EP - 033

Speed to Value: Make Every Second Count

With Mark Drager

Once the directness of the speed to value method is integrated into practice, it becomes a cornerstone of efficient and impactful client interactions across all business sectors.

The How To Sell More Podcast


November 9, 2023

In today's episode of "How To Sell More," host Mark Drager explores the essential concept of 'speed to value.' He delves into why it's crucial to quickly highlight the most exciting features of your product, capturing your customer's attention and leaving them eager for more.

  • Start fast: Show customers the best parts first.
  • Be ready: Know your stuff so you can go with the flow.
  • Talk smart: Use this trick to be clear and quick in all your chats.

Learn how to make every word count. If you're in business, sales, or marketing, tune in to cut the fluff and get to the good stuff with Mark Drager.

Links to This Episode

Key Takeaways

  • Emphasize Core Benefits Early - Prioritize presenting the most valuable aspects of your product or service at the beginning of your sales pitch to immediately engage your audience.
  • Prepare to Be Flexible - This flexibility allows you to respond to cues from the prospect, ensuring the conversation remains relevant and engaging for them.
  • Speed to Value Enhances Overall Communication -  Those who have implemented this approach often find it so effective that they choose not to return to traditional, linear presentation styles.

Top 3 Reasons to Listen

Client Respect: Listeners will learn why respecting a prospect’s time can build better relationships and how to do it effectively.

Competitive Advantage: The concept of 'speed to value' gives listeners an edge by teaching them how to outpace competitors in reaching the client's core needs.

Cross-Industry Relevance: Regardless of industry, the principles of 'speed to value' are universally applicable, making this episode valuable for a wide range of professionals.

More About our Host, Mark Drager

AKA the Badass Brand Architect, 5th Generation Entrepreneur, Host of The How To Sell More Podcast

When he's not podcasting, Mark's the Co-Founder & CEO of SalesLoop. He's a dedicated husband to his high school sweetheart, Jacqueline, and a proud father of four.

Mark didn't follow the typical route to becoming a sales & marketing expert. A connected figure in the entrepreneur community, Mark provides listeners with a unique mix of wit, insight, and straightforward advice.

Some of Mark's unconventional adventures include commandeering a Boeing 737-800 for a day, facing harsh criticism from a billionaire, and shedding 70 lbs in his late 30s. Though he never attended college, Mark stands as proof of the might of maintaining a student mindset and being ever-ready to seek assistance.

A Transcription of The Talk

Mark Drager: Welcome to "How to Sell More". Today, we are talking about speed to value — how to get to the good stuff and not bore your prospects and customers in those pitches and sales calls. I'm Mark Drager; let's get into it.

Do you remember what life was like before the pandemic? And I ask that because, for me, the pre-pandemic world — that's hard to say — the pre-pandemic world feels like a lifetime ago. It feels like a totally different world, a totally different person; I did totally different things. And then the pandemic happened, and it kind of took a year or two out of my life, and now we're in whatever era we are in now. We have no idea what we're going to call this — post-pandemic, I guess — the post-COVID world, where the markets are all over the place, and wars are happening. There's a ton of uncertainty, and I feel like everything is kind of a little bit bizarre.

Now, in 2019, I was still going to a lot of conferences, and I was going to a lot of events. I was lucky enough to be invited by HubSpot to come down to Boston for Inbound 2019 — their three or four-day event that they do every year, where they bring in, like, I don't know, 60, 70, 80,000 people, and they have just jam-packed speakers. I went to this event put on by someone from the sales revenue intelligence company Gong. Have you heard of this company, Gong? They basically help sales teams analyze sales calls. They look at whether the salespeople are speaking more than the customer; they look at keywords; they help you analyze what's going on in these calls. That way, you can train your sales floor, and your team, to sell more, faster, and easier — our whole mission at Sales Loop.

And so I went to this presentation, and it was all about speed to value. And I wish — I've tried to look so many times; I wish I could find the name of the gentleman who gave this presentation. And I can't; I can't find the name anywhere. But it's stuck with me. There were only two or three presentations out of the entire event that really blew me away, and this was one of them. And here's why: he shared a concept for sales calls, pitches, for presentations, all focused on the idea of speed to value. And this frankly kind of blew my mind because I realized, up until that point, I was doing everything wrong. And chances are, if you present kind of the old-fashioned way, the way that most people present, you're also doing it wrong.

So I want to share with you, taking the best learnings from this presentation from my memory from four years ago. But the things that stuck with me, and the little tips and tricks that I've tried along the way over the last few years to be able to master my own pitches, my own sales calls, my own presentations, I want to share that with you. So that's what we're going to dig into in this episode now.

Okay, so this concept of speed to value is really very, very simple. How fast can we get to the most valuable things possible for the people we're presenting to, pitching to, or selling to? How fast can we get to the good stuff without having to go through all of the context and all of the backstory and everything else?

Because here's what most of us do today, here's what I did up until I heard this presentation. Here's what most people do: We want to tell a story. We want to explain our logic. We want to explain our thinking and how we got there, and everything like that. But here's the problem: Most smart, senior executives, most clients, and most people who are really sharp, are a little bit impatient. They aren't really interested in all of the little details about things because, frankly, you might be geeking out about stuff that they frankly don't care about. And they might be too polite just to say, "Listen, just get to the good stuff."

Now, here's the problem. Do you know what the good stuff is to them? Maybe you can guess, or maybe you can make assumptions. Or maybe you have client personas, and you've done market research, and you've worked with people to understand kind of these broad things. But on the micro, on the very specifics, you have no idea what the person sitting across from you actually, specifically is most interested in. And so what we end up doing the old way, the way that you might be doing it today in your presentations, your sales presentations, your pitches, your meetings, is you might be going, "Hey, Mr. Prospect, Hey, Mrs. Prospect. So here's a bit about the challenge. And here's the opportunity. And here's the situation. And here's how we looked at it. And here are what we think your options are: options one, two, and three. And here's what we think the benefits of those options are. Now here are some of the drawbacks. Here are some of the timelines. Here is the budget. Here are the key people we need. Here are the things. What do you think?"

And it makes sense to lay everything out because you want them to know what you know, you want to frame the thinking, you want to move through all of those things. But if that presentation takes 30, or 45, or 60, or 90, or two hours, however long it takes to get through, they're just kind of along for the ride. And you're asking at the end for this kind of conversation or idea around everything that you've shared, and the questions they might have along the way. Some people are comfortable with this, but the vast majority of people are not.

And here's what speed to value does. What if we could get to the thing that they value most? What if we could get to the thing that they value most without wasting their time? And then allow you, the rest of the meeting that we would normally give to laying out every single step of everything that we did? What if we flipped it? What if we just got to the good stuff? You know, like, have you ever been in front of a prospect or a client where you hand them a proposal, especially in the old days of paper, but let's say digitally, and they just literally grab the proposal or the book from you, and they flip to the last page, and they open it up because they think that's where the budget is going to be? Maybe they care about the budget more than anything else. So they flip to the back, they scan down, they see the price, they're not really listening to you, they're not really listening to the presentation; they're busy making their own ideas because they jumped ahead to what they value most. That's what we want to try and do.

So let's imagine if we flipped this entire situation, this entire scenario. Speed to value in a sales call, in a pitch, or in a prospect meeting asks, "How can we get to the good stuff right away?" And so we don't quite know what's the most important thing for the client. So here's what we're going to do: we're going to get to the end first. We're going to sit down in front of a prospect and we're going to go, "Here's what we've done: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, for you. I'm not going to go through all of those details because frankly, you may not be interested in it. But here's the proposal." And then you literally hit them with the end of the presentation. You have three options: Option A, Option B, and Option C. I can go into details as to the pros and cons of each, I can explain the rationale that led us to this point, we can break into the market research or the data or whatever reasons we used to arrive at this — the people we spoke to, whatever it might be in this presentation. But the gist of it is, you have three options ahead of you. We recommend option two, for these reasons, and here's the budget. 

Now, if that takes eight minutes to get through in a one-hour meeting, we've just gotten to speed to value because we now have 52 minutes to talk about whatever the prospect cares about most. Right? We've just got to the good stuff. We've just gotten to it. Now, Mr. Prospect, Mrs. Prospect, what is it that you'd like to cover? Where do you want to go? What do you want to know about, we have all of this information available, but we don't want to bore you with everything. So let's get into the conversation. What questions do you have now? What do you need to be comfortable to move forward? What do your stakeholders require of us to be able to move forward? Let's actually have a specific conversation, not taking the whole hour to walk down this entire path, this entire story, this entire presentation to at the end go, "Oh, here are the options we have presented to you because of our great thinking." 

Now, what we're going to do is we're going to go, "Listen, we've done all of this stuff, we can dig into any part of this, any aspect of this that you might have questions on. But here's where we've arrived, here's the impact, here's what it's going to do for you. Now, let's actually have a strategic conversation about what matters most to you." And when I was sitting there in 2019, in Boston, at the convention center listening to this presentation, I was thinking, "Why the hell did I not think about this earlier?"

Or you may be incredibly uncomfortable with this idea because here's what it forces: it actually gives control to the prospect. It gives control to the person you're speaking to. And on top of that, you need to know your stuff. Because the benefit of having this presentation with all of these steps, what I call the "old way," is you just follow the steps, right? Someone new, someone else put together this presentation, and you just follow the steps. It's like those speakers who get up on stage and read every word that's on the slide. And it's like if you're just going to read every word that's on the slide, I don't really need you; just send me the presentation, and I'll read it. But the speakers who do that use the presentation as a crutch, as opposed to really gifted speakers who really know what they want to say and how to say it, and they've really honed in on the skill. The slides either only have a few keywords, or sometimes pictures, or sometimes there are no slides at all because they know their presentation, they know it.

And this shift, this idea of speed to value in your prospect meetings, in your pitches, in your presentations, will require you to know your stuff. Because you can't count on the presentation to do it. Because when they decide that they want to go to step three, and then step eight, and step one, and then wherever the conversation happens to take them, because they are in control of the questions that they have, you've got to know your stuff. You've got to be able to come up with those answers right away, or you need to be able to reference them. And that makes people somewhat uncomfortable.

But if you're good, oh, let me tell you what this does for you. First of all, you can understand instantly what they care about most because the questions that they're going to ask or the topics they're going to hit on are going to reveal the things that matter most to them. And by nature of the things that they choose not to dig into, either they don't know what they don't know, which is fair, or they don't care about those other things. And then, over the course of several meetings or over the course of repetition, you might be able to draw similarities where you may notice that the same people always go to the same questions in the same order. And this will allow you to better prepare for those types of questions in that order. Or you might find it more fragmented; it's more scattered, it's more all over the place, and there's never any idea where someone's going to take it. And even in that situation, that's amazing, because you're allowing your prospect to get the information that they need to be able to move on with the decision with confidence.

And so when I started doing this with my presentations when I started going way more open-ended, focused on speed to value, got to the good stuff right away, and then really worked on preparing to make sure that I could show up to answer any questions that they have, this completely changed my selling technique and completely changed the results that we have. It also means that some people just don't move forward with things. They just don't move forward with things. But for the people who don't move forward with things, it becomes clearer, much earlier. And we're not wasting as much time chasing people down.

So I love this concept. I love this approach. I want to hear from you. What do you think of it? Do you think it'll work in your industry? Do you think it'll work for you and your team and the way that you sell, I think for any service-based business, it will work perfectly.

And even the example that the presenter from Gong gave in the presentation was, if my memory recalls, something around, like, let's say we're meeting with a city planner about making changes to some kind of area for like a convention center or something, right? And you would normally sit down and you might go through again, all the steps of like, we've done our environmental and we've done our planning, and we've spoken to the stakeholders, and we've done this and we've done this, and we've done this, and blah, blah, blah, all the way along the way. But instead, just flip the presentation, right? We've done all this work, A, B, C, D, E. We're not going to get into it right now. If you have questions, we'll circle around on it. But here is the outcome. These are the two options to move forward. This is the cost. This is the benefit. Now, what questions do you have? Let's dig into it.

I want you to try it. I want you to reach out to me on Instagram DM me, and let me know if this works for you. Or if you've already been doing this for quite some time, I want to hear from you. Head over to Instagram; our handle is @salesloopbrand, drop me a DM, and I will give you a voice note back to let you know that it's really me.

And with that, let's wrap up this episode by hitting the three-point Roundup. Number one: Giving presentations in a super linear way can work if you're giving a TED talk or if you're writing a book. But frankly, if you're trying to sell someone, influence them, or get them to move forward on making a decision, it's better to allow them to be in the driver's seat. So just get to the good stuff right away. Number two: This approach requires a lot more preparation on your side because you can't use the presentation as a crutch. You have to know your stuff. But if you know your stuff, and you prepare accordingly, you are going to come out so much further ahead. And number three: Once you start using this approach, I think you'll find that you can use it in all areas of communication, marketing, advertising, and sales. But I think you'll never go back to the old way again.

Let me know what you think. I want to thank you for listening in again. You can follow us on Instagram at @salesloopbrand. Give us a follow, and if you've made it this deep into the show, I really think you should subscribe. Why? Well, every week we share tactics, tips, and strategies just like these to help you boost your sales and grow your revenue. With that, we're going to wrap up this episode. I'm Mark Drager, we'll catch you in the next one.