If You Have Something MEANINGFUL to Say, Say it in a MEANINGFUL WaySometimes I’m just waiting for someone to say something intelligent-- to get straight to the point rather than trying to impress me with vague platitudes and empty generalities. I hear enough of that from my own marketing department.
You tell me which elevator pitch is more compelling...
“…our total life cycle management approach provides greater efficiency during the procurement process…”
“…a managed lifecycle purchase plan for an entire system of 6,000 PCs will result in savings of $123 per PC per year - saving $738,000/year in SG&A expense and $2.952M over the life of the PCs…”
“…your salespeople will be more productive by using the latest tools…”
“…reduced PC downtime in the field sales force and contact center will yield 1% more sales productivity and $40M more revenue per year…”
“…employee satisfaction will be improved by providing the latest easy-to-use technology…”
“…increased sales productivity will enable call center representatives to earn 5% more in sales incentives, resulting in a reduction in staff turnover of 7%, saving an estimated $1.2M in new employee training-related costs…”
If you try hard enough, and really care about being relevant from my point of view, you can even make a concrete, quantifiable pitch related to customer service. Instead of...
“…your improved productivity will lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction…”
“…reducing customer callbacks due to CRM system downtime (one of your key contact center metrics) by 10% will increase call center productivity resulting in the opportunity to reduce SG&A by 5% ($18.7M per year)-- another of your key strategic objectives-- while maintaining current revenue levels. In fact single-call resolution has been demonstrated to generate an average of 24% increase in cross-sell/up-sell revenues (based on higher close ratios and higher ASP), which could represent another $235M per year in revenue based on your current upsell mix…”
If you only have 30 seconds to hit me with an elevator pitch, don’t waste my time and yours trying to chat me up about the weather, my swell tie or even about how “great” you think my company is. Give me something meaningful to think about, a reason to believe you’re smart enough to know what matters most to me and that you’ve got the ability to talk to me about it.
Show me you know how to “Executalk.”
... and one that just might work...
So either you're incredibly fortunate, or you've been stalking the CEO of your biggest prospect and just "happen" to bump into him at his favorite lunchtime restaurant or the lobby of his building.
What do you say? Most of the typical salesman "pickup lines" not only won't work, but will virtually guarantee you'll never get an audience with the big dog in the future...
PICKUP LINE: "I was just reading an interesting article about your industry this morning in USA Today..."
CEO RESPONSE: "Was that before or after you checked your horoscope?"
First of all, surely you understand that nothing you read in a rag like USA Today is really "NEW"s, don't you? By the time it is deemed suitable for general consumption by the American masses, anything that you read in a general interest newspaper has been stripped of any real relevance to a cutting edge business executive. It's guaranteed to be a superficial and mutated retread of previously available info that may or may not have been relevant in the first place. By quoting these sort of sources, you damage your own credibility, confirming that you don't have executive-level judgment to evaluate the quality of information from which you are drawing conclusions.
One possible exception: TODAY's edition of the Wall Street Journal. In fact, I do expect that if anything particularly impactful for my company or industry has happened in the last 24-72 hours, you're going to know about it and adjust your presentation accordingly. If it's at the top of my mind, it better be at the top of yours.
PICKUP LINE: "For over 40 years, our company, SelfLove Corp. has..."
CEO RESPONSE: "So why haven't you gotten it right yet? Otherwise, you'd already have my business."
I truly couldn't care less about how long you've been in business. I don't care how financially successful you are, how many patents you hold, how much market share you have, how many employees you have or where your offices are. I want to know what you can do for me ... that I care about.
Which reminds me. Just so you know, it is not the least bit impressive to me that you know how to use your latest Marketing Department-approved "branded" presentation template featuring your company's logo prominently on every page. Frankly, I know who you are-- I don't even need to see your company's NAME on the presentation until you get into the specifics of the solution you've designed specifically for me. IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. Talk about me.
PICKUP LINE: "Let me start by asking a few questions..."
CEO RESPONSE: "So you haven't done your homework and still have questions? My admin can refer you to the appropriate contacts to help resolve your ignorance before I waste any more of my time educating you."
And for Pete's sake, please don't ask me "what keeps me up at night," or "wouldn't I like to increase my business." I've read Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In and SPIN Selling and the rest and I'm not here to provide you with an opportunity to practice your "sales" skills.
Don't try to be a smart-aleck by proving you already know more about my company and industry than I do (you don't), but do give me a sense that you're already moderately up to speed on the issues I'm dealing with and that it's worth the 15 minutes I'm willing to give you to listen to your pitch.
Want to hear a pickup line that at least has a CHANCE of getting a date? Something like this:
PICKUP LINE: "I was talking to Bill Grower, the controller of your parts division, and he mentioned that after looking at the details that came out this week in House Bill 1052.6, the proposed government bailout of your biggest competitor, TooBig, Inc., there may be unique opportunities to actually take advantage of the new restrictions in the bill to provide shorter delivery times to TooBig's nervous customers-- along the lines you already identified as a major objective in your last quarterly earnings conference call. Bill and I have discussed a way to cut three days from you standard delivery times resulting in an increase of 3% in your ASP and 12% increase in inventory turns resulting in an additional $18M in top line sales over a 12 month period while decreasing operating overhead (another of your priorities according to the latest annual report) by 680K."
CEO RESPONSE: "Uh, really? How do you figure that?"
So, he's a little chatty-- at lease he sounds like he knows what he's talking about. Not sure there's really any "meat" there, but for $18M revenue, better margins and a chance to kick TooBig while they're down, I''ll give him 15 minutes of my time.
"Call my admin and say that I'd like to schedule 15 minutes with you, Bill Grower, and "Speedy" Shippman, the Operations Manager for next Tuesday sometime after 2:00pm."
So how do you use that 15 minutes? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free copy of a 15 Minute Executive Sales Presentation Template.
C-Level Executives are Smart. And Busy. C-Level execs look at a potential purchasing decisions the same way as anyone else-- WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?). And frankly, they couldn’t care less about what YOU have to sell. There are only a small handful of things that they really care about. If you have something to contribute on those issues, they're all ears. If not, they last thing they want to hear is another self-serving “pitch.”
So what does a CEO or CFO care about? I’m not talking about on a personal level, but as part of his or her job. And to get there, he or she must have been pretty good at it. Pretty focused. And 95 times out of 100 the CEO, COO and CFO are going to be most highly focused on the financial performance of the company relative to the goals and objectives serving the shareholders.
So that should be easy, right? More sales, more profits—what else is there?
If it was really that simple, do you think those execs would be pulling down the big bucks? First of all, depending on current status, investor/shareholder/market expectations, different organizations will have totally different financial objectives. Market leader in a mature market? Protecting profit margins probably is a high priority. Well-funded start-up in a new and promising space? Growth may be more important for the time being. Capital-intensive, low margin megabusiness? Reducing debt ratios might be high on the list.
To gain the credibility necessary to a) get a C-Level exec’s attention and b) keep it for more than 30 seconds, you need to do better than that.
First of all, you have to truly have a desire to help them succeed personally and professionally. No, really. I’m serious. The superficial, “who loves you baby, let’s do lunch,” approach will not work at this level. They’ll see right through it.
Secondly, you have to be able to let them know how you’re going to help them succeed-- in the context of what they care about and in the language that they understand. If you can summarize that in 30 seconds-- and if you’re lucky-- you’ll get another 10-15 minutes to go into detail. Once you actually get that golden opportunity to meet the "top dog," you'd better know what to say, and even more importantly HOW TO SAY IT.
And that’s what Corner Office Conversations is all about.