With apologies to Carmine Gallo and Steve Jobs, below are the five biggest mistakes that salespeople, marketers, job candidates and presenters of all stripe make when they’re at bat.
Trying to sell everything except the most salable (read: imagination-capturing) thing.
Gallo observes that Steve Jobs doesn’t sell products. He sells “tools to unleash your creativity.” Tell your prospect how you can help them reach their goal. And keep it simple. Jobs has a one-sentence description — or vision — for every product he introduces. Just as every product or political candidate needs a vision, so does every salesperson or job candidate.
Breaking the rule of three.
Researchers have found that people think in “chunks” and remember no more than three or four characteristics of anything. That’s why the best presentations have no more than three leave-behinds. Make it easy on your audience. Think about the best speeches or pitches you remember. Chances are, the speaker kept it pretty simple. It’s why you remember it. Which leads to the next mistake…
Making things complicated.
DaVinci said that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Whose gonna argue? Seriously, clutter clouds thinking and memory. You want to stand out. Be memorable. No one was ever bored into buying anything. Strive for simplicity in oral communications, presentation design (read: Powerpoint slides) and everything else. This includes your resume.
Failure to prepare.
Ever notice how the best musicians, actors, athletes, dentists or carpenters always make it look easy? Author Malcolm Gladwell reminds us that the Beatles, before their debut in the U.S., had thousands of hours of gigs–essentially rehearsals–performing the same tunes night after night for months. It took them many years to become “overnight sensations”. Hey, if Steve Jobs thinks he has to spend weeks rehearsing every segment of his keynote presentations, it’s probably worth it. How many hours a day does Tiger Woods practice putting? How much time should you put into rehearsing responses to questions likely to come from a prospective customer? Interviewer? Member of the audience?
If you’re not excited, animated, and/or energized to the point of visible passion about your subject matter, how the hell can you expect anyone else to be? Put yourself in the shoes of your listener or interviewer. If you were them, to what would you favorably respond? What would have you (a) wanting to hear more or (b) resisting the temptation to look at your watch? What would make you want to buy from, hire, or sign up with you?