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Tim Pollard Shares a Way for Sales Communications to Close More Deals

April 13, 202246:53

“I believe anybody can be a world-class communicator” says Tim Pollard, CEO and Founder of Oratium. This week, we learn that with the right tools and methodologies, extraordinary communication is not so out of reach. Tune in as we explore how not to overload our prospects with too much information, but instead present them with big ideas in a crisp, clean, and simple way. Plus, learn how to create a communication document your sales team will actually want to use (and share).

FULL TRANSCRIPT

AW:

Hi everyone. It’s April Williams, the Founder and President of SalesAmp and your host of From Hello to Yes. Question, do you have to have natural talent in order to be a great communicator? Is it all about charisma, energy and presentation that makes excellent salespeople and marketers? Our guest today would say, “Absolutely not.” Tim Pollard is the CEO of Oratium and Oratium exists to equip companies to tell their story in a powerful and compelling way in the certain knowledge that extraordinary messaging leads to extraordinary outcomes. Our brain receives information through big ideas versus numbers and stats. I have sat through my share of death by PowerPoint presentations and I’m sure you have too, but how do we fix this? Tim teaches us how to present both in person and virtually with precision, even if you aren’t in the room to do so. You are on your way to becoming a compelling communicator. Enjoy my conversation with Tim. Tim, thank you so much for joining us today.

TP:

April, delightful. Great to see you and lovely to be here.

AW:

One of the things at From Hello to Yes, we always like to remember is none of us is as smart as all of us together and that has never been more true than today in the marketing and sales world for sure. We also know that we have responsibilities to the next generation who is stepping in and trying to figure this out. So we always like to open our podcast, asking our guests who are successful in their field, you having tremendous success in the communication space, curious what the Tim of today would say to the 20-something version of Tim. What advice would you give if you could go back?

TP:

There’s a great line in Shakespeare that says give every man your ears but very few, your voice. And I think it says in the Bible with two ears to listen and one mouth to talk. I think, I’d tell myself to be a lot less arrogant, to listen a lot more and be more interested in the opinions of others and simply expressing my own opinion. That may reflect more my personal journey than my professional one but I think that is certainly true.

AW:

I think there’s many of us that could speak to our 20 year old self in that way. So yes, well done for sure. I’ve had the blessing, as you said, nice to see you again. I have been in your twice and have taken your Oratium training back with Rick Ferris and up here in Rhode Island in C12, and that had such a major impact on my public speaking and my sales presentations. I think of you often, I quote some of the things that you taught me from several years ago. So just a big thank you to you for that and so thrilled to have you here.

TP:

Thank you. That’s very kind.

AW:

Also, had the pleasure of being at the C12 marketing affinity conference where you spoke to us again, and you’re going to talk about many of those points. But before we dive in, the one thing I remember you started us with is really the question that we all had, that some of us just aren’t natural communicators. So I’m going to ask you, do you need natural talent to be a great communicator?

TP:

No, not in the least. It’s probably the greatest misconception in communications. No, not in the least. The greatest communicators in history probably had the greatest struggles with a lack of natural talent. Churchill had a lisp and a stammer, who was incredibly nervous, his first couple of speeches to parliament were absolute disasters. It was well documented. What was so great about Churchill, I think you see similar stories with Abraham Lincoln and others is they understood ultimately that effective communication is a skill that can be learned because it’s an aggregate skill built on up from understanding a lot of particular tools and processes and subsidiary skills like rehearsal and word choice and things like that.

No, I believe anybody can be a world class communicator virtually without exception, possibly if someone was struggling from a medically diagnosed speech impediment or something like that can be a barrier, but even so, actually I don’t think that is the greatest barrier at all. So, no, I think there’s no correlation between natural talent and communication effectiveness.

AW:

And I love hearing it every time I hear it because I think there are people that are going to jump on this podcast and very quickly think that it’s not them that you’re talking to. They don’t have the natural talent and I want to lay that foundation, this talk today is really for everyone and we all can be great communicators. So thank you for starting that. Where I wanted to have the conversation begin is there’s so many messages out there for us today to consume. There’s no lack of messages. It can be overwhelming and in some ways they can all blur together. And what are your opinions on the messaging out there today? What’s working and what isn’t?

TP:

Well, I think you just said it. I mean, most messaging isn’t working. I think that’s self-evident by how much comes our way and how little we remember, how much it blurs together. The paradox of communication is the harder we try to communicate well, the worse we become because what tends to happen is, well, I need to be more thorough, I need to be more complete, I need to add more in, and we may start with a relatively simple set of ideas and end up with 120 PowerPoint slides with fonts that only dogs can hear. And it’s actually ironic that most messaging is bad because we pack too much in, we’re too sender oriented, our messaging is unclear, it’s imprecise what our big ideas are, what we’re asking our audiences to do. And so we see that and, well, I desperately need to clarify that.

So I’ll add a few more slides. I’ll fill the argument out and we just end up making it worse and worse and worse. The big paradox here as well is every one of us has been in a presentation where they were totally fire horse, where they were exposed to this complete madness of 50 slides of tiny bullets and everyone hated it and everyone would agree unhesitatingly that it didn’t work, that they learn nothing, they took nothing away. But when presented with their next opportunity to present, they make exactly the same mistakes. They do the things they know doesn’t work, which is an odd paradox.

There’s really very few other places in human society where we deliberately do something which we know doesn’t work because it’s been done to us. And I think the paradox is probably resolved by the point that the reason we do that is we don’t know what the alternative is. Is there an alternative to throwing a load of slides together and reading them? Yes, there is. But until you understand that alternate model or alternate approaches to communication, then you’ll never get out of that doom loop and just keep doing things that don’t work.

AW:

I think we just see that over and over again. I even love the reminder. We know it when we see it and hear it, and yet why do we do the same thing? That’s what I’m most excited about you sharing today. So many of our listeners will be marketing and sales people and sometimes especially they don’t understand the importance of taking the time to communicate well. So I’d love you to take us at a high level through the carbon atoms seven hallmarks model and why it’s such a game changer for those responsible for communication within their companies.

TP:

Yeah. So I think I would preface this by saying that the answer is not to make minor tweaks to a bad model. If you know that 50 really dense slides is torturing your audience, the solution can’t be, “Well, let’s just have 40 slightly less dense slides.” I think the most foundational thing I would say is we have to completely rethink the way we think about communication because just making bad slides a little bit less bad doesn’t come close to getting it right. The governing idea here needs to be the human brain. The human brain is very particular in its wiring in terms of how it likes to be communicated with or how it needs to be communicated with more accurately. We do very badly with too much information, the brain will switch off. We do very badly with poorly sequenced information.

We can’t remember things if a point had no context setting it up. So for example, if you read a book, a book makes perfect sense because the chapters are in sequence. If you read the same book out of sequence, it would make no sense. So what we need to do is understand the way the brain consumes its information. And from that foundational understanding, then we can derive a model for how to communicate effectively. And I don’t have time obviously, today to go into all the underlying brain science, but for those of you looking on video, but I can describe this verbally. You can take a message that would previously have been a very dense PowerPoint deck and have it end up looking something like this. Now what I’m holding here is the new sales messaging for a very complex technical product, it’s actually Cisco’s WebEx product.

My personal view is by far the best of the collaboration platforms out there, but what you see in a message like this are these new hallmarks. So what are they? Number one, we need our messaging to be incredibly crisp and clean and simple. It doesn’t matter how much we want to say or how good our motives are to be complete. When we overload the bandwidth of an audience’s brain, a customer, whoever it is, a donor, a bank, they’re just going to shut down and then you get no outcome whatsoever, because they’re not even engaged with you. The second thing, which I think is unbelievably fascinating for all marketers is meshing needs to be problems centric. An audience will never engage if they don’t perceive that you’re talking about a problem that they care about. And so the natural tendency with something like a WebEx would be, “Hey, let me introduce WebEx 4.0,” and no one’s interested in that.

But this message leads with a question. There are so many tools to communicate. Why do your global teams still feel so disconnected? If I’m the CIO of a bank, I’m not very interested in WebEx. I’m really interested in the problem I’m having that I’ve spent a ton of money and my people still are not feeling properly connected. The great thing about leading with the problem is it’s not just engagement. We could literally talk about this one all day but the other thing you do is you raise their motivation to act. And if you’re in any sales setting or really indeed in any setting where you’re trying to get someone to take an action, whether it’s a boss to approve a budget or a donor to give to your nonprofit, it’s usually that the gravity, the seriousness of the problem that drives their motivation to act. As good as WebEx is, if I don’t perceive I have a problem, I’m not going to do anything.

So there’s something incredibly powerful about being problem centric in your messaging particularly in sales messaging. The third thing and I really don’t have time to get into this but it’s so much fun is all great narratives are organized around and driven by ideas. Humans do very badly with fact and data. We don’t tend to remember. I could give you some stats and you would forget them immediately but we do very well with ideas. You might come away from any meeting you’ve been to and if someone said you always have meeting about, you’re not going to play a recording of the meeting from your brain. So you don’t have one. You’re going to say, “Oh, it’s interesting. It was about this. It was about this. It was about this.” The human brain naturally deconstructs information into a small number of ideas.

So what great messaging does is really identify what ideas are most critical to this story particularly in a sales message to our value proposition and orient around those. So for example, I have here, it’s a message for a lighting solution for a hospital and, just quickly, it pivots onto all critical ideas. Idea number one is that this lighting solution will solve these problems you are having with nursing productivity and safety and clinical outcomes. So will a customer buy it? No, because what if it costs a billion dollars? So the second big idea is this solution has a wonderful ROI. It’s an expensive, LED is zero maintenance. You get rebate. Oh, that’s cool. So now would the customer buy? No, because what if I have to shut the hospital for a year while I retrofit this new lighting system?

So the third big idea is this solution is beautifully non-disruptive to your daily operations. Now this sales message has quadrupled the conversion rate compared to the previous version of the message, kind of a PowerPoint version of the message. The PowerPoint’s not the problem. Intellectual structure was the problem. And the main reason it was so successful is number one, carefully unpack the problem of the getting lighting wrong. And then the second thing is it frame the value proposition through a small number of ideas, all marketing and sales else communication should work this way. Your website, the ideas should be prominent, white papers, blog posts, social media, it needs to be ideas driven. I’m going to save a little bit of time. I’m not going to go through all of the others. The ideas need to be very powerfully supported. You want there to be a logical sequence and so forth.

But I would say this, you ought to with sales messaging always embed your messaging in a document but not a PowerPoint deck. The document built for something called re-tell ability. And if we could just talk all day about this, I’d be happy. Retellability, we all understand this in marketing and sales. A salesperson is having a conversation with a customer, is that conversation important? Yes. Is that the most important conversation? No. Sometime later there’s another conversation and there’s a meeting. It’s a meeting you don’t get to be invited to and it’s a meeting where your solution is being discussed by the decision making body of the customer. So this is really, really interesting and if you think about it, the success of a sales message is actually not primarily about how well it works in the first meeting.

It’s primarily about this is Henry who you’ve met with, how well can Henry retell your story in the second meeting because this is where the decision gets made. That is the standard for meshing. You should not be thinking as a marketer about first meeting success. You should be thinking about the re-tell ability moment and second meeting success. And if you want the really profound implication of this, is it the job of sales and marketing communication to persuade? Yes. Trick question, is that its only role. No. In fact, it is not made good enough for sales meshing merely to persuade, it must also equip. It’s not good enough to persuade Henry. I have to equip Henry and that’s why these dense PowerPoint decks fail so badly because they barely work in the first meeting and they fail catastrophically in the second.

But if you build messaging this way, crisp, clean, simple, problem centric with an ideas driven narrative, you embed it in a very simple document, it doesn’t have to be particularly professionally produced. You’ve got a great argument embedded in a re-tellable document. That document is what carries your argument in the second and subsequent meetings. And that’s the absolute key to honestly to breakthrough transformation of the effect of your sales messaging.

AW:

I think the re-tellable document was the key takeaway when I met you in Orlando, that was just mind boggingly simple that we hadn’t thought about. And it was always the biggest fear for us at SalesAmp and we were working with people that they would present and then you were putting your future in the hands of the person that wasn’t going to have you in the room to present for you. So I’d love to unpack this even a little more. Talk to us, Tim, about sort of some of the key things, the success that you’ve actually seen with it, why we should never entrust our final sale for someone else to sell for us. I’d love to unpack that even a little bit more.

TP:

Of course, that’s a great question. So if you think about it, most sales people are actually quite good, good ones are at least, at navigating around the weaknesses in their document. So again, if you’re watching on video, I’m holding this something up that any one of you can visualize this without this. This is the kind of very dense, completely bloated impenetrable PowerPoint slide deck. It’s from a very well known, everyone of you knows this technology company. Now that’s a pretty horrible deck in every way, but a good salesperson can navigate around it. So ignore 40 of the 50 slides because they’re awful, I’ll probably only present these 10. I’ll only present these bits of these 10. They can sort of navigate around this garbage document, whether they built it or somebody like marketing or sales enablement built it for them. What’s the problem with the second meeting?

It doesn’t have you there. You’re not there to navigate around its fundamental flaws and deficiencies. So what you have to do with messaging is say, okay, so that’s not going to work. So what I have to do is create a document that is so good. It not only helps me here in that first meeting but Henry can actually take it away and use it. So this old mantra of like, “I’m okay living with a bad document because I can navigate around it.” Well good for you but Henry can’t. Now, what’s really interesting of course that there’s so much more this story. Let me show you something interesting. Imagine, let’s go back to my earlier example. I’m talking about this problem of hospital lighting and if I’m going to do a good job with the sales message and let’s say I’m going to meet with the operations VP of a hospital.

Now that operations VP is going to be really interested in cost but imagine that I also know that it hurts nursing productivity. I’m going to talk about nursing productivity. It’s hard to find nurses very bad when they leave. We also know that bad lighting impacts safety, people slip and fall on patches of water in dark rooms or in dark stairwells. And interestingly how I go into this, you can also get actual clinical problems or certain skin conditions that can’t be diagnosed in the wrong light. So the sort of clinical outcome problems you can have. Now, what on earth has that got to do with re-tellability? Well, think about it. The re-tellability moment here, let’s say that’s the management committee at the hospital. Well guess who’s on the management committee at the hospital, the head of nursing, he or she is going to be very interested in nursing productivity.

The general council, chief legal officer, he or she’s going to be very interested in safe and being sued and workers comp issues and what about probably the loudest voice in any hospital, the chief medical officer? Again, he or she is going to be super interested in the potential of lighting to improve clinical outcomes. Now this is a very much more advanced concept. You see what happens then if you build your messaging correctly with a good, what’s called, problem deconstruction, yes, it will engage. I already talked about that. Yes, it will motivate. I already talked about that but here’s the third thing it’s doing for you, which is mind blowing. Is it’s giving Henry here the ability to engage the entire buying group because if Henry takes this message and re-presents it, the head of nursing, the head of legal, the chief medical officer start to get very excited about the solution.

There’s a gorgeous concept. I mean, literally this concept will have you sitting in a dark room, wrap your head around on this idea for an hour. Is it good enough for Henry to go into that meeting and say, “Hey, I want to buy this new system lighting system because it’s good for me. It’s good for our operations.” Is that okay? Yes, that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. Isn’t it better for Henry to go into this meeting and say, “Look, we should do this lighting solution not just because it’s good for me, it’s good for us as a hospital because it touches all of us.” Yes. And so that’s kind of the slightly deeper end of the pool on re-tellability. And in fact we’ve done some experiments using a cognitive neuroscience. We can actually see what’s going on in the brain.

When you present a message that works this way, you see it actually ignites the brain in different ways. It’s very cool. So I’m glad you dug in on that because honestly the theme of re-tellability is probably the most important hurdle or barrier but perhaps better put opportunity that people designing sales messages have. If you can get messaging that’s compelling and re-tellable, you’ve got something very cool on your hands and sadly, that’s not what any of us have right now. Those PowerPoints are barely compelling and they’re not at all re-tellable.

AW:

No. And we see it over and over and over again. And I just remember how mind blowing that there was a solution to the fear that this presentation was going to get in the hands of someone that couldn’t present it. How hard we fight to be there and yet we give a tool that helps them actually sell for us. So I love that. So I think one of my questions, Tim, to you was going to be, is there ever a right time to use a PowerPoint? And it sounds like you’re not saying no to PowerPoint, but it’s making sure we lay the foundation first.

TP:

Yeah. It’s a mistake to think that PowerPoint is the problem. PowerPoint will seduce you into doing really, really stupid things. And it’s very easy to say, “Well, I’m just going to bake this whole story into three great slides.” And then four hours later you’ve got 28 slides and they’re garbage. So PowerPoint will seduce you like the dark side of the force but PowerPoint still is not fundamentally the problem. In fact, funnily enough, again, I can describe this verbally. This is a two-page PowerPoint and I’m holding it up and it’s actually was built by one of our clients who develops messaging, sales messaging. They are consumer goods company. They were work with some very small clients, customers like Walmart, Target, Amazon. They have at my last count one over 80 million of new business in the last couple of months and this is the messaging they’re using.

And this is a two-page PowerPoint. It doesn’t matter that it’s a PowerPoint. What matters is that they’ve done really gorgeous thinking around the process and then embedded that ultimately in a great document, which happens to be a PowerPoint document. So I don’t think the right question actually is, is there a good or a right time or a wrong time to use PowerPoint? I think the question is, is it ever okay to design a document whether that’s slides, a word or in design without having done the prior thought and the answer is, no, it’s never okay. If you’ve done the thought, I couldn’t care less what ultimate document creation tool that you use, except I would say PowerPoint’s not a particularly good document creation tool and it will tempt you. It’s really easy to start with a vision of just something as simple as this and end up with 30 slides because our natural tendency as humans is to pack too much in not to pull the irrelevant out.

AW:

So true and one of the key points that you share with us in your book, The Compelling Communicator that I loved, you said it’s content that captivates, which is what we’re talking about right now. And you say, but you warn us that there’s a real pitfall to avoid and you talk about the difference between content delivery and content design. How does that tie to what we’re talking about right now?

TP:

Yeah, so great question. If you think about communication broadly as these two big disciplines, designing what you’re going to say and then saying it. Content design, content delivery. For reasons that baffle me, the world believes that communications effectiveness is entirely about content delivery. You can spend a fortune on communication skills training and learn about eye contact and body language and heaven forbid, power posing. And the emphasis on delivery, what is incredibly dangerous because a, it really doesn’t matter. I could have good or bad eye contact. It isn’t really going to make much difference. I could have confident body language or timid body language. It doesn’t make any difference. So firstly, I’m focusing on the wrong target and secondly, what it does, it’s going to distract me from focusing on the right stuff.

So if I take training, I’m not going to name them, but you know who they are, the famous people that teach this stuff, I’m going to leave with this confident body language or I haven’t thought any anyway about the architecture of my message. So now I go back with messaging that’s dense and this training will say kind of have pretty slides. It won’t talk about proper message architecture. It won’t get you to an ideas driven narrative. It won’t get you to a true problem centricity. So it’s forcing you to focus on the wrong things and it’s distracting you from focusing on the right things. Now, as you know, I’ve written two books, one on message design, one on message delivery. And I do believe delivery matters but it’s not about eye contact and body language. Delivery matters in so far as it’s important to execute the plan, that the message you design is actually the one that gets delivered.

But I would still say based on decades of professional experience, if I was going to assign a hundred pennies of value, I’d assign 80 to design and 20 to delivery or 70-30. In fact, by the way in the second book on delivery, there’s a chapter on eye contact and body language. And if you’ve seen that, the chapter says this, have some, don’t be weird. That’s it. The whole chapter holds that six words… Seven words, have some, don’t be weird. That’s it. Like if you stare at your audience like a freaking paragon falcon, they’re going to freak out. If you dance around like a crack addict, it’s going to be distracting. In fact, everything you need to know about eye contact and body language is summarized in one line from Hamlet by Shakespeare, where he says in the context funnily enough of performing a play and Hamlet says, “Fit your action to the word and your word to the action.”

In other words, let your physicality merely be consistent with what you’re saying. You’re not going to yuck up a funeral eulogy and you’re not going to be too serious at a retirement address but if your physicality is roughly consistent with what you’re saying, it’s called congruence. It’s really all you need to know. But what you need to know about delivery is words like precision, rehearsal. So the things you plan to say come out of your mouth in precisely the way you plan to say them. And that means rehearsal is about 90% of delivery and eye contact is about a hundredth of one percent.

AW:

Are you done with leads getting lost in the funnel? So are we, but there’s so often a gap between attracting leads and closing deals, especially if you have a long sales cycle. So we found the solution, combine marketing and sales into one department. Our content development, digital strategists, and prospecting experts working as an integrated extension of your team. So let’s work together to actually close the gap between Hello and Yes to position your sales team to focus on what they do best, closing more deals, ready to learn more, go to salesamp.com to start this conversation.

So yeah, that was one of the key Tim points too about rehearsal. So shifting gears a little, we are facing a challenge today of communicating in the virtual environment. What is that doing for us? And it’s getting so much more difficult, talk about what is happening to our communication in this virtual environment.

TP:

What a great question. So everything we’ve discussed to this point, I think probably our reference point was that the typical kind of live face to face sales meeting. And all of the challenge we talked about, we pack too much in, we need to be simpler. We talk about ourselves. We need to be anchored in a customer problem. We love facts and data and details. We need to be more oriented to ideas. Those are problems and solutions which really exist as we think about the more in the live environment. The interesting thing about the virtual environment is I would argue it has been completely misunderstood. And what I mean by that is almost everybody when they first were confronted with this challenge, but even to this day, tended to think that the challenge is just master the platform. Now, how do I unmute myself?

Remember to wear pants, lock the dog up, that kind of stuff. Now, is that important? Yes, it is. There are still really obvious mistakes being made. I mean, one of the most common is people who are back lit with a laptop low down. So they’re completely blacked out because the computer can’t distinguish the light levels. So we call that witness protection and then people don’t know just to have their camera at eye level because they set their camera too low. And then all you get a great view of their dental work and their nose hair. So there are some platform issues and our new training on virtual communication talks about this is very simple to solve. You just need to know what the issues are. But even then, that’s not the real issue.

The real issue is so much more interesting. Sales communication and marketing, especially, is a highly social process. If I was selling to you, April, which obviously I’m not, there’s a very delicate social dance happening here. I’m going to propose something, you’re going to like, “Yeah, maybe I do want to buy what selling but I don’t want to give my cards.” I’m not going to kind of show my cards. We’re going to have certain objections. I as a seller, I have to hear that, I have to respond to that. And it’s an immensely complex social ballet, much more so than any other profession. There’s no social ballet in dentistry, in tax accounting. And what’s happened is it’s moved into a world with fundamentally different social dynamics. It’s extraordinary. We’re working in a world with completely different social dynamics, essentially a narrowing of the social window.

So the question becomes for communication, how on earth is that going to work? How do you make a social process work in an asocial environment? And very simply put, there are three new problems we have to solve for. One is distraction. In a live meeting, it would be unusual, it might happen, but unusual for a customer to just pick up the phone and start scrolling through social media or checking email. In a virtual meeting when you can’t see them, it isn’t just likely it’s almost all but guaranteed. Now think that through, if you already have messaging that’s too complex and convoluted, these big decks, how can that possibly work when the customer is continuously creating their own cognitive fracture? The second thing and this is beyond fascinating to me is in a virtual world, we actually experience as human beings a loss of mental bandwidth. We don’t get stupider but our mental capacity drops.

There’s a name for it, it’s called Zoom fatigue and the reason is in a virtual world where we’re on a lot of Zoom calls all day, we have to put in a much higher level of focus. There’s a much greater focus and intensity in a virtual room than there is in a face to face live room. And we as communicators have to adjust to a lower level of bandwidth. Now, again, go back to my earlier point. If we’re already naturally developing too many slides and they’re too complex, and they’re a little confusing and they lack a logical narrative, how’s that going to work when you have a distracted audience anyway but one that also has lower mental bandwidth. For example, this leads to a very important practical lesson. If I’m a seller, I’m going to do everything I can to get my meetings in the morning with a customer.

I do not want to be at 3:00 PM on the wrong end of their Zoom fatigue curve. I want my competitors to be on that end of the curve. By the way, not only does your customer not perform well after five hours of Zoom calls but neither do you. And then the third thing is just beyond fascinating. The other thing that happens in the virtual environment is a loss of feedback or social cues. Now, any seller or marketer understands this, that there’s no such thing as a monologue that wins a deal. If I was actually selling to you, April, I have to read your social cues and feedback. I’m not talking about the body language as much but all great sales people, have very high social IQ. They can see how the customer’s responding. Are they agreeing? Are they leaning in?

Are they skeptical? Are they hesitant? There’s three people in this room. Two of them are happy, one of them’s unhappy. There’s great sellers lean in on that. Well, if you are in a virtual environment you lose most of this. You also lose the way conversations before and after. You’re also probably going to have a shorter meeting. Sales meetings have roughly halved in length from live to virtual. You’re in this much, much narrower environment and if you don’t get that feedback, you never know when that oppositional point of view is still in the room. And it’s going to show up when re-tellability happens when you’re not there to fix it. So the challenge we have as communicators, we have to operate kind of here at the center of these social forces, this narrower social environment.

Now the good news is the messaging model we developed works beautifully in a live environment but it also works beautifully in a virtual environment. Why? It’s crisp and clean and simple. So it automatically compensates for a loss of bandwidth and distraction. It’s deeply anchored in a customer problem, which really helps generate engagement for a customer whose desire and tendency is to disengage. And by building it around more of an ideas driven narrative, again, it’s just that much simpler and easier for the customer to understand and engage with. Now there are some new skills that come in and again, this is in our new training. Unfortunately, the books were written before COVID, but for example, the way you conduct the meeting is different. The way you ask questions is different in a virtual meeting than in a live meeting.

You have to use them much more strategically in a very targeted way to get the customer talking specific about the things you need them to about. So there are aspects of the meeting that are different, which again, we talk about that in our training but the messaging model itself is largely unchanged. Everyone’s missed this. Everyone thinks that as long as I know how to turn my camera off and not have the kids running around in the background, I’m going to be fine. That’s 2% of it. Well, not 2%, 10% of it. 90% of it is how do I conduct to social process in an asocial environment.

AW:

That is so powerful, Tim, because I think we’ve had this conversation with many of our clients, our Zoom call world is not going away. And more and more, even though we could get back on airplanes today and fly to see prospects, they’re saying, let’s just do a Zoom. Everyone is so comfortable in this space. So learning the skillset is going to be critical, this isn’t just a temporary fix.

TP:

Yeah. Yeah. Agreed. I think there were phases of COVID in regards to how it affected communications. The first phase we all saw you know March, April, May, June was just total paralysis. Like what is this? The zombie apocalypse, mass graves in New York, people being buried in pine coffins, everything’s shut down. The second phase was, okay, it’s not the zombie apocalypse, it’s bad but it’s not apocalyptic. We’ll ride it out and the world will go back to the way it used to be. And then I think probably six, eight months ago, perhaps hard to say when people woke up and said, no, this is the new reality. In fact, I think the most important thing to understand about what COVID did to business and communications is it didn’t create a new future, it accelerated a future that was already coming.

We’d all done WebExes and Zoom and we just hadn’t done them very well very often. And now we were forced into it. There really is no going back. And so many companies have already said on the buy side that we are not going to see salespeople face to face in the future. It’s just so efficient, much more efficient to buy virtually and even selling organizations have understood this, that in fact it’s a lot more efficient to sell virtually. And I think everybody understands. By the way, if anyone’s interested on our website, there is a free white paper with three accompanying films called seven ways COVID change sales forever. It’s actually worth looking at because some of the changes are much more profound.

AW:

But I think the beauty to tie us all the way back to how we started what you took us through that landing a few good ideas, understanding how to get people to engage, making sure that you’re actually preparing for the actual next meeting, the re-tellability is more important than ever in the virtual world. Those have not changed. They’ve just set us up to be in a better place.

TP:

Yes, that is correct. The way we usually describe the virtual selling environment is it’s going to amplify the mistakes you are making in the live environment. A dense, bloated PowerPoint deck that’s too much about you and not enough about the customer, that’s not going to work very well anywhere. It is going to collapse catastrophically in a virtual setting. Think about re-tellability, it’s hard enough for a customer to kind of learn and retell a story. How much harder is it for them to do that in a distracted, lower bandwidth, virtual environment. In fact, this premium, we need to place on simplicity in our messaging that goes up in the virtual environment.

I have to be incredibly simple because I’m working in a narrower bandwidth environment. So yeah the model we’ve built works really, really well in a virtual environment but the virtual environment, in a sense almost amplifies what you’ve got to do, simpler, clearer, more compelling problem statement, more powerful ideas, these kinds of things.

AW:

Yeah. Just love it. Our From Hello to Yes final question, what has you stumped today and who, what, and where are you going for answers?

TP:

What has me stumped today? What’s interesting, I think I’m seeing is I’m running a company that has always been virtual. And I think it’s just the challenge of creating true community in a virtual environment. We have a wonderful company with an incredible culture. We very much act like a family, anyone’s in trouble, everyone rallies to them. And it’s just hard when you can’t meet. We in fact just had a company wide face to face live meeting and it was absolutely glorious. It was first time we’ve seen each other in about two years. So I think I’m looking at various sources for just what are the best practices here? How can you create community in a purely virtual world? Now that’s nothing unique. Everyone is struggling with that but in the same sense that sales is social process.

Companies are social places, they’re families, they are communities and the same way that churches, how to figure out how do you do church community virtually? How do you do a business community virtually? How do you do family virtually? These are all things I think were wrestling with. I haven’t seen my coworkers in a long time and it was extraordinarily emotional when we finally got together. There was a lot of cautious hugging. Most of us were vaccinated, a lot of cautious hugging, but that sense of community that we’ve been lost and I think that I’m constantly trying to figure out how to get that back.

AW:

Yeah. I love that answer. I think one of the gifts I think of COVID for many of us is it’s reminded us what’s really important. And we too got together as a company, we’ve been virtual since the pandemic and got all together and it was an absolute game changing moment for us to see each other and be able to hug each other and talk to one another. Those simple things matter, such a great deal. So I couldn’t agree more. And Tim, I thank you so much for your time today and I hope you’ll come back. As you were talking, there were several other topics I thought we need to have Tim back to have a conversation with us. Where can our listeners follow you or what… I know you have trainings available and even a training on the virtual, how to actually train in the virtual environment that we’re in, where can people follow you?

TP:

So the company is called Oratium. It comes from the Latin route saying for orotry, O-R-A-T-I-U-M. So you just find us @oratium.com. I do think that there are two trainings we offer now that are unbelievably good. They’re both e-learnings, I teach both of them. Primarily I teach all of one and most of another. Mastering communications in a post COVID world is our newest product. I’m really excited about this. It talks not just about the world going virtual, but in fact, the world going hybrid. In the world of the future, any communicator is going to have to be a master of both environments, outstanding in a live meeting or face to face. If you’re interested is we can do some fun discount for your listeners.

AW:

That’d be great. That would be great. So on behalf of From Hello to Yes, Tim, thank you again for joining us today. It was such a treat this you again.

TP:

Absolutely my pleasure, always been so much fun catching up with you and your team. So, I will see you again sometime I hope.

AW:

Wonderful. Thank you, Tim.

TP:

Bye-bye.

AW:

So that was great. I love that Tim gave us all hope as he shared that with the right tools and methodologies, extraordinary communication is not so out of reach for anyone and then hitting us right between the eyes with the reality that we all overload our prospects with too much information. Instead, we need to present them with big ideas in a crisp, clean, and simple way. And I love that he said sales presentations need to do two things, persuade and retell. Re-tellability is something I never focused on before spending time with Tim and it’s changed the way our team presents.

So if you’re the one at the company responsible for helping sales communicate in a more effective way, you’re welcome. And don’t forget, all the resources mentioned today can be found in our show notes on the salesamp.com podcast page, along with our other episodes as well as Oratium special offer for our listeners. Be sure to take advantage of Tim’s 20% discount offer on his Master Communicator in a post-COVID world course. So that’s a wrap. Remember in this fast-paced world of marketing and sales, we are so much better together. Thanks for joining us today on From Hello to Yes. I hope you’ll join us again soon. Bye for now.

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