Monthly Archives: August 2011

Confident speakers win more business – wake up your ‘wow’

Are you apprehensive about public speaking? If so, this guest post by Cath Vincent, an amazing and inspiring motivational speaker and executive coach, is a must-read.

Jerry Seinfeld once joked that at a funeral most people would rather be “the one in the coffin” than “the one giving the eulogy”. It seems that public speaking is the number one phobia – but if you’re in business it could be costing you dearly.

It’s been said that there are two types of presentation: the one we gave and the one we wish we’d given. Or put another way, every person has two personas – the one who speaks confidently to a standing ovation, and the one who secretly doubts our own credibility as a presenter and wonders whether anyone is really listening.

Now be honest for a moment, when you stand to speak, which voice comes out?

The bad news is that if you are not supremely confident every time you speak, you’re probably not winning all the business you deserve. The good news is that it is simple to make massive improvements and there are lots of good reasons to do so. Here are just three…

3 business reasons to be a better speaker

  1. Because it’s considered natural to be nervous, most people never take the simple steps needed to fulfill their potential when speaking. If you invest just a little effort in this essential business skill, you will stand head and shoulders above your competition.
  2. When you find speaking in public effortless, there are heaps of FREE marketing opportunities such as network meetings where you can make your mark and become known as an authority in your field
  3. People listen to confident speakers. There is no better or more cost-effective way for your business to get noticed.

5 easy tips to being a more confident speaker

  1. If you slave over your preparation and getting the words just right – don’t! Think of it more as a conversation you might have with a friend than a formal life-or-death situation. In fact, verbal communication accounts for only 7% of the impact you can make. Allow yourself the freedom to ‘talk around’ your subject knowing that the impact of the actual words is very small. That way your personality will shine through too.
  2. If you do worry about forgetting your words, your message may be too complicated to remember. Boil your message down to just 3 key points. The audience can’t process and remember more than that anyway.
  3. People often tell me “I’m OK when I get onto the middle part” – you have to be compelling from the moment you start speaking. Whilst the body of your presentation can be free-flowing, you should learn your introduction and ending so you feel unwaveringly confident in delivering those two pieces. More time spent on these will pay dividends.
  4. Don’t be afraid of silence. Allowing a pause shows confidence and gives the audience time to process what you’re saying. You can afford to speak a lot more s-l-o-w-l-y than you think!
  5. Your job is to make it fun. Humour goes a long way in capturing audience attention. Clients often tell me “I can’t make legislation / technical specifications / annual accounts/ health and safety information fun”. You have to get excited about presenting your material. Energy is infectious. The audience will feel what you feel. If you’re uncomfortable, bored or uninspired, that’s how they feel too. If you’re excited, they’re excited!

A final word to encompass these tips: Don’t Learn It, Love It!

What do you think of Cath’s tips? 

Have you found that you perform much better in speaking/presenting situations when you have a positive mindset? 

For those of you in Auckland Cath, along with motivational speaker John Shackleton, is running a 1-day workshop to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking on Monday 5 September.

How can social media help you get qualified prospects into your sales pipeline?

The great thing about social media is that you can determine how much, when and where you contribute to it. But if you want to get qualified prospects into your sales pipeline (which a number of those working in professional services say they do) you will need to regularly engage with your target audience and build credibility and trust.

There are so many examples out there of people who post sales pitches to group discussions – often multiple times – and never actually seek to engage with others outside of that. I think they’ve missed a fundamental point: social media is about dialogue and engagement NOT selling per se.

Having said that, LinkedIn is a powerful tool professionals can use to identify and pre-qualify prospects and start a dialogue with them.

Just how can you use LinkedIn to qualify prospects and get them into your sales pipeline?

1. Use your status updates to post your key prospecting questions – for example, a real estate agent may say ‘thinking of selling your home in the Central Auckland area or know someone who is?’ and then link the person to some useful information on this.

The typical scenario is that you click the link, read an interesting piece and then see an offer (often via a pop-up screen) which offers you a free report if you subscribe to the person’s blog or newsletter. Do people really subscribe? Yes, if they see the free report as valuable and if they like what the other person is saying.

2. Start or contribute to group discussions – again ask questions or contribute to discussions on topics you wish to discuss. Position yourself in your area(s) of expertise and then follow up with a free guide or a webinar to draw people in. You can offer these within relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups and via your updates and tweets. As a rule of thumb, share others’ information and help others 9/10 times before promoting yourself.

3. Another good way to identify prospects is to set up searches on keywords/phrases in Signal (a LinkedIn product that basically allows you to filter and search across the stream) and on Twitter. You can then respond to people with questions in your area(s) of expertise or who are looking for help.

What other ways have you used social media to help you get qualified prospects into your sales pipeline? 

Is your social media marketing hiding in plain sight?

There are a number of people and companies that I know are active on social media but you’d never guess from looking at their other online and offline materials. This is what I call ‘hiding in plain sight’ and it’s a missed opportunity.

If you are clear about how social media can help you achieve your business and marketing goals and are using it purposefully, then it’s important that other participants you’re interested in engaging with, know you too are active. Sure, there’s a school of thought that says provide good content and people will come but that takes time – and there’s heaps of good content out there that doesn’t appear to get high volumes of traffic.

So, what can you do in the meantime? 

Point people to your social media activity: 

1. Include links on your website to your social media profiles and blog (and vice versa)

2. Include your social media URLs/handles on your marketing collateral such as:

  • business cards
  • letterhead
  • comps slips (if you have them)
  • email sign-off
  • invoices
  • tenders and proposals (where appropriate)
  • brochures and credential statements

3. Include your URL in adverts. I’ve seen so many adverts that say ‘Join/Like us on Facebook’ but that don’t include the URL and it’s sometimes not that obvious. I’ve had trouble finding the official Facebook pages for a few big organisations because they weren’t what I intuitively thought they would be. Not including this information means you’re putting up an additional barrier to those who might be interested in connecting with you.

Engage with your target audience(s) in those places in which they’re active:

Find out where they hang out (by looking at their profile and activity information) and:

1. Go to them rather than expecting them to come to you. Engage them in discussions, share good content they’ve generated or ask them a question.

2. Engage one-on-one with key people in your industry. Look for opportunities to promote them by sharing their content or interview them for your blog so that they promote it to their networks.

3. Comment on other people’s blogs, and where appropriate include a link to your content. Only include a link to your content when you can add something extra to their post and/or the discussion.

Social media isn’t a silver bullet. It does take commitment, time, effort and focus to pay off…but if you are clear about why you are using social media and what you want to achieve, then there’s no reason at all why you should hide in plain sight.

What other ways have you used to engage others? 

Are you seeing returns from your social media engagement? 

10 keys of successful delegation to enhance client service

Introducing our first guest post by Greg De Simone, a certified business coach at FocalPoint Coaching on the 10 keys of successful delegation. I love the way Greg’s points tie so nicely into improving the customer experience…

I recently read a post from a Kirsten Hodgson, a LinkedIn connection and a marketing specialist for professional service firms, titled, “Eight Questions Every Professional Should Ask When Taking New Work Instructions.”   The pervasive thought that came through was that establishing expectations with clarity was mission critical when bringing on new clients.  I couldn’t agree more.   Cleary defined expectations agreed upon at the outset of an engagement or on-going relationship are essential if client retention is one of your key metrics.

Here are the eight questions Kirsten posed:

  1. What outcome are you looking to achieve?
  2. How important is this work to you/your organisation?
  3. What’s your deadline for this work?
  4. What are you looking for from us? All the options or our recommendation?
  5. What’s your budget for this work?
  6. Do you need to present the advice to anyone internally?
  7. Will you be our key contact on this matter?
  8. How frequently would you like progress updates and what format would you like us to communicate these in (e.g. face-to-face, phone, email)?

It also struck me how similar the fundamental concepts in those questions were compared to a delegation workshop I routinely deliver titled,  “The 2nd Most Powerful Time Management Tool – delegation for the business professional.”  The workshop summarizes the ten keys of delegation that I, as a Brian Tracy certified FocalPoint business coach, use to help improve my clients’ productivity and profitability.

Here’s a brief summary of the 10 keys to delegation:

  1. Focus on your high value activities
  2. Do what you do best….. delegate the rest
  3. Delegate based on demonstrated competence
  4. Define task clearly
  5. Set a deadline
  6. Establish milestones
  7. Agree on resources
  8. Agree on consequences
  9. Put it in writing
  10. Inspect what you inspect

Notice how clarity and expectation setting are woven into most of the key items.   So, just as we want our relationships with our clients clearly defined with mutually agreed upon expectations, so do our employees when we delegate tasks, activities and projects.    By following these steps (both Kirsten’s and mine) any professional practice can improve the performance of their staff which in turn will lead to improved client service.

What other things do you think are critical when delegating work/tasks? 

Are there any other tips you’d add to Greg’s list? 

18 ways for lawyers, accountants and other professionals to credentialise themselves

Why do professionals need to credentialise themselves?

Clients have a choice – they get to decide who they engage on particular projects, matters, cases or deals and who they spend their money with. According to research conducted by BTI Consulting in 2009 into the top ways clients select lawyers, personal recommendations are key followed by online searches (I assume this would be similar for selecting other professional advisers).

I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive but think it likely that, if someone recommends a professional to a prospective client, the prospective client is then likely to do a web search on that person prior to contacting him/her (although there will undoubtedly be lots of instances of people finding professional advisers online).

If a professional has sought to credentialise himself/herself then evidence of this will appear online – both on the person’s website, via their social media profiles, blog or third party sites (such as journals/newspapers/conference organisers). This all helps prospective clients to choose to do business with someone – it makes them feel good about their decision.

How can advisers credentialise themselves?

  1. Produce case studies outlining the client’s problem, what you did, and the results you achieved
  2. Obtain client testimonials talking about the benefits you delivered
  3. Speak at, and attend, relevant conferences/seminars and follow up!
  4. Run seminars at a client’s premises
  5. Run webinars and record them for attendees and those who couldn’t make it to view later
  6. Sell in article ideas to relevant publications
  7. Get to know relevant journalists and position yourself as a commentator
  8. Set up a blog and post regularly – if you hate writing consider a video or audio blog
  9. Produce guides, tips, or how-to’s and share these with your target audience(s)
  10. Host roundtables on topical issues
  11. Bring together clients with mutual interests and facilitate discussion
  12. Produce thought-leadership pieces
  13. Produce video-alerts or news-alerts on topical issues and the key things your clients need to consider
  14. Author an eBook or other book
  15. Initiate and comment on discussions on social media networks and on blogs
  16. Re-tweet or share good articles/blogs written by others that will be of interest to your target audience
  17. Ask and answer questions on social media networks
  18. Seek to demonstrate your expertise and capabilities through your bio – both hard copy and online

While this seems like a long list of ‘things to do’, we recommend selecting one or two subjects or topics and leveraging your interest and knowledge to credentialise yourself using the various channels (e.g. conferences, seminars, blogs etc). This will help you to build profile in a specific market or grow your standing as someone with particular expertise.

What other ways do you think professionals can/should evidence their abilities?