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 suffers 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.
In a recent analyst study of executives who were likely to buy enterprise software (high dollar amount purchases typically), it was 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 them, their businesses, their processes, problems.
You Are There for Only One Reason
Understanding that the only reasons 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.
Above is based upon a true story.
Any resemblance to anyone I work with is merely, and coincidentally, purposeful.
Typically executives throw away all the cutesy, excessively long-winded corporate gobbbledygook brochures as soon as the sales person 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 would 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
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.
There are 1,000,000,000,000 + (one trillion plus) unique URL’s in Google’s search index.
Do you have one? If so, you’re lucky.
Each day there are approximately 2,000,000,000 (two billion) Google searches by people trying to find information, ideas and insights to help solve their problems.
Do you or your business have good answers to offer for some of these problems? Answers that can help create new sales, customers and a hopeful future in these challenging economic times?
If so, you’re lucky.
But how can you or your business stand out in a world with one trillion unique URLs and two billion daily Google searches? How can you or your business be discovered and break through in an exploding online world that includes 14 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute? With over one billion views per day? And all of these other weird and wacky Web 2.0 ways to communicate?
How Can You Break Through?
Think Like a Publisher
Fight daily on the battleground of content. Publish great ideas, information and insights via New Media applications. Publish content that is helpful, educational, unique, specific, credible and –
written in a storytelling way. Content that affects the way the reader (prospect, customer, employee, etc.) does their job―for the better.
The End of PR and Marketing
The latest-greatest buzz calls this concept “Content Marketing.”
“Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases. In contrast to traditional marketing methods that aim to increase sales or awareness through interruption techniques, content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering high-quality, relevant and valuable information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action.” Wikipedia
It’s not really “content marketing.” It’s not PR. It’s not marketing. It’s survival―for you and your business. That, by necessity, means a successful collaborative communication effort between Customer Service, Sales, PR and Marketing to create and support new business. That’s what it’s all about; creating, supporting and growing new sales.
The good news is that there has never been a better time with more creative, cost-effective ways using New Media applications to do that. You don’t need a $100 million marketing and advertising budget. Real companies are doing it successfully – right now.
It requires successful collaborative communication efforts between disparate business groups. It requires breaking down the secretive silos in businesses that so often strangle breakout success. That smother fresh ideas and disdain approaches by “outsiders” of the business group – even though they’re in the same company. That seeds and sows a reclusive, restrictive, “us against them” mentality.
Collaborative means playing well with others. Successful collaboration means doing it so well that the customer is served, problems are solved and the business makes money. Siloed domain expertise egos need to back off, back up, back out or just get out of the way. Who isn’t tired of hearing “They (insert the favorite hate group of the day – Marketing, PR, Sales, Service, Product Managers, etc.) Just Don’t Get It!”
Times are tough. Hate to go all “Three Musketeers” on you but …
“Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno”
“One for all, all for one“
– should be every company’s motto right now.
Below are some of the New Media Web 2.0 (for lack of a better term) capabilities and applications available to support the sales and service I’m talking about. Examples of how real companies are using New Media to help grow their businesses are included. Try them out. Plant your flag in some or all of these new territories if they fit your business needs. But to succeed, know this: They need active, authentic, honest participation to help grow and create new business.
For an Experimental SlideRocket Tour of New Media
For a quick visual introduction to some of these New Media tools, view the SlideRocket presentation below, or come back to it later. It’s best viewed in full-screen mode with audio on.
Also, I have personally used or experimented with all of the New Media apps below―some with great results, others not so good. So, if you have any questions, just e-mail me and I’ll get back with you. I’m not an expert, but I am a prolific experimenter, which means I’ve made way more mistakes than the experts who are focused on one little niche. I’m a multitasking mistake-maker.
Companies use bookmarking sites like Delicious.com and StumbleUpon.com to create interesting and helpful resource and information libraries for customers―and to attract new prospects.
StumbleUpon is also a social bookmarking site. It allows you to vote, rank and recommend interesting websites. You’ll find some spectacular hidden treasures there if you care to take a peak. Though not the darling of the media like Twitter, StumbleUpon’s popularity is undeniable. They have over 7 million members.
The idea behind a YouTube (or other video-sharing site) channel is to create a video learning lab for products and solutions. Short video clips to help educate, entertain and inform customers and prospects.
Quick tip―one thing I learned. Save the video under names of which people are likely to search for. I named my first 25 videos something like DSC145735. Then I wondered why no one was viewing them―well, no one except the people that searched for DSC145735.
“Twitter is a free social messaging utility that allows users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.” – Wikipedia.
Twitter is a low-/no-cost way to engage customers and prospects with short, headline-like chunks of content. Twitter, to be most effective, needs a lot of participation, especially from product managers, customer service, sales, PR, marketing and others―real, authentic, helpful and non-salesy or promotional fluff.
Twitter is my favorite. It’s amazing to watch ideas and information explode and ripple through the Twitterverse. For a recent example read, “Tesla on Twitter – Twitter on Tesla.” Take heed though, it’s a challenge to write something meaningful, clear, concise and compelling in 140 characters or less. That’s 15-20 words. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself.
Are there companies using Twitter for business? Yes. Are there sales being generated via Twitter and sites like it? Yes. Dell attributed $1,000,000 in sales last year to its Twitter sites.
Though sort of old hat, blogs are simply the best and most powerful sources of dynamic content to help customers and … your business. Blogs are a way to showcase your thought leadership. To share your information, insights, ideas. See if they resonate. Test the waters. For business examples check out GE and IBM’ers blogs. They have thousands of them. That’s right, I said thousands.
If you want to do some in-depth research, check out Guy Kawasaki’s “All the Top Blogging News.” It’s a one-stop shop of information and resources on blogging.
WARNING! Blogs Can Be Big Trouble
Blogs can be troublesome though. Big trouble. Especially if some employee or blogger goes wacky-wild-west off-the-deep-end on an upside-down triple-gainer-rant of a blog post. Below is my favorite example of an out-of-control blogger. He ought to be fired because …
He simply has too much fun. No one should be able to do cartoon-torials, yuck it up, muck it up, enjoy blogging and keep a job. I mean all seriousness aside … what’s the deal?
Widgets are embeddable pieces of codethat can be installed and displayed on a website. They’re reusable. It’s a great way to let others promote your website or content, and they will, if … you provide them useful widgets.
Try it out yourself. Create a widget. I use Widgetbox, but Wowzio is excellent too. Watch out though – they’re addicting.
What’s a blidget? A Blog widget. Pretty simple. It captures a blog in colorful, adjustable frames and displays multiple blog post headlines.
The blog post titles are live. Each blog headline is an opportunity to attract people to your blog. Each time a headline is clicked it takes the reader right to your blog. Test it for yourself. I’m a big fan of blidgets. The one above has received 20,510 views in three weeks. (That was a shameless self-promotion. I have to out myself on that one.)
Yes, you guessed it. You can even make a widget out of a Twitter feed.
FriendFeed is a social media content aggregator. What’s that mean? Basically all content, images, video, and audio files published by contributors on any of the 49 social media sites it accesses is aggregated into a live feed. Like a Wall Street Stock Ticker–without the associated pain. It is an exceptional place to discover new content from multiple sources and formats. Robert Scoble is big on FriendFeed Vs. Twitter for many reasons. I’d agree with him.
How Companies Can Use Friendfeed – by Forrester Analyst Jeremiah Owyang. As an aside – Jeremiah, in my opinion is absolutely one of the best, if not THE best, social and New Media analyst around. Class act. If you want to keep up with everything that’s going on in the social computing interactive marketing world, check out his blog or Twitter account – http://twitter.com/jowyang
Facebook and other similar social networking sites such as MySpace are powerful opportunities for businesses – if, once again, approached with a helpful attitude. Why? It’s where a lot of the world online population is now. Facebook has more than 150,000,000 (million) active users and is growing at the rate of approximately 450,000 new users per day.
Those kinds of statistics tend to blow the mind. But there are reasons people are flocking there. I like it because it’s pure opt-in. No one can stalk or spam you. A lot of people have found me on Facebook that I hadn’t heard of for years. Of the two, Facebook and MySpace, I’ll give you the best explanation of demographics that I heard from a soon-to-be 16-year-old girl and her brothers in college: “MySpace is for music, Facebook is for friends and business.” That’s concise, clear and short enough to use as a Tweet.
Linkedin is an online network consisting of more than 30 million professionals globally representing 150 industries (from their website.) It’s a way to find and be found―for jobs, old friends and groups. It’s also a way to investigate a company or potential job. I use it, but am not a “power user.”
Plaxo is also a similar online network of people. They have more than 40 million hosted address books.
ADDITIONAL WEB 2.0 SALES SUPPORT TOOLS:
Featured on the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine, January 2009, Animoto is a video creation platform. I wrote a story with “The Boys of Animoto” in October of 2007 – and have been using their product every since. If you are doing a presentation of any kind that needs spruced up, or might benefit by the use of a “movie-like trailer” to help banish the boring – you need to ANIMOTORIZE.
SlideRocket is a Web 2.0 application, built on Adobe Flex that allows you to create, manage, measure and share secure, online presentations. You can import PowerPoint presentations from offline to online. And, you can export presentations from online to offline. Key? You can create, edit and access your presentations from anywhere in the world. No need to email or carry round a flash drive. SlideRocket has some visually stunning effects.
Check them out in full-screen mode. Simply click the screen to advance slides.
Use the new media applications and capabilities to share great ideas, helpful information and insights to connect with and help your customers. Jump in. Test them. Experiment. Find which new media capabilities might be right for you and your business.
They work … but only if you think anew, act anew, and disregard the stultifying and stiflingly destructive “Us Against Them” siloed business mentality.