Business to business marketing trades almost exclusively in intelligence. When your target market is comprised of executive decision makers within successful businesses, it’s a pretty big help.
There are also some things that you need to bear in mind when you’re marketing to these people. It’s great to be talking to the top of the pyramid, but there are central rules you need to know.
These people have a very low bullshit threshold. You need to leave the bells and whistles at home, and take a message to them that directly and succinctly convinces them of your value.
Before you set foot in the corner office to make your pitch, you should test it against some very simple questions.
Does it pass the binary value test?
Business people want one of two things from your company. They want you to save them money or make them money. It may be that your pitch involves up front investment to make money later on, and that’s fine. That’s all about making money in the end. But if you can’t show how your pitch hits the bottom line, do not go in there.
How will what I’m pitching really help?
Emphasis here is on the ‘how’. She gets it. She understands your industry and your business model, because she went to Harvard and now someone pays her half a million dollars a year to decide how to spend their money. She knows the concept of your pitch; she’s well aware of where her business is now and what the gap is. Your job is to show her how what you’re offering takes her from before to after. You’ve got to draw a very straight, very thick line between the issue and the solution.
Get on with it.
The guy with the corner office and the beach house already knows he’s interested or you wouldn’t be sitting in his conference room. Don’t waste his time telling him what he already knows. If the first ten minutes of your pitch is designed to convince him to meet with you, you’re wasting your opportunity. Get to the protein. Atkins pitching. He’ll respect you for it and if he wants to slow the pace, let him. If you have a good meeting, you’ll probably be there an hour. But you should plan on getting your message through in 20 minutes.
Take a PowerPoint, but try not to use it.
At any moment, you should be prepared to pull out a PowerPoint, and deliver a jazz hands presentation. But don’t if you can avoid it. Sales is done in conversation, not presentation. If you’re talking and, more importantly, listening – you’re winning. If you have the choice, start a conversation.
Buzzwords are off switches.
As sales folk and marketers, our addiction to acronyms and clever names is inexplicable. What part of the sales brain makes any of us think we can sell something if we come up with a name for it? ‘Oh it’s not just a high quality model for hiring more people at a lower cost, it’s Employee Motivation Process and Talent Yield. Where do I sign?’ The next time someone tells you ‘we should come up with a name for this’, write 1995 on a sheet of paper and fax it to them. Or better still throw it at them. While you’re rattling off your buzzwords, the person you’re meeting with is mentally tuning you out while they remind themselves to pick up a bottle of wine on the way home.
Getting your foot in the door at the top level should be the hardest part of sales. If you find closing a sale harder, you should probably find something else to do, or a better product to do it with. Once you’re in front of the right person, don’t blow it with a basic failure to understand the way senior decision makers want to hear your message in 2016.
Richard Spragg is the CEO of Hirebrand, a global leader in marketing strategy for employers and staffing companies. Follow him on Twitter at richard_spragg, or call him on (713) 876 6045.