From personal experience and conversations with many experts in the business-to-business field, there is reasonable agreement that most corporate sales, marketing and PR lingo suffer from …
“The Four Too’s.”
Too cowardly cacophonous
Agree or Disagree?
Why is that?
Essentially it boils down to:
Trying to be all things to all people at all times
Not knowing you can’t be all things to all people at all times
Trying to sound really sophisticated, cool, intelligent, intricate and inclusive
And finally, the biggie, not understanding your customer/buyer. They only want one thing. Understand this. You exist to solve a problem for them. That’s it.
An Analyst study of executives who were likely to buy enterprise software (high dollar amount purchases typically), discovered that large vendors promoted speeds, feeds and technology innovation to their marketplace.
And buyers? Not so much.
These promotions more often than not entail lengthy and wordy descriptive obfuscations. Yes, I know what the word means. I’m trying to sound really sophisticated, cool, intelligent and inclusive. (Didn’t work, did it?)
But Guess What?
Buyers don’t care about that. They don’t care about the sales brochures with their pandemically infected corporate gobbledygook word, or the 182 PowerPoint slide presentation — both infested with words drained of all meaning.
They essentially want one thing: understanding. Simple understanding. Clear, short, concise messages and understanding.
Understanding of What?
Understanding of them, their businesses, their processes, problems.
You Are There for Only One Reason
Understanding that the only reason you are there is to help them solve a problem — or introduce them to an idea that will make them better, or their life easier in some way.
They don’t want or need the wordy intellectual technical features and functions tomes.
Keep it simple! Less is more.
More of less is less of more which is, besides confusing … great! We need more of less.
Many an executive has spun wildly hilarious tales of the innovative creative ways they have used sales brochures. Soon a corporate sales brochure may rival Duct Tape for the many ways they can be ill-used.
Typically executives throw away all the cutesy, excessively long-winded corporate gobbledygook brochures as soon as the salesperson leaves the room. Or they will store them on a large dusty file cabinet — until they find a need for useless paper.
Some other findings of the analyst study were interesting as well.
Buyers will pay for …
fast return on investment,
easy implementation, and
But how is that different from 20-30-40 years ago? And isn’t that applicable to any buyer? Any industry? Any country?
Buyers Want What They Want
Buyers are pretty basic. They want what they want. Understanding, practicality and their problems solved – whatever they are.
Would You Buy From This Company?
no return on investment,
hard-to-implement products, and
the world’s worst customer service.”
Just a wild guess … but I’m thinking not.
The Value Of Being a Simpleton
I like simple messages (I’m a simpleton) that give me four tools to combat the four too’s.
The Four Tools
What do you do?
How do you do it?
What makes you different from others?
Why should I buy from you (value proposition)?
But, having recently this corporate hypothetical supraluminal messaging,
“We build, sell and support hypothetical superluminal quantum particle applications with ERP, CRM, BPM, MRM and PLM functionality targeted at horizontically vertical market particularities with platform-neutral ‘LMNOP” (sorta clever, alphabetically speaking) interoperability.”
The B2B Complex Sale. Mysterious. Ethereal. Shivers the timbers of man and beast alike (including Marketing and PR people). It has ended the career of many a person. Sent many a company down in flames. Healthcare reform? Bah… that’s simple. Not even close to a B2B complex sale. But what really is a …
… COMPLEX SALE?
In a nutshell, it’s this. The complex sale typically refers to a high-value purchase $150,000 and higher, involving a buyer’s committee consisting of anywhere from 10 to 25 people … or more. The sales cycle is frustratingly long – anywhere from 12-36 month. Worse still it involves multiple decision-makers, all with different viewpoints, agendas and radically different and annoying personalities.
IT’S A SCIENCE–IT’S AN ART
To win at the complex sale, one must be a storyteller, master tactician, strategist, cajoler, evaluator, philosopher, psychologist, bean counter and techno-geek.
I spent a week of intense education on the topic of “complex sale.” It was tough-taught by a serious taskmaster with an honest determination for me to learn. What I took away is this … it’s complex. But not really. It’s all about people – people trying to solve a problem and you enabling them to pay you to help solve that problem. It’s also all about connections. Connecting the wants/needs/desires of the technical and business users with the Big Kahuna’s (C-leader$hip) vision and interests.
COMPLEX IS PRETTY SIMPLE
Now I have it all figured out. It’s simple. Watch closely as I skillfully take apart the most difficult of adversaries and personalities in a B2B tech complex sale.
IT DIRECTORS & CIO’S (AKA UNDERCOVER PHYSICISTS)
Physicists are incredibly brilliant and deviously clever people. They can convince you that the word “impossible” is basically “relative,” and you believe them. They can convince you that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, then they invent the word “tachyon,” which stands for a hypothetical, supraluminal quantum particle that never travels SLOWER than the speed of light. When it loses energy, it travels FASTER, and it makes complete sense when they explain it. You believe them. Yes, physicists are brilliant. Clever. Deviously so; much like IT Directors and CIO’s.
They’re the people paid to make sure everything you do (relating to technology, which is just about everything right?) in your business works smoothly, quickly and cheaper. Cheaper, that is, than it did in 1980. And they do it. They’re a very important player in any complex technology sale. You need to know they’re ultimately in the money – they report to the CFO or CEO. So if you need something that is crucial to your operations – like a brand new Mac Pro to run your in-house video-production center for your corporate PR, Sales and Marketing function – you’re going to have to convince (tangle with) them. I’m using this apocalyptic need for a Mac Pro simply as an illustration, because the total value it could DELIVER would be – in the complex sales territory – upwards of a couple hundred thousand dollars. .. conservatively speaking of course.
ONE THING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Not only are typical IT directors brilliant, clever and devious, they insist on you jumping through IMPOSSIBLE hoops, which are not really relative; things like filling out a cost-justification form and answering questions like, “What the ROI be?” and “How long will it take?” They’re not like normal people. I mean “cool, quick, awesome, we can do sweet videos on it for everyone” just doesn’t cut it with these blockheads. Even when I told them it took three days and 22 hours to edit a 30-second corporate product video, they STILL asked those inane questions about ROI and cost.
So you have to tell a whale of a story rivaling the biblical creation to convince these strange personalities that lead IT departments. It has to be Simple, Memorable, Accurate, Repeatable and Totally off the hook. (There’s an acronym there I think.) And it needs to add immense value, statistically be unassailable and substantially bumfuzzling to convince them that “impossible” is a relative term … as it applies to the new Mac Pro they will be soon be gladly approving. (There’s an acronym there too I think, but I’m bold enough not to point it out.)
SOCRATIC GOLDILOCKS-ESIAN STORYTELLING
That’s where Goldilocks comes in. Makes perfect sense to me. So tag along for an intellectual ride nonpareil.
If I told you that right now you were traveling at 1,000 mph, you’d think I’m nuts, or drank too much last night … or both. You’d be right. You’re not really traveling at 1,000 mph, You’re …
at about 1,000 mph. That’s the rotation speed of the earth. If you’re on earth right now (and hopefully you are if you’re reading this), you’re actually spinning at about 1,000 mph. That rotational speed happens to be not too fast, not too slow but just right for life to exist on earth. Much faster and severely violent weather and apocalyptic storms would reign – and life wouldn’t. Too much slower and one side of the earth would be Hades hot, the other Antarctica cold. It’s just about right.
What if I said to you right now, wherever you’re located, you’re …
at 23.5 degrees? You’d think I’m nuts, disoriented, drank too much … or all three. Well in fact, you are; 23.5 degrees is the “Obliquity of the Ecliptic.” That’s a high falutin’, scientific gobbledygook word (much like “seamlessly integrated” and “leading provider” in business lingo) that means “tilt” of the earth axis. Tilted much more or less would leave the Earth unstable – make it wobble – and the earth could tumble, making life impossible and most certainly making for a WILD RIDE in the process. Sounds like a movie to me. It’s just right.
And what if I said to you that you’re not only spinning at 1,000 mph and tilted at 23.5 degrees, you’re also traveling through space at …
… 66,000 MPH
That’s 18 miles per second. And at that 66,000 mph, we have a dancing partner – the moon. And that moon is not too big, not too small, but just the right size to stabilize the earth’s rotation and keep it from wobbling too much – and so life exists. In this earth-moon, boot scooting solar, two-step boogie, the “dark side of the moon, which we never see, also helps shield the earth from comets and meteors.
And what if I said to you, that as you’re spinning at 1,000 mph, tilted at 23.5 degrees and dancing a 66,000 mph boot-scooting solar boogie with the moon, we have a big brother watching …
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. Its diameter is 10 times larger than Earth and is over 300 times the mass. Jupiter’s gravitational pull is so great it’s like a mega dark side of the moon. It attracts comets and meteors away from Earth and hurls them out of the solar system. If Jupiter was much bigger, Earth would be hurled out along with them. Much smaller, and Goldilocks would be blasted with comets and meteor boulders from space – and that would just not be right.
I’m about done. (Am I working hard for the Mac Pro or not?) Two more things. If I said that you’re spinning at 1,000 mph, tilted at 23.5 degrees, while doing the 66,000 mph boot-scooting solar boogie with the moon as big brother Jupiter watches over you, that none of that matters. No, none of that would matter at all if it wasn’t for the …
Does it get any better than the sun? Free energy. Free light. Life-giving heat to ensure oxygen and water. Would hanging out at the beach even be the same? The sun is at exactly the right size and distance so we can listen to our iPod’s and whine about not having a Mac Pro while we sun ourselves at the beach. Any bigger or closer and we’d fry. Any smaller or further away and we’d be lifeless remnants memorialized in icicles.
EARTH MOON SUN BOOT-SCOOTING BOOGIE
So, spinning at 1,000 mph, tilted at 23.5 degrees, doing the 66,000 mph boot-scooting boogie with the moon as big brother Jupiter watches over and protects while the free energy, light and warmth-giving Sun nourishes life.
But none of that would really matter if we were off by ….
… ONE PART
If the expansion rate of the universe was changed by one part in a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion, faster or slower, life on earth would not exist. Not too fast. Not too slow. Really, really, really just right.
Amazing. Bumfuzzling. And … cool. But none of that matters either if we were off …
… ONE INCH
If a measuring tape were stretched across the universe and segmented in one-inch increments (billions upon gazillions of inches) representing the force strengths of nature (gravity, electromagnetism, weak and strong nuclear forces) and the tape was moved one inch in either direction, life on earth would not exist. One inch? Not too big. Not too small. But exceptionally just right.
THE END … SORTA
Before I wrap up with my call for action, here’s a slight comment on the story facts above. It could never sell in Hollywood. Or TV. Why?
“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.” – Pudd’n Head Wilson (an intellectually astute and under-appreciated philosopher)
SO ABOUT ALL THOSE FACTS AND THE MAC PRO – MY CALL TO ACTION
Dear Omnisicent, Omnipotent, IT Director:
If you take that very same measuring tape, stretched across the universe and segmented in one-inch increments (billions upon gazillions of inches) representing the allocated, amortized total cost of a Mac Pro, BUT immediately take advantage of the video value it can provide to the company … life would not only exist on earth (and my cube) better and faster, but also at prices that are at least 13.7 billion years old. Imagine, we could deliver some pretty cool and sweet looking 21st video products. So let’s do it.
THE REAL END
I wanted the pitch to be simple, memorable, accurate, repeatable and totally off the hook. And it needed to add immense value, statistically be unassailable and substantially bumfuzzling to convince him that “impossible” is a relative term … as it applies to him authorizing my new Mac Pro.
I think it was. I’m sure he understood. He approved the requisition. But he did it in terms that were simple, memorable, accurate, repeatable and totally off the hook. And it added value, was statistically unassailable and substantially bumfuzzling to me.
He put the Mac Pro on layaway for me and scheduled payment terms in one-inch increments stretched across the unfathomable expanse of the universe. Then he sent me a personalized and heartless email to tell me when to expect it.
It’s on my calendar to be picked it up in about 13.7 billion years (more or less).
If you want more info on the “Goldilocks Universe” check out:
The one skill that’s considered to be an absolute “must have” in the complex sale?
The complex sale typically refers to a high-value purchase, $150,000 and higher, involving a buyer’s committee consisting of anywhere from five to 20 people … or more. The sales cycle is long – from 12-36 months – and involves multiple stakeholders.
And … multiple decision-makers, all with different viewpoints, agendas and usually radically different personalities.
It’s a Science – It’s an Art
To win at the complex sale, one must be a storyteller, master tactician, strategist, cajoler, evaluator, philosopher, psychologist, bean counter and techno-geek. Yup. All rolled into one. But, even with all of that, there is one skill that is an absolute “must have” in the complex sale. Without it, success is always a delayed sales cycle away – with a morbidly high improbability rate of closure ranging from 0 to 10 percent.
What is that one trait that’s an absolute “must have” to win the complex sale in today’s competitive sales environment? I’m sure you’re thinking some highfalutin, corporate gobbledygook, acromoronic description is coming your way now.
You’d be wrong.
The skill is critical to your success – in business or life. You must be
“Good in a Room.”
What does that really mean … to be “Good in a Room?” To find out I asked someone that had sat on the other side of the fence. A buyer. But not just a buyer of any high-value product or service. A buyer of ideas. Concepts. Words. A buyer of screenplays and stories. Each one a high-value purchase triggering the complex and bewildering process that may eventually lead to the big screen. And, as you’ll see, no movie ever gets started without someone having mastered the “art of the schmooze” and being …”Good in a Room.”
Enter Stephanie Palmer
Good in a Room founder Stephanie Palmer was named one of the “Next Generation: Top 35 Executives Under 35” by The Hollywood Reporter. As the Director of Creative Affairs at MGM Pictures, she acquired screenplays, books and pitches and supervised their development. Some of her projects include “Be Cool,” “Legally Blonde,” “Sleepover,” “A Guy Thing,” “Agent Cody Banks,” and “Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London.” Prior to MGM, she worked in development at Jerry Bruckheimer Films on “Con Air,” Armageddon,” and “Enemy of the State.” Her first job in the business was as an intern on “Titanic.” She is also the author of the book “Good in a Room.”
Ten Tips for Being “Good in a Room” – Stephanie Palmer
You’ve worked for months (or years!) on your project, and a buyer is interested. The meeting is set, and there’s a lot at stake. You’re going to get one chance to effectively communicate the value and uniqueness of your project. Many people get nervous at this point.
The best of the best, however, follow these ten tips. If you learn them, you can join the ranks of those who know that they are “good in a room.”
1. Silence is the strongest start of all.
Don’t start talking until the decision-maker is ready. If there have been a lot of people popping in, urgent phone calls or other interruptions, ask the executive if he or she is ready for you to begin. Make eye contact. Then, start slowly and deliver your first line. Make sure it is dynamite. Pause. Gauge the executive’s response. Then proceed with your presentation at a relaxed pace. Remember, even though you’re intimately familiar with your project, the buyer will be hearing it for the very first time.
2. Understand the buyer’s secret dream.
Even though top-level buyers can seem cold and recalcitrant, this is the result of seeing a seemingly endless stream of poorly prepared and emotionally needy sellers deliver mediocre pitches. Decision-makers don’t wake up thinking, “I can’t wait to disappoint people and pass on 30 projects today.” Instead, they hope today will be the day they discover their career-making project. Thus, you must position yourself and your project in a way that differentiates you from the masses and speaks directly to the buyer’s highest-priority needs.
3. Build rapport. Then, build some more.
People want to work with people they like. Think about what you have in common with the decision-maker you’re meeting. Be ready to share a few brief, personal stories which demonstrate the attributes you believe will be most attractive to the buyer. Be prepared to ask a few open-ended questions that will encourage the buyer to speak about a non-business interest in a positive light.
All else being equal, you will have the edge if you can establish a personal connection.
4. Make your pitch repeatable.
Though you are selling your project to a decision-maker in the room, after the meeting, the buyer – if interested – becomes the seller and must pitch your idea to their colleagues or superiors. In Hollywood, this is known as the “logline.” If you can’t summarize your project in a brief, compelling statement, you haven’t thought about it enough.
Remember, the more you say, the less people hear.
Choose your words carefully.
5. Acknowledge the competition.
Be prepared to answer questions such as, “What does my project have in common with other successful projects in the same industry? What were the last projects that the company purchased, and were they successful? Which of their projects is most similar to my own? What makes me the best person for this project?” Answering these key questions early in your presentation demonstrates that you have done your homework.
This will encourage them to listen to what follows more closely.
6. The best meetings are conversational and interactive.
Many professionals make the mistake of performing an over-rehearsed spiel that sounds like an infomercial for their idea. Instead, pause frequently, especially when there is an opportunity for the buyer to give you a reaction or ask a question. In an ideal world, you’d spend more time in a dialogue with the buyer, than performing a monologue.
7. Start from the beginning – always.
Even if you had a long and productive conversation the day before, you’d be surprised how much can change in the buyer’s mind. After all, you’ve been thinking about the meeting and they have, too. Assume that they’ve done more research, talked to some people and something has changed since the time you last spoke. It’s your job to figure out what that is. After some initial rapport building, do another information-gathering session. If appropriate, ask for a recap from their perspective.
8. Watch for hidden opportunities.
The buyer’s goal for the meeting may not be the same as yours. In addition to hearing your idea, the executive may be evaluating you to see if you would be a good fit for another project. Remember, when you are in the room, you are selling minimally two things: your project and yourself. Even if the meeting doesn’t result in a “yes,” making a favorable impression can be the beginning of a long-term professional relationship.
9. Don’t claim your expertise – demonstrate it.
Don’t just talk about your experience, show your expertise by positioning your project as it relates to the competition. Don’t brag or boast about past wins. If you must mention a past success, do it off-handedly and with humility. This is similar to the common rule about storytelling, “Show, don’t tell.” Remember a lot of people talk the talk. Those who are “good in a room” are focused on meeting the needs of the buyer and not on boosting their own ego.
10. Save a surprise for the end.
Plan multiple strategies to exit gracefully. Some techniques are to have a callback to a personal topic that you discussed at the beginning of the meeting, thank them for a specific, useful contribution they made during the meeting, or leave them a polished piece of material that they haven’t seen previously. Use a summary statement that you design specifically to be remembered and repeated. Remember, last impressions last.
Surprise! Bonus tip.
11. You are always in the room.
Develop your skills so that you can handle meetings that occur unexpectedly, like on a plane, at a party, or in a waiting room. More business starts from casual interactions than formal meetings across a conference room table. The polished professional who is “good in a room” is ready for anything. But don’t feel the need to talk business in all situations, often the best move is to say, “Why don’t we just enjoy the party, and I’ll follow up with you on Monday.” To sign up for Stephanie’s free monthly column “Inside the Room,” Click HERE
Good in a Room
10845 Lindbrook Drive, Suite 200,
Los Angeles, CA 90024
But professional purveyors of corporate gobbledygook know, yes they know, Twitter is a tool straight from hell.
A demon dalliance.
Seed of Satan.
Fathered to challenge sesquipedalian pontifications that mean nothing to no one.
Nothing to no one.
What’s it Mean Steve?
Death to long copy.
Twitter imperils wordsmithereen evil-ese at it’s basest, non-productive most non-valuable essence.
National Security Threat
Twitter threatens …
Those in the know, know, the Wall Street collapse and panic can be laid directly at the Tweet of Twitter.
Because everything posted on Twitter has to be 140 characters or less.
For you Non-Twits, that’s about 15-22 words.
It forces you to be concise, clear and short.
Can you imagine?
Or could this be …
Could this be, possibly, a sign of the …
I just wanted to use cartoons of Inspector Gadget, and Satan along with the word “Twitter” and phrases “WALL STREET PANIC” and “The End Times” in the title.
I think it had something to do with overeating my favorite cuisine tonight – chili with peanut butter, beans, salmon, jelly, mayonnaise, jalapeno peppers and anchovies, washed down with a quart of chocolate beer.
That might have been it.
However, all seriousness aside, those in the know, know – you just never know.