What it Takes to Be #1 in The World

Here’s what went through my mind after meeting Caroline in person:

Being the #1 female tennis player in the world doesn’t happen “by accident”.

It was earned.

Decisions were made.

Plans were executed. Daily. For YEARS.

Hurdles were overcome. Constantly.

It wasn’t a “gene pool” lottery of fame and fortune. It was blood, sweat and tears. Which means all of us can rise up and grab our own “fame and fortune”.

Michael Pedone on meeting Caroline Wozniacki recently.

After reading Seth Godin’s newest book, Poke the Box

which is all about initiative, grabbing the bull, whatever you want to call it. There is a huge shortage of it. I’m on a huge tick right now to do more new things to learn more, experience more and expand more.

It’s amazing how much easier it is becoming to:
– learn a new language (http://livemocha.com),
– learn a new language (http://rubyonrails.org/),
– learn to design (http://www.lynda.com/Design-training-tutorials/40-0.html),
– take a class at a top university (http://itunes.stanford.edu/ & http://ocw.mit.edu/help/faq-technology/),
– start something (http://www.wordpress.org) .

Your company won’t do it for you. Your family won’t give it to you. Your government won’t do it for you. You need to poke the box on your own. Go out, make a plan and do something new today. Get passionate about it and become the #1 in the world.

Hiring | A Sales Guy

If this is you and your interested in this opportunity send your LinkedIn Profile and links to your online presence to jkeenan (at) 2wire (dot) com.  If you don’t have an online presence or a LinkedIn profile, send your resume with the reason why you DON’T have an online presence and why you should still be considered.

My friend Jim Keenan is looking for a fantastic person in Toronto for his team. I’ve been reading Jim’s blog for a long time and think that he’d be a wonderful guy to work for.

I loved this post though, as he has graduated from the traditional, send your resume blah, blah, blah and is looking to see what a person’s real, online persona is like.

This aligns nicely with Seth Godin’s old post about getting rid of your resume and the whole idea of putting your resume on SlideShare (http://www.slideshare.net/GlobalGossip/really-ugly-resumes – which I love).

This is the future folks, embrace it.

The Secret to a Killer Sales Presentation – It’s All About Prep & Practice

I gave a presentation on Friday morning.  This was a big one.  Big company, big titles, big opportunity.  The feedback that I got was that I killed it, which thrilled me because a ton of work went into it.

I love doing this type of presentation too.  I reflected on the meeting on the flight home. I wanted to share what goes in to a presentation like this.

First, I have an amazing team.  Like any large scale presentation, you need to have a great supporting cast.  Without their help, this wouldn’t have been such a great presentation.  That is piece of advice number one.  Get help.

I found out about this presentation 2 weeks prior so here is what went down (assume this starts on day 0 and you present on day 14):

– Day 3 – Meeting overview – this is usually a 60 minute meeting with the team and includes: How much time we have? Who is attending? What do they want to get out of the meeting? What do we want to get out of the meeting? What are the points most important to them?  What key events have happend or will happen between now and about 2-weeks after that (to remain relevant)?

– Day 5 – Present the rough outline – If you’re doing slides, these are the titles of each slide.  If you’re giving a talk, these are your primary talking points.  As a sales guy, I try to avoid slides, but when presenting with a group, especially technical things to technical people, this is tough.

– Day 7 – Dry run – This is a soft run to your team, ad libing each of the main points.  The goal of this dry run is to ensure that you’ve got the points in the right order.  By this point, you should have a good opening line and a good closing line.  What is going to grab their attention and what is going to be the closer to ensure that they remember you?

– Day 8 – Start writing a script – This might be something specifically for me, but I literally write down word for word exactly what I’m going to say.  In the case of this past week, it was about 10 slides with a story on each slide.  I write it down verbatim, almost like stage directions.  I put in pauses, I put in emphasis, I put in notes about what to do with my hands.  

– Day 9 – Review with the team – Read this script, with your slides, to your team.  Where does it work, where does it miss?  Get tons of feedback about what you should say and shouldn’t say and how you should or shouldn’t say it.  My fault is that I don’t pause enough.  It’s good to hear feedback from my team on where to insert these pauses and for how long.  I add them to my script.

– Day 10 & 11 – Keep reviewing – By this point, I’m reading my script 5 or 6 times per day.  I generally try to do it a couple of times in the morning and make adjustments then do a couple of times at night before I go to bed and keep making adjustments.  Also at this point, I’m starting to find that I wake up in the middle of the night reciting my script and jotting down notes on what changes need to be made.

– Day 12 – Do it without notes – Usually by this point, I’ve got the script pretty well memorized.  Now, I want to make sure that I can recite it without having my notes in front of me.  This accomplishes two things – 1.) It ensures that I know the stuff and 2.) It gives me a chance to improv so that it doesn’t sound like I’m reading from a script, but actually speaking from the heart.  

I’m still doing all of this with my team and making constant adjustments to the presentation based on their feedback.  Of course, by this point, the content is pretty well solidified, now it is just a matter of delivery style.  

– Day 13 – The day before a presentation, I generally try to present at least half a dozen times.  I usually do two dry runs by myself in front of the mirror first thing in the morning (once before coffee, once after) then I try to find a few poor souls that will give me the time to do a dry run for them.  Finally, I do a couple of dry runs before I go to bed.  I’m making minor tweaks to the style and the way that I deliver each point

– Day 14 – The day of the presentation, depending on what time I’m presenting, I try to give a couple of dry runs in front of the mirror in the morning.  I get a good breakfast if I’m presenting in the morning, but I generally skip lunch if I’m presenting after lunch.

In watching the TechCrunch Disrupt presenters last week, I was amazed at how clear it was that many of these CEO’s clearly didn’t practice their presentations or much time in to preparing for them.  I wasn’t too impressed by Qwiki as a company, but their presentation killed.  If you’ve got to give a presentation on the value of your life, and you’ve got a few weeks to prepare for it, don’t you put a little bit of work in to it?

Allen Iverson talks in the video above about how ‘it’s just practice’.  Iverson has no rings.

Put a little bit of effort into your presentation and practice it a little bit and go get your ring.

If you want to learn more about working a room, keeping a topic and generally kicking ass when you’re giving a presentation, check out Scott Berkun‘s book, Confessions of a Public Speaker.

Don’t Talk Like Charlie Brown’s Teacher

Socialtext launched a great new product recently, Socialtext Connect. I’ll save the details for another post, but needless to say, our customers are pumped up about it and it is a great thing to sell.

As with any technology, I have a tendency to over complicate things.

I was on a call, talking about Connect a couple of days ago and of course I was excited. I went into the explanation of the platform. What it does, how it does it and why customers like it. Then I asked – “So how does this resonate with your plans?”

My customer was funny and I appreciate her honesty, but she told me that she didn’t understand what I just said and that I sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Wha wha, wha wha wha wha.

It was a great lesson, one that I knew, but needed to be reminded of. Since then, I’ve taken a couple of corrective actions that I think will help you too.
1.) I ask now – how technical are you and how technical do you want me to go?
2.) I’ve written a couple of descriptions of Connect. A simple, very high level version, a medium version and a deep complex version

I’ve discovered that most people are pretty technical and get this stuff, but the ones that aren’t really appreciate when I give the simple version.

Tell me, do you talk like Charlie Brown’s teacher? How did you teach yourself not to do that? Leave a comment and let me know.

Startup Therapy: Ten questions to ask yourself every month

One of my favorite blogs, A Smart Bear, has a great post today about the ten questions that you should be asking yourself every month.  They all deal with how to most effectively run a small business, but, of course, my favorite is this one:

3.) What one thing is most responsible for preventing sales? e.g. people not knowing you exist, pricing, not enough product features, unorganized sales strategy, look-and-feel of website, haven't identified pain points,  Most little companies aren’t honest about this, yet it’s possibly the most important question you could ask. For example, I’m an engineer, so my first answer to “Why don’t you have more customers?” is almost always: “Because we need this feature.” You hear some potential customer say “we will buy if you do XYZ” so you conclude that if you implemented XYZ people would start breaking your door down.But is that really the case? If you added one feature and maybe satisfied that one customer assuming they wouldn't ask for a second thing, and in my experience they usually do, would that get you 100 more sales? For those hundreds of people who downloaded your software and never bought — is the reason “not enough features?”For the hundreds of thousands of people who never came to your website in the first place, or hit the front page and left after three seconds, is the solution “more features?”When you honestly ask yourself this question, it will naturally lead into things you can do right away to get more people to the site, into a trial, and/or into a sale. Don’t just rest on what comes easiest.

via Startup Therapy: Ten questions to ask yourself every month.


Get People To The Starting Line

I heard the other day, that for religious evangelists, it takes just over 4-years to get someone to convert religions. This was from ‘This American Life’ the episode entitled Bait & Switch – Act 2 Raw Sex (how’s that for SEO).I’ve been thinking about it ever since. As a sales guy, I spend a ton of time evangelizing my products & services.  If you spend your time cold calling people, you need to convince people that what they are doing is inefficient or basically backasswards.  When selling technology, this doesn’t happen in a 10-minute phone call.This happens over months of relationship building and calls and site visits and more calls and more relationship building.  You’re preaching your version of religion and trying to make converts. It doesn’t come easy and it is easy to focus on how many people finish the race, but we lose track of how we got people to show up at the race in the first place.We spend a lot of time talking about metrics. How many deals closed, how many leads from one point to another. How many suspects to prospects; prospects to opportunities.  All of those metrics are great for potential customers who are already in the race.But let me ask, how are you getting people to show up at your race?