Thursday, October 26, 2017

An Unexpected Use of The Menu Approach: Before Dessert

For those familiar with the Menu Approach, you know that it is a terrific “self-rescue” technique for dealing with situations where you don’t know enough about your audience, and your audience is unfamiliar with your offerings.  Using the Menu shows the customer see what is possible and enables him/her to choose what is most interesting – this is the typical use – and it is synonymous to how menus in restaurants are used.

However, once a demo for one set of Specific Capabilities is complete, you can use a Menu in a similar fashion to how waiters in nice restaurants present a Dessert Menu – to enable customers to see what else sounds interesting…  In other words, once the customer is satisfied that their initial needs and problems can be addressed, offering the “Dessert Menu” is a wonderful way to introduce solutions to other potential problems – a terrific way to accomplish Vision Expansion.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Menu Approach or would like a refresher, you can find an article on it here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

SKO's and "Swipes" - Making Stuff Sticky

Want a terrific way to ensure that SKO participants remember more key ideas?  Try using “Swipes”.

Many sales kickoff meetings consist of a pile of PowerPoint presentations from senior management, sales management, product management, sales operations and enablement, often with additional segments from customer service, legal and other departments.  It’s a mass of information delivered over a few days, typically interspersed with a social event or two.

Basically boring.  And tough to expect that the participants remember much from each day.

Here’s a simple, terrific idea that I first encountered during a SKO meeting at McLeod Software and introduced to me by Rick Halbrooks, McLeod’s head of sales (and long-time Great Demo! senior practitioner):  Swipes.

The idea is very simple.  At the end of each day, Rick goes around the room and has each person state something that he or she took away.  That’s seemingly easy, but he added a twist:  an idea can only be used once!  If someone else verbalizes your take-away, you’d better have a backup.  Or two.  Or three.  Or more…  (You can guess where the name “Swipe” comes from…)

Participants know, ahead of time, that they need to verbally recall at least one idea at the end of the day that hasn’t already been presented by someone else.  To be safe, each person tends to write down several take-aways, often a list.  And participants often tend to pay better attention, since they need to constantly be listening and watching for swipe candidates.

Works wonderfully!

Pragmatic Note:  This doesn’t work for a group of 800 people.  But it does operate delightfully in groups of 50 or less.  Solution for a group of 800?  Do the swipes in breakout sessions or similar smaller venues. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Some Innovative Thinking About "Parking Lots"

I noted a vendor’s recent blog post that recommended avoiding the use of publically-displayed “Parking Lots” for managing questions during a demo.  Their reasoning was that you’d end up with a bunch of “I don’t know” or “We don’t do that” lines on the Parking Lot, leaving the customer with an overall negative impression.  Instead, they advocated capturing questions on a notepad, privately.

This is very traditional thinking – but misses opportunities to be innovative.

First, is this traditional approach really safe?  Perhaps, but the vendor is at risk of the customer wondering, “Did the vendor write it down or did they just blow me off [UK folks read, ‘fob me off’]?” or “Did they simply write down, ‘Idiot question’ or make a few scratch marks, pretending to have written it down…?”  Writing the Parking Lot item down on a white board or similar public display makes it clear that the question has been captured.

Now, let’s look at being a bit innovative…

Let’s say a hostile customer asks, “How come your software sucks so bad and costs so much?” Clearly, you don’t want to write this down on a white board verbatim.  Instead, rephrase the item focusing on the core issues, but with a neutralizing spin:

You respond, “It sounds like you have concerns about our software’s quality and value…”

Accordingly, you write “Quality and Value” on the whiteboard for that Parking Lot item.  Very elegant, very professional, and presents a positive position when people scan the Parking Lot.

But wait, there’s more:

You can add a bit more innovation by using other media as Parking Lots.  In addition to traditional whiteboards or (ancient) flip charts, I’ve also seen clever use of iPads (using Reflector to project to the audience), as well Word and Google docs and similar tools, all shown publically to face-to-face and/or over-the-web audiences.  Nice!  Other suggestions?

[For more tips on managing questions, see my article, Stunningly Awful Demos – Lost in the Weeds]