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?


Thank Your Supporting Cast

I’ve heard a story that, after he is done filming, Clint Eastwood has a thank you party for his supporting cast & crew at his private club, Tehama, in Carmel Valley. What an awesome thing to do for people that, aside from a split second credit at the end of the film, probably don’t get much credit for the work that they do.I’ve always thought that this was a really cool thing to do.By most accounts, especially in a down economy, I’ve had a pretty good year and have had the opportunity to do some really fun things. I celebrated my 10-year wedding anniversary with Holly, watched my kids evolve into little people, closed some big deals, got a bunch of case studies, consulted / advised two companies, taught a class, sat on two panels, did a couple of guest blog posts and learned a ton from all of the people that I met with throughout the course of the year.Success is not an individual sport.  There are a lot of people that have helped me out. For that, I’m very grateful and I’d like to recognize them.  Think of this as a Follow Friday, Subscribe Saturday or what you want to call it.  These people rock.

  • My amazing wife and family – beyond them, this list is in no particular order
  • The awesome people at Socialtext for all of their help – Kris, Eugene, Ross, Michael, Alan, Shawn Devlin, Chris Lynch, Michael Kieran, Adina Levin, Phyllis Ball and the entire development staff here at Socialtext. You guys have built an amazing product that is really fun to sell.  Thank you.
  • All of my customers that actually bought stuff from me.  You have no idea how much it means to me that you see me as someone you trust enough to do business with.  Thank you, thank you, thank you. A million times over, thank you.
  • Eric Grafstrom, Jim Weil, Mukund Mohan, Peter Marquez & Greg Brown for being good friends that I can bounce crazy ass ideas off of and being willing to tell me if they are crazy or not. I am always so impressed by you guys and learn so much in our conversations.
  • Terri Griffith for letting me teach her class at Santa Clara University – I can’t wait to do it again this winter!
  • Too many friends to name – I’m insanely lucky in that department
  • Jennifer Leggio, Dat To and Fernando Labistida for having me guest blog on their sites. PLUG – I love doing this if you need a sales guest blogger, hit me up.
  • Sameer Patel, Oliver Marks & Gerhard Gschwandtner for letting me sit on panels at their respective trade shows. I love that you guys invite me to these and I learn so much when I do these events.
  • Bloggers and writers like Jim Keenan, Doyle Slayton, Jill KonrathPaul Castain – I learn so much from you guys every time you post.
  • You – I’m shocked sometimes when people read this blog.  Thank you for doing so.

As the clock turns over to Thanksgiving day here on the west coast, I’m reminded how lucky I am, but how many people have helped me to be in this position. I know I’ve missed people on this list, but thank you very, very much to each and everyone of you.Image by me.


What’s With All The Chatter?

There seems to be a trend happening in software / technology these days. We’ve gotten way out of control announcing products way before they are baked in an attempt to generate press and build FUD in a way that didn’t happen just a few years ago.Microsoft is guilty, announcing planned features in SharePoint 2010 almost a year before it is scheduled to ship.  Google announced Wave 2 months before developers could get their hands on it and who knows when it will be publicly available.  Today, Salesforce.com announced Chatter, a social integration tool that will turn water to wine and cram 10 pounds of productivity into a 5 pound bag. At least according to Marc Benioff during his keynote today. The downside of this miracle cure is that, like SP10 and Wave, it won’t be available until some undefined date way in the future.I’ve been hearing rumors about SFDC doing something cool around enterprise collaboration for a few weeks. I have to admit, my speculation was that they were going to announce a partnership to integrate with Google Wave.  The first announcements made Chatter sound like it was simple integration / Twitter-esque clone built on top of SFDC.After reading Charlene Li’s post, though, I’m intrigued about where this will go.  Some of her key points were:

Enterprise apps get social–and smart. This is more than merely integrating Twitter-like functionality into CRM and creating “social CRM”. This is a rethink and elevation of how information flows around an organization, and where it lives. The elevation of deals to be on the same level as people is significant — in every other social platform, people reign supreme and the world pivots around them. Look for social CRM providers like Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, and many others to open up their platforms as well.


This means your enterprise app will be “adopting” social technologies, moving away from sending notifications via email (and cluttering up your inbox) and instead, sending updates just like everyone else on your team into the news stream.  Essentially, your enterprise app will be “tweeting”, with it’s own “profile” and Chatter updates aggregated into one place.

This is pretty interesting and something that we’ve been working on for sometime at Socialtext.  On the one hand, SFDC will be a formidable competitor in the market place.  On the other, they are still 5 – 8 months from delivering anything in the best of circumstances.Also, there is still a level of acceptance that will need to be overcome.  Many of the CIO’s that I speak with are still skeptical of having tons of data in the cloud.  Salesforce brags that in 2011, 25% of apps will be in the cloud.  Simple math, but that means that 3/4 will still be on premise.  And let’s face it, most sales reps don’t use SFDC the way they should so paying $50 a month for a glorified contact management system beats hell out of a seven figure Siebel implementation.  It will be interesting to see what kind of acceptance having deal status and team interactions in the cloud will get. From what I’ve seen, it is cool if a small group is doing it, but when a big enough contingent of employees has conversations in the cloud, it makes everyone nervous.The second question that I have is around the level of integration.  They are currently promising a pie in the sky picture of this integration where everything is updating everything, but they haven’t explained anything at all about which apps this will work with (outside Salesforce) and what it won’t (assuming Oracle) nor have they gone into the security of having certain things shared and others not.  Don’t get me started on how this will map to a company’s archiving policy.Selling social software is hard.  I’ve often said that this is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had.  I’m excited about SFDC getting into the market.  I love the competition and it will raise the level of customer acceptance to another level. It’s another endorsement. And we could all use that.Other posts about Chatter:

What do you think? Will Chatter change the way you work, will it be a blip on your radar or will it just be mindless chatter? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.