Goldilocks and the Complex Sale – it’s Complicated

The B2B Complex Sale. Mysterious. Ethereal. Shivers the timbers of man and beast alike (including Marketing and PR people).  It has ended the career of  many a person. Sent many a company down in flames. Healthcare reform? Bah… that’s simple. Not even close to a B2B complex sale.  But what really is a …

… COMPLEX SALE?

In a nutshell, it’s this. The complex sale typically refers to a high-value purchase $150,000 and higher, involving a buyer’s committee consisting of anywhere from 10 to 25 people … or more. The sales cycle is frustratingly long – anywhere from 12-36 month. Worse still it involves multiple decision-makers, all with different viewpoints, agendas and radically different and annoying personalities.

IT’S A SCIENCE–IT’S AN ART

To win at the complex sale, one must be a storyteller, master tactician, strategist, cajoler, evaluator, philosopher, psychologist, bean counter and techno-geek.

I spent a week of intense education on the topic of “complex sale.” It was tough-taught by a serious taskmaster with an honest determination for me to learn. What I took away is this … it’s complex. But not really. It’s all about people – people trying to solve a problem and you enabling them to pay you to help solve that problem. It’s also all about connections. Connecting the wants/needs/desires of the technical and business users with the Big Kahuna’s (C-leader$hip) vision and interests.

COMPLEX IS PRETTY SIMPLE

Now I have it all figured out. It’s simple. Watch closely as I skillfully take apart the most difficult of adversaries and personalities in a B2B tech complex sale.

IT DIRECTORS & CIO’S (AKA UNDERCOVER PHYSICISTS)

Physicists are incredibly brilliant and deviously clever people.  They can convince you that the word “impossible” is basically “relative,”  and you believe them.  They can convince you that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, then they invent the word “tachyon,” which stands for a hypothetical, supraluminal quantum particle that never travels SLOWER than the speed of light. When it loses energy, it travels FASTER,  and it makes complete sense when they explain it. You believe them. Yes, physicists are brilliant. Clever. Deviously so; much like IT Directors and CIO’s.

They’re the people paid to make sure everything you do (relating to technology, which is just about everything right?) in your business works smoothly, quickly and cheaper. Cheaper, that is, than it did in 1980. And they do it. They’re a very important player in any complex technology sale. You need to know they’re ultimately in the money – they report to the CFO or CEO. So if you need something that is crucial to your operations –  like a brand new Mac Pro to run your in-house video-production center for your corporate PR, Sales and Marketing function – you’re going to have to convince (tangle with) them.  I’m using this apocalyptic need for a Mac Pro simply as an illustration, because the total value it could DELIVER would be – in the complex sales territory – upwards of a couple hundred thousand dollars. .. conservatively speaking of course.

ONE THING YOU NEED TO KNOW

Not only are typical IT directors brilliant, clever and devious, they insist on you jumping through IMPOSSIBLE hoops, which are not really relative; things like filling out a cost-justification form and answering questions like, “What the ROI be?” and “How long will it take?” They’re not like normal people. I mean “cool, quick, awesome, we can do sweet videos on it for everyone” just doesn’t cut it with these blockheads. Even when I told them it took three days and 22 hours to edit a 30-second corporate product video, they STILL asked those inane questions about ROI and cost.

So you have to tell a whale of a story  rivaling the biblical creation to convince these strange personalities that lead IT departments. It has to be Simple, Memorable, Accurate, Repeatable and Totally off the hook. (There’s an acronym there I think.) And it needs to add immense value, statistically be unassailable and substantially bumfuzzling to convince them that “impossible” is a relative term … as it applies to the new Mac Pro they will be soon be gladly approving. (There’s an acronym there too I think, but I’m bold enough not to point it out.)

SOCRATIC GOLDILOCKS-ESIAN STORYTELLING


That’s where Goldilocks comes in. Makes perfect sense to me. So tag along for an intellectual ride nonpareil.

IT BEGINS

If I told you that right now you were traveling at 1,000 mph,  you’d think I’m nuts, or drank too much last night … or both. You’d be right. You’re not really traveling at 1,000 mph, You’re …

… SPINNING

at about 1,000 mph. That’s the rotation speed of the earth. If you’re on earth right now (and hopefully you are if you’re reading this), you’re actually spinning at about 1,000 mph.  That rotational speed happens to be not too fast, not too slow but just right for life to exist on earth. Much faster and severely violent weather and apocalyptic storms would reign – and life wouldn’t. Too much slower and one side of the earth would be Hades hot, the other Antarctica cold.  It’s just about right.

What if I said to you right now, wherever you’re located, you’re  …

… TILTING

at 23.5 degrees? You’d think I’m nuts, disoriented, drank too much … or all three. Well in fact, you are; 23.5 degrees is the “Obliquity of the Ecliptic.” That’s a high falutin’, scientific gobbledygook word (much like “seamlessly  integrated” and “leading provider” in business lingo) that means “tilt” of the earth axis. Tilted much more or less would leave the Earth unstable – make it wobble – and the earth could tumble, making life impossible and most certainly making for a WILD RIDE in the process. Sounds like a movie to me. It’s just right.

And what if I said to you that you’re not only spinning at 1,000 mph and tilted at 23.5 degrees, you’re also traveling through space at …

… 66,000 MPH

That’s 18 miles per second.  And at that 66,000 mph, we have a dancing partner – the moon. And that moon is not too big, not too small, but just the right size to stabilize the earth’s rotation and keep it from wobbling too much – and so life exists. In this earth-moon, boot scooting solar, two-step boogie, the “dark side of the moon, which we never see, also helps shield the earth from comets and meteors.

And what if I said to you, that as you’re spinning at 1,000 mph, tilted at 23.5 degrees and dancing a 66,000 mph boot-scooting solar boogie with the moon, we have a big brother watching …

… JUPITER

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. Its diameter is 10 times larger than Earth and is over 300 times the mass. Jupiter’s gravitational pull is so great it’s like a mega dark side of the moon. It attracts comets and meteors away from Earth and hurls them out of the solar system. If Jupiter was much bigger, Earth would be hurled out along with them. Much smaller, and Goldilocks would be blasted with comets and meteor boulders from space – and that would just not be right.

I’m about done. (Am I working hard for the Mac Pro or not?) Two  more things. If I said that you’re spinning at 1,000 mph, tilted at 23.5 degrees, while doing the 66,000 mph boot-scooting solar boogie with the moon as big brother Jupiter watches over you,  that none of that matters. No, none of that would matter at all if it wasn’t for the …

… SUN

Does it get any better than the sun? Free energy. Free light. Life-giving heat to ensure oxygen and water. Would hanging out at the beach even be the same? The sun is at exactly the right size and distance so we can listen to our iPod’s and whine about not having a Mac Pro while we sun ourselves at the beach. Any bigger or closer and we’d fry. Any smaller or further away and we’d be lifeless remnants memorialized in icicles.

EARTH MOON SUN BOOT-SCOOTING BOOGIE

So, spinning at 1,000 mph, tilted at 23.5 degrees, doing the 66,000 mph boot-scooting boogie with the moon as big brother Jupiter watches over and protects while the free energy, light and warmth-giving Sun nourishes life.

But none of that would really matter if we were off by ….

… ONE PART

If the expansion rate of the universe was changed by one part in a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion, faster or slower, life on earth would not exist. Not too fast. Not too slow. Really, really, really just right.

Amazing. Bumfuzzling.  And … cool. But none of that matters either if we were off  …

… ONE INCH

If a measuring tape were stretched across the universe and segmented in one-inch increments (billions upon gazillions of inches) representing the force strengths of nature (gravity, electromagnetism, weak and strong nuclear forces) and the tape was moved one inch in either direction, life on earth would not exist. One inch? Not too big. Not too small. But exceptionally just right.

THE END … SORTA

Before I wrap up with my call for action, here’s a slight comment on the story facts above. It could never sell in Hollywood. Or TV. Why?

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.” – Pudd’n Head Wilson (an intellectually astute and under-appreciated philosopher)

SO ABOUT ALL THOSE FACTS AND THE MAC PRO – MY CALL TO ACTION

Dear Omnisicent, Omnipotent, IT Director:

If you take that very same measuring tape, stretched across the universe and segmented in one-inch increments (billions upon gazillions of inches) representing the allocated, amortized total cost of a Mac Pro, BUT immediately take advantage of the video value it can provide to the company … life would not only exist on earth (and my cube) better and faster, but also at prices that are at least 13.7 billion years old. Imagine, we could deliver some pretty cool and sweet looking 21st video products. So let’s do it.

THE REAL END

I wanted the pitch to be simple, memorable, accurate, repeatable and totally off the hook. And it needed to add immense value, statistically be unassailable and substantially bumfuzzling to convince him that “impossible” is a relative term … as it applies to him authorizing my new Mac Pro.

I think it was. I’m sure he understood. He approved the requisition. But he did it in terms that were simple, memorable, accurate, repeatable and totally off the hook. And it added value, was statistically unassailable and substantially bumfuzzling to me.

He put the Mac Pro on layaway for me and scheduled payment terms in one-inch increments stretched across the unfathomable expanse of the universe. Then he sent me a personalized and heartless email to tell me when to expect it.

It’s on my calendar to be picked it up in about 13.7 billion years (more or less).

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RELATED LINKS

If you want more info on the “Goldilocks Universe” check out:

The Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku.

The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life, by Paul Davies.

Size Matters: The Known Universe – National Geographic.

Earth Rotation and Revolution – Physical Geography, University of British Columbia.

Age of the Universe –  UCLA Division of Astronomy and Astrophysics

WILD RIDE – if you want to know what happens when Goldilocks goes wrong.

How to Connect Through the Chaotic Cacophony of Content?

How to Connect Through the Chaotic Cacophony of Content?

Gary Hayes, an award-winning new media producer based in Australia, has developed a social media tracking application that covers the creation, use and sharing of content on the web.  The results displayed are based on data culled from a range of social media sources and web sites.

CHAOTIC CACOPHONY OF CONTENT

When you look at the numbers, they stagger.  But what do these explosive numbers mean though … really?

THE HARDEST PART OF WRITING

I’m a consumer and producer of content on a professional level. The numbers only tell you the raw volume.  Quantity not quality. Not consistency. Persistency. Or sustainability of the content producer – which is the true measure. Over the last several years I’ve found that consistently creating quality content is the HARDEST part of using content for business marketing to generate leads and create new sales.

So given those numbers … how can you connect through the chaos? What do you need to have and do?

THE SKILL-SET

Writing as a business skill is more important and valuable than ever. How else to break through this explosive chaotic cacophony of content? Well there’s only one proven way, the first step is to realize it’s …

HARD WORK

To consistently produce average-to-good content is hard work.

HARDER WORK

To consistently produce great content? That’s really hard work.  And, a lot of the time you don’t know the difference  until after you publish it.

STINKER-ROO VS SUPER

Many times I thought something was killer content (usually mine), and it stank up the house (always mine).

Other times I thought something was boring, bordering on banal, and it ended up being breakthrough super (lots of reads and comments).  Later, when working backwards trying to understand the difference between the banal-to-boring content vs. the  breakthrough super content it was obvious.

The great performing content always delivered most, if not all, of the following … it was;

  • Educational – made a difference to the reader’s life of business or the business of life.  Was interesting and chock full of  ideas,  insights, information and inspiration
  • Entertaining – yes,  the old humorous bugaboo that corporate writing tends to avoid like the plague. Make them laugh or make them cry. Just don’t make them cry because they’re bored to tears. It’s okay to use humor.

ONE THING IT DIDN’T HAVE?

Anesthetic, stupor-inducing, put me to sleep or boil me in oil first writing.  It was always devoid of corporate gobbledygook, cliches and weasel-words.

Great ideas, information, insights and inspirational stories – from you – will earn people’s honest attention.

Anesthetic writing will guarantee you’ll get lost in the explosive new reality show of  content depicted in Gary Hayes’  Social Media Counts.

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The Seven “New Rules” of Business Presentations

“WATCH THE BOSS. THEN DO WHAT HE DOES.”

BAD IDEA

That was advice given to me long ago on how to properly prepare and give a business presentation. Quite possibly the worst business advice I have ever received.  The “watch the boss” advice, however, seems to be set in stone for new people coming up the ranks in business. There’s not a lot of time, money or effort invested in training people internally on how to give presentations. It’s sink or swim … and the sinking can get pretty ugly.

WHAT I WISH I’D LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN – BUT NOT FROM MY BOSS

Having seen hundreds of business presentations and given a few myself, there are a few things I wish someone would have taught me in kindergarten. Seven things or “New Rules” of business presentations to be precise.  I pass these on to anyone new to the dreaded gauntlet of the business presentation or any grizzled veterans who want to walk on the wild side and shake things up.

THE BASICS

Structurally there are two completely different parts to every business presentation – composition and delivery.

1. Composition – is creating, organizing, formatting and structuring the ideas, information, insights and imagery. It’s  hard work and hard-thinking.

2. Performance– of the presentation is an attitude, mindset, vision and problem-solving stage performance. It’s hard work, hard-thinking, and should inform, educate and if possible, entertain.

ARE YOU A CAESAR?

2Great presentations meld composition and performance seamlessly – like Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar.

Every great presentation I’ve seen states a specific problem, the implications of that problem, then provides a pathway to resolve the problem – and reap the attendant benefits. Simple as that. And as complicated as that.

OR A FLYING STINK-O-POTAMUS?

Image by Ben Heine

Image by Ben Heine

If a presentation doesn’t state the problem, then provide a vision of a future with that problem solved and the benefit to be expected, it will never be great … or even good.

A presentation that fails that basic but singular task is typically referred to as  “A Flying Stink-o-potamus.” Sometimes the “f” is left off the word “flying.”

The seven “New Rules” I propose below mostly involve the composition part of the presentation. If you’re  fairly new to business and business presentations, or just don’t want to walk in the same old corporate presentation-crapola anymore, these rules will help set you apart quickly. Might get you fired – but you will be different.

THE SEVEN “NEW RULES” OF BUSINESS PRESENTATIONS

1. NEVER COPY YOUR BOSS

Bad idea. You know why? Because he copied his boss. And his boss copiedhis boss when his boss was copying his boss back when copying included using scribes and hieroglyphics. Back when a tablets were made of stone. Copying your boss is unimaginative, sycophantic and boring.  It’s easy though – and that’s why it’s still the number source of bad presentations. Still… NEVER copy your boss. Think for yourself.

* There are some exceptions to this rule – like if your boss is Ron White (the comedian).

2.  WORDS: 0-10 MAX PER SLIDE

In the article  “Uncovering Steve Jobs’ Presentation Secrets” Carmine Gallo wrote,

“The average PowerPoint slide has 40 words. In some presentations, Steve Jobs has a total of seven words in 10 slides. And why are you cluttering up your slides with too many words?”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

40 words per slide? That flabbergasted me. I’ve never seen less than 75. Carmine must not get out much.

THE NEW RULE: 0-10 WORDS MAXIMUM PER SLIDE.

3. SIZE: 50-60 POINT FONT

Guy Kawasaki has a 10-20-30 Rule of PowerPoint which was good in its day.

  • 10 Slides.
  • 20 Minutes.
  • 30-Point Font (no smaller than)

But that rule needs updating. Use no smaller than a 50-point font and strive consistently to use a 60-point font. If you do that you’ll automatically comply with New Rule Number 3.

Try squeezing a lot of 60-point font words on one slide. You’ll see what I mean.

4. BAN ALL BULLET-POINTS

Ban it. Beat it. Bash it. Just don’t ever bullet-point it again.

This is an all-out call to ban the bullet-point. Many a good presentation has been bungled by bilious bullet-points being bandied about in a baffling badinage of balderdash. Really.

Step out of the crowd. March to the beat of your own bullet-pointless presentation. Step out of dark and into the light.

Ban the bullet-point. The world will be a better place!

5. TEXT COLOR – BE CONSISTENT

If your text starts out white – keep it white. Don’t have multiple colors of text throughout the presentation. It’s like reading a 3-D rainbow written in Sumerian eme-ĝir. It’s distracting.

Okay, this is a pet-peeve of mine, other people might not mind reading a rainbow written in Sumerian eme-ĝir, but it is distracting to me.

6. USE VIGOROUS LANGUAGE

I cribbed this from Hemmingway’s Four Rules of Writing. What is vigorous language? Action-oriented. Imperative verbs.  And try not to use “ing” words (gerunds), or minimize them as much as possible.

EXAMPLE:

Instead of “creating” use “create.” Instead of “going” use “go.”

A little thing … but it will make your presentation stronger. It works.

“Those were the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing,” Hemingway said in 1940. “I’ve never forgotten them. No man with any talent, who feels and writes truly about the thing he is trying to say, can fail to write well if he abides with them.”

7. NO CORPORATE GOBBLEDYGOOK VISUALS

Do not use stock photos. Smiling faces of corporate fakeness. This is hard, I know.  It’s ingrained in the business culture as much as corporate gobbledygook, which continually invades good clean page space with too many words drained of meaning.  A lot of small-to-medium size companies don’t have access to great visuals so they buy into a stock photo subscription. Do the best you can with what you have.

Try to use  brilliant, mysterious, evocative images that stun … and know that these can also be simple and stark, as long as they catch the eye and further the storyline of your presentation. Where can you find such images? However, if you want to check out some free to do whatever you want with images that are pretty exceptional try Unsplash.com.  Others you can check out include  Flickr’s Creative CommonsComfight, Stock.xchange, and FreePixels.

8. USE THE PRINCIPLE OF CREATIVE LIMITATION

Limit yourself so you can grow. Both creatively and intellectually.

Robert McKee, Hollywood screenwriting guru and bestselling author of the book STORY, and I discussed the principle of creative limitation in “A Simple, Timeless Tale” interview.

“The PowerPoint presentation is easy, that’s why people do it. But creative limitation means instead of doing something the easy way, you do it the hard way. You take a method that is much more difficult to accomplish. As a result in your struggle as a salesman to accomplish the presentation in the form of a story, you are forcing yourself to be creative. The more difficult you make it for yourself, the more brilliant the solutions you will have to come up with or you fail. And when you come up with brilliant creative solutions to the presentation, the results for the people, for the audience, are stunning.”

journeye

 

FORCED FREEDOM

These “New Rules” for business presentations force you to become more creative in your presentations.

They free you to simplify.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci

They free you to beautify.

They free you to amplify.

These New Rules can be the canvas you paint your presentation on to deliver the message any audience really craves  which is …

Make me dream, Touch me, Comfort me, Amuse me, Make me laugh, Make me weep, Make me shudder, Make me think.” – Guy de Maupassant

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