Structuring your communication for executives is crucial because they typically have much information and limited time to process. A clear and concise structure lets them understand the main points and quickly make informed decisions. Additionally, well-structured communication can help ensure that important information is not overlooked and can help build trust and credibility with executives.
Overview of an Outbound Interaction
- Start with the context. This could be a competitive or market trend or an observation about user behavior and how your product has helped someone (like the prospect) in the past.
- State a challenge(s) with the context and (optionally) the role it impacts. How does the status quo or emergence of the trend introduce a pain point (remember, a pain point can be a problem or a possibility)
- Identify the benefits statements (1-3 your solutions and how these benefits have helped others overcome the pain points you introduced.
- Support your benefits with the features that deliver those benefits without using technology speak or jargon. Note that some features may align to multiple benefits, but choose one primary gift for each part for clarity.
- Use real-world evidence, i.e., user story. Real-world stories can play into this approach in a couple of ways.
- First, this whole approach is around a user example or a real-world story with a situation where an action is taken, and there is an impact.
- For example, what is happening inside the prospect’s organization as a result of the macro-level challenges they are facing (context)
- What was the customer challenged with (Challenge)?
- What decisions did they make, and what happened when they took action (implication)?
- What did they do when they took that action (benefit)?
- Second, wrap up abstract messaging with a user story as evidence or proof that Your Company can deliver. Finally, we back up your excitement with real-world assurance, showing we know what we’re doing.
The Structure (CCIBIG)
- Context: Using the ten primary roles we have identified, take the time to understand their world and reality. Make sure all outbound interactions are grounded in that reality. Think of it as immersing yourself in character or participating as an actor on stage or in a movie. Think about their environment.
- Challenge: Perhaps the toughest part of the outbound interaction is getting the chalChallengeled down—the Challengethe customer’s pain point. And you will have to make educated assumptions about what they’re facing. Are there significant problems internally? Are there possibilities to explore and evolve? What are the challenges? Try and empathize with them. To do that, you have to become more “like” them. Think about their conflicts, their friction. Think about their vision and their strategy. Get comfortable with the balancing act of doing both at the same time. The more you try and do it, the more you can empathize with them.
- Implication: What happens if the chalChallenge’t resolved? What happens if the problem festers? What if the possibility is never pursued? What will happen to the people on the prospect’s team? What will their peers think or expect? What will executives want, and how will they want it? Implications are a great way to surface latent pain.
- Benefit: This is the tricky part. Lay down a breadcrumb for the prospect, but do not use your company jargon, shorthand, or acronyms. An easy way to do this is first to understand the features of your solutions and services and then take a step back to think about the benefits of using each specific part. So, please don’t talk about the quality; talk about the benefit it provides to others in the same role. When you read the help, ask yourself, “does that matter?”. For example, we improved your ability to detect anomalies faster (Does it matter? Yes, probably. So that’s a benefit). Versus, we have machine learning (Does that matter? No, because it’s unclear what that feature does. It may be cool – but so what?).
- Impact: From there, project the prospect into the future. Take them three months ahead in their thinking. Paint a picture of the effect they could realize if they were curious enough to ask you. What impact could they expect if they took some action (and emailed you back or called you back?)? This is important. Do not mention, “at Your Company, we do X,Y,Z.” It’s implied — because you’re focused on that impact, and you have seen it before. Remember, they are intelligent people.
- Give: With all outbound interactions, you give. Give. Give. Give. Give the value. Show the value. For example, how can you help them? What if you point them to an article? What if you share something aligned with the email that helps better understand the Challenge of assisting them in making decisions? What if you gave them options on how they can move forward? Or, maybe you could provide them with something they can show their team. Or, perhaps even give them something they can share with their peers. Remember, you’re a guide and a partner in their success.
Examples of the Structure In Action
Below are a couple of examples of the structure in action:
- How the system might get play out in an outbound email:
- [Context] As datasets increase in size and complexity … [Challenge] it becomes impractical to spot infrastructure problems, cyber-attacks, or business issues using manual dashboards or human intuitionImplication] This creates tension between being reactive all the time and getting more proactive with detecting and resolving problems Benefit Many IT leaders are moving to automated log analysis with machine learning to [Impact] remove human error and accelerate the time to see the bad guys and resolve potential threats. Here’s something that you may find interesting. ([Give] send content or article)
- How the structure might play out in a conversation in a story form:
- I work with infrastructure monitoring teams [ROLE – BONUS!] at many Bay Area tech companies, and a [context] common trend we see is that there’s too much data and existing methods for proactively monitoring all that data are just not enough. Most of these teams have pretty complex alerting systems and rules, which is a great way to monitor, identify, and react to threats. [Challenging environments are changing rapidly, and data is growing exponentially. That creates lag-time issues. For example, alerts are based on rules & thresholds that quickly get outdated. Or worse, the chalChallenges don’t get noticed. [Implication] Last week, we discovered an unresolved issue in one of your clients where they didn’t see the thread for over 6-months. What was considered fast1 a year ago is now expected. Keeping the rules engine up to date and relevant is a considerable overhead and skill challenge. Benefit Many IT leaders are exploring more advanced visualizations. They’re also deploying simple machine learning models to identify outliers in near real-time. Seeing how creative they can be when given the right tools is impressive. [Impact] Especially when we helped that company decrease their mean time to resolution from 6 months to 6 seconds.