Imagine walking into the office of a potential client with a business pitch that’s already been rejected. Scary, right? But, based on your reputation, you managed to keep the meeting, even though you were told there’s no chance of doing business together. Who knows, maybe you can show them you have something unique to sell and change their mind. Here’s a story we love that started badly but turned out really well for the parties involved.
Here’s the scene. A friend of Howard’s recommended he take a meeting with a well-regarded book publisher, Jonathan Karp. Howard said no. He didn’t want to write another book.
Then he googled Karp and saw something he liked. Before joining Simon & Schuster, Karp had worked for a publishing house that put out only 12 books a year – they published quality books they were passionate about; they were not focused on mere quantity.
This grabbed Stern’s attention, and he took the meeting.
But that isn’t the magical part. The real magic happened in the actual meeting.
Karp arrived with a printed and bound book of Stern’s Interviews. He told Stern he wouldn’t have to do anything – they’d already written the book.
Stern was floored. He had entered the meeting jaded, thinking he was a solid no, but had changed his mind in mere minutes.
Stern writes, “It was intoxicating and appealing to my ego, and at the same time addressed all my concerns about another literary effort. Free money. No work. I’ve always dreamt of such a wonderful occurrence.”
What Karp did was brilliant. Rather than going into the meeting trying to tell Stern all the reasons he should write another book, he showed him how easy it would be. He both addressed Sterns fears (that writing a book would be too much work and disruptive to his life) and stroked his ego (that the world wanted to hear more from him and his interviews were so masterful, and his library so deep, that to not print them would be a crime).
Stern signed on. He thought his job would be easy – all he’d need to write was a forward and simple introductions for each interview.
If you’ve spent any time on our website or talked to those of us Duft Watterson, you know we preach the importance of “show don’t tell.” It’s something we believe in with all our hearts, so much so that it’s become a core element of our own brand. We love it when we see show don’t tell moments “in the wild.” Whether in our own work or someone else’s – when we see an example, we like to point it out.
By showing Stern the path forward, and by making it look easy and fun, Karp got exactly what he wanted.
Of course, the story got more complicated as Stern realized Karp’s pre-printed book was all wrong. He’d need to pour himself into it to make it perfect. Which he ultimately did.
But that isn’t the point. Or at least not the point of this article. The point is that we should all think more like Karp.
If you have an account or a customer you want to win over, show them the path to a partnership, deal or purchase. You can try to tell them all day why they should “buy” – but by getting to know their unique needs, concerns, likes, dislikes and beyond, and using that to modify your pitch (be it advertising, sales or just about anything else), you can craft your message and approach to show them why they should work with you.
OK, now back to reading Howard’s new book.