Friday, February 4, 2011
Why conversations and public washrooms don’t mix…
With the big game just around the corner, I'm left to remember one of my fondest football memories.
One autumn afternoon a group of friends and I took the drive from Toronto down to Buffalo to watch a Bills game. The best part of the game experience is definitely the tailgate before and sometimes after the game itself. However the most vivid memory I have of that particular trip was not the game, or the tailgate. It was an incident in the washroom.
For those of you who have never been to Ralph Wilson stadium in Buffalo, the men's washrooms have sort of a shared sewage trough, rather than individual urinals. A friend and I had lined up at the trough and began our business, when suddenly someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked "can you scoot over a bit?" and proceeded to squeeze in between us. "Uh sure..." was my response.
That right there was the most awkward exchange of words I've ever had in my life.
This gets me to the other uncomfortable exchanges I've had to endure… cold calls.
But wait... in today's world of business, is the cold call a dead concept? A search on Google seems to indicate that many people believe they are. I disagree. While I can't argue that content marketing, effective use of social platforms, and demand campaigns can help increase inbound interested in your products. Eventually human contact still needs to happen for most B2B purchases.
While perhaps less ice cold these first touch conversations can still be quite awkward, particularly if the salesperson has been poorly enabled.
I describe the core of my job as writing the story that my company tells. But what sense is there in having a good story if you don't have people out there telling it? That's how I think of sales enablement. As best as I can, I focus less on scripts and memorized bullet points, and more on trying to teach people about the context around the story. After all, every story needs some context and nuance beyond simply the punch line to be truly memorable.
In that vein I end up putting quite a lot of my focus outside of what it is that my own company does, and I spend a lot of time doing my best James Bond impression and try to get under the covers of what my competitors are doing and where and how they beat us. Competitive battle cards, news briefs updating new competitor products and versions and full portfolio comparison documents tend to be the most frequently downloaded and requested pieces of collateral I create. Those along with product positioning documents make up the bulk of my internal sales enablement kits.
Perhaps not the most glamorous part of my job, but hopefully this effort helps prevent sales calls that feel like the chat I had in Buffalo that cold afternoon.