How To Pitch Anything (He’s Raised Over $1 BILLION By Pitching!)

Oren Klaff is the author of Pitch Anything and has pitched his way to over $1 billion in investments for entrepreneurs.

On this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Oren explains very simply how sales professionals can pitch any product effectively.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Oren Klaff
Pitching Expert

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Do you want to know how you can pitch anything and truly differentiate yourself from the competition. Then this episode is for you.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation, and welcome to today's episode of the Salesman Podcast. On today's show, we have Oren Klaff. He is the author of Pitch Anything, which you can find on Amazon, you can find it over at pitchanything.com as well, where there's a tonne more resources. And of course on today's show we're diving into the sales pitch, the mindset of why you shouldn't feel like you're low value going into a room of high value individuals, the mindset, the motivation behind all this. We touched on Oren's seemingly epic car collection, and a whole lot more. So with all that said, let's jump right in.

 

Will Barron:

Oren, welcome to the Salesman Podcast.

 

Oren:

Thank you, sir. That is a nice welcome from eight hours and 12,000 miles away.

 

Will Barron:

I'm glad to have you on. The king of pitching. That's exactly what we're going to talk about on today's show. And we've covered pitching from many angles on the show prior. Clearly it's really important in the world of B2B sales, but I feel like we can go way deeper in this episode, into the mindset into frame, into status, a whole lot more. Clearly we'll go on the back of the book and we'll talk about that towards the end of the show.

 

How the Dominance Hierarchy Influences The Way You Pitch · [01:20] 

 

Will Barron:

But to set things up here, with a massively leading question for anyone that knows anything about you, why is it that both junior salespeople, and even myself sometimes, I slip back into this. I get on the phone, I get into a meeting room, I'm sat there… Thinking about this, this even happens on the podcast somewhat as well, when I have people on that I really look up to. Why is it that I start pitching from this weird, needy, desperate for business place, with some individuals that I look up to? Perhaps I'm now selling to the CFO, as opposed to the marketing manager. Why is it that I get all needy when I'm speaking to the higher up people within the organisation? And I'm assuming that has a detrimental effect on my ability to pitch to them.

 

Oren:

Yeah. So a lot of things going on here. I'll introduce you a new term that I haven't used on other podcasts or in other material. It's the dominance hierarchy. So you are unsure of your position in the dominance hierarchy, and what you are doing is validation seeking behaviour to try and find out where you are in the layer cake of society on this call, in this presentation.

 

Oren:

That's a lot to chew on. Let me think back to a few years ago, probably 125,000 years ago, when your ancestors were running around, and so they met someone else. And typically there was not good news to communicate with people, and before you communicated the bad news that you had, because life was miserable, lifespans were short, there was no positive anything, every piece of news was bad or worse, and life was basically the game of death. And when you met and communicated with another person, what you were trying to test is, how will this information be received? And it will be received so negatively they will attack me. So you wanted to know that you had enough social validation before you start delivering your information, that you wouldn't be perceived or viewed overly negatively.

 

Oren:

This is validation seeking behaviour. Basically, it's you looking for a safe space to deliver the information you have. And until you feel safe, that you're somewhere that you understand and recognise in the social layer cake, you're afraid to start delivering your information. That's what's going on inside of you, and that's why it is genetically programmed. It's validation seeking behaviour, looking for a safe space in order to deliver your information. That's why you do it naturally. Everybody does it naturally.

 

The Status Imbalance and Validation Seeking Behaviour · [04:10] 

 

Will Barron:

So is this on us, in that we need to improve ourselves, versus we walk into this room with a bunch of high flying executives, we do our pitch and we come out of it going, “They were a bunch of assholes, they weren't even listening to me, they didn't give me the time, they didn't make any effort, they didn't give me any energy,” is it… Clearly I know the answer to this question. Is it healthy and is it useful to put our energy into that frame of thought? Or do we need to work on ourselves to improve this?

 

“Folks in a room, folks on Skype, folks on a phone call, if they perceive a large status gap between you and them, they functionally are not able to listen to the ideas you have.” – Oren Klaff · [04:54] 

 

Oren:

So this is 100% on you. I mean, I'm not motivation… If you came here for motivation, click off right now, because that's not what we're doing today, Will and I. This is 100% on you. What happens is, folks in a room, folks in a Skype, folks on a phone call, if they perceive a large status gap between you and them, they functionally are not able to listen to the ideas you have, in the same way that if a bum walks into your office and starts telling you the greatest ideas in the world, you can't listen to those ideas because of the social status, or a valet guy, or I don't want to insult people, the garbage guy comes in and he starts telling you about quantum physics and the Hyperloop and solar energy efficiency, you literally, because of the status of that in individual, can't accept that information. The CEO of your company comes down, he starts talking about Hyperloop, energy efficiency, quantum physics, perpetual energy, and even though these things far often seem impossible, you listen because of the status.

 

Oren:

So the status imbalance is the problem. And you're feeding the status imbalance. You're feeding the status imbalance as you start doing this validation seeking behaviour. And so there's words that trigger status imbalance, or make it wider. “Sorry.” “Thank you.” “I can wait, if you have more people to come.” “Do you have any questions before I get started?” Those things all continue to lower your status, and create the status imbalance higher, and making it more difficult for them to listen to your ideas.

 

Oren:

Most people set this up. I talked this about this a lot of time, you probably heard it before, but we have guys come in and say, “Sorry, we're late. We couldn't find a parking spot.” Are you kidding me? You came here to ask for $5 million, and you couldn't figure out that it takes 15 minutes in downtown San Francisco to find a parking spot? “I'm sorry, we couldn't find a parking spot.” You, sir, are not the person I want to give $5 million to. I want to give $5 million to somebody who can [inaudible 00:06:58] to get a parking spot [inaudible 00:06:59] to meetings on time, how to come prepared, how to bring a dongle for their laptop. Those are minimum functioning of the human chimp in today's society.

 

Oren:

What I really want is the contract or the $5 million or the agreement or the sale to go to somebody who's high functioning, who's prepared, who knows the background on us, knows our names, has come on time, gets a meeting started on time, has his presentation prepared, knows how to open, has humour, humility, but also the strength of a presentation. That's what I'm looking for from the person. Not somebody to say, “I'm so excited to be here. Thank you for taking this meeting.” A supplicant. So I think you're starting to get an idea of it.

 

Is Perception Everything in Sales? · [07:40] 

 

Will Barron:

So before we get into the practical elements of this… And hopefully the audience are listening to this in the car on the way, perfectly, to a sales meeting, can implement some of this. Before we get into all of that, Oren, something you… You almost glossed over it, but I think this is really important, potentially. You said the word “perceived” in the context of everything that we're talking about here. How much of it is perceived versus real? As in, can we fake it till we make it? How much does it matter that I rock up in my new BMW versus the rotary Mazda that I've got parked next to it on the driveway that looks a bit shitty and battered? How much of it is in the way we dress versus what we're saying? How much of it do we need to… I guess, how many of these boxes can we tick off before we've even opened our mouth and started the presentation?

 

Oren:

Will, I just really don't appreciate you bringing into the highlight the first five years of my career, when I had to park my car around the block from meetings and walk to it, because it was that crappy and embarrassing.

 

Will Barron:

And what car was that? You said it [inaudible 00:08:45].

 

Oren:

I have a new book coming out, and there's a little piece in it, I'll give you a preview I haven't done anywhere, but I once went to a meeting in my pickup truck, in a Ford F-150, and I got to the meeting in Beverly Hills, on North Beverly Drive, I'm walking into the meeting, and the Governor of California walks by the other way. It's the biggest private equity group in Southern California, managed tens of billions of dollars, and I park this giant lifted F-150 pickup truck in the valet area, because there's nowhere to park, they're having trouble parking it. The guy I'm meeting with goes, “I like you, you bring us a lot of business, I like working with you, you're funny. Never bring that fucking pickup truck to my office again. Here's a check, $95,000 or whatever it is, 100, $200,000. Go buy yourself an M5.”

 

Oren:

I'll give you another example. Roll the clock forward 15 years. We're looking for a vendor for some of our Salesforce technology. We had a guy come in literally last week. We're in Southern California, we're near the beach, and we have a large organisation, we got a 6,000 square foot office. We're next to GoPro. We're a professional organisation. And the guy comes in wearing flip-flops. And basically, we met with him for a few minutes, but nobody here gave him the respect due to a vendor, we ushered him out the door, and really, they might be the best vendor in the world, but if you look at our website, there is nothing about it that says you should come to this meeting in flip-flops. And matter of fact, if you walk into my office right now dressed like the Unabomber, as you are now, we'd probably throw you out too.

 

Oren:

There is fit and finish. You've got Mark Zuckerberg in the extreme. I think that's a problem. Everybody looks at the extreme examples. But what you want to do is feel about average or a little bit better than average on everything, and in your performance, so your appearance, your language, your timeliness, your preparation, shouldn't feel levels above. Because if you come in here and you've overprepared for the meeting, then that triggers supplication as well. I go, “I put five minutes into thinking about what this meeting is, and you came in here and you spent five hours obviously preparing for it,” we just feel a little bit bad for you in the status gap.

 

Oren:

So all of this stuff should be in alignment, but your presentation, the 5, 10, 15 minutes that you're talking about what it is you have and the benefit and the application to the buyer, should feel a million miles apart from what they normally have or what they can do for themselves. At the end of my presentations, people let out a gasp and they go, “[inaudible 00:11:47] can you do that again? I want to call John and Tim in here.”

 

How to Make a Great First Impression During a Sales Pitch · [11:55] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. So it seems like we've got almost this bank account here, Oren, of… It's got X amount of money in it. Every time we come in flip-flops, don't have a tie on, or unshaven, we're going negative. And if we do everything right until this point, we're still in the middle, we've not separated ourselves, not differentiated ourselves from the competition. And I'm giving you an open ended question here purposefully, because I want you to lead this and show us what you think are the biggest bang for buck opportunities here to give the people that we're pitching to that gasp, that moment, that clearly is the result that we're all going for. So if we ticked all the boxes of reasonable car, we're dressed appropriately for the audience, for the location, we're not being too loud, too quiet, we're doing whatever it is, how do we then start this presentation or structure this presentation? Or what's the magic sauce here? What is the thing that separates you, Oren, when you walk into a room and do a pitch, versus all the other chumps that you're competing against?

 

“The span of human attention is about 20 minutes. You can only pitch as long as you can be compelling, and you can't go longer than 20 minutes without some kind of hard reset.” – Oren Klaff · [13:45] 

 

Oren:

I think that is [inaudible 00:12:57] so what we do is, if you think about the span of human attention, call it 20 minutes. I know all these smartasses are going to say, “This podcast is going for an hour or 45 minutes.” But we're trying to help and educate and give you stuff. And our course material that we teach can go 40 minutes, but we're trying to help. But when you go in and you want something from somebody, the span of human attention is about 20 minutes. I know I can't run longer than 20 minutes, the best people in the world know they can't run longer than 20 minutes. You might not have 20 minutes. So you can only pitch as long as you can be compelling, and you can't go longer than 20 minutes without some kind of hard reset.

 

Oren:

So knowing that I have 20 minutes in which I'm able to be compelling, the second I start walking in that room, the countdown timer starts. So if I spend five, six, seven minutes discussing sports or the weather or Jewish geography or Christmas vacation or whatever it is, that's burning time. So I understand it's important to create some social relevance, especially if we know people in common, but nobody is going to do a deal with you because… So you have a sports car, I have a sports car, similar, we like the same automotive pursuits and everything. But if there's a $5 million deal on the table, if there's $150,000 deal, if there's a $50,000 on the deal on the table, and you don't like it structurally and your team goes, “Yeah, I don't know, there's some problems with it,” you don't go, “Yeah, but we both like sports cars, let's do it anyway.”

 

Oren:

So that stuff doesn't really buy you… All this preliminary jockeying on who we know, what sports we like, things we do in common, all that [inaudible 00:14:53] doesn't really buy you that much. It buys you a little bit of social validation, it buys you a little bit of safe space to operate, it buys you some relevance, it is a time where you correct any status imbalance, but that's got to be short, because clock is ticking down.

 

Oren:

So your question is, what do we do differently? If I see 1,000 presentations in a year, maybe 2,000, all of them wobble in. Nobody starts, “Boom, listen,” with confidence, because they're hunting for the things they think are going to work in that space. They don't have confidence in the narrative structure of their presentation. They don't have confidence in it, so without that confidence, they don't come out of the gate and go, “Listen, good to connect, glad we could each make the time to be together. We've been wanting to get together for a while. Finally, we've done it. It's 11:00, that's the time we said we're going to kick off. Anybody need fluids in or out? Let's roll.”

 

Oren:

“If it works for you, here's what I think the day should include. For about 15 or 20 minutes. I'm going to tell you about what it is we have, how we think it relates to you, why we took time out of our crazy schedule to get together with you, and where we think our circles overlap. After that, I'll give you some time and you reflect back. ‘Yeah, Oren, I think that is a good fit for us, and we'd like to… Here's why we think it's important.' I'll give you some time to tell us what you're doing and how it's a fit. And if, after that, we both think we can do a little bit of work together, we'll try and do some follow up and scope something out. Sound good? All right. Let's roll. So today here's what we think is happening in the world. Boom.”

 

Oren:

So that's exactly how I'd start a presentation. I don't know if you get a sense of the commitment and the shooting right up the effort curve. So to answer your question, I feel like most presentations start with very limited amount of effort, slow start, hunting around and pecking for acceptability, looking to see what's working, adjusting on the fly, and ramping up effort over time. Where I see presentations get the most magnificent is after the presenter has been talking for 30, 40, 50 minutes, which is 20, 30, 40 minutes after attention has burnt out, because as we talk, we gain confidence. I feel it now. The sound of my voice is so beautiful and mellifluous, and the iambic pentameter in which I'm speaking, and just the slam poetry that I can hear in my own mind as I'm talking is beautiful. How are you not simulcasting this to the rest of the world? Because everybody needs to be hearing this message from my voice today. It is so beautiful, and just the tone of my voice is rich and almost a violin concert, I'm falling more and more in love with myself as I'm talking. We all feel that.

 

Oren:

So we gain confidence as we're talking, we begin talking, and time passes very differently for the presenter and the listener. So we, as the seller, need some time to get into our groove, find out what's working, get social validation, start to fall in love with the way we're sounding, looking around and seeing that people are happy, feeling like we're starting to manipulate [inaudible 00:18:29] and we're getting all this feedback, we're adjusting to the feedback. This is okay, but it takes time. It takes time.

 

The Perfect Mindset To Take to a Sales Presentation · [18:40]

 

Will Barron:

Do we disrespect presentations? Should we be treating it as a art? Should we be treating it like a standup comedian when they get on stage? It isn't just joke after joke, they're not looking and they're not needing and wanting feedback from the audience. They're not needy, because as soon as you get that, it's all a bit weird and drama queeny when someone's on stage and they're acting like that. Do we just disrespect the whole of this process and not put enough frigging effort into it from the very beginning?

 

Oren:

Yeah. I think, Will, if you don't mind, we can just wrap up the interview right now, because you've made the ultimate point. There's nothing else we can do. I mean, now we're going to be talking about cars and women and drink.

 

Will Barron:

We need to do an after hours show, I think, where we can have a couple of beers and probably just talk about cars. That's probably an episode for another time.

 

Oren:

We'll call that the four hour show that nobody wants to listen to, but we had a good time filming it. All right. Hear me out. This is what I've been saying for years, and you're nailing it. The presentation, the sales presentation, is not something that you come in and loosely know, and then you wing it and apply it like paint to the audience or to the target. This is something that is a performance that you own. The reason people don't make it a performance is they don't know what is going to be accepted, what narrative is desired and going to be accepted by the audience.

 

Oren:

I like to think of these performances as unlock codes. So if you have a startup [inaudible 00:20:12] silly app startup that does something, and I know not all app startups are silly, but some of them are. So you have an app startup that detects the effervescence of a drink you're about to have, so you know exactly what time after you start drinking it that you're going to burp. That's your app, and you want $2 million for it. Well, you go to Sequoia Venture Capital or True Ventures or Kleiner Perkins or Crosslink, or any of 350 venture firms that give money for these kinds of applications, literally on the front page of Sequoia, they say, “Download this PowerPoint and fill it out, and then come give us that presentation.” That is the unlock code for Sequoia Ventures. All you have to do is take all the information that you have and format it in the sequence that they want it.

 

Oren:

If you do that, then you can triple, quadruple, quintuple down, that's a word, on making that a performance. Because you know that's the sequence they want the information in. That's where they want the emphasis. So obviously the emphasis is not historical cash flows, it's obviously not what's the org chart of your team because you're two dudes and a dog, it's obviously not who your competition is because you're starting something totally new, it's obviously not your geography, where are you located. Those are all trivial, last page or no page issues. They want to know, what's your mission? Where were you previously? Who's your technical founder? What your value proposition is, what platform you're on, where you're going to launch, and most importantly, how you're going to acquire users and what your cost to acquire is and what your [inaudible 00:22:05] that's the unlock code for Sequoia.

 

“The problem is, people don't know the information that the buyer wants and the order he wants it in. So they use a tonne of effort at the beginning of the presentation hunting around and trying to see what pieces of the puzzle fit that buyer. Yet it is very, very possible to know in advance exactly what that buyer wants to know.” – Oren Klaff · [22:38] 

 

Oren:

But if you take that presentation and give that same presentation to the National Institute of Health, and you walk in there and they're going to go, “Mission, vision, cost to acquire… What the hell is this? Get out of here.” Same company, same information. It's not the unlock code for the National Institute of Health. So once you know what the unlock code is or the sequence is for that buyer, now you can commit to the narrative. And that's what I see the problem is. People don't know what is going to truly be the information that the buyer wants and the order he wants it in, so they can't make a tonne of effort to the beginning, because they're hunting around and trying to see what pieces of the puzzle fit that buyer. But it is very, very possible to know in advance exactly what that buyer wants to know.

 

Oren:

I know you're raring to talk, but I'll just give you a quick… In my presentations [inaudible 00:23:08] company's presentations, we go to private equity groups. And they're polite, you go in the conference room, they're sitting there with a notepad. They just want seven pieces of information. And so when they're not getting it, they put it down and they're looking at their phone and they're doing stuff. Then a piece of information comes on they want, they take their notebook, they write it down quickly. Now they know they're not getting the information they want, they put it down, they start doing other stuff. They're just waiting over the course of an hour for seven pieces of information. That's it.

 

“Buyers want a limited amount of information, the salient points, in a certain order, with a certain emphasis. That's the unlock code. Once you know that unlock code, then you can turn it into a performance.” – Oren Klaff · [24:10] 

 

Oren:

And if the hour's up and they only got five, they go, “Thank you for coming by.” Literally 59 minutes and 59 seconds. “Thank you for coming by. Really appreciate it. Delightful for you to be here today. We'll let you know. We still have some lingering questions, but we're really out of time. Sorry, got to jump to a meeting. Again, thank you, and we'll circle back around. Meeting over.” That's the way it works in venture capital, private equity, banking, debt facilities, mezzanine finance, so the world I live in. But the buyers want a limited amount of information, the salient points, in a certain order, with a certain emphasis. That's the unlock code. Once you know that unlock code, then you can turn it into a performance. That's where I think you were going with the question.

 

How to Uncover the Buyer’s Real Needs Before a Sales Presentation · [24:30] 

 

Will Barron:

So we've used this example on the show before of… I've done a bunch of work with HubSpot, and if you go to the bottom, the footer of their website, they have a big document you can download, which has all the company culture, what they're looking for from vendors, and all this kind information. The irony is, I didn't use any of that when I first started dealing with them, and it came up in a show that I did with one of the senior sales managers. And he said, “Just happened that you fit in with all this stuff, so we started working with you.” So there was no skill in my sense for me getting that deal and doing multiple six figures with them over the past year. But how do we uncover this information when it isn't as simple as a link at the bottom of the page, or a template for a PowerPoint presentation that we can download on their site before we even get through the door and get speaking with them?

 

“Some things you can't just read in a book, look on YouTube, hunt around, ask a couple people, and then go into high stake situations and think you have it. That is ultimately winging it.” – Oren Klaff · [26:05] 

 

Oren:

Yeah. So unfortunately you got to find someone like myself or someone like you who has done it before, because these things are counterintuitive. We have a very smart kid here, terrific guy, if you start working with our organisation, you'll meet him. His name is Jesse. And his goal was to work in finance, in investment banking. And he's super smart, super capable, hard working, worked about three months on his own, and immediately came to the revelation and resolution in his own mind that this stuff is counterintuitive. You can't just study it on your own and learn it. It is based on reps and cycles and experience. And he came and joined us, because you need somebody to show you what the unlock code is for that industry. Some things you can't just read in a book, look on YouTube, hunt around, ask a couple people, and then go into high stake situations and think you have it. That is ultimately winging it.

 

Oren:

I have not recommended this mentor routeSome things you can't just read in a book, look on YouTube, hunt around, ask a couple people, and then go into high stake situations and think you have it. That is ultimately winging it.Everybody's talking about mentor and call up five people you know, or network to talk to attorneys and people who will sit down with you and tell you that… I don't really love that, because they just tell you anything in the meeting that they're thinking, they're making up content, because you're asking them potential mentor questions, or you're asking an attorney you got introduced to some questions, he wants to be of value, and so he's making up advice on the spot. But unless somebody has stakes in the situation that you're going into, I wouldn't take advice from them. That's how you [inaudible 00:27:01].

 

The Secret Sauce to Unlocking the Buyer’s Most Pressing Issues · [27:04]

 

Will Barron:

Sorry to interrupt you here, Oren. Let me give you a concrete example. My background is medical device sales. So I'd be selling full theatre suites, camera equipment, endoscopy equipment, to the NHS here. So it's B2B, but kind of B2G alongside that as well. So I'd be dealing with the surgeons, I'd be dealing with theatre management, I'd be dealing with procurement teams. So there'd be a big buying group around, especially when you're getting into the million plus deals that I did a couple of in the time that I was in medical devices.

 

Will Barron:

So for me as a B2B sales rep, and I'd be listening to this show if it existed at the time to up my game, who should I be asking for this? Because clearly I can't come to you personally, or maybe I could drop you an email and I might be lucky enough [inaudible 00:27:44] because I'm sure you get swamped for free advice, so perhaps I might get an insight or two. I've not got the buying budget to come to you as an organisation to get you on board. Perhaps I can talk my sales manager, sales leadership into that as well. But what can I do as an individual here? Is it speaking to the reps in my company that have done the one to $10 million deals? Is it reaching out to other sales reps who have gone on to senior management doing other things? I know you don't like that word “mentor” from the sound of things here, and it is a bit of a weird one, because a lot of sales reps who have success don't know how or why they've had success, they just continue to go along with it. There's no process behind it for them, which is a problem if you're being mentored by that individual, it's difficult for them to translate it down to you. Where should we look for this advice, this unlock code, if we're in that scenario?

 

Oren:

So I think for me, first of all, we do this as an organisation, because we see thousands of sales pitches get prepared. So you can always come to us promotionally, if you go to pitchmastery.com, sign up for… And we have office hours with myself and the coaching staff, because we've seen every selling situation. So if you're going to sell medical equipment on a B2G basis, we've seen that, we've done it at scale. So we've told somebody to organise it this way, they've gone into the market and tried it, and come back and go, “That worked perfectly.” And so it's somebody who's got big data on it, has seen lots and lots and lots of reps.

 

Oren:

So if you go talk to another salesperson about what he's experiencing, that will be useful, but my guess is he's got a method that is so integrated into who he is after ten years, that it's hard to separate him and his method. So I think it's somebody who has seen maybe not the sales manager, but the general manager of that business, and say, “You've seen a thousand sales go down. What is it that the buyers care about in what sequence?” So I wouldn't ask the sales manager, because his job is to have a unified sales and marketing presentation, and make that work with the sales force.

 

Is Sales Really About Guesswork and Hoping It Works? · [30:16] 

 

Will Barron:

And is that bullshit? When you say that, Oren, is having a set way of doing things, as you described, is that the opposite of what we should be doing?

 

Oren:

Let's see. People come to me all the time and they say, “My company tells me to sell like this, it's not working, I'm frustrated.”

 

Will Barron:

Yep. And I get exactly that as well. And I don't have the answers [inaudible 00:30:29] so I'm leaning on you here.

 

Oren:

Yeah. Here's what happened. I have a client in San Francisco. It's a $30 million company. They hired me because the CEO can get on the phone, walk into a room, and sell to clients. Literally he can go in and say, “Hey, gentlemen. Appreciate being here today. I'm super busy, CEO of the company, Acme Analytics. Just want to talk to you a few minutes about our product.” Then he can literally say, “The crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe,” and the customer goes, “We love it, we'll take two.” And he goes, “Yeah, I thought so,” and then he leaves. And the sales people and the sales manager are all scratching their head. “Crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe?” It doesn't matter what he says. He's the CEO, he started the company, he's done this a million times. The sale is literally just coming out of his pores.

 

Oren:

Then they package that up and they go, “All the sales people have to go out and say, ‘The crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe,' at the beginning of the presentation, and then say, ‘Do you guys want it or not?' And then leave.” And then all the sales people go out and go, “It's not working.” So that floats back up and the CEO goes, “Are you guys retarded? This is so easy. Watch.” And he gets on the phone, he literally takes out the phone book, and he goes, “I'm just going to call someone in the J's. All right, Eric Johnson. Hey, Eric Johnson.” And it's a guy who works at UPS as a truck driver. And he goes, “Listen, I'm the CEO of Micro Analytics. We provide web measuring software. We can have 100% uptime. It's $100,000 licence a year. The crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe.” And Eric Johnson, UPS driver, goes, “I'll take two.” And then the CEO hangs up the phone. He goes, “See, that's easy.”

 

“Sellers sell how they want to sell, and buyers buy how they want to buy. And very often there's a disconnect between how salespeople want to sell and how buyers want to buy. So we have to figure out how buyers buy without trying to take shortcuts, not trying to do loop-arounds, not trying to hoodwink them. Straight up the middle. You have to sell how buyers want to buy.” – Oren Klaff · [32:20] 

 

Oren:

And so this happens all the time, is that you as a salesperson aren't getting a narrative that works for the [inaudible 00:32:20] sellers sell how they want to sell, and how they've been able to make sales happen in the past. Buyers buy how they want to buy. And very often there's a disconnect how salespeople want to sell, because they've been watching videos, or the marketing department or the CEO of the company or somebody else can sell like that, that's how sellers want to sell, versus how buyers want to… We have to figure out how buyers buy this product. And not trying to take shortcuts, not trying to do loop-arounds, not trying to hoodwink them, not trying [inaudible 00:33:00] do NLP or hypnosis or shortcuts or circumvent it. Straight up the middle. You have to sell how buyers want to buy.

 

Oren:

So it's fundamental to understanding what their unlock code is, and then overlay the things we're talking about here. Raise your status. Give a presentation that's as long as you can be compelling. Make a maximum amount of effort at the beginning of the presentation, when people are actually paying attention to you. At the end of the presentation, you never say, “So what do you think? Is that something you'd be interested in?” Because that automatically hands all the power, control, to the buyer, and it signals the end of the meeting.

 

Oren:

Instead, as you finish up your amazing presentation, which is in the narrative sequence that medical device buyers want to buy stuff, as you finish up that sequence, you say, “Listen, as we began this presentation, we're super busy this time of year. I like you guys, but if you handed me a contract today for $1,000,000 of defibrillators or whatever it is you need, I'd have to hand it back to you. I just don't know enough. So in context of what it is we have, the value we deliver, these are some of the things I need to know about you. Have you guys got your lead environmental permits? Are you guys fully funded? What's the size of the team? What has been your reorder rate? What do you have installed now? What's your selection process? What is your internal timeline for doing this?”

 

Oren:

“So for example, the reason I want to know these things are, if you're saying, ‘We think we would be able to get under contract in summer 2018,' I'd say, ‘Have a good time,' because that's not on my timeline at all. I don't have nine months to onboard a customer. So I'd like to hear from you where you are on these things, and if that's a fit for me and I'm a fit for you, we'll figure out some way to go forward. Otherwise, hail fellow, well met, we both have jobs to do, I'm going to go back and do my job.”

 

Want to Enjoy Sales Success? Sell the Way Buyers Want to Buy · [35:05]

 

Will Barron:

You are pulling on a bunch of things here. I want to jump in, because I don't want to gloss over and miss any gaps here, and I want to reaffirm to myself if I'm on the right track, because I'm conscious of time here, Oren. But one thing you mentioned, especially important here, is something I've been banging on about, and it's something that is counter to what the “sales experts” and all the sales authors that are writing specific books about this at the moment, and have been forever… And tell me if I'm right. The shift that we're seeing in the sales space is, we need to sell the way that buyers want to buy. There's no holding back information. There's no twisting arms. As you said then, there's no NLP, there's no bullshit that we can do in the open world of the internet, where in 18, 24 months' time, I'm sure that people are going to be able to leave, as buyers, reviews on your, as seller, LinkedIn profile. All this is going to come to light, if you're just being a cock and manipulating people.

 

Will Barron:

Is somewhat the summary of this, you get that gasp from the audience that you're in front of, you get them getting excited about you by giving them what they want. No weird twists, no weird tricks, just giving them the specifics that they've probably always asked for, for the past hundreds of years, but before, as salespeople, we've managed to get our… I described it, get one over them, and now that just isn't the case. Am I on the right tracks for some of this?

 

Oren:

I think absolutely. You're on the right track for that, because all the information they need is obviously on the internet, and so you're not there to deliver information. If you're going to a meeting to deliver information that is either known or available on the internet, cancel the meeting and send them a FedEx package that costs 18 bucks. Doesn't take you a half day or a day of travel. You are there, I believe, to trigger a few things. One is, to the buyer, you're in the hands of a professional who knows what he's doing. The way to signal that is a nice tight 15, 18, 14, 17 minute presentation that covers what's changing, the big idea, what the problem is in the world, how you can get the benefits that we deliver other ways, what our solution is, how our solution works, the value proposition, who our team is, what the ROI is, what the downside protection or what's the worst you can do, what's our guarantee, and what's our timeline for working with you, and maybe a demo. That's it.

 

Oren:

And if you can squeeze all of that in 14, 17, 19, 20 minutes, they go, “I'm in the hands of a professional who knows what he's doing. He's giving us the information we need, and none of what we don't need, and he's doing it fast, jamming it together in a way that we can understand. We're in the hands of a professional.”

 

Oren:

Number two is, this has a time constraint on it. Not because they told me, “You have to decide by the end of the month,” but this guy is busy and we're not going to get the benefit of his professionalism if we play around. He's going to move on. So that's the second signal.

 

Oren:

And then the third is, it is well differentiated, in that while this may be a commodity… I mean, we work with the Phillips screw company. I don't know if there's a more commoditized commodity in the world than the Phillips head screw. You're like, “How can there even be…” When I met them, I met the incoming CEO, I go, “How can there even be a Phillips head screw company? That's like the air company or the…”

 

Will Barron:

[inaudible 00:38:47] worse could be a nail company, but that's scraping the bottom of the barrel at that point.

 

Oren:

Yeah. So their job is to say, “Listen, you might…” And so differentiation and insight come together. You might believe that a screw is a screw, all jokes aside, is a screw. The reality is, when you think about things like hurricane that we're having right now, when you think about longevity, when you think about meeting code, and when you think about labour time, which is the highest cost, just a simple screw can affect all of those things. Let me tell you how. So there's certainly inexpensive ones you can get from China at a quarter cent a screw, and those ones are good, they do the job for some things. And there's certainly ones that they use on the space shuttle, and we don't do that, and titanium screws, and those can be $18 to $19 a piece. But ignoring the Costco version and ignoring the NASA version, the things that are actually the most useful that have the… That's what we do. Can we do something very specific? A screw with an ROI on it that you can actually put a spreadsheet around and it makes a difference.

 

Oren:

If you want the Costco version, I'll tell you, we know those guys, I'll give you the number of my contact in China who makes the best ones, the cheapest. They ship on time. They're super qualified. Guy's fun to go out for beer with, he'll take care of you. I'll give you his number. Those guys are great. It's just not what we do. So if that's what you want, I'll send you that way. And obviously, I know in you're construction, so you're not getting titanium screws, but we do something very specific. And that's how… There's other ways to do differentiation, maybe on our next talk I can show you, but that's important, is you're in the hands of a professional, we're here for a short period of time, I'm going to go away with all my knowledge, all my insight, all my capability, there's a time constraint, and we do something specific that could really benefit you. If you can trigger those three things, you're in good shape.

 

A Practical Way to Differentiate Yourself Especially When Selling Commoditized Products · [41:10] 

 

Will Barron:

We will definitely have you back on the show, Oren, for a episode in this, because it's a question I get asked from the audience regularly, of how to differentiate seemingly commoditized products, that one solution is, if you're selling in a commoditized market, you probably want to get into the complex side of things as soon as possible before your job is replaced by an online order form, but if you're in a huge company that is committed to a sales team, that they obviously see a differentiation, and so there's a whole multiple series, there's probably books of content on how to put that together. So, conscious of time here, I've got two questions for you. One last… Go on.

 

Oren:

Let me comment on that quickly.

 

Will Barron:

Sure.

 

Oren:

I'm writing a book on this now, in terms of differentiation. What most people do is they try and make their commodity product, they try and differentiate it by making it feel different or having some technical features or having some obscure notional difference, making it exciting somehow. What you want to do is move the incumbent out of the middle position, saying it used to be that Chinese screws were the best ones, literally they had the best smelting, they had the best technology, but as things have changed, logistics have changed, computer technology has changed, things have changed, they've actually become outdated. One thing to change is the new hurricane wind resistance regulations that's been adopted by the EU and the U.S., makes those non-qualifying. And so while they used to be a great solution that worked all the time, they're no longer accepted in 90% of OSHA or approved builds.

 

Oren:

So you got to move whatever the incumbent is out, instead of making your thing seem highly differentiated and fancy, making it the new normal. That to me is a better way, a sophisticated way, to differentiate, than try and make yourself seem fancier better, smarter, faster, more intense, more technical as a commodity. Take the old commodity and say it's being retired, and we are the new normal.

 

Oren’s Ability to Come Up With Brilliant Solutions to Almost All Problems · [43:40]

 

Will Barron:

I'm enjoying this interview, Oren, and I could genuinely talk to you for another hour, mate, because you are very specific about the wording that you're using, and I can see you almost hesitate and think before you say the certain words. So in that [inaudible 00:43:50] paragraph then, you used the words which can literally be taken by the audience and implemented into their own sales pictures of, “There used to be,” “Change,” you're talking about having a crazy schedule, you're talking about if we both think that we can help each other. There's probably 30, 40 sentences, which clearly we need to make congruent with ourselves and they have to be true, but we could pull from this interview and we could structure a sales pitch around those sentences, and that would give us a really good framework for it. So I appreciate that. And in the show notes, I'll probably pull some of these out as examples. But that to me suggests…

 

Oren:

Yeah, because I have to do this stuff. I don't just talk about it. I have to do this. So people call in and go, “We're selling our company, we can hire any kind of investment bank. Why will we use you? We heard about you.” And I got to figure out how to convert them from wanting to use JPMorgan or Goldman Sachs or Bank of America or Wells Fargo or their cousin who just graduated from Harvard and their ex-college roommate and all these other people who do the same thing, and differentiate. And so these are clips right out of my playbook, because I have to do this stuff every day. When we hang up, I got to go take phone calls and say these things and get them to work. So that's why I think you're reacting to… These are things that we in this organisation will say today to go and close millions of dollars of transactions.

 

Will Barron:

And it makes total sense. And it arcs back to what you said at the beginning of the show of, a lot of this comes from data as opposed to anecdotes, as opposed to your sales manager giving it all this, that he sold this and that ten years ago, and he hasn't sold anything since. And we've covered my thoughts and opinions on that. And I touched on it before some of the sales gurus out there that haven't sold anything in 20 years since they sold their first book, and they've been speaking on stage and selling books since. I've ripped in and rinsed these dudes and these women multiple times on the show. I don't interview them on here, and people know exactly who I'm talking about. And I'm going to not let you speak in here, because I've got a couple of questions, Oren, that I want to wrap up the show with, twofold.

 

Oren’s Advice to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [45:45] 

 

Will Barron:

One, this requires a one word answer and is probably a spinoff book for a pseudonym author or something along the lines of that, but if you're a dude and you're chatting up women at a bar, does a lot of this stuff apply for that? Because it seems like it would.

 

Oren:

It all works, yes. It's good for communicating with humans.

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Okay. And then final one, this is something I ask everyone that comes on the show, that is, if you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would be the one piece of advice you'd give him to help him become better at selling?

 

Oren:

The piece of advice I would say is, there is not always a good plan that's going to work. Pick a plan and go do it. Too many projects, not enough focus, shifting, changing on the fly. Just pick one thing and try and become great at it. It's so hard to do things in today's world. There's so much competition. Just got to pick one thing and get great at it.

 

Oren:

I'll give you a 20 second sidebar. In 2008, when all the financing got wiped out, I had no job. I was like the centre on a football team. I couldn't do anything else. If you're not playing soccer or football, the centre is useless. Literally, without debt, I might as well work in a sandwich shop. I was useless. And I looked around and said, the only thing I could do is make pitch decks. And so I just quadrupled down and made the best pitch decks in the world, and a whole business grew out of that. If I could just go back to my 25 year old self and shake his scrawny neck and say, “Focus on one thing, and be the best in the world at it, no matter what it is,” that would be the advice.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing. Would that, Ruben… I said Ruben because I was going to give an example, and I will do now since it came to top of mind, Ruben Gonzales, he's been on the show a couple of times, he's an Olympic athlete. I don't know why… This is all my subconscious throwing this anecdote in there. He wanted to go to the Olympics. He wasn't particularly athletic, hadn't been practising gymnastics since he was four years old, there wasn't much going for him at this moment when he wanted to become an Olympic athlete and he committed to this. So he did the luge, because I think the story goes, 19 people applied to do it who wanted to go through the training, he was the only one that physically made it, and then he didn't represent the U.S., he represented another country as well that he had distant ties to. And so all of this aligned that he, just percentage-wise, was the best in the world at this sport. And I think he holds the world record of going, or is the only person who's done it, he's been to the Olympic Games three times in three different decades, all on the back of being that number one.

 

Will Barron:

So when that ties into medical device sales, I know for me, and I'm downscaling what you were saying there slightly, but this might be relevant for some of the audience who perhaps aren't thinking as big as what they should do, if I was the best medical device sales rep in Europe, I'd make a shitload of money. If I was the best medical device sales rep in Yorkshire, out of 30 men and women, I'd still make a shitload of money. If I was the best medical device sales rep selling urology equipment in the ten local hospitals around here, I'd smash target, I'd be making multiple six figures, and I'd still be winning.

 

Parting Thoughts · [49:50] 

 

Will Barron:

So your story here is a huge story, clearly crazy business, we were just talking about all the cars you've got, and clearly you're crushing it. And I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive for that, but that Ruben example I think can be scaled down, and perhaps as a first step you become the best in your area, in your company, and you step up from there as time goes on. And with that, Oren, tell us, because I know the audience are going to be jumping on the back of me to get more information about yourself here, tell us where we can find out more about you, tell us where we can find the book, and then tell us about all the content that you're giving out as well. Because I'm sold on you as someone who is giving value, I'm sold on you as someone who has a lot of information to give and a lot of value to give. So tell us where we can wrap all this up, and where we can take that next step to get better at pitching.

 

Oren:

So it's really easy. You go to Google and you just type in ‘O' and because half the internet is about me, it just fills in my name automatically in your browser. No, so head over to pitchanything.com, pitchanything.com. Register there. I give away so much information, as we were talking earlier, the things that we give away, other people take actually my stuff that I'm giving away and turn it into a course and charge for it. [inaudible 00:50:45] worried about that. We do have a course that is advanced, recently 3000 companies go through it, it is really… It's terrific. But if you just sign up at pitchanything.com, the free stuff that comes out of registering there is amazing. Sometimes I read it when I'm going to prepare for a presentation. I go, “Didn't we write about this?” It is the blueprint for how to do this stuff correctly. pitchanything.com.

 

Will Barron:

Love it. I will link to that in the show notes to this episode over at salesmanpodcast.com. With that, Oren, I want to thank you for your time, your insights, mate. I want to thank you again, I'm going to bring it back up, all the practical elements and all the physical sentences that we can take from this to structure our conversations on the back of somewhat, and that's super useful for the audience. And I want to thank you for joining us on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Oren:

All right. Well, we'll see you again soon. Look forward to meeting in person.

 

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