Handling Fear in a Downturn. Or anytime really.

Handling Fear in a Downturn. Or anytime really.

Fear is evil. It paralyses. It messes with your brain. It stops you thinking straight. And it stop you doing things.

I have a stone with a prayer written on it that I got from my Mum. It is a simple prayer but hey – aren’t they the best ones?

“God grant me the courage to change the things I can, the patience to accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Some may scoff – but there are many out there who are scared. A friend described his client base as being “stunned with fear”. Normally decisive leaders and communicators crippled by fear.

It is true that a level of adrenalin, a fear of failure, nerves – all of these can be good when directed and channeled correctly. When I was a tennis coach this was true of every winner who did not want to be a loser. And it is true for every manager, leader, presenter, business owner.

Seth says that creativity is called for – and he is spot on!

And Naomi says that the way to deal with fear is to look it in the face. Then see what’s the worse that can happen And then deal with it.

Which brings me back to that prayer on the stone. Focus and fix what you can do. Forget the rest – worrying will not help. And it will only distract you from doing what you CAN do! Focus on action. Action gets things done and it makes you feel better too!

Are you considering discounting?

Are you considering discounting?

Short-term discounts can help preserve cash flow in an emergency, or be used as a strategy to increase market share. But the impact of discounting on your brand, margins and future pricing must be included in your decision! Commodities are assumed to be equivalent and are sold on price only.

Most companies are able to add value and differentiate themselves from their competitors. If price is your only advantage – don’t let your competition know. If they have deeper pockets, they will undercut you – and outlive you. Brands like Maybach, Bentley and Mont Blanc do not discount. (Do they?). They know their value and educate their clients about their value.

Identify, analyse and focus on the value that you (can) deliver and how your products or service add value to your clients. And if, for example, you are a Top 4 Accountancy Company pitching audit services to a UK based company – do not rabbit on about your global reach!!!! Fool’s Gold!! Relevant added value, promoted to the right customer, in the right way and with the right customer service will always trump price! If you do not add and sell value, price will always be your determining factor.

Will the downturn persuade British business people to learn from Obama and the Germans?

Will the downturn persuade British business people to learn from Obama and the Germans?

German white collar workers who are not sent on at least 2 weeks training a year fear that they must be on the redundancy short list and will soon face the chop. (Their company is not investing in them – so they must be on their way out!). Their British counterparts (with some exceptions) consider that an offer of training implies a personal or professional deficiency and gingerly start checking the post for their P45.

Is this the British fondness for the effortless amateur – the smooth-but-not-stirred James Bond? HR and PR departments are patronised with “I have 20 years experience giving speeches old boy – no need for training!” More like 1 years experience – repeated 20 times.

Practice and preparation are the absolute life-blood of a good performance – even those in the Public Speaking Premier League like Winston Churchill and William Hague.

Churchill would say that he could deliver an hour’s speech immediately at any time. But a ten minute speech needed an hour’s preparation. And a five minute speech needed a week’s preparation.

William Hague’s brilliant performances at PMQ’s were preceded every week by 26.5 man hours – 4 or 5 of which were his.

In a recent BBC tribute to Geoffrey Perkins (the legendary Comedy Writer, Performer and Producer of a range of classics such as Father Ted the Catherine Tate Show and The Fast Show show) an actor remembered how Geoffrey asked him to deliver a line “just one more time” – but this time a second quicker. The actor complained, but complied. And when he saw the final version, he admitted that Geoffrey had been right and the show was better because of it!

This perfectionist trait was the essential partner to Perkin’s humour and skill – and key to his success.

So what sort of look would you get if you asked the Chairmen of the FTSE 500 the following question? “Is your (draft) Annual Report/speech written yet for your next AGM? You know – the profits warning one? Any themes? General Ideas? And how much time will you spend preparing for it?”

And how long will these State-of-Our-Business-Reports and how well will they be delivered?

Lincoln’s historic speech, now known as the Gettysburg Address, was all of 10 sentences and 272 words long and lasted only two or three minutes.

Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech changed the world with just 1669 words delivered in only 16 minutes 12 seconds.

President-Elect Obama’s team is not just preparing for government by working with the incumbents in every government department, but a team is already working on Obama’s Inaugural address – due to be delivered on January 20th.

Obama and his team obviously believe in the 7 P’s (Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance).

And they are going further. In the last week, Obama and his team have already been on the TV and radio stations across the country, managing expectations.

So, how long will Obama’s Inauguration speech be? Who can tell at this stage – but you can bet money on the fact that at least 20 hours or more of preparation will go into the preparation and writing of each minute of that speech – and that Obama will practice and prepare and be robustly critiqued on his delivery for days beforehand – winging it is not his style.

Nor should it be the style of the cream of British industry.

rainmaker

Building Rainmaking Relationships

6 secrets for Rainmakers

1. The easiest way to get what you want (i.e. a client’s money and being known as the King or Queen of rainmaking) is to give your clients what they want – or need. Whose money is it anyway?? It’s all about the clients – their company, their problems, their fears, their needs, their threats and their wants. Research your audience, personalise your pitch by using relevant case studies and only use admissible and appropriate language and jargon. Only talk about yourself and your company, when relating how your qualifications, experience and abilities can help them get what or where they want.

2. Find out what they want – where they are and where they want to be. Listen aggressively and ask questions. Pay attention to what they say – ask questions to gain more detail or to check that you have really received what they have broadcast, summarise back to them your understanding of their situation, take notes, use their names. Prescription without diagnosis is pants!

3. Treat people like people. People buy from people they like and trust, especially with the declining trust in that corporate logo on your business card!!! Don’t rush in and knock people over – assess and respect the speed and mood of your audience. Be in the room, employ attentive eye contact, and switch off your Blackberry! Focus on being a human who can help. Long-term loyalty is built up by real long term commitment – relationships count, especially in a credit crunch. (Pitch productivity success rates are great for managers, rubbish for pitch teams – focus on gaining or retaining happy trusting clients one at a time – the numbers and the ratios will look after themselves.) The risk/reward ratios of the client are what you should be focusing on – your impact on them, their career and their organisation is much more than just the project investment or your fee structure. It is where you as a professional could take them, their organisation or their career. ROI and a trusting relationship are a very strong pair.

4. Be prepared to do without PowerPoint – especially in small pitches over a coffee or at lunch. This is a good rule as it should stop you from depending on, and using, the same presentation for everyone and merely changing the name and logo on slide 1. Simple graphs and big pictures are much better than crammed details in small font. There is a difference between presenting findings of work already commissioned (educating) – which may well warrant 50 + slides – and pitching for business which should be far more concise.

5. Competence is compelling. Memorable stories and case studies add credibility. They help you sell the pie and gravy and make you avoid listing mere ingredients. If your USP is global reach (and global reach is decisively relevant to them!) talk about how your global reach helped a client – anonymous but specific. The matching of you competence and its relevance to the client is crucial.

6. Be prepared for probing questions

Questions and objections indicate either that more reassurance or proof is required from your side, or that they are thinking of giving you the work but need to understand the mechanics of going forward. Remember, most people will have to defend or justify their decisions to others so make sure you equip them with the answers they need – as long as they are valid, of course. Avoid the embarrassment, professional shame and reputational damage of being a hapless, cringe worthy, incompetent victim like those seen so often on Dragon’s Den. To do this you must have identified the MKTAT Questions (Must Know The Answer To) AND THEIR ANSWERS especially in terms of process details and duration, price and price justifications, mechanics and personal knowledge of relevant case studies and how to take it further.


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