On Nov. 8, I attended the Guy Kawasaki Art of the Start Seminar. This was the second time I have listened to Guy’s presentation. Guy is an amazing speaker and has given this pitch a hundred times. Even after 100’s of presentations, Guy continues to illustrate passion and enthusiasm in his Art of the Start pitch. A few techniques that he used to keep the crowd enticed and entertained were using current topics for examples and news breaking politics for jokes.
Three lessons that I took away from “The Art of Rainmaking” portion of the seminar include:
- Build Credibility
- Find the Influencers
- Don’t use Cheap Adjectives
Building credibility is difficult as a start up. Some obstacles you should overcome to help make you more credible include:
- Closing paying customers
- Developing strategic partners
- Investor board for references
- Advisers / industry experts who believe and will testify for you
- Milestones- what is your path for success
Finding the influencers is key. Often start ups try to sell to executives, which means asking someone with a budget and an overwhelming amount of responsibility to take a gamble on unproven technology. As a first time CEO, you lack the credibility to be trusted to deliver on your claims. Startups would be better served to find prospects who are already looking for a solution to a problem they solve. Even if these prospects do not make the purchasing decision, they will influence the decision maker.
Two key things we try to help clients understand: their prospect’s perception of the total cost of acquisition, and initially its easier to close smaller companies.
- What is the opportunity cost of implementing your software? How many guys must be pulled away from their day to day job to work on a special project? If you cannot tell the customer something that they do not already know about their business in two hours or less, you are wasting their time. Furthermore, your software must be installed, usable, and delivering results in a week. Finding the influencers is essentially finding your early adopters.
- Most early adopters are found in small or medium sized companies. As a start up, it is too difficult to close a Fortune 500 company. Go after smaller companies, close business, and build credibility.
The Art of the Start is an amazing book and an even better seminar. They are definitely worth your time.
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