Leg 2 of the Presenting Stool – Winning your Case

It has been the common practice for decades to begin all presentations, whether in person or remotely, using the same formula. Namely, stating the Subject, followed by the Agenda.

Unto itself, there is nothing wrong with this approach. However, over time the effectiveness of this approach has diminished primarily due to the changes in the method and mediums of communications.

Audiences today, time crunched as they are, multitasking furiously with little to no time for chit chat or presentation preambles, want to know a) why they should pay attention to begin with; and b) the value of doing so.

To this end, Louws looked outside the traditional venues of presenting, and fortuitously has arrived at a formula that answers both the above questions very successfully.

The answer came from the legal community. A community whose success and/or failure rests squarely on its ability to successfully prove its case to the satisfaction of the jury.

This same mentality haspervaded the corporate mindset. Managers are less likely to approve a budget just because it was approved the previous year. Brand folks are more likely to challenge the suppositions of its agency’s creative artwork than agree on it face value. Strategic recommendations are not approved just based on the credibility of the presenter.

The Case Approach

This approach is based on the supposition that the audience is less interested in buying into what’s being presented because it “sounds” good, and instead wants to be persuaded that it will get the job done as per expectations.

In other words “Prove it to me” has become the moniker of the corporate executive whose own future is also based on quantifiable performance.

We do not deviate from the normal Subject, Body, Conclusion outline. This is still a very workable and effective logical and linear flow.

But knowing that this outline was insufficient in getting and keeping an audience’s attention long enough to be convinced, here are the questions that helped us arrive at the Case Approach.

  1. “How do we state the subject in a way that will entice the audience to initially pay attention?”
  2. “How do we then hold their attention?”
  3. “How do we close the deal in a way that prompts action?”

And here it is – the Case Approach.

The Promise

In court the defense lawyer starts out with a simple premise. “I am here to show that my client is innocent of charges”.

Translating this to presentations, instead of starting with just a statement of the subject – “Today we will review 4th quarter results”, we follow the legal approach of making a Promise.

“We are here today to show you how the 4th quarter’s results will help us reposition our promotions against Wal-Mart in Q1 & Q2 of next year.”

Essentially, you are converting the subject into the essential value the audience can expect to gain from listening to the presentation.

This approach has been used for decades by the print news media whose practice it is to put sufficient grist into their headlines that it entices you to a) buy the paper; and b) read the article.

Two Cautions

  1. For you to get this right you must know what value is of key importance to your audience. In the case above, if “re-position promotions against Wal-Mart” is not the audience’s key concern or interest, you are just as likely to lose their interest as you would by just stating the generic subject alone.
  2. Translate the Promise into the audience’s lingo, not yours. “re-position promotions against Wal-Mart” may be how you might say it. However, think of who your audience is. They might be more than likely to say “Give Wal-Mart whiplash in Q1 & Q2 next year” (you heard this stated in the hallway during a discussion between the Promotions Director and the CMO)

The Proof

Following logic, once you make a promise to an audience, you are required to now Prove that you can deliver which is why we refer to this next section as The Proof.

Therefore, the Body of the presentation is now considered the Proof or Evidence that you can deliver as promised.

Having the mindset that you are there to prove your point also makes your presentation that much more succinct and far less likely to waffle aimlessly.

Your entire purpose then is to prove what you promised. If there is information that might tangentially support your promise, stick it where it belongs – in the Appendix. Referred to as “circumstantial evidence”.

Occasionally you will run into situations where you just do not have the tangible evidence or it is insufficient in volume to help you prove your case. In these cases look to using analogies, examples and case studies that help you build a circumstantial case. (See Leg 1 of Presenting – Story Telling, covered in Louws’ Blogs in November. http://www.louwstraining.com/the-louw-down-blog/meeting-presentation-skills/presenting-the-4-legged-stool/

The Close

This is where, as in any court case, you summarize using the most pertinent evidence presented that supports your case in proving your promise.

This, too, streamlines the end of your presentation and avoids the typical generic rhetoric.

Caution

When you close (summarize) do so by the purest definition of what a summary means; “brief and comprehensive; concise”.

Keep it brief, on point and entirely geared to summarizing the evidence that proves the promise you made.

In Summation:

To simplify, think of this as the PPC approach. Promise – Proof – Close.

Ensure you truly understand what your audience’s expectations are, as an effective promise is dependent upon it.

Provide evidence not opinion.

Close your case by briefly highlighting the evidence, proving the promise made.

Our next blog will be on Leg 3 of the Presenting Stool – Bringing your Case Alive.

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Presenting – The 4 Legged Stool

There are four very simple subjects to presenting. They can be captured as follows:

1)      Telling your Story

2)      Making your Case

3)      Bringing your case Alive

4)      Supporting your case

Each of these components of presenting is the subject of our next four blogs.

We will start with Telling your Story.

There are 8 essential ingredients to storytelling. Each has an integral role in the development of a story. They are given here in no particular order.

1) Single focus.

Here you ensure you have a single focus with your story – the one thing the audience will take away. Repeat it often. Represent it often. Importantly, make it relevant to whomever you are talking to.

In a broad-based presentation you would look at today being about the economy. In the 80’s it was growth. In the 30’s you’d reference survival.

2) Surprise and Unexpected focus.

If giving a speech on Talent Management, you instead refer to the Year 2004 as a pivotal theme  – The Global Sociological watershed in Social Networking where Google, Facebook, Orkut and 5 others broke onto the scene and today account for 1.4 Billion users online or 56% of all global online users. You then tie back how talent today has, in less than 9 years, needed to change how they communicate, think and work.

3) Trivia.

That creates awe, surprise and inspires understanding.

In a speech on leadership and image, the fact that Don Draper – the protagonist in the Mad Men TV series, a fictitious character, was ranked the world’s most influential man in the world (2009) – as per AskMen the #1 men’s lifestyle magazine, over the living.

4) Building relationships between #’s and real events and things.

In a presentation on advertising on social networking sites, the fact that the top 8 social networking sites have the same number of users as the combined total population of 8 America’s.

5) Progressive thought through time – where each links to the other in some way.

In a speech on the importance of social change and those who have created it. The fact that the Big 4’s – 4000BC (first known civilization emerges), 1400BC (Phoenicians develop the first alphabet), 4AD (Birth of Christ) and 2004 (8 of the top 24 social sites enter the market, today capturing 56% of the total user base)

6) Proof of Claim.

Every time a claim is made, evidence is used to support it. Third party evidence is more powerful than personalized evidence. Friend tells you how they lost 25 lbs. vs. the company selling the product telling you.

7) Anecdotes, Examples, Quotes and Analogies.

Liberally use one or more of these tools throughout your presentation or speech.

Ensure however, once used, you do not make the classic mistake of then explaining the point further. One of the beauties of these tools is that they make the point and so, no more needs be said, oftentimes reducing the length of your talk considerably.

8) Emotional conclusions.

Using Steve Job’s narrated version of Think Different – “The Crazy Ones” commercial, which never aired, (they chose to use the Dryfus narrated version) to conclude a presentation on Innovation.

In the End:

Make sure you do not mistakenly use “story” telling as an excuse to becoming verbose.

Instead first think pithy then weave your relevant connections embellishing upon your single focused story line.

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What it Really takes to Win the Pitch

The Basics

For agencies that need the “Basics”, create a simple-to-follow “New Business Architecture” game book.
All successful teams have them.

Then assign a person to ensure that this game book gets executed – team manager or product/traffic manager.

Their job is not the content, although they can certainly contribute. Their job is to make sure everything on a new business opportunity gets done in an efficient, timely and cost-effective manner.

Action: Ensure you get all people to do what they are supposed to do, when they are supposed to do it, and that all materials that are needed are developed and provided to the team.

Common Enemies – Form & Function

When Form & Function rule in new business, you lose sight of the real stuff of selling and persuasion.

For decades, agencies have successfully won business without having scripts or the right preliminary set-up or following a strict time frame or even rehearsing correctly.

That’s not to say that these things are not helpful – they are.

About as helpful as making sure you have a saddle on a horse before you ride. Doesn’t mean you have to have a saddle to ride though.

However Innovation will always trump form and function in the selling game.

Therefore we start with:

  •  “What will it take to win this business?” Then…
  •  “How do we convince them that we are the right agency versus all their other options?” And finally…
  •  “What do we need to know about their business, issues, needs, wants, marketing communications, competition landscape, branding architecture, marketing and business strategies that will help us become their marketing communications solution?”

Now you have raised the bar to a level where winning the business becomes highly achievable.

Now the team has direction. Now you can do what the agency does best.

Solve marketing problems and capitalize on unfulfilled opportunities, instead of wondering how long the presentation should be, if you have the right credentials or if the room’s walls are high enough to accommodate the boards.

Again, these are important only if they do not reduce the effectiveness of the team’s innovations.

 Action: Come up with the ideas that will accomplish the client’s goals then worry about the rest of the form and function activities.

Innovation’s true place in persuasion

There is nothing like working with a crack team of solution mongers dying to get their claws into a client’s business and come up with innovative solutions to solve the world’s woes.

We all know this is exactly what it feels like when we get it right.

But! Credentials you say – “Heck, without them we wouldn’t be who we are today!”

True!

So you were founded in 1986, have 50 employees with 3 offices, bill $50 million and have a really blue chip client roster. Impressive!

However, ask this question: Is it more about what the agency is proud of – or – what the potential client is interested in, that sells them.

What about sending that information ahead, in hard copy, CD, links to FTP sites, e-mail, placing it on UTube, on Blogs or even on social sites like business Facebook, using their calendar to layout the agency’s history from its inception.

This way your focus is on getting on with solving the prospect’s problems and not on what makes you who you are.

And just in case they don’t read it, find places in the presentation to sprinkle in these facts, making sure that when you do, each is positioned as a benefit and of value to the prospective client.

 Action: Sprinkle credentials throughout a presentation as “evidence” your ideas have a solid foundation and that you can deliver upon them.

The essence of selling – having the right bait.

Selling is not about function or form. They are tactical elements of a well-rounded sales effort.

True, selling is about knowing what ails the prospect, rolling up one’s sleeves and coming up with innovative solutions that make the prospect think: “Where have these people been all my life?”

But then it’s about making these solutions come alive before, during and after the final presentation – over the net, by illustration, by physical examples, by showing real life occasions of your ideas in play, by immersing the prospect into the ideas (physically and mentally).

Then, while they are reeling with pleasure, wondering why they stayed with the incumbent for so long, slide in impressive facts and figures (these are your credentials) that bolster a prospect’s confidence in your ability to deliver upon these promised solutions.

Think of buying a car.

You know that if you go to a Ford or Chrysler dealership, you are going to get something that has 4 wheels, engine, a 36-month, 40,000 mile warranty.

The last thing you need is the salesman pointing out these facts. Heck you wouldn’t be there if they didn’t have these things to begin with.

You then examine the vehicle by research and test drive to see if it actually fulfills what you are looking for and if it gives you that something beyond what you were expecting, the bonus lucky strike extras that “wows” you, this vehicle moves to your top picks.

While doing this, you are constantly comparing your options.

If the salesman is smart, and sees you are an entrepreneurial speed freak on a budget he says:

 “This 6 cylinder has as much acceleration as the V8, yet gets an additional 10 mpg. At $3.50 a gallon @ 20 gallons a week over 52 weeks you just saved about $1,200 a year. That’s about $100 a month, which pays almost  1/3 of your monthly lease payments, which are, as an independent, fully tax deductible in the first year.”

Now, what about the prospective client.

What prospect goes to an agency not knowing they are going to an agency?

There are basic core competencies that are just plain “price of entry expected’s”.

The more time you spend on selling these, the more leery becomes the prospect of the agency’s ability to actually deliver these expected’s.

As with all buying scenarios, the prospect examines the agency, constantly comparing notes with others on their team and evaluating you against your peers (including the incumbent) thinking to themselves: (if you are doing your job selling)

It’s obvious they have smart people – listen to those great ideas,

They obviously know something about my business – how could they come up with such smart ideas if they didn’t,

Wonder if they have sufficient production capabilities to deliver these ideas to all our franchises nationwide?

Then they pop their first question:

 “Do you folks have a national capability in terms of a field force to deliver these ideas to our 6 regions?”

And so the dance continues!

But you have them on the “solutions hook”.

If you want parity, follow form and function.

Everyone and their Uncle’s in love with this approach.

Unfortunately but typically, the more the agency team talks about their history, their strengths and their experiences, the more comfortable the agency team members become.

Who likes talking about others anyway – it’s far more interesting to talk about oneself. This is a subject you know a lot about and can talk about with absolute confidence.

It’s easy. You slap together a standard power-point, agency reel and DVD, throwing up all your great credentials in the hope that something you say will sufficiently impress the prospect into either hiring you or moving you ahead to the assignment/spec stage.

It takes almost no preparation since it’s an off-the-shelf canned approach that allows the agency to volume pitch, with the occasional “formulaic tweak” to give the appearance of a customized response to the RFP, RFI or pitch.

However prospects are no fools. All they need to see are three of these to immediately recognize that, closing his eyes and listening carefully, all agencies are basically saying the same thing, just the names, dates and places are different.

 Action: Always talk Issues and Solutions before agency credentials, customized to the prospect.

 The real answers

Be radically Innovative. Do not follow convention. It is a loser’s game.

With an average closure rate in the agency business (according to the AAAA) hovering at about 33%, it’s no wonder many consider their involvement in new business as a “necessary evil”.

Contrary to popular belief, winning can be one of the greatest highs of all times, a feeling that does not need to be experienced only one out of every 3 – 5 times.

Do what any salesperson will tell you.

First provide the bait – Solutions (Ideas). This gets them onto the dance floor.

Then worry about the functions – do we have it well structured, planned, casted right, politicized well, competitively appealing, etc. This is the strategic positioning.

Then worry about the form – is it well choreographed, visualized, timed, etc. This is the product management or pitch architecture as some like to call it.

Think:  70 – 20 – 10

70% solving their issues

20% putting it all together – function

10% getting it packaged and ready for delivery – form

So if you are going to err in something err in reverse order.

Err first in form, then in function but never in Solutions (Ideas).

This is why they come. This is why they stay.

This too is why they leave – when the agency doesn’t have them.

 What about chemistry?

Of course chemistry plays a major part but you will be amazed at how many corporate clients have privately admitted that they really thought their agency counterparts were; “Some of the most egotistical, arrogant, self-centered geniuses I have ever met. And thank God for that!”

Yet there are those new business “experts” who will consistently support the proposition that it’s All About Chemistry.

It’s also the easiest thing to sell an agency and sound like you are knowledgeable – who in their right mind would disagree that chemistry is critical to winning business?

I contend that it’s a component of winning but not the be all and end all.

The true answer to building great chemistry is to first give the client what they are expecting from the agency and then some.

Great ideas that solve their marketing problems, beyond their expectations. This will make people love you.

Remember the old adage:

 “People do not care about how much you know until they know how much you care”

Then worry about the schmoozing and boozing. That’s the icing on the cake.

Don’t make the mistake and think the icing is the cake – the innovative solutions are.

Clients find nothing more disturbing and wasteful of their time than a really nice fellow who has nothing between his ears.

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Let’s Talk Closing

What is a close?

To many it’s “Getting the Sale”.

True, but this is a very narrow definition of a close.

When we think of Discover Selling© our purpose for any close is: “Achieving the Objective for the Engagement”.

This could be;

◊ Prospect agreeing to accept additional information from you.

◊ Prospect agreeing to get more information for you.

◊ Setting a meeting with the Brand Manager or Marketing Director.

◊ Visiting their retail stores and providing insight and observation.

◊ Submitting ideas and letting the prospect prioritize which most closely fit with their marketing and brand positioning.

The list is endless. It all depends on where you are in the sales cycle and what action is needed to move you to the final agreement to hire.

This approach is a must when you have Procurement and or a Search Consultant moderating the sale.

Think therefore of getting the sale as a combination of 1,425 little closes.

Persistence

How much persistence should you use?

It depends on what you’re selling and to whom.

A “One Shot” sale such as is often thought of with the automotive or insurance business, heavy persistence is frequently used to whittle down the prospects resistance. This too is why the subject of “Selling” gets a bad rap!

A specialty or service salesperson can use above average persistence, but prudently and over time. Advertising falls into this category as does CPG, Retail and Media sales.

Since you will build your business on sound relationships over a period of time, with repeat orders as a consistent source of revenue, it isn’t wise to initially be over-persistent.

This does not mean that after the first or second “NO” one should give up. It means that the client or prospect is then placed in a lower sales conversion priority but nonetheless continually courted and serviced.

Accept Defeat Gracefully.

The Unqualified Prospect

There is the exception of a prospect being clearly “unqualified” as a potential client.

Sell smart, not hard!

In a service business, spinning one’s wheels on an unqualified prospect is a detriment to effective time management and use of selling time. There is always another day that might be won if you lose this one gracefully.

Remember there are times one will lose the battle but win the war, especially if this same client ends up at a different company a year from now and remembers your graceful exit.

However, in order to execute this “walk away” strategy, one cannot only have 5 prospects on the list. The more scarce your prospects are the more likely you will stay the course and persist away unsuccessfully.

The key is to create a list that has so many prospects on it that if you walk away from 50% of them, you’d never know the difference, nor would you care.

It’s like dating, if you only have one person to call, you’ll keep calling until you get the person on the phone or not. If you had 10, you’d more likely just move on to the next.

Decisions can be changed – they are not always irrevocable and buyers admire the salesperson that can accept a “NO” – provided the reason for the NO is reasonable.

In a service relationship, it is often better to maintain good relationships rather than risk the chance of “closing” an account and losing business altogether.

Buyer’s remorse is your worst post- sale nemesis and is often the result of an overzealous salesperson forcing a close knowing that they cannot deliver.

Once you get the close

After getting agreement, don’t keep the buyer talking about unimportant and unrelated trivialities. He or she is a busy person. Minimize this end of sales talk. More discussion oftentimes leads to further questions.

You may perhaps reassure the buyer that he or she has made a wise decision.

The reverse sometimes applies and a salesperson can’t get away from a talkative buyer.

Here is a magic phrase which can save you hours. As you stand up and hold out your hand, say:

“Mr. Jones, you must have a lot on your plate – I’ll leave you to it. Thank you for your business and assistance”.

That gives you an inoffensive exit. Remember, so far, there has not been a single death as a result of a salesperson asking for the order, but many have been impoverished by not asking.

Therefore, ALWAYS ask for the order unless it is obvious that the buyer is not ready to buy.

5 Types of Closes

Here is a starter kit of 5 easy to remember closes you can apply to any engagement with a prospect or client.

Question

Are you interested in having us draw up a proposal for your review?

Assumptive

I take it you will need us to provide an analytics resource to conduct optimization modeling over the next 18 months?

Alternative

Which month would be best for us to start the initial research with customers and the competition – June or July?

Suggestive

May I suggest we move ahead by proposing the exact steps we’d take to address the issues mentioned?

Summary

We will ensure that:

  1. All your interactive and brand communications are in sync with each other,
  2. Meetings with each of the directors will happen by May 21st,
  3. All plans will be approved by both you and brand management.
When would you like to meet and discuss details of the project?

The Last Word

In almost all service sales meetings and presentations that do not end well, the salesperson States rather than Asks for the sale, often using it as a means to summarize why their company deserves the business over all others.

If the prospect does not know that you are their choice by then,  your chances of getting it are remote at best.

Therefore, if the prospect looks ready, Ask and then Assess.

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Branding DeCoded

The problem with embarking apon creating a new brand or re-branding an old one is that those responsible for this activity have to, at least initially, be on the same page and operating from the same fundamental agreements when it comes to discussing issues pertinent to the branding process.

To assist with this, Louws Managements’ CEO, Toni Louw, created this Blog to help clarify a subject wrought with misunderstanding, complicated definitions and erroneous direction which has unkindly served to only confuse a quite simple subject.

Step One: Define a brand.

Brand Defined:

  • 15th Century: A mark used to punish and identify criminals and slaves.*
  • 18th Century: A mark used on cattle to show ownership.*
  • 21st Century: Identifying mark or label on a product.

*Source: Webster’s Collegiate

For Nike it’s the swoosh. For Mercedes Benz the star.

Therefore, as a Noun, branding is simply the Mark or Symbol that represents a company, its products and/or services.

Confusion over brands and products

Confusion abounds when the product line and brand become interchangeable – a classic example of this can be found in the automotive industry.

Is the F150 a product or is it a Brand? Is it both?

We all know that Ford is the brand. The F150 is one of Ford’s entry-level trucks.

Ford’s tag line is “tough”. Great for trucks. How good is it for their Mustang? And what about their entry level sedan the Ford Focus?

See the dilemma?

Lexus got it right.

Originally they said; “Our brand is Toyota, catering to middle and low-end American tastes. We want to take over part of the premium market but our Brand “Toyota” doesn’t stand for premium and we do not want to compete with ourselves. Therefore we will create a new brand called Lexus”.

Nissan soon followed suit with Infiniti.

A contemporary example is seen with Harley Davidson.

This is a bike for the bad boy allure in all those good guys.

However, the die-hard “racing enthusiast” views the Harley brand as a joke.

Thus the advent of Buell® – a completely new and separate brand from parent Harley Davidson catering to that “enthusiast” marketplace.

What should a brand be doing?

In its most fundamental form, a brand is the mark used to say: “This is who we are”.

Not what we are, but who we are.

Therefore when you see the Nike swoosh you say; “Oh, that’s a Nike Sneaker” or “Nike Runner” or “Nike Shirt” or “Nike Hat”, or “Nike Golf club”.

That’s the first and foremost job of branding.

To have the consumer regard the generic product or service as yours. It’s about owning an “identity” – yours.

When you see the Starbucks logo on a cup of coffee it’s not just a cup of coffee. It’s a Starbucks cup of coffee.

It’s about asserting your ownership over the product. It’s not about the product.

One of the many reasons why Burger King, even with a documented better burger than McDonald’s, is still #2.

The more you try to make the product the differentiating factor, the more you lose ownership over the product.

Think about Quiznos and its “Mmmm Toasty” tag, followed by Subway investing millions of dollars in on premise toasters and asking patrons if they wanted their sub toasted.

Therefore, we offer up this definition of a brand:

The visible representation (icon) that identifies ownership over a product, service or category

Step Two: Understand Positioning.

Positioning Defined:

  • To put in a situation of status*
  • To put into a location or condition in which one has an advantage*

*Source: Webster’s Collegiate

Combining Branding and Positioning, we see that Brand Positioning is the meaning given to the brand and it’s this meaning that should be the central focus of all branding or re-branding efforts.

When you think of  owning a Mercedes, it says you’ve made it. An Apple – you’re cool. A Harley and you’re a bad boy.

This meaning, too frequently changed, results in brands constantly fighting to regain lost ground, which at a minimum, is a very expensive proposition.

Maytag is about dependability. Volvo – Safety. They have both successfully stuck to these simple positions for decades and are still today known by them.

On the other hand what singular concept pops to mind when you think of American Airlines, Chevrolet or even iconic brands like Nike or Starbucks. Notice how that single concept does not jump out as easily.

When it comes to Brand Positioning a lot can be said for consistency, and it’s this consistency that’s most inconsistent by marketers.

Conquer this menace and ones Brand will flourish in perpetuity.

 

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Stage Fright: Why you get it – How to resolve it.

Stage fright is not a medical condition, nor does it have anything to do with one’s heritage.

It is, however, one of the single most misdiagnosed conditions of public speaking. As a result, it has had no substantive resolution – until now.

So what is it?

Symptomatically, it is easy to define. Butterflies. Excessive sweating. Turning red. Going blank. Tightness in the throat. These physical phenomena, easy to observe, have been the target of most ineffective solutions.

Deep breathing. Pick a spot at the back of the room. Imagine the audience naked. Take a drink. Take a pill. Notice how each solution targets the symptom, not the cause and this is what traditional solutions have typically focused on – the symp­toms.

The cause, however, is not physical. It’s mental. (If you can accept that thought can affect physical reaction, then you get it.)

You see a car coming at you. First, you’re scared (mental) then you immediately start sweating and feel flushed (physical).

So what’s the cause?

Our first tip off to the cause was noting that presenters’ nervousness always el­evated when confronted (faced with) with an actual audience. That’s when stage fright kicked into high gear. If the audience was asked to turn away from this same presenter their nervousness goes down pricipitiously. (We’ve tried this repeatedly with the same result). Therefore, we conclude that confronting (facing up to) a group of people has a lot to do with it.

Our second insight comes from observing how presenters who become engaged with their audience typically become calmer and more composed. We can, there­fore, deduce that trying to speak with “the group” and being “unengaged” are trig­gers to nervousness.

The solutions then become quite simple to execute.

1. Speak to individuals within the group instead of the group as a whole.

You do this by completing an idea with one audience member at a time. Look for some form of feedback and when you get it, move to the next person. If you do not get the feedback, no worries, just complete what you are saying to the person and move on to the next person.

You can also match the content with the person. In other words if you are speaking about sales, speak with the sales rep, franchise owner or CMO.

If on the other hand you’re speaking about consumer research findings, go over and speak with the companies analyst, consumer insights manager or sales reps looking for new ways to position the sale of their products.

Avoid scanning the room like a machine gun on automatic or spending too much time reading from and too your presentation aids. Both these serve to “avoid” speaking with the audience and inevitably perpetuate stage fright.

2. Engage with versus pitch to an audience.

It is one of the least utilized yet most persuasive methods of giving a presentation while substantially reducing the nerves.

Ask questions, give things out to the audience to touch and feel (products – both the audiences and their competitions), ask them to take notes on key points of the presentation, use examples and analogies to engage the audience mentally.

Plan when and where in your presentations you will engage until it becomes second nature to you.

Finally, for those of you who have trouble with the first few minutes of the presentation, this is where engaging the audience can pay off big time.

Before you start the actual presentation ask simple things like:

♦ “Did you recieve the Agenda we sent ahead by email? – Any questions?”

♦ “Since I know we are under a time pressure, are there any changes to the 30″ we have allot for this presentation?”

♦ “Lou, thank you for inviting the group together today. Are there any items you would like to add to the Agenda since our last discussion on Wednesday?”

In each case, you engage with the group before you actually start presenting. This calms things down and gets you ready to start the presentation with a greater sense of comfort.

Finally:

Start every presentation or speech you give with a BANG.

B = Big

A = Amazing

N = Needed

G = Gift

Example: Today we are going to show you how to increase sales by at least 25% over that which you are currently enjoying.

Example: We are here to answer a single question. How do we compete against the likes of Wall-Mart, Target and Sears with a fraction of their budget?

Once you see the audiences response to the BANG, this inevitably gives you the needed feedback upon which to feed and confidently move to giving them the answer to that which you promised.

For further information on this or any other Louws training or consulting contact:

Client Service Director

Phone: (520)664-1881

Email: info@louwstraining.com

 

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Thanks for the overwhelmingly positive response to our new website

www.louwstraining.com

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Best of Business 2011 Award

The Small Business Commerce Association (SBCA) is pleased to announce that Louws Management has been selected for the 2011 Best of Business Award in the management consulting services category. The SBCA Best of Business Award Program recognizes the best of small businesses throughout the country. Using federal, state, city and county government data and other research, the SBCA Selection Committee chooses the award winners that are believed to have demonstrated what makes small businesses a vital part of the American economy.

Award winners are a valuable asset to their community and exemplify what makes small businesses great.

This is the 2nd SBCA Best of Business Award received by Louws Management, the first being in 2009.

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Ode to End of Frankensteining

Frankensteining. The bane of every creative’s existence.

If there is a single subject that has scurried under the radar in the agency business, it’s not been in coming up with creative ideas, but on the selling of them.

For years the standard taught ~ what many a creative holds as the Holy Grail: “A good idea sells itself”.

Possibly rooted in the “build it and they will come” mentality of the moguls of the 50’s era of Vegas, but unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth.

Accurately stated it would say: “A good idea sells itself to the intended audience when they are in the right environment, engaged in the right channel, with the right mindset”.

However, is this true when we are presenting ideas to a client in a conference room or on the phone discussing the work’s merits with the Brand Manager, Joe, who has never used, let alone seen a tampon?

Stoically forging ahead, HR has had their creatives trained on presentation skills and yet still they consistently fail to convince clients to run with their ideas as originally intended and presented.

They have been taught techniques of how to act out the storyboards, weave poetic their radio copy, and build website architectures on the laptop and yet still fail to convince the client to leave well enough alone.

Why?

Surprisingly the answer is almost too simple.

Focus has been squarely placed on what the creative message was saying or visual was showing, not on why it was doing it brilliantly.

In other words, the execution and not the idea behind it have been the focus.

The Secret of Rationality when selling Subjectivity

We have all heard the client say this before: “I’ll know it when I see it”.

Therein lies your first critical clue and what has proved to be a unique and proprietary difference to Louws’ Selling Creative© training.

What is actually being said is: “When I see what I want to see, which I have not yet been able to formulate, then I will buy it”.

Therefore, you get them to see it, not from your or the intended customer’s point of view but first, from their own.

Think why the most common tool in selling a car is a test drive.

Enabling ownership through personal experience.

The following two insights alone will make a huge dent in client’s Frankensteining. Notice, too, the insights are sequential.

Insight #1 ~ “If the idea is potentially foreign to a client’s point of view, you show them that it truly isn’t”.

How?

Ok, here’s a clue. Tying the rational reason for why the creative idea is brilliant to what the client is already sold on, sells the subjectivity of the idea behind the work.

Simply put – it’s the strategy of Relatability.

Example:

Creative Director trying to get the CMO of Bose to avoid adding all the radio’s features by the way of bubbles (client’s preference) all over the print ad.

Instead of explaining how bad it would look, he instead took sticky notes and placed it all over a real Bose radio – forcing the client to face the rational real life vs. subjective look.

In addition he showed the client 5 competitive low end ads (again very rational) and how they customarily did this kind of advertising in coupon and in-store flyers.

Finally he showed ads from commensurate high end ads for both Apple and Tiffany (rational case for similar high end brand images) and how they used a clean almost Mies Van Der Rohe look about them.

Sold!

The key: Employ techniques that adroitly convince a client that the idea, now part of their own mental framework and personally relevant, is a good one.

Insight #2 ~ “Then you put the client into the shoes of their customer, allowing them to experience the message, as would their customer”.

Easier said than done.

Some of the simpler techniques are to introduce the client’s customer in the form of pictures, videos, montages and various others, showing the insight into which the idea behind the creative is tapping.

Example:

Carmichael Lynch presenting to Harley Davidson with 2 x 3 boards representing images of a Hells Angel looking biker, heavily tattooed woman, bald construction worker wearing his tool belt and bandana.

Voice over:These are the bad boys. And these are the boys who want to be the bad boys.”

At which point they turned around each board to show that in each of their “other lives” these people were actually a Doctor, Lawyer and Insurance Salesman – all current Harley owners.

Next Steps:

1)    Make the idea behind the creative fit the client’s own reality.

2)    Bring in the customer, showing them demonstrating the insight into which the idea behind the creative is tapping.

3)    When all else fails, remember the test drive. Put the client into the shoes of the end buyer.

Next Installment:

How you sell the idea vs. execution.

Toni Louw
Louws – CEO & Founder

About the author:

Over the past 34 years, Toni Louw has trained, coached and consulted with over 480 Brand advertising, promotion, direct marketing, digital, interactive, social, media and public relations agencies worldwide. This has also included over 50 of the top 150 brands internationally.

Toni has recently re-constructed and updated, for 21st Century business application, 18 different business critical subjects that has made Louws one of the most ubiquitous leader of innovative performance based training, coaching and consulting services worldwide.

Click on the link provided: Selling Creative© for more information on Training, Coaching and Consulting.

 

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Earning the Right of Leadership

Most true leaders understand and practice this most basic principle of leadership.

Those who expect or believe, because of their title or status, they have a right to be considered the leader are living in 17th century England or acting out a fictitious role in Downtown Abby.

Being called the leader vs. being considered the leader are very different.

What does it take to be considered the leader?

Simply: Living it.

It’s no surprise that those who ACT the part are considered the part.

Who knew that Sylvester Stallone had never boxed before doing the Rocky series yet did he ever play the part.

Following are a list of infrequently discussed actions that will help you live the life of a leader.

Scarcity

There is something called being “overexposed”. Now now!

Being available 24/7 makes you appear very accessible but does nothing to create the mystical quality of leaders.

Seldom do leaders have open calendars. Similarly, they tend to be the last not first to meetings – the grand entrance.

How you manage the frequency of your appearance plays a pivotal role in building your leadership image.

Complacency Creep

One thing you will never hear a great leader do – complain about how much work they have to do.

Complacency is just not part of their vernacular.

They do not have the time to gloat with satisfaction over what they just accomplished. They are far too busy thinking forward to the next challenge to waste time on what just passed. Seldom will you find them reminiscing about “the good old days” or past achievements.

Think forward – predicting what’s next, that’s not only the all consuming focus of leaders but what others around them expect of a leader.

By definition, to lead means to be out front.

Again, ACT the role and you will be considered to be it.

No Problem

It is understood that those being led have the problems and those who lead, solve them.

Demonstrating a “no problem” attitude is not only expected of leaders, it is revered, especially in a client/supplier relationship such as is found in an Advertising Agency.

Here, we are talking about being seemingly unfazed by problems.

When others are overwhelmed by the situation, the leader seems only minimally irritated by the interruption.

When being faced by seemingly insurmountable odds, the leader seems to be enjoying him/herself

A problem to a leader is considered something from the past – even though it may exist in present time – it started earlier.

Once again, the leader is already seeing and considering the future solutions.

Today’s news is tomorrow’s wrapping paper.

In keeping with a leader’s natural instinct and ability to think forward, anything invented today is almost immediately upstaged by thinking of new ideas for tomorrow.

Freshness of thinking is a commodity most prevalent with great leaders.

A few years back I remember reading an article in Advertising Age with the President of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Alex Bogusky,Crispin being seen at the time as one of the most innovative and upcoming agencies of the decade.

He was being asked his thoughts about clients not accepting the agency’s creative ideas. His answer to paraphrase: “We’ll just bring them another 20 tomorrow”. Leadership!

I realize this will rub many creatives the wrong way – but the point is not about selling the work – it’s about the attitude leaders have about ideas.

To them, there is no limit to new, fresh or innovative ideas.

No Excuses

Remember the famous Popeye proclamation;  “I Yam what I Yam”. Nothing better captures the mental position of the leader.

They do not apologize for who or what they are.

They do not excuse their actions but instead revel in them. For this they are often considered arrogant, yet they are still followed.

Remember we are not talking about their likeability. There are leaders who are loved and leaders who are not.

Yet in both cases we find this same behavior. Some just perform it differently.

Clarity of Purpose

One thing all leaders have in common. There is no getting around a leader’s expectations from those they are leading.

Namby Pamby directives, politically correct language and vagueness of direction are not strong suits of successful leaders.

Do not get this confused with insensitive and derogatory communications like saying to someone who is overweight, “Get your fat ass in gear”.

Instead, we are talking about being clear and decisive.

There is nothing worse than someone being confused by what is expected of them yet, due in large part to a moving trend towards leading by consensus, clarity has suffered a dire consequence.

Now the team is sitting around trying to reach consensus with the team hounded by wondering what their role or responsibilities are and who will make the final call.

Imagine this behavior in any team sport.

The goalie thinks the three backs are the ones responsible for stopping strikers from penetrating. True, but what do you think this would eventually do to his ability to stop a goal once through the line?

While he’s blaming the backs for failing in their job the opposition’s striker is reveling in the goalie’s distraction (blame), scoring at will.

Taking the bullet.

An unfortunate euphemism, but one that is very appropriate to clearly characterizing great leaders.

We first learn about this characteristic of leadership from the annals of history, specifically in the conflicts of war.

Patton insisting on leading from the front of his men and not behind them in the safety of rear bunkers.

History has shown us time and again that Marines will rally to their leadership when officers move to the front of their formations, usually at great risk to themselves, and drive their Marines into the breach. Seen by the very high percentage of NCO and SNCO and officer leadership wounded in the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Again, in all cases, where do you find the real leader? Out front, willing to take the plunge.

Accountability

Holding others accountable for and to their responsibilities seems to have suffered an unusual demise in the  21st Century and along with it, we have seen a dramatic reduction by corporate America of leadership talent, so say HR departments all over the country.

The pride of a job well done is a phenomenal motivator, however, if those doing the job are not holding themselves accountable, the job itself potentially suffers irreparable damage.

Being called on the carpet for failures is as important as acknowledging a job well done.

I ran into this while my daughter was playing state softball in Arizona.

After a miserable defeat their coach tried the contemporary psychobabble approach; it’s okay, you tried your best; it’s only a game approach.

Later, seeing she was still miserable, I spoke to her about the game.

I was in awe. She readily admitted she and others had not played their best, they had made too many errors and that it was much more than just a game, it was the pride of Arizona they were playing for and they collectively agreed that they had let down the community.

So I told her exactly what she had done well and also specifically what she goofed at and how to fix it with a promise of additional coaching over the next week by yours truly.

That night at dinner she was once again her old effervescent self.

Similarly, a good leader holds their reports accountable for getting their jobs done and done well. When they fail, they are censured and given the opportunity to repair damage if done, but at a minimum, given the opportunity to regain or correct a skill gone awry.

Remember, those that goof up know, more than anyone else, they goofed.

A leader pretending it’s okay when they (the one who goofed) know it’s not, is a guaranteed way to have a team lose faith and trust in their leader.

No-one likes nor respects a liar.

Truth is always the best medicine especially when you expect it reciprocated from those whom you serve as their leader.

Others before self.

There are selfish leaders whom others follow with grudging admiration. There are selfless leaders whom others voluntarily follow with pleasure.

Concentrating on the latter, we see this leader demonstrates an uncanny disregard for their own self preservation remembering they would have no such monicker (leader) were it not for those they are leading.

You will find them walking the halls trying to understand issues being faced by their followers and devising ideas focused on making them go away.

Patton is known to have seen that 1000’s of his men were reporting trench foot caused in no small part by wet socks.

His order: Every man was to have a change of socks every three days, this from a General who you’d think had more to worry about than socks. (Ref: Patton – The Pursuit of Destiny by Agostino Von Hassell and Ed Breslin)

Taking the hit.

This is by far the most important characteristic of leaders adorned.

Simply put – when they screw up they admit it.

President Reagan, following the Iran-Contra scandal, saw his approval rating plummet from 67% to 46%. Instead of blaming the person most responsible, a junior National Security Council aide, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, he immediately appointed a presidential commission composed of people of unquestioned integrity and charged them to find out what had gone wrong.

Most importantly, he then went on national television to take “full responsibility” for the commission’s findings and immediately set about implementing its proposals.

The some 150,000 people who attended his funeral (from all parties) is proof positive, for all his foibles and missteps, of how revered he was as a leader of the American people.

Next Steps:

1)  Understand clearly what you as a leader expect of your reports

2)  Make these expectations clearly known while holding them responsible for performing against them

3)  Lead from the front. Do not push people to perform that which you yourself would not

4)  Underexpose your presence. Make your contact limited – but make each encounter memorable

5)  Most importantly put the interests of your reports ahead of your own, remembering that with leadership comes the responsibility of being accountable for those you lead. Their performance is a reflection of your leadership.

Toni Louw
Louws – CEO & Founder

About the author:

Over the past 34 years, Toni Louw has trained, coached and consulted with over 480 Brand advertising, promotion, direct marketing, digital, interactive, social, media and public relations agencies worldwide. This has also included over 50 of the top 150 brands internationally.

Toni has recently re-constructed and updated, for 21st Century business application, 18 different business critical subjects that has made Louws one of the most ubiquitous leader of innovative performance based training, coaching and consulting services worldwide.

Click on link provided: Executive Leadership for more information on Executive Leadership Training and Coaching.

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