Why You Should Start with Why Change, Not Why Us

The reason many salespeople are happy to start a presentation with their company’s history, their locations, their board of directors, their investors, and the logos of clients they’ve won is because they believe, mistakenly, that this establishes their credibility. They believe that they can borrow the success of the company to make them credible. This, however, tends to have the very opposite effect.

Instead of recognizing you as someone with business acumen, situational knowledge, and a point of view about their business and their future, you show yourself to be someone who believes that the value you create is found in sharing the same information that they might find in a brochure your company produces. Instead of sharing your ideas about at the intersection of your industry and your client’s industry, you start the conversation with who you are and why other people have bought from you in the past—none of which has anything to do with why you are sitting in front of your prospective client.

I don’t know who originally offered this advice to writers, but it goes like this: “Someone needs to bleed in the first line.” If you are introducing yourself and your company to your client, you are doing discovery work, and discovery work is now about helping a client discover something about themselves, namely, why they should do something different. The more time it takes you to start that conversation, the less interested your client will be in what you have to say.

One decision-maker entered a room and said, “Tell me about you and your company.” I told him that would be the least interesting conversation we could have. He pushed back, saying, “I want to hear about you and your company.” I parried, replying, “Okay, let me tell you what we are thinking about right now as it pertains to what you’re doing and what we think will need to change.” I shared my insights, and he was engaged with me for the next hour and fifteen minutes. When he left the room, his peers said, “He’s never lasted more than ten minutes in a meeting with a salesperson.

Here again is a gentle but firm reminder, you need to possess the advice that would make one a trusted advisor, should that be your goal. Get you some chops!

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