Let me tell you what happened with a team meeting called to evaluate a video conferencing service.

We’re in the process of expansion and with team members around the country, and even the world, we want to be able to connect quickly and easily in the digital world. We know that’s an absolute necessity in business today.

We decided to evaluate one company that did a decent enough presentation in our discussions for my team members to take time out of their day to assess the platform.

Unfortunately, we had problems from the beginning. Team members were not able to sign on from their computers (at least not quickly). Others had to get their cell phones to download apps and click links (that didn’t properly function in one touch), so they could attend the meeting.

It took team members, including me, in three different locations nearly 20 minutes to all sign-on and see each other on our screens.

Once we all got on, I told the sales person from the company we were evaluating to get their act together and not waste our time. I cut the meeting short, which had already been way too long by the time I had an opportunity to speak to the sales person. A video conferencing company that doesn’t have working links and has to call engineers to help people enter the chat room? Really?

I have two passions in business besides making money and a difference in the world.

  • I’m always developing my leadership skills and leaders within my companies.
  • I have a passion for sales and marketing.

Want to sell?

Want to achieve success in that area?

An essential ingredient is to be prepared out of the gate for anything.

It means looking like a million bucks from the moment you open your doors. It means walking and chewing gum at the same time and making sure you’ve got the strategy and have paid attention to detail.

When this company got the go-ahead to knock our socks off by making a presentation to my team leaders, they failed in so many ways.

  • They shouldn’t have asked us to evaluate their platform if their product was not ready for primetime. Don’t sell inferiority. There are too many high-quality products out there, and no one’s got time to waste evaluating mediocrity.
  • When the first team member got on and told the sales guy she had trouble signing on and the texts started flying, I would have quickly started thinking about Plan B. In sales, always have a Plan B because you’re never totally in control of any situation. When the engineers had to get involved to get those in my conference room and me into the meeting room, I would have executed on Plan B.

My Plan B would have been simple. I would have acknowledged right out of the gate that I wasted everyone’s time. I would have apologized. I would have asked for a postponement while the engineers in the company worked through all of the glitches in the system.

Granted, perhaps the sales guy was thrown for a loop. But pretending that the technology demo was not a disaster from the moment all of us had trouble signing on is not helpful either.

The first words out of the guy’s mouth should have been an acknowledgment and apology. That should have been followed by an immediate request to come back at a later time when they were certain that the demo would be flawless.

The reality is that there’s so much competition out there for practically anything you want or need that you always have to present at the top level. If you can’t do it, then wait. Refine your product or service. But, once you’re asking the time of your customers, you better act as if it’s Super Bowl game day and have everything ready for peak performance.

Umer Malik

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