Tag Archive | "professional services marketing"

Keeping Credible

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Keeping Credible

My own experience serving on selection committees has been that it’s rare for people in the initial stages to actually look for whom they’re going to choose; instead, they look for people to eliminate so they can narrow their choices to a “short list.”  At a recent workshop, I asked participants if they thought it was more important to build credibility with prospects or avoid losing it.  Most admitted they hadn’t given the latter much consideration. We then generated a list of “credibility killers” that we notice when we choose professional services. We agreed on three broad categories that put credibility at risk.

The first was illocutionary suicide—killing your chances of being believed by what you say.  When you commit illocutionary suicide, people aren’t looking for proof of what you say; they’re looking for a way out of the conversation.  Some examples included: “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this” (I’m indiscreet) and “To be honest with you” (it’s the exception instead of the rule). Before a communication workshop to a group of orthopedic surgeons last year, I sat in on some of their sessions, listening to the presentations.  A doctor who had been very successful with a certain procedure began his presentation this way;  “I don’t know why they’ve asked me to speak to you” (I don’t have anything valuable to say, so feel free to tune out).

The second credibility killer stemmed from the use of clichés and “business speak.” We had all heard people who were short on expertise and long on vocabulary. “We’ll need to revisit that offline in a face to face, so that we can ramp up the synergies that give us a strategic fit we can run up the flagpole.  Because at the end of the day, we want cutting edge best practices that help us think outside the box.  Then, we can bench mark our bottom-line.  Now, let’s put that to bed and get back to square one with our bread and butter core competencies.” We also took aim at the expression “Core Competency.”  When I choose a professional, I don’t want to hear that she’s just competent.  Competent means having just enough skill or knowing just enough to complete the assignment. That would be like going into a surgeon and asking how much do you know about surgery, and getting the response, “I know what tools make what cuts.” Competent is just over the line from incompetent. Doesn’t it make a better impression to talk about your expertise or your experience?

The third credibility killer, I argued, was the canned “sales close” technique. They are so well-known, they even have names:  the assumed close, the pen close, the puppy dog close, the urgency close and the big ego close are just a few examples.  My advice was contrary to much sales training. But, too many of these approaches operate on the premise that you’re trying to trick someone. While they might work for telemarketers and transportation investment consultants (car salesman), they will be less effective with more sophisticated buyers who are in the market for professional services.  A Roper Starch survey on how Americans communicate reported that only 18% felt comfortable communicating with someone who was trying to sell them something. A canned sales close follows a transaction model. In my experience, the most successful model isn’t transactional; it’s relational.  People will be more comfortable communicating with you when you work at building a relationship instead of hoping for a stimulus-response.

We compete as much for the trust of our prospects as we do for their time.  Avoiding credibility killers positions us much better to stand apart from the crowd.

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Notes on Choosing a Presentation Remote

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Notes on Choosing a Presentation Remote

I think the only thing worse than watching a presenter march back and forth across a room to advance his slide show is listening to a presenter tell his assistant who’s sitting by the computer “next slide” repeatedly.  Both of these actions create noise that interferes with the delivery of the message.  I also like to practice the principle of reveal/conceal by blanking out a slide when I’m not talking about it.  Of course you can hit the B key in both Powerpoint and Keynote, but that means you have to remain tethered to your notebook much of the time.  Unless my notebook is right in front of me during the entire presentation (which it rarely is), a presentation remote is an absolute must.  I started using them over 10 years ago when the technology du jour was infrared.  You had to contort yourself to make sure the receiver on the notebook lined up with the remote.  Things have come a long way since then and I’ve been testing some of the newer models. I wanted to share some of my experiences with them in the hope others might make a more informed choice.

The one I use most often is an Interlink electronics Remote Point Navigator 2.4–street price around $100 (see specs here). It’s ergonomic with good range.  It’s major drawback is that you can’t store the USB receiver inside the unit itself.

I’ve also tried the Logitech Cordless Presenter–street price around $50 (see specs here). It also has a timer with a visual display and vibration alert and lets you control the volume.  It worked on my iMac, but nothing I tried would make it work properly with my Macbook. I tried a colleague’s and it did work on the Macbook, but who would want to take a hit-and-miss approach to technology? They expressly don’t offer Mac support, so that’s another red flag.

The Kennsington Wireless Presenter–street price $40 (see specs here) is also ergonomic and stores the USB receiver with the unit.  My only complaint was that the USB receiver was an extremely tight fit in the USB port.

Swiss Gear now offers a wireless mobile presenter–street price $20 (see specs here) that is the smallest and lightest of the devices here with full functionality.  It’s weakness is that it uses the harder-to-find button cell batteries instead of the AAA batteries in the other models.

Apple has released Keynote Remote, a 99 cent application for the iPhone and iTouch, but I don’t think I’ll be using it anytime soon.  It only works with Keynote 09 (which many users are refusing to update to because Apple removed the ability to export slide shows as flash movies) and requires a Wi-Fi network.

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Welcome to the Rainmaking Presentations Blog!

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Welcome to the Rainmaking Presentations Blog!

My work is showing professionals how to design, develop and deliver more effective messages.  This blog is my own take on the tools, techniques and resources that further that end. You’ll see commentary on high-profile speeches, observations on business and professional communication and the occasional presentation technology review. My approach is based on the system I explain in Rainmaking Presentations: How To Grow Your Business by Leveraging Your Expertise. You can download the first  chapter in either .pdf or mp3 here. It will be available in bookstores on March 17.

I’ll confess at the outset that I’m a “Macolyte,” having come over from the dark side almost 15 years ago at the urging of my  friend Sam Winch, a work colleague and photographer extroidinaire.

Therefore, most of the software reviews I write will be for the Mac OS X system. Most of the hardware reviews will be cross-platform.

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