( Not Another ) Online Meeting

The day to day reality of global cooperation, virtual teams and remote management is the online meeting. Just the pinging of the “has joined the meeting” chorus is enough to drive anyone crazy. This video shows it all…..

Ironically, the key to having a good ( or reasonable ) meeting is to act as if people really are sitting in the room ……..

The 3 P’s of Technical Sales ( and none of them is Pitch)

Good old-fashioned selling is out of fashion. More than that. Selling is almost as off trend as a long playing vinyl record, a fax machine or a pair of 1990’s Nikes.

In between then and now the internet changed many things. Today in the age of wearable devices the information asymmetry  –  meaning that the sellers had all the info and the buyers had much less  – is on the way out.

Caveat Emptor – let the buyer beware – is a phrase from a sad old time when Google could not help us find out where the best/most advanced/cheapest solution lies.

Ask yourself – or anyone – this simple question. Do you like being sold to? Bet your bottom dollar that the answer is “no”. In sales we are trained to welcome no’s in that crazy numbers game that leads to the statistically magical yes. But this “No to being sold to”  is a flat no and it comes from everyone , because, as it turns out , we really don’t like it.

Ask though if people mind being in a conversation where someone is asking about their needs and they will give you a “yes” – particularly if they need to decide which complicated piece of technology they should buy.

The real question is why did we ever think anything else.

And so Inside Sales, Technical Sales and Sales Executives in a technology company should rewrite the Sales Playbook to make sure that in every situation you ask yourself 3 very simple questions which we summarise as the 3 Ps: Pain, Purpose & People.

1. What is on your customer’s mind? PAINS

2. What do you want to do ( in the Sales Cycle)?  PURPOSE

3. What do you want them to think and feel  about you ? PEOPLE

That way every thought, plan and conversation will be focused around the customer and then the selling has a good chance of taking care of itself.

The Ultimate Guide to Mixing & Mingling

Hate walking into  room where you don’t know too many people ? Most of us do. Here’s how to turn you from feeling stuck into social glue!

Read the Room–Kindly

When you arrive at the event, survey the landscape and create a plan for how to work the room.

  1. Apply the 1-2-3 rule–people at events tend to congregate in groups of ones, twos, and threes. Approach the “ones” first. They are people just like yourself, shy to engage with others; they will be the most welcoming. Twos and threes are more difficult to approach but read on.
  2. Look for Twos Standing in a V Formation–when two people are standing in an open V formation, they are usually open to others joining their discussion. Avoid people standing directly across from each other; this indicates they are engaged in a closed conversation.
  3. Use the ballroom waltz trick for joining a closed group of two–follow this advice for “breaking in” to talk to someone you know. Approach the other person he is speaking to and ask permission from him to join. For an elegant example, check out how Ralph Feinne’s does this in the movie The English Patient in this video. (The action happens at 1:06.)
  4. Use the O or U Rule for groups of three or more–a group of people standing in a circle is the hardest to join. Look for groups arranged in a U formation.
  5. Be Genuinely Interested in the people you are talking to, in making the event go with a swing, in making connections.

All this is true for any situation – business or social. Take a look at the full event and networking article by David Lavenda and Susan Fisher published in in Fast Company . http://m.fastcompany.com/3020734/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything/15-tips-to-master-the-awkward-networking-waltz

Online Story Presence Courses

Learn How To Tell What’s Worth Telling

“People buy people” the adage goes. Yet many presentations lack the stories that make us.

In these online sessions we demonstrate the shortcuts to being really memorable through the stories you tell.  At its core is the belief that real leaders today entertain, engage and inspire by thinking about the events in their lives and organisations that need to be told.

being your brand; the room as your platform; energy; personality; buzz in the room; tough empathy;being memorable; revealing your differences selectively; stand out; change minds; fascinating insights; content that connects


Online One-to-One Sessions of one and half hours each



We use Skype, Google + or Webex. All you need is a computer and/or phone.

Session 1: Your Story

What you want to get out of these sessions

Why Story Works

Great Examples

Tips to apply immediately

Session 2:Your Style

Analysis of current style

Nice Guy, Technical Specialist, Control Freak or Dreamer?

Pushing your personal envelope – developing a more vital story style

Session 3: Creating Stories


How to create great stories

Using descriptors


What to leave in, what to leave out

 Session 4: Story Magic

Using the room as your theater

Engagement – how does it happen

Analysis of different impact of storytelling on the audience

Conveying your energy

Session 5: Killer Technique

Build ups


Machine Gunning

Attention Uppers

Sign Up

Sign Up for a free half hour taster session!


Each session lasts 1 hour 30 minutes

One Session      USD 280.00

Five Sessions    USD 1100.00

Ten Sessions    USD  2600.00

Pay below with PayPal or contact us for invoicing arrangements at office@first-class.co.il

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Our Top 10 Storytelling tips – in Fast Company!

Check out our 10 Top Storytelling Tips from Susan Fisher in this Fast Company piece by David Lavenda



Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, there was a salesman who traveled the countryside, peddling his wares. Everyone loved his product except the evil king, who wanted to do away with it. One day the king said, “This product is ruining my kingdom and I want to destroy it. If anyone has a reason for why this product should live, let him come hither and speak now.” Out of the crowd came a voice. “I think this product is great and I can prove it,” said the brave salesman. “Then come to my palace tomorrow morning and prove to me why this is so,” said the king. And so the salesman went home and prepared PowerPoint slide after PowerPoint slide filled with endless statistics and dizzying market projection graphs.

On the morrow, the salesman turned up at the palace. “Show me why I should spare your miserable product,” said the king. The salesmen opened his trusty laptop and started to plow through his heaping deck of slides. Starting with a company background, the salesman went on to show market trend graphs, customer case studies, and then analyst quotes. The king began to squirm on his throne. When a return on investment spreadsheet appeared on slide 47, the king finally had enough. “Off with your head,” said the king. “Originally, I only wanted to kill your product, but this presentation is criminal.”

Funny story, but you get the point. The point is a message was delivered using a story, not a statistic or an analyst quote.

Much has been written lately about the efficacy of storytelling in the workplace. Most of it is based on a general feeling that stories “work.” “Persuasion is the centerpiece of business activity,” says screenwriter Robert McKee in an HBR article entitled “Storytelling That Works.” “Trying to convince people with logic is tough for two reasons. One is they are arguing with you in their heads while you are making your argument. Second, if you do succeed in persuading them, you’ve done so only on an intellectual basis. That’s not good enough, because people are not inspired to act by reason alone.”

But there’s more proof of storytelling’s effectiveness than just anecdotal evidence. For example, studies carried out by Melanie C. Green and Timothy C. Brock at Ohio State University have empirically shown that people’s beliefs can be swayed more effectively through storytelling than through logical arguments. The researchers posit that persuasion is most effective when people are “transported” to another place using a story.

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down to discuss this topic with Susan Fisher, a strategic communication expert and principal at First Class. “People are always telling stories; why don’t they do it at work?” asks Fisher. “It’s because they have been taught that at work you use logic and slides and statistics; this seems more professional. Telling stories seems too emotional and possibly manipulative. So people stick to facts and numbers. But the truth is that real emotions always work better, because that is the way to reach hearts and minds, and also people get to see the real you. It’s authentic.”

While we are all intuitively storytellers, I asked Fisher to share some of her insights about where professionals most often need to focus when telling stories in the workplace. Here are Fisher’s top 10 tips for becoming a more effective storyteller at work:

  1. Plan your story starting with the takeaway message. Think about what’s important to the audience. The ending is the most important point of the story. This is the message we want to deliver, and the one that will linger with the audience.
  2. Keep your stories short for the workplace. Three to five minutes long is about what people can digest in today’s ADD world.
  3. Good stories are about challenge or conflict. Without these elements, stories aren’t very interesting. The compelling part of a story is how people deal with conflict–-so start with the people and the conflict.
  4. Think about your story like a movie. Imagine you are screenwriter with a goal to get your message across. The story has to have a beginning, middle, and end.
  5. Start with a person and his challenge, and intensify human interest by adding descriptions of time, place, and people with their emotions.
  6. Be creative. Create a storyboard; draw it out, while listening to music or reading something for inspiration. A good story always has ups and downs, so “arc” the story. Pull people along, and introduce tension, just like in a fairy tale. (“From out of nowhere, the wolf jumps onto the path…”)
  7. Intensify the story with vivid language and intonation. Tap into people’s emotions with language. Use metaphors, idioms, and parables that have emotional associations. (Note: For more on this, see Leo Widrich’s article entitled, “Which Words Matter Most When You Talk” and studies on intonation performed by Ingrid Johnsrude at Cambridge University).
  8. When using a story in a PowerPoint presentation, use appropriate graphics/pictures to convey your message. Stay away from text and complicated graphics. A single picture interlaced with emotional language will go a long way to convey your message.
  9. Most of us have not told stories in front of an audience since English class in high school. So you will need to practice. Tell your story in front of a friendly audience and get feedback. Gauge your pace, and take note of the story’s length and your use of language. It will be a bit rusty at first, but underneath it all, we are all born storytellers.
  10. The most important point is to make the switch within; because once you internalize that today’s “left-brain” communication style doesn’t work very well and you realize that stories are how people really communicate, you will find it a lot easier to proceed…because it’s authentic. And that is what really persuades.

Fisher also recommends signing up for a storytelling workshop. There are even workshops you can do online; find more information here.

Finally, in the words of Ira Glass, “Great stories happen to those who tell them.” So tell them…and live happily ever after.


Perfecting Harmon.ie

A favorite enterprise software client had us in to inspire and empower their Sales Team and the whole company and boy was it inspiring !

Peter Maltz drew out the company’s strategy going forward while Susan Fisher jolted the whole sales team into giving the performance of their lives.

It’s a company to watch and we really enjoyed watching.



How To Get An Education

Alexei Kapterev of  “How to Avoid Death by Powerpoint” fame, shares with us what it takes to get yourself a world class education.

Generation Y ( and younger) may enjoy it at a time  where it seems that college degrees and professional qualifications  do not guarantee good jobs anymore. Anyone older will hear some new tips that sound like very good old advice.