Archive for October, 2009

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?


Couple of months ago, I weighed in on topic familiar to just about all of us: B2B cold calls epitomize the gap between sellers and buyers

CIO Magazine agrees with the premise and takes it a step further with a survey of chief information information officers. The intent is to use what they learn from the survey to formulate guidelines for vendors on how to sell more effectively.  Good idea.  It’s also an attempt to make life just a tad easier for beleaguered CIOs who are having to do a lot more today with fewer resources.  (Hey, a lot of us can relate to that.)  The thinking is that if suppliers were hearing it straight from the people they’re trying to supply, it might help them use everyone’s time more wisely.  No knock on a vendor trying to make a buck.  It’s that in today’s economy, “aggressive” doesn’t always equate to “productive”.  And aggression is the order of the day when it comes to trying to get the order, as in sales.   A little background on the survey explains this, too.  Studying the survey can help anyone trying to sell anything today.

The people at HubSpot (“In-bound marketing”) do a nice job of explaining, teaching, and generally being a useful resource.  They also delivered one of those the-more-things-change-the-more-they-remain-the-same moments for me today.    What I mean is, long and ago and far away one of my advertising professors at San Jose State defined public relations as “getting people to say nice things about you”.

On today’s HubSpot, the following:  “Today, it’s not what you say about yourself that matters, but what others say about you. Dominos put millions into advertising this year, but it was the stories that came from their employees that did the most to define their brand.

“Chest thumping doesn’t work on social media. You have to do the hard work — the cultivation — that gives other people reasons to talk about your brand on social media for you.”

In fact, “chest-thumping” never did work.  At least not to the extent that the chest-thumpers wanted to believe.  Thus, the invention and growth of effective PR in the first place.

Read this HubSpot piece to get their take on the steps can you take to encourage other people to talk about your brand online.