You got your foot in the door…now what?

Over the years I’ve sat on both sides of the conference room table. I’ve listened to sales presentations from vendors related to technology solutions and business process improvement and conducted employment interviews in a multiple environments. I’ve also been the one pitching to prospective customers or being interviewed for a position.

The biggest lessons I’ve learned about these engagements all revolve around audience, preparation, and purpose.


Whether you’re going into a sales meeting or a job interview, it is essential to know who you’re meeting, what they are looking for, and where they stand within the organization. Are they decision maker? Are they a gatekeeper? Is there something unique about them or the organization that you can use in your presentation? This brings us to our next point because they are very closely linked.


In order to know your audience, understand their needs, and identify how you can fill them, you have to do some homework. It seems silly to say it, but it’s important to remember that we live in the age of Google and LinkedIn. There are trade magazines that serve every industry imaginable. Most companies have a “news” section on their site where valuable information can be found related to changes in leadership, financials, acquisitions, and other business activities. Trade magazines will give fascinating insight into the company’s activities and performance in relation to peers, interesting events they may have taken part in, new business solutions the company may have adopted, and economic factors impacting the industry as a whole.

LinkedIn provides insight into who you will meet with. Have they published articles about their business philosophies? Maybe they shared an interesting story that you can mention at a strategic moment during your presentation. Perhaps they even posted something about the position for which you’re interviewing or about a particular challenge your product or service can address.

In a sales environment, all this information will help shape your “pitch”. You’ll learn valuable information about how your solution fits into their business structure, and more importantly, how your solution provides value! What challenge or obstacle can your solution help this organization overcome?

It’s important to note that there’s a certain amount of savvy necessary for these interactions because the last thing your audience wants to feel is judged. You certainly don’t want to lead with something like “So, I read in your last financial report that you lost 3.2 million dollars in your XYZ division but let me tell you how you can improve that!”

Not the best way to curry favor. 😉

Similarly, if you arrive for your job interview, don’t lead with something personal. If you checked out your interviewer on Facebook and found that they have a new child or adopted a new puppy, you’re not going to want to use that. You won’t appear prepared; you’ll look like a creepy stalker. Stick to LinkedIn and be strategic in how you use the insights you discover.

Preparing for a job interview requires a deep understanding of the posted job description and determining how that position fits into the larger organization and its activities. Has the company announced a recent initiative that involves the division within which you would be working? If so think about how you can connect that to your skills.

Basically, never walk in dry. Know what’s going on. Know who you’re talking to.


Have a point. You worked hard to get this meeting or job interview. Whether you’re speaking to a “low-rung” employee or the CEO, they are taking the time to meet with you.

Job interviews are really quite similar to a sales meeting. In both settings you have to answer a series of questions that may not be directly asked but form the foundation of the entire interaction.

What can you do for them that they can’t do for themselves?

Why does any of this matter?

Why should your audience care?

What’s the point of all this?

You’ve given them your resume, or your sales material. You’ve gone over everything: features, benefits, experience, skills, price. Your materials are on quality paper, great graphics…everything is polished from your shoes up to your pitch.

And? What’s the point? Why should any of that matter to the person on the other side of the table?


“So what?” is a more powerful and important question than “How much?”

Whenever we are preparing for a job interview or sales call (remember they’re essentially the same thing) we must keep that question in mind.“So what?”

Explaining all the details, features, and benefits isn’t enough. Recounting your expertise, your extensive background, and academic credentials is not enough.

So what?

Don’t assume your value as a prospective employee will be self-evident to a hiring manager.

Don’t be so confident as to believe the value of your product or service is obvious.

This seems to be the single most taken-for-granted concept in all of communications, sales, and interview prep.

And don’t get me wrong, I’ve made this mistake myself.

I’m sure we all have and I’m sure we can all think of a time where sat through a meeting asking ourselves the same thing, “Ok…so what?”


Everything you do in anticipation of the meeting or interview should lead you to being able to answer that question, “So what?”

Yet, all too often, we fall victim to getting caught up in the chase.

“All I need to do is just get my foot in the door!”

Ok…so you fought and clawed your way to getting on an executive’s calendar, or that of a hiring manager’s. Are you going to make the most of it?

What’s more important, getting the meeting or the result of the meeting?

I hate wasting time. Even more, I hate leaving a meeting feeling like I wasted someone else’s time.

So to close, I shall leave with you a bit of a mantra I’ve been repeating to myself lately:

Define your purpose and pursue it with passion, patience, persistence, and perseverance.

As you do, use communication, creativity, collaboration, and compassion.

Until next time…

Be Well and Kind,

Digital tech with an analog soul

When I was a kid I had pencils, chalk, crayons, and paper. I rode a big wheel there were two knobs on the TV, one for UHF and the other for VHF…or just the “top” and “bottom.”

I listened to music on vinyl records and cassette tapes.

Basically what I’m saying is that I’m old enough to remember a time before all of this…all of it.

I know, I’m dating myself but hang in there.

That said, I’m also young enough to have grown up as everything happened. I had Atari, then Nintendo, and now there’s an XBOX One in my living room…Cortana too but we aren’t on speaking terms. I get along much better with Alexa.

Though I fought it until the bitter end, I did give in and made room in my life for a CD player, then a portable one for the car that connected via an adapter inserted into the cassette deck.

Now…well I subscribe to Amazon Prime Music and Google Play.

My entire life has been lived with one foot in either world – the analog and the digital. I’ve never firmly committed to either, fighting the transition only to embrace it in the end.

Years ago, ever frustrated with the limitations, expense, and complications of analog recording in a home environment I broke down and invested in a digital recording system…something, like a CD player, I had sworn never to even consider.

So here I am…living in both worlds…enjoying and embracing all that the digital world bless me with but clinging to the analog spirit I grew up with.

The Beatles recorded on tape. Brian Wilson produced Pet Sounds on tape. George Orwell didn’t have Microsoft Word…he didn’t even have Word Perfect.

Yet…I have access to almost every song ever recorded simply by saying Alexa play… or OK Google!

There’s a lesson here though. There’s something important that I think should resonate with all of us…particularly those of us who work in communications.

It’s critical for us to engage our audiences using the most effective and modern channels. We must go where our audience is already waiting. If that means MySpace then MySpace. If they move to Facebook, or Instagram, or Snapchat, or wherever else…that’s where we go.

If it means using emojis or limiting our message to 140 characters, that’s what we have to do because part of being an effective communicator is delivering that message in a method that is well received and understood by the audience.

It doesn’t matter that you manufacture the best product, provide the best service, offer the best workplace. If you can’t get your message out in a way that is heard and appreciated, no one will know or care.

BUT….in our race to embrace the newest and fastest we must never lose sight of what connects us, what binds us…that analog soul.

We are analog beings living in a digital world.

The warmth, the grit, the rough-around-the-edges integrity that makes us each who we are should never be sacrificed at the alter of technology.

Rather, we should use technology to enhance and amplify our analog spirit.

We should let our analog souls and need for warm interaction determine how we utilize the tools that technology provides.

We’ve all seen the home buying shows…we’ve all been in restaurants with a “clean, modern feel.”

By and large, as a people, we leave those trends behind. Why? Because there’s a sterile, coldness to those sleek, gray, clean lines.

Only when that modern avocado and mahogany cabinet has been around the block does it become a cherished “mid-century modern” antique. Before it reached that ripe old age and revered title, well, it was just tacky.

The same is true with how we choose to communicate our messages.

Internally yes, sometimes an email blast is fine. Sometimes that’s all you need. Other times, maybe you should take the time to engage people one-on-one. Perhaps a printed letter in an envelope left at everyone’s desk is the right touch.

Externally, whether engaging prospective clients or a mass of would-be customers, think about what you want to say, how you want to say it, how you want it to be received, and then assess your strategy.

Maybe a mass email dump with addresses exported from Excel is just fine. Maybe though, maybe you should spend that extra time to look up the weather in each city of each client to whom you’re marketing your business. Maybe actually put pen to paper, maybe hand write the address on the envelope.

Almost all of us crave connection. Almost all of us notice when something is different.

When tailoring your message keep that in mind. Offer people more than a widget or a great deal. Offer them a connection.

Don’t reach out to them the same old way everyone else does.

Be different.

Be analog in a digital world.

Be Well and Kind,