Monthly Archives: February 2013

Taking Your Show on the Road: Using Your Science to Boost Sales

Green Comet

Dazzle them with your science and you will get more than just sales leads!

By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.

The technical roadshow can be a great way to build excitement for your product(s) with potential customers, build your brand and engage with the researchers and other professionals whose feedback is most valuable to you.  Use these tips to make the most out of the time and effort this requires to make this work for you.

Maximize the Impact of Your Technical Roadshow with These Tips:

      • Frequency – Schedule one or two roadshows per month.  Most academic departments and even some biotech firms have regularly scheduled ‘Journal Clubs’ or ‘Brown Bag’ lunches where speakers are invited to share their work.  These are ideal venues for your technical presentation.  Give each of your sales team members the opportunity to schedule these.


      • Content – The goal of these presentations should be to excite your audience about the science.   Interested attendees will seek to learn more about your company, your technology and your products afterwards (sometimes even during the Q&A session).  Keep the sales stuff out of the presentation other than perhaps a slide that briefly describes your products  and focus on how your product has impacted the field.


    • The Presenter – The presentation should be given by a scientist traveling with the sales person who scheduled the event.  Make sure that the science and business side are kept separated by having the sales person introduce your speaker and take all questions regarding business (pricing, scheduling demos, etc.)  Nothing turns a scientific crowd off faster than a sales pitch masquerading as a technical talk.  The other benefit of having two people at these events is that the sales person can provide valuable feedback on how well the presentation is being received and where improvements might be made to increase impact.  On the other hand, the speaker can assess how well the audience is interacting with the sales person and provide them with equally valuable feedback for how to better connect with potential customers.


  • Duration – Keep the presentation concise and focused.  The presentation should be about 20 slides long and take about 25 – 30 minutes max when you are rehearsing it without interruption.  This will allow for enough time for questions during and after the presentation.  Your goal here is to engage with your audience and the more questions the better.  The comments and questions from your audience are a goldmine of information on how well your technology is perceived, what might be trends in the field that you should be following and even what your next product iteration might be.  (Another reason why it is good to have two people at these events is that they can take notes of all of these insights)

Preparing and delivering a compelling and effective technical roadshow program is not trivial.  There is a lot of work required to not only get your slide-deck right but also making the event itself work well (measured by lots of questions from your audiences and ultimately lots of strong sales leads).  Stick with it, it gets easier over time and you might even find yourself enjoying this!

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The Impact of Information Technology on Conflict Resolution

art illustration of boxers on a ring

Successful negotiation is not about beating the other guy, it’s about winning together!

By:  Michael Kaiser

It is an accepted truism that conflict is part and parcel of human nature, and just as is the case with military and diplomatic conflicts, the business community is not free of conflicts both internal and external, some resolved and some not.

Of course the impact that business executives or employees experience when they fail to resolve a conflict with a partner or clients does not compare with the most feared and violent form of conflict: war.

Conflict resolution in the business sphere is complex for the same reason that a diplomatic one is, namely: negotiating an agreement that is acceptable to the disputing parties requires a give and take disposition from both sides.

In the early 1980s Roger Fisher and William Ury of the Harvard Negotiation Project released their book “Getting To Yes. Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In”. In it, the authors explain that the reason we negotiate is to get better results than the ones we would get without negotiation; they coined the acronym BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) as a standard that should be the measure of negotiations. Some of the key points of the BATNA are summarized as follows:

  • Separate the people from the problem
  • Focus on interests, not positions
  • Establish precise goals at the outset of negotiations
  • Work to create options that will satisfy both parties
  • Negotiate successfully with opponents who are more powerful

The last point merits special attention because it is in line with our IT-intensive society and its impact on the conflict resolution process. For example, consider the perceived advantage of what is known as Information Asymmetry, the Condition:

“… in which at least some relevant information is known to some but not all parties involved. Information asymmetry causes markets to become inefficient, since all the market participants do not have access to the information they need for their decision making processes.”

That perceived advantage is a rather ephemeral one because:

“With increased advancements in technology, asymmetric information has been on the decline as a result of more and more people being able to easily access all types of information. Information Asymmetry can lead to two main problems:

1. Adverse selection- immoral behavior that takes advantage of asymmetric information
before a transaction. For example, a person who is not in optimal health may be more inclined to purchase life insurance than someone who feels fine.

2. Moral Hazard- immoral behavior that takes advantage of asymmetric information after a transaction. For example, if someone has fire insurance they may be more likely to commit arson to reap the benefits of the insurance.”  Investopedia

It can be argued that the easy access of information via the internet, the use of cell phones, e-mail, teleconferencing, etc. has adversely affected the conflict resolution process inasmuch as the more personal face-to-face negotiations of the 1980s have been replaced by a plethora of IT applications.

The BATNA approach is not completely obsolete and can still be of use in some cases where an opposing negotiator makes a final offer to resolve an existing conflict with an unexpected demand based on relevant information (i.e., information asymmetry) only available to him/her. But, surprise, now the other party that may have been perceived as weaker is no longer forced to capitulate on the spot; instead he/she would pick their iPhone, android or iPad, connect with their legal or financial advisors, and regain transaction equality by means of information technology.

A final advisory:  current data mining and acquisition technologies significantly abbreviate and/or accelerate the “Go/No Go” factor in a negotiation process, be that in politics, real estate or the life sciences, but can never replace the instinct and creativity of the human mind.

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Avoid the Siren Song of ‘Going Viral’: The Most Powerful SEO is Great Content

Pencil, Pen and Ink Pen

Great writing is the best way to attract a great audience and great customers!

By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D.

The promise of the ‘viral potential’ of electronic media is very attractive but ultimately is a lost cause if what you have to say is not compelling.  Whether you are setting up your company website, kicking off a blog, launching a Facebook page or using any of the other avenues for communication that are available today,  the most important question to answer is: “Who would want to read this and why?”

It can seem overwhelming and there are firms that will promise that with just the right Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that your message will soon be in front of millions of potential customers.  Even if this were true, remember that although it just took a mouse click to visit your site that it takes the same amount of effort to click away from it.  Your goal is to attract the attention of people that will actually find what you are saying to be valuable to them.  Whether this is a blog post, or a section of your website, an interested visitor is more likely to further explore more of your content and in time may even include a request for more information, ask for a quote or even make a purchase from your e-commerce site.

The secret to making this work is to provide only quality content. You will be much better received by the viewing public by offering an insight or a new perspective on the latest trends in your field than an ad for your product or service masquerading as an interesting article.

Writing great content is easier said than done.  In the end whether it is great or not is something your readers will determine.    Here are a few tips to help you get started:

For Blog Posts, Newsletters, White Papers and Application Notes

  • Write down a list of ten article titles that are interesting to you. (If you find it difficult to do this at one sitting, consider a different topic area.  If the area you plan to write about is truly aligned with your interests and passions this should be easy to do)
  • Over the next month, start writing the articles for each of these titles.  Don’t worry if the English isn’t right or if they seem a little bit rough at the beginning.   Remember, this is a first draft
  • Allow a day or two before revisiting your first drafts.  Those that are good but need work will be easily distinguished from those that should be discarded with the clearer perspective you will have by reviewing them after a day or so
  • Consider adding  pictures, tables and/or figures to increase the visual interest and clarity of your pieces
  • For blogs, consider keeping them to one topic per post.  If when writing your post you find that there are several topics in it, split it up afterwards.  (This allows you to increase the focus and relevance of each piece for the widest possible audience)
  • Once you have 10 to 15 of these articles prepared and edited to final form, you are ready to publish them.

For Websites and Facebook Pages

  • Be sure to check the site statistics from time to time to see which of your pages and/or content are most interesting to your visitors.  Use the site analytics data to help you to improve your content over time by providing more of the things that you audience has shown an interest
  • Edit your drafts with an emphasis on ways to make things more concise if possible. (Less is more here)
  • Consider using bullet points and short descriptions rather than full sentences and paragraphs where possible
  • Take advantage of illustrations, pictures and short videos to tell your story and/or explain your technology
  • Consider using bolded or otherwise highlighted lines to head each paragraph of a multi-paragraph piece.  This allows site visitors to quickly scan your material and focus on those areas that they find most interesting and relevant to them.  Not everyone will want to read your entire piece

Creating quality content is a big job and requires significant time, effort and commitment to keep delivering the fresh and original materials that will engage your audience and advance your commercial goals.  However, the extra effort you spend here will provide for far better outcomes than any SEO gimmicks and other tricks.

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The Philosophy of Success

Statue of Medici in Florence

As good advice today as it has always been. Transform your thinking, transform your business.

By: Michael Kaiser

The work of Niccolò Machiavelli has centered around his widely read “The Prince” and it remains a reference for followers in disciplines as different as politics, business and academia because its royalty title can comfortably be replaced to mean CEO, COO, VP, Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist, Innovator, etc. Several books and articles conflated his political theories with those associated to present times, e.g.:

“Machiavelli’s promotion of ambition amongst leaders while denying any higher standard meant that he encouraged risk taking, and innovation, most famously the founding of new modes and orders. His advice to (the) prince was therefore certainly not limited to discussing how to maintain a state. It has been argued that Machiavelli’s promotion of innovation led directly to the argument for progress as an aim of politics and civilization. But while a belief that humanity can control its own future, control nature, and “progress” has been long lasting, Machiavelli’s followers have tended to prefer peaceful progress through economic development, and not warlike progress.

Machiavelli however, along with some of his classical predecessors, saw ambition and spiritedness … as inevitable and part of human nature.” (1)

Less known are “The Discourses”, written about the same time as “The Prince”, but more voluminous and philosophical than the latter. In it, Machiavelli advocates that to avoid spending his life suspecting people, a prince should go in person on any expedition as others princes have done and still do. If they win, both the glory and the territory is wholly theirs. He further argues that one should

“…in choosing between alternatives, to consider the snags and the dangers involved, and not to adopt that which may entail more danger than advantage, even though they have the backing of an assembly…” (2)

It sounds like a familiar and pertinent advice even in 2013. But Machiavelli is not unique in dovetailing with our modern age needs, and therefore it is worth reaching for “The Art of Worldly Wisdom”, by  Baltasar Gracián, not only for its brevity but because it pours with advice that is as significant to business as it was when he wrote it, in the early 1600’s. To wit:

“Make use of your enemies. You should learn to seize things not by the blade…but by the handle, which saves you from harm… A wise person gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.

Do not affect what you have not effected. Many claim accomplishments without the slightest cause. With great coolness they make a mystery of all… Vanity is always objectionable. The greater your exploits the less you need affect them. Content yourself with doing, leave the talking to others. Give away your deeds but do not sell them. And do not hire venal pens to write down praises in the mud, to the derision of those who know better. Aspire rather to be a hero than merely… to be one.

Three things go to a prodigy – a fertile genius, a profound intellect, a pleasant and refined taste. To think well is good, to think right is better – it is the understanding of the good. To think right is the fruit of a reasonable nature. At twenty the will rules, at thirty the intellect, at forty the judgement. There are minds that shine in the dark like the eyes of the lynx, and are most clear where there is most darkness. Others are more adapted for the occasion, they always hit on the (one) which suits the emergency; such a quality produces much and good.” (3)


  1. Niccolò Machiavelli. Wikipedia, 2013. “The Prince” is available in Penguin Classics.
  2. Machiavelli. “The Discourses”, pgs. 184 and 237. Pelican Classics, Penguin Books
  3. Baltasar Gracián. “The Art of Worldly Wisdom”, paragraph numbers 84, 295 and 298. Shambhala Publications, 2004

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