November 16, 2010

Village Tips: In Business, Fear = 1000 Deaths

Please welcome Anthony Hall to the Electronic Village. He agreed to share a Villager Tip that might prove useful for many of us!

What is your worst sales or any type of presentation nightmare?

Is it spilling coffee all over your suit right before you go on? Or dumping a bowl spaghetti on your laptop and in your lap? How about getting a blue screen right in the middle of demonstrating your new software?

Everyone has had those kinds of near disasters and worse. You will have to be the judge, but I believe mine qualifies as a ‘worse case scenario’.

Imagine the scene: The historic German city of Bad Kreuznach, during Christmas, all white and lit up. The hardware partner had brought in all their software vendors, along with some choice prospective customers.

The wives and girlfriends are being entertained with shopping trips into town and a cruise on the Nahe river, a tributary of the Rhine. Dinners are set up in an old wine cellar below the hotel and small conference center. Everyone is having a merry time… except me.

I thought I was prepared; but it turned out, not quite well enough.

There is a panel of us vendors, fielding questions and tossing back answers – no problem. I am a rock.

But for some reason when it became my turn to have the floor to myself; it shifted beneath me and I could not regain my balance. It’s a good thing they couldn’t tell I was blushing.

Maybe I should have opened with a joke in German. I can do that much. Somehow I managed to get through it without totally falling all over the place, and ended on an up note.

Now on the surface, this may not seem like much; but the part I didn’t stress is that not only was I presenting in front of partners and customers, but also in front of all our chief competitors.

QStar, K-Par, KOM, BridgeHead and StorageQuest. How am I going to show my face at the next tradeshow or partner conference? I see these guys all the time; at shows or during RFQs (Request For Quotation).

Especially QStar.

We were pretty much #1 & #2, going back and forth in the rankings. They’d close a big deal, then we’d knock one out of the park. Sometimes they’d get a string of them going, and because I subscribed to their newsletter, I would know when they did.

My contemporary at QStar is a guy named Todd Deveney. We’d run into each other all over the place: from San Francisco to Vegas, Dallas to Chicago, New York to Orlando, London to Rotterdam, Hanover to Vienna.

Now Todd is a funny guy and keeps everyone laughing, but he can also make it sting. He’s good; and we’re always going at it.

I was in Munich a couple of years ago and while doing some shopping down town, came across a ‘Bob’s Big Boy’ sitting on the sidewalk. Like someone had just placed it there.

So I took a picture of it on my Blackberry and sent it to Todd saying, “I see they have erected a statue in your honor”.

He’s always giving me those kinds of cracks. Well, I got him with that one. We had a great laugh about it on the phone.

Todd was also there when I went down in flames, and he was real cool about it. I’ve always appreciated that about him, because he has never once mentioned it when we’re joking around. He’s a good friend.

What also helped me was the fact I acknowledged certain points that one or two of my other competitors made as part of my introduction. We had some good laughs later that night over a few “große Bier”.

This experience taught me that the only way to recover from such ‘disasters’, is to have people you can talk to about it with; ones who can really relate.

I also learned that if you look closely enough, such ones are all around you. One of them just might be in the most unlikely of places.

Maybe I’ll get that picture framed for Todd.

Copyright ©2010 Anthony Hall

Asante sana to Anthony for sharing his tip with us. Have any of you experienced similar issues with making presentations in front of people?

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