Best Practices in HR
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Bill Lee
  January 22, 2020

How to Electrify Your C-Suite

You have a high-stakes meeting with a new CXO, or a group of influential stakeholders, or perhaps your boss or boss’s boss. You’re concerned about the dreaded lack-of-real-interest creeping over their faces, that fatal glance at their smartphones.

Here’s how to convert such ennui into excitement. In the last issue.

I showed how to do this when the focus of your audience is on organizational issues [PLEASE LEAVE BOLD IN PLACE ELSEWHERE, LIKE HERE] sales, market awareness, retention, and so forth.) This time, I’ll show you how to electrify your audience–especially your C-Suite–when their focus is on customer issues (such as gaps in the Customer Journey, net promoter score, a lagging customer health index, lack of customer engagement, and the like).

I’ll leave it to you to decide: which approach is more electfiying–the traditional way of communicating or educating your stakeholders? Or my suggested alternative way, below?

Out with the old, traditional pitch.

In the past, you may have opened the meeting by introducing yourself and saying, “I lead [for example] the customer advocacy program.” And then say, “Our team sits in marketing,” or some other silo. Then you’d describe the things your advocates are doing to support marketing–like videos, media interviews, speaking engagements and so forth.

Which can be kind of boring.

Put yourself in the place of your boss, your CMO, sales leader, even your CEO. Which one of those two introductions is most likely to grab their interest?

Ring in a new script that electrifies.

Total time for Introduction and Elevator Pitch: 1 minute (or 1:20 if you include the brief story.)

Introducing yourself

First, if you own ALL Customer Programs in your firm (including advocacy, community, advisory board, etc.), your intro is all set. But if you lead a specific customer program–let’s say it’s customer advocacy–you need a new intro, like so:

“I lead the customer advocacy program. Our team is part of our firm’s Customer Programs Initiative, which includes my program plus our customer community, our flagship customer program, our advisory board, etc.”

In other words, mention all of the Customer Programs in your organization. Your program is part of that whole.

Your Elevator Pitch for a Customer-Focused Audience

After you introduce yourself, say:

“We in Customer Programs run the 3d stage of the Customer Journey–the Engage stage. [This will be provocative and interesting, especially to the leaders you want to cultivate.] “This is where we engage our successful customers–our best customers–to co-create the firm’s growth. We accomplish this by helping them tell their stories, expand their professional networks, and have a real say in our products and solutions–all the while building their own professional reputations.

Then say: “Many people think of our business as one that provides products and solutions to customers, to help them get a job done. But we do much more for our best customers. In Customer Programs, we’re helping them to build their careers.”

(Put this graphic into your deck, or draw it on a white board).

Then, time permitting, you might give a brief, powerful example like this one (based on an actual example–there are thousands of these at this point):

“For example, many of you know Jane Hunt, one of our most valuable promoters. We engaged her back when she was not well known–and saw her potential. We’re the ones who arranged media training for her, arranged interviews with industry media, spots on main stage panels, and interviews with Gartner and Forrester–which grew into several speaking engagements. Jane’s next job was a promotion from senior director at her former regional firm, to SVP at a much larger firm–for her it was a dream job. And of course, she gives us a lot of credit for helping and supporting her, and remains very loyal to us.”

Put yourself in the place of your boss, your CMO, sales leader, even your CEO. Which one of those two introductions is most likely to grab their interest?