I was chatting to a friend of a friend over a coffee recently. She talked animatedly about her Masters course thesis. She was crafting a business plan for her venture, selling a new kind of service offering to the restaurant trade.
Having found out my expertise, she excitedly asked for a pneumatic trio of tips around how to introduce her new idea in the flesh.
Here’s the vibe of what the next couple of minutes covered;
As her explanations had been all about the ‘what’ (a commonplace misjudgement) I suggested sculpting a strap that evoked something they’d already be familiar with. Preferably in a way that enticingly built upon it.
I often use the example of the film industry. Aspiring screen writers are advised to sell their script using a device known as the high concept. Good old wikipedia suggests this to mean posing a scenario in terms of ‘what if…?’ (like ‘what if we could clone dinosaurs?’ re: Jurassic Park).
I’ve often likened good new product pitches to using another movie to frame theirs. Of course, the chosen flick is a well-known mega-smash. In the action genre, ‘Die Hard on a boat’ (Under Siege) and ‘Jaws in space’ (Alien) are two of the more famous. Terrific examples also come from crossing one film with another. ‘[film x] meets [film y]’ or even ‘imagine the love child of…’
Then there’s that other Hollywood trick, the logline pitch. This is less about the emotion, and more about the main thrust.
Arh yes, the old favourite. Remember to mention the what’s in it for me?!
I lose count of the number of times salespeople say to me they are truly on the same side of the table as their client, and within seconds only talk about everything from their precious viewpoint alone.
It is incredibly difficult to properly build upon this obvious yet elusive pitch centrepiece. I often run workshops on framing this very issue and it can take ages for sellers to really ‘get it’. To such an extent that they may never honestly do so.
That lurking perennial necessity.
(For the vast, vast majority of b2b cases where it’s highly unlikely you’ll be gaining an order on the front meet.)
What happens next?
You’ve had a lovely chat. Positive words and smiles all round. You may even leave something glossy. Then what? Silence. Usually.
How can you begin to create some form of momentum? Is it inking in another meeting? If so, with what purpose? Is it getting together alongside someone else? If so, why is more the merrier? Is it having some specific information drawn up by them for you? If so, which collation of data helps collaborative endeavours emerge?