Mark: Welcome back to “The Burning Presales Podcast,” where I’m very pleased to have on today, Paul Harris. Paul, it is great to see you again. We were chatting earlier about various things, right mate? The explosion of technology in this presales industry. What do you reckon about that?
Paul: Yeah, Mark. So, great to be here, and I think the best way I can summarize that is to say that I started working in presales full-time probably four years ago. And at that time, there weren’t really any technology vendors targeting presales. There was a few, but not many. If you look at it now, there are tens, if not well over 100 start-ups and different companies that are all marketing directly to presales.
And I just think it kind of is a reflection of the explosion in the awareness of this role in this profession. But also, there’s a sense of an untapped opportunity and it’s like, wow, there’s all this technology now available to us. But that also then leaves us with a bit of a question, which is, how do we effectively leverage what’s now available?
Mark: Wow. Yes indeed. And so, maybe there’s some lessons that we can learn from other places.
Paul: Yeah. So, I think there’s a few different areas to look at, right? The first one, and anyone who is familiar with what I kind of tend to get up to on LinkedIn in my downtime is that I’m a massive fan of TikTok of the… At which I would assume most people have heard of, even if they’re not overly familiar. But essentially, it is very short-form video, saw an explosion in popularity during the pandemic because hey, everyone was bored at home. But what it has managed to do is create a space for people from all different industries, from all different areas, all different professions, to create content that is about their specific niche.
But what it also does, and because it’s really about grabbing attention in such a short space of time, is it’s kind of really emphasized that you only have a few seconds to really get someone’s attention.
Mark: It does. And I’ve seen… Well, I haven’t seen myself, but I have heard… This makes me sound very out of date, doesn’t it? I’ve heard there’s this thing called TikTok and on it, there’s someone who is absolutely nailing spreadsheet tricks. So, how to do spreadsheets, not how to type numbers into a grid, right? But really make it sing. And I would imagine that at the start, people would have not thought that that would connect with audiences that need it. But I think what we’re starting to realize is that our audiences are changing and so, we must connect with them in a way that we need to go and be where they are.
Paul: Exactly. So, that’s Miss Excel, and I would… If you wanna learn more about her, there’s an excellent episode of the “Decoder Podcast,” with Nilay Patel, which interviews her. But just to give you an idea of what she’s done in building that audience. So, as you say correctly, it was really just building 30 to 60-second videos about how to use Excel. The stuff that she was doing in her company that she’s now putting out there. She now has over 1 million people who buy her courses. So, she’s really gone out, she’s found her audience, and that’s now exploded. So, I think that’s, as you say, it’s a great story.
Paul: And it’s meeting people where they are. Right? Exactly. It’s meeting our audience, and recognizing that we need to maybe look beyond our own sphere of influence to see how other people are doing it. The other area I’d look at, and again, thinking about what changed during the time of COVID, was Twitch streaming. So, people who… And again, I have heard that people like to watch people play video games. Now, that’s the kind of thing that I used to do when I would go around my friend’s house and sit and watch him play games.
But there are musicians, there are artists, people who have not overly elaborate set-ups, but leveraged free and or cheap technology to build a massive audience online of people who listen to them talking, talk, or showing what they do. And I think, again, there’s so much that we can learn from that because we are increasingly living remotely. And it’s about how we can make our content engaging, what would keep our audience interested. And I think that’s especially true when we all probably still have too many Zoom meetings every day. And I think that’s one thing that we all struggle with.
Mark: Thank you. Thank you, Paul. Yes. So, we’ve got lots of ideas and lots of content, but you are very, very good at making it shorter, more concise, more engageable, more approachable, and just what’s your method that people can use to work out what to include, and what not to include? Because you’re trying to work out the reason that the person’s watching that content.
Paul: So, I think the first question you have to ask yourself is, what makes you watch something that’s interesting? So, if you are scrolling on YouTube or flicking through TV channels, what is it about a particular program that grabs your attention? Something that you haven’t seen before, you are gonna make a split-second decision. So, it’s thinking about what impacts you. Because if you are targeting people who are like you, it’s probably going to be similar things. The second thing I’ll say is the first time you do it, it’s almost certainly way too long.
And when I sit and create videos and content, I sit and I edit them and I go, what are the words that I can cut out of this? How can I say this more concisely? And if there’s one thing that being in presales we’re always guilty of is maybe being a little bit too verbose, being loving to talk about all our wonderful words that we have, but actually, you can say an awful lot with a lot less. And that’s the way I always come to it. How can I say…?
Mark: Well, that’s a lesson I probably need to learn as well because I’m sure, yes, being verbose and using far too many words is something that I enjoy. So, I need to take a leaf out of the Harris book with content. What we’re finding as well is that people are creating content for that early stage when they’re watching the capturing the imagination, the attention of people.
But when people are trying to understand more maybe about the products and you’re writing, creating, recording demos further down the buying journey where they’re like, they understand the basic concepts, but now they need some more detail. How can we make those more concise as well, more relevant? Because we’ve gotta pack a lot in.
Paul: So, the first thing I would say is you need to script. If you are not scripting, if you are not planning what you’re gonna say, when you go into either deliver a demo live, or record it, or present it, if you are not thinking about what you’re gonna say, if you’re just thinking, I’m going, I think I’m gonna show this and shoot from the hip, then you are gonna say too many words, and your message isn’t gonna be clear. I hold my hand up. I didn’t use to script my demos. I just used to go, I know the product, I roughly think I’ll do this, it’ll be fine.
And yeah, I had success with that, but scripting really allows you to find all those loose areas to trim the fat, break down to that essence of what you need to show. What are the clicks? I think a lot of people say click every click when you dry run. But for every click that you do, every time you dry run that through go, “Can I shave one click off of that demo? Can I take one step out of that? Is there one less screen that I can show?” Because in reality, if you can’t show 80% of your message and the values and what… And the value that it delivers to your… If you can’t show 80% of what the real product does, and the value it delivers to your customer’s business in 20 minutes, then you need to reappraise how you’re approaching that demo.
Mark: Very much so. Thank you Paul. That’s great.