10 tips for creating interest in technology companies

Most deals are completed by not who we talk to, but who our audiences talk to… “Its not what you say, it’s what they pass on that counts”

The acid test of your pitch is did it get passed on and ultimately did it go viral.

Talking  in the language of our target audience not ours takes practice. If you are a scientist and/or technologist seeking endorsement and funding from investors, start talking their language.

Here are 10 tips to creating effective pitches:

  1. Get attention be different – Opening WOW.
    Stand out from the crowd, wake people up.   Just because you have their physical presence you do not have their mind.
    Don’t be boring.
  2. Be succinct  – Talk in simple 10-30 sec sound bites, create a 3 min version first.
    Long messages are hard to process and seldom get passed on. The power of your message is inversely proportional to the number of words used.
  3. Build simple context for relevance
    The more complex the technology, the greater the need to add a 10-30 sec statement that simply explains why we should care about this topic and why is it relevant to other people.
  4. Customer Stories engage audiences
    The most powerful way to explain a technology is to give us an example client, their problem and what difference your solution makes for them.  Customer cases are proven to be 80% efficient in closing sales. Ignore the temptation to explain how your technology works – its secondary, almost irrelevant, wait to be asked.
  5. Contrast & quantify outcomes not technology– (with & without)
    Build on your customer story by quantifying the difference your product made comparing life before and after your product. Audiences like black and white, not complicated shades of grey.
  6. Explain your business model – including how you make money and go to market.
    Use the business model canvas or a variant of it to illustrate your business model in a page.
  7. How you say it is more relevant than what you say
    Research showed that message impact is determined 7% by content, the rest is by body language and voice (vocal variety). Don’t make your pitch boring by the way you deliver it.
  8. Investors invest in people first – technology second
    Tell us something about your team and why with them on board this project/venture will succeed.
  9. Be clear about both where you are today and what your BHAG is
    inspire use with your vision, but show us how you will get from where you are to the end goal
  10. Be true yourself and your brand
    Authenticity and personality counts- have a character and a way and be proud of it

And do not forget to listen … pitching is all about baiting an audience to begin an intelligent  two way conversation…

more on this topic including an elevator pitch template >

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Differentiation for Services Coy’s

My twin and I are different…

So we all know we need to have a USP (unique selling proposition)  – Elevator Pitch. But what about when you are in the services business ? …”we are the best” or a derivative of it “we are the leaders” fails miserably on the unique test.

Unfortunately unless the output of your service is significant – it is useless at differentiating you, in fact doing a great job is what I call a hygiene factor – something any decent professional will give.

Very seldom, if at all, it is the firm that differentiates the service provider. There is always someone else that has the “expert team” or “boutique personal service”. We need to hunt further than that.

Think about how you choose your last: Dentist, lawyer, architectural designer or business adviser?

Differentiating in the services game is hard, as the string of poor web sites  are testimony too.

My guess it came down to one of these:

  • Referral from a trusted source – the great thing here is price is often eliminated with a great referral. So make sure all your endorsements are succinct and powerful and not hidden away,
  • They stood out from the pack in some way. This could be from:
    • Making a stand eg Being thought leaders or just different
    • You just liked them, because they are “like you”.

Notice I am not talking about a logo or fancy tag line. It is more about your approach, attitude or way you are. Once you are conscious of what your customers like, give them more of it. Make sure that this “way” is consistent across your entire organisation. Have you ever fired someone because they did not adhere to your company values – brand attitude?

It still blows me away when I see people referring to their craft rather than a measure of success from the client’s perspective. Here is classic from a web site “Accounting is our passion,” If accounting is your passion, enjoy yourself. But what can you do for me?

For something completely different check out this law firm www.valoremlaw.com/ (see the tease below)

They are making a stand:  “the billable hour is dead”

 

Check your web site out,  how much of relevance do you offer your clients?

Some more ideas on standing out from the crowd:

  • Share customer stories, highlighting what your customers got beyond your basic service
  • Make sure all your headline stories on your promotional material talk the language of your customers need and success – not yours
  • On referrals, make sure you make it easy for people to refer you:
  • Be clear on what you do and don’t do. give them a simple sound bite to pass on…
    Particularly if there is some overlap of your services with them.
  • Be clear on what market segment you are after.
  • Make sure you have a LinkedIn profile and its up to date (google is great at finding you here)
  • Reciprocate – people you give referrals, will give you ones in retutn
  • Your existing and past customers will give you the best referrals, they know you. Always ask for an endorsement and highlight rather than hide them on your web site. Third party endorsements have an 80% probability of closing a sale.
  • Google yourself and see what people see of you. Do it on an I-pad and see how your web site looks – influencer’s are generally busy people and they steal time by using these portable devices

More GMC articles on Networking or Pitching , or if you want more information specific to  selling professional services I found a great resource here  http://www.marcusletter.com/Differentiation.htm

90 Sec Elevator Pitch Template

Going to a networking function and decided you want to nail your elevator pitch … try this format out for size.

Build your 90 sec elevator sales pitch with sound bites – (10 – 15 sec succinct statements). These are newspaper headlines not a full novels, cut the jargon and keep it simple.  Contrast (before-after or with-without) combined with a specific  customer story is the most powerful.

Do not forget you need to get attention – Stand out from the crowd – Take a stand.

 90 Sec Template:

1: INTRODUCTION AND WOW (15 sec)

Hi I am (name) …  I am from (company name) …
Opening WOW statement    (Take a stand on something,  make a judgement call, or give a great customer story)

2: VALUE PROPOSITION (15 sec)

The problem we solve for customers is…    (quantify the customer pain and gain)

 3:  UNIQUE PROPOSITION (15 sec)

What makes us different is …    (include comparisons to substitute products including doing nothing)

 4:  TARGET MARKET (15 sec)

My ideal customer-referral  is …   ( size, revenue, geography , sector etc)

 5:  CASE STUDY PROOF (15 sec)

One of our customers …  ( give an example – be specific with names and quantify the gain)

OK and for those of you who are good at maths you now have 15 secs left …

More information is available here in a two page cheat sheet>

For inspiration on a power investment pitch check out the best example I have from first attempts at my investment pitching workshop. Watch video here>

Creating a Succinct Story

Click below for a free 28 min seminar on “Creating your own succinct story”  watch here

No Need for Stealth Mode for New Ventures

Pitch your product without giving away the “secret sauce”

Recently I came across a great blog post – Start-ups in stealth mode need one piece of advice – Just Stop .  Having spent the last 3 years in the early stage investment markets I can confirm this sound advice. I have never yet meet a business that wants a NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) signed before they speak to you,  having any chance of success.

Not enough business people bait their audiences using a quantified value proposition. Instead they revert to the easier and more natural option of telling their potential customers about what great technology they have and how it works. These same people complain that their competition are stealing their ideas.

It’s about time the people giving advice in intellectual property educate their clients on how to talk about their business and their solution
without having to disclose details that would break any potential future patent rights.  Rather than simply advising them to say nothing, which usually gets translated by young entrepreneurs, into avoiding all contact with potential clients and investors – hence stealth mode.

So my advice is simple:

  1. Practice pitching your business in terms of value proposition rather than technology
  2. If your business can be destroyed by telling some one about it, stop now.

For the lazy ones who haven’t clicked the link above to  read Jason Freedman’s  full post  yet, you should have, here are the highlights:

Reasons you do not need to be in stealth mode:

  1. Execution is more important than the idea
  2. Someone else already has the idea
  3. Totally unique ideas generally don’t make it
  4. Failure is more likely through your incompetence than competition
  5. You desperately need feedback
  6. First mover advantage is silliness

If you would like a hand learning how to pitch without giving away the secret sauce – then attend the “Power Pitching Master Class” or give me a call.

Why do business people speak like idiots?

Before you hit send on that next memo, or deliver that speech or announcement to your staff, or write that next PR release – check for bullshit!

Ok look at your last piece of prose: did you include any of these words “Best of breed, centre of excellence, paradigm shift, results driven, socialise”?

Fear and Peer pressure it seems is the main cause for most business people to use this strange version of the English language.

I have just finished reading “Why business people speak like idiots” a book authored by Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway & Jon Warshawskey.

Whether it’s memos that say nothing, sloppy boring presentations or jargon overload these guys take the knife to all of it. Their take is: this predictable-PC dialect, the business world has fallen into is a waste of time. Hell, we’ve become immune to these empty, generic messages. And as a result no one really listens any more.

The worst enemy of all – CUT PASTE and BLOAT – be careful with that next power point you prepare and how you use these features. Templates kill the message, and cut and pasted templated messages are the worst.

A couple of my favourite tips were reiterated in this book:

  • Stand for something – avoid the curse anonymity – staying low may keep you safe but will not help you get noticed and achieve stuff
  • People love imperfection – ums and ah’s are ok. Overly scripted messages fail. Check out my Rework blog post- “no one likes plastic flowers”
  • Avoid the tedium trap – boring, boring, boring – spice thinks up
  • Stories work – tell a story about a customer or something relevant to your topic – people get it.

Theory vs Story telling:
Brian and team give a great comparison as to the world’s acceptance of storytelling versus theory. Compare the book sales numbers on the two books on transformational change below.

  • “Leading change” by John P Cotter – 210,000 copies sold 2003 – Theory
  • “Who moved my cheese” by Spenser Johnson – 14 Million copies sold 2003  – Story

More Tips from this entertaining and informative book:

  • Short presentations pack punch – straight talkers get more credit
  • Short sentences are more memorable
  • One syllable words build momentum – big words don’t impress
  • Bull has an aroma – and it isn’t exactly channel 5. Say it as it is – if its bad news front up to it and take ownership
  • Avoid the obscurity trap – don’t let fluff and verbosity get in the way of the real message
  • Avoid stupid generic photos or clip art

The good news is that it is not that hard to stand out from the pack, by just telling it as it is and using simple words.

Check out Winston Churchill’s famous speech to the House of Commons June 4 1940, below.

“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender”

How many big words does Winston use ? 

If you are after a light read and are willing to join the no bullshit movement get your hands on a copy.
Thanks for the book Motive8 team – a great read.

5 Tips for Presentations – Matthew Homann

Matt Homann recently posted his top 10 rules on creating  presentation slides on his blog.

Here are my pick of the top 5 from his post:

1.  Unless your presentation tells a story, the audience won’t care about the ending — they’ll just pray for it.

2.  The average person remembers just three things from your presentation. Great speakers make certain everyone remembers the same three things.

3.  Your audience’s attention is a lot like your virginity. You only get to lose it once.

4. The number of words on a slide is inversely proportional to the attention your audience will give it.

5.  Never read your slides. When you do, it suggests to your audience you think they’re incapable of doing so themselves.

Go to Matt Homann’s blog to read his full list of the top 10

website:  http://www.lexthinkllc.com/
blog:  http://thenonbillablehour.typepad.com/nonbillable_hour/ten-rules/

Don’t Confuse Networking With Card Swapping

Networking Tips

Effective networking is one of the best ways to build your business yet so many people do it so wrong.

The number one failing by business people is the delusion that –  card swapping equals networking. Card swapping benefits two parties – the printing industry and the cleaners.

 

At your next networking event spot these people:

Homer Simpsons: Hanging out with their mates and eating and drinking.  – Just go to a bar
Stalkers: Hounding the most famous person in the room – they will not remember who you are in the morning
Date Hunters:
chatting up the pretty people – this works (this is how I found my beautiful wife) but not good for building business
Card Sharks: thrusting cards into everyone’s hand – measuring success by the number of cards they bring back to the office – too many people operate like this

So how should you approach a networking event?

Aim to meet 1- 3 new people:  The goal of attending any networking event should be to commence establishment of 1 to 3 new relationships. There are plenty of networking opportunities; you will not build an entire network in one event. A relationship is based on knowing people well enough so that when you call them in six months’ time, they will remember who you are.  This is never done with simply swapping cards and giving them your elevator pitch. Take your time and get to know them and their business. My goal when I attend a conference is to make one new real connection.

Prepare your Elevator pitch: Make sure the first 60 secs that comes out of your mouth describes something about how you solve problems for your customers – not a speech about you and your technology or craft. Get outside help on testing your elevator pitch – look at attending an GMC Power Pitching workshop

Qualify your audience: Make an assessment on people, if they are not for you and they thrust a card in your hand – put their card into a different pocket and dump their card ASAP. If there is something of interest, dig deeper and remember to ask about them.

Talk to competitors: NZ SME’s do not work well with competitors. Learn to talk about your business without giving away the ‘secret sauce’. Explore opportunities for mergers and acquisitions or just plain collaboration.

Post Event: Follow up with an email or call in the next day or so – not from the other side of the room or in the car park as it appears desperate!

Linkedin: Linkedin.com is a powerful free networking tool. As well as providing an up to date database of your network, it more importantly gives you access to your network’s network. Start with a basic profile today if you do not already have one. The best uses of linkedin are: (i) reference checking new employees from your network, rather than those listed on the cv (ii) Getting introductions into businesses (iii) accessing potential employees, and (iv) participating in online interest group discussions. An interesting fact is in USA 80% of job placements are initiated via LinkedIn.

Groom and qualify your network: Take the time to groom and nurture your best contacts – use a contact schedule to make sure you stay on their radar – pass on links to relevant information to them.

Give and you shall receive: Relationships do not happen overnight, earn the trust and respect before asking favours.

Resources:

KEA: Kiwi Expats Abroad is an international network of passionate Kiwi’s who live abroad that want to help NZ businesses grow international markets   http://www.keanewzealand.com