As President of the B2B demand generation company, Find New Customers, and a prolific blogger, I’m often invited to do book reviews. But after doing quite a few, one grows jaded a bit – so we ask tough questions.
The two questions I ask every time I do a book review:
- Does the book bring fresh insights and perspective?
- Is the book well written and easy to read?
Only a book that gets a “Yes” on both questions gets a 5 star review. (Note that one very popular book on social media failed to get a 5 star review because it was too academic – it failed question 2.)
A VERY interesting and different book on person to person executive-level contact. The book is Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff. Frankly, the ideas in this book could apply to any seller – buyer interaction – even a job interview. Ideas like “people want what they can’t have” — applies in job interviews too. (As you read on, imagine saying these things to an interviewer….)
We give this book 5 stars.
This is how Pitch Anything opens.
“Here’s the “big idea” in 76 words: There is a fundamental disconnect between the way we pitch anything and the way it is received by our audience. As a result, at the crucial moment, when it is most important to be convincing, nine times out of ten times, we are not. Our most important messages have a surprisingly low chance of getting through.”
- The methodology uses the acronym STRONG
- Setting the frame
- Telling the story
- Revealing the intrigue
- Offering the prize
- Nailing the hookpoint
- Getting a decision
Mr. Klaff introduces the concept of the “crocodile brain.” In this illustration, the crocodile brain is the center stem. Around it is the mid-brain. and the outer part is the Neocortex.
Let’s illustrate how these brain parts work: The way the brain works is a key concept from the book.
- When you are walking to your car and you hear someone shouting, you first act reflexively with a bit of fear. (croc brain)
- Then you see the person yelling, try to figure out who he is and place him in a social context (mid-brain)
- Finally, you figure it all out and realize nothing is wrong. It’s just a man trying to get his wife’s attention. (Neocortex)
The croc brain handles base level reactions. The midbrain handles logic and the Neocortex solves complex problems. He uses this concept to share an innovative thought about how a meeting works.
The croc brain is used first, and up to 90 percent of your message is discarded before passing it on. Unless your message is presented in such a way that the croc brain sees it as new and exciting, it is ignored.
Finally, you figure it out by using the problem-solving part of your brain, the neocortex
A key idea from the book – you must appeal to the “croc brain” first. (A data laden presentation does NOT appeal to the croc brain.)
A very important concept in the book is the concept of “frames”. A frame is a person’s perspective – encompassing their intelligence, values and ethics. Each person has a frame. But when frames come together, it’s not friendly. It’s a death-match. Frames don’t merge. They don’t blend. They collide and the stronger frame absorbs the weaker. Simply put, to win at frames, you must take control and impose your stronger frame.
This is the crux of the whole book. Frames are what happens below the surface of every business meeting you attend, every sales call you make, and every person to person business communication you have.
The beauty of frames is that they are simple. They require little talking and almost no technique.
To illustrate the power of frames, let’s look at a story in the book.
Huge money center bank. Meeting with senior executive for one hour only. Very expensive to fly everyone in, but worth millions if they win it.
They were escorted into conference room and extended pleasantries with Steve (the executive) and his team. Steve proceeded to spend 15 minutes talking about himself. Finally, after 22 minutes had been burned, they handed out the materials and began the pitch.
After talking for a time, the presenter glanced over at Steve. He had flipped over the pitch book and was tracing his hand. Oh no, we’ve lost him!
How would most salespeople handle it? It’s bad, but most would ignore it and soldier on. But using frames, the presenter realizes he is getting a power frame distrupter. What he does next is different.
“Steve, gimme that.” as he pulled the pitch book away. Looking at Steve’s drawing intently, he says”Hold on. Wait a sec. Now I see what’s going on. This drawing is pretty damn good. Forget the big deal for a minute. How about you sell this to me. Name a price.“
That was unexpected. Steve was stunned. And the deal was back on track. Surprising turns delivered with humor, are the perfect change.
Other ways to control the frame….
- Prospect “Thanks for coming in. I have only 15 minutes.”
- You “That’s okay. I only have 12.”
Hopefully, you get it now. Challenge the situation, but do it with a smile on your face. Very disarming for prospects. “When you are defiant and funny at the same time, he is pleasantly challenged by you and instinctively knows he is in the presence of a professional.“
Here’s a situation all of us have encountered. You set a big meeting and you’re all ready to start – you’re just waiting for “Mr. Big.” But then Mr. Big’s assistant pops in and says “Mr. Big just called. He cannot make it to the meeting for another hour. He says to start without him.”
No one can tell the story as well as you can. You must speak to Mr. Big.
Here’s what the author usually says:
“So you guys are asking me to delay the start? Okay, I can give you 15 minutes to get organized. But if we can’t start by then, let’s call it a day.” You simply need to say “I can wait 15 minutes, but then I have to leave.“
A common situation is the Customer who says “Hi. I only have about 10 minutes to meet with you, but come on in.“
Salesperson: “I really appreciate your time. Thanks for fitting me into your busy schedule.“
That is the common way salespeople work and is business etiquette – but it is the wrong thing to do.
You: “No, I don’t work like that. There’s no sense in rescheduling unless we like each other and trust each other. I need to know – are you good to work with, can you keep appointments, and stick to a schedule?“
Target “Okay. You’re right about that. I sure can. Let’s do this now. I have 30 minutes. Come on in.“
You’ve just broken the target’s time frame, established that your time is important, and now he is giving you his full attention.
There is a lot more good stuff in the book.
In addition to being a popular book reviewer, Jeff is President of the B2B demand generation company Find New Customers. Find New Customers helps companies who have 150 to 5,000 employees who sell complex products to businesses to design and deploy world-class B2B demand generation programs.