As I listen to vendors presenting their capabilities to solve an opportunity, I am struck by the way the audience is reacting to the details. From simple black and white presentations to bound colored documents, the key to what followed has been shaped by the backgrounds and perceived expertise of the firms and individuals.
Some were confusing. I could not tell what the firm had actually delivered. The speaker(s) used the right buzzwords, however the context did not seem to be there. The background of the individuals did not appear to support the premise that I was listening to someone with experience.
Others used words on top of words. I still do not know what I heard. I could not connect the words and ideas with the opportunity we are trying to assess. The presentations droned on without end, yet I did not sense that anyone was moving closer to our desired destination. We have been busy listening. We are still looking for answers to our questions.
Today will be filled with more words, graphs, and ideas. I have little confidence that I am listening to experts. I know we are important. This is a good business opportunity. I wonder if our confusion is visible. I hope it is, otherwise an important learning opportunity will be missed.
I would offer the following suggestions to anyone proposing a solution.
Establish your credentials early. Follow Paul’s example. When confronting an angry crowd, he gave them the reasons they should listen. “I am a good Jew, born in Tarsus in the province of Cilicia, but educated here in Jerusalem under the exacting eye of Rabbi Gamaliel, thoroughly instructed in our religious traditions.” (Acts 22.2b)
Tell me why the proposed approach will make a difference. Use words I understand. Get to the point. Make it relevant.
Give me a sense of what has happened to others when they accepted your proposition. Let me imagine my experience.
The firms were very different. Their stripes told an interesting story. I doubt they realized what they said. I hope today will be different.