If you don't use a web conference utility daily, go back to work - this post isn't for you.
There, now that Bill from Accounting is gone, the rest of us can talk about how this little piece of technology has drastically changed our jobs as salespeople and how poorly we've adopted it as a presentation / pitch tool.
Yes, I said "how poorly." Only because "how horribly horrid" would have been three "h" words in a row and my 9th Grade composition teacher would disapprove.
Let's dispel with the fiction that we sales people are naturally great web conference gurus - in fact, as a group, my experience tells me that we in sales stink at online meetings. Stink like poopy diapers. Me included. That's a lie - I stink "more than most."
I've been an in-person presenter for the majority of my sales career and I still strugglewith web conferences.
Now, don't get me wrong - it's not a technology thing. I know how to press buttons and get connected. I'm not some rube or Luddite who doesn't know what them thar things the computer box does.
So why do I (and by inference all of us in sales) stink at online meetings? It's simple -for me (and perhaps you) the skills honed in conference and demo rooms the world over are resoundingly the wrong skills needed in the virtual conference room.
Now many people who are experts will tell you that's it's all about story-telling - that you need to be a good storyteller over web-conference. Thanks. Next you'll tell me to breath between sentences and not to drink the Pine-Sol under the sink.
We're already good story tellers - if we weren't we wouldn't be in sales. I don't need to give you my credit card number to find that out.
So what's the problem?
Well - imagine you are telling a joke in a bar....something salespeople never do, right? A joke - a good one - is a story. So there you are, drinks are flowing, glasses tinkling in the background, Murmurs of conversations around you. Ties are loosened, sleeves are rolled up, blazers are off, purses and laptop bags are draped over the back of bar stools. You're telling the joke and picking up steam. It's your "go to" joke - the one you really relish in telling. Where you're animated and acting out parts and feeding off the micro reactions of the audience you're telling the joke to. You're now off your stool, standing and hopping and your arms are flailing. And when you deliver the punch line - POW!
Now imagine doing the same joke over a walkie-talkie.
"So a guy and his brother walk into a pawn shop. Over"
"A what? Over?"
"A pawn shop. Over"
Not the same joke is it?
Well - it IS the same joke, actually. It's the same words - it's the same "story" but it's hardly the same reaction you get in the bar.
It's because your story was designed - was written - to be told in person.
So if you're not telling that story in person - you need to craft another story that can be told over another medium.
As an example, you know what jokes work over walkie-talkies?
Knock Knock Jokes.
Seriously. They're short, They require immediate feedback from the other person on the other walkie talkie and if they're good, there's an immediate payoff. Well, even if they're bad, you get an immediate payoff. Whether it's a laugh or a groan - you know how it went over.
I actually think the BETTER you are at in-person pitches, the worse you may be at online web conference pitches. I know that has been the point in my personal case.
That's because online meetings require a different type of story telling. For me, I've created a practice of "micro story-telling."
I had to take my best pitches, my best demos and deconstruct them for the web conference medium. Like when you go to a Gastro-Pub and order a deconstructed bacon burger and you get something you have to eat with a fork and spoon.
On the web, I couldn't rely on noticing an eye movement or someone leaning forward to bring a point home hard or hold back and soft sell something, so I had to design a pitch or demo that required me to tell micro-stories, with verbal feedback required from the audience, which then effected which micro-story I told next.
And this has worked well as I now deliver most of my web conferences to groups of people sitting in their corporate conference rooms, sharing my screen on a protector or flat screen at their office. So there's still a bit of a group dynamic and I've found I can effect reactions from groups of people in those conference rooms because they're sitting together in the same physical location. Laugh and the world laughs with you - right?
But that's changing.
IBM recently reported that the majority of current business leaders believe somewhere between 25% and 50% of their workforce will be mobile/telecommuters in three years.
So as a salesperson, that means the majority of people I am going to be pitching to in three years will be in their own home office.
And in a complex sale, that means I may have five or more people sitting at their kitchen tables or home offices while I sit in my sweatpants in Seattle and pitch my widget over web conference.
I'm not going to be on the computer box presenting to a room full of people. I'm going to be on a computer box, presenting to people on their own computer boxes in their homes or at Starbucks - which is ZERO group dynamic.
So I'm sorry if you clicked this article looking for ways to fix your web conference pitches and demos - I'm actually looking for your ideas on how to deal with this new reality we're all facing.
I don't have all the answers. But I think WE do - all of us - together.
I'm hoping this post will GROUP-SOURCE an answer for those of us who are trying to be better presenters, pitchers and demo-ers on web conference.
Let me (and the rest of us) know how you've changed your presentation style for web conference and how you think this new reality of a majority of "home office" stakeholders may change your style further.
How did you stop stinking? The world wants to know!