The BIG Gig, a personal experience

Frank Nigriello and Paul Essery offered me the opportunity to present our business at the next BIG gig in July 2020. I have been in enterprise business to business solution sales for over twenty years and was preparing to launch our online Software as a Service platform to help sales leaders and teams strengthen their sales pipelines and improve forecast accuracy.

Why did I accept their invitation?

My reason for accepting Frank and Paul’s invitation is rooted in the statement – “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”, now an infamous catchphrase from Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why.

I joined the BIG gig at the beginning of the year because I believed in why Frank and Paul set up the BIG gig. Their commitment to helping our local business community is inspiring.

The BIG gig is a band of liked minded business professionals from all sorts of professions, each committed to sharing and offering their professional experience and skill to help other entrepreneurs.

Those attending BIG gig sessions give their time to listen, review and offer their advice and guidance. Each is an entrepreneur in their field. I am an entrepreneur committed to strengthening sales pipelines by delivering a new sales operating system or SOS. If your sales pipeline and sales forecast is slipping or weak, send out an SOS, and we will answer your call.

A purpose drives every entrepreneur; however, as entrepreneurs, we are aware our passion risks clouding our objectivity resulting in poor decisions and judgement calls. Presenting your business at the BIG gig will challenge you, your business proposition, and help you remain objective required to make right judgement calls and decisions.

So, here I was, prepared to present our Platform with a set of questions. I was both confident and prepared to be challenged because I knew it would help develop our partner strategy.

The BIG gig format is both simple and effective, having adapted to the impact of COVID-19. Frank introduced both myself and the business, along with the challenge I would present. The next fifteen minutes I gave an overview of the company, focusing in on the area of business I was looking for help to develop. Participant engagement was lively and well-considered with a flow of excellent questions allowing participants to gain a better understanding of the business and what I was asking their help to address.

Next, the participants split into groups and headed off into virtual rooms for thirty minutes to debate the challenge I had requested their help.

Returning to the main virtual room, each team leader presented their team’s feedback, observations and guidance.

If I were a scientist, I would have submitted my paper to my peers to be peer-reviewed. The BIG gig is like a peer review, with two exceptions.

  1. Instead of scientists, your peers are business entrepreneurs.
  2. Unlike scientists who are your peers within your area of specialism, the BIG gig includes many specialists from different fields that may have very little to do with the industry or sector you specialise.

“The consistent feedback I received was the need to sharpen our value proposition.”

Do not misinterpret that as a weakness, it is a massive benefit because it quickly pulls you out of your familiar world as you listen to different perspectives and insights. The value is these fresh insights and feedback will often force you to re-evaluate your business, positioning, proposition, and messaging.

If you are not prepared to be challenged, it can feel brutal, especially if you are wedded passionately to your business idea. My advice – make sure you are intellectually and emotionally prepared for the session.

For our business, we were about two-months from launch and focused on execution. Being pulled back to re-evaluate can feel at minimum, uncomfortable, or annoying if you are not prepared for the session.

You must remain objective, stepping back and listening intently to the feedback and guidance given. Take lots of notes and listen intently, hanging on every word.

Do not expect to make sense of all the feedback, especially when you provide feedback to the group. If you are fortunate as I was, you will have received a lot of input and have copious notes. Make sure you set aside a couple of hours the following to review and digest the feedback.

Then sleep on it because, during sleep, our unconscious continues to work away, which is why we can wake up fresh the next morning with an answer to a problem you fell asleep challenged considering.

Irrespective where the feedback comes from, whether it be a psychiatrist, a financial advisor, a personal coach, or some other professional within your field of expertise, or not, every piece of feedback is potentially a nugget of gold – IF you are prepared to consider it objectively.

On reflection, I asked the wrong questions, but the BIG gig was a massive benefit to the development of our business preparing for launch.

Furthermore, everyone attending is giving up over two hours of their time to help you. The least you can do is listen intently and give them your full attention. While listening, take the time to understand their perspective and situation. Chris Voss, in his book – Never Split The Difference, calls this tactical empathy. Do this, and the feedback and guidance you receive will become a lot more valuable.

For myself, I received mostly positive feedback with some that could be perceived as unfavourable. Fact is, it was not negative; it was a result of how I had delivered my presentation and the questions I asked.

The consistent feedback I received was the need to sharpen our value proposition.

If you are planning to present at a BIG gig session, I urge you to give attention to the challenging feedback, for two reasons:

  1. You probably will feel the urge to unconsciously or consciously respond with emotive thoughts to defend your idea, business or whatever you are presenting. These thoughts if left unchecked, are often the foundation to become cognitive biased which, as we know, can undermine a relationship, business, and society. You must be on your guard to quickly identify and neutralise them.
  2. Every challenge offers up an opportunity to improve and sharpen your gameplay. Take the time to work through the rocks to uncover those nuggets of gold. There will be many hidden in the feedback you receive if you adopt the right attitude. It is then down to your skill how you transform those nuggets of gold in future value and reward following the session.

I came away from the BIG gig energised because I had a made copious notes that, following review, did contain several gold nuggets offering up inspiration, focus, and action.

Furthermore, several people followed up because they believed in what we had to offer and how we were going about delivering it to the market.

The result of one of those nuggets of gold – We are developing a Sales Manifesto to communicate Why we do what we do. As I said at the outset, people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

The mistake I made preparing for the BIG gig was assuming everyone would understand what we do as a business. Generally, this is true when talking to our target audience, but the BIG gig audience will not be your typical audience.

Consequently, it has forced me to focus on simplify our messaging and value proposition.

Also, consider carefully the questions you intend to ask and check whether these are the best questions to ask. Remember, your audience will first need to understand your business and value proposition before they can consider how best to support you address the issues and challenges presented.

On reflection, I asked the wrong questions, but the BIG gig was a massive benefit to the development of our business preparing for launch.

If you are given the opportunity to present at the BIG gig – my advice, take it! I guarantee you will not regret it.

About the Author

Treve Wearne is the founder of Nazca Services Limited. Treve supports businesses and sales teams positioning themselves and increasing sales revenues. Improving sales forecasts, talent development and retention in the most challenging business environments.


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