By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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This week’s episode is entitled “This Man Can Pitch Anything! Now, See How He’s Flipped the Script...” a great conversation with Oren Klaff, who is the Managing Director at Intersection Capital and Bestselling Author of Pitch Anything and FLIP THE SCRIPT.
Some people ask “How do you sell a commodity and really differentiate and even charge a higher price?” Well, it’s not necessarily in that case about the commodity, it’s about what people are going to do with it. I ask Oren to share his best practices for taking something that might feel like it doesn’t have a lot of competitive differentiation and how to still get that sold at a premium.
He talks about the idea of getting people to believe in what you’re trying to say, getting them to think that that is their idea and getting them to believe that there is something that’s worth changing, something worth doing is a very, very powerful concept. Of course we talk about his most recent book and also what he is seeing in the marketplace, with his clients and business that that made this the next topic to write about.
Listen in and/or read the full transcript below.
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Matt Heinz: Welcome everyone to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Thank you so much for joining us again on Thursday, 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific. We are here live on the Funnel Media Radio Network. Thanks to everyone who’s joining us in the middle of your workday. Pleasure to have you with us and for everyone that is joining us on the podcast, whether this is your first episode or your 200th episode-
Oren Klaff: Or your last.
Matt Heinz: No, this will not be the last. No, come on. We haven’t killed it yet, Oren. We’re still going strong. So, some resiliency around this for some reason. But thank you very much, if you’re joining us on the podcast. And each and every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio is always available past, present and future on salespipelineradio.com.
We are featuring some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing, today is absolutely no different. I’m happy to have with us Oren Klaff. He is the author of Pitch Anything and Flip the Script. Oren, thanks so much for joining us today.
Oren Klaff: Hey, thank you. That’s a warm welcome.
Matt Heinz: We cover B2B sales and marketing. When we think about that from a sales standpoint, we’re usually talking about selling a product or service. A company is selling what they are produced. You’ve been the managing director for Intersection Capital for almost 14 years now. You’ve been in the investment market for a very long time. When you think about selling, it’s a different kind of sale. But I imagine there’s an awful lot that it has in common with those that are selling products and services.
Oren Klaff: Yes, absolutely. But I’ve also advised 80,000 salespeople who have to sell widgets and SAS software and services and consulting and government contracts. And so, I do a lot of product and services sales. So I’m deeply familiar for what it takes to send out an email, get somebody to respond to it, get them on the phone, get on the Skype, get on an go to meeting or meet with them in person and get them from, “Hey, remind us what you do.” All the way to, “Sounds great. I love this. When can we start?”
Matt Heinz: No, that’s great. And I think all of that is super relevant to our audience. And I actually think that the angle of trying to sell to someone who’s to give you money is highly relevant to not only our B2B sales and marketing folks. But for those that are listening that are running organizations, that maybe tend to make the mistake of going in, getting too deep into describing the product to investors and not really thinking about the investor as a persona. The investor is someone who you have to customize your message to them and what they care about as well, right?
Oren Klaff: Yeah, I agree with that. I think about it a little bit differently. And so first, people come to Pitch Anything and then it moved on to Flip the Script, my two books. It’s people who work in high stakes environments. You’re not working at best buy and people walk in, they don’t buy a TV, there’s another one right behind them. Or they’re not working in a phone room. It’s we’re raising money for our company. We’re going to five meetings. One of those people have to give us $10 million if we’re going to meet our plans.
High stakes. Because when you go into high stakes situations, your body and your mind do things that are counterproductive to what should be done in those meetings. There are counterintuitive things, not that different from a murder trial. You are not the attorney and counsel of record for a murder trial. And the reason I say that is because the verdict matters. It’s high stakes. So for example, guys will call me up and they’ll say, “Hey look, there’s three companies in the world, they can buy my company. If none of them buy it, then I have to grow it for the next seven years. So this matters. I thought I could do it myself.
I went through two of them because it looks easy. They both put out term sheets, LOIs, move forward and it fell apart at the last minute. There’s one left. This one really matters. You helped me on this one and let’s get it right.” And then we go in and sell the company. So the reason investment is what happens when you raise money or get investment, it’s because it’s the highest stakes, highest commoditized version of selling.
It’s the world championship of selling because it’s the biggest commodity in the world. Money. It’s available anywhere. There’s lots of places to put it. There’s lots of places to get it. It’s just a commodity market. If you can sell in a commodity market, you damn for sure can sell, if you have SAS software that is highly differentiated API that helps accounting systems to improve performance relative to audit risk. That’s something specific. When you’re selling for money, it’s a lot harder.
Matt Heinz: I’m glad you brought up the commodity CPs. We’re talking today with Oren Klaff. He’s the author of Pitch Anything and Flip the Script. Learn more about him at pitchanything.com. And some people say, “Well, how do you sell a commodity and really differentiate and even charge a higher price?” Well, it’s not necessarily in that case about the commodity, it’s about what people are going to do with it. Talk a little bit about, so your best practices for taking something that might feel like it doesn’t have a lot of competitive differentiation and how you still get that sold in at a premium.
Oren Klaff: Well, I don’t usually go this deep, but since you’re asking deep questions, I’m happy to do it. In fact, there’s a place card or a card in front of me that says no teaching on radio calls. Just break belief systems, right? There’s not enough time to teach. Let try and teach a little bit, so you can understand. Today you can’t give enough features and benefits to really convert someone on a sales call.
What you can do is get them interested, having them understand what the ROI or IRR or value proposition or return or value that you’re going to give. And they’ll take a price and a quote. And then they’ll put a stake in that and go, great, thanks. I have to show this committee, I have to show to CFO. I have to show this to… And as I say, I have to show this to the Loch Ness monster when I find her, because she has to approve all my deals. Some mythical mystery partner. And so thanks. I’ll get back to you if we have any questions, in a week or so.
And then they take your quote and they try and beat it, match it or find it for free. That’s the process today. So things have changed. And so you can’t win on features and benefits and value. What you can win is on status as a peer. High status. If you don’t have status going in… If you’re the sales guy and they’re the buyer and those are the set positions, you’re going to end up discounting to where your eyeballs bleed. So it’s really how do I get peer status with the buyer? That’s the question. Not how do I put the features in front of him so he’ll want it.
Matt Heinz: Is the status applied to the individual or can status be something that the organization has, that maybe a more junior or newer sales rep can leverage in that opportunity?
Oren Klaff: It’s the individual. So, what you have to do as a new salesperson, a new executive, new account executive, whatever, you have to leverage or get the halo effect from the organization. But it can actually work against you. Because if I’m buying from Microsoft, I have these expectations of professionalism and experience and capability. And then I get Joe a bag of donuts first day on the job at Microsoft and I immediately can see the mismatch.
So it can work against you too, but you have to capture the organization. The problem is… So everybody tries to do it. A sales guy comes in, he puts up the slide and he puts up the 15 logos, Microsoft and Oracle and Yahoo and Google. All the logos that the company has to try and impute the status that the seller has, the company has onto the sales guy.
But that doesn’t last very long. The sales guy has to have social status as an individual that makes him appear to the buyer. Without that, you’re just the lowly sales guy that I need to get discounts from. So I know we’re short on time, but I just say something. The reason it’s so important is when somebody feels powerful over you, you’re low status, they’re high status. Three things happened physiologically. One is they have a very narrow frame of reference. A very narrowed view. Two, they only see you at a very surface level. The thin veneer around. They don’t see you deeply as nuanced and knowledgeable and an expert and capable. They see you as, what can I get?
Thin veneer and most importantly, they are more prone and apt and likely to do risky behaviors. Not going to slap you on the butt. Not that risky. Although Matt, I know that would be, for you and I, that would be enjoyable. But, they’re not going to take that kind of risky behavior. But the risky behaviors that they will undertake is look at their phone, take phone calls during the meeting. Phase off, ask you questions that you can’t answer, compare you against the competition.
Those aren’t things they would do when it really matters, when they need the products. When they feel powerful, you’re low status, they’re high status, they take risks they wouldn’t normally take if it really mattered. They see you at a very thin level and they don’t listen very well. So you cannot go into a presentation in most cases, especially when you sell something that’s commodity or a lot of competition, from the low status position. So that’s one.
Matt Heinz: Love it. I want to make sure we get plenty of time to talk about the new book here as well. We’re talking today with Oren Kloff. He’s the author of the bestselling book Pitch Anything and just a few weeks ago, the new book Flip the Script came out. Flip the Script: Getting People to Think Your Idea is Their Idea. It is available in a wide variety of formats on amazon.com today. And I think that idea of getting people to believe in what you’re trying to say, getting them to think that that is their idea and getting them to believe that there is something that’s worth changing, something worth doing is a very, very powerful concept. Talk a little bit about where this book came from. What were you seeing in the marketplace, with your clients and in your business that that made this the next topic to write about?
Oren Klaff: Here’s the thing. What we found is in today’s world, when somebody says, “Yeah. Hey, that sounds good. Let’s go ahead.” Internally on our side, it was a cause for celebration. That’s a huge step forward. They gave us a verbal yes. And what that really meant is, again, they wanted to put us in a box up on the shelf and then go compare us to seven other firms. and what’s wrong with that? Well, it just makes a sales cycle really long, it imposes discounting and it just creates negativity in the sale.
So I look for processes. First thing I learned is when they go, “Yeah. Hey Oren, this sounds good, why don’t we go ahead and write it up and get this thing going?” Right? And then I learned to say, “No, that doesn’t work for me.” Because I knew that’s not a strong enough commitment. And I would say this to the buyer. Unless you could say, “Hey Oren, listen, I love this. We know that we love you. This is great.” Unless you can tell me that, “Hey Oren, I love you and we’re excited to do this. This is the only thing for us. It’s amazing that we found you. I’m excited about the work we’re going to do together.” Unless you can tell me that or your version of that, I’m not interested in going forward.
Because, “Hey, yeah, let’s do it. Sounds great. Move ahead. Assemble the contract.” To me that’s nothing. There’s way too much work to be done here over the next three months, for that to mean anything. We have to really want to do this with each other. That’s what I would say, and that worked. And then I stood back from it and I go, “What’s really going on?” What’s going on is unless the buyer comes up with the idea that he absolutely wants to work with you, is excited about it and there aren’t better options, then you’re constantly getting it retreated, discounted, or have a problem client.
That idea to work with you, has to come from them. When it comes from the inside of them and they go, “You know what? I want to do this. When can we get started? Hey, here’s a check. Don’t worry about the contract.” Then it doesn’t get discounted. It doesn’t get retreated. They’re not a problem client and it sticks. Flip the Script is all about unpacking how to get someone to believe and feel internally. Not from you and not saying a thing, yes. Internally, “I love you Matt. This is amazing. It’s lucky that we found each other.” I give you a quick example. I know we got to watch the clock. Are you a car guy?
Matt Heinz: I’m a truck guy.
Oren Klaff: Truck guy. What kind of truck?
Matt Heinz: I’ve got a Chevy Silverado.
Oren Klaff: Okay. Love that. So, have you done anything to it or is it stock?
Matt Heinz: It’s stock. I mean, it’s a working truck, so I’ve got a toolbox and a couple of accessories in the back.
Oren Klaff: Okay, great. I’ve got a ton of trucks, but I just built a 1956 F100.
Matt Heinz: Okay.
Oren Klaff: So I’m going to their specialty four by four truck shop here in Southern California. And I’m in there and I’m buying some parts and a guy in line goes, “Oh Hey, you know, that’s an alternator, 243C or whatever. That’s got to be going on early fifties F100, right?” I go, “Yeah.” He was, “I’ve built three in the last three years. When you get the alternator on, make sure to get the 2478 fan belt and the throw out bearings will start to leak. Unless you get a blueprinted driveshaft. I can give you a good supplier for that.” I’m like, “Oh. Hey, do you have a picture of your truck?” He took his phone, he got picture of it.
I go, “Listen, is there any way that you’d be willing, that I can pay you. Whatever it takes to come help me finish my truck up? I’m really stuck on a couple of these things.” He goes, “You know what? I have other things to do. It’s a ton of money. But tell you what, I’ll help you finish your truck.” I go, “Great. Meet me on Saturday. Here’s the address.” Okay, and next thing you know, the guy’s working at $200 an hour, which is basically programmer rate on a piece of crap, 1956 F100. That’s what you want to recreate.
Matt Heinz: I love that. We got to take a quick break here, pay some bills. We’ll be back with more with the author of the new book, Flip the Script, getting people to think your idea is their idea. Talk about what it takes to get someone’s attention in today’s crazy busy world, what it takes to help flip that status quo as well. We’ll be right back here on Sales Pipeline Radio.
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Matt Heinz: Welcome back to Sales Pipeline Radio. Thanks again for joining us today. We’ve got a few more minutes with Oren Klaff. He’s the author of the bestselling book, Pitch Anything. If you haven’t read that one, you definitely got to go check that one out. But the new book Flip the Script: Getting People to Think Your Idea Is Their Idea is available now on amazon.com, and everywhere where fine books are sold, in a variety of formats.
And Oren, I think we were talking before about just angles of conversation that get your prospect to basically lean in with you and to want to prioritize spending time with you. It’s one thing to be able to have that conversation, it’s another thing to have the opportunity to have that conversation in the first place. As we’re doing this show, emails are piling up. People are trying to get our attention all day long. What are the things that you recommend to your clients and audience that stand out to get and earn attention in the first place, to even have the pretense to have that conversation we were talking about before the break?
Oren Klaff: Tattoo this on your arm. People want what they can’t have. People chase that which moves away from them and people only value that which they pay for. If all you do is build your emails, your first conversations and your sales presentations around those three notions, people want what they can’t have, people chase that which moves away from them and people only value that which they pay for, then everything will change for the better for you. Those are the driving human motivations in every transaction.
Okay, and so if you unpack that a little bit, what we used to find, especially in consulting or services, is we would start to solve people’s problems to show how good we were. And today’s buyer, no good deed goes unpunished for the sales guy. They’ll take whatever you give them and then go with it and then try shop it around. We find actually the probability of closing a deal. And I’ve tested this, it’s not just internal and our business works this way, with tens of thousands of salespeople and executives in total agreement.
Because I do it from stage and say who agrees, who disagrees. I’ve got 5,000 people in the online platform. It’s was the biggest negotiation and sales petri dish online. So the more you help people, the less likely the sale is to happen. People only value that which they pay for. So wrapping this up, when I see emails, when I see first elevator pitch or first initial pitch or I see total pitches. People start with the payoff. What they can do. The solution. Because that’s what attracts people. But if you look at any commercial done by a professional, any movie, any joke by a comedian, the formula is hook, get people interested, path the pay off and pay off.
The joke is at the end, not at the beginning. The main character dies of cancer at the end, not at the beginning. When you cry or the couple gets married at the end of the romantic comedy, not at the beginning, right? And so it’s hook, path to pay off, pay off. So for example, if I’m on a call with a guy, I won’t say, “Hey look, we can raise you. Glad we’re talking. Looking at your account and we can raise you $10 million for your company. Pretty short period of time.” That’s the payoff, right? The hook is, “Hey, listen, I saw your presentation. Thanks for sending it over. Who told you to do this? This is the worst thing ever. In fact, give me the number of the person who prepared this for you. I’m going to call them and tell never to talk to you again. This is the worst thing ever.”
If you can improve on this 10%, 20% or actually do it professionally, is amazing things in store for your company. But this is not going to work. That’s a hook, right? Then the path to pay off, and the payoff is, “Listen, in 30 days we can be standing here with a presentation that you’re going to go get $10 million with.” That’s a payoff. And so most sales we’ll teach you, we’ll end at that appeal, right? But if you remember, people chase that, which moves away from them. Once they know they can have you do it, then they’ll say, “Sounds great. Write it up.” So the completion of that thought is, “Look, you can be here 30 days from now, us working together. If we choose to work with each other. With a presentation that will raise you $10 million.” Right? And that’s what you need.
But listen, I don’t know if we’re smart on this end or we’re just lucky, but right now we’re super busy. And we’re just in a position where does it seems, where we’re choosing who we need to work with. So listen, you need to evaluate us. Do we know what we’re doing? Are we good? Are we capable? Do we have good references? Are we known in the industry? Can we really deliver? But as much as you’re evaluating us, we also need and will be evaluating you and if our circles really overlap, we’ll find a way to move forward together. But in the meantime, I have some questions about you and I’m seeing some red flags. Because if you just get to the end of the presentation with a payoff and the payoff is, “Hey, we’re willing to work for you if you pay us.” That is not enough in today’s world to get a conversion.
Matt Heinz: Wrapping up here with Oren Klaff. He’s the author of Pitch Anything and the new book, Flip the Script. Oren, trying to send people to the book on Amazon, to pitchanything.com. What are some other places, if people like what they’re hearing from you, they can spend more time listening to you and reading about some of your ideas?
Oren Klaff: This actually will blow your mind for some reason, my marketing agency convinced me to do this, at orenklaff.com. I’m running a mini contest, where you put in your name and I’m going to fly a winner out to Southern California. I’m going to put them up on the beach for a couple of nights in our office. I’m going to work with them on their company, their deal, their sale. And we haven’t really marketed the site that much, so I think my mom put her name in. Matt put his name in and if you put your name in you’ll be one of three people applying to the contest. So, that’s quite a good place to, A get some information and B, enter the opportunity where I will work on your company, your deal, your pitch and that’s orenklaff.com.
Matt Heinz: We will put a link to that website to Pitch Anything, as well as to the book on Amazon in the notes for this podcast. So, make sure you check that out. As of right now, if you enter it, you’ll have a 25% chance of winning. That’s pretty good deal. Oren, before I wrap up here, first of all, I know you’re super busy, so thank you so much for doing this. Just speaking of things to read and things to learn. As you think back on your career, who are some of the people that you’ve learned the most from? They can be authors, professors, managers, people that have been influential in your career and in your professional growth that you might recommend other people check out as well.
Oren Klaff: Yeah, it’s funny, there’s a guy named Jim Davies and he wrote a book called Riveted and so he’s developed this unified theory of human compellingness. Pretty academic, but it’s terrific. So Jim Davies and a book called Riveted, has really been influential for me and I met the guy. The other thing that was very interesting to me is the founders of Infusionsoft, which a lot of companies use. And so they read Pitch Anything and they read it and they were on their way, it was a Wednesday, they’re on the way Friday to meet Goldman Sachs. Pitch $50 million. And they threw their presentation out.
They threw the presentation out, having read Pitch Anything and reworked it in the way that I prescribed some things in here. And then they went to Goldman Sachs with that new presentation, literally 24 hours old and they raised $50 million. And they called me up and they said, “Hey, we dodged the bullet. If we had given the old, average, frustrated company, regular old presentation, we wouldn’t have gotten the money.” So I respect those guys tremendously for, at the last minute, recognizing that the old way of giving presentations doesn’t work anymore and changing so quickly. So those are two, Infusionsoft, really good respect for that management team. And you too man, of course. Sorry. My host, Matt.
Matt Heinz: Appreciate that. But I’ve not read the book Riveted, I’ll check that out. And yeah, tons of respect for what the team has Infusionsoft had done to build that business. Quite frankly, some really strong values as well. So, want to thank our guests again, Oren Klaff. You can check him out at orenklaff.com. If you have not read Pitch Anything or Flip the Script, get those books. Go to orenklaff.com. You will be one of four people now, that are registered to spend a day in California, down in Carlsbad. And actually, I should ask you this and I should probably know this, but are you in Carlsbad? Are you in somewhere else in San Diego?
Oren Klaff: Yeah. Yeah. We have a little boy now, so we moved to the beach. So, we’re near Carlsbad, on the ocean here in Southern California.
Matt Heinz: That’s awesome.
Oren Klaff: Trying to learn how to surf.
Matt Heinz: My wife is from Southern California and usually when I tell people that don’t know the area, I tell them she’s from San Diego and people do know the area. I tell him she grew up in a little town called Cardiff-by-the-Sea, which is just down the road from you.
Oren Klaff: Yeah, yeah. It’s walking distance from our house. That’s where we surf. It’s beautiful.
Matt Heinz: Well, if you’d like to see what I think is one of the most beautiful parts of North America, let alone the States, check out and make sure you register for that time with Oren. We’re out of time. We’ll be here again next week and every week for another episode. So on behalf of my great producer, Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thank you so much for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: You’ve been listening to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Right here in the Funnel Radio Channel for at-work listeners, like you.
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