Spring is a time of renewal, when what lay dormant all winter returns to life. The new season brings new things to do, both in our personal life and in our business. And there are parallels.
Outside, it’s time to repair winter damage and to determine what we need going forward. If you need a new barbecue grill, bicycle or running shoes, plan ahead and buy them during pre-season sales. In business, with the first quarter behind us, think about the tools and strategies you will need to achieve your goals for the rest of the year and plan ahead: Need a new organizing system? New software? Professional development or sales training? Need to rebrand yourself?
During spring cleaning we go through our closets and put away sweaters to make room for shorts and we decide what to keep and what to toss. Some of us cart out the same clothes every year and they sit in the closet all season. Some clothes no longer fit or are out of style and yet we keep them out of habit or sentimentality or wishful thinking. Sometimes, it’s time to let go.
That can also be true of our contact or lead lists. Maybe a prospect or client is no longer a good fit. Maybe your approach is outdated. Maybe a client has been stringing you along with no deal in sight. Sometimes, it’s time to let go.
It’s pruning season. Cut away the dead wood. Strategically prune to encourage robust growth.
Spring is time for a fresh perspective. Are you spending too much time chasing long shots and not enough time developing more business from existing clients? Are you talking to the right people at each organization? Are you following up enough? Too much? Are you putting your best foot forward?
It’s time for spring cleaning. Declutter your closet, your desk and your To-Do list. Look at what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Renew your approach. And enjoy the robust growth to come.
When making your pitch…
Act Like a Duck in the Pond
Sometimes, no matter how well we prepare for a business presentation, things just start to go badly. Maybe your client is distracted and she’s texting during your sales pitch. Maybe you’re encountering unexpected resistance to your ideas. Maybe you feel like your pitch is falling on deaf ears. All of these things can cause the inexperienced presenter to come unglued and then the entire presentation falls apart.
The most important thing to remember at times like these—and we all have one of those presentations from time to time—is not to let your emotions drive you. You may be feeling understandably nervous or insecure, but you can never let your audience know.
The mistake that many people make is when they feel an emotion they assume the audience sees what they are feeling. The more you focus on your emotion the more it becomes noticeable to the audience, i.e. filler words, softer voice, poor posture, indirect eye contact and the list goes on. As soon as you feel an emotion, this is when you should think of the duck in the pond. When we see a duck in the pond it is floating, what the audience sees. However, if we saw what was happening underneath, we would see its feet moving like crazy, like the emotions that we feel. Although we can’t control our emotions we can control how we use our bodies. Our emotions drive us physically. So control your body, the behaviors you want your audience to see.
If you want to get control of your emotions control your body. Use your body to regain your focus and take control of the situation. To get out of the state you are in, you need to move, straighten your posture, raise your voice, and make eye contact with everyone in the room. Call on someone in order to prompt feedback that you can react to. This will shift the conversation and give you the chance to start over at some level.
Remember it is not your emotion that causes your audience to react to you in a positive or negative way. It is what they see and hear. So focus on your body and the impression you want to create and not your emotions.
If you have trouble shifting gears in a business pitch, coaching can teach you the techniques needed to refocus and salvage your presentation.
As a new year begins, don’t let your auld acquaintances be forgot. January is the ideal time to reconnect with former colleagues, prospects, and clients you may not have worked with lately. You can get back on their radar screens with a phone call, email, or a New Year’s card (make sure it doesn’t say “season’s greetings,” or it will look like you’re late). If you’ve had trouble getting the attention of people you’re particularly eager to reach out to, you might offer to take them to a New Year lunch or for a drink or coffee. It comes across more sociable this month than it will in February.
It’s a great excuse to remind them that you’re out there and can be an asset to them as they build their business in the new year. In January, most people have new budgets, new goals and, hopefully, are more open to new ideas. Even if you don’t get that meeting, you’ll be back on their radar screens, positioned to reach out to them later on.
You may want to reach out to each one differently: email may work better for some; phone calls for others. Try to refer to something in your collective past that demonstrates you remember them and care about their business. You can ask if they closed on that deal they were working on, or hired that new employee they were courting. Keep it short and sweet. Don’t try to sell them anything. Just wish them good health and success in the new year and say you hope to work together in 2011.
Start by approaching clients you haven’t worked with lately and remind them of your previous success. Next go through your list of prospects you know personally. Finally, reconnect with former colleagues to see if you can benefit from any networking opportunities.
Wishing you, your families and your colleagues a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. Hope to work together in 2011!
This podcast is a short 4 minute tip on refining your pitch. Focusing on three areas: your audience, your intention and your message to the client.
When it comes to high-stakes client pitches and presentations, what is the difference that makes the difference?
How do some people get better results than others? Why do some presentations strike a chord in the audience while others fall flat? What enables some people to close the sale more often than others?