How do you lead a horse to water?

Just got done giving 2 customer presentations here in Atlanta. Overall, i’m really happy with my work there and hopefully Alan feels the same way. 🙂 couple of things while its all fresh in my mind though:
1. Business Cards – I always thought they were a waste of time before, but I really wish I had a few to give away. I think I missed out on some oppotunities to make a deeper customer connection by offering to stay in touch with them.
2. Low-key is the way to go – the 2nd meeting, and I feel it went better than the first. It could have gone really poorly though, as the crowd was definitely was much more critical, but when we warmed them over, they rose to the occassion and really asked alot of good questions. They are NOT a Microsoft stronghold, and to win them over, we had to make them see how Microsoft products enables US to do our work better. We strongly presented to Communties work paradigms and practices and tied it to how Visual Studio: Team Edition enables us to do our job better. In retrospect, it becomes obvious that unless someone is especially dissatisfied with their current product, that this becomes the only way to get them to switch. You can show-off all the whiz bang features you want, but it comes down to how the product enables people to get there work done in an efficacious manner.
3. Questions, questions, questions – How to solicit questions? Honestly I don’t know, but getting the crowd to ask questions is the key to establishing rapport and connection. If the crowd isn’t asking questions, then it feels like something is wrong. Unless the questions are about the basic fundamentals that your presentation is suppose to cover,  in which case you may have fucked up. 😛 In all seriousness though, the first talk was O.K., but I feel like we didn’t establish a rapport with the audience. Even if the questions were hostile/probing, I think I would have preferred that. Not to make it all sound bad, some of the people really responded well, but I think at least 1/2 the audience was drifting.
Thats all I have for now. I think it would behoove alot more people in the communities team to head out and meet some customers face-to-face instead of online. I think the issues they face are quite different, the the challenge of engaging them is more arduous than with a customer online. If they customer is contacting you on-line, I’m thinking that you are already more than 50% to creating a customer connection. When you go out there, you see how hard it is to even get them into considering Microsoft in general, much less asking you about a specific feature on a specific product, which, "oh but the way" just happens to be in Beta.
Anyway, I gotta figure out how to upload my deck. 🙂 Tomorrow I’ll talk about Testing, how I think its a great evangelical tool, and the contents of my mythical deck, testing in a SCRUM/Agile environment.
p.s. Thank you to Doug and all the customers we talked to today! I really appreciate the opportunity and I hope that you guys got as much out of it as I did ( i.e. dry run for Code Camp )

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