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Standing At The Podium


When we are in that first-ever interview with a prospective client, there is a great deal at stake in the time we have with them. This is our only opportunity for a first impression. Its our first and often best chance to really separate ourselves from our competitors. Thats one of the reasons why the questions we ask and the way we ask them are so important.

I believe these questions and this very first meeting set the stage for, not only the sale, but the foundation of the relationship. When these questions are a different, refreshing, and inspiring experience for a business owner or advertising decision-maker, magic happens! Over the years, Ive refined this process from dozens and dozens of questions down to 10 key questions.

Today, I want to share one of them with you. Its called inviting the client to Stand at the Podium. You can fill in the blank with the type of business you wish. I dont care if its a car dealer, a restaurant owner, or a funeral home director, the process is the same. Lets use a restaurant for our example. Well call it Neds Fine Dining and Im sitting with Ned, the owner and founder. Heres what you would hear me say to Ned when I get to this particular question

Ned, I want us to enter the world of make believe for a minute. Youre going to have to pretend with me a little. This exercise will help me help you. Lets pretend Ive rented a small auditorium at the hotel across the street and Ive invited 100 people there. They all represent the kind of folks youd be proud to serve in your restaurant. Ive given each one of them enough cash to dine, with a guest, in your restaurant once every week for one year. At an average of $35.00 a plate, that represents $3,640 over the next 12 months, each! If my math serves me correctly, theres a potential $364,000 in revenue in the room for you. Im going to invite you to come up to the podium and Im going to give you 60 seconds to tell everyone in the room why they should choose Neds. Theres only one catch. Theres an alarm that will sound off if you say the words quality or service. You cant use those two words. The reason is because those words are in 80 percent of the commercials they hear every day and they have become numb to those words. I want you to be creative and sell them! Then, after your time is up, Im going allow the local manager of Ruths Chris, Mortons, and Texas Road House to have the same opportunity. After the four of you have had your time, Im going to invite everyone to vote and the presenter with the most votes gets all the business over that next year. Now, Im going to take copious notes. What would like to say to them?

Several things occur when you invite a client to Stand at the Podium. First and foremost, they will never forget you. To say this exercise has an impact on them is an understatement. Next, youll learn more about their business in their answer than many people who work there. If its a mens wear store, every man in the room has $5,000 for a new wardrobe. If its a car dealer, every person has $30,000 cash for a car. If its a funeral director, every person has $10,000 in pre-planning money. You see how to customize the exercise. Youll learn how the person at the top sells their own business and that is incredibly valuable. The wording above is an example, but the rules to follow in the exercise are critical.

In addition to hundreds of local clients over the years, Ive had the CEO of a 1,000-store fast food chain sell me a chicken sandwich, the CEO of a worldwide battery company sell me a car battery, the CEO of one of the worlds largest online matching services tell me how theyre the best one to find me a mate, and university presidents convince me to enroll. They almost sweat when they visualize the auditorium and standing there making their case. It will amaze you what you learn and how this one exercise, this one question, will help you help your client. Lastly, youll get almost everything youll need to write their first commercial campaign.

Invite a prospective client to Stand at the Podium and let the magic begin!

Rob Adair is the President of Pinnacle Solving. His company provides revenue growth solutions, branding and differentiation strategies to radio and other industries. Adair is a former radio industry COO and Sr. VP overseeing 25+ stations and multiple major markets. He can be reached at 405-641-0458 or by e-mail

(3/1/2013 5:36:37 PM)
Minor point but you stand *on* a podium, you stand *at* a lectern.

Look it up.

- Steve

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