How to Deliver Value
in Your First Five Minutes

How to Deliver Value in Your First Five Minutes of Fame

by: Rob Reed

Let’s say you have an appointment with a senior executive. What can you expect?

Chances are your executive will give you about five minutes to show you can deliver value to the business, if you have a cold call appointment. That’s what senior executives from vice president to chairman of the board said in a study several years ago.

And during your brief five minutes of fame, your executive will be judging you:

  • Do you understand the firm’s needs, industry, and strategies?
  • Can you explain why your product or service is better for the firm than the competition?
  • Are you an empowered decision-maker, or do you have to check with your manager?

The executives said they want to talk to a professional, confident business person who thinks on the fly and doesn’t use canned presentations. One who is honest and acknowledges potential product shortcomings, listens rather than tells, and is flexible.

According to the executives, effective salespeople use three main tactics to provide value during an initial interview:

  • They deal with business issues rather than product features.
  • They ask relevant questions and offer new perspectives.
  • They demonstrate credibility, pointing out the limitations of their product or service.

So the next time you are in front of an executive, be prepared, have some authority, and remember:

Business, not product

Ideas, not canned presentation

Honesty, not exaggeration


Source: “Selling to Senior Executives: How Salespeople Establish Trust and Credibility with Senior Executives,” Target Marketing Systems, 1996.