How to Present at Big Meetings without Going Down a Rat Hole

Posted on Jan 19, 2010 | 100 comments


rat, mousetrap and cheeseI’m writing this post as part of my series with Advice on Raising Venture Capital but will file it under Sales Tips as well since it applies equally to both scenarios.

Congratulations.  You’ve found a VC partner or principal who has invited you to the Monday partners’ meeting.  Or on a sales campaign you’ve finally gotten your project sponsor to take you to the “executive committee” where decisions are made and budgets are agreed.

So you arrive at the meeting in the comfort that somebody has championed you to this point.  Every 1:1 meeting you’ve had to date has been collegiate and productive.  What could go wrong?  A lot, actually.  Here are some tips to keep in mind for the big day.

1. Information Asymmetry - The biggest problem that presenters face in large (5+ people) is information asymmetry.  You come into a meeting where your sponsor (the person who invited you to present to the partners) knows a lot about you and the rest of the room may have varying degrees of knowledge.

This is true whether your at a sales meeting or at a VC firm.  Sometimes a company presents at a partners’ meeting that has been well vetted and thoroughly discussed prior to the meeting so all partners know a great deal about the presenting company.  Other times the partner wants to test whether there is support before sinking in tons of due diligence time.

Either way, don’t assume that the entire room is up to speed on your company.  Also, you might be presenting your telecom company to a 6-person team where 3 people are telecom experts and the other 3 have only superficial knowledge.  These kinds of meetings present challenges as some people want to go deep and others are at 50,000 feet.

Make sure you discuss this expectation with your sponsor before the meeting.  Understand how knowledgeable the room will be around your industry and your product and importantly – agree a plan with your sponsor on how to play the meeting.  Getting his / her buy-in to your approach is important as they can help you steward the meeting in the right direction.

I would normally recommend you address the issue early in the meeting with the group to set expectations.  I would try a line like, “I know that some of you might be social media experts and others may be less deep on this particular area.  My plan would be to start the presentation at the 50,000 foot view and then dive down to a more granular level once we’re all base-lined.  Does that sound ok?”

This last question is important.  You need to let the energy of the room guide you.  If people want to go straight to details then staying too high level will also irritate people.  But … watch out.  If one vocal person blurts out, “just give us the details, we all know social networking” don’t assume that person speaks for the entire room.  It’s a delicate situation but I recommend saying something like, “OK, that sounds great.  Happy to do that.  Just to check – does everybody feel comfortable going straight to details or does anybody want 2 minutes on the basics before our deep dive?”

I’m surprised in sales situations (and believe me, raising money is a sales process) how often the presenter takes direction from the most vocal person who usually speaks first.  They don’t always speak for the group.

Regarding information asymmetry – take me as an example. I’m no dummy on businesses that are in the financial services sector, but my 3 partners have been investing in the space for 20 years so I’m clearly on a different level.  30% of our last fund went into deals in this sector.  My partner, Brian McLoughlin, attends almost all Financial Services conference, makes a number of investments in the space and has relationships across the sector.  His immediate focus when these companies present is an order of magnitude more detailed and knowledgeable than mine.  In our current portfolio 3 or his 4 investments are in the Fin Svcs space.  But when you present to both of us you still need to keep me in the dialog.  Vice versa is it’s a SaaS platform company where I spent nearly 10 years running companies.

2. Scoring an “own goal” – The most common mistake is one I’d call scoring an “own goal.”  It is when you’re in a meeting and somebody throws out a question that is a slight “red herring.”   They were thinking of the question as you were speaking and they blurted it out.  This happens often is sales meetings or VC meetings.  Some presenters take that as a challenge to inform the person who asks the question about everything the presenter knows on that topic.  What started out as an innocuous question asked purely out of interest can become a total time waster if it’s not pertinent to your storyline that you’re trying to convey.

I saw this happen recently with a VERY polished presenter (and somebody we’ve decided to take to the next stage so it obviously didn’t kill him) but he felt compelled to answer every question asked at great length even when not that important to the overall picture and it was quite distracting to the flow of the meeting.

Use the lesson I was taught many years ago: A, B, C (answer, bridge, communicate).  Answer the question, bridge back to what you wanted to originally talk about and then get back to communicating your messages.  Warning: you need to determine whether questions are really “red herrings” or truly something that the group wants to explore.  If it’s the latter – you can’t move on.  2 quick tactics:

- it is acceptable to say, “did I answer the question thoroughly enough for you?”

- if you’re pretty sure it’s a Red Herring then simply say, “that’s a great question. Do you mind if I answer that a little later in the presentation?  I have a few slides later that address that.” (obviously if you say that you need to come back to the question either later or after the meeting. tip: write it down when asked / parked)

3. The “Detail Merchant” – The third thing you need to worry about in a group presentation is the “detail merchant.”  This is the person who wants to ask you the most detailed questions about every aspect of your business – sometimes details that aren’t relevant to the group getting a good picture of your market opportunity, your team, your competitive positioning, etc.  Sometimes they do this out of interest, sometimes it is to show the group how smart they are and sometimes it’s just because they’re a nudnik.  I’ve experienced this in many sales meetings I’ve made and unfortunately in many VC pitches I made.

These are the bane of many sales meetings but there always seems to be one – even when well intentioned.  The problem with letting the detail merchant take over a big meeting is that they’re driving the meeting toward their agenda and not yours.  More importantly, they’re often driving the meeting to an objective that doesn’t meet the needs of the other participants in the room.

It happens to all of us at VCs – usually in a mild, benign form.  Sometimes I find myself really interested in the technical details of a companies product and after a few questions on the topic I look around and find my partners disinterested in this line of questions.  Other times I find them wanting to know the details of one component of a business before I have understood the market landscape and I’m screaming inside my head that I want to understand the overall concept before the deep dive.  It’s different than a “Red Herring” in that it’s not an irrelevant question it’s just that you’re getting too detailed before the group as a whole understands the complete high-level picture.

Whatever the reasons you need to be conscious of this.  Here’s how to deal with it:

- first, you must always answer and acknowledge the question. Do this be repeating it and writing it down.  “You want to know about the terms of the deal we signed with CBS and the reaction of their new VP.  Let me write that down.”

- If you can answer at the highest level you should.  “The new VP is very supportive of us – we’ve met him three times.”

- As with the Red Herring question you must “bridge” back on the main storyline of your presentation.  You say, “It’s an important topic.  If it’s OK with you I’d love to answer it in just a couple of minutes after the next few slides.  I think the context may be easier.  Is that OK with you?”

- That last question is key.  If they say, “no, I’d prefer you cover it now” then you must.  You can allow a detail merchant to drive you down 1 or 2 rat holes because you need to meet their needs.  But you need to be sure that you’re not meeting their needs at the expense of everyone else.  You need to have a relationship with your sponsor that after 2 rat holes you’ve agreed with him / her that he’ll help you bring the meeting back to a level that’s appropriate for everybody.

- If the detail merchant is really persistent you might try the line, “If you have a few minutes after our presentation or later today I’d love to come back and give you all the details you’d like. I have tons of information I’d be happy to share 1-on-1 with you.” Sometimes that works.

Allowing one partner or one executive in a sales pitch take you down a rat hole might ruin the overall flow of the presentation for the group it it’s entirety.  As both an entrepreneur (in VC and sales meetings) and as a VC I’ve seen this happen many times.

4. The “Naysayer” – Another difficult situation you can run into is the naysayer.  It’s the person who is always flinging out the skeptical question at you like, “Google could easily do this,” “how can you ever get mass adoption on a tool like this” or “not another social network – just what the world needs.”

Naysayers are difficult to handle because they set a negative tone for the room.  I talked about a situation where this happened to me when I was raising money in Silicon Valley for my second startup.

I find with naysayers is to acknowledge the issue they’re negative but to not discuss it in depth.  “I understand your concern about Google.  It’s obviously something we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about as well.  The short answer is, ‘we believe that our niche focus on backing up documents in the financial services sector will mean that their more generic approach of being a platform won’t be a competitive threat for the segment of the market we hope to serve’ but I’m very happy to have a much more detailed dialog with you at the end of the meeting or one-on-one afterward if you’d like.”

Please don’t get me wrong – some questions you will be asked that are challenging your business are totally legitimate and need to be discussed.  I’m mostly talking about when you get what is clearly in your perception questions asked in a hostile tone or that sound negative / dismissive – especially if they persist from one single person.  Judgment from you on the day as to which scenario it is will be very important.

If they persist the room will be aware of it and will start to discount the person as long as you handle it professionally.  Unfortunately if you “take the bait” and seem defensive it normally just makes both of you look bad.  The other great thing about the “cover it later” approach is that it gives you an excuse to all on this person later one-on-one afterward and build a relationship.  Why not follow up after the meeting and ask whether you can come see him directly to show him some data you have.  Any excuse to build a relationship with the naysayer and turn a negative into a neutral.

But the overall advice is similar to the detail merchant – you can’t let the naysayer take your agenda off course or everybody else – including you – loses.

5. The “Silent Partner” – The final mistake that I see many people make is not engaging the “silent partner.”  Just because somebody doesn’t speak up and challenge you in your meetings doesn’t mean that they won’t be against your company / idea when the internal discussion happens.

As a sales person it’s your job to flush everybody out and find out what their thoughts / feelings are.  In a positive way, of course.  The best tool for engagement is the question.  If you notice a partner that hasn’t spoken or seems to not be paying attention (hopefully not on a Blackberry!)?  Get them involved!

Find a way to ask them a pertinent question and ask for their point-of-view.  “Bob, if I’m not mistaken you have some experience in social games through your involvement with EA.  I know that mobile is slightly different but how do you see this space playing out?”

Work the room, folks.  Whether in sales or in raising VC these are often group decisions.  You need everybody engaged, everybody knowledgeable about what you’re doing and you need to get all issues / risks in people’s minds out on the table and in the open.  This will only happen through your asking questions, listening to what each person is saying, writing down key notes and testing with the group whether you have understood all of their concerns.

I was recently in a meeting with a company that had met 2 of my partners twice before our meeting so my partners’ knowledge was already much deeper than mine.  I didn’t ask any questions in the meeting because they were already going too deep relative to my knowledge.  After the meeting the CEO came into my office and asked if I had 5 minutes.  We spent 30 minutes together.  He got all my issues on the table.  I thought, “brilliant.”  He gets it.

Information asymmetry, detail merchants, naysayers and silent partners are all potential landmines.  You’ve got to learn how to deal with group dynamics to avoid presentation rat holes.  All that said the next step is the most important.

6. Pre-Meeting Prep – So much of your performance in the big meeting is tied to the preparation you put in before hand.  It’s so important that it’s going to be the topic of an entirely separate post.  But for the sake of completeness in this post – before you arrive at a big meeting you need to know in advance: who will be there, what their views are, how they normally act in meetings, what the relationship is between individuals and whether they’re knowledgeable about your space.  Just winging it on the day is a much lower probability outcome.

You can only do this if you have a “champion” on the inside.  Make sure you’ve spent enough time with your sponsor in advance of the partners’ meeting that you feel confident they’ll advocate for you on the day.  One sign of whether they’re truly supportive is how well they help you prepare for the big meeting.

  • Laurent Boncenne

    This keeps getting better and better every day !

    Regarding the “Detail Merchant” more specifically than others, is it considered a good thing to have some in-depths documents regarding all the details of your company/business (like a more detailed business plan) that you bring along and make available at the end of the meeting ?

    Keeping the presentation simple and clear, while providing something more ellaborate to cover things some people/partners might be interested to know that are too deep to fit in the presentation.

  • http://www.logicalconsensus.com Lucas Dailey

    Great stuff. Most of it is pretty intuitive, but it's really helpful to see it as a clear framework. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/denfro Denny Ferrassoli

    Great post! I think these are all skills that a great presenter should have. A great tool is to do a little research on the people you are presenting to. Many times I've been able to stir up conversation with a “Silent Partner” or get a “Naysayer” to see my side by referencing something they've accomplished. I'm referring to Dale Carnegie of course… “Become genuinely interested in other people.”

  • http://www.moxellc.com/ djwulff

    Thank you for pumping out this killer information. One of your recommendations – Mixergy.com – has replaced TV.

  • http://thedreaminaction.com/ Ryan Graves

    I love this very last little tid bit, “One sign of whether they’re truly supportive is how well they help you prepare for the big meeting.”

    I've been sent into meeting blind before, I learned the lesson that if the person who got me the opportunity was really supporting me, they wouldn't have put me in that situation.

    I've never done it in a funding type situation but so much of your advice here carries to corporate shit.
    Solid post Mark.

    I'll be on the startup side someday (soon) and I'll prep for our chat. :)

  • Pingback: How to Present at Big Meetings without Going Down a Rat Hole | CloudAve

  • http://sigma-hk.com Mark Westling

    This is excellent. Personally, I'm not a “natural” presenter, so I like to practice before big meetings. First, I practice by myself and make sure I can articulate well the big points I want to make at the beginning and the end. Next, if possible, I ask friends and colleagues to listen, especially if they can play the roles you described. Opportunities for this are rare, though.

    This could be a great idea at a tech get-together: find people who are willing to listen to and critique each other's VC/sales/whatever pitches. We used to do this occasionally at a previous company; funny, I hadn't thought about it in years.

  • http://giffconstable.com giffc

    another enjoyable post, ty

  • http://blackbeltguide.com/ Marc Winitz

    Mark – this is an excellent post. I am reading from the perspective of sales, but having worked with VCs in the past and you are right. If there is one takeaway from this post it is that raising VC and sales is the basically the same process. What you have defined here is an excellent sales method for any form of big meeting.

    I will say that I disagree with Lucas above. This is not intuitive to most people, notably tech entreprenuers with no background in raising money (1st time) or selling something.

    Finally, to me the most critical part of your post is actually item #6, your last point about prep. It's the number one place successful sales people (or someone selling themselves to raise money) trips up on, not being prepared. You pointed out some good steps, but here are two more:

    1. If possible, try and have your sponsor help you understand any agendas the audience may have. This is little different between sales and raising VC, however if you understand someone's agenda you can talk to them/it more effectively, and more importantly be prepared better for anything you pointed out in items 2-5.

    2. Make sure you and champion/sponsor agree between the two of you what the outcome of the meeting should be so you know specifically what to shoot for. This sounds obvious but it's not. Recently I was in a similar meeting to what you are describing here. In talking with my champion we had slightly different thoughts about what the outcome should be. Just get clear so you are both on the same page. That way you know that champion supports you fully and he knows what he is talking about.

  • cthomaschase

    Specifically related to pitching large groups in a sales meeting, be sure to also have a short summary of the problem you're providing to them in their words. It sounds obvious, but many times I've found myself trying to solve the wrong problem with a sales pitch and/or using the wrong language. Hearing their problem in their own “lingo” is as powerful as hearing their own name. I once had a CEO stop me 1 minute into my deck and say “so, why exactly are you here?” in front of 30 people. Luckily I had it well rehearsed and he allowed us to proceed.

  • http://www.thebrianhayes.com HysBrian

    Great post, it's very helpful see this all put down step-by-step. I'm really looking forward to the post on Pre-Meeting Prep.

    Thanks!

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Yes. I always recommend at thin presentation doc with “supporting slides” after the end of the presentation. That way you can flip to the later slides if you need to but they don't get in the way of your storyline.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I know you say it sounds intuitive, but you'd be surprised by just how many people pitching (or selling in a customer world) fall into this trap. Even seriously polished individuals.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    That's true but be careful not to go overboard in referencing things. Some people go overboard and I think subtlety is important. You want to seem well researched but not a stalker.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Awesome! Thanks for the input. And I love Mixergy.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks, Ryan. Yes, if you go into a meeting blind it's clear you don't yet have their support. Most people are just so grateful to get the meeting that they don't want to “rock the boat” by asking questions in advance. The best sales people always do.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Practice is incredibly important. Why “wing it” on one of your super important meetings?

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks, Giff. Per your email I'm always working on a post on that topic. Thanks for the idea. And I'll gladly support your initiative.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/sharelomer SharelOmer

    great advices, you never can be too prepared….

    Its kind of an NLP of pitching :) and ABC of Always Be Selling

    I loved point 4. The “Naysayer”, its a killer and your sample answer is a keeper.

    Do you believe that only the founder will pitch or all of the team? what is the best structure

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks, Marc. I also disagreed with Lucas. Intuitive for him but surprising how many people fall into the trap.

    re: preparation – totally agree. You're spot on and thank you for the input for people. The single most important recommendation. So important that I held off for a separate post.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Yes, knowing buyer lingo is incredibly important. Good input.

  • Shane

    I agree Marc. To borrow a mantra from the military “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

    I would also interject that the proliferation of social media/blogs has made this business intelligence much easier, and now if you are not on your game with regard to what your audience is tuned into, it reflect laziness on your part.

    For instance, in my company, we are approaching large newspaper publishers with a new media product. I was able to locate a synopsis of a presentation the product manager at one of these large publishers made at a newspaper publisher's convention which basically provided the structure for our entire sales pitch to this individual. Without this advanced knowledge, I very seriously doubt we would be as ready for the pitch…

  • Laurent Boncenne

    This keeps getting better and better every day !

    Regarding the “Detail Merchant” more specifically than others, is it considered a good thing to have some in-depths documents regarding all the details of your company/business (like a more detailed business plan) that you bring along and make available at the end of the meeting ?

    Keeping the presentation simple and clear, while providing something more ellaborate to cover things some people/partners might be interested to know that are too deep to fit in the presentation.

  • http://www.logicalconsensus.com Lucas Dailey

    Great stuff. Most of it is pretty intuitive, but it's really helpful to see it as a clear framework. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/dennyferra Denny Ferrassoli

    Great post! I think these are all skills that a great presenter should have. A great tool is to do a little research on the people you are presenting to. Many times I've been able to stir up conversation with a “Silent Partner” or get a “Naysayer” to see my side by referencing something they've accomplished. I'm referring to Dale Carnegie of course… “Become genuinely interested in other people.”

  • http://www.davidblerner.com davidblerner

    this is a fantastic resource I am going to share with our CEO's.. thanks again Mark.
    (a very slight quibble is that I've become a bit allergic to the much overused “that's a great question….” preamble to a response as it can sound a bit artificial/patronizing at times…)

  • http://www.moxe.net/ Doug Wulff

    Thank you for pumping out this killer information. One of your recommendations – Mixergy.com – has replaced TV.

  • http://thedreaminaction.com/ Ryan Graves

    I love this very last little tid bit, “One sign of whether they’re truly supportive is how well they help you prepare for the big meeting.”

    I've been sent into meeting blind before, I learned the lesson that if the person who got me the opportunity was really supporting me, they wouldn't have put me in that situation.

    I've never done it in a funding type situation but so much of your advice here carries to corporate shit.
    Solid post Mark.

    I'll be on the startup side someday (soon) and I'll prep for our chat. :)

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    At a full partners' meeting I always prefer 2-3 people. People invest in teams more than individuals. But never bring people who don't contribute so if they attend make sure they all speak and have roles in the meeting.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I understand why you feel that way. It can be grating. BUT … it helps presenters who aren't quick on their feet to have a moment to collect their thoughts before responding and I think most people forgive the cliche. But if you can get around saying “great question” probably better. Find another delay phrase. Thanks for the input.

  • http://www.davidblerner.com davidblerner

    yes, good point, a natural phrase that buys a few seconds is needed…. perhaps “thanks for the question John… you know I think that…. etc., etc…..”

  • http://www.defunkte.es DefunktOne

    Solid advice.

    I ran into a naysayer once in a pitch for a digital music platform. The person was a backer of a hard goods media company so our idea ran square up against his. In the end, I do not think it was the nail in the coffin but it surely did not help the cause to have someone in our field bash the concept!

  • http://sigma-hk.com Mark Westling

    This is excellent. Personally, I'm not a “natural” presenter, so I like to practice before big meetings. First, I practice by myself and make sure I can articulate well the big points I want to make at the beginning and the end. Next, if possible, I ask friends and colleagues to listen, especially if they can play the roles you described. Opportunities for this are rare, though.

    This could be a great idea at a tech get-together: find people who are willing to listen to and critique each other's VC/sales/whatever pitches. We used to do this occasionally at a previous company; funny, I hadn't thought about it in years.

  • http://giffconstable.com giffc

    another enjoyable post, ty

  • http://blackbeltguide.com/ Marc Winitz

    Mark – this is an excellent post. I am reading from the perspective of sales, but having worked with VCs in the past and you are right. If there is one takeaway from this post it is that raising VC and sales is the basically the same process. What you have defined here is an excellent sales method for any form of big meeting.

    I will say that I disagree with Lucas above. This is not intuitive to most people, notably tech entreprenuers with no background in raising money (1st time) or selling something.

    Finally, to me the most critical part of your post is actually item #6, your last point about prep. It's the number one place successful sales people (or someone selling themselves to raise money) trips up on, not being prepared. You pointed out some good steps, but here are two more:

    1. If possible, try and have your sponsor help you understand any agendas the audience may have. This is little different between sales and raising VC, however if you understand someone's agenda you can talk to them/it more effectively, and more importantly be prepared better for anything you pointed out in items 2-5.

    2. Make sure you and champion/sponsor agree between the two of you what the outcome of the meeting should be so you know specifically what to shoot for. This sounds obvious but it's not. Recently I was in a similar meeting to what you are describing here. In talking with my champion we had slightly different thoughts about what the outcome should be. Just get clear so you are both on the same page. That way you know that champion supports you fully and he knows what he is talking about.

  • cthomaschase

    Specifically related to pitching large groups in a sales meeting, be sure to also have a short summary of the problem you're providing to them in their words. It sounds obvious, but many times I've found myself trying to solve the wrong problem with a sales pitch and/or using the wrong language. Hearing their problem in their own “lingo” is as powerful as hearing their own name. I once had a CEO stop me 1 minute into my deck and say “so, why exactly are you here?” in front of 30 people. Luckily I had it well rehearsed and he allowed us to proceed.

  • http://www.thebrianhayes.com HysBrian

    Great post, it's very helpful see this all put down step-by-step. I'm really looking forward to the post on Pre-Meeting Prep.

    Thanks!

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Yes. I always recommend at thin presentation doc with “supporting slides” after the end of the presentation. That way you can flip to the later slides if you need to but they don't get in the way of your storyline.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    I know you say it sounds intuitive, but you'd be surprised by just how many people pitching (or selling in a customer world) fall into this trap. Even seriously polished individuals.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    That's true but be careful not to go overboard in referencing things. Some people go overboard and I think subtlety is important. You want to seem well researched but not a stalker.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Awesome! Thanks for the input. And I love Mixergy.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks, Ryan. Yes, if you go into a meeting blind it's clear you don't yet have their support. Most people are just so grateful to get the meeting that they don't want to “rock the boat” by asking questions in advance. The best sales people always do.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Practice is incredibly important. Why “wing it” on one of your super important meetings?

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks, Giff. Per your email I'm always working on a post on that topic. Thanks for the idea. And I'll gladly support your initiative.

  • http://sharelomer.blogspot.com SharelOmer

    great advices, you never can be too prepared….

    Its kind of an NLP of pitching :) and ABC of Always Be Selling

    I loved point 4. The “Naysayer”, its a killer and your sample answer is a keeper.

    Do you believe that only the founder will pitch or all of the team? what is the best structure

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks, Marc. I also disagreed with Lucas. Intuitive for him but surprising how many people fall into the trap.

    re: preparation – totally agree. You're spot on and thank you for the input for people. The single most important recommendation. So important that I held off for a separate post.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Yes, knowing buyer lingo is incredibly important. Good input.

  • Shane

    I agree Marc. To borrow a mantra from the military “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

    I would also interject that the proliferation of social media/blogs has made this business intelligence much easier, and now if you are not on your game with regard to what your audience is tuned into, it reflect laziness on your part.

    For instance, in my company, we are approaching large newspaper publishers with a new media product. I was able to locate a synopsis of a presentation the product manager at one of these large publishers made at a newspaper publisher's convention which basically provided the structure for our entire sales pitch to this individual. Without this advanced knowledge, I very seriously doubt we would be as ready for the pitch…

  • http://www.davidblerner.com davidblerner

    this is a fantastic resource I am going to share with our CEO's.. thanks again Mark.
    (a very slight quibble is that I've become a bit allergic to the much overused “that's a great question….” preamble to a response as it can sound a bit artificial/patronizing at times…)

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    At a full partners' meeting I always prefer 2-3 people. People invest in teams more than individuals. But never bring people who don't contribute so if they attend make sure they all speak and have roles in the meeting.