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.”
Gary Hayes, an award-winning new media producer based in Australia, has developed a social media tracking application that covers the creation, use and sharing of content on the web. The results displayed are based on data culled from a range of social media sources and web sites.
CHAOTIC CACOPHONY OF CONTENT
When you look at the numbers, they stagger. But what do these explosive numbers mean though … really?
THE HARDEST PART OF WRITING
I’m a consumer and producer of content on a professional level. The numbers only tell you the raw volume. Quantity not quality. Not consistency. Persistency. Or sustainability of the content producer – which is the true measure. Over the last several years I’ve found that consistently creating quality content is the HARDEST part of using content for business marketing to generate leads and create new sales.
So given those numbers … how can you connect through the chaos? What do you need to have and do?
Writing as a business skill is more important and valuable than ever. How else to break through this explosive chaotic cacophony of content? Well there’s only one proven way, the first step is to realize it’s …
To consistently produce average-to-good content is hard work.
To consistently produce great content? That’s really hard work. And, a lot of the time you don’t know the difference until after you publish it.
STINKER-ROO VS SUPER
Many times I thought something was killer content (usually mine), and it stank up the house (always mine).
Other times I thought something was boring, bordering on banal, and it ended up being breakthrough super (lots of reads and comments). Later, when working backwards trying to understand the difference between the banal-to-boring content vs. the breakthrough super content it was obvious.
The great performing content always delivered most, if not all, of the following … it was;
Educational – made a difference to the reader’s life of business or the business of life. Was interesting and chock full of ideas, insights, information and inspiration
Entertaining – yes, the old humorous bugaboo that corporate writing tends to avoid like the plague. Make them laugh or make them cry. Just don’t make them cry because they’re bored to tears. It’s okay to use humor.
ONE THING IT DIDN’T HAVE?
Anesthetic, stupor-inducing, put me to sleep or boil me in oil first writing. It was always devoid of corporate gobbledygook, cliches and weasel-words.
Great ideas, information, insights and inspirational stories – from you – will earn people’s honest attention.
Anesthetic writing will guarantee you’ll get lost in the explosive new reality show of content depicted in Gary Hayes’ Social Media Counts.
I spoke to a group of business writers once (and there’s a reason it was only once). Not from a matter of knowing the technical craft of writing (I’m horrible at that stuff – that’s why God made editors), but the art of writing with and writing for others.
WRITERS ARE WHACKOS
Why me? I’ve written with and/or interviewed hundreds of people. I find it fascinating, enjoyable, and fun. It helps expand your mind and mindset. The person that asked me to speak knew that. And, he thought I was a whacko – which helped. He thought all writers were whackos (he was a C-Level executive).
WRITING IS A TOUGH JOB
This group of business writers I was going to speak to were fed up. Their morale was lower than a snake’s belly. They loved writing, and being writers. But their job was sucking the life, and the creative spirit. out of them.
Rarely, if ever, did their work see the light of day, get used or published. Why? Because of endless edits and input from everyone at their company. This had the effect of corporate gobbledygook-deizing the writing to the point that the words had less than zero meaning.
Writing was a tough enough job without everybody and their brother telling them how to do it. They were even embarrassed to tell anyone they were involved as the writer when their work actually got published.
THE DISASTERPIECE ROADMAP
So, knowing that background, I provided a them a quick, empathetic and realistic road-map (below) on how a writing masterpiece gets turned into a “disasterpiece.” And yes, writing is and always will be a tough job, but a different perspective might help make their job easier.
HEY! IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY
The writers fell out of their chairs laughing (it wasn’t supposed to be funny – just realistic).
The person that asked me to speak hasn’t spoken to me since. He was right. I am a whacko.
A BUSINESS WRITER’S LIFE
You start writing your masterpiece.
Full of hope, spirit, good thoughts, better words … inspired.
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.