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 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
Featuring an interview with Lynne McTaggart, author of “The Intention Experiment.”
“This important book makes a good case that we are on the verge of another revolution in our understanding of the universe.” – Arthur C. Clarke
I Had Good Intentions
I fully intended to keep my 2012 New Year’s resolutions. I knew it would be hard. But I had good intentions. I had good intentions. Really.
However, even though I held out a long time – 6 days, 21 hours and 30 minutes short – of the first full week of January – I didn’t make it. I fell short. Badly. Some of it was simply from a sense of loss (also sometimes known as grief) that had weakened my resolve. Donkey O’Tee, my long-time co-writer and close friend, had left me to pursue his own career as an author (below).
Donkey O’Tee had massive pre-sales. Five copies at least. The media loved him. He took a simple idea, complexified it to nearly an undecipherable obfuscation, eschewing logic and reason, and suddenly he was a media know-it-all star.
But, before Donkey O’Tee went on his book tour, he sensed my despair – my utter hopelessness. Donkey’s are like that. Sensitive. So, he sent two cousins of his to help me out while he was gone on tour. “Hollywood veterans” he assured me. Their names were Cal and Chichen (pronounced “chikken”) Itza (figure out which is which?) from Yucatan, a state in Mexico.
Cal, Steve and Chichen Itza
But they were a little too perky for me.
I slipped into a deep funk. I pondered why my good intentions always went awry. My hair grew out of control (which horrified my friends who were all going bald), and I seemed to shrink – grow shorter from the weight of the deep thought in which I was engrossed. Why did my “good intentions” always go so bad? Then … almost by accident (but not quite – that’s what the word almost means) I ran across a book called “The Intention Experiment – Use Your Thoughts to Change the World,” by Lynne McTaggart.
Your Life of Business … or Business of Life
I jumped eyes first into it. Speed-read it (I completed the introduction). And wow … not just a wishful “think your way to greatness and riches” bunch of crapola, but a book backed by top-notch scientific evidence. On the frontier of science, for sure, but backed by and working with an international team of renowned scientists to measure and create a “Science of Intention.” To prove your thoughts and intentions can be scientifically measured and make a real difference in this world, in your life of business … or the business of your life. The book even had an action plan and an invitation to all readers to join and be a part of the world’s largest experiment – “THE INTENTION EXPERIMENT.”
I was ecstatic.
I rushed out of the house down to the electronics store brimming with good intentions.
Oozing good intentions flowing like a volcanic river.
Yes, a river of good intentions.
That was me.
A NEW I-PHONE TWO WOULD BE MINE!
BUT, things didn’t quite work out the way I had envisioned.
This business of thinking and intention was a bit more complicated than I thought. Or at least I think I thought I thunk that. So as usual I had to go to the source for more information.
ENTER Lynne McTaggart
Lynne is an award-winning author of five books, including “The Field,” which has been published in 14 languages. “The Field” was a major influence on the wildly successful U.S. cult classic, “What the Bleep Do We Know?” and Lynne starred in the BLEEP’s full version, “Down the Rabbit Hole Quantum.”
Steve: Hi Lynne. I tried the intention thing … it didn’t really work too well for me.
Lynne: Did you read the book?
Lynne: Sorta. What’s that mean in English?
Steve: Oh, I forgot you were from England. Well, it means I got carried away after reading the introduction and tried to use my good intentions for something.
Lynne: For your own benefit?
Steve: … Maybe.
Lynne: Didn’t work so well, did it.
Steve: It worked, just not the way I wanted it to. So, what did I miss in the book? What did I do wrong?
Lynne: Besides just reading the introduction? The book is not about sending intentions to make a million dollars. The book is about using the science of intention philanthropically: healing wounds, helping children with attention deficit or patients with Alzheimer’s, counteracting pollution, global warming, that type of thing.
Steve: Oh. (Although the reader can’t see, chagrin may have crossed my face at this point). What else is the book about?
Lynne: “The Intention Experiment” is really some unfinished business I had with my previous book, “The Field.” It was a question (or questions) that was raised – there seemed to be anecdotal evidence to support and suggest that thoughts truly were things. A thought was not only a thing, but a thing that influences other things. A simple thought had the power to change the world. But the question was, could these thoughts and intentions be corralled, scientifically measured, tested … and used for good? The first part of “The Intention Experiment” attempts to synthesize all of the experimental evidence that exists on intention into a coherent scientific theory of how intention works, how it can be used in your life and what conditions optimize its effect.
Steve: So, an investigative scientific journey of the latest, greatest research on thought and intentionality. Who are some of the scientists involved?
Lynne: Robert Jahn, Dean Emeritus of the Princeton University School of Engineering; his colleague, psychologist Brenda Dunne, who runs the Princeton Engineering Anomalous Research (PEAR) laboratory; Dr. Gary Schwartz of the Center for Frontier Medicine in Biofield Science at the University of Arizona; and Fritz-Albert Popp, assistant director of the International Institute of Biophysics (IIB), in Neuss, Germany, to name a few.
Steve: Seriously eminent scientists. I’m familiar with Fritz-Albert Popp. His work on biophoton emissions, that DNA, molecules and cells all emit light that may be used for information communication is not only astoundingly earth-shaking and potentially has the ability to change humanity forever, but unfortunately is pretty much under-appreciated and unknown amongst 99.99% of the earth’s population. What are some of the interesting facts coming out of this research?
Lynne: You can get stronger, bigger muscles just by thinking. Some of the research findings include that athletes who do not physically exercise but only imagine their workouts can increase their muscle strength between 13 and 16 percent.
Steve: By just imagining the exercise?
He’s the Greatest!
Lynne: Yes. Imagine the implications for business. For sales. For marketing. Anyone can see tremendous improvements in their personal or business lives by rehearsing specific activities before actually doing them. Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest, if not greatest, athletes of all times was a master of thought, intention and visualization. He’s covered in the book.
Steve: Other results?
Lynne: Atoms can become entangled and behave as one single giant atom. Human bodies can act as transmitting and receiving antennas, living things demonstrate awareness of the well-being of other living things around them. A sizable body of scientific research, carried on for more than 30 years in prestigious scientific institutions around the world, show that thoughts are capable of affecting everything from the simplest machines to the most complex living beings.
Steve: What do you mean by “intention?”
Lynne: A textbook definition of intention is “a purposeful plan to perform an action, which will lead to a desired outcome,” unlike a desire, which means simply focusing on an outcome, without a purposeful plan of how to achieve it.
Steve: How could I (and the reader) use the science of intention?
Lynne: That’s in the second part of my book. I offer a blueprint for using your thoughts and intentions effectively in your own life through a series of exercises and recommendations. These exercises will show you how to “power up” your own thoughts and intentions to change your life and those around you. It’s also an exercise in frontier science – albeit personal.
Steve: And you do live group experiments via the internet?
Lynne: Yes, with the aid of our readers and our highly experienced scientific team, we conduct large-scale group experiments via the internet to determine whether focused intention has any scientifically quantifiable effects on selected targets.
Steve: How does one get involved?
Lynne: Go to our website for details The Intention Experiment. The first studies will be carried out by physicists Fritz-Albert Popp, vice-president of the International Institute of Biophysics in Neuss, Germany (www.lifescientists.de) and his team of seven; psychologist Gary Schwartz and his colleagues at the University of Arizona at Tucson; and Marilyn Schlitz and Dean Radin of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. You can see the rest of the scientific team on our web site too.
Steve: How will this be controlled? The WWW is full of World-Wide-Whackos, full of in-laws, outlaws and hackers who enjoy mucking things up.
Lynne: Website experts collaborated with our scientific team to design secure log-on protocols and to enable us to identify which characteristics of a group or aspects of their thoughts produce the most effective results.
Steve: An example?
Lynne: A patient with a wound. It is known that wounds generally heal at a particular, quantifiable rate with a precise pattern. Any departure from the norm can be precisely measured and shown to be an experimental effect. In this example, our aim would be to determine whether focused group intention will enable wounds to heal more quickly than usual.
Steve: Hmm. I knew that. And your ultimate plan for these experiments?
Lynne: They’re ambitious. To recruit hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of volunteers from around the world to participate in these series of web-based experiments, to try to tackle a number of societal ills. It will be the largest mind-over-matter study in history.
Steve: Can I take part in your experiments? Can I? Can I?
Lynne: I’d like to send a special letter about it to you and your friends, Cal and Chichen. Is that okay?
Steve: That’d be great! (feeling special … even if she did include the freako animals) Thank you, and best wishes to your readers and scientific team Lynne.
Lynne: Thank you. Intention me on Twitter if you get a chance.
True to her word – a special letter did arrive.
Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning author of five books, including “The Field,” which has been published in 14 languages. “The Field” was a major influence on the wildly successful U.S. cult classic, “What the Bleep Do We Know?” and Lynne starred in the BLEEP’s full version, “Down the Rabbit Hole.” Lynne is an internationally recognized spokesperson on the science of spirituality and also co-executive director of Conatus, which publishes the UK’s most well-respected health and spiritual newsletters and online information including “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” and “Living the Field.”
About Steve Kayser
He’s currently too busy to write his bio because he’s engaged in a scientific experiment …
“Our company is really struggling. I have to give a presentation to upper management about new ideas or new ways to try to help grow our business. I’m afraid if it doesn’t go well, our department will face serious cuts and people will lose their jobs. Any suggestions?”
Having sat through hundreds, if not thousands of business presentations, I offered a different approach to the questioner’s presentation. An approach based not upon technical presentation skills. One not based upon showing how many facts, statistics, and upward pointing trending arrows or bullet points you could force on a PPT. slide. But one that ended with a challenge – to everyone in the room- to try to think different. Act different. Be different. Not your typical presentation.
It’s really easy to give gutsy advice. Especially if you don’t have to do it yourself. Then, a short time later (as these things mockingly go), I had the opportunity to make the same type of presentation myself. To a budget committee. Budget=$$$$$$. Important in any business.
TO BE A HYPOCRITE
I was going to be a hypocrite and whip up the same old boring corporate PPT gobbledygook-crapola that’s expected. But I went back and revisited my answer. Pondered it. Pondering is not my strong suit so … I decided to take my own advice.
Taking your own advice is always scary. I mean really, the last person I want to take advice from is me.
HERE’S THE MARKETING & PR KILLER
But there was one major catch. I had to review an entire year’s worth of work and accomplishments of the department in … FIVE minutes (my allotted time). FIVE MINUTES. If you’re in Marketing or PR you know the new media and social media developments over the last year have exploded at supraluminal speed. You have to go 186,000 MPH just to do an even barely adequate job. So, I compiled the facts and stats. The work on Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Friendfeed, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Blogs, Social Media News Room, E-Zines, Widgets, Blidgets, Idgets, etc. When I laid it all out on slides I ended up with 110 of them. That’s right. 110 slides. FIVE MINUTES. Even Einstein, relativistically speaking, couldn’t make that math work using the same old approach.
WHAT TO DO?
There was only one answer. Experiment. With the very same new media tools and thinking that have exploded over the last year.
THE PRESENTATION BEGINS
Then – the day was upon me. I started out by informing the budget committee that I could not possibly finish the presentation in five minutes because — I had 110 slides. They took it stoically (if you don’t count the gasps of horror, tears or heads down on the table). “But,” I went on, “I could do it 5:06.” (Five minutes and six seconds.)
CLICK & GO
The presentation below is best viewed in Full Screen mode (click on bottom right of screen) and with the sound on.