No one will deny business has become infinitely more complex and exponentially more efficient. Kind of. The challenge we face in the information age is there’s too much frickin’ information. Even worse, you’re usually trying to cut through the clutter to make your sale. It can be you’re selling a product, a service, or an idea to internal customers but the point is you’re always selling something.
Well I have news folks. I found a new trick for cutting through that clutter to make the sale: go naked.
I know how important clarity of communications is to making these sales. Heck, a huge part of my business is based on clear, concise communications training. You wouldn’t believe how much demand there is for tools to help us persuade and influence people more effectively and efficiently. One of the first blog posts I ever wrote was about getting to the “so what?” in a compelling way.
I try to practice what I preach. I try to make my communications succinct and punchy. I don’t always succeed. I’m always looking for new ways to get to “yes” with my audience. The other day I tried a new one. I went naked to two separate and hugely important meetings. And it felt so good I plan on going naked much more often.
Since you all know I kept my clothes on for those meetings (really being naked would be kinda creepy) let me explain what I mean.I went into both meetings without a PowerPoint presentation. I was meeting with two huge prospective customers for my other startup TiXiT. I was there to convince the senior-most executive at both customers that they should work with us and provide discounted tickets to their events through the TiXiT site (if you haven’t checked TiXiT out yet and registered, I suggest you do especially if you live in Columbus which is our pilot market).
I knew our story and the value we could bring to the customers very well. I understood their businesses too. I decided to simply focus on my audience and have a conversation (rather than “pitching” them with a presentation). They asked questions. I responded. I asked questions. They responded. I’m pretty sure that’s how people did things before Bill Gates and his crew came along.
Both conversations were great. I was able to spend more time learning about their organization and understanding the concerns on their agendas. Not having that presentation there forced me to focus on the most important aspects of our story rather than on some arrows and bullet points. At the end of each conversation we had a handshake and a deal. 2 for 2. It was a great day. As I left I handed each of them a copy of the presentation I had prepared. “Here’s a copy of more detail about what we covered today so you have it for reference.”
Yes I had a deck ready. No I didn’t use it. It became a leave-behind. Yes, I had spent a great deal of thought, time, and effort perfecting the story in that presentation ahead of time. That preparation also served as my study session for the oral exam I went through with that 45 minute meeting. By doing the proper preparation, I was fully prepared to have the conversation with that executive and know what I was selling.
A few days later I went naked again, this time with a venture capital firm. Again, no deck. No PowerPoint. Just me and a story. And we had a wonderful conversation. We left the meeting with a handshake and a promise to reconnect when we were in the process of raising capital. I don’t think the conversation could have gone any better.
I’ve emphasized the notion of going naked before – sometimes you’re much better off simply picking up the phone instead of spending hours trying to schedule something in Outlook.
Quit overcomplicating things. Pick up the phone. Put away the presentation (yes, you have to write it first so you can refer to it or leave it behind if need be). But just go have the conversation. Amazing things can happen when you’re authentic and unencumbered by a bunch of paper or slides.
Give it a try. Go naked for your next meeting and see what happens.