Vice Presidents of Marketing Are Busy People. Here's How to Properly Pitch to Them.
I'm a busy vice president of marketing for a company with incredible momentum and a rapidly growing budget. But no matter how busy I am, I think it's important to find some time to talk to vendors who contact me with an interesting marketing product or service that will help us grow our business. If I can't make time to speak directly to a vendor, I'll ask someone on my team to follow up and connect, so we don't miss an opportunity to learn about new technologies.
If you're selling an awesome marketing solution, I welcome your email or call. I want to talk to you. I even want to help you be successful selling something to my company that will help us. I'm also busy. Really busy. And, I know you are too. You need to close deals, and I need to invest in the best interests of my company. Our goals are aligned.
So, I promise I'll give you my full attention when you contact and meet with me, if you promise to give me your full attention when you prepare for and conduct our meeting. I'll even help you prepare by telling you what I value in advance.
If you use the following 10 guidelines, I'm much more likely to pay attention and stay engaged. If you don't, I might need to cut it short, multitask through the meeting or just say no and focus somewhere else.
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- Tell me about yourself. I want to know a little about you so I'm comfortable putting you in front of other decision makers.
- Tell me what you're going to cover in your meeting, but don't ask me if your agenda sounds good to me unless you want me to think that you have little confidence in the relevance or importance of the information in your proposed agenda.
- You have three questions or six minutes -- whichever comes first -- before I start to form an initial impression. Use this time and your initial questions wisely in case our conversation ends earlier than you expected. For example, our conversation might end because I'm not interested right now, or because I need to step away or reschedule due to a conflicting priority. If you didn't form an impression of value up front, it's unlikely I'll be convinced to reengage sooner or later.
- If you want a fast decision, I need to know if your solution is going to replace something else we're doing or compliment what we're already doing. Good marketing teams don't have extra capacity or budget in the short term to start doing something new unless we stop doing something else or work it into our current operations. Everything has an opportunity cost.
- Describe the impact your solution will have on my business in four areas. First, my customers. Second, my goals. Third, my team. Fourth, my budget.
- If you plan to show me how using your solution will correct something that isn't working, be careful to show respect for our situation. Don't inadvertently shame my team's efforts when you explain, because most of the time, my team makes good decisions based on the situation at the time of those decisions.
- I don't need a product demo. I won't be using the product myself. I'm only interested in outcomes. Someone on my team might need a demo. Demo your product for that person instead. I'm happy to make an introduction.
- Don't ask me what my budget is because, hypothetically, my budget is a billion dollars a day, if you can show me that your solution is worth more than a billion dollars a day, and it's zero if you can't show me enough value. Instead, show me the potential return on investment and the expected time to recover my investment, and then ask me if I have enough cash to realize the payback on the investment.
- Don't ask me if I'm the only decision-maker. I'm never the only decision-maker. Even VPs need consensus and buy-in from anyone who will be impacted by your solution. Instead, ask me who needs to be involved and what they need to help them evaluate the solution.
- Don't put me on your email list before or after the meeting unless I request it. I don't need to be nurtured by your marketing automation system if I'm interested in your solution, and I don't have time to read all the emails from you if I'm not. If you have information you want me to have during a long decision making cycle, don't wait to email it to me periodically. Give it to me up front, and ask to schedule a follow-up meeting with the appropriate members of my team.
John Arnold is a marketing strategist and author offering practical marketing tips and advice to B2B companies. Connect with him at JohnArnold.com.