Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Piranhas and Presentations

In my standard workshops I try to focus on changing things to have the maximum impact on customer facing activities (like better discovery, more focused and simpler demos, telling stories etc.) I often refer to some smaller changes as being part of the “Piranha Effect”.
As background, there are many things that we do as an SE that have a small effect on the “stickiness” of our messaging. They may cause a gain, or loss, of say 1-2% in overall stickiness. Barely worth bothering about you may think. Yet once you’ve fixed the big things, these Piranhas can have a telling impact on your delivery. I call them Piranhas because if you get attacked by a single fish, it takes a small bite and you move on. Get attacked by a twenty piranha and they can do some serious damage.

The same thing applies to your presentations. If you think you are an A+ presenter then I challenge you to take a video of one of your pitches and conduct both a self- and a third-party assessment. Look out for the piranhas (minimal eye contact, pointing, pacing back-and-forth, small font sizes etc.) and kill them off one-by-one. The result will be a better presentation with less distractions for the customer and it will now be safe to step into the waters!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Being A Team Player

This month's recommended book, John Maxwell's The 17 Essential Qualities Of A Team Player, sprang out of a conversation had over the summer with a pair of new SE Managers. The topic was teamwork - and we spoke for many hours before, during and after dinner. One SE Manager had to build a brand new team, the other had inherited a poorly performing team.

I recall telling them a story about my son back when he was 11 or 12. Matt was, and still is, a very good footbal (soccer) player - his team won many championships and he played Division-1 college soccer for 4 years here in the US. But that's not the story my young son taught me.

One season, years ago, Matt was voted the Most Valuable Player on his team. Yet he didn't have a single statistic on the books - no goals, no assists, nothing ... He played in defence, was often the last line of defense - but he was awarded the MVP over kids who had scored 20+ goals that season. Being the proud father I was convinced that he deserved the award, so I asked him why he thought he had won it.

His response?

"It's the way I play. I always give 100% and never quit. But the other players do that too. It's because I am a good player and can make a difference in the game. But the other players can do that too. The real reason is because I try to make everyone else on my team look good and play better. When a team-mate is in trouble on the field - I'm there for him to pass the ball to; I let them know when they have time or when they are under pressure and I give them an escape route. Sure I can make tackles and stop goals being scored against us, but if I make everyone else on my team play better then it's like we have 12 players and the other team still has 11. That's why we win!"

Wow - now is that a definition of a team player?