iPad: The Perfect Sales Tool

How many of us have suffered through a PowerPoint sales presentation?  You bring in a laptop, boot it up, hook it up to a projector and load the application.  Maybe 5 minutes later you dim the lights and everyone sits around a table checking their email with their smart phones while you present.  

Boring.  And not very effective.

If people aren't engaged with you, chances are they aren't that interested in having a meaningful conversation.   

Now consider the iPad experience.  You go into the meeting with the lights on, sit next to someone and within 5 seconds you start doing show & tell & discuss.   Kind of hard to check email when you are engaged in a conversation.

Aa Here's what you need:

1) A good video.  It can be anything (my favorite is an episode of BBC Top Gear).  It's better than bringing in a puppy to break the ice.

2) Keynote.  Much slicker than PowerPoint and with the smaller screen you cannot clutter your slides with boring details.

3) Safari.  Before the meeting have a window set up for everything you want to show them.  Better yet create a bookmark and drag it you your home screen.

4) Dropbox.  Keep all relevant documents and spreadsheets in a folder on your main computer and automatically sync it to the iPad.  That way if any question comes up, you have all the answers right there.  And it will render pdf, xls, doc automatically.

5) WebEx.  Maybe someone back at the home office needs to show something from their desktop.  No problem.

6) Skype.  Need to talk to the product manager?  Turns the iPad into a speakerphone.

7) PhotoPad.   The best meetings are the interactive meetings.  So create a checklist of features or actions or whatever and save it as a jpg.  Load it into PhotoPad and use the brush to check off the things relevant to your conversation.  Save it and email right their on the spot.

8) Draw.  Maybe you need to sketch something.  When done, email it.

9) Notes.  Put in your action items.  When done, email it.

The iPad is a very personal and very fast tool.   And very engaging with a customer.  And isn't that what this is all about?  And if you do need to use a projector, Keynote and videos will automatically output with an optional cable to a projector.  Just plug it in and you're done.

Total cost for applications?  $10 for Keynote.  The rest are free.

Bonus tip:  Forward your email accounts to gmail.  Using iPad mail you can now pull down and have access to all relevant emails to your meeting.

Update: Atomic web browser will output to VGA. 


The Perils of Outsourcing vs. Localsourcing Software Developemnt

I'm always hesitant to engage in a project with people I haven't met face to face.  Especially when out of the country.   But I did it.   It took me a couple of months but I realized that the software crew I had were programmers, not software architects, software managers or systems analysts.  I had the marketing requirements nailed and had discussions about product requirements hoping to work them out as a team.

Specs Turns out they were waiting for me to deliver them specifications.   End result?  No usable code and a more complicated architecture than was needed.  

So last week I had a couple hour meeting with a local shop.   By the end they had a complete understanding of what was needed and the most efficient way to get there.  And a very fast delivery date (e.g. had I gone this route originally, we would be done).

What did I learn?  First off, you have to meet the team.  By doing so you will get an understanding of just what kind of talent you have to work with.  Secondly, you need to be crystal clear about expectations and written deliverables.   And always have a plan B.

Virtual Tools for Temporary Teams

Aa_2 I've been working with a very interesting startup company specializing in nuclear medicine research and development.  Since it is not possible to always be with the people you are working, it became apparent we needed a way to easily share documents and work in real time on a project.  (If you click on the image you can watch it rotate)

I'm using dropbox to share documents.  It's a light weight application which works on Macs and Windows and creates a shared folder.  Anything in the folder is automatically replicated.  Plus you can roll back to any version you wish. (bonus points - installing it on your own multiple machines makes sure you always have the correct file on hand).  All you do is create a shared folder, put in the other person's email address, they click on the link - done.

To share my screen with anyone I love Adobe ConnectNow.   It also works equally well with Macs and Windows.   Because everything is done in flash, you don't get that pesky Citrix client install used by other companies.   The screen refreshes are pretty good, but if you try to play a movie, there is too much lag.   It's a polished interface where you can move a file, chat and even supports web cams.   The only problem with that is I have to make sure I comb my hair before I start a session.   You can be talking on the phone, fire it up and send them an email link from inside the application.  They click and within a minute they are seeing your screen.

The price is right for both of these tools.   They're both beta.

So make sure you have a couple of these types of useful applications so you can work more easily with your virtual teams without having to put in an IT request.

Picking the Right People

AaI have only two criteria in hiring people for either contract work or to work for me:
1) Can they get the job done?
2) Will they work well in our environment?

Easy objectives, difficult task.   The first place I like to start is with their portfolio or resume.   While skill sets are nice, I'm more concerned about accomplishments.   If I see something which is 80% "My duties were....", Bam it goes into the trash.   Results count.  Show me what you did for whom.   And why I should care.   

The second criteria is even more important.  Just because they may be the "best" in your field may still get you tossed.  Do they play well with others?   Here is where old written recommendation blurbs are great (love them on LinkedIn).   Get to know them and talk to them.  If unsure, start with a small project and see how it goes.   I also look for people who are willing to call my baby ugly and then tell me how to make it better.

The final deciding point is the answer to this question:
It's 10:00 at night and the phone rings.   Their caller ID comes up.  Do you:
a) Smile because this will be a great call
b) Cringe and send it to voicemail

Think hard, talk much and you will build great teams.

Let's Fight!

I like to fight.   The creative process is one of strongly held positions by different people.  In a healthy team, differing positions and viewpoints are presented, defended and modified.   

Dissent Friction makes fire.  From the fire of dissent, steel is born.   

I've always done this with my teams.   Doesn't work so well with management teams especially when someone believes that their title gives them the right to pontificate.   

Great piece in Behance

In poorly run teams, the person with the most power or experience just makes the call.

Now this is a useful technique for achieving breakthroughs, but please when it's execution time, let them do their thing.   So, foster dissent.  Challenge authority.   Build consensus head on.  You'll always be amazed.