How to get more meetings, win more pitches & close more deals

This episode is with Oren Klaff – one of the world’s leading experts on sales, raising capital and negotiation. He’s the bestselling author of Pitch Anything and Flip The Script, and he’s the Director of Capital Markets at Intersection Capital, where they advise companies seeking to raise capital, with more than $1B in recent transaction volume. In this episode we talk about how to get more meetings, win more pitches and close more deals.

LINKS

You’re listening to The Growth Manifesto Podcast, a Zoom video series brought to you by Webprofits – a digital growth consultancy that helps global and national businesses attract, acquire, and retain customers through digital marketing.

Hosted by Alex Cleanthous.

SHOW NOTES

  • 00:00:20 Oren Klaff introduction to the Growth Manifesto Podcast
  • 00:00:49 Overview of Pitch Anything book of Oren
  • 00:14:35 Oren gives examples of status alignment and how to establish your own status
  • 00:20:52 Oren discusses calling out as one of his strategies in sales.
  • 00:28:55 The Power of Flash roll and how it works.
  • 00:29:19 Alex explains about Flip the Script book
  • 00:29:35 Can you explain what flash role means?
  • 00:37:38 Oren discusses the meaning of ‘Winter is Coming’
  • 00:46:30 How providing valuable insights about your customer’s business can make a sale
  • 00:50:37 How do you show skin in the game to your buyers?
  • 00:55:15 Why Coming Up with a Plain Vanilla Idea is Powerful
  • 01:02:27 How do you get the first meetings?

TRANSCRIPT

Oren Klaff:

You’re talking to the one person in the world, maybe three people in the world, the other one is at Goldman Sachs, the other one is at McKinsey, but you’re talking to the one person in the world who’s less than $5 million to have a conversation with for a few minutes, who has solved your problem a thousand times.

Alex Cleanthous:

This is Alex Cleanthous and today we’re talking with Oren Klaff, who’s one of the world’s leading experts on sales, on raising capital, and negotiation. He’s the bestselling author of Pitch Anything, and Flip the Script, and he’s the director of capital markets at Intersection Capital. Today. We’ll be talking about how to get more meetings, how to win more pitches, and how to close more deals.

Just quickly, before we get started, make sure to go ahead and hit that subscribe button so that you get the latest episodes as soon as they’re released. Let’s get into it. Hello and welcome, Oren.

Oren Klaff:

Hey, thank you. That was a very warm welcome.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah. This is pretty exciting, because I first actually heard about you 10 years ago, I guess, maybe eight or nine years ago, just because of the book, Pitch Anything, which had this counterintuitive approach to sales that comes from someone with extreme experience, with significant experience, right?

Oren Klaff:

Yeah. It’s so counterintuitive, no one wanted to publish it

Alex Cleanthous:

Really?

Oren Klaff:

No.

Alex Cleanthous:

Really? Wow, so that was a sales process in itself. I’m sure you had to use some of the principles there to pitch it.

Oren Klaff:

I go, Simon & Schuster didn’t want it. A bunch of the big publishers didn’t want it. The publisher I’m currently with didn’t want it. Finally, I went to McGraw-Hill. I walk in there and they have the senior editor who is really like this august, I want to be kind, 60s-years-old editor in New York. Their office is in Manhattan. They have the entire building. It says McGraw-Hill on it. You’re in the conference room overlooking Manhattan. They have all their little interns. They have nine people around the table.

My agent and I walk in, and it’s obviously who’s the senior editor, who makes the choices, who’s running the meeting. Her name was Anne. I can’t remember her last name. I turn my attention to the lowliest analyst, intern in the room. I go, “Anne, it’s lovely to meet you. Been good to talk to you on the phone, but listen, here’s how this meeting is going to go.”

I yell at her and she goes, “I’m not Anne.” I’m like, “Okay. Well, if you’re not Anne, who are you? Why are you in this room?” Then the lady speaks up and she goes, “What’s happening?” The intern goes, “He’s doing it. He’s doing it to us.” I go, “What do you want? You expect me to come here and beg for the book deal? Of course, I’m going to do the stuff that’s in the book, about the book, in order to get the book.” They’re like, “Yeah, you’re in.”

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah. Well, that’s such a great story. It’s fascinating that some of these counterintuitive approaches to traditional ideas, they don’t seem to cut through a lot of times because it’s not safe. I think, so what’s interesting about some of your approaches is that the fact that they are not safe is probably part of the reason that they actually have impact, that they actually stand out.

Oren Klaff:

Well, the other side of not safe, two sides of that pancake is it raises the stakes. I have a little rant before I get into that. I’ll tell you something else that’s counterintuitive. If you speak to actual authors of the books you read, and I get them on podcasts and there’s something in their book, and I go, “Do it. Okay. You know branding. You know sales. All right. Here’s a situation. Run your shit.”

They’re like, “Well, strategy, and thesis, and big think.” I’m like, “Wait a second. You wrote an entire book, and you drag me to your podcast, you can’t actually do it?” Alex, anything in there, you ask me, flash roll, winter’s coming, plain vanilla. We’ll just invent a company, invent the product, and we’ll run through actual tactics and techniques live.

Counterintuitive is people write books, and then they can’t actually do the stuff, and then they go on a podcast, so we’re going to do stuff. Listen, listen. I have this big … Let’s see. I have this giant G Waggon. It’s called a G550 Squared. There’s 200 of them in the world. There’s a regular Mercedes G Waggon. This one is supersized. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but they’re massive.

Alex Cleanthous:

No. I’ve never seen it. Right after this podcast, I’m going to look at it.

Oren Klaff:

Look it up while we’re talking. It’s 22 inches taller than a full-size Range Rover. It’s massive. Anyway, I pack my family in it and we’re driving over the Coronado Bridge here in San Diego, and you’re looking down at battle ships. They look like Lego toys. You’re in the sky. Apollo and Zeus are there, “Hey, would you like a coffee?” Like handing, their hand comes out of the cloud. You are in the clouds, and I’m in this giant G Waggon that we have. I don’t know why we have it, but whatever, and the footwall is this high on this giant bridge, at least. I slow down. People are honking.

By the way, I drive fast. I race. I race motorcycles. We turn the camera around, there’s some race cars right there 10 feet in front of me. I slow this truck down to 20 miles an hour because I’m high in the air, I’m in a big truck, the footwall is low and I have my family in it. The stakes are high. You raise the stakes and things seem scary, so the trick is in sales, and I think this is what we should talk about in business development, and you get there, is raising the stakes but having a skill level.

What happens is people raise the stakes, what’s raising the stakes? Saying to a customer, “Why are you asking me for a discount? This makes no sense. You want your vendors not to make any money? You deserve free product?” Why wouldn’t you say that to a buyer? Well, because it raises the stakes and then they say, “Hey, you’re being rude to me. My other vendors are nice, and I don’t like rude vendors.”

When people say to me, “Hey, can we get a 30% discount?” I go, “I’m sorry. I confused you. I feel terrible, but I feel like this meeting just ended,” so raising the stakes, but I have the skills to raise it. Really, things feel edgy but if other people can get them to work, maybe you can get the skills to raise the stakes, and it just focuses decision-making when the stakes go higher.

Ultimately, this is what I feel the problem is today. When you used to fly somewhere, to Chicago from California, go to a meeting, everybody get in that meeting, the stakes were high because you spent money, you travelled. There’s a lot going on, and if they just came in and said, “Hey, we rescheduled. Could you do 3:00?” I’m like, “Whoa. No sir. No sir.” A newbie, 21 years old, an intern, “No sir. We are not rescheduling. I have to get to my grandma’s funeral. Fuck you. We’re having this meeting,” because the stakes are high.

You get on a Zoom and they go, “Hey, sorry. Mr. Big couldn’t make it. Can we reschedule for never?” They’re, “Oh, yeah. Anything you want” because the stakes are low, so raising the stakes to signalling that I am not an information booth on the freeway of you trying to get a discount on whatever it is you’re trying to buy. My time, and then I think, now we’re somewhere. Signalling in Zoom and in today’s world in which connections are so quick and easy, my time, this call is as valuable, if not more valuable than your time. That’s the signalling that raises the stakes.

You are talking to the number one expert in the world who solves the shitty problem that you created for yourself. I don’t have that problem. Our accounting system runs perfectly. We’re not having an IRS audit. We’re not getting crypto security scammed. We don’t have these problems. You have the problem. Not only do you have it, you have it as bad as anybody can get it.

In fact, if you get this problem any worse, me and anybody credible is not even going to be willing to work on it, because you’re just going to be like, “Hey, come visit us on Hell Island.” “No thank you. I don’t want to go to Hell Island. That’s where you are, and it doesn’t sound enticing.”

Now we’re talking about correctly raising the stakes and the stakes are, you have a problem. It’s not going away. If you don’t solve it, it’s going to get worse. You’re talking to the one person in the world, maybe three people in the world, the other one is at Goldman Sachs, the other one is at McKinsey, but you’re talking to the one person in the world who’s less than $5 million to have a conversation with for a few minutes, who has solved your problem a thousand times.

Alex, you know how I solve this problem? I hit that that was the easy button and I do it while I’m sleeping. Okay. It’s a complicated problem, but we solve it all the time, so, “Let me contribute some of my time in my day to helping you out.” Okay. “Efficient. Let’s be efficient.” Now we have a call.

Alex Cleanthous:

For the listeners, he just pulled out a bunch of tactics, pulled them all together into that one little example. This book, Flip the Script, I got it a couple of months back, maybe three or four months back. I was just going through it because I got Pitch Anything. I got Flip the Script. It’s one of the only books that I bought the audio book, the physical book, the Kindle book. I took notes. I have purchased it for people.

It is for enterprise level-sales and for enterprise-level, I guess, engagement, is one of the most refreshing approaches to pitch anything, surprisingly. I’m going to try my best to touch on it at a very high level, and just to give the listeners, I guess, a quick overview so they get some of the substance.

I highly recommend everyone to purchase this book. This book, for enterprise sales and for how to structure a deal, simplifies it in a really sophisticated way. I’m sure that the conversation with Oren right now, he’s going to be showing examples of how he positions himself. He just did it a second ago with he just flipped it on the person.

Oren Klaff:

I think, to jump in on you, the big thing to notice is status. Status drives a lot of your ability. Everybody wants to close. That’s the fun part. “Teach me some closing lines. Teach me pickup lines. Teach me ways to close.” Let me teach you my best close. “Guys, we’re out of time. What should we be doing together? I have to jet.” That’s the close. Now, that’s very powerful, “What should we be doing together?”

The reason you can use that close is when you open high status, and you open as an expert, and you have tonnes of actual and perceived value, then you have something to take away. The reason I wanted to go there is because I had, on my podcast, Anthony Scaramucci, who was the White House communications director for 11 days.

He’s on CNN. Maybe he looks a little bit goofy online to you, but he worked for Goldman Sachs, manages a $4 billion fund, graduated Harvard Business School, has a degree in finance, and he was at the White House. He’s a real dude, so I get him on podcast and he just flashes it and I can see, he’s doing his own stuff. He probably doesn’t know my name. The PR director just booked us.

I’m like, “This guy’s going to be a problem because he’s just going to phone it in,” and you could see that I don’t like phoned in interviews. He’s just going to phone it in. He’s probably not even looking in the camera, and it’s just going to be this smooth, “Hey, I was White House director, Trump,” and blah, blah, blah, bada bing, bada bong, bada boom.

He comes on and I go, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m so excited to have here today, and it’s just unbelievable that I was able to get such a guest to this podcast. It’s really unthinkable. Somebody I’ve been wanting to talk to for many, many years. I’d like to introduce you to Cathie West from ARK Investments.” He goes, “What? I’m not Cathie.” I go, “What? Who are you? What are doing?” So status works both ways.

When somebody comes in super high status, when somebody feels powerful over you, they don’t listen well. They don’t see you as a person. They see you transactionally, and they take risks with you that they wouldn’t take with a peer or somebody more powerful than them. When people believe that they are higher status than you or more powerful than you, again, this is so important, they take risks they wouldn’t take otherwise, they see you transactionally, and only surface-level, and aren’t interested in you.

Sometimes, you’ve got to lower somebody’s status, which is tricky, but I just showed you there how to do it. I’ve done that many times with celebrities. Every celebrity I meet, I have to do the exact same thing. I’ll give you other examples. I can give you another example of lowering somebody’s status to your level.

Alex Cleanthous:

The first part, in terms of the process of the flip the script process, let’s call it, is status alignment. This is basically just to ensure that the person who you’re trying to engage with sees you at least at the same level, right?

Oren Klaff:

Correct.

Alex Cleanthous:

This is the conversation so far. What we just spoke about was that there’s basically increasing how you’re perceived or just lowering them. If you could provide an example of both, that’d be great, right?

Oren Klaff:

Sure.

Alex Cleanthous:

Because I think this is the hardest part, I think, for people to comprehend is like, “How do I establish status when maybe I don’t think I have the status?”

Oren Klaff:

Most people sabotage their own status. “Hey, Alex. So great to be on the podcast. Oh my god. I’m really excited to do it. I’m a little bit nervous to be on. I did a tonne of prep. Can you hear me okay? Do I look okay? I had my mom iron my shirt because I really want to look good. Anyway, am I talking too much?” No reason to do all that.

I’m exaggerating, but more like, “Hey, I’m really excited to be here. We have a presentation we’d like to show you. I think you’re going to love it. Want to let you know, in our company, customer service is number one. You can call us on the weekend. I give you my grandmother’s fax number, whatever you need to reach me, anytime day or night. We do whatever it takes to keep the customer happy. I think you’re going to love this presentation. I’m going to show it to you and then I’ll ask you if you have any questions. Anyway, I really think you’re going to like this presentation.” That’s a mistake.

I’ll give you an example that’s a very sophisticated level. Probably very similar to the Anthony Scaramucci example I just gave you. By the way, at the end of that podcast with Anthony Scaramucci, he goes, “Oren, oh my god. I want to drive down and meet you, and let’s do something together.” We started with, “I don’t know who this person is. My PR agent made me take this, and I’m going to phone it in with White House,” blah, blah, blah, to, “I’ll drive to you, and let’s work together.” That’s status alignment.

Give you another quick example here because I know we have other things to get to, but I was speaking at a large event and the speaker before me was Emmitt Smith. Emmitt Smith is the Dallas Cowboys MVP, maybe the most well-known football player in America from that era, the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl winning dynasty, MVP multiple times of the League, of the Super Bowl, 100 millionaire, and then went on and resurgence, won Dancing With the Stars.

It was just me and Emmitt Smith in the green room waiting to go speak, and the organiser … He has an entourage, but the entourage has to split up because the deal is, it’s just he and I in the green room, eventually. The conference organizer goes, “Hey, Oren. I want to introduce you to …” I go, “Wait, oh my god. I never thought I would ever get to meet Randall Cunningham,” who’s another football player, but it’s not Emmitt Smith.

He goes, “I ain’t Randall Cunningham.” There’s not a person in America that doesn’t go, “Oh, Emmitt, oh my god. I remember you from the Super Bowl. Can I get your autograph?” except for Oren Klaff. Because I would love to do that. I’d love him to sign my rump in permanent marker. Of course, I want to hug him and lick his face. I love football, but if I do that, he’s going to be like, “Yeah, whatever.”

Finally, I was on him, finally he goes, “I’m sorry. What’s your name? What do you do?” Emmitt Smith asked Oren Klaff what does he do, what’s his career, what are his goals in life, does he have any kids, when I got the status aligned. When he thought he was a superstar and I was a peon speaker from, fanboy, 46-year-old white dude dreaming of one day meeting Emmitt Smith, I had no value.

When I didn’t care about any of that and I didn’t even know who he was, and we just got peer-to-peer, then we had status alignment. You cannot go into the customer and get a meeting with the CEO and put them on a pedestal and make them feel more powerful than you, as we said. That’s status alignment, for sure.

Alex Cleanthous:

Okay. Let’s see that it is the CEO and let’s say that there is a presentation that’s super important. Now, the stakes are high and now you either have a decision to increase your own status or to put them a bit lower down in their status, we’ll call it.

Oren Klaff:

You’re going to have to take them lower. You have to take them lower. I’m going to give the tools-

Alex Cleanthous (00:18:26):

Is that the only way, is it? You can’t increase yourself to that level?

Oren Klaff:

Yeah, because they come in, they’re not listening to you. It’s transactional. They’re not listening to you. You can say, “Hey, I just have mined rare earth minerals from an asteroid. I built my own suit, I flew up to it, I got the rare earth minerals here, and I have goose that shits out golden coins.” They’re just going to go, “Sorry. What were you saying again?”

Alex Cleanthous:

Okay. How do you do it tactfully then?

Oren Klaff:

Yeah, here’s how.

Alex Cleanthous:

Because it seems risky for some clients. It’s a $10 [crosstalk 00:18:56] million deal. Yeah.

Oren Klaff:

You don’t have to do it the Oren Klaff way. Here’s the issue. What can you do? “We’re a great company. We try really hard. Microsoft is our client.” They don’t care. It’s very hard to raise your … You got to pull them down a little bit.

The tactful, reasonable way to do it is, “I love you guys. I’m very excited about this meeting. Really prepared hard for it. I’m thankful for the time with senior leadership,” and I see you’re confused. You’re like, “Wait a second. This is exactly what you said not to do,” but it’s a setup. That’s a setup. “Excited to be here. Very mindful of the time with leadership. Prepared really hard. I’ve got a presentation for you. I hope you love it.”

“One thing that I aim to do in this meeting is I see some things that you guys are saying and trying to do, but I also see some things on the website that are confusing, that are actually the opposite of what I would expect you guys to do and say, given what I’m hearing from you in this scope of work, so my goal is to square that hole and try and figure out what is actually going on here.” Okay?

Alex Cleanthous:

You’re calling something out.

Oren Klaff:

Every single company will be doing something weird. Disney is doing all this weird LGBTQ, equal sign, apostrophe, backwards three, which is fine, but Disney used to be like, “Hey, come over and the kids are going to watch Disney movies.” Great. They got to be careful that … Every company, even Disney, is doing weird things, so pull something weird and say, “Just, we’re seeing these things.”

Most companies will have some kind of a website that is anathema to how they’re behaving, so it’s just really easy. “I saw this on the website. It says you’re the founder-friendly company, but then I see you guys re-trading every single deal and grinding, so I’m trying to figure out … Either one is fine. It’s confusing who you really are, and as part of this conversation, I’d like to get that cleared up. Of course, we’re going to present to you what we think you should do next, and why you should work with us, and why we’re the best.”

That is supplicating as a setup, and then pulling them down a peg. I’ll give you an easier way to test this out that is incredibly powerful. It works best on Zoom calls or phone calls, but meetings as well. In my experience, I work with billionaires, I work with CEOs, I work with leadership. They always come to a call late, three minutes, five minutes, eight minutes. If it goes past eight minutes, bye and reset.

Alex Cleanthous:

I give them five minutes, usually. I give them five.

Oren Klaff:

Five minutes. Okay. They come late and I always go, “Alex, hey, welcome to the 10:05 call.”

Alex Cleanthous:

Simple.

Oren Klaff:

It’s amazing. You have to do this. Every senior manager knows the value of time. 100% of the time, they’ll go, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” They’ll say things like, “I’m sorry. We have a ship at the Port of Los Angeles and we’re trying to unload medical supplies critical for children, and I had to sign off to get the medical supplies approved by the government. I’m so sorry,” and so they will start out apologizing to you, rightly so.

They didn’t say, “Hey, I’m going to be a few minutes late,” so, “Hey, welcome to the 10:05 call. Are you ready? We can get that call started now if you want.” Very nice, fun, easy way. “Does anybody need fluids, in, out? If not, let’s get that call started.”

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah. That’s good. Okay.

Oren Klaff:

Nice and easy.

Alex Cleanthous:

That’s a really good little tip, and it’s really just to put them off balance. That’s what you’re trying to do. Just put them a little bit off balance. “Hey, what’s going on here? This is not how I’m spoken to usually. There’s something here maybe.” It’s that, isn’t it?

Oren Klaff:

No one will be offended by that. By the way, if somebody’s offended by that … I probably have done that 3,000 times. If somebody’s offended by that, huge warning sign. Everybody knows the value of time. You came to the call on time. You set it up. You were professional. If they don’t say, “Yeah, that’s pretty funny,” and that’s the other thing about these kind of frame control things, is if people act weird.

Everything you and I are going to be talking about is taking the normal, owning the center line, owning normal. What’s normal? Showing up on time, having values, putting stuff on your website that you say what you mean, you do what you say, that syncs up with how you actually behave. Whenever you take that moral center, they’re constantly fighting … Your jokes are actually funny.

They’re constantly fighting to pull themselves back into the high status center, and so you take that position. “Happen to be flexible. I see you’re here for the 10:05 meeting. We can get that meeting started. Anybody need fluids in or out? If not, guys, let’s roll.”

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, got it.

Oren Klaff:

“So sorry,” blah … Right? So that’s great. By the way, that’s just jiu-jitsu class, day one. You don’t have to flip somebody over your back, spin around, flying rear naked choke. All it is is tapping them on the shoulder, and turning them a little bit sideways. Jiu-jitsu day one. There’s no risk in that. Definitely start … It’s fun, by the way.

Everything you’ll see about what I do is not intended to control people. It’s just intended to own the centre line, which is fun, interesting, unique, high-integrity, have value, an expert, high-status, and busy. When you own that, then people are constantly trying to meet your standard.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, yeah. That’s great, that’s great. This is part of status alignment. There’s a lot more in the book around the terminology, the words, the shared stories, their problems in their industry, so there’s quite a lot that can be added to this. This is a fantastic way just to start a meeting well, start a meeting so that they listen.

Oren Klaff:

Let’s just talk about that for a second.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yep, yeah.

Oren Klaff:

If people don’t think you know their industry, it’s very hard for them to trust you with a conversation. Some alignment that I have some profile and understanding of your industry, then now we’ve got status alignment and we got a basis for a trusted conversation.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, I think it’s really interesting because I think what status alignment thinking forces people to do, professionals to do is to do the research before they start talking to someone. I think there’s so much shortcutting of, “Hey, it’s me, me, me, me, me.” It’s not about them. It’s not about trying to come to them and to meet them.

It’s all about, “Hey, but if I do 1,000 of these outreaches and I get 100 responses, and I get 10 things, and I do two of those, then all of a sudden, I’m going to get a sale,” and it just doesn’t … That maybe worked 10 years ago, maybe. These days, it’s a lot more competitive because everything’s on Zoom. It’s getting a lot more competitive even just to cut through, so I think a lot of these are really good ways to cut through.

I’m going to move to the next point. This part we’ll keep high-level because it can get technical, but the flash roll. Now, so the flash roll, I’ll just start it. The flash roll. I’m sure that, of course, for the listeners, we’ve always been told to not talk technical jargon to prospects, to not say, “Hey …” To not have acronyms, and to not go too technical.

Now in this book, Flip the Script, again, I’m extremely impressed by this book. There’s a thing called a flash roll where for 90 seconds, you get super technical. Then the aim of it is to really just, to show technical expertise. Can you just talk about just where this came from, at least, the thinking? Because it’s the first time I heard, “Use all the jargons. Make it as technical as possible, but keep it short.”

Oren Klaff:

For sure. If you’ve ever watched CNBC’s Squawk Box and listened to the CEO Of 10,000-employee companies, Shell Oil, or I’m just trying to think. They have these big manufacturing concerns, or 3,000 employees and $4 billion of revenue. They really fall into two camps. One are like these strategy guys. Actually, you also see them on the show, Undercover Boss. They’re like, “Run 7-Eleven,” and he goes and he has to prepare the nachos and he’s like, “Where does the nacho go? Oh, cheese goes on it? Wait, jalapenos?” He doesn’t know anything about how to do it.

On Squawk Box, you have guys like, “Based on the uptick of the inflation and the power purchasing of the dollar, it feels like our supply chain is going to need to tighten over the next three months.” Then there’s big, high-level strategic. The CEOs that you really respect are the guys who have done all the jobs coming up through the company, and they can get super technical, briefly, and then come up to strategy.

“What are you guys doing in the business?” Like the guy running Audi. “We really feel like electric …” This is perfect. I’m just making this up on the spot, but I think this is a great example. “We really feel like gas engines have lived their time. That’s why we’ve committed, by 2028, to have all electric vehicles in our thing. We think that’s what consumers want.”

“We think that’s what government mandates are going to be, and we think that’s actually going to be good for our business and improve the bottom line,” but it’s interesting, so that’s great. Strategy, that’s the CEO, but what’s amazing is when they go, “I’m down in the EV lab, and really at 1.2 angstroms, you can get those electric vehicle motors to really have the level of horsepower per pound that is over 100 times that you could get with a gasoline engine.”

“When we put that on the test track and really monitored the data, I look at the split testing between this and this, and I’ve been on the track for a couple days actually driving the car. Then we look at the data, and you see this red … I actually have it on my phone here. You see this red line here? That’s where we are hitting the economic level of power performance that is 10 times higher than gas.”

“That’s really where we want to be, and it’s a pleasure to drive that vehicle because the response rate of the shocks mimics that of what you could get in a typical luxury car at a third of the price.” Like this mother fucker right here running the business, driving the cars, looking at the data, talking to engineers.

He goes, “Yeah, I was an electrical engineer for a couple years, and then I moved up in management.” You go, “This guy can get super deep. There’s no level of deep that I can take him where he’s going to run out of awareness of what he’s doing.” This is the problem with salespeople. We believe you want the order. We believe you’re going to try hard. We believe your product has a value proposition. We believe when we install it, it’s going to install and things are going to happen.

What I don’t believe is you really understand the product at an implementation level. I don’t believe that you live in the details. I think you’re just a sales guy. Then if I want to have any details, you have to go, “Well, I have to get my sales engineer or my engineer in. Or I have to get my CFO in, or I have to get the founder in.”

I can give you another little story that shows you the harm in not being able to get super technical for a short period of time. Oh, by the way, this skillset of being broad, value proposition, strategy, thesis, capability, understanding your problem, problem solution, how things are changing, understanding the need for a solution to a broad set of problems, but then being able to go deep, that is magical. It has people trust you, believe in you when they don’t think you’re just a generalist.

The other thing is most people who go deep into the details, engineering, technical specifications, mathematics, financial analysis, they stay there. They can’t get out of that hole. They go deep and they stay deep. That’s why the advice is where you started. Don’t get into jargon. Don’t get into engineering. Keep people out of that. Keep them high-level in sales because it’s overwhelming, but when you can go for 90 seconds into this flash roll and just expose.

The details are not for comprehension. You’re not teaching anybody anything about the details. All you’re doing is showing them in the flash roll that you have technical mastery of your subject. The power of this is amazing. Now, we’re in the office. It’s the thing we do here, and everybody’s like, “He just flash rolled me. I know he doesn’t really know that stuff.” Right?

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah.

Oren Klaff:

Because everybody’s now learning these flash rolls to signal that they know a subject and he’s like, “Wait. Did you just flash roll?” Now we don’t even know who knows what in what deal around here because these flash rolls. “Did you just flash roll me?”

I just want to give you a quick example. I know you want to move on. I’m trying to buy this software, this encoding software. I’m pretty technical. This video encoding software to get in a certain format that we need for our presentations. I’m on the website of the company that provides this software. I have a couple questions, and I get on the chat with one of their customer service people.

I’m asking very technical questions, and they’re answering in broad euphemisms, “Yes, of course, we do that. We’ve done that for years. Our software does it.” I go, “Listen, I need to talk to somebody who’s technical. These answers are not satisfying me.” Then he chats back, “I’m technical.” I go, “Doesn’t seem like you are.” Then he writes back, “I’m the founder and the CTO.”

I’m like, “What? Dummy. Why are you not showing me your technical depth so I can believe in you?” As a salesperson, you have to find a way to show some technical depth in your product and in your industry. You don’t have to do it for five, or 10, or 15 … For 90 seconds, just show me that you can get into the details, come back out and keep moving on value proposition and strategy.

Alex Cleanthous:

Just some ideas around that just could be cool, so specific industry insight, and then a technical application of that execution. There can be some prep, and there can be some scripting, and there can be some practice where you have enough to go on.

Hopefully, the person who you’re presenting to hasn’t read Flip the Script, and they’re trying to check in on some of those things, but look, this is the first time I’ve heard about something like this, so I don’t think it’s out there yet. Now’s the time to start to use this because in the beginning when it’s a novel idea, which we’re going to get to in a minute, it can start to be effective, but the big idea, it’s winter is coming. It’s the thing which you’re coming to them with, right?

Oren Klaff:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.

Alex Cleanthous:

It is?

Oren Klaff:

If somebody doesn’t believe the world is changing and that change is going to sweep what they’re doing away, then they don’t have motivation to listen, to change and to adapt to a new world order. Now, it used to be hard to come up with winter is coming five years ago because nothing was fucking going on, but today, every single industry and every single … Winter is not only coming, it’s come.

You have the pandemic, you have travel restrictions, you have masking, you have vaccines, you have right-left polarisation, you have logistics problems, you have the high cost of gas, you have inflation, stagflation. Every single industry is changing, so unless you come in and say … Pick an industry, Alex, and let’s try and tackle something.

Alex Cleanthous:

Insurance.

Oren Klaff:

Insurance, great. If you’re an insurance company, what’s really happening is AI has entered. Insurance companies that are adding artificial intelligence and machine learning to their actuarial tables are wiping out their competitors, not in a five-year cycle, like in 18 months, because they can offer very specific pricing to specific cohorts that are not achievable by the other companies, so any insurance company that hasn’t fully implemented AI to the point of having 10 to 20 AI engineers internally are going to fall back from their lead position and potentially just become the Blackberry Myspace of their industry.

Everything is changing in insurance based on this AI. Now, there is a new world order. This winter is going to wipe out everybody who’s not adapting, but if you adapt in a specific way, which I’m going to propose to you, you will be sitting where every company wants to be and you will, instead of having 1,000 competitors, everybody implements AI, machine learning correctly in this way, and there’ll be three competitors to deal with, and the new world order is better, cleaner, more profitable, but if you don’t start taking action now to get there, AI’s going to wipe …

I’ll give you an example of this. I believe in 1954, I have to look it up, when television came to the consumer market, it wiped out 80% of the theatre business, gone in a year.

Alex Cleanthous:

It’s like Netflix now, isn’t it? Like that.

Oren Klaff:

Yeah. These wipe outs really happen. When the iPhone, Blackberry, wiped out. The right way to use winter is coming is to really show, in your industry, the last three times it’s happened and this is, it’s very easy to predict exactly what … In media, in technology, in insurance you can see …

I’ll give you a really good example, is one thing that causes these nuclear winters in the entertainment business is that consumer preferences change. If you think about those movies, The Hangover. The Hangover 1 made a billion dollars. Hangover 2, less Hangover … You can’t do The Hangover today because people don’t think that’s funny.

Alex Cleanthous:

They don’t think it’s funny anymore? Maybe I’m getting old.

Oren Klaff:

No. They would still be doing them. You would have Hangover 11.

Alex Cleanthous:

Of course, yeah, sure.

Oren Klaff:

That kind of humor, sure, it’s funny. You look at the old Hangover, “Ha, ha, ha,” but for real billion dollar releases, consumers no longer … Something About Mary, that slapstick, very visceral humor in today’s world where we had the pandemic, it’s not funny.

Go back even further. Jews, and gays, and Catholics, and Italians, and Poles, and people with tattoos, and people with … Oh, in the ’80s, the movies would make fun of people with disabilities. Go watch Bad News Bears. You can’t make that movie today. Consumer preferences, wiped out. It’s not like you can sneak your way in, so a nuclear winter is something that is happening in the industry that no one …

It’s a little bit different from changes. Things that are changing, when you say, “Things are changing” then the buyer thinks, “Yeah, but not to us, and we have a hack and workaround.” Winter’s coming is no one can get out of this sweeping change. I don’t care how smart you are, you will have to leave the old way of doing things behind and adapt to a new way.

You’ve got to figure out, what is that nuclear winter that you can see entering the industry that is going to wipe your buyer out unless he adapts to the next way of doing things and gets ahead of this wipe out? You cannot come to me with an industry and say, “There’s no nuclear winter in our industry,” especially today.

Yeah, but in the old days maybe if it was furniture, nothing was changing, you had to think really hard, but every industry is in some kind of wipe out mode, and so now if they believe that their way of doing things is going to be made irrelevant by the things that are coming, then …

Electric vehicles. If you go into a car manufacturer and you go, “Listen, electric vehicles are coming.” They’re like, “Yeah, we know. We’re aware of that. We’re phasing out gasoline.” You’re like, “Okay, good.” Anybody who’s like, “Hey, we’re dedicated to gasoline engine. We’re not doing any development in EV,” is just going to get wiped out. That’s just a very clear example of that, so you have to bring that to the customer upfront.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, and I think this is, because … Yeah, sorry. Okay. Yeah?

Oren Klaff:

All I was going to say is, it has to be insightful. It can’t be like … Because you can really hurt yourself by saying, “Hey, electric vehicles are …” If you go to Brembo, a brake manufacturer, or somebody who’s in the industry and go, “Electric vehicles are on the rise.” They’re like, “Hey, asshole. Who let you in here?”

Alex Cleanthous:

Obviously, it’s like, “Come on.”

Oren Klaff:

It needs to be insightful.

Alex Cleanthous:

My kid knows that. You know what I mean? Yeah, yeah.

Oren Klaff:

Right. It can’t be on USA Today colored in crayons. Now, it can be the thing that everybody knows about, but you got to add some insight to it, like some data and some specificity. A good example is solar is now becoming to the point, solar and wind … Texas, on some days, gets half of its energy from solar and wind.

“You probably know that. You’re in the industry, you’re fully aware of that. One thing that’s really interesting is that solar has now,” da, da, da, “Peaked beyond the … It’s no longer necessary to mandate communities to implement solar power. They’re doing it on their own, and all the regulations are falling off in favor of new stuff because they no longer need subsidies. Consumers are just doing it on their own, and here’s some data on that.” Now you have the sweeping issue people are aware of and you are tightening it up so your winter is coming is meaningful.

Alex Cleanthous:

Do the research and come up with some solid insight that they’re going to be like, “I didn’t know that. Oh, that’s helpful.”

Oren Klaff:

When you can provide some insight to somebody about their business, you are in. You are an insider. Your deal is basically sold, unless you screw it up. You just got to go through the numbers. Especially in the car industry. They’re so data-driven. They have so much awareness. It’s so esoteric. When you can walk into someone in the car industry and provide them some insight on their piece of the car industry, it blows their mind and they are …

It’s a little separate issue, but the winter, people have to be aware that things are changing so fast and so dramatically, they cannot just keep solving their problems in the way that they have been solving them.

Alex Cleanthous:

This is causing their desire to grow, them to take action.

Oren Klaff:

Take action.

Alex Cleanthous:

Again, assuming there’s status alignment, which we already talked about, so that’s super, super important. The flash roll, so they trust your technical expertise, and now you throw at them some insight about their industry. Start to see how this process stacks on itself. It’s very deliberate.

Oren Klaff:

Here’s one I love for everybody. If you think that you’re going to be able to run your business from an accounting standpoint the way you have in the past, I got sad news for you. You cannot call the office supplies your swimming pool office supplies anymore. You can’t buy a laptop for your own personal use, for your kid in school and then write it off on the business.

The level of AI that the IRS and the government has, they know. Okay. They have 300 million data points. They have the data and they know when you are … If they don’t have the actual data that you’re cheating on your taxes, they have the pattern match and the likelihood, and then you get a data request. Cheating on your taxes is not what it used to be. If you are still doing those bad accounting practices, you are going to get crushed by the current audit system.

Alex Cleanthous:

That’s winter is coming. That’s a good winter is coming.

Oren Klaff:

“Hey, guys. Look out.” He’s like, “Oh, man. I better fucking not …”

Alex Cleanthous:

No, no, no. I’m solid, I’m solid.

Oren Klaff:

“Talk to my CPA here.”

Alex Cleanthous:

Oh, no, no, no. Solid, solid, solid. 100% solid.

Oren Klaff:

That, to me, is just the perfect example of being able to sell accounting services to a business. The point is not to terrify people. The point is to bring into high relief actual forces that are truthfully going to really affect them and just let them know, because that starts the clock ticking.

Now you have some control because you go, “Listen, this is what we do. We help people get out of the way of this force and move into the next generation, but because this force is coming so fast, almost faster than expected, we’re super busy. I made a little bit of time to help you understand how to solve your problems, and get out of the way of this change, and get positioned for the next five years. If you don’t want to do it, just tell me so I can go help the people who are super motivated to get this done.”

Alex Cleanthous:

Framing. Look at the positioning. This is great. All right, so there are some more parts to the big idea. There’s the 2x concept and the skin in the game. That’s in the book, but I think the big concept is … Well, they’re all super important.

Oren Klaff:

Here’s the problem with salespeople.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah.

Oren Klaff:

You’re trying to make a commission, so you sell the order, you book it, you deliver it. The software installs, everything works for 60 days, and then it doesn’t work. Not that you’re a bad person, but you’ve gone on to Microsoft. This happened to me. I called up the company. I’m like, “Hey, Joe sold me this.” “Joe’s gone.” “Well, it’s not working.” “Well, we don’t know what he sold you.”

Joe, if he wants to sell, and everybody’s been through this, and they know what happens. The way to sell is you have skin in the game. The easiest skin in the game is like, “Hey, just want to let …” You hear this all the time. “Want to let you know is that I’m on a flat rate. I only make a sales commission if you’ve been on the software for more than a year.” Skin in the game.

I want to know that I’m not going out in the boat you sold me, and you’re waving to me from the shore, “How’s it going? Any leaks out there? Call customer service if there’s any leaks. Anyway, got to go. Have a date.” I want to know you’re in the boat with me, and if it’s leaking, your destiny and my destiny are entwined, and our fates are doomed, or our fortunes and our fates to the upside or the downside are entwined and that makes … When people believe that you have skin in the game, it lowers their uncertainty about working with you.

Alex Cleanthous:

When people speak about skin in the game, historically, it’s always been a financial, I guess, incentive. Skin in the game’s in the book. I did want to touch on plain vanilla.

Oren Klaff:

Sure.

Alex Cleanthous:

The novelty sweet spot, because a fantastic [crosstalk 00:49:35] out of the book was … Please.

Oren Klaff:

Yeah, I worked at a private equity venture capital firm called Alcatel Ventures. The guy’s name Steve Kim, sold his company to Alcatel, They asked him to run Alcatel Ventures. Billionaire, 500 millionaire, whatever. I worked there as an analyst, and the thing they said is like, “Hey, what we’re mindful of is, how many risks are we stacking up?”

They would say, “Listen, one of the risks we don’t care about is technical risk. We believe these smart engineers, or these software engineers, or these hardware engineers, they always build what they say they’re going to build. One time over 100 deals they’ll be like, ‘Fuck. We can’t build it.’ They always figure out how to build it or code it, so that’s not a high risk.”

They say, “Oren, you love every deal, but how many risks are we stacking up?” What I realized in my deals is that if I could just boil it down to one risk and everything else in the deal was normal and has been done over and over again. This is what I try and show all the entrepreneurs and salespeople that I work with is, this is the regular way of doing it, except with added, this one twist, and so why?

There’s so many things that this has accomplished, which is people love things that are new and it attracts them. “Hey, we have a new software program.” “Oh, great.” “AI, and machine learning, and it’s got all this new stuff, and it’s going to make you all this money.” “Great, I love it,” and they run over and they check it out. Then they go, “Ah, we love it but we’re also super nervous because it’s so new,” and so there’s lots of consumer stuff that the book talks about.

What does something have to be for you to change your painkiller? If you use Tylenol or Advil, you can’t reduce the price, it’s whatever, five cents a pill, costs nothing. Even if you buy it at a gas station in a little two-pill pack. I expect to pay $8. They’re like, “Yeah, it’s $1.35 for two,” so you can’t make it cheaper. You can’t make it better, like you drink it and five minutes later, your headache’s gone or your hangover’s gone. There’s no motivation to switch, and so it’s very hard to introduce something new to people. When I try and get them to adapt a new service or come over to me …

I’ll give you an example. We’re an investment bank, and so people go, “How are you different?” I go, “We’re not different.” Every single investment bank does the same thing. You can go to a Starbucks in Newport Beach, 8:00 in the morning, and meet 25 investment bankers stopping in to get a Café Americano, and you go, “What are you doing?” They’ll say exactly what we … All investment bankers do exactly the same thing, plain vanilla.

The one thing that I think that we do better than anybody else is we don’t do mass market mailings, send out, in essence, a junk ball. Buyers of companies or investors hate deals that look like a junk ball that’s just going to be a massive, everybody coming in and everybody … An auction and their money … It’s only about the money, because real investors want to come in and know if they’re working on the deal, if they’re looking at it authentically, their name means something, their brand means something, their ability to close means something.

They just don’t want to go in the mosh pit with every Tom, Dick, and Harry. They want respect for how they are, so we rifle the shot. We call those guys up and go, “John, hey, listen. I have a deal I think you’re going to love. It’s not being shopped. We’re letting a couple people look at it early. Love for you to come in and talk to the entrepreneur and see if it’s something you’d be interested in, but it’s not going broadly to the market,” and so that’s what we do.

If you like that, then you’d love the way we do things. If you just want to send out 500 teasers to everybody in the market, well, then you can get all these guys in Newport Beach to do that for you, but we won’t do it, so one twist. If you think about it, well, what was Uber? It’s a fucking taxicab, but you get to see, is it actually coming to you, and how long will it be there? What was Airbnb? It was a B&B, but you could book it online and get a sense of, see some photos of it, and get some ratings on it, so it was to get an overnight stay, but all of the stuff existed.

When you looked at WeWork, what was WeWork? WeWork, they already had co-working. It was green co-working, that’s it. If you look at all these big companies, they’re the exact same thing as stuff that was already out there with one interesting twist, so I would encourage you, if you could, to try and put what you have in plain vanilla terms and say, “But, we have this innovation,” and now somebody can evaluate just your innovation as the risky part and not everything.

Alex Cleanthous:

I like your story, the story in the book about the hotel, and if it’s too disruptive, if it’s too novel, there’s going to be some significant immediate interest, but then it’s too risky. I thought that was a fantastic story because I think that so many people trying to be completely different, but they don’t realize that it’s completely risky then for the person now who’s buying it. I think that’s a really great twist on the process.

Oren Klaff:

Yeah.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, and I think-

Oren Klaff:

This is the problem. “Hey, we’re changing the world.” “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m just trying to get new tyres on my truck. I don’t want to change the world. I want truck tyres.”

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, exactly.

Oren Klaff:

“We’re sending socks to every kid in Nicaragua.” Okay. That is a very narrow subset of people who want to mine asteroids for rare earth minerals. Most companies want to do it the established way, but improved so when the winter is coming, the improvement lets them live, and survive, and thrive on the other side of the nuclear winter.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, which is great. I’ve just got one more question. There’s so many more questions, but I’ve got one more because I’m conscious of time. How do you actually just get the first meetings? Because the conversation’s all about status alignment and all this, and presenting a certain way, and so on, but how do you actually just get that first meeting? Is it taking the winter is coming and status alignment, and just doing outreach? Or is there … How would you do it?

Oren Klaff:

Yeah, so we’ve done hundreds of thousands of outreach emails. We have a whole course on cold email, but I give you the basics. One is serendipity. If there’s a feeling like some forces collided to cause this email to happen. Not, “This is programmatic.”

“I was talking to Alex. He mentioned your name twice. I ignored him because we know him in common, social, and he’s got the podcast and everything, but then your name came up in a meeting for the third time and I’m like, ‘I better send this email in.’ I looked at the website. It turns out you do exactly what we do. Let’s connect for five minutes. Worst-case, we put each other’s name in the Rolodex. Best case, we have a lot in common and start working on a project. How about Tuesday, 10:30, Wednesday, 3:00 p.m.? Either work.” That’s it. I bet that’s 130 words.

Alex Cleanthous:

You’re not going in with a big hook or anything like that. It’s just-

Oren Klaff:

No.

Alex Cleanthous:

… more social engagement, serendipity.

Oren Klaff:

Serendipity, social engagement, and one other thing. “I’m not a robot.”

Alex Cleanthous:

Not a robot. It’s not a bot making-

Oren Klaff:

Misspellings … I’ll tell you about something I invented. This sucks now because now if everybody starts doing it, it will erase … Many times in origination, I send the whole email in the subject line, 300 words. Have you ever seen that?

Alex Cleanthous:

I have never seen that.

Oren Klaff:

You haven’t. That’s right.

Alex Cleanthous:

I can attest to that.

Oren Klaff:

Novelty.

Alex Cleanthous:

That’s for sure.

Oren Klaff:

Novelty. “This is not a robot. I’m a real person. Something serendipitous or chance, coincidence caused this email to happen. There’s something very specific to discuss. How about one of these times?”

Alex Cleanthous:

I like that. I like that a lot.

Oren Klaff:

Super strong.

Alex Cleanthous:

Yeah, great. Oren, thank you so much for such a high-powered, quick, completely value-adding conversation. For the listeners, I’ve said it throughout the podcast, but you just have to get the book. It will be the best investment in terms of the sales effectiveness, the ability to structure deals, and any type of engagement where the stakes are high.

For the listeners, apart from them actually having to purchase the book, which I highly recommend, is there any other, say, site or podcast that they should subscribe to?

Oren Klaff:

Go to orenklaff.com. There’s tonnes of stuff there, and sign up for the list. I put out two emails a week and they’re all this stuff. Then eventually, if you’re actually raising money, which is the highest form of sales, then come either to one of my events here at this office, or join the online community that I have, and we’ll help you raise money.

Salespeople can get all of this stuff if they just go on the weekly newsletter that just comes out, because we talk about real situations, real tactics every single week. Just go over to orenklaff.com and many good things will happen.

Alex Cleanthous:

Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. This has been such a great conversation, and the best part about it is just the content in the book. Again, thank you for your time because I know how valuable that is, and we’ll talk soon.

Thanks for listening to the Growth Manifesto Podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please give us a five-star rating on iTunes. For more episodes, please visit growthmanifesto.com/podcast. If you need help driving growth for your company, please get in touch with us at webprofits.io.

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