Back To CourseBusiness Writing: Help & Review
10 chapters | 87 lessons
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Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.
In an effort to improve communication between healthcare providers, the Obama administration launched an incentive program that offered cash payments to healthcare providers who agreed to convert their paper medical records into electronic health records. The intention of the incentive was to offset the cost of purchasing an expensive software package.
For entrepreneurs, this was a golden opportunity. Their customers would have the money to make the purchase, and they would be doing so in a matter of weeks. As the program rolled out, many customers began complaining of significant incompatibilities between medical record programs. If the organization had more than one software package in use, the healthcare provider would be required to contract with an organization that could develop custom methods for transmitting and receiving information across the systems.
Knowing that many companies were developing the electronic health records, but very few were developing interfaces to exchange information, nurse and entrepreneur Marcia Thomas launched a consulting company to address the communication gap.
When it came time to pitch to customers, Marcia made an important decision regarding the team that would make the pitch: There would be technical subject matter experts on the team, but they would not lead it. Instead, the pitch leader would be an individual with project management skills. A presenter was also hired to make the formal presentation.
Marcia's team now has at least three roles: The pitch leader, the presenter, and the technical subject matter expert. Two of the roles were permanent: a pitch leader who is focused on the project, even before the sale was made, and a nonclinical, high-performance presenter who actually made the pitch in front of potential customers. In some cases, these two roles could be combined. Marcia chose to separate them because the pitch leader would become the project manager after the sale.
The role filled by the presenter was something of an intermediary or translator. The presenter was tasked with listening to customers articulate their pains and accurately conveying those issues to the team. Likewise, the presenter was tasked with listening to the team regarding what they perceived to be solutions and then conveying this information to back to the customer.
After the pitch, Marcia and her team required an after action review. The technical experts help the presenter highlight the best aspects of the product, while watching the formal presentation by a pro helps the technical experts find better ways to describe the product and interact with customers.
Marcia rejected the idea of an all-in-one salesperson for a good reason. Everyone in an organization is a salesperson whether they realize it or not. Placing people on the team with no sales experience allowed them to watch a high-performance salesperson in action.
Marcia also shared a few of the pitch decks that her expert presenter had used. A pitch deck is a short collection of slides or visual aids to keep the discussion on track. Her top-notch presenter had more than one. After the homework was done and the company's background was known, the presenter would make a decision about which pitch deck would be most appropriate. Most of the time he was right, but when he wasn't, the rest of the team had to be able to switch on the fly.
Marcia emphasized the importance of making sure that the technical subject matter experts on the team understand the right and wrong time to join the pitch. She instructed the pitch leader to be very careful about distractions, particularly during the formal presentation itself.
As Marcia puts it, ''We did not want the risk associated with one of our own sales staff saying something that turned the customer off before we even knew the specifics about the pain point and situation.'' Marcia told her technical staff that the company cared deeply about their opinion, but she wanted to use the entire team collaboratively to effectively exchange and communicate that information.
Marcia attributed part her success to having meticulously done her homework about our potential clients. Sometimes, she knew more than her customer did about their competition, market conditions, and accurate descriptions of the pain point and solution.
In most cases, when scheduling the time for a pitch, Marcia's company asked their potential clients for a list of the individuals who would be present - names were great, but job roles would work as well. This information would help Marcia assign a person to fill a special role, one that's unique to the situation or customer type, on the pitch team. For example, when a physician was represented in the room, Marcia's company would send a physician as well. Conversations between doctors were more effective than any other strategy under those circumstances.
Let's review. The pitch leader is responsible for keeping the discussion on track, minimizing distractions, and ensuring that all discussions ultimately come back to customer pains and company solutions. The presenter is responsible for moving through the pitch deck and capturing customer responses. A pitch deck is a short series of slides or visual aids that guide the discussion. Some sales teams have more than one, and they will do the homework ahead of time in an effort to match the right pitch deck to the situation.
Technical subject matter experts, such as software developers, are included on the team but given instructions to do more listening than talking. They are instructed to listen carefully to the customer's pain articulated firsthand so that their subsequent work could align with the customer's specific needs. Finally, special roles could be added for situations where appropriate. Many times, this role is added based on who is attending the pitch on the customer side. In some cases, the role is added for the purpose of having two people with similar professional backgrounds to be able to converse together.
The most important factor in building the pitch team is making sure that everyone assigned to it is giving the customer a great impression of the company. The pitch team should be reminded that this is not only expertise in the field but is also based on physical appearance, vocabulary, punctuality, and a number of other more personal rather than technical characteristics.
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Back To CourseBusiness Writing: Help & Review
10 chapters | 87 lessons