It’s not always easy to keep it simple.
Although I don’t play tennis, but I often try to copy the genius of its simplicity.
A yellow ball … two players … a net in the middle.
A 3 year old can understand this stuff, a 5 year old can play it. A teenager can actually win the world championship.
(for comparison, there hasn’t been a teenager in any of my meetings in the last 15 years, and people under the age of 23 are usually ignored.)
Now in your mind … compare The Game of Tennis to The Game of “Curling” which google calls “The game of chess played on ice.” Give me a break, this Curling is the most complicated stuff ever.
(ok everyone in Canada, starting sending your hate mail, I’m ready…)
Most meetings feel like “Curling” … people leave not even sure what happened or who won.
Instead, I like tennis meetings.
Because most people find happiness in simple things.
For example, I was just in New York City for 5 meetings — but my assistant had scheduled it all on the same day. Grrrrr.
To many, that would feel like a highly productive day.
But to me, with millions of dollars at stake, I didn’t get my normal hour-ahead-of-time for prep and practice for each meeting.
Prep is key.
Because often it’s the subtle off-the-cuff remarks we make—the ones that slip in when we’re not prepared – that paint us as incompetent and unconfident and do the most damage.
With 5 different meetings in a day, and throw in New York horrible traffic, how can you prepare?
And when you can’t prepare … you end up winging it.
You know that feeling, when your mouth says words as your mind hunts around for a good point to make.
Whoa, who turned on my Random Sentence Generator?
When you’re unprepared and winging it, you say things you haven’t thought of yet.
Worse you will almost always give complicated answers to simple questions.
1. People want to push a button and watch it work. If you delve into details, features and explanations when a simple answer will do … it’s going to cost you.
2. People don’t want the whole story. What’s tricky is, it may seem like they do. Sometimes they’re asking probing questions or obsess about certain details. Usually this is someone trying to prove how smart they are when their boss is in the room.
3. They ARE going to call their friends. The buyer is going to call their friends, The People Who Know What They Are Doing. So your buyer should be able to clearly repeat 80% of the important points you made, or the People Who Know What They Are Doing are going to say, “hmmm, sounds complicated, I would take a pass.”
4. People won’t use the information you give them. We all know that big decisions require lots of information. The difference between a business decision and a guesstimate comes down to “having lots of good information.” Yet in most first meetings, you aren’t asking someone to decide yes or no. You’re asking them to fall in love with your product, with your company and with you … so they’ll promote you and the purchase to their partners and other decision makers.
Last … it’s not just about “keep it simple.” If you sell servers, routers, accounting services or consulting, these things aren’t simple. They’re complex and there are lots of detail involved.
But you win these deals when you cover complex topics with simple, straightforward and memorable answers.
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If you found any value in this newsletter, or it made you laugh-out-loud, forward it to colleagues and friends who might be interested. They’ll thank you and so will I.