How To Frame A Conversation

The sales-savvy CEO of a £60m business shared with me this little nugget recently.

He described a piece of consultancy he’d had a few years back which he liked.

It offers a framework for speaking to a senior person (or C-level Exec, as today’s jargon goes). it gives rise to the rather awkward, yet strangely memorable, acronym, ESOIC;

External influences





I was also blessed with a quick-fire demo using a simple example;

so, the internet’s rampant, how is it affecting your business…?

what are you doing about that…?

have you any targets in place for it…?

are there any projects underway to make this happen…?

and any particular challenges you’re facing along the way…?

There’s a strange lack of guidance on how to talk to those atop your prospect organisation. Especially considering the usually large age and experience gap between ambitious young rep and target CEO.

It reminds me of the pre-amble for the legendary Only Fools And Horses scene. He informs his pal Trigger that all the young ladies in said “yuppie” bar like to talk about money. So, emboldened, Trig asks one, “have you seen the new five pound note?”

As an aside, here’s what follows.

Anyway, one central selling tome of course devoted a chapter to all things “economic buyer”. Miller & Heiman’s 1985 Strategic Selling suggested the one thing a top person wants is knowledge. You deal with several people in his position, right? So you should know what pressures they’re under and successful responses to them. So they say talk about that.

I wonder if whoever coined this mnemonic would appreciate evolving it into ESOICK. Where the new ‘k’ stands for Knowledge – that vital insight which you share with the top person that builds your credibility and helps them further their ideas too?

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