5 Ways to influence business decision-making

by Daniel Batten on January 24, 2010

You have spent years into building your technology – and the next step will make or break you. What is this next step and what should you do right now?

What I am about to describe is what separates a successful entrepreneur from an als0-ran. More that anything else, it is the decisions the winner makes about how to spend their time. Unsuccessful entrepreneur do things they feel safe doing, like creating product. Successful entrepreneurs understand that the product is a fraction of the business. So what things should you be doing? And even more importantly, what are the most important things you need to understand about how other people (customers, prospects, investors, top new team-members) will make decisions about you.

Winning entrepreneurs are great at addressing: then invest their time in learning how to better understand buyer-need and address it/ understanding investor-need and address it, understanding how a top employee selects a company to work for and address it.

There are 5 things to think about now that your product is looking good

1. Why should anyone care about what your company do or make? (don’t assume you know your market – ask them)

2. Where is your market and how will you get to them?

3. What’s new, interesting, or different about what your company will do?

4. How the company will make money?

5. Who are you and why will you win?

There are plenty of articles that will tell you the same thing. What they wont tell is this next secret about decision-making: In answering these questions – you need to address not just the spoken question, but the unspoken question.

1. – did I get an immediate sense of what your product is and why its important without having to do any work?
2. – after hearing you, do I feel enthusiastic about you and your offering?
3. – do I feel like I have heard strong evidence of there being a “wave to surf”?
4. – what is the compelling story about how this solves real pain today.
5. – do you have bold claims about market-size and your ability to pull-it-off, and after hearing this am I intensely curious to find out more?

What are 5 things you can do differently that will address each of these 5 “real reasons” that someone buys your product, joins your outfit, invests in your company?”

1. Select a foundational phrase. A foundational-phrase is a ten-word remorable, repeatable, remarkable phrase (like “we network the networks” – Cisco; “the third place” – Starbucks, “1000 songs in your pocket” (Apple’s ipod) that capture the essence of your product/company. Stop working on perfecting the product and spend hours getting this right. Now.
2. Learn to speak in a more interesting way by doing two things differently. First – select a metaphor that describes your product and its benefit, eg: “selling without using metaphors is like running a marathon barefoot is possible, but hard work”.  A picture is worth 1000 words, but a metaphor is worth 1000 pictures.
3. Tell a story in 3 parts
a. the dark days (the world without your product)
b. the turning point (the promise of your productt)
c. the resolution (the imagined future world with your product.
People remember stories, forget facts, but remember facts-in-stories (PS: that qualifies as a memorable 10-word phrase)
4. When you talk about how you will invest (not spend) money to an investor or talk about remuneration with an employee or negotiate price with a customer – speak in short, crystal-clear, factual statements. No adjectives. No hype. Show me why I should be excited through story – but don’t get creative on the money part.
5. When you make some bold claim (for example showing an investor your hockey-stick growth graph) speak to the known reaction. Say “Now I know what you are thinking. (eg: “wow – another hockeystick growth-graph)… then say why you are different. This creates instant credibility and instant empathy. You are now a mind-reader.

Understanding the top 5 questions decisionmakers have, knowing the unspoken question, and knowing how to answer the unspoken question will put you ahead of 95% of the pack.

PS: I just saw an interesting website relating to the unspoken question:  http://qbq.com/.

I haven’t read his John Millar’s book yet, but anyone writing who specialises in addressing how asking what is the “question behind the question” – and using that to introduce more personal accountability is someone writing content worth knowing.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John G. Miller January 24, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Hello, Daniel. I have a trademark on the phrase “the question behind the question” and respectfully ask you rewrite this article to not include that phrase. Thank you! John G. Miller, author of QBQ! The question Behind the Question, http://www.QBQ.com, John@QBQ.com

danielbatten January 31, 2010 at 9:37 pm

rewritten john. thanks for bringing this to my attention.

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