Selling New Ideas to Your Leadership Team: The Importance of Good Salesmanship

Podcast Episode

Selling New Ideas to Your Leadership Team: The Importance of Good Salesmanship

Connectiv - Podcast - TechNation Selling New Ideas to Your Leadership Team

Selling New Ideas to Your Leadership Team: The Importance of Good Salesmanship

Duration: 45:00 | Special Guests: Mike Finnegan | Hosts: Al Gresch & Mike Zimmer | Series: Tech Nation Podcasts Series 1, Episode 4

Listen on TechNation

TechNation podcast:

In this episode Al Gresch, VP of Healthcare Strategy, Accruent and Mike Zimmer, Senior Solutions Engineer, Accruent, sit down with Mike Finnegan, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Excel Medical, to discuss practical ways to sharpen your persuasion skills, articulate value, and secure funding for new ideas and initiatives to your internal leadership team. 

Listening to this complete episode is eligible for 1 CE credit from the ACI. Upon completion, a survey will appear under the episode’s title. Completing the survey will allow you to download your certificate, and you will also receive a copy of the certificate at the email address you enter. If you have questions you can email us at [email protected] 

In this episode: 

Full transcript:

Welcome to Podcast on Tech Nation. This is a new series of podcasts focused specifically on the biomedical and HTM industry. Episodes will be added monthly. Listening to each episode is eligible for one CE credit from the ACI. At the conclusion of today's episode, you'll be able to access a link that will take you to a quick survey. You will be able to download your certificate once you submit the survey.

Today's podcast episode features Al Gresch, VP of healthcare strategy for Accruent and Mike Zimmer, senior solutions engineer for Accruent. These gentlemen sit down with Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Excel Medical, to discuss practical ways to sharpen your persuasion skills, articulate value, and secure funding for new ideas and initiatives to your internal leadership team.

Mike Zimmer:

Good morning, Al. Happy Thursday. How are you doing over there?

Al Gresch:

Thanks, Mike. I am doing fantastic. Another day in paradise my friend.

Mike Zimmer:

You're living the dream.

Al Gresch:

Always. Always.

Mike Zimmer:

Awesome, it's great to have another episode for us to take some time out of ... I've seen both of our calendars they're quite swollen. They're a little bit bloated. You can just connect about a topic that we want to talk about, and today's topic is pretty fascinating in my opinion, it's one that I've got a bunch of background in history with as does our guest. Speaking of which, that was a very graceful segue, Al who do we have on the podcast with us today?

Al Gresch:

Mike, today, I've got a close friend of mine, Mike Finnegan. Mike is the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Excel Medical, has been the Chief Strategy and Sales Officer at Consumer Health Connections. And where I got to know Mike, is when we worked together when Mike was with GE [Healthcare], and I was at Aurora Healthcare.

He held several roles, including Commercial GM, Senior Client Exec, even worked at Dräger for a while selling anesthesia machines. But as Mike said to me at one point in time, he's never sold a box, he's always sold solutions. And so welcome, thanks for joining us this morning, Mike.

Mike Finnegan:

Well, thanks, guys. I appreciate your time.

Al Gresch:

Mike, you want to tell us just a little bit about what your current role is at Excel Medical? 

Mike Finnegan:

I've been with Excel [Medical] for the past three years. I had a small stint in the consumer health, telehealth market, and joined that team about three years ago. Excel Medical is, I guess, I'd call them at the very forefront device integrator, specifically patient monitoring and third-party devices. We do a lot of integrations to the EMRs is out there. We float a little bit into alarm management and predictive analytics.

[Excel Medical] is a dynamic organization with a ton of value out there. I think that device integration is an animal. Meaningful use was probably the initiation of device integration, and in the past 10 to 15 years organizations have scrambled in and around it. And I think we're focused now on unwinding that to establish more value in the integration at less cost. And I've been working with their leadership and their commercial organization for the past three and a half years or so.

Al Gresch:

Well, thanks again for joining us this morning.

Mike Zimmer:

And so we're going to leverage the other Mike's expertise in the following area. Let's go ahead and title this episode and it could be titled, it should be titled, The Importance of Good Salesmanship. Now, this isn't a sales podcast, if anything, we try to avoid commercial aspects on this podcast, like I hesitate to use the word plague, because of the times we're currently living in.

Mike Zimmer:

But what we're going to do here is take all the skills, all the practices of a good sales professional, and internalize them. How do we equip, or how can you equip yourself to better internally sell? And Al, you had written an article, about 10 years ago. It goes through 10 different steps, foundational building blocks to increase the ability with which you can move your initiative through an organization and get approval from the various stakeholders.

I was thinking about structuring this conversation based on that article. Al, anything you wanted to add to that preamble prior to us digging right in?

Al Gresch:

Just that, it was interesting, I started out my career as a technician, and often said that I could never be a salesperson…didn't want to be a salesperson, but the reality is that every time you interview for a job you're selling yourself. And anytime that you want to pitch an idea to your leadership, and quite frankly even to your wife, your kid… you're a seller, right?

You're a professional persuader, what I referred to it as in the article. But it is an important skill, it's a skill that I think everyone needs to hone. And so many people in our industry know what needs to be done, they know what opportunities are out there. But don't know how to pitch it, and be successful at convincing others that is something important to do.

Mike Zimmer:

And so, Mike, why is this an opportune time for someone to take a skillset like internal selling, and start to hone it, and start to sharpen the saw around that?

Mike Finnegan:

I think the problems in the marketplace are presenting all kinds of opportunities. And as Al said, I think, it comes down to the basics. It is, first of all, your image, not only your own personal image but also what you're representing and who you are as an organization. I always have said this, that 90% of the sales  people out there make their 10% that are good, look bad sometimes.

Because of their inability to pay attention to detail. Everybody's always trying to sell something as opposed to something I've always tried to live by is, help people get what they need, right? To make their job easier, more valuable. I just think that the dynamics of the marketplace, the COVID circumstances, and being a lot better on camera, being sharp, doing your research. I don't think there's ever been a more opportunistic time for solution selling, to be honest with you.

Mike Zimmer:

Yeah, and then given the financial or budgetary pressures that a lot of our customers are under, all these initiatives are going to be competing against each other to get funded. You should sharpen your skillset to compete, unfortunately, against other teams that you've got within the four walls of your health care system.

It's crucial at this time for you to be able to articulate the value of the initiative that you're proposing to the people that are going to eventually write the check. Let's get tactical, there are 10 bulleted items here. All of them are pretty foundational, but there are little details - little, I don't want to call them tricks of the trade, but there are ways of optimizing the leveraging of each one of the things we're going to talk about.

That hopefully, Mike and Al, given your experience over the past 137 years, or whatever it might be, you'll be able to fill out these various bullet points. And the first one is pretty crucial and it's Having a Product Worth Selling. So Al, take us through a little bit about what you mean by that in this article that you wrote.

Al Gresch:

The article was around selling ideas. You're often in a position where you have to sell even something as simple as getting the right amount of staff, right? But if what you're delivering is bringing crucial value to the organization, it makes it much easier to sell. You're bringing savings and Mike talked about this being an opportune time, I'll tell you right now there isn't anything more important to a CFO than reducing the bottom line, because the industry is hemorrhaging dollars.

And those are things that resonate, and I think that's true if you're selling solutions as well, any solution is, I think, to Mike's earlier point, no one likes to be sold to, everyone likes to hear about solutions that are going to solve their big problems.

Mike Zimmer:

Another t-shirt idea…for us to get made. And it's good that this is the first one because if I'm given six hours to chop down a tree, I'm going to spend the first five sharpening the axe. And so when you understand what kind of value your idea or whatever it might be is going to bring to whom you're going to effectively sell it to, you're right, that makes everything quite a bit easier. And I'm sure that's been your experience out in the market Mike, right?

Mike Finnegan:

I think the ability to establish value upfront is imperative. It used to be that you had 18 months to three years or whatever, to develop this relationship over dinners, and whatnot with potential clients. That has shrunk to a meeting. You need to be able to articulate your value fast, which requires an individual to understand what the problem is you're trying to solve for that particular client.

It all stems back to where the hemorrhage is at financially, or potentially where patient safety plays in what have you, but you need to be able to zone in on that immediately establish the value, have an exchange about it, and move forward. That is a crucial element of commercial success.

Mike Zimmer:

Yeah, and every component of you positioning a solution needs to pass through that prism effectively. Anything else is extraneous, and you're frankly wasting the audience’s time.

Mike Finnegan:

I agree with you. I sit on some of these things these days where you go around, and introduce 15 people on this remote, it's "Hey, look, do your research." If you have to rip off a few names on who's participating, great. The client doesn't have time, they are busy, be respectful of them and their circumstances, and get in and get going.

Mike Zimmer:

Exactly.

Al Gresch:

That is a point I often make. Many, many years ago I attended a class on communication. And in that, they talked about communicating to executives, and the point that they drove home was to summarize the summary. Because like you say, Mike, "They just don't have time."

Mike Finnegan:

They don't. And when you start a meeting, the way we were just kind of talking about, it's indicative of what you don't know. Number one, they don't have a lot of time.

Mike Finnegan:

I mean, I can think of far more meetings with executives that started that way. Let's do introductions, whereby the second person the executive interrupted and said, "Let's just get right at it," very politely, very diplomatically, but that's how the ball rolls today. And you have to have a very well understanding of that for sure.

Mike Zimmer:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Man, I'm taking that down like a piece of feedback to deliver to some folks that I know. All right. We understand that we need to have a product, an idea, a solution that's worth selling, and that's going to deliver some value. Otherwise, why the heck are we even having a conversation? Let's move on to the second bullet and that's Be Committed.

Now, this should almost go without saying, but yeah, I think it's an important thing for you to be committed to the solution that you're positioning to your organization. Al, can you think of where this isn't the case. What would happen if you were just a taciturn commitment level on something that you're trying to accomplish as a team?

Al Gresch:

I can provide many examples, but one that comes to mind is when I was selling an idea to the CEO at St. Luke's Hospital. She said at the end of my intro discussion that she can see the passion that I had around this. And it helped her believe in it. And I think that's the crux of it. That if you don't believe in it yourself, how do you expect anybody else to believe in it? And you need to bring that passion because it comes across. I bet you see that all the time. Don't you Mike?

Mike Finnegan:

Hey, you can't fake committed.

Mike Zimmer:

That's true.

Mike Finnegan:

You can't do it. And if you don't believe in it, I've been fortunate enough in my career to represent several different technologies that were the absolute leaders in the marketplace. All the way back to Dräger at that time to Marquette Medical. And then on into other things that I've done, you just can't fake that.

Committed comes from your understanding of what you're representing of the marketplace, of the circumstances, the client you're talking to. I've been complimented more than not on passion. I appreciate that, but passion is the commitment that I have, that whatever we're talking about is going to deliver the value that I'm telling you it will.

Committed and passion are follow-up. Committed and passion are being there before the meeting starts. Being prepared.  Those are all ... the solution itself goes without saying, it better be valuable. Commitment is something you create as a commercial person. And it's all about your image, and your willingness to make success happen based on what you're doing.

Mike Zimmer:

And in my experience, that commitment, that passion can also assist you if there's a gap or a hole in other components of your game. Oftentimes I get asked questions where I just flat out don't know the answer. It's going to happen. I can't know everything. Thank goodness.

But if I show that passion for what we're trying to do within the market, and intellectual curiosity, man, you have the potential of building a relationship with that customer versus I don't know the answer to that, and you telegraph the fact that you don't care that you don't know the answer or whatever it might be. 

I think we could also say commitment equals passion in this case. And you can talk value all day, and that's extremely important. That's why it's the first bullet, but there's also a subjective component to what we're trying to accomplish here.

Mike Finnegan:

Yeah, I agree. It's interesting too, you can take that commitment and passion too far. I've seen a lot of people not know when to stop, and that taints you for the next opportunity. I'm big on it, within the diplomatic parameters that it stands for, and it's a big part of absolute relationship success for sure.

Al Gresch:

And you don't want to say you'd be an idiot if you don't buy what I have.

Mike Finnegan:

I've seen people edge up right next to that.

Mike Zimmer:

Yeah, let's try to avoid that dynamic there. I feel like number three is a table stake kind of thing. But it does bear mentioning. Its Be Polished.

Al Gresch:

Mike, I did a presentation at a recent biomedical conference here in Milwaukee. And the topic was, Messaging to the C-suite. And that was one of the things that I brought up. And if you want people to respect you, and look at you as a professional, don't walk into your CFO's office wearing a polo shirt and dockers. Don't do it. 

Mike Finnegan:

What's very interesting, Al is, I've seen some of the guys wear the fanciest suits in the world and be the most unpolished people I've ever seen. I think you're absolutely right; your image is everything. But the thing about working at the executive level is, you're never comfortable. You sit up straight, your arms are on that table at any moment in time, and I've seen numerous executives do it. You relax into your chair and he shoots, or she shoots a zinger across the table. And you're caught flat-footed.

That is not being polished. Even if to Mike's earlier point, you don't know the answer when you're at attention when you're completely committed to the topic that's being discussed, and you don't know the answer, it's acceptable. When you sluff off, or you grab that cell phone for a moment…

Al, you know I've had multiple executive account roles where I was over the entire portfolio of technology that whatever company I represented and it's always interesting, everybody wants to get to the executive level. They get there, they don't know what to say, or more importantly and honestly are more embarrassing, they don't know how to act. I can recall a specific time, I worked months to pull this executive-level meeting together. I got 12 or so people in there from our organization. 11 of them didn't know how to act in that environment.

It was nerves, it's not anything personal on them, but they're never there. Polished is multiple things, it is important based on the intense schedules that these executives have, and the things that they have on their mind while they're even talking to you. It's just polish to me, Al is just absolute respect.

Al Gresch:

I think it goes back to the topic of preparation as well. The more prepared you are walking in, the less likely you are to stumble when you get there.

Mike Zimmer:

It's an implicit test that you're submitting yourself to without you even knowing.

Mike Finnegan:

Oh, yes.

Mike Zimmer:

And I think in your article, you put it nicely, Al you say, it's easier to start off being seen as a consummate professional, and then being taken down from there throughout the meeting versus starting at the bottom, and then trying to work your way up to being seen as someone like that. And that goes back to being polished too, and it goes back to perhaps I'm happy you brought that up because it is ... and I get into the situation quite a bit. I don't want to have to rehearse. There's a component of my brain that says, "I know what I'm doing. I've had a million of these meetings.” But you have to commit to that. It's almost as if you're a professional athlete, you have to watch game film, and you have to practice.  Because to your point earlier, when you've got what the baseline conversation is going to be, riffing or improvising on the top of that is that much easier, and you're still in the zone versus not having that be the case, and where you get just absolutely get that … that zinger comes across the table. And you're flat-footed. It's important.

Mike Finnegan:

It's very important.  I think, Mike it's just this is laziness. When we get ready for a meeting that I'm in command of for an executive, the prep is extremely intense to the point where the night before, I'll lay down in my office, close my eyes, and play every scenario through my head. And it will show in that meeting.

I remember reading about Tiger Woods, who was in a championship of some sort, there were 90 minutes between matches, the other guy and his wife went and wandered around the golf village or whatever. Tiger laid down on the couch in the locker room and played every hole. That's what it takes to your point, professional athlete…. I think Michael Jordan's incredible basketball player…I don't think he can do what I do.  If you carry that type of confidence and preparation, you will be successful. It's about respecting who you're dealing with and who you're representing for sure.

Al Gresch:

And developing muscle memory.

Mike Zimmer:

Muscle memory, prep, being polished crucial. All right. Bullet number four, Do Your Homework. Al, talk to that a little bit.

Al Gresch:

I think we touched on it quite a bit already, Mike, and its know your solution inside and out. Know what the pain that this particular person is feeling and what you are bringing to the table will solve that. Know that, know that inside and out. Have statistics to back you up whenever possible.

Mike Finnegan:

I think you're right Al, now. The other thing is, in some of the technologies that we represent now, you may think you're ready to sit down with the CIO or the CFO, and you're not. You need to do an enormous amount of preclinical and technical assessing in that particular environment before you're ready to sit down. And a lot of times, Al, I think that's what made our relationship so successful is… you gave me the time to do that.

Equipped with that information enabled us to recite that client circumstances to them, not in an embarrassing way, in a very diplomatic way, these are the problems we observed that you have…this is how we think our technology can address them. And this is the amount of time we think it will take. The features and benefits element of sales at the executive level is a waste of time.  

This is about, they want to understand how you're going to solve their problem, not the button that's going to solve the problem.  Mike, you said it when we kind of started this conversation in a lot of ways, the clients themselves need to be educated.

Everybody wants a proposal, but you can hardly give you a proposal unless at least in my world until I know what I'm trying to solve for. And understanding what that problem is because you've seen one hospital, you've seen one hospital in my world, right? Those pre-assessment exercises are activities that are intended to make a sit down with any executive suite.

It's interesting, you know you're on when you've got a 30-minute meeting scheduled, and you look up at the clock, and you're in there an hour.  You've established that you have something incredibly valuable, but I think what's even more telling guys, is that for 40 out of the 60 minutes you were in there, the client was talking amongst themselves about how to apply the technology to solve their problem. I'm not saying a word, I'm not saying one word.  It's all these little details that you work toward to ensure you're taking the utmost advantage of their time.

Mike Zimmer:

And that goes back to your homework because of the value of what you're delivering, and this applies to any idea that you have internally to your department, the value is going to be different based on the level of the hierarchy that you're communicating with. And so, I see this all the time because my job is very tactical during these meetings where I present the software. And so, I have to define the value from a tactical operational, and then a strategic level. When we get into a conversation with somebody in the C-suite, I know that we've done a great job if we stay on a single screen.  It's more a conversation in the room about, well, this is terrific. They've already proved their credibility and value through the different layers. Now let's start talking about how we effectively deploy this technology.

Mike Finnegan:

I can't tell you guys, the number of times I've been in meetings at that level where the person in charge of presenting will tell the group, "Hey, come on, hold your questions, I need to get through the deck." And you know you're in with the wrong people at that point in time because our strategy is inverse to that. It is less is better, the value conversation is the winner.

Al Gresch:

The interesting thing too, and you touched on this briefly, Mike, that sometimes the folks that you're talking to, they just don't  understand how stupid certain things are because it's become the norm, right? And I always think back to the pitch that I did at one of our major hospitals around getting a handle on pump utilization.

The fact that it's accepted in our industry, that 40% utilization is just what it is, is ridiculous. Think about that 40% - less than half of the time, the thing is sitting there not being used on a patient. And Mike, I was thinking back to one of our times together where we were sitting in a boardroom with executives and one of them jumped up and said, "We can do this ourselves." And the CEO said, "If we could do this ourselves, we would've done it ourselves." Whether it's knowledge, lack of knowledge, or lack of bandwidth…

Mike Finnegan:

You are so right, Al. That is funny. I remember that meeting. I do.

Mike Zimmer:

You're not going to be able to challenge those kinds of paradigms without first doing your homework, right? You have to do all the background information in order to push back against something like that.

Mike Finnegan:

Absolutely.

Mike Zimmer:

So number five kind of dovetails right into this. This is a component of homework. That's Knowing Your Audience, and what's important to them. So defining what the WIIFM is….What’s In It For Me.

Mike Finnegan:

I don't know where I learned it, maybe it was innate, but it was reemphasized to me multiple times throughout different sales training classes that I've attended, that it's just not about me. It's about the customer. And as long as it's that's front and center on your mind. You can quickly tell when it's not because people will go right to feature and benefit…and they'll start talking about we and us.  We can do this, and we can do that, and again, you've lost them. You've lost them because we don't matter. And to your point about knowing your audience, in today's dynamic it is intensified 100%. And the tools that we have to enable us to know the audience are pretty convenient …Linkedin, Google even,  different articles that they've written….

When Mike Zimmer says something in a meeting, you're in there for 55 minutes, and Mike is the main person. He doesn't say anything till the 53rd minute. You’ve got to be able to capitalize on that. Well, thank you, Mike. I appreciate that. I know you wrote an article on device integration, and some of the struggles that you're having, this is how we approach it. Collectively, collaboratively, there are just so many different conversations that you can have to make that impactful. It's not about me.

Mike Zimmer:

So…what's it for the individuals there. 

Al Gresch:

You can be pitching the exact same initiative to different people, but the message has to resonate with that group. There were so many things that when I was pitching it to the CFO, what I focused on was the monetary value that it was going to have, how it was going to impact the bottom line. When I talked to nursing executives, again, the exact same initiative, but for them, I focused on the impact on patient care, staff throughput, things like that.

Mike Finnegan:

Absolutely.

Mike Zimmer:

Totally agree.  Let's now move over into bullet number six, and that's to Tap into Available Sales Training Resources. Now much like there are good salespeople and then there are the bad ones that become stereotypes in the TV and movie versions of salespeople that we see…there are great sales resources, and there are also terrible ones. Mike, I'm sure you've got quite a bit of experience working with these kinds of resources. Is there a particular book that you would recommend to the folks listening to this?

Mike Finnegan:

I've been through a lot of them, Mike and Al, the one that has always sort of defined everything we do, and I think it applied then, and it applies now is the The Challenger Sale.

Mike Zimmer:

I was going to recommend that one too, that's awesome.

Mike Finnegan:

Hey, look, it's just common sense. It's just basic common sense. I also think that ..the one that I used to lean into and followed for so long, a guy, he always had an article on the weekend section of the business journal, I think his name was Jeffrey Gitomer. And he was a sales guy, and he just made so much sense. I would always lean into every article that he wrote and even look him up.

Today I think, like on LinkedIn, it's called The Brutal Truth. This guy is just so common sense, but I think ... and I've been through several different types of training, some good, some bad, radar selling, Miller Heiman, all the normal ones. But the one, and it's sitting on my bookshelf here is The Challenger Sale. And in fact at Excel Medical, even before I got there, those guys did a complete deep dive off of that book, on how to approach their market and the types of information that they gleaned from The Challenger Sale was very successful for them. I'm really big on that one, Mike.

Mike Zimmer:

Yeah, same here. The narrative of that book passes through is, 2008 we had our housing crisis, but there were still these top-performing salespeople across a bunch of different industries that we're continuing to do extremely well. So they dug into the performance of those individuals to identify the behaviors of what caused them to still have success. I think that's appropriate for right now too, given what the healthcare industry is facing. Again, it's about humans interacting with humans. One has a solution that's going to deliver value, and the other one needs to have that value articulated to them, so that there's a fair exchange of value too.  And it should go without saying that this article is going to be made available once we publish the podcast. 

All right. So number seven is one that I'm super passionate about for obvious reasons, and that is to Familiarize Yourself with Presentation Tools. Your PowerPoint deck, whatever it might be is not what you're there to discuss. It is simply a tool that you can leverage to support the overall conversation around value. We get into situations where it is death by slides. Still in 2020, I'll have to sit through a meeting where there are 15 slides before we even get to what the customer cares about.  Feedback abounds after those sorts of sessions.

If you take the time to take a course on something like PowerPoint, or Vizio, or even Excel if you're wanting to present information through that, through that tool during a presentation, definitely do it. Because if you don't, someone else's initiative or idea is just going to come in and clobber you. It might not even offer as much value to your overall organization, as your idea does, but the devil's in the details. And those details have to be how you present, how you leverage the different tools during a meeting as you present them. And if I could just give a really good rule of thumb, take a look at one of those Apple Press Releases or Apple Presentations when they bring out a new product. They build engagement and anticipation around what they're about to pull out and display to everybody, which is most likely really just an iteration on something that they've previously released. Take a look at one of those and try to model the way that you leverage these tools in a way that's similar to the way that Apple does it.  

Mike Finnegan:

There was a time in my life that I was afraid of getting in front of people. And I had decided I either was going to run from it, which has to be running from a grizzly bear, or figure out how to get good at it.

I went through a number of different presentation skills things, I think this was years ago in my career. And I finally came upon this one called Communispond. I ended up going through that exercise three different times throughout my career. It's not about what you say, it's how you say it, right? In today's world, the people that we're talking to only will retain about 10% of what you say. You need to make sure that you're within the 10%, every time, four or five times through your discussion, your conversation, you're referring to the 10%.  There's a number of different ways to do that. I think the interactive pens that are available now for the Surface Pros, and even this computer that I'm talking on, allows you to engage the audience, right? Circle things. I liked the White Boards these days. You can put right up there…what do you think about it, Mike? And write it down. It becomes your notes that you playback in your responsiveness.  There's never, ever been a more important time to be good at using visual tools in presentation skills Mike than now..ever.

Mike Zimmer:

Especially given the remote nature of how these presentations are getting shared, and you brought up a good point. I went right to the software…right to the actual tools that you'll leverage during the presentation, occupational hazard given my job,  but there are so many great organizations out there that can help you sharpen the skills…the saw around… how do you articulate your message.

Mike Zimmer:

And I was kind of in your boat when I was first getting up in front of these seasoned senior people, I make jokes when I get nervous and so I would do that all the time. And I also thought that, oh, there's one way of communicating to the C-suite and that's what I have to align to. But at the end of the day, you're going to be who you are. So if you're hearing this and you're like, "I don't want to be 100% buttoned up, and super polished." You need to pull your personality up into the way that you communicate with these audiences. Because otherwise, it comes across as tilted and your passion, your commitment to this, isn't going to be transmitted by the way that you behave.

Mike Finnegan:

It's at risk.  It's so interesting this particular analogy: There are third basemen that can go out, and take two or three grounders and play in a National League game and never make an error. I need to take two or 300. Okay, That's me, that's what I know about me, is that the more I know the more times I've taken that ball and thrown it to first base, the more comfortable I am and confident I am in myself.

But that's just my rule of thumb. Otherwise, I work with a guy who is just a phenomenal dude in the executive suite. I mean, he just is, he does very little preparation, he's the guy that can take two or 3. I needed to take two or 300.

Mike Zimmer:

So it's about who you are as an individual.

Mike Finnegan:

It is, it is.

Mike Zimmer:

I got it.  Al, did you have anything to add to this conversation around familiarizing yourself with presentation tools?

Al Gresch:

Well, I think being minimalistic is always my recommendation. And I've learned this over time,  you’ll see so many slides that are busy as heck, and how do you get to the point that you're trying to make, it should be a guide, right? It should do nothing more than to spark a topic that you can then expand on, right? And the other thing that I've seen is, a lot of these tools have cute little gadgets …animations that you can plug it. Don't do it, don't do it, because it's a distraction.

Mike Zimmer:

 Because your audiences, our brains have novelty bias. They like seeing things that are a little bit different from slide to slide or something like that. But you're right, it can be a common distraction.  

Mike Finnegan:

I think that's a good convo though, guys. I mean, I was never a big fan of Build. But Build allows you to control attention. You shouldn't have 15 builds, it should be three. And so you float in that, “I think, Al's a great guy”. And you're focused on that, you talk about it, then you float in, “I think Mike's a good guy”. 

So the audience is glued into the points that you're making, the brain works so fast, it gets ahead of itself. But if you can control the build, you can to some degree just keep attention. That's, I think, the focus. I agree with Al, minimize things, but be prudent in how you use these things. There's nothing more valuable than an appropriate a 30-second story that relates to an example of how you worked with XYZ, or a quick number play.

Just tell me what you think this number represents 10, or whatever, that keeps attention. And it's very important, again, and I think it's being respectful now, if you don't practice those things, you'll look like a complete moron for sure.  

Mike Zimmer:

Well, I think the most powerful presentation tool ever…period…full stop…period is storytelling. Having a narrative, having a story that you can articulate, or position your idea or solution is crucial. Because that is the way that cognitively we are wired to consume information. We like to think we're super sophisticated and technologically advanced, and we are for the most part, but we're still working with the same brain that spent thousands of years around a fire in a cave…telling stories to one another.

Mike Finnegan:

Mike, what's interesting about this world of multitasking and maintaining attention, you can say a number of different things during a presentation or discussion, just try this… When you say, "I want to tell you a quick story," almost 100% of the time… 100% of the people will stop what they're doing and look at you. That's how we communicate, we tell stories.  Just try it, just try it and say, "I want to tell you a quick story," and see what the people around the table will do. They'll stop what they're doing, and they'll look up and listen to your story.  And that doesn't want you to go into a seven-minute diatribe. It is a 32-second quick hitter that has value around it, that applies to the conversation, and you move on. So reminding ourselves that you've got to be unique, you have to be different, and you have to be valuable. Relevant, you have to be relevant.

Mike Zimmer:

Bullet number eight is Be Persistent.  

Al Gresch:

I talk about how you have to have the right message at the right time. You may present something that just for whatever reason, it didn't fly.  Figure out why it didn't fly. Figure out if it was the wrong message. Figure out if it was the wrong set of ears that you were sending the message to… but don't give up. 

Over the years, there are so many things that I was just passionate about… I just can't let this continue to go on the way it is. We're wasting money. We're wasting time. We have to do something about this. Figure out what it's going to take to push that thing forward.  I've done that countless times, Mike, I'm sure you've got your examples of that.

Mike Finnegan:

Yeah, I think persistency is….again, I think people will assess your persistency. I just heard it the other day, it's still going to take you seven to 11 efforts of communication to garner somebody's attention. Once I have that attention, I think persistency to me goes back to the things Al was saying for certain, but also the 10%. Let's remind each other why we're here.

Even you'll get to the stage Al, and I talked about the other day competing priorities. What we've decided that we're going to invest in a parking lot. I come back to what the 10% was. What we decided was this would save a million and a half dollars. It has a direct effect on patient care and quality. And it's a competitive advantage for you. Does that parking lot do that?  That's the persistency that I'm going to keep coming back to, in terms of, agreeing to the value that we agreed to move forward. Very, very, very, very key.

Mike Zimmer:

I think you guys said that quite well. I don't have anything to add there. Number nine crucial, Deliver What You Sell. I'm not sure what to add there, but yeah, that's critical.

Mike Finnegan:

It's pretty straightforward. The activity, and your reputation, and your credibility, and your reference begins at PO. It begins when the orders cut. Now, I can't tell you how many opportunities Al, probably sold for me as a reference. And I always want to get to this spot where the client is, don't listen to what I have to say, listen to what a user says. And so, but that credibility, and that persistence, and that particular topic it's what you do after PO that what defines it. And so that's how I kind of view that perspective.

Al Gresch:

I want to take it one step further, and not just to deliver what you said you were going to do…but to make sure that the people that you deliver to know that you delivered it. And I always go back to an initiative that I sold at the executive level at Aurora, in working with the CFO, the CEO, and the Chief Nurse Executive. Made a committed to them, delivered on the commitment, scheduled a follow-up meeting to get in front of them, and show them, "Look, here's what I committed to, here's what I delivered." And before I could even say it, they said it, what's next? What can we do now? Because you build on that, that success. They must know that you deliver it.

And like Mike said, you nail your credibility with these folks, and you build on that over time. And it just gets to a point where what you propose is gold, and people are more inclined to listen to it and move forward with it because you have delivered in the past.

Mike Zimmer:

I think often an underestimated component of that is setting realistic or maybe even conservative outcomes around what it is that you're going to deliver. So we would call that under promising and over-delivering. So that not only are you executing in the way that you said you were going to, and you delivered the results, but you over-perform on those results, which does nothing, but build your brand so that they're even more prone to leaning in and saying, "What are you going to do for us next?" Just wanted to point that out, bring that up. 

And then number 10, Follow-up

Mike Finnegan:

We talked about this a little bit, but a follow-up to me comes in a lot of different flavors. It can be, "Hey, Al, how's it going? Did you get the proposal that I had someone was supposed to send over to you? Did we address the service contract circumstance that you had?" It can be ... and this is a challenging one today, "Walking the halls in COVID time."

 I did so much follow-up walking the halls, and maybe not even saw Al, or the executive team never even saw me, but they heard that I was there. They heard that I had stopped by the ICU to look at the monitor in bed 16 or whatever. And then I think finally, follow-up is just your credibility as a person. It's your reputation, it's “man, that guy follows up”. When you hear that comment about somebody, that's probably the biggest compliment you can get in the world that we live in regardless of what you're doing. “Boy did they follow up!”  In contrary, “I never hear from them. I don't even know where they're at.”  That to me is a big deal.

Al Gresch:

Well, it's also a great opportunity. Like Mike said, it comes in a lot of different flavors. One of those flavors is summarizing the initial meeting that you had with that person, outlining what both of your accountabilities are. And reminding them of that. And please tell me if I've missed anything, or I got this wrong. Now you've sent them a statement that, okay, these are the things that you agreed to and that you need to follow up on, right?

Mike Zimmer:

It's a great way of putting a period at the end of the sentence for the initiative that you've effectively sold internally. Al, if you wouldn't mind wrapping things up, but before you doing that, Mike, it's been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for the time that you've invested with us today.

Mike Finnegan:

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Al Gresch:

I just want to express just how incredibly important this topic is for everyone. Even the customers that we have that work in Healthcare Technology Management [HTM], and Healthcare Facilities Management[HFM], you're going to be selling all day long. Get good at it, because it's, what's going to help drive things forward within your organization, and raise your level of visibility within your organization.

Mike Zimmer:

Awesome. Great wrap up. Thank you, Al. As usual, if there are any ideas for any other topics that we should cover on our next episode, feel free to let us know. We'll talk to you next time. Thanks.

Thank you, Al, Mike, and Mike. We certainly enjoyed your presentation today. This concludes episode four of Podcast on Tech Nation. If you enjoyed today's episode, you might enjoy our ongoing webinars series Webinar Wednesday. You can find a calendar of upcoming live webinars, as well as an archive of on-demand webinars by visiting webinar Wednesday live. To obtain your certificate for one CE credit from the ACI, please remember to click the link located below the podcast title to complete today's survey. If you have any questions, you can reach us at [email protected]