I was at a reception the other day when I got cornered by a guy who was very keen to bore the hell out of me by droning on about his company, what it did and why most of his potential customers were too narrow minded and stuck in their ways to even consider using the software they had spent the last ten years developing. In fact it turned out that his core product was in fact pretty cool and could be very useful to a whole bunch of companies. So on the way home, I started thinking about what it was that he was doing wrong, why in fact he was so boring!
Although nearly every sales manual says don’t, most people still do…he was trying to sell me product ‘features’ hoping that something that came out of his mouth would connect and be interesting to me! But more than that he was pretty arrogant with it too…
For example, he said: ‘We’ve got this xxxx and we’ve got that xxxx and nobody else has what we have!’ And all the time I am asking myself, ‘I wonder why?’ He honestly thought that all of his competitors were useless and their CEO’s, thick, even though it was pretty obvious from what he was saying, that his company hadn’t made a dollar of profit since it was founded! The real problem with my boring CEO was that he failed to make any kind of emotional connection with me. If I had been anywhere else I would have simply made an excuse and walked right past him.
Where he began with the ‘what’, (what his company does) I like to begin with the ‘why?’ (why my company does what it does) and one way I do this is by beginning with a personal story that just might make a connection. For example, here is how I would begin in his situation:
“Back in 2003, I was working as a freelancer in Belgium – an Englishman in a foreign land – and although the pay was pretty good, I felt a bit lonely. When I had a tough day (and even when I had something to celebrate) I didn’t have anyone that really understood what I was going through to share my experiences with. I didn’t want to join a club, especially as most of the stuff I wanted to talk about concerned my clients and was highly confidential. So I decided to turn my one man band bvba into a Group Partnership, and here I am today surrounded by a really great bunch of fun people, all driven like me by the same thing: the desire to tackle and solve really tough business problems. And with a net annual growth of approximately 20% year on year for the past 7 years, I guess we must be doing something right?”
I deliberately keep what we do as short as possible because if the person is interested in my story he, or she, will ask anyway and my topic can then become what is commonly known as ‘a conversation’.
Now my friend the CEO at the dinner party would have put it something like this (assuming he was describing my business)
“We hire in and hire out all kinds of profiles, all specialized in a wide range of activities into a broad client base. The great thing about our business is that nearly all our profiles have qualifications in PRINCE 2 and PMI certification, this ensures that our clients can utilize the methodologies they need and apply them to their strategic issues, knowing that they will remain compliant to local laws and customs…”
See what I mean?
Have a good week,