Well… a mix of Greek, English and Kiwi in fact.

This week I achieved a first, at least for me as a speaker

I, an Englishman, an Essex boy, addressed a conference of several hundred people in Athens – Greece, whilst staying in a beautiful house high above a Marlborough vineyard in New Zealand overlooking the Tasman Sea.

It was a speaking engagement for an Annual sales management forum that I was approached to do several Months ago. Initially I was very excited to receive the enquiry, then all at once disappointed to find that it clashed with my trip to New Zealand. Reluctantly, I turned down the work.

I was even considering cutting short my visit to New Zealand as I mournfully read over the proposed agenda that looked like it would now go on without me.

Then I read item number 3 on the agenda…

3. How can we reduce the cost of sales?

Then item number 4…

4. How can we increase our sales on the global stage during tough economic times?

Ping! The light bulb came one – I had a Eureka moment.

I quickly crafted an email to the event organiser and hit send instantly in the hope I could reverse my previous decision not to take part.

In the email I pointed out that I could still speak at the conference as requested… but with a difference – I’d do it remotely via Skype. This would address and demonstrate both items 3 and 4 on their agenda… brilliant I thought.

Back came the reply; thanks, but we’ve tried a live Skype call in the past, it didn’t work…

So what now – that’s it, decision made? Tried it before – does that mean it couldn’t or wouldn’t work in future? No. Things change, technology moves on.

So, instead of another email – I did what I suggest to all my sales mentoring clients all the time. I picked up the phone. The organiser in Greece was not expecting that…

After initial introductions, I politely asked how could they have points 3 and 4 on the agenda – and not try to demonstrate how to achieve what they’re asking?

I explained how much things have changed and how I use Skype all the time for coaching calls. Then I offered my back up plan too. I’d record a piece to camera addressing the questions they would ask me live. If technology bombed on the day – flick the switch and run plan B. They can even have the video to circulate after the event to all the delegates… (That’s the video which is loaded with all my contact info of course so I can work on building future relationships.)

Bingo – they agreed.

The call went without any hitches, I was even able to take live questions from the audience. In summing up, the host thanked me and then asked if I’d be happy to appear in person at their conference next Year as there was clearly lots more to share… great result all round.

What can anyone in business take from this?

We need to think outside the box. Look for alternative and creative solutions to problems for our clients – if that is, we want business, not excuses for why we didn’t get the deal.

Don’t take no for an answer – it may just need further exploration and explanation.

Pick up the phone and talk to people – don’t just rely on emails.

Learn to embrace technology.

Cheers – from the land of Sauvignon Blanc and Giant Green lipped Mussels. Hic!

“I am really happy that we decided to try something new and have you in our conference using Skype for a live interview. I am sorry only for one thing – something our delegates agree with too: we should have more time to profit from your expertise in sales, and the way you present new trends in such a simple and clear way! Next time we will have the pleasure to welcome you in Athens, as our keynote speaker.”
Xenia Mantziori – Boussias Communications – Athens.

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“Wine improves with age. The older I get, the better I like it. –Anonymous