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Lean Selling [Selling
Posted on January 15, 2021 @ 12:10:00 AM by Paul Meagher

What is lean selling?

Lean selling is figuring out how to sell your product or service with the least amount of sales effort and the least cost while still being effective.

The idea of lean selling came to me when I was thinking about how I might sell the wine made on our farm property. I don't want to hang around all day selling our wine as I can't afford, at this startup stage, to devote too much time to selling while other things need to be done around the farm. So, I thought about selling all the wine at designated events that we will host at the farm. Easy as that sounds it involves commercial insurance, proper liquor licensing, building inspectors and jumping some other hoops but it seems like it could eventually be a lean way to sell wine.

The idea of lean selling is also tied into marketing as it is difficult to sell stuff, especially events, if you don't have good marketing. This year we sold out all the tickets to our second annual outdoor concert (socially distanced version). We only used facebook advertising and word of mouth and were able to sellout easily and quickly. I paid $0 for facebook marketing and it was more effective than the $1300 I paid for more traditional advertising last year. The point I want to make here is that lean selling also takes into account the cost and effort of the marketing aspect.

Many have heard of the term "lean startup" or "lean manufacturing" or "lean farming". In this blog I propose that lean can also be used to describe an approach to selling a product or service that minimizes the operational and financial costs associated with the sales aspect of your business.


Life Cycle Marketing [Selling
Posted on June 9, 2015 @ 07:29:00 AM by Paul Meagher

Reading more of the Sustainability Marketing textbook mentioned in my last blog. Here is some of what I've learned this morning.

The life cycle of a product from cradle to grave consists of the following elements:

  1. Extraction of raw resources
  2. Transportation
  3. Manufacturing
  4. Distribution
  5. Use
  6. Disposal

Each of these product stages can be rated with regards to how much energy is consumed, how much water is consumed, how much waste is produced, how the waste is disposed of, how much air pollution is created, and so on.

The process of creating a sustainable product involves analyzing the life cycle of the product and trying to minimize the rated impacts where they are highest or most critical.

Sustainability Marketing would allow you to advertise the benefits of choosing your product over another one by virtue of the reduced impacts and/or positive impacts of your product life cycle on the environment and society (social and environmental consequences).

Sustainable consumer behavior is consumption behavior that is attuned not just to the attributes or features of the product in isolaton, but which is also attuned to life cycle attributes of the product and how it addresses the cradle to grave environmental and social impacts.

The consumer is not expected to be aware of some of these impacts before purchasing the product. It is the job of sustainability marketing to help make consumers aware of these impacts and that they are being reduced or positively affected in the case of this product.


Sustainability Marketing [Selling
Posted on June 5, 2015 @ 08:35:00 AM by Paul Meagher

I was browsing some business books and came accross a textbook called Sustainability Marketing (2012) that piqued my interest.

The subtitle of the book is "A Global Perspective". The reason for this subtitle is because what it means to be sustainable varies in different parts of the world. In the Middle East sustainability tends to me more associated with passive cooling, proper architecture, renewable energy and water conservation. In South America sustainability tends to be more associated with fair trade of locally grown crops and the development of ecotourism. In Japan, before Fukushima, sustainability was more associated with sustainable innovation in technology with the Prius being a leading example. After Fukushima, conservation of water and energy and consuming less or more wisely became more associated with sustainability.

So what it means to be sustainable varies as a function of location/culture/major events/etc... Given this, you need to be attentive to the sustainability values of the population you are addressing with your marketing.

The book has a chapter on "Sustainable Consumer Behavior" which I haven't read but which strikes me initially as a paradoxical concept. It will be interesting to see how they navigate this topic. There are enough quirks involved in sustainability marketing (e.g., certifying goodness, life cycle analysis, pricing for externalities and embodied energy) that it probably justifies specialized treatment. Perhaps in the future, it will be the mainstream instead of a specialty area of marketing.

David Holmgren, co-founder of Permaculture, has a nice video on what he views as the proper strategy for changing the world for the better and it makes me wonder if he is talking about a form of sustainability marketing or a process that might benefit from sustainability marketing. Sustainability marketing is usually associated with corporate messaging whereas David is talking about a more individual bottom-up approach to becoming more sustainable so there are differences. His preferred approach to increasing sustainability utilizes two Permaculture principles in particular - Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback and Use Small and Slow Solutions which I discussed in my last blog.

Sustainability marketing is also referred to as "Green Marketing" (although the authors claim it is different) which you can read more about at the Green Marketing Wikipedia page.


Advanced Pitching Webinar [Selling
Posted on June 4, 2014 @ 10:11:00 AM by Paul Meagher

Oren Klaff, the author of Pitch Anything, and master investment pitcher, is offerring an advanced pitching webinar this thursday. The webinar registration link is here..

I've blogged recently about parts of Oren's book and enjoy his work. His views and body language are entertaining and thought provoking. Here is the invitation email that Oren sent:

I can look at your presentation for 60 seconds and know which of these three reactions a buyer will have:

  1. boredom
  2. mild interest
  3. wow!

Your job as the presenter is obviously to create that wow. How? It’s not too hard. Use the right structure and you will attract, engage and fascinate.

And if you want to learn how I do that, join me on Thursday. I plan to go beyond basics and show what pitch tradecraft is really about: making the audience feel anticipation, humor, tension, surprise.

A good pitch is a good pitch because it makes you feel something (not because it delivers information.)


IF you want to compel someone to invest in your product, service or idea, then you need the right structure to create emotional desire.

On Thursday June 5th at 12pm PST, I’ll show you advanced pitch tradecraft: how to turn your next presentation into an intensely satisfying emotional experience for your buyers.

Here are the learning objectives of the Thursday webinar:

Learn how to go beyond “facts, features and benefits” to create and deliver an emotional narrative that won’t be easily forgotten.

Learn the major mistakes nearly everyone makes when pitching a deal and how to audit your current presentation for these problems

How to fix your current presentation, even if you have a pitch later this afternoon.

Here is an recent update from Oren with an example of a pitch he gave recently:

Here's the opening lines of pitch I recently gave. These exact words attracted more than $100 million of interest in the deal, and ultimately closed more than $25M.

"Gentlemen, here's the opportunity in 127 words:

If you recently saw a great movie like Spiderman, Frozen or even Zero Dark Thirty, then you are in good company. In the US, so did 1.3 billion other people.

Today, the theatre business is a $15 billion chunk of the American economy, and it’s growing fast.

So where’s the opportunity in all this?

Changes in consumer preferences are giving small theaters a real advantage over large ones. THE MOST PROFITABLE BUSINESS MODEL in the movie theatre industry is upgrading uncomfortable terry cloth seats to large leather seats, the size and quality of First Class airline seats.

When you upgrade a theater this way, you make $5 more per ticket. You take a large share of the local market. And you improve profits by more than 25%.

This presentation is about Acme Theatre’s high-margin business in the acquisition, upgrading and operation of movie theatre assets."

To learn how to craft the best opening minute possible (I call this the Big Idea), join me here on Thursday 12pm PDT (3pm EDT).


Investment Pitching Patterns [Selling
Posted on May 22, 2014 @ 11:40:00 AM by Paul Meagher

Many entrepreneurs already know the best way to pitch their deal based on experience, however, some stuggle to figure out a format to use. Today I want to discuss a couple of pitching patterns that might help you come up with ideas about what to include in your pitch.

Oren Klaff is the author of a book "Pitch Anything" which I partially reviewed in my last blog on Prizing Your Deal. In his section on Pitching Your Big Idea, Oren endorses the Idea Introduction Pattern as a useful element to add to a pitch. The Idea Introduction Pattern was originally developed by venture capitalist, and popular business writer, Geoffrey Moore. Here is Oren's version of the pattern (p.105):

For [target customers]
Who are dissatisfied with [the current offerings in the market].
My idea/product is a [new idea or product category]
That provides [key problem/solution features].
Unlike [the competing product].
My idea/product is [describe key features].

Below is an example of using the pattern, also from Oren's book. This particular pattern may have been the one Oren used when he was trying to get investors involved in financing a new Airport in California, a 1 billion dollar deal that the company he represented won the rights to obtain financing for:

For investors needing a 10 percent cash yield or better
Who are dissatisfied with risky investments such as stocks.
My airport deal is a project with low risk and lots of protection
That provides a current cash flow.
And unlike most development projects
You can cash out any time you want.

The Idea Introduction Pattern takes less than a minute to deliver in person so is not the whole of the pitch. When you are writing a pitch, however, an Idea Introduction Pattern as brief as this can form the core, and possibly, the complete body of your pitch if done right. The objective of your pitch in the context of this site is to generate enough interest in your idea that an investor wants to connect with you to further discuss you idea. The Idea Introduction Pattern is a good tool to have in your pitching toolkit to help make that happen.

In a twenty minute in-person pitch, Oren would also discuss out how large market forces are coming together to make this the right time for the idea and the deal. Oren's favorite forces are economic forces, technological forces, and social forces. Oren calls the combination of these three forces the "Three-Market-Forces Pattern". The basic idea is to frame your product or idea against the background of these evolving market forces. This is how Oren characterizes these forces (pp. 99-101):

  1. Economic forces. Briefly describe what has changed financially in the market for your big idea. For example, are customers wealthier, is credit more available, is financial optimism higher Increases or decreases in interest rates, inflation, and the value of the dollar are considered as prime examples of forces that have significant impact on business opportunities... Another example is The cost of making this product has just gone below the $10 mark. This means that the retail price can be $69. We've been waiting two years to hit this price point.
  2. Social forces. Highlight what emerging changes in people's behavior patterns exist for your big idea. An obvious example in the market for automobiles, concern over the environment - a social force - is driving demand for electric vehicles. Another example is One of the changes in our society is that people don't get enough sleep or even the right kind of sleep. While this problem is growing only 1.8 percent a year, awareness of it is skyrocketing. People know that they need better sleep; it is a hot topic at all levels of society.
  3. Technology forces. Technological change can flatten existing business models and even entire industries because demand shifts from one product to another. In electronics, for example, change is rapid and constant, but in furniture manufacturing, change is more gradual. An example of a technological force is This device requires a controlling chip and solenoid that now can be manufactured small enough and a a controllable price, allowing us mass-market capabilities.

When writing a pitch for this site, you probably can't spend too much time discussing all of these forces, but you probably can focus on at least one major force that might be relevant so as to position your idea as part of an evolutionary process leading to the current gap in the market for your product or service.

So if you are having trouble figuring out how to pitch your big idea, you now have two pitch patterns that you can use to help guide you to what to include in your pitch to investors. You can find out more about investment pitching patterns by googling "investment pitch patterns", "investment pitching templates", "investment pitchdecks", and so on. You might find some inspiration in the patterns that other entrepreneurs have used to successfully pitch their big idea.


Prizing Your Deal [Selling
Posted on May 21, 2014 @ 08:47:00 AM by Paul Meagher

I just finished reading Oren Klaff's book Pitch Anything (2011) McGraw Hill.

I would rate it as a very entertaining read, filled with lots of humor, anecdotes and examples of his pitching techniques in action, and a window into the world of pitching big deals worth many millions of dollars and, in one case, a billion dollar deal (to be the company in charge of raising 1 billion for a new Airport complex in California).

I thought the book would focus on the narrative elements of a good pitch but instead the book focuses more on the psychology of the 20 minute pitch in front of 2 to 3 investors. It provides a useful inventory of terminology and concepts to characterize all of the psychological elements that come into play during an in-person pitch and how to mobilize them towards a successful deal.

The 20 minute time limit is what Oren feels is the appropriate amount of time to give yourself to pitch a deal in person to an investor. Anymore and you start to lose the attention of the investor which is the main thing you are wanting to manage during the pitch. Investors can start to lose their attention after the first 3 minutes if they are not getting any novelty from the pitch, and even with novelty and a barrage of tricks and maneuverings to maintain attention on the deal, investor's interest will likely start to wane after 20 minutes. That is a good time to end the pitch and deal with potential questions.

In several places in the book, Oren stesses that a major deal killer is neediness, or "validation-seeking behavior". Oren went through a bad stretch where he was unable to make a deal with several VC's he presented to and his company was running out of money. He had successfully pitched large deals in the past, but now something was different. He talked with a mentor about he last few presentations and eventually his mentor pointed out the flaw. In his last presentation, after he gave what he thought was a great pitch, he said things like "Do you still think it's a good deal?", "So, what do you think?", and "We can sign a deal right away if you want us to?". These comments turned investor excitement over the deal into fear and anxiety. The proper frame of mind to pitch in, according to Oren, is to "want nothing" so that you do not come off as needy. The other adjustments are to focus on "prizing" - presenting the deal as a prize that the investor might not get in on if they don't act. Prizing a deal is not simple to pull off and involves many psychological elements, some of which Oren discusses in this YouTube video:

Oren argues that prizing works because of three fundamental behaviors of human beings (p. 64):

  1. We chase that which moves away from us.
  2. We want what we cannot have.
  3. We only place value on things what are difficult to obtain.

So if you are too eager to make a deal, or it is too easy to get what you have, then investors may not value what you have. Behaving in this way, means that you are failing to prize your deal.

Prizing is only one of the psychological techniques Oren discusses in his book, but this should give you a flavor of some of the unique psychology that potentially goes into successful pitching and deal making.

In my next blog, I want to focus more on Oren's discussion of the narrative elements to include in a good pitch.


Commitment and Consistency for Sales [Selling
Posted on May 27, 2013 @ 10:18:00 AM by Paul Meagher

I'm slowly making my way through Robert Cialdini's book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" (1984, Quill, New York). This is considered a classic book on sales techniques. Previously I discussed a chapter from that book about using Reciprocity for Sales. The next chapter in that book discusses using Commitment and Consistency for sales which is what I want to discuss today.

Cialdini argues that the principles of Commitment and Consistency are used when car sales people use the low-ball technique to make sales. The low-ball technique involves quoting a lower price than the actual sales price for a vehicle and letting the customer make up their mind to purchase based upon that price. This charade can go on right up to the point where final agreements are being signed. At a certain point, however, the sales person announces that a mistake has been made and that the actual price is higher than the low ball price (e.g., perhaps after returning from a final check with the "boss"). Or, the sales person might say that some critical feature is not part of the deal and that you have to pay extra to include that feature. In some cases the customer will be on to the ruse and will walk away from the deal, but often what happens is that the customer starts to build up other reasons as to why it is a good idea to buy the vehicle so that when the low-ball price is removed, they can cite other reasons why they were going to buy the car anyway. They retain consistency with their earlier decision to purchase based upon other reasons they generated once they decided to commit.

A similar example involves an energy conservation experiment in which interviewers called up people, gave them tips about how to conserve energy, and then asked them to conserve. They were also told that if they agreed to conserve their names would be published in the newspaper. This inducement had a big effect on their energy consumption one month later. Shortly after the first month they were told that their names would not be publicized after all. Nevertheless, when the experimenters examined their natural gas usage at the end of winter they observed that they actually conserved more fuel than they had when they thought their names were going to be publicized. So here we have another example where people are falsely induced into making a decision and when that inducement is removed, the people continue to act in ways consistent with their earlier decision. The people created other reasons for why the were being energy-conserving citizens beyond the original inducement so that when the inducement was removed, they had other reasons to act in an energy-conserving fashion.

When we make a commitment to act in a certain way we often generate a multitude of reasons to support why we are acting in that way. The pattern of behavior can be resilient against one of those supports disappearing because of our tendency to generate more than one reason for our behaviors. I'm not advocating that everyone go out and start using low-ball techniques to make sales as it strikes me as unethical in many ways (although it is used in car sales all the time). It does, however, illustrate in a particularly vivid way how the commitment and consistency principles can be used to influence behaviors in a big way. Less ethically questionable forms of the technique might involve asking people to enter a contest that involves saying why they like a particular product or service. This can induce them to eventually purchase the product or service or purchase more of it. Proctor and Gamble and General Foods ran contests where they solicited testimonials and awarded the person with the best testimonial a large prize. The primary purpose of these contests was to generate sales from those who submitted to the contest.

It is important to know about some of these sales principles to protect yourself from those who are effective at using them. Cialdini offers some suggestions about how to recognize and respond to those who would use these techniques to try to manipulate you into behaving in ways you might regret. I'd encourage you to read the book for much more detail about how commitment and consistency influence behavior in many other contexts than sales (e.g., winning over prisoners-of-war to getting children to behave in desired ways).


Specificity and Positioning for Sales [Selling
Posted on May 16, 2013 @ 10:08:00 AM by Paul Meagher

Marie Forleo interviewed Ramit Sethi, author of NY Times bestselling business book for entrepreneurs, about the importance of specificity and positioning in sales. Sometimes the reason we can't sell a product or service is because we are trying to be everything to everyone, rather than focusing on the specific value proposition that we offer to specific consumer segments. Watch the video below to learn more about why specificity and positioning are important for making sales.


Reciprocity in Sales [Selling
Posted on May 14, 2013 @ 08:29:00 AM by Paul Meagher

I am 2 chapters into "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion", 1984, Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. It is often referred to in the literature on sales and maketing so could be considered a classic in these areas. It is a well crafted book with lots of research reported and cases analyzed with respect to what pursuasion principle is being invoked to cause people to buy a product or service (or otherwise act in a compliant manner).

Chapter 2 of the book deals with the principle of reciprocity and the many ways in which it can be used as a sales tool. The best illustration of reciprocity in action is a social psychology experiment Cialdini reports in which subjects were asked to rate paintings. During a 2 minute break period, one of the "subjects", who was really a part of the experiment, comes back into the lab area with two Cokes and offers one of the Cokes to a fellow subject saying "I asked him [the experimenter] if I could get myself a Coke, and he said it was okay, so I bought one for you, too". In half of the cases, he did not offer a favor to fellow subjects. In all other respects, the planted subject was scripted to act the same.

What they were investigating was how many raffle tickets the planted subject would be able to sell to the person s/he offered the favor to as compared to the person s/he did not offer a favor to. The planted subject sold twice as many raffle tickets to the people she offered the favor to.

The reciprocity technique is on display when free food samples are offered in grocery stores. If we take the sample, we feel more obligated to consider buying the full product. You may avoid taking the "free" sample because you don't want to feel any obligation to, or feel compelled to, buy the full product. The impulse to reciprocate is what may be driving these feelings of obligation or compulsion.

It is worth reflecting on whether you can use the reciprocity impulse to enhance your sales effort.


Intoverts guide to marketing [Selling
Posted on January 26, 2013 @ 10:06:00 PM by Paul Meagher

The idea of introverts marketing themselves strikes one as ironic. If you are an introvert, then why would you, or how would you, engage in self-promotion.

According to some statistics, over 1/3 of the population are introverts. In the era of facebook, linked in, cell phones, etc,. how do introverts survive or thrive?

For me, this is not an academic question because I work from home and during the week I don't engage with many people. I don't feel lonely or missing out as a result. When I meet people, I am not hesitant or unwilling to talk. I have social skills and know how to use them, but I don't generally make an effort to network (I have 7 brothers and 1 sister and feel that keeps me grounded).

One of the hardest aspects of my business is self-promotion. I like to blog and to some extent that is a form of self promotion, but that would not be sufficient motivation for me wanting to blog. For me, the main motivation to blog is to express my own researched opinion on how the world works. I don't currently accept comments on my plog, in part, because I will have to waste time dealing with automated comments, trolls. and spam so am not really that motivated to solicit feedback. This is probably the introvert speaking in me as well.

So have, perhaps, established that introverts might be a pain in the ass to deal with, so why would you wan to work with them in the first place?


The customer pipeline [Selling
Posted on January 22, 2013 @ 09:15:00 AM by Paul Meagher

When investors evaluate a proposal, one of the most critical aspects of the proposal they must judge is whether the customer pipeline supports the growth projections.

The best data that an investor can use to evaluate the customer pipeline is historical sales data. The investor can see if the trend in the sales data supports the growth projections. Not all companies, however, are in the revenue generation stage, or don't have much of a history built up, so for these companies, investors might rely on:

  • Whether the management team has experience, relationships, or assets that support growth projections.
  • Whether the company has any sort of first-mover advantage that might lead to fast growth.
  • Whether the company is in a growth market and are well positioned to take advantage of it.
  • Whether the company actually has the capabilities to execute on their growth projections if they are successful in acquiring more customers at the required rate.
  • Whether the company is in a market where buy decisions can be made quickly or not. If they are in the health care industry, for example, it might be difficult to quickly sell software units because of the bureaucracy involved, union resistance to changes, regulatory burden, etc....

For entrepreneurs seeking investment in their proposal, it is important that you be able to discuss your customer pipeline and how it supports your growth projections. Investors will generally be skeptical of growth projections in the first place, but they will want to gauge your customer pipeline and whether it is likely to generate enough new customers to support increasing revenues over time.

One caveat is that revenue growth can occur by gaining more of a share of customer spending, rather than generating new customers per se, so just looking at the number of new customers over time can be misleading if the company intends to grow revenues by increasing their share of existing customer spend. The customer pipeline not only bifurcates to reach new customers but also widens to handle more of a given customer's spend.


To sell is human [Selling
Posted on January 10, 2013 @ 08:12:00 AM by Paul Meagher

Daniel H. Pink is the author of a new book on the art and science of selling called "To Sell Is Human".

Nora Young, host of the excellent CBC radio program "Spark", recently interviewed Daniel Pink about his new book. That interview offers some new social science research on what sales is and what it takes to be a good salesperson. Listen to the first part of the Selling, Triving, and Developing podcast to learn more about this research. Even if you are not technically in "sales", Daniel argues that white collar workers are spending more and more of their day involved in sales activities. In fact, some companies generate large amounts of revenue without having a dedicated sales force. In such companies "nobody is in sales, because everyone is in sales". Sales, of course, is central to being a successful entrepreneur so I encourage you to listen to this podcast if you have not already done so.




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