Recently I delivered a speech at a conference where the speaker before me ran long. This was not main-stage, but a breakout session. There were several back to back talks in each room. All were scheduled for 45 minutes, with 15 minutes between for people to move between rooms.
About ten minutes before my scheduled time I arrived in the room to find the previous speaker still going strong (5 minutes after his stop time). I caught his eye and pointed to my watch with a big smile, and he clearly saw me, but was not phased. He even got the audience to talk to their neighbors and raise their hands to share their biggest learning moments from his talk.
My approach toward the front of room began about 3 minutes until my start time. Some of the audience was leaving to get to other rooms, while new people were streaming in to see my presentation. This didn't bother the speaker, who just kept going.
Finally a person said "It is time for the next session", and the speaker laughed as if that was just a silly inconvenience. I could not take it anymore, and I shouted out "NO, he is right. I am the next speaker and have to set up my computer!". He took another minute or two to wrap up, and then did nothing to show amy concern of time. I had to get someone to ask him to unplug his computer (I was thinking of kicking it off the stage).
As I went to the table to get the microphone he said "good luck". I just shook my head at him. He was either clueless or was the most self-absorbed person I have ever encountered. Or both.
I set up quickly and started my presentation about 5 minutes late.
This incident has reminded me about the importance of looking beyond self in all situations. This is not just true of keeping to your allotted time as a speaker, but as a friend said to me when I vented; "this goes for kids sports, dance classes, and basically everything in life". My friend is right. I remember when my oldest child was in middle school drama class and the teacher routinely kept the kids 20-30 minutes later than the scheduled ending of the after school rehearsal. This messed up dinner, homework schedules, and evening activities for the whole family.
It is clear from the current political discussion online (and in person) that we have lost sight of being respectful to others in our society. Personal beliefs rule the day. But does it have to be this way in everything? Would it be cool to see respect make a come back? Can it ever happen?
Being true to the allocated time (as a speaker or anywhere) is a small thing, but it matters. It shows you understand you are not the center of the universe, as you are acknowledging that there are others who have things to do, too.
I doubt the other speaker would ever read my blog, but if he does I wonder if he would even care that his actions impacted other people (me, the audience, the event planners, etc...). I doubt it. I am sure he is more focused on how spectacular he is and how lucky we are that he is on the planet.
Finally, He was a good speaker, people praised his session and the online comments were strong. But about 10 people came up to me later and pointed out that he really didn't seem to think his running long was an issue. We had a good laugh about it, but it never should have happened.
Have A Great Day
If you are not on the "Short List", the prospect will not buy your product or service. Out of sight is out of mind, and not being on this important catalog of those under consideration is the fastest way to lose a potential sale.
When I work with sales professionals or speak at sales meetings my key point is how "sales skills" do not matter if you are not being seriously reviewed by the decision makers. Long before you can build rapport, demonstrate your product knowledge, ask open-ended questions, actively listen, communicate solutions, overcome objections, negotiate the best deal, or close the sale you must be one of the final vendors the buyer is considering.
Many who buy from you will talk to more than one vendor, but they cannot consider every company in your industry. No matter what you sell, you have competition. In many cases you could have dozens or hundreds of competitors. However, most buyers (regardless of industry) tell me they interview about between two to four providers when seeking to make a purchase. If you are not on that final list of approximately three, then you have no chance of getting their business.
Nothing leaves money out of your paycheck faster than missing out on being on the "Short List".
Too many sales people and their managers are constantly worried about how to close sales. While this is important, it is eclipsed by the need to get on the magic list of finalists. This is more than simply prospecting as it involves making sure that you are one of the few that they believe can deliver on what they need after they narrow their choices.
There are many things that go into regularly appearing on more of these lists. It is a combination of consistent prospecting, relationship building, reputation and branding, and developing a strong word-of-mouth network.
Instead of being solely focused on hitting a sales quota, the best sales people are equally interested in making sure they are under consideration every time there is a deal to be made. If you are on more "Short Lists" you will close more business. Period.
All sales professionals know that over time their sales statistics become a numbers game. If you close one in five proposals, you know you need to present to 5 more prospects for each sale you hope to make. "Short Lists" are the ticket to more contracts. Finding these opportunities where you are seriously being considered should be a high priority. While you will lose some of these deals, and wins are not always in order (lose four, win one), the key to selling is being on the list.
There is nothing I hate more than knowing there was a prospective customer to whom I could deliver the perfect product, only to discover they did not look at my offerings. If I can get them ponder the value of working with me, I can only then have a chance at winning.
Go out and get on more "Short Lists" and watch your business grow.
Have A Great Day
******Thom Singer is a keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies. He talks regularly to corporate audiences in competitive industries that are sales focused and whose people are seeking greater success. http://www.EngagingSalesSpeaker.com
I received the below letter from a listener of my podcast, "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do". His experiences is a good reminder of the importance of getting involved with your industry trade associations. All the stars can line up for your career when you meet the right people.
In addition to sharing his letter, I have asked Jesse to be a guest on my podcast, as I can tell that his entrepreneur journey has many lessons that will be helpful to others. Check out "Cool Things" in the next few weeks to hear his whole story.
I've been meaning to write to you for some time and share a neat set of circumstances that involved your podcast.
Sorry, the set up is a tad long but I think it'll be worth a read to you (and no, there isn't a sales pitch at the end, just a thank you.)
A little more than a year ago my wife and I realized it was time for a change for our family. Up to that time, I have had several careers and treated each of them like I would be there forever. My last two careers (IT and Ministry) spanned about 10 and 15 years each - which I suppose for some would be forever.
Until last year, each time I had changed jobs or careers I already had the next one in line. This was different. I was taking a season away from ministry not knowing how long that would be and not knowing what would be next. It was a scary step.
In thinking about what was next, becoming a freelance worker certainly had some appeal. We were also invited to partner in a business - a toy store. Having worked around children my whole life, that certainly had appeal...but I also knew it had risk.
In May of last year, our family packed up for what would potentially be our last vacation for a while. Whenever we'll be driving for a while I select a few podcast to listen to...and with the discussion of becoming a small business owner of some sort, Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do was an intriguing title.
The first episode that I listed to was the one with Michelle Sahr.
Like I said, we had been invited to partner in a toy store and as part of the exploration, I had considered attending an ASTRA conference (American Specialty Toy Retailing Association). Again and again in the episodes I listened to, you encouraged people to be involved in their industry's associations. By the time I arrived at our vacation's hotel I felt I had made a mistake by not checking out the conference. Wondering how much it would cost me by missing the early bird pricing (the conference was now about 2 weeks away), I check to see if I could even get in.
To my surprise, not only could I get in, they had a special for that weekend that brought the price down to the early bird pricing I had missed.
I sent of my information to register and began to enjoy the vacation.
Friday night, I checked my email to find details on the conference. For first time attenders they offered to pair you with a veteran to help you learn the ins and outs of the conference and (for those with a store) so that you'll have someone after the conference is over that you can lean on when you have questions.
Unfortunately, Friday was the deadline to sign up for the program. The email also noted that they would be out of the office over the weekend. I knew that I was late signing up for the conference and not really surprised that I missed out on getting in on the "All-Star" program. In fact, I figured all the "good" veterans had been assigned weeks ago.
Having run much smaller conferences I could only imagine how much work the ASTRA staff was doing. Nevertheless, I decided to be bold and ask if I could be let into the All Star program late. I thought there was little chance my email would even be read.
When I got home on Sunday, I checked my email and found that one of the organizers of the conference had emailed me. Thinking it was an automated mail with information about the conference, I opened it and was surprised that it wasn't an automated mail.
It was an email about the All-Star program - when to meet, special events for veterans and their newbies, things like that. At the bottom of the email was a name and phone number for my veteran.
I read the name and the city and thought: Weird, that podcast I listened to on Thursday had someone from Ohio. In fact, I think it might have even been that town. I wonder if it is a local competitor.
Instead of fully connecting the dots, I googled my veteran and her store. Wait, she has a cheese store too?!? That's not possible. So I grab my phone and scroll back to your podcast and there it is, the name of the person that was to be my veteran at the conference your podcast convinced me I should attend....
Turns out all the good veterans hadn't already been assigned.
Again, sorry for the length. I hope this lifts your spirit and encourages you to continue in what you do. Your podcasts are great and you are making a difference.
As you can see from my signature block we moved forward with the toy store. I'm still listening and hope that someday I'll be able to join in one of your mentoring groups.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
If you are in the Greater Dallas area, check out Sockmonky Junction toy store in Mansfield, TX.
Have A Great Day
It is hard to believe this is the 10th year we have asked for your support of the "Kate Singer Endowment for Cranio-Facial Research" at Dell Children's Hospital.
As you may remember, when Kate was born in 2002 she had to undergo major surgery to correct a condition known as Sagital Synostosis. The bones in her head had fused together, and she needed to have much of the top of her skull removed to allow her brain to grow.
At the time we did not have the most state of the art children's medical facilities in Central Texas. Kate was operated on by the amazing doctors at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego (if you would like to donate to Rady Children's Hospital, we have established a similar fund for that foundation). Upon the opening of the new Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, we began donating money and fundraising to help with research for kids born with similar issues.
Today, between the two endowments (Austin and San Diego), we have raised over $60,000. Let's help that grow!
Please take a moment and donate any amount. We have proven over the years that small donations add up to real numbers (I call it "Compounded Generosity").
DONATE NOW (look on the pull down menu for Kate Singer Endowment).
Thom, Sara, Jackie and Kate Singer.
My Website - www.ThomSinger.com is currently down. Don't you hate it when technology fails you?
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