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How Does History Guru’s Only Law Apply to Your Big Deal?

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Niall Ferguson, of whom I last posted back in 2011, has another cracking sounding ‘album’ out.

A history of the power of networks and lessons for today’s freewheelin’ silicon valley. He hopes that will halt their path to becoming Bond Villains. He does not believe their view that history “began with the Google IPO” making everything before irrelevant. He urges them to drop unimpeded self-regulation whilst understanding “network science”.

In his pr for The Square And The Tower, here is one of the must-hear Professor’s lines when interviewed;

The law of unintended consequences is pretty much the only law of history

I instantly thought where he says ‘history’ we could just as easily swap in ‘sales’.

I’ve spent perhaps more hours in meetings discussing possible scenarios on deals than any other single entity. The forensic assessment of where we’re at, the personalities and issues at play and how to shape them in our direction.

I wondered if in reality, this question of ‘unintended consequences’ impact ought be an essential lens which any such bid review should include?

In many ways, it is already suggested as a ‘strategic selling’ staple. In its world featuring the like of red flags, valid business reasons and unique strengths.

Yet as Prof Ferguson states, how could the inventor of the printing press have foreseen the rise of populist all-conquering tabloid newspapers? Examining unintended consequences in this context could suffer the feel of crystal ball gazing.

Hopefully on your sale things might be a little simpler. You have the ‘intended’. Leaving anything else as ‘unintended’. Something to work with when positioning your next campaign tactic.

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Does Your Pitch Thrive Better Than Ariana Huffington’s?

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So this Thrive app is on a launch promo push.

It seems to have grown out of the latest attempt to out-Gwyneth Goop, from the Huffington Post founder’s “lifestyle” effort of her own.

Here’s the key selling part.

On her natural Leftism home, CNN, she got chance to pitch [transcript here]. ‘So, this Thrive app’:

“basically shows all of us how we can protect ourselves from our growing addiction to our phones”

Not a bad start. Yet not a great one either.

As you may know, I loathe such flickworten as ‘basically‘.

And as for the problem definition, it might get a few heads nodding, but really who is going to admit to an ‘addiction’, whether it be “slightly” or “growing”?

Their own marketing blurb has better material to mine. The “unplug and recharge” strapline has merit. As does the “effective monitoring” it allows. You reclaim being the boss of your phone, not the other way ’round. It sounds like ‘Thrive mode’ restricts whatever activity you deem necessary for however long is required. And let’s anyone trying to but-in know so. All meant to affect “our ability to refuel, to recharge, to be creative, to be fully present in our lives”.

What is good is her brevity. Strip out the flannel, and there’s a short, sharp sentence to kick-off. Her further explanation of the hows is similarly succinct. On telly a drill-down is manufactured, yes, but you still sense this is close to how a real pitch may flow.

Not far off being textbook, I’m sure use in the field will refine for her. And those pesky marketeers will surely be willing to help;

Be in charge of your phone, so you can recharge. Let FOMO rather afflict others. Manage your phone to de-stress your incoming barrage. And as she writes herself, “connect more deeply with your work, with others in your life and with yourself”.

That kind of messaging.

…what’s your starting sentence response when someone asks the Richard Quest-style, “Why Thrive? What’s the purpose of this new app…?” for your newly released marvel?

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Remember Perfect Never Arrives

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“We don’t want perfect to be the emery of the good, is it better than what we’ve got?”

So said American Senator Mike Rounds (Rep. for S Dakota) when commenting on the supposed bi-partisan Dreamer Deal for immigrants into the USA, January 2018.

Is there anything worse than a buyer whom seeks perfection?

As the internet meme goes, “perfectionism is very dangerous”. You tend to end up never actually doing anything. Be happy with nothing. Stay stuck where you’re at and heading backwards for an eternity.

Apart from the plethora of modern day fables about the folly of waiting in vain for ‘perfection’, I was reminded of the product launch movements surrounding minimum viable product (MVP), don’t be afraid to put something “crappy” out there (via Guy Kawasaki), and release something every day (re: 37signals).

All aimed at making people get over the hurdle of procrastinating. Launch something. Anything. The hardest part is the start…

I was also reminded of that comedy-ish line, ‘they’re facts, don’t let facts get in the way of a good argument’. Whilst often used to secure empathy, it also raises the neat subtext of introducing the vital selling angle of emotion within decision making.

On the day of posting, the top returned google wisdom preached thus;

Perfectionism involves a tendency to set standards that are so high that they either cannot be met, or are only met with great difficulty. Perfectionists tend to believe that anything short of perfection is horrible, and that even minor imperfections will lead to catastrophe.

Yet the world does not end.

Sometimes, it is fine to do something even when it seems to be less than overwhelmingly flawless.

Is their perceived ‘must-have’ in truth a mere ‘nice-to-have’? If 80% of what they think they need can be done today for the standard money, then does it really matter for the moment about the other 20 which may hold prohibitive costs anyway? 

Does your prospect really want perfect to be the enemy of ‘good’? Especially when that good is way better than where they’re at right now?

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If Your Pitch Were A Heist, Would It Get Away With The Million Dollars?

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Real lines said in a meeting, Part 18.1.12…

Who doesn’t love a cunning heist movie? A good old fashioned caper. The loveable rogues with a plan against the evil ‘man’ that make it, just.

Well, here’s a reaction from a Friday meeting. Right after news broke about a jewel gang from the Paris Ritz earlier in the week. They snatched their loot. All €4m of it. Only to drop it on their way out.

If this pitch were a heist, it wouldn’t have left the jewels behind.

*snigger*

At the time, I wasn’t totally convinced this was appropriate. But everyone laughed, relaxed, and progress flowed. So. Anything that works, works. I guess…

A broader point did occur.

With the wordsmithery often required in the heat of pitching, this template could well be built upon.

Switching in almost anything that could amount to success.

If this was a movie, it’d be the summer blockbuster that takes all the gongs

If this were a sportsteam, it’d be the underdog that wins all neutrals hearts and lifts the trophy

If this were a male role in a romcom, it’d definitely ‘get the girl’

If this were a president, it might not have the biggest button there is but would know how to use it

If this were a cryptocurrency, it’d be the one that truly leaves a legacy

You’re only limited by your imagination.

There is another selling picture to paint here. Attachment to something that achieves in a place were such accomplishment is notoriously tricky can be evocative for a prospect. If you can be the holding the million-dollar gems whilst your opponents are merely themselves and prevail, then you’ve certainly pulled off your own heist.

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Could You Use Google Docs Project Proposal Template

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Further proof that you’re best off not outsourcing all your life to Google. Or any other techgiantia for that matter.

Above is their chosen ‘placeholder image’ for Tropic. The Project Proposal template inside their Docs app. It sits at the top of the cover page.

Ew. I can hardly believe they’ve put out something so 90s. Especially considering how easy it would have been to make a themed piece of such temporary imagery across their full range of templates. And with actual design literacy.

Still. I did think of replicating this very geometric pattern with corporate colours I was using recently. As a deck section stopper. Referencing the googlers, naturally.

Of perhaps higher Sales significance, is how they feel you ought set out your Proposal. Here’s the four sole headings they go on to suggest;

Overview   Goals   Specifications   Milestones

You can have a lot of fun with these.

Particularly with a familiar, friendly audience. Like a longtime client when account managing. Or an internal launch of a new product. In a cheeky ‘what would google do’ style-y. In both cases I suspect you could sweetly workshop using this format how your ‘project’ might be shaped.

You needn’t make a big deal out of it. Twenty minutes might suffice. As for sure, these are most definitely not the quartet of headers a Sales Prop should deploy. Yet you never know, Google may actually genuinely help you for a change.

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10 Presentation Cliches You Must Avoid When Presenting

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To help bring in the New Year, how about a buzzfeeding listicle on seasonal bottom dwelling selling.

10 Presentation Clichés You Must Avoid When Presenting;


Double Act

Repeating ‘When You Buy’ Throughout

Comedy Props

21st Century clip art/stock photography

Your Corporate Slides Upfront

Video

Repeating Everything Is Awesome

Motivational Quotes

Funnies

And finally, Clichés.


I realise you may well have your own offenders. Maybe you actually insist one of these works wonders.

I’m aware for instance that ‘video’ is a controversial one maybe. But call me old-fashioned, you are the star of this particular production, not someone else or someone else’s clever snippet of video, with the caveat of anything that shows the problem (alongside your solution) can pass muster.

Avoid these and everything your prospect sees they really could think is awesome…

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Coaching Talking Head Resolutions Top Tip Trio

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Her Fox News bio; ‘award-winning executive coach and career strategist Elizabeth Koraca‘.

Richard Quest on his CNN Money hour took the extremely rare step of making notes from what she said.

The topic they both covered, unsurprisingly at this time of year, were ‘tips for sticking to your 2018 resolutions’. Apparently by the end of Week One our New Year Resolutions overwhelmingly already lie in tatters.

Here’s her 3 Top Tips;

  1. Keep it (super) simple
  2. Write it down (everywhere)
  3. Have an action plan (a strategy)

As Quest himself was quick to note, she moves swiftly from Resolutions to life/career/business planning in general.

Goalbot Elizabeth proudly told Quest that only four days into the New Year she’d nailed one of her main resolutions straight away. Taking a calligraphy course to improve her “crappy” handwriting. As Our Richard remarked, with that knowing furrowed brow of his, “extraordinary”.

The last time I blogged along such lines was thanks to golfer Rory McIlroy. Ms Koraca doesn’t opt for anything near as lengthy as the trad shortcut of ‘smart’ goals. She is so well rehearsed (big hint for sellers in that one) that her appearances on screen across both media channels feature the same flawless delivery of her shtick.

Whilst gaining admiration for her Foxnews reveal that she’d “just lost 30lbs of baby weight”, she also elaborated on those 3 Tips, as on CNN.

Simple means choose just one or two. Then have it visible, pasted onto your ‘nightstand, bathroom mirror kitchen wall’. Finally, know precisely how you’re going to follow-through so that you can mark-off on your calendar.

For the seller seeking improvement, the parallels ought be pretty self-explanatory.

What do you aim to improve? Which process elements do you need to embed? Where must you focus?

Choose one. Plaster it around you. Tick off what you do, when you planned to do it.

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The Business Priorities Question via Incoming US Administration

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Sjoe. As an Englishman, I’m certainly no hardcore gun-tooting bible bashing Republican. I may even be a social liberal. But I was appalled at the imbalance and partiality of Wolf Blitzer and his CNN Leftists this week. Specifically how they wet their pants with excitement at teases of a book release.

Apparently My Boy Donny is mentally unhinged. The dBBC (despite Brexit Broadcasting Corporation) naturally got in on the act. Salivating over ‘11 explosive claims from new book‘. Which as you can see from the original screenshot above, was initially only ’10’.

A prominent former aide appears disgruntled. Happy to stab the metaphorical knife not so much in the back, but right out in front for all the world to see.

This level of bias quickly becomes a tortuous watch. How grateful I was to be saved by the awesomeness of the epic Arsenal Chelsea EPL match that night.

For all the Left’s teeth gnashing, “Explosive” 8 of the dBBC’s assassination merits deeper Sales assessment.

Again, there’s a slightly garden-path-misleading nature to the headline; White House unsure of priorities.

The WH was not unsure of what it wanted to do at all. The problem was that it didn’t know in which order their plans ought be ranked, nor where urgency applied. The quote given is allegedly from the then new deputy chief of staff;

‘Just give me the three things the president wants to focus on.’
‘What are the three priorities of this White House?’
It was the most basic question imaginable…

Regardless of where you sit along the Trump Scale of nutter or winner, this question is a belter in solution selling. It is overwhelmingly essential to get a grip on where the overall business priorities of your prospect lie.

Indeed, many internal dialogues can revolve around the current hottest must-do edict of a chief exec.

In addition, you should gauge from the swiftness and clarity of response from your contact both how cemented or communicated these are and how aligned to or involved with them they may be.

‘With so much to always get on with, my dear prospect, what’s the one top thing you’re mainly working on right now?’ would be a start…

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Flick Your Luxury Light Switch

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I was delighted this week to read an SME Sino-success story.

As well as the breakthrough export element, also because I love stories where high-end options thrive in commoditised, race-to-the-bottom, margin-slaying marketplaces.

And what could be more box-shifting than light switches and plug wall sockets?

Intrigued as to what actually constitutes ‘luxury’ in this sector, I found plenty of glossy shots on their instagram. Proving, perhaps, that sadly even the most creative of minds will battle with the most mundane of ‘product’. Take the bird’s nest/perlemon snap above.

Next stop, their general website.

First up, as with many such interior, accessory landing pages these days, you’re greeted with a slideshow of products in situ.

I wondered if there was any “selling”?

Tucked away, fairly obscured, seemed to be a worthy link; Why Focus SB.

What a terrific pic then appears.

This conveys surely a flagstone of their edge. There follows a text listing.

I couldn’t help thinking that these marketeers had missed a Sales trick.

This idea seemed ripe for the infodoc treatment. Pictures in the calibre of the masthead image with brief explanatory text. A quick scroll through a kind of simple slidedeck. The plain text would benefit from being brought to life with a unique picture. Each usp way more likely to be remembered.

They list a number of points which they hope set them apart. Pick the handful that can be accompanied by the most stunning visual. Stick to those.

This approach merely evolves from their present display. There are many other (better) ways of positioning differentiators.

The craftsman snap they already have I really like. How about a few more along similar lines?

A pic of a fitter mid-job in Shanghai quoting why he likes the product.

A designer holding a sample socket over different wallpaper moodboard options talking about the quality matching.

The owner of the building standing outside their worldclass construction with switchplate in hand describing how the details matter.

How are you prepped to show your high-end uniques?

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When Being Made Fun Of Is Good

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Here’s insight credited by an Adam Bryant (pictured above) on a 90sec Inc mag clip to a Marc Cenedella of professional careers site theladders.com.

Something very much worth pondering as the New Year kicks in.

Repetition.

It can be a wonderful thing.

He implores that “you can never leave a void of communication”.

This is the same on a Sale as it is for anyone running a show. Whether it be department, startup, conglomerate.

He recommends that if you’ve a key purpose, you say it over and over and over to your troops.

Even though “you can say something seven times to people and they might not hear it”, as the screenshot up top states, “you know they heard it when they start making fun of you”.

In the sense that they’ll pre-empt your mantra. Your motto does the equivalent of appearing on merch and becoming a meme. Docs and messages have elements as decorative flourishes.

Imagine being on a bid. There will be a central number, plank of argument, sunny beach beyond the grey foreground that can be summed up in a snappy refrain.

You can keep on saying. Over and over.

And when your potential buyers ‘take the mimic’ a bit, you’ll know you’re in.

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