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Top Tier Interim Executive Meetup: How to Make Yourself More Referable

Cerius’s top interim executives get together to talk about how to make themselves more referable, discussing their elevator pitches and how they make the most of networking.


Kristen McAlister:

Well, let’s kick this off. We’ve got a number of individuals so I want to make sure that we have more than enough time to do multiple breakout sessions. I know everyone’s usually got their counter on to how quickly we can get to the breakout session so you get to talk with each other as well as hopefully accomplish something today.

If you don’t know me, I’m Kristen McAllister. There are some new faces and names in our meeting today. I am one of the two co-owners of Cerius Executives. And for me, these virtual meetings and being able to connect our nationwide network, I think we had about 70% East coast, 30% West coast on the call is something that we’ve never been able to do before.

And since we are a leadership matchmaker, we help companies with their leadership gaps on a temporary and part-time basis, the more we get to know the executives in our network, the talent, connect with you and have conversations to help you in some way in your businesses, the more we’re going to further the concept of interim management.

I remember back in 2009, I’d walk into a room and a hundred people who had ever heard of an interim executive; you may get one raise their hand today. You’re probably going to be well over 50%. But it’s still as we meet people, a bit of an education process. And that’s tough when we all thrive on and our business depends on referrals. So that’s something that we’ll get into in detail today. And the purpose is to do some learning and development as well as some connecting.

When we work independently, it’s really tough to connect with others for learning and development and best practices, especially when there isn’t really an association for interim management and the ability to talk to other interim executives. So that’s one of the reasons we do this forum on a monthly basis.

And the goal is to either walk away with meeting someone new, learning something new, and then enhance or enhancing what you know. So, if you can just get one nugget out of today, we will have done our job.

But we like to kick these off by turning it over to our client services team, Chris and Tiffany, they really have the insight to CEOs and what types of opportunities they’re seeing, what is trending or on the rise, what we think will come over the next couple months.

What are some of the trending topics that we’re hearing from CEOs? We’re mostly having the opportunity to talk to 10 CEOs in a year. They have the opportunity to talk to 10 CEOs in a month or sometimes even in a week.

So with that, Chris, we’ll go off alphabetically. Why don’t you kick it off?

Chris Shepard:

Thanks Kristen. And thanks everybody for being here today. We’re glad you decided to join us talking about referrals and that really is what we do here at Cerius. And the number one thing that I hear from CEOs is who do you know that can accomplish this thing I need done, right?

Whereas it’s not really, Hey, find me someone, it’s who do you know, who is in your network, who has worked with you before? Who do you have experience with that can complete whatever this task, whatever this project is that I need done?

So that is a lot of the reason why we do these meetups, is so that we can get to know you better. You can know us better so that when Tiffany and I get those calls asking who we know, we can give them your name when the opportunity fits. So, thanks for being here and looking forward to today’s conversation.

Kristen McAlister:

Yep. So, Chris, what are you seeing in your pipeline right now? What are some of the trending roles that you see coming over the next couple months?

Chris Shepard:

Lots of finance right now with some very specific projects that I’m working on. Also, sales leadership has been something that’s been more surprising this year than in past years. But really, we’re just seeing a lot of activity in all areas. There are lots of voids in the market and lots of places for interim executives to serve.

Tiffany Egenes:

Ditto what Chris said. But what also I am seeing is that as we are kind of hopefully getting out of the pandemic. Some of the companies that were frozen in place are starting to really ramp up on their hiring and we’re seeing that in our business. Whereas the last 12 months, we’re seeing a lot of actually full-time requirements.

We’re getting back to interim requirements now which is where we play best and we love from a functional perspective. I still see a lot of sales and marketing roles from a percentage of the functional roles that I’ve placed in sales and marketing have been much higher than in my previous role.

So that just tells us that a lot of companies are really putting gas to their sales and marketing engine and a lot of them are pivoting. A lot of it has to do with pivoting where if they didn’t have a strong digital footprint or presence, they’re spending lots of money to get that.

Moreover, if they didn’t have the right salesperson in place or the structure in place, they’re leveraging us to really help them bring together their sales organization and evaluate. Right now is the best time to get the kinks out of the system and make sure that they really can take advantage of the market coming back to life over the next couple of years.

So that’s what I’m seeing within my portfolio.

Kristen McAlister:

Thank you. One of the trending topics that we’re also discussing – I’ve been in a number of CEO groups; I actually just had a Vistage chair call me this morning and say, “this is one of the hot topics that keeps coming up.” And it’s the work from home coming back into the office.

How do we run a hybrid company? How do we do hybrid organization? Because most are not going to bring 100% of their employees back. How do we do accountability? How do we do performance metrics? What does that look like? And they’re lost. In fact, Ginny, our nonprofit expert here, one of the executive directors in nonprofit, very large one and is asked if we could get together other nonprofit individuals, executive directors, just to have a conversation of what does that look like when you’re not a business owner, you answer to a board and you’ve got to put this together.

They’re really lost and struggling for information. So anytime that we can give that advice and be there as a subject matter expert on that, I think that if any of you have that it’s certainly one that’s going to resonate with CEOs right now. Want to give a couple of testimonials and thank you, Ginny, I mentioned, thank you very much for some of the introductions you’ve given this past month. Again, incredible nonprofit leader, advising boards, helping put in structure and especially setting up and helping them do more and work together, especially executive director of board relations and can certainly step in and do strategy along with that.

A couple of testimonials, Adam. Want to say, thank you very much, Adam Ullman, who has an incredible history of growing and selling companies is working with one of our clients right now in a small and growing business on an advisory basis where Adam’s just available. He’s kind of the CEO’s insurance policy every month sits on retainer and the CEO just calls him anytime he has a question or wants to talk through things.

And I know right now, Bill, this probably resonates with you as our supply chain expert, and that’s supply chain. So the CEO had a couple of supply chain issues picked up the phone and Adam started working through it with them. We’re continuing to see an increase of that advisory level.

And then Bill and Jared, some of our alumni on the call. Bill, who’s worked with a couple of assignments with an international company, not an easy one where they have facilities over here that are not operating well. In fact, they brought him in a second time to work with them.

And Jared who helped a, what was it? A four-person ownership team where they became a little complacent and he sparked their energy again, to put together a plan to sell in the next 18 months.

Tiffany Egenes:

They did sell by the way, Kristen, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that, but they had a successful exit in February. So fruits of the labor. So that was a positive.

Kristen McAlister:

Fantastic. Congratulations on assisting with them on that. Tiffany, Chris, did I miss anyone?

Chris Shepard:

Yeah. And then want to mention John Brennan. Who’s on the call today. John joined us in a new IE meetup just a couple months ago. He took to heart what we said there, which was the more engaged you are with us, the better we get to know you. So John’s met with a number of the members on the team here at Cerius. Both from a referral standpoint, also from a content standpoint, John’s working with our chief marketing officer to write some articles and do some things with his expansive experience in in the markets that he serves.

And so we’re just really thankful for John for making the most of being part of the Cerius network.

Kristen McAlister:

Thank you. So today we’ve got everyone together, how to make yourself more referable. So our topic, we all want more business. One of the best ways is our network and our referrals that we get. The biggest takeaway that we want to get out of here is, even if it’s just one little nugget, how do we make ourselves more referrable and more memorable?

I’ll go through a little bit of background information, pulled out of the book that we wrote. And then Tiffany and Chris are going to guide us through a couple of breakout sessions. I really encourage everyone to use these as your personal advisory board.

Where else are you going to be able to have a couple handful of individuals between the different breakouts, give you feedback on how does that come across? You’ve got 20, 30 seconds, or if it’s a CEO, five seconds, in order to get their attention and get across what you do and how you can help them. So, if you have one you’ve got to pitch, use the breakout sessions to market, test it with other interim executives, because you never know where they could also be a referral source.

We’re serious. We are going to have some interactive nature here, even in the group session. So feel free to raise your hand, take yourself off mute. I would love to get some input as we talk through this.

And with that, I’m going to see if I can successfully share my screen.

Does this look familiar to anyone, you remember those days? When we would walk into a networking event, it seemed like breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We had our business card in hand and we gave it to one, we gave it to three, or in this case, we gave it to many and had a new batch printed every single week.

We just can’t do that anymore in the virtual nature and businesses become so virtual and nationwide, you’re not going to be flying to Virginia if you’re in California for networking, although you may have three clients in Virginia from this past year. So there isn’t that physical takeaway that we can use in order for people to remember us, be able to refer us, make a connection with that. So our messaging needs to be that much more powerful when we make our introduction or our pitch and putting together a target list for how we do that.

Let’s start with who loves doing business development, any brave souls who wake up every single morning and say, “gosh, I cannot wait to talk to people and sell.”

Who wakes up every morning and thinks about how I am going to go sell myself today?

How do I do that, Ginny? Why is it so hard for us to sell ourselves? We’ve been with ourselves our entire lives. We know what we do best. We know what a value we are. Why is it so difficult? Feel free to take yourself off mute because I can’t necessarily see everyone in the presentation format.

Ginny Waller:

I think some of this is that imposter syndrome that exists mostly among women and that we have issues recognizing our own qualities and what we can bring to the table anytime. And I also think that there – I’m going to go ahead and put this out there, but I think on a lot of occasions, I don’t want to have to justify myself.

I’m just like, you should know. I’m awesome. So sometimes I find it frustrating that I have to kind of go through and legitimize myself to someone else constantly. I’d much rather be selling my organization’s mission and the passion that I have around that.

Kristen McAlister:

20, 30 year executive career. How do I justify? Everyone should know I’m an expert. Look, I’ve got a 20, 30 year old, 30 year executive career. Of course they know. I’m great. And how easy is it to stand up on a soap box and brag about yourself, Bill?

Bill Franch:

Yeah, it’s not. And I think if I had more success doing it, I’d do it more.

And I’ve mentioned in previous calls, I tried cold calling when I started this six years ago. With, with no results at all. All the networking in three, four or five different cities where I had contacts and friends in a business before actually I just got nowhere with that. My business all came from referrals from people I’ve worked with, some I didn’t even have to ask. It just happened my way. But with that said I’d like to be better at this.

Adam Ullman:

I’d say one of the challenges is if you’re having a casual conversation with someone they’re talking about an issue that they’re facing and you start to just go into, “Well, have you thought about this or that?” And clearly you’re demonstrating some knowledge in the subject matter, but then that transition to having a friendly conversation, that transition to the pitch of hire me, that’s a tough one.

Kristen McAlister:

Yep. You don’t only need to be your chief marketing officer. You need to do your business development and you’ve got to be able to be your chief sales officer and close the sale.

Let’s see. I know I’ve got someone who’s raised your hand and my apologies. I’m not able to see the name.

Go for it. Yes, John

John Brennan:  

Thank you.

Part of the difficulties, especially if you’re meeting somebody abruptly or unexpectedly it’s to identify what their key challenges that you believe you can solve. Learning that on the fly is not easy. So I’ve been doing a lot of networking, which is non-threatening in that, you’re just asking good enough questions, but you also have time to prepare to research and know a few great questions to ask, but if you’re meeting somebody on the fly especially if it’s an event such as what you’re showing on the screen here, nailing that, and then applying your experience to that situation is difficult to do on the fly.

Kristen McAlister:

John, how much networking do you do on a monthly basis?

John Brennan:

Actually lately quite a bit. So I try to have no fewer than two of these, and I’ve been following this 20 minute networking approach and which has been working great. But I have at least two of those each day. But it requires not only a fair amount of preparation, but also a fair amount of follow-up. And if you do that well, things will crystallize, but it’s unpredictable as to when and how.

Kristen McAlister:

John you very much reflect our networks. We’ve done a number of surveys over the past 8 to 10 years. And we ask, where do you get your assignments? How do you get business? Over 85% of the executives say it’s networking and referrals, especially now with the virtual nature of business.

And Seth, our CMO, was not on this call. If he were, he’d say, wait a minute, digital marketing  it’s here to stay. It’s growing. Yes, digital marketing is a great way and it’s taking over even B2B business, but it’s not necessarily viable or as attributable as networking referral is for what we do or in individual for an independent individual. The spend isn’t worth it to have a team of digital marketers working with you.

So the more that we can get our messaging across, John, the more that we can – as you mentioned, I do two a day. How do you multiply that out and make sure that your message is hitting on point and that two a day, what happens three to four to six months later when they met with you three, four, six months ago, it may have been on point, but they can’t remember?

So, one of the ways to really increase the stickiness of that networking and the viability of potential business is helping people understand, “Let’s see, I can do this and to think of us and to remember us.”

So it’s not enough to say I’m going to remember you or I know when to think of you or me when I’m talking with one of my clients and they say, “X and Y I’m thinking of you and I’m remembering you because I may hear X and Y.”

And I know I talked to someone who said just that in the last six months, but most people are not as anal as I am where every single conversation is documented in an index and they just can’t remember, or they talk to four different people who said that exact same thing.

How do they remember you versus the other three individuals?

So one of my favorite things to do is I love networking, love meeting people. I’m an anomaly in that and was on a breakout session a couple of months ago where I happened to be in a breakout session with a CEO coach and an interim CMO. And this coach went first and she said, “I’m a business coach and I help CEOs get from A to Z.”

Great. Okay. Interim CMO was up next and he came out with, “I work with small to midsize SAS technology companies who either have low churn or they want to increase the revenues. And the last client I worked with, I helped triple the number of qualified leads for their sales team.”

Two seconds went by and the business coach responded, “I have a client for you.” It was so specific that I remembered it now two, three months later, and I’ll always remember it. And this is the first time I’ve told the story. It’s not as though I’ve been telling it over and over and it’s part of the speech. Why was that statement so spot on that it prompted an on-the-spot referral?

Sometimes it may be the timing, right? I mean, sometimes you just you come at the right place at the right moment, and you notice that someone asks you about something previously and just to attempt a sentence with a light to bourbon, you will connect the dots. He happened to be an anonymous client.

John Brennan:

You were specific and he offered results. 

Kristen McAlister:

Perfect. Jared, I saw that you had one.

Jared Northrop:

Yeah, I was just saying along those lines of problem solver for a very specific problem to that has successfully addressed it and created the results outcomes that someone would want and can associate with this.

Kristen McAlister:

He hit on a problem that she was able to relate a conversation she’d recently had with the client. And I did my usual, “We are a matchmaker service for leadership gaps and we provide interim and part time executives.”

Let me tell you, I got crickets from her, absolute crickets. He went up after me and he got the referral on the spot.

It was very specific, and it followed a pattern, just pretty simple pattern, a lot simpler than me.

What he was able to say is, “I help this target market facing this situation. And here’s an example of what I’ve done for a client.” And in that example, he used my favorite thing, which is a number.

As humans, we remember numbers more than we remember words, unless it’s a very colorful, illustrated story. Same way if I can talk to five realtors, am I going to remember the four who say, I can get you more than you’re asking price or the one that says I will get you 40% more than your asking price within two days?

The one that stands out to me as the 40% more in two days. Now I’m also normally in a market I would call yes on her. Although in this market, I think she’s probably spot on.

Being specific makes it easier for the coach to refer. So the more specific we are, it makes it much easier for our referral partners, or even if you’re talking to a potential client to be able to say, and for them to trust that you are the expert in that target market for their situation.

And to give the example. So going back to what helps us achieve is allowing them to know when to think of us. And to remember us, especially in the crowd of how many individuals they know that could also solve that problem. So the rest of the time, we’ll turn it over to Chris and Tiffany and into a series of breakouts and yes, the goal is to connect and get to know each other, I think, correct me if I’m wrong, Tiffany, for the first 15 minutes.

And our hope is that in the process of getting to know each other, that’s normally 10 or 12 minutes. If we can use the process of getting to know each other as an opportunity to practice your speech, because Chris and Tiffany are able to talk to hundreds of CEOs and executives to hear they have such a unique perspective that they’ll be able to talk to a client and then talk to 20 executives and think of them as master refferers they’re then making the connection and kind of like what Chris said.

He’s on these calls every single week. And how does he know when to think of each of you? And then remember you, despite our massive ability to take notes and be able to go back and research it? Not everyone has that ability that you’re referring with networking with. So with that, I am going to turn it over to Tiffany to get us kicked off.

Tiffany Egenes:

Yeah. So while Cerius plays a key role in pitching you with our clients, part of what we like to do is make sure that we enable our executives to also pitch in-market yourself. And get opportunities through other ways outside of Cerius, because we realized we can’t get everyone projects on a consistent basis.

So, our value to our executives is really to give you opportunity to also hone in on that pitch, to help you be more referrable and rememberable. So the next two breakouts, we’re going to work on that, leading to that pitch. So the first breakout is going to be 15 minutes. Take the first few minutes, you get an opportunity to get to know each other, but brainstorm: what makes you different?

Why should someone refer you? What’s your differentiator? Just use it as kind of a brainstorming session. Discuss it with each other, challenge each other. If someone is unclear, say that, that I don’t really understand, what it is that you’re great at by that statement.

This is a chance to really work that through with the team. We’ll come back, kind of share that opportunity and some of the conversations that you had, and then the second breakout session, we’ll go back and actually hone in on putting together a five to ten second pitch that really states who you are, what you’re great at and is memorable so when you have networking opportunities outside of the Cerius events, you have a pitch that you’re honing in on and really positions you and leaves a an impression behind so that there may be an opportunity at that point. Or there may be an opportunity down the road that they will think of you when that time comes.

So have fun.

** Breakout Session **

Tiffany Egenes:

All right. So who enjoyed talking about themselves just now? That’s good. Awesome. Well how about someone share kind of the conversation you guys had and how fluid was it for everyone to talk about themselves? I mean, feedback.

Lawrence, I saw your hand there, that you enjoy talking about yourself.

How was the conversation among you and your mates?

Lawrence Dillon:

I think it went well. Learned a lot and had some good dialogue about positioning. And we took to heart when to think of us and when to remember us. So after the quick introduction, Jared was nice enough to kind of share his view on that.

And I brought up just at the end, it’s really hard in consulting. You’re selling yourself. So it’s really hard as a buyer to buy somebody, you have to trust them. And that takes time; it’s relationship based. So I think that’s part of the challenge that some of us have.

Kristen McAlister:

Perfect. Anyone else want to share what they came up with?

Chris Shepard:

I will share on behalf of someone. Just as a side note, talking about this, what makes you unique? I’ve been on about half a dozen of these calls with Bill and I knew that he was a manufacturing executive, but I learned today one of his key things that he is good at and has experienced in his relocating manufacturing plans.

And after all these calls, I just wouldn’t have known that. If someone said, “Hey, I need to relocate my manufacturing plant,” I would have just searched all the manufacturing people and hope to find him. But now I know, that is one unique thing that Bill has done time and time again, and is an expert at, so this exercise was super helpful already.

Bill Franch:

And I’ll add this exercise is helpful to me too, because it’s when I started doing consulting and interim work six years ago, I thought my value was doing high-performance organization, but that bell has not been rung yet. Where I’ve been hired is to move things.

And that’s something, as Chris mentioned, I’m quite a bit off working for a big manufacturer for high-performing organizations. They all want to be there.

Tiffany Egenes:

It’s interesting that you share that, Bill, because I think a lot of leaders say, “we like to build high performing teams.” What does that really mean though? It’s a little bit of fluff, right? So when you speak about that, it’s the specific strategic tactical things that you do that really ended up leading to that, but just saying I’m great at building high performance teams does not really set you apart because that is expected of you as an executive, as opposed to being your differentiator.

John Brennan:

So, in our group, what we quickly identified is that instead of trying to forcefully pitch yourself if you’re ready to ask quick, good questions and really help the client identify or articulate what they believe their true problems are, oftentimes they don’t even thoroughly understand what they need.

And they may think, well, we need a sales or marketing person, when in reality, they really need a CFO to kind of get their finances in order to allow them to expand. And that sort of thing.

So you listening while asking the right question allows us then as a candidate to say, “Here’s what I could do for you.”

Idell Tillman:

I also know that I’ve got a lot of work now with distilling down the benefit that I’m bringing to the customer and why they would want me.

Adam Ullman:  

Part of my challenge. I have a pretty non-traditional background, eclectic, non-traditional, however you want to say it. And one of the elements that I found helpful with this is to go through and really try to hone in on the pitch. And I’m not sure I have it nailed yet, but it’s still an evolution. And just like a writing assignment where you have to go back and edit it and edit it.

It’s a helpful process for me to go through here to kind of find those core areas and find what you like to do. That’s something that came up on ours is find what you’d like to do. Cause you tailor that pitch to what you want to do. And that has an impact.

Canetta Reid:

I want to be careful not to get pigeonholed because I think to Chris’s point and to Adam’s point about being having a somewhat unique skillset. While, Chris, I heard you saying when you heard about my law degree, you didn’t hear any more after that, I don’t want someone to hear, “Oh, great. She’d be awesome if I had a legal issue and think I’m only going to call her for that.”

Yes, you can use me there, but I want people to think, I can also use her in other settings. I wouldn’t want someone to think I can call if I’m relocating my warehouse and only then I would want them to think I can utilize this individual for other issues as well.

So how do you make sure that you don’t just get called for that thing that you’re really good at and also get called for a whole host of other things

Adam Ullman:

As a fellow JD, it’s that element of not wanting to just be thought of for legal advice, but business advice, and in business today, you need lawyers and having insights is helpful. So positioning that with the other core competencies can be a challenge.

Matt Sauer:

Ginny also was an attorney and she had some really good comments in our group about how she balances all of that. Ginny, would you mind adding a little bit of that?

Ginny Waller:

Obviously it’s a challenge for those of us who are lawyers and that people hone in on that and they think you’re an expert in all aspects of the law, if you are a lawyer and you’re like, “I have no idea.” But we don’t tell them that. So I was just saying in our group that I tend to wait to see what my audience is going to be most or where they’re going to identify with the most.

So this spiel that we’re developing is going to be different. So you’re going to probably have three or four, and you’re going to use these three or four in different times. So I’m not going to emphasize the lawyer component if I’m talking to a group of people who work in the domestic violence and sexual assault world, because I was an executive director who worked in that field, so that’s what I’m going to drive hard. And so I think that’s it. So, you can’t have one speech, you’re just going to have to modify it based on your audience and what they should hear.

Tiffany Egenes:

That’s a great point, Ginny. So your pitch is kind of like your resume. You have a master resume that kind of gives an overview and some key aspects of your core competencies, but then depending on the role that you are going for to tweak a couple points or you tweak your key accomplishments areas.

So for myself, when I network, I always have that first sentence that is my master pitch. But if all of a sudden, I met a lawyer or I met a CFO or a business owner, my second sentence might be very specific to how I can help them. And maybe really target towards who the individuals they may work with.

So definitely I agree. And hopefully this exercise will kind of just get people thinking about how to do that better. One to just come up with your general pitch, but then eventually you just kind of tweak it and add just one or two specifics based on whoever it is you’re meeting, or if it’s a certain type of networking event that you’re going to be around a certain type of industry folks, or business leaders, then you tweak it just a little bit, but at that point, the more you do it, you’re able to just really keep it succinct and really project yourself as opposed to blabbing on where we want to avoid or help you guys with is kind of that keep on going and going and going part, especially in an interview.

Part of this is prepping you as you interview with our clients, is that you don’t want to just keep going. When they say, “Hey, tell me about yourself.” You know, some people will just keep going and going and going, or they go through a chronological order of their history of experience.

And that’s what we want to avoid help you from avoiding doing. So with the next breakout session, the goal is to start working towards getting that pitch and let’s just consider it your master pitch. Generally, what differentiates you why should someone work with you or what makes you interesting?

So for the next 15 minutes everyone help each other come up with like a 5, 10, second pitch and then choose one person from your group to share their pitch when we get there.

** Breakout Session **

Tiffany Egenes:

And see we’re back, we’re back.

Before we start sharing our pitches. Any anyone want to share how the session went and your feedback? Was it helpful?

Canetta Reid:  

I just at what, four seconds to go at the end of our session, I lobbed a grenade and just asked my team if we thought our pitches that we were making were memorable.

Tiffany Egenes:

Did they get a chance to answer?

Canetta Reid:

No, of course not. It was four seconds.

Adam Ullman:

But the question was spot on. It really was, and we did not have a chance to discuss that.

Canetta Reid:

I’ll throw myself on the sword. They were they’re accurate and I think did a nice job of describing what we do, but I just don’t know if they felt like they were memorable.

Short of leading with something like a joke or something catchy or anything, it just feels like, what is it that you can do to really set yourself apart from others to ensure that it doesn’t come across as just being one more pitch that they hear?

Tiffany Egenes:

So perhaps hearing some others here shortly might help with that. And if you want to share your pitch and get feedback from the larger group, this is a great opportunity to do so as well. So in an effort of keeping our eye on the time here, maybe perhaps so two or three folks can share theirs from the group.

Bill Franch:

Alison and Idell were a great team, great conversation. And the earlier session with Chris, it’s helped me refine and kind of pivot what my value is here. Really. So, my elevator pitch is: I help companies move manufacturing and production sites. I’ve closed, moved, relocated, 18 factories. Mostly as a full-time regular employee, most recently as solvent. And I say that because when you’re a full-time regular employee, you’ve got to make this work over a much longer duration in each of those moves, I maintained 90 plus percent on time and full, which was required in the industries I was in. I maintained lead times less than four weeks, and I was able to add whole points in margin to the business’s bottom line and reducing fixed costs as a result of these moves.

Idell Tillman:

This was the most put together out of all of us in the group. So yeah, he was doing great.

Matt Sauer:

I think he hit on all of the factors that a client wants to know: how much I can improve productivity, I can move this by keeping the business going and making these margins.

He had all of the points that if I was an owner of a company and I wanted to move my business, I’d hire him because he just told me that he could do it and I wouldn’t lose any money in the process and I would make money.

Tiffany Egenes:

All right. Maybe one more person. And then we can do our last breakout with Chris.

Jared Northrop:

Can I make one more comment on Bill’s hearing? One thing I thought was positive, Bill, as well, is that you tailored your pitch to associate with a problem for your target market.

And I think there’s a tendency for us all to, on the consulting side, we have a wealth of experience and performance things that we’ve achieved, but at the same time, sometimes all those things just kind of go over people’s heads, but if it’s relevant to a pain point or a problem that they’re having with a specific prospect, and you’re able to tailor your pitch to the problems of that client, that’s where it really starts to resonate.

As opposed to, here’s my great resume of all the great things that I’ve done. And I like the way you presented it in the sense of “I solve problems.” You don’t say this, but the implied is that you’re my prospect and I know what your problems are and guess what I’ve got the experience and the results to solve it.

And it’s just very tailored for that. And I think that’s a powerful message. So good job.

Bill Franch:

Thank you, Jared. Took a long time to get there, but thanks for the feedback and keep the energy up. Cause it’s exciting stuff.

Tiffany Egenes:

So to give enough time for the last breakout session with Chris, which Chris will introduce, it’s really now, how do you take this pitch? Where do you take it? And what’s next? Chris? Take it away.

Chris Shepard:

Yeah. Thanks, Tiffany. So, Bill, I appreciate you being open and transparent about us walking through this entire process with you, because what you’re going through, the rest of the people on the call are also going through.

One of the things that I think is clear is that the interim market is big. Interim market is expanding, but you are unique. And that there is a specific void in the market that only you can fill. And the more specific you can be about the problems that you solve, the closer you can get to that paragraph, which Kristen put up on the PowerPoint, which was, “I solve a specific problem in a specific market to get a specific result.”

I think the more engagements that you are going to be on, we really started this topic based on our last top tier meet up, which was by a guy named Chris Lytle, who said there are a couple of different tiers that you can get clients in. The first was cold calls and none of us liked that. The more productive group was referrals.

And that was much closer to what we all wanted to do and what had a better ROI for us. So what we know at Cerius, because what we’ve done for 15 years is really been a referral network. We take people who have a problem and we introduced people who can give the solution. What we know from doing this for so long is that more people than you think you do, more clients that need your services then you might at this moment think that, because we all fall into this assignment tunnel vision, where we get into an organization, we’re there to fix a problem.

And then we don’t look up until that problem is solved. And now we’re in this no man’s land looking for our next opportunity. So our last breakout question, which we’re only going to spend five minutes on, so we can respect your time, get back in here and close everything out is with what you just learned.

And maybe you haven’t fully articulated your pitch yet, but you have the tools to complete that later. Who are you going to send this to? What are the referral groups? What are your past employment opportunities? Who needs to hear what you’ve just articulated today? So maybe to put things here, one, you might know exactly who you need to talk to; share that with your group.

It’s also possible that you don’t know who you need to talk to so utilize this small group breakout for them to help you clarify who would need to hear the message that you have to give.

** Breakout Session **

Chris Shepard:

All right. Well, welcome back everybody. Normally we would break back out and do a share, but we really don’t have time for that today. What we may do is put some of these things in the email that follows this, some of the places you can go to find more referrals and use your network.

So there’s really just two things I wanted to close with. One, as you clarify your message, we think you’re going to have more conversations with CEOs and business leaders. One thing that might happen when you do that is they do tell you about a pain point that isn’t in your specific area to solve.

So let’s say you’re an operations person and they have a marketing pain point at the moment. One of the things we’d like for you to keep in mind is that you don’t just have to pass that off and say, “well, I don’t do that.” You can use this network here at Cerius to refer that business to us, and we can place a top tier executive in there.

We think you should do that for two reasons. One, that’s good for your brand. When you solve a problem outside of your functional role, it makes you even more valuable to the client that you’re seeking. And the second thing is it’s good for your bank account. So when you refer someone to us at Cerius, and that referral looks like an email to me or Tiffany, or if you want to see me and Tiffany fight you send it to both of us at the same time, and you say, “I was talking to a client who for about operations, but they needed marketing. Would you reach out?”

When you make that introduction email, if we close that business, you get 5% of that total billing moving forward for the first year. So it’s good for your brand to be a problem solver. It’s good for your bank account in that you do get a commission on the deal and it really just helps our Cerius network be what Kristen and Pam started to be, which was a highly collaborative space for top tier executives.

Thanks everyone for being on the call today. We hope you got value out of it.

Take care and we’ll see you soon.


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