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In an earlier ResultsMailVT, I wrote about the importance of earning a sizable virtual sales force. Whether you’re trying to position yourself via industry media or trying to get your fence-riding calls returned, you must capture and hold someone’s attention.

But, how many things can someone really pay attention to?  

Research findings show that most people have an effective attention span of only seven to nine items (Miller, 1956). Obviously, executives and senior counsel are bombarded daily by infinitely more than this. We'd better come up with an idea with real impact if we hope to cut through the noise and compete successfully for our clients’ and prospects’ attention.  

This means no shooting from the hip. Instead, take the time to think through your idea in relation to your audience’s circumstances and mindset. Here are some tips:

  • Assume that most ideas are not attention-worthy, i.e., not lacking worth per se, but unable to make it into someone’s top 7-9 items.
  • Your ideas must be relevant to the person’s corporate circumstances and professional station.
  • Hedge your bet a little. While you’re vetting your idea, circumstances could be rendering it less significant–-especially with the pace of change these days. When you introduce it, be sure to preface any declaration with the Three Magic Words: “It seems like…”

Remember that whatever you say will shape your position in the audience’s mind. Make sure you understand the context within which it will be received.

The key to all this: Become a committed student of:

  • Macro-economic conditions (e.g., sustained decline in oil prices; financial crisis in Greece; venture capital market becoming superheated)
  • Business itself (how companies operate, and make money)
  • Your client’s industry (major trends)
  • Your client’s company (industry/market position; financial performance; growth/plateau/decline; margins; competition)
  • Your client’s job (reporting relationships; success criteria; current standing; aspirations; internal competition for promotion)

As always, call your coach for help.

Mike O’Horo


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