The Best Elevator Pitch of Your Life #Sales #Selling #Entrepreneur #Entrepreneurship #Fintech

 

The elevator pitch seems to be one of those areas that everyone is an expert but no one has perfected it yet. There is all kind of advice out there on how to create your pitch. The purpose of an elevator pitch is to be able to explain your business in a short amount of time, like when you are in an elevator. I did this once years ago and I didn’t even know it was a thing. I got on to an elevator with a person that I noticed was from a prospective client’s company and told her what I did. She said it sounded interesting and for me to give her a call. She didn’t have a card but I remembered her name and called her a few days later. I got voice mail for about two months in a row until the mail box got rerouted to another person because she had left the company. I guess I didn’t do my pitch in the elevator right.

Anyway

The topic came up in my UNCC Entrepreneurship class last month. This semester I decided to do the topic of “elevator pitch” a little differently. Last semester I had each student stand up in front of the class and pitch. I found that a few of the students were so terrified of the prospect of speaking in front of the class that they were losing sleep. The purpose of my class is to study entrepreneurship and not necessarily become one, although I would highly recommend it. So to make a short story much longer I decided to have my students write out their pitch by using a framework versus a script.

Script?

I can’t really tell if I have a thing against scripts or I have developed a business strategy against scripts, but when it comes to elevator pitches one size does not fit all. Sure there are things that you can use in every pitch but the outcome is you need a more agile approach to create the best response. That’s where I developed the framework.

Framework

There are five parts to the framework:

  1. Your name and your company – This has to be quick and a matter of a fact.
  2. What you are known for – This is best put from someone else’s perspective – like a customer.
  3. How you execute – Really Really Really brief. Most people who pitch spend way too much time on this part because it is interesting to the pitcher.
  4. Why you exist – You can read some previous post of “why” or “knowing your why”… Explaining why you do what you do is something that people pitching leave out, but the “why” is the reason people will buy from you.
  5. Call to action – If your pitch doesn’t end with a person reacting to your message you have missed the point.

Stay away from:

  • Leaving your pitch to chance– you have to be prepared and you have to practice
  • Use jargon or trade talk that only you know – get out of your world in tothe person you are pitching to world.
  • Tell them why you like it or why you are sold on it – remember it’s the customer’s world you are trying to enter.
  • Being pushy or manipulative. Those days are over.

Example

I wanted to give you the pitch that I use that gets responses. The number represents each point of the framework. Note that I have four different calls to action depending on who I am pitching to.

My name is (1) Chris Elmore I started a company called AvidXchange. (2) AvidXchange is an accounts payable and payment automator which means we develop software that (3) sits on the front and the back of a company’s accounting system. Our software and services will digitize paper invoice coming into the accounting system and payments leaving the accounting system. The visible outcome of our offering is a paperless accounting process.

We (4) do what we do to help companies use their accounting talent in more meaningful ways because there is no more dealing with paper, data entry or filing. The most interesting aspect of our software and services is that we are able to help companies make payments thought a credit card network which creates rebates and typically eliminate all software fees.

If (5) you are looking for work we are a growing company

If you are looking to invest we have a proven track record

If you have paper in your accounting system we can help

If you want to make electronic payments and earn rebates we are the best in the world

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people that startedAvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact usfor more information.

When You Get Your Deals Can Tell You A Lot! – #sales #selling #fintech

This was my 26th end of the year as a salesperson/leader/manager/teacher/observer. I started thinking about the fun that happens at the end of the year. It also got me thinking about the end of the quarter or end of the month. In a related slash unrelated thought, it is common knowledge that the best time to buy a car is at the end of the month or (even better) the end of the year. All of this “end of” started me to thinking.

Thinking

In an effort to help salespeople, managers and training become well… better, I am always looking for non-data ways to find out what is really going on. Now, don’t get me wrong… use the data. Know your pipeline and your forecasting. This article is dedicated to taking an additional step to understand behaviors.

Activity

I have been on a big kick lately about helping people get back to the basics. I have written a few articles about cold calling and prospecting and people have really responded to them. One of the core principles that people seem to get so excited about is the need to maintain an appropriate level of activity. If you think about it, activity is the key, but on that last statement the word “appropriate” is the hard part. It is unrealistic for a seasoned rep to be spending all of their time on cold calling just like it’s unrealistic to expect a new rep to demo. If you haven’t created a “sliding scale” on activity dependent upon the rep’s experience you are setting yourself up for failure. In other words, one size does not fit all.

Indicator

I got some advice one time that has stuck with me… “Follow the money”. If you follow the money on activity what I find is the bulk of the “appropriate” activity falls at either the end of the quarter and especially at the end of the year. Now, I know this can be in line with customer’s buying patterns, but the thing that I want to call out is the fact that reps that don’t have a predictable closing pattern have a tendency to get last-minute deals, and if you are close to that rep you know that there is a desperation and they do whatever it takes to close a deal.

Know This!

All of that to write this… If you or your salespeople are closing more than 50% of their opportunities at the end of the month, quarter or year (depending on your selling cycles) their activity is too low and not the right kind of activity (probably too many emails). You or the rep will need to make more calls in person on or on the phone. Notice that I didn’t advise to send out more emails. With having such a large amount of the activity coming at the end of a point in time (and going back to the word appropriate) you or the rep may be doing the wrong kind of activity. It always pays to do the most direct type of activity as possible. Getting face to face is probably the most direct, but the next most direct is a phone conversation. After that it gets less and less direct.

Don’t

Don’t get caught by too little and too passive activity. Life is much better when you do the appropriate type and level of activity.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people that startedAvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact usfor more information.

What Is Good Selling? #APAutomation #SaaS

What makes good selling?

I hope you have been there either on the sending or receiving end. Where everything you say and do fits perfectly with what is being offered. As a salesperson, I hope you know what I am writing about. You sit down in person or over the phone and you instantly click with the person you are talking with. Your actions are smooth and easy and the person on the other end is taking it all in and responding well to what you are saying. Your interactions are not guarded and you get to the moment of truth when you ask your first check in close… “Well, what do you think… is this something that you would be interested in?” There is no pause from the person you are presenting to and they say, “Absolutely!!!! This is exactly what I am looking for!!!”

Memories

I remember the first time I got that answer. I was fresh out of college, 24 years old, looking like I was all of 17. I had just gotten off of what I like to call “verbatim” sales training where my manager, who had no interest or desire in being a manager, had given me a flip chart with words printed on the back. He promised me that if I just say the words like they were written I would “make a sale”. I put, make a sale in quotes because nothing was further from the truth. Up to that point I had made nothing. No money, no progress, no self-esteem and I was nowhere close to “making a sale”. The notion of making a sale was foreign to me. I don’t know what it was, maybe the couple had pity on me or were just desperate, but when I asked if it was something they wanted to do… the husband looked at his wife and they did that kind of half nod to each other and he looked back at me and said, “Yes, it is”.

Drinking

Because my manager was at a bar on this call, his wife was going to have a baby soon, so he said that he was going to skip my call to do some drinking (I don’t really know where the logic was in that, but he had somehow worked it all out as a good excuse), I was prepared for a lot of things. Before we left the office and I went on the call he had prepared me for what to do if they said they wanted to think it over. He had prepared me on what to do if they couldn’t decide. He had also briefed me on a flat-out no, but he had not and I was not ready for, “Yes, it is”. I know I must have sat there for only a few seconds, but it seemed like days. I have always been quick on my feet and ready with some kind of come back or phrase for the situation, but nothing. I stuttered and from the look on their faces I must have had some kind of expression followed by an array of white, pink and red. The only thing I could think to say was, “well, I don’t really know what to do. I would like to go find out and come back tomorrow to let you know.”

No You Didn’t

I went directly home and tried to call my manager at his home. Ok, that was a real bad idea. If you remember he left his pregnant wife at home to go do some drinking and you could imagine her surprise when I asked her if she knew where her husband was. Her simple reply was, “I thought he was with you.” I told her he was earlier in the day. Then I pause and made the situation much worse when I asked her if she knew what bar he typically frequented. Then I said, “Hello? Hello?” The next day at the office was no fun either. I didn’t go back to the couple’s home, I was too ashamed. I had messed everything up and was wondering if this selling thing was for me. I had no skills, no abilities, no training and no real life experience to draw from. The only thing I had was what one of my mentors called the confidence that come with not know what you are doing. My wife has another way of saying it, “I was sure full of myself”. I was.

Make The Sales?

With no skills, abilities, training or experience I had no possibility of “making a sales”. For the first few years of my selling life there was not one sale that I made… I was just there writing up the order. I was more or less in the way and a sales happened. Woody Allen was right when he said that 80% of success was just showing up. That’s all I had going or me. Now it’s different. There is a sense that comes with selling that I am able to see the entire field. Better with my skills, abilities, training and experience and add to that a strong pipeline (for those of you that are unfamiliar with a pipeline, it is the prospective opportunities you are working. A pipeline is your number one asset in selling) I am in a position to help people make a good decision and if they are not a fit for what I offer, I let them know early.

Good Selling?

So what is good selling? It is the ability to know your customer’s wants, needs and desires before they know them. It is the skill of navigating people and companies to the betterment of those people and those companies. It is training yourself on people skill and not manipulative selling skills and having the experience to knowing where to get the experience to get a round peg in a round hole. That’s what good selling is.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

It’s Time To Treat People Like Humans When You Sell #APAutomation

OK! – Raise your hand if you love role play? For those of you that don’t know what this is, you sit in a neutral environment and one person “pretends” to be a customer and the other a salesperson. The point is to simulate a selling situation so you can practice. I am not a big fan of this technique, but in my experience there is no other way.

Practice?

I remember when Allen Iverson got called out because he didn’t give practice the proper respect. (You can see the video below.) After all there are a lot of words that underlines how important practice is: “Practice makes perfect” – “You will play like you practice”. They are mostly sports analogies, but sale people can reap the benefits too.

However

I am finding, however, those sales people who take training literally and use the techniques that are gained in training – word for word – a prospective client will pick up on this. Now the client won’t say, “Hey – did you just come back from sales training?” It won’t even register in their mind that you are “trying” a technique. What will happen, which to me is worst, the client will get a very uneasy feeling in doing business with you. You have probably heard the old saying that people only do business with people they like and trust… It’s true!

Worse

For AP Automation salespeople the situation of making a client uneasy is amplified because we are attempting to change a process that the client knows well and can depend on, even though it needs improving.

Be A Human

The first sales training I took was in 1994, I remember the trainer saying that you have to listen to his material (in those days they were tapes) at least six times which will give you 62% retention. At that retention rate you will become a product of the product and your reactions, questions and overall demeanor will be… get this – natural. After sales training, you have to take time out to make the material yours. Push you trainer to gain the essence of the actions and not each words. It is an extremely difficult thing to do but worth it so you won’t look like a mindless robot in front of your customer.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

Why Do Psychics Ask So Many Questions? #APAutomation

I was listening to a commercial about a psychic network and the person that got the reading she said was, “so dead on”. Then the commercial flashed to the reading and it was a psychic asking a bunch of questions. She said, “I feel there is something going on with a relationship” the person getting the reading said, “yes there is”. Then the psychic said, “is it your father?” If I was the person getting the reading I would say, “I don’t know you tell me… you are the psychic”.

Knowing

In the teaching model of selling one of the most important tools a salesperson has is knowledge. Knowledge helps the sales person not only give wise counsel to the prospective customer but it also gives the salesperson the ability to know which opportunities are a fit for their offering and which ones are not.

GET OUT!

Not every opportunity is a fit for your offering. I don’t care how robust or compete your offering is. If you don’t know what to look for because of your lack of knowledge (or desire to fill your pipe) then you will spend a lot of time on things that won’t close verse things that will close. I coach reps to identify those things that aren’t going to work and let the client know as early as possible. (The earlier the better)

Be Careful

I have found, that when you are more open about your offerings short comings they are more willing to want to work with you. It a sad selling state when honesty is a rare quality. Or maybe the other way to look at it is honesty based on knowledge is an attractive quality.

Oh Yea

No one can tell the future, that’s what makes selling an art from and a doctor a practice, and if you get anything out of this article, know that when a psychic ask a question it’s because they don’t know the future either.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

Attention AP Automation Sales People!

That’s right! Salespeople. You know the same people that you avoid in the mall that are trying to sell you hand cream. Or the nicely dress person walking through your neighborhood carrying a clipboard. Well fortunately, for an AP Automation salesperson there is no classic sales stigma.

Recently

I have noticed that following me on this blog, Twitter, Goggle + and Linkedin there are a lot of salespeople that react to my information. Because of that I am going to start writing a few article aimed at helping you help your clients make good decisions. Don’t worry accounting and finance professional, by reading these articles you will get to know the sales process and the people behind the process better. It will help you to negotiate.

The Start

AP Automation is a tangible – intangible idea.  Because you can see and “touch” the software that makes automation possible, it is tangible. The problem is that the real impact of automation is a better process and a better business, which is intangible.

Example 1 – Tangible

Look at it this way…buying a car is an example of something that is tangible. The last time you purchased a car, did the salesman try to convince you that driving a car was better than walking? I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen!

Example 2 – Intangible

An example of an intangible is life insurance. A lot of people own life insurance, but you can’t touch it. When the salesperson sold it to you, it was based on some version of providing for loved ones. Even though life insurance is something we can’t touch or see, we all know someone who has benefited from the offering.

That is why AP Automation is both tangible and intangible.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy