The Way Business Is Moving published by
Issue Date: June 2007

Who is up for the challenge?

1 June 2007

Would it not be a dream to be able to force IT vendors to get to the point and stop harping on about their products? Imagine a world in which sales talk was limited to a few minutes, followed by whatever questions the buyer may have. After that the sales person goes away and only comes back if invited. Imagine a world where vendors made sales based on what their products could do and not what they promised their products could do in endless presentations.
There was an interesting event held at Infosecurity Europe earlier this year. Called the Lion's Den, it was a forum at which eight security vendors put their products and reputations on the line in front of a panel of experts, and an audience.
The vendors each had two minutes to pitch their products, without slideshows or props. After the pitch, a judging panel had four minutes to grill the vendor, with no holds barred. To win, a vendor had to survive the six minutes and impress the panel.
Having been to many product launches and the like, I have to assume this is something that happens only in the UK market. I cannot see it happening here. To be honest, I do not believe the vendor exists in South Africa that could do a pitch in two minutes, let alone without the obligatory slideshow highlighting how fabulous the company is and how much more fabulous it plans to be in future.
Can you imagine how hard it will be for a sales person to compress their usual sales pitch into two little minutes? No adjectives, no utopian promises and no false claims of superiority; just a simple little pitch that has to make the sale.
Back in the height of the dotcom era, having your 'elevator pitch' was considered essential if you were to capture VC interest - does anyone remember being offered the 30-second or 2-minute pitch? The pitch had to be so good as to almost seal the deal in a minute or so. Of course, given the real value of most dotcom business plans, a minute, assuming the pitcher was able to fill it, was probably enough.
Perhaps we should make an effort to revive the elevator pitch. Instead of being worn down by long presentations, IT vendors should be given two minutes to make their pitch. If it is good enough and they impress the potential buyer, they can start a proof of concept, if not, they can go home.
Andrew Seldon

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