Milo Frank wrote How To Get Your Point Across In 30 Seconds – Or Less around twenty years ago. The edition I skimmed through recently was impressively its seventh reprint. I remember I was interested in it at the time because some training I had around then got me to practice my cold-call pitch whilst holding a lighted match. You had to score before you burned your finger. It was a good way of understanding the pressures and focusing your game of getting something over well, even though nowadays such an approach is less relevant to the telephone cold pitch.
The are two pillars to this for Frank. Firstly, consider the three principles of the 30-second message. Although these don’t seem that groundbreaking for 2009, they are:
- have a single, clear-cut objective
- know your listener and what they want
- get a well-formulated approach
Which can be well summed up by “know what you want, who can give it you, and how to get it”.
Then you must think about the construction of your thirty seconds. He likes three simple elements:
- Snappy Opening with Hook
- Concise Expression
- Killer Close
He recommends that the hook should be a question. To paraphrase, which of these hooks grabs your attention more? “All top salespeople share one key ability” or “What one key ability do all top salespeople share?”
You must also keep your chat jargon-free, and ensure that your call to arms is crystal clear. He talks in terms of seeking either an action or reaction with your close. An action is obviously like setting a deadline to agree on or do something. A reaction is more subtle, and is making a statement that either almost has to be contradicted in some way, or triggers action without you explicitly demanding it. Obvious examples that spring to mind include ‘the time’s running out’ kind of closing, or suggesting that they take the one-up from what you want them to take.