How to ‘Tonic the Shark’
It was amazing to watch: On a recent science channel program, a marine researcher used a mind-boggling technique, called “tonic,” that had sharks nuzzling up to her like the family dog to be “petted” on the head and around the mouth. Yikes! During these encounters, she would first relax the sharks, sometimes even rolling them over or standing them on end. According to her, the key is to suppress your own fear because the sharks can sense it. Certainly easier said than done, but the results spoke for themselves; she was able to interact calmly with one of nature’s most feared creatures and gain insights that could lead to significant scientific breakthroughs. Later it occurred to me that, in B2B marketing and new business, there may be some parallels here worth noting.
Lose the fear in a new business meeting
When going into a new business meeting, even a veteran presenter still gets “butterflies.” Novices may even experience outright fear. This anxiety could manifest itself as anything from mild apprehension to full-on, Albert Brooks-level flop sweat. As your terror builds, it tears down your chances of making a good impression of yourself, your ideas or your company. So how do we take this scary situation and stand it on its head?
Follow our researcher’s lead. The first step is “lose the fear” — but how? Aside from having a well-prepared presentation and knowing the topic cold — both great confidence builders that your audience can sense – nothing vaporizes fear and self-doubt faster than the clear conviction that there are people out there who will benefit from what you’re doing. There’s an expression: “Take the time to have a talk with yourself.” This is possibly one of those occasions.
Design a plan to control the engagement. This will improve your odds of reaching the desired outcome. That may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many people try to wing it. To increase your chances of success, formulate carefully crafted steps at the outset that follow a clear path to your goal. In B2B marketing, a popular question some clients ask is, “What’s your process?” It should be easy to say “Glad you asked,” as long as you have a process for discovery, qualification and scoping the engagement. If you don’t, you might want to get one soon. It lowers anxiety, heightens confidence and moves both parties toward a comfort zone where calm heads tend to focus better on the opportunity at hand. This is a setting in which trust can grow, making it more likely both parties will be ready to take the next step –working together.
Ready to tonic the shark? Or are you already a master? What’s your process? I look forward to your feedback in the comments below.