I do a lot of presentations…workshops, seminars, webinars, training sessions and keynote presentations and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Last week, I had the opportunity to fly to Atlanta and do a keynote for a new client, a Fortune 500 company. The opportunity dropped in my lap at the last minute. In fact, when it presented itself, I almost didn’t pursue it because my plate was full enough and the details were a bit thin. They had apparently run into a problem with a previously-booked speaker and needed to find someone pronto…the sales conference was next week!
In a scramble to find someone, it turns out that the head of a PR/marketing firm that works for this Fortune 500 company reached out to a contact in Raleigh, who referred them to another speaker who had a conflict and who, in turn, heartily recommended me.
By the time I got the message in the form of a forwarded email, the details of what they were looking for was:
A motivational speaker to speak on Value based Selling. That’s the topic. About 1 hour on September 13th in Alpharetta, Georgia. Specifically, someone with excellent story telling skills who has either been in business or sold to businesses that is pumped up and able to speak to the value of purchases vs. simply the price of purchases. It’s all about how small and mid-sized businesses hear sales pitch to them and the difference in how they perceive pricing vs. getting what they truly value.
Hmmm…it’s certainly was in my wheelhouse. At this point, things started to happen. I responded via email to my speaker friend that I would be open to talking to them about it. I forwarded a copy of my e-book – 5 Key Sales Trends in 2017 – to my friend who then forwarded it to the head of the PR/marketing firm. My thought was that these folks didn’t know me from Adam and, despite a glowing endorsement from another speaker, they probably needed to vet me.
Within 20 minutes, I had an email back from the PR/marketing guy who told me that my information had been forwarded to the President of a division of the Fortune 500 company. And I was told that the President would call me. In the meantime, I checked out his LinkedIn profile and went to the company website to get more details about their organization, their market, and their underlying business approach/philosophy. I was on the phone with the President within the hour and after a lengthy conversation, I was hired!
Now, the real work needed to get done. The President sent out a memo giving a heads-up to three folks to be at my disposal for questions, conversations and information. I also made a follow-up appointment to talk further to the President in a couple of days. Within 24 hours, I had multiple conversations and email exchanges shooting back and forth and a handful of internal and external documents to review. In addition, I spent time on their website and did some research on their ideal customer market.
My new client was NCR and they offer POS (point of sale) technology, which is much more sophisticated than just ringing up a customer order. They were using the upcoming sales conference to launch a new version of a total bundled product that had a ton of really cool bells and whistles. And one of their primary markets is restaurants. Lucky for me, I spend a lot of time in restaurants, cafés and coffee shops. So, I started casually interviewing owners and restaurant employees to see what they used, what made their life easier, what other challenges they had, etc. That was followed by another hour-long call with the President and more research online checking out the competition and getting a clear understanding of their strengths and potential weaknesses.
By the time, I arrived in Atlanta, I had spent considerable time reviewing my growing stack of notes and honing my presentation which had been morphed into a 90-minute keynote by the powers-that-be.
I arrived, early, as I always do, so I could sit in on as much as the conference as I could before it was show-time for me (I had already asked permission if this was ok). The first day’s meeting started at 8:00 a.m. and the agenda was filled with internal updates on the new product. My presentation was schedule for immediately after lunch.
I used the morning sessions to soak in as much as I could, to make sure that I was understanding their internal acronyms and jargon and to connect with some of the many employees who were there. I’ve found that I can always make ties to things that are said prior to my presentation that builds my credibility with the audience. And the more people I have connected with in the audience, before I go on stage, the more allies I have in the audience. Smiling faces are good!
Before my presentation, I went through my own internal process. The goal being that I am ready to hit the stage with the level of energy, mindfulness and love that my audience deserves.
And then it’s show time! I believe fully in audience engagement, so I quickly had the group participating and sharing. My first order of business is always to get “inside their heads,” so that I have them ready and eager to learn, even if that’s not part of their agenda.
You see, I’ve found that there are always three types of people in any audience. First, you have the prisoners. They’re often senior level team members who think that sitting in all-day meetings is a waste of their precious time because they have lots to do and they already know all they need to know. Second, you have the vacationers. These folks are going to hang out and enjoy the day, because it beats the daily grind back at the office. Last, but not least, you have the learners. These folks are my peeps. They’re the ones who are there to soak up everything they can, because they know that the more they learn, the better they will become. My job, as a presenter (as I see it), is to convert the prisoners and vacationers to learners and provide them with enough insightful information, ah-has, and actionable strategies that they are excited and ready to charge forward.
Having done this for 15+ years, I have lots of stories, relevant group exercises and powerful nuggets to share; which I did. Then I carefully threaded the most up-to-date research that impacts their role as salespeople in today’s very competitive landscape (Remember, I’ve researched their competition in my prep work, as well as gotten more insights in the morning sessions at the conference, so I understand what they’re up against and can share relevant examples.) The 90-minutes seemed to fly by and the group was fully present. It time for the grand finale. The end needs to punctuate the experience and the reason for us sharing this time and space together.
I get hyper-focused as I start to draw on a flip chart and share a story to help them put it ALL into context. The objective is to tie into my “head game” strategy at the beginning of the presentation, so that they realize that they have new insights, knowledge and action items that can help them reach even more of their potential and drive more results.
The President rushes up to me as I conclude. Shakes my hand. And as the audience claps, he says, “That was great. Exactly what the team needed to hear. We need to get you back. You obviously have so much more depth to share. We have an international sales conference in January with 1,800 salespeople from around the globe, and we need to get you on the calendar.”