It's too bad there's no World Cup of sales messaging. With such accolades tied to it, maybe it would be easier to encourage our teams (and ourselves) to practice our company's sales messaging. But, the reality is that getting sales messaging right is a big part of succeeding in your day-to-day.
We all value the concept of practice…in theory. When practicing that t-ball swing or learning how to kick a soccer ball as a kid, there was a coach nearby drilling that “practice makes perfect.” This sage advice is easy to pass along to someone learning, but in your professional career the case for practice can be neglected... especially when you’ve been playing the game for years. It’s easy to think that since you’re an experienced player you can pull out a good performance on game day. Jason Fired, founder of the web-based app company 37 signals, explains why it’s still important to heed your old coach’s advice:
Back in high school my track coach would often get on me about my sloppy block practice. He’d say “You aren’t setting up in the blocks properly. You’re rushing it, just going through the motions.” I’d say “Why does it matter right now? I’m not racing anyone today. I’ll do it right at the meet this weekend.”“I’ll tell you why it matters” he’d say, sternly.“You play like you practice. Practice sloppy and you’ll play sloppy.” You’ll play like you practice. You’re not going to be sharp unless you practice being sharp. - Jason Fired, “You Play Like You Practice”
“You play like you practice” is as true in sales messaging as it is on the sports field. Practice can take a variety of forms. The following are a couple of strategies we’ve seen work. See what ideas you can add to the list:
Call a friend or colleague and present your two-minute story. The two-minute story often earns you the opportunity to continue a strategic executive-level conversation. Plan your story and practice it several times. Ask your friends to interrupt you and act rushed so you learn to adapt your story on the spot.
Plan the conversation in writing. Before an executive meeting, take notes on the Three Whys (Why change? Why Now? Why You?) related to the specific conversation. It may require research, thoughtful planning, and innovation to prepare to bring real insight to the conversation. The results are well worth the effort.
What ways have you practiced for executive conversations? We’d like to hear your ideas.