plug. For the time being.

Yes, the live apps themselves are new, but the strategies, communication skills, and video production techniques that go hand-in-hand with producing quality content are not. At least they shouldn’t be. For those who are simply turning on cameras and letting the content fly, you’re harming your brand. You’re ruining your corporate reputation with every subpar video you allow to represent your company.

Meanwhile, On the Right-Side Trail

The question of the hour is, “Why are you producing and streaming live video content?” Is it for you, or your audience? (Hint: All material should be for your audience.) And if you’re serious, you’ll ask yourself these questions before every production:

1. Why should anybody watch my video?

2. What do I want my audience to learn from watching my video?

3. What’s the first thing that’s going to be seen in the video? The last?

4. What’s the first thing that’s going to be said in the video? The last? And by whom?

5. What do I want the audience to do before, during, and after watching?

6. Will my video, and its on-camera participants, be clear and understandable?

7. How will everybody look and sound on-camera?

8. What’s the timing (length) of this video?

9. Am I in control of the visual and audible environment?

10. Where can the audience go for follow-up after the video?

11. What production resources are required?

12. What’s the actual financial cost?

13. How will sales, marketing, and customer service benefit?

14. Will my video serve to inspire employees, and our business communities?

15. What are the expected personal and business returns?

A problem I have with corporate videos is understanding why some even exist.
I’ve watched head-scratching business content delivered by individuals who don’t look, sound, or act as if they want to be on-camera, let alone are enjoying themselves.
That results in material that’s difficult to follow, and leaves me to decipher messages. For me, it’s a high standard of professional expectations. With the advent of new video streaming technology, and its capabilities to inspire, create, and elevate conversations, it’s difficult to watch corporate-led cable-access quality programming that disappoints. We can do better.

The Corner Office Decision

My recommendation to executives in corner offices is this. Until you and your employees know exactly what you’re doing with corporate content on live video apps, stop. Until you have a strategy to comprehensively use video tools, and are able to produce quality programs of interest to an audience, stop. Until you have your people prepared to go on-camera, stop. And until you have a plan to use video-driven social media marketing tools to create exceptional customer and employee-related experiences, stop. The brand you save will be your own.

Choose the right path, and you’ll see the differences between social media activity,
and genuine business accomplishment.

Visit: www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

Six Anti-Establishment Marketing Rules for Sales-Driven Competitiveness

Tony Compton, Managing Partner
GettingPresence

Last Tuesday morning saw me sitting in my car in Chicago. Parked on the side of the road killing five minutes, I tuned into a sports talk radio station. The discussion centered on this season’s success of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. The story behind their playoff-bound team has the city buzzing, and is the talk of the town.

In 2009 the Cubs were sold, and over the past several seasons new team owners tore down the old way of doing things in favor of a comprehensive new approach. New players, new prospects, a new team manager, and new ballpark renovations have highlighted the team’s resurgence. The Cubs are now headed back to the playoffs, and the new way of doing business at Wrigley Field has earned respect on both the North and South sides of town.

This is coming from a competitive and lifelong Chicago White Sox fan.
(No, I’m not defecting to the North Side!)

Back on the radio, the conversation turned to an aspect of the Cubs’ rebuilding process that sparked debates over the last several seasons. Fan Impatience. Most sports fans don’t want to wait to rebuild their team. They want to win, now!

To that notion, I thought that a comment by one of the sports talkers was great. He recalled a conversation with a rebuilding skeptic and said, “(They’ve) tried it one way for 106 years with no success. Don’t you think it’s time to try something new?”

1908 was the last time the Chicago Cubs won a championship.

Well Established Marketing, Well-Established Criticism of the Same

I read it again, and heard it again this week. The beat goes on. Another article, and another conversation about the marketing silo. Little sales support. No messaging. No content. No plan. Outdated. Disconnected. Well-established criticism, with more well-established complaining.

How long has it been this way between sales and marketing at your company? Don’t you think it’s time you tried something new with marketing? Get marketing off of the sidelines, and into the sales game.

Six Anti-Establishment Marketing Rules

1. Put That Coffee Down!

Though I’ve watched Glengarry Glen Ross numerous times, this isn’t another Alec Baldwin rip-off. Years ago, I attended a marketing conference that opened one morning with a man who held a cup of coffee while he stood next to a flip chart and condescendingly smiled and spoke about high-minded marketing concepts. I’m hard-pressed to recall more than two lines spoken at that event, but my imagination runs wild as I picture marketers huddled in a similar meeting room today, self-indulging on ornate material which is largely useless to salespeople under pressure to hit their numbers. Salespeople are pounding on that conference room door – right now – trying to get marketing’s attention. That marketing conference was years and years ago, yet the same sales and marketing disconnects continue. I have profound respect for marketing practitioners, analysts, and academics, but nobody should carry that elitist cup of coffee and preach utopian theory while a sales team needs immediate help. Marketing must get involved with what sales needs: messaging, content, and the opportunity and ability to deliver it. Today.

2. Introduce Competition Among Marketers

Oh, do I have your attention now? Competitions among salespeople are common, but what about marketing? Get marketers in the incentives game by offering them competitive opportunities. Create meaningful competitions based on their results: acquired contacts, qualified leads, the number and size of opportunities generated, and net-new closed deals. Competitions can be created among individual marketers, or by creating sales and marketing teams. You may employ digital, event, product, regional, and traditional marketers, and may have relationships with marketers at alliance or channel partners. Most would love the competition. While marketing is connected to sales, and performance is measured, competition can be introduced.

Keep score, and reward.

3. OOO, and On the Road

Get marketers out of the office and on the road with salespeople. Frequently, from the CMO down. Part of the frustration with marketing is that the department is disconnected from sales reality. Going on the road to visit with prospects is an excellent way to learn about sales pursuits, and what’s required from marketing to acquire, and protect, customers.

4. Mandatory Two-Hour Marketing Meeting, Last Day of Every Quarter, at 4:00 pm

Gather around marketers, and watch the sales contracts come in by the close of business on the last day of the quarter. Or not. Get the marketing team together at 4:00 pm on the last business day of the quarter to see how it ends. It’s not to hover over a fax machine to watch for signed contracts, but to witness the time up to, and immediately after, the deadline. It’s observing the aftermath, and its impact on coworkers. It may be a time for celebration, or it may be a time to take stock. Either way, there’s no arguing with the numbers, and marketing’s measured contribution.

5. Compensate Marketers for Opportunity and Revenue-Generating Performance

Some marketers may already be compensated on some form of opportunity and revenue performance. But programs vary wildly, and not all marketers are compensated for things such as marketing-sourced opportunities, or the size of new deals closed with the help of credited marketing efforts. Remove marketers from the once-a-year company bonus program based on vague appraisals and general profit and loss figures, and create a quarterly, marketing-sourced, opportunity and revenue performance-based compensation program.

6. One Body, One Script – ZERO Technology

I’m told that great storytellers are essential to sales and marketing’s future, but where are they? I’ve seen some, and know of others, but they’re the exception, not the rule. The rule seems to be that presenters can get by with standing and talking in front of text-heavy slides, and think that they’re doing a great job at storytelling!

To address this missing persons issue, marketing teams should lead by example. Every marketer should learn how to tell great business stories, and enable others to do the same. All can start to work on becoming a storyteller by practicing with what each of us has in common while we’re talking to an audience: one body, and one script. Set aside the standard conventions of automatically using technology and PowerPoint slides to bolster a presentation. At first, leave everything else behind. Once you’ve nailed down how you look and sound, how you’ll tell a story, and relate to an audience, only then should you consider bringing back any supporting technical elements.

When you realize what can be accomplished by only using your body and your script, the dependency on technical support, including the use of slides, will dramatically diminish.

One Additional Anti-Establishment Rule, for Sales

If marketers get into the sales game, welcome them, and teach them how to close. Show them what goes into negotiating, getting a deal done, and sitting across a table from a decision maker. Demonstrate how to spin around a contract, and offer a pen to an about-to-become new customer. Marketing can be fantastic at demand generation and uncovering qualified leads, but they’ll handsomely benefit from witnessing the last mile of a successful pursuit. Marketers may not realize it, but all can use sales skills to improve their performance. Teach marketers how to close, and you’ll be teaching them how to compete, and win deals, with a view from front lines.

Visit: www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

The Social Media Opportunity That’ll Confuse Your Digital Marketers

Tony Compton, Managing Partner
GettingPresence

If your sales, marketing, and customer service teams are not embracing the value, power, and creativity of one of the two new live streaming video apps, you’re missing out. Moreover, they’re probably starting to give your digital marketers fits.

You’ve heard about Periscope and Meerkat. You’ve read reports about these new apps and their rapid penetration into the marketplace. You may have even watched a video or two to see how these apps work. (They’re very easy to use.) And while you may be wildly enthusiastic about the potential of live streaming mobile media, this is one social initiative that differs from the rest. It’s also one that your digital marketers are ill-equipped to truly handle. Not in terms of technical ability, but in terms of human performance. It’s essentially live television, and guess who’s anchoring your corporate broadcasts? Your colleagues. Your team, especially your digital marketers, needs help. 

Agnostic, For Now

This post doesn’t endorse one app over the other. Between the two, Meerkat was first to market, but Periscope is owned by Twitter and seems to be getting a bit more “play” nowadays. That’s my anecdotal impression. These two apps are certainly not the first ones to offer live streaming media options, but they have captured the imagination of the mobile market in 2015.

Modest feature and functionality differences between Periscope and Meerkat exist, but each provides the ability to go live, on-camera, anytime, to speak to a worldwide audience by using an iOS or Android device. Indeed, the marketing, sales and customer service opportunities are endless, but you’ll need to address a number of human performance and audience interaction issues before getting started with live video. Your digital personnel likely won’t be equipped to handle on-camera performance issues and talent coaching, and you may be expecting too much from them on this one. Your salespeople, service reps, and marketers, too.

Four Paths

With respect to the new streaming media apps, there are four distinctive paths from which to choose. You can:

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Deny everybody access.
  3. Wing it! Allow your people to use one or both of the apps however they see fit.
  4. Recognize what’s at stake, and act on the requirements of this social media initiative.

Choosing either of the first two will allow your competitors to beat you to the punch. It’s that simple. While you’re crafting emails, updating web pages, polishing slides, and printing collateral, those who have built both private and public audiences can take to the app “airwaves” instantaneously for real-time interaction. While you’re using your typewriter, they’re informing and engaging.

If they’re properly using live streaming media, that is.

Number 3 is a Nightmare. If it’s the Wild West of external communication at your company, and anybody can start a live video anytime about any topic, hang on to your hat. If you’re lucky, you may have somebody on staff who practices superior on-camera performance behaviors which give an audience a reason to watch and engage.
But remember, even top presenters need to know about the lengthy list of technical, environmental, and situational considerations before presenting on a live video app. Sound, location, crowd control, lighting, wardrobe, the setting… it all counts and it all matters. No doubt you’ve watched live TV when something unexpectedly goes wrong. It happens to the best in the business, and it’s bound to happen to you and your people, even in the best of circumstances. Imagine what will happen if the approach is to wing it. Your brand and reputation are going live, and you need to adequately prepare.

Number 4: Recognizing What’s at Stake and Taking Action

It bears repeating:

Your people.
Mobile.
Going LIVE, on-camera.
Anytime, anywhere.
Influencing your brand and reputation.
What will you do?

That’s just for openers. Think about the power your customers have. Think about the weight live video through an app carries when tightly integrated with Twitter. You certainly can’t control your customers, but you can – and should – control what you do in these channels to positively influence your audience. This is not about uploading another corporate video. This is about supporting and governing immediate, real-time, LIVE, on-camera audience interactions to strengthen brand and reputation, customer service and demand generation initiatives, and new business opportunities. Any way this new trend is viewed, it can become an extremely powerful tool in your company quiver.

Creative ideas about what really can be done with the planning and distribution of content on live video apps is the subject matter of upcoming posts which will go beyond the simple notions of streaming a speech or giving a product demo.

For now, consider embracing the innovation and value of real-time mobile video that Periscope and Meerkat provide, and brainstorm about how it can be used for a competitive advantage. Please, think beyond sticking your nose in your smartphone camera and becoming just another talking head! Your marketing, sales, and customer service teams will appreciate what quality, live video content and customer interactions will do for them, and your digital marketers will thank you for the help in addressing recurring on-camera talent issues.

In doing this, you’ll be a trailblazer in your industry.

Visit: www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

Field Marketing and Sales Teams: Global Cover Bands Performing Your Corporate Songs!

Tony Compton, Managing Partner
GettingPresence

It takes guts to go on stage and sing a song. Or play a musical instrument. Or do both. But many perform, and do it well. Over the years, talented singer-songwriters have penned and delivered classics, and their work is so beloved that soloists and cover bands perform their songs in bars, nightclubs, concert halls, parking lots, and yes, annual corporate gatherings in swanky resort locations. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen and heard song performances that have fallen a bit short. Cover bands and performers who didn’t quite get somebody’s else’s song right. Maybe the singer didn’t have the voice for a particular tune, lacked rhythm and timing, or flubbed the lyrics. Maybe the band’s instruments weren’t tuned, or the group didn’t properly rehearse. It could’ve been anything, but the fact remained that something was off.

Think back to a time you were walking down the street, and the door to the corner pub was open while the band inside loudly botched one of your favorites. You probably tuned out, walked away, and shook your head in disappointment. It was a complete turnoff. Conversely, what’s been your reaction when a cover band nails one of your favorite songs? Moreover, what’s been the reaction of the audience? I’ve seen standing ovations when a singer nails a song. It’s a treat, and a real pleasure to watch a great performance.

Your Global Cover Bands Are Looking at You, Kid

You’ve analyzed. You’ve strategized. You’ve organized a smashing go-to-market plan which will dominate the planet and crush the competition. Wonderful. Next comes the task of getting sales and marketing content to your internal audience so that your people in the field can execute their part of the plan and be successful, no matter where they are, which industry they serve, or which language they speak. They’re looking at you, as the HQ point person to deliver awesome content. They have a healthy appetite, and they want that content. And one size does not fit all.

For those who support regional, national, and global sales and marketing teams with vertical and cross-industry messaging, territorial collateral, presentation slides, social media content, customer success stories, product videos, demos, and any type of sales enablement material used anywhere in the world, your sales and marketing teams are very similar to cover bands, performing your material. You’re the songwriter, and possibly the original singer.

The work of truly enabling your teams doesn’t end with simply updating the generic company slide deck and run-of-the-mill United States English-based pdfs. On the contrary. It’s up to you to work domestically and internationally, across all partners and industries, to create effective localized content. Furthermore, you must ensure that your “performers” are communicating the content in a method conducive to their specific markets, and that they are fluent in the “words and music” of the content.

For Those Supporting Virtual Teams, Launch Your Efforts By:

  • Reading a map, and knowing where your colleagues reside and travel throughout the world. You can access a map within seconds on your computer. This basic step goes a long way in supporting long-distance domestic and international business relationships. If you’re based in the USA, it’s a positive difference-maker to the EMEA team when you can discuss the location of Eastern and Western European countries, to the North American team if you can identify the location of Canadian customers in their provinces, not states, to the APAC team if you can pinpoint Australia and New Zealand, and to the LATAM team, confident that you know that Argentina and Brazil are in South America. No matter where on Earth you are, you get the Continental Drift. It’s ridiculously obvious that your regional sales and marketing teams must know where the customers are. In a support capacity from another country, not knowing the geography of your competitive landscape is a huge disadvantage, and hinders the success of disseminating quality marketing and sales enablement content. In order to properly map the B2B Buyer Journey, it helps to know where your buyers are on the planet.
  • Getting up early, staying late, and remaining open for the occasional Midnight conference call. If you’re in the Continental United States, from time to time you must wake up early to talk to your European team, stay after work to speak to your colleagues just starting the next day in Australia, and be open to that weekly conference call with the team halfway around the world in India. (If outside of the USA, apply the same time zone math and work ethic.)
  • Recognizing that global sales and marketing excellence requires more than the simple language translation of HQ-developed content. Stop the periodic uploading and blind dumping of content on your global teams with the expectation that they will go it alone to translate the material into territorial languages. Craft a proactive, comprehensive, and team-based framework to interact, and efficiently use supporting technologies.
  • Listening to your global teams when reviewing, translating, customizing, and presenting content. Step through the content together, and understand how it will be used for branding, awareness, demand generation and closing new business – in every part of the world.
  • Rehearsing presentations. Unless your name is Jackie Gleason, you’ll need to rehearse the communication of content, and do it more than once. Practice effective communication techniques to solidify outstanding performance behaviors.

Imagine This Poor Course of Action, and the Consequences

One day, everybody you support, all over the world, got on the phone and decided to call you. They wanted to work with you on developing and communicating content which will help them succeed in their territorial sales and marketing efforts. However, you decided to only go through the motions of the call just to placate the team because you created cookie-cutter-corporate-content which you believe should suffice. It’s been emailed over and over, all around the world, and has found a comfortable home in the online corporate repository. All can download, translate, present, and use the content as they see fit. The result? The phone may ring once or twice more. A follow-up email or two will appear requesting help. But with little or no action, all will eventually go quiet. Your colleagues won’t call again. They won’t ask for your help again. They’ll forget about you, move on, and start to do their own thing. Then you’ll hope that they don’t stand in front of customers with the presence of a poor karaoke singer, sheepishly mirroring lyrics from a dimly-lit computer screen while attempting to keep the beat of a computer-generated music track. Strange versions of your corporate content will begin to take shape, and reside in local laptops in distant lands. Recovery will seem impossible.

About Knowing that “Music”

No, most don’t actually play instruments or use music while giving a presentation. (But, on occasion, I have seen a few get very creative.) Adding the “music” is just another way of saying that a presenter should not solely focus on the content itself. One must consider appearance, physical skills, the tone, strength, and character of the voice used during a presentation, and the give and take interaction with an audience. It’s the effective combination of how a presenter looks and sounds, coupled with the content, that will win the day.

So do yourself, and everybody with whom you work a favor. Answer that phone call from your global colleagues, and get involved with your sales and marketing cover bands to make them the outstanding performers your internal and external audiences want, and deserve.

Visit: www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

Proudly Wired-In, But Severely Disconnected B2B Marketers

Tony Compton, Managing Partner
GettingPresence

For those B2B salespeople whose Q1 ended on March 31st, what was marketing’s measurable contribution to your revenue report card? Did marketing partner with you to hit your numbers? Did your marketers possess the ability to truly partner with you in all facets of the sales game, and did they really know your business?

B2B marketing’s zombie walk into the cozy online world of keywords, social media, product-centric websites, and mind-numbing data dumps is well underway. Ironically, for those marketers who claim that they’re always wired-in, this condition has been creating more and more disconnected marketers. Too many marketers are spending too much time in the online world, and their work is becoming increasingly seen as foreign and irrelevant by the business developers they’re supposed to support.

Shake Up Marketing. Start by Taking Away The Security Blanket!

The days of allowing B2B marketing to be disconnected from sales has been over for years, and no company should suffer from this problem. As a salesperson committed to hitting your numbers, the next time you get a fresh 90 days, do yourself a favor and pull marketing’s collective nose out from behind the security blanket of monitors, keyboards, tablets and smartphones. Online, email and social media efforts help, but it’s not enough. You need a robust marketing team which acts as a true partner to sales, comprehensively fluent in all areas of the business. Don’t just accept a marketing team that’s complacent and limited by electronic channels. You deserve a marketing unit that’s not caught up in an online comfort zone.

The Widening Gap

While business developers are fighting battles, too many marketers sit back in cubes with hot cups of coffee, tinkering away with an indecipherable avalanche of data, focused on material that does little to contribute to sales enablement, the pipeline, and the bottomline. Some marketers feel a sense of self-worth and tangible satisfaction as they post, tweet, and retweet, email, update websites, and run weekly reports which may never see the light of day. All the while oblivious to the critical sales and customer worlds around them. Problem is, this conveys a terrible message: marketing’s wired-in, but disconnected.

Face Off with Marketing, and Start on Offense

Challenge any marketer who is continually buried in a laptop, and they’re likely to sulk or squeal. “Online, Email, and Social Media Marketing are really important!“ is the natural response of the insulated marketer. Yes, we’re all aware of how important everybody says that stuff is. But this quarter, I’m asking you to create an internal exercise to shake things up. Insist that marketers temporarily put down their electronic toys. Ask them to show you what they can do in front of a live internal audience, without electronic assistance. Get marketing out of its online comfort zone, and into the world of real human interaction.

For this exercise, ask your marketers to answer straight-forward questions about your business, and do it in front of a group of stakeholders. It’s a solo performance for the marketer, but one that will help you get a handle on how well your marketing team understands messaging and positioning, customer pain points, value props, the problems you solve, and the measured results your company delivers.

Here’s a sample list of what you can ask your professional marketers:

• What does your company do?
• Who are your target customers? In which industries?
• What value do you provide your customers?
• Why did your company win (or lose) its last competitive bid?
• How would you describe your competitive landscape?
• What separates your company from your competitors?
• Describe a customer case study, and explain its usefulness to sales.
• Demo a product.

Ask your marketers to respond to the above without the use of a computer, a smartphone, or a projector. Don’t allow the use of printouts, sell sheets, or collateral, and certainly no phoning a friend. Do allow the use of a whiteboard, and flip charts. Give them some room for creativity.

“But how can I demo a product without a computer?” a marketer will cry… The bigger question is, “If you were visiting a customer, and your computer fizzled seconds before showtime, what would you do? Fold up and go home, or be a professional and rise to the challenge?”

“But I don’t talk to customers or prospects. That’s a job for sales!” If you hear that, find another marketer.

Requiring marketers to tackle this modest set of questions in front of a live audience should be standard operating procedure. It’s an eye-opening exercise, and a very healthy one. Remember, you deserve a high-performing marketing team, one that is not only connected online, but also intimately connected to daily sales pursuits.

Let’s End Complicit Executive Management

The word is out. It’s no secret that the migration of B2B marketing into a world dominated by online activities is a less expensive corporate route to take. Few, if any, events, no direct customer contact, no travel, no public appearances, no coaching, and no involvement by marketing with external sales activities equals greatly reduced expenses. Got it. But naively rushing into a romantic relationship with marketing technology doesn’t change the fact that marketers must possess the personal ability to stand and tell a company’s story: who you are, what you do, and how and why you do it. Your marketer’s ability to convincingly tell your corporate story – inside and outside of the electronic comfort zone – is precisely what will help drive demand, power sales enablement, generate new business and protect your customer base. That human ability will also strengthen your company presence in online, email and social media channels.

Only then will marketing be wired-in and connected.

Visit: www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

For the Exasperated Colleagues of Incorrigible Executives, Managers and Lackluster Presenters

Tony Compton, Managing Partner
GettingPresence

“Even Tiger Woods needs a swing coach.” That’s a line from the recent Two and a Half Men series finale. Over the past 12 years I caught the show on airplanes and in syndication, and wondered how questions about Charlie Sheen’s character would be put to rest. So I watched the finale. And out of everything that happened in the series and its hour-long ending, it was that one line about Tiger Woods that stuck.

Again: “Even Tiger Woods Needs a Swing Coach”

During the finale, that line was uttered in reference to Charlie Sheen’s character, and his erotic activities. But when it comes to Tiger Woods’ golf game, your presentation performance, or the speaking performance of your colleagues, the same holds true. No matter how good you are at public speaking and delivering presentations, keep your game sharp with ongoing practice and expert coaching, and offer similar resources to those around you at work. Sure, Tiger Woods’ game has recently suffered. Today, he needs a coach and a back specialist. But that’s not the point. In good times and bad, Tiger always has a need for a swing coach. It’s an ongoing requirement, even for somebody at the pinnacle of his career. Despite his success, Tiger Woods never stops learning, never stops practicing, and continually tries to improve his game. So do his competitors, and so do yours. In sports, business and life, the competition is fierce, hungry newcomers abound, and it’s tough to stay on top. Just ask Tiger about his current ranking among golfers, and about how difficult it is to become, and stay, Number One.

Your People Are Seeking Presentation Help to Become Number One

I’m not writing about the kind of presentation help one may receive through the creation of better PowerPoint slides. I am writing about establishing a comprehensive plan to provide continual presentation skills help for you and your team. Create a plan, and give your employees access to the personal coaching and resources they need. From the Wall Street Journal and numerous websites, much has been written lately about how everybody from executives to entrepreneurs must “find their voice” to deliver positive impressions. It’s how audiences evaluate and judge us. Yet many companies don’t provide employees with the tools needed to develop a powerful voice, let alone maintain one. It’s ironic. Executives who don’t help employees improve presentation skills demand that their people deliver boastful results, even if it is with little to no help. I imagine many are told: “Bring back qualified leads…get prospects excited…convey messages…beat the competition…SELL MORE! The entire sales and marketing team spent a half a day on presentations six months ago! What’s the problem? Get out there and do better!”

Thanks for the Dismissive Pep Talk, but Not Much Else

For those who have suggested spending time and money on dedicated presentation training and coaching, roadblocks can be everywhere. If you’ve tried but have been met with resistance, recall if any of these reactions look familiar:

  • “I’m a great public speaker and don’t need practice.”
  • “We don’t have the budget, and it’s not a priority.”
  • “Great idea and I really want to do this. Let’s talk to – insert any name here – and see what we can do for next year.” (But next year never arrives.)
  • “We’re too busy, we can’t get everybody together, and there’s no time.”
  • “Once the slides are finished, I’ll practice.”
  • “Halfway through our presentation skills workshop, I have to jump on a once-in-a-lifetime overseas conference call with a client that I can’t miss. It’ll be at least an hour.”

The excuses are endless. It’s confounding to witness the lack of concern for helping employees practice presentation techniques, while watching entrenched approaches to preparing must-have, text-heavy slides anchored by officially sanctioned logos. In company after company, staff create, clean, and beautify visuals for all to see. But when it comes to finding expert help to stand-up and practice a presentation, some are fortunate to join a one-off, pre-scheduled public speaking workshop booked for sometime in the future by somebody in Human Resources. That’s if the employees are lucky, if they get permission, if it fits the schedule, if there’s room in the class, and if they’re able to travel. Moreover, this works only if one buys into the notion that a generic, cross-departmental workshop is all anybody ever needs.

Back to the World of Sports 

While Tiger Woods is known for his performance on the golf course, Michael Jordan is known for his performance on the basketball court. In similar fashion to Woods, it’s been said that Jordan was the first one to practice in the morning, and the last one to leave at night, despite being at the top of his game. Your company presenters are entering a highly competitive arena each time they get in front of an audience. Tiger picks up a golf club, Michael a basketball, and you and your team pick up  microphones and video cameras. Tiger and Michael would never compete without rigorous practice and expert coaching. Why should you and your team be any different? Remind your colleagues of the importance of practicing and preparing for every speaking engagement, and take the necessary steps to get ready for all corporate appearances before anybody takes the stage, goes on camera or phones in a webinar. Share what you’ve read about Tiger Woods’ and Michael Jordan’s #winning attitudes toward staying on top of their games. Even the incorrigible among you may take notice.

Follow GettingPresence on Twitter: @gettingpresence, and stay tuned to this blog for insights and solutions from experts who have faced, and met, the same event-related challenges you face everyday. We’ve prepared speakers, and helped executives, salespeople and marketing leaders make the most out of business conferences, industry trade shows, customer meetings, and sponsored webinars.

Visit: www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com