Saturday, 21 September 2013

A Simple Service

Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Betty Zakheim for the first time, my mentor from Line at the Ladies Room. As we are both very busy women, working in entirely different time zones, today was the first opportunity we found to chat.

I wasn't sure what to expect from a mentor. I had a some things in mind that Betty might be able to help me with, but I didn't know how she wanted to approach our session. We started the call with introductions and Betty's friendly American accent calmed my nerves, then Betty asked what I'd like to talk about.

Service Offering

As I knew that Betty had a background in both Computer Science and Marketing, the first thing I wanted to ask her about was writing a service offering. I have recently been asked to lead an initiative in my organisation that means I have to define a new service and then write presentation material to share my vision with others. I've never had to do that before, so I asked Betty for some advice on how I could approach this. She gave me the following tips.

Elevator Pitch

Start by creating a crisp definition for the new service. What is it? How is it different to other testing? Why does it give a better outcome? Keep this definition short, quick and simple, so that a salesperson could hear it, remember it and repeat it without fault. This definition gets your foot in the door.

Speak Plainly

Write your pitch the same way you'd speak to somebody. Keep the language clear and avoid too much technical jargon. As you write, in cases where you can't think of an appropriate word, mark the point with ??? and move on. You can return to these points when the passage is complete, often the right word will appear given time.

Senior Management

When presenting to senior management, it's important to frame your argument in terms of cost and risk. This audience wants to know whether what you're offering is valuable to them. Often salespeople argue cost alone, but a proposition that reduces risk too is even more powerful.


A good pitch caters to oral, visual and written learners, using PowerPoint slides and a strong script. As a rule of thumb, for a 1 hour meeting bring 30 minutes of prepared material that explain your services then be ready to answer questions for the remainder of the appointment. When you are selling professional services the product is you; be ready to prove your expertise.

Betty also gave me some great feedback on the content of my material, which was a real eye-opener for me. It made me realise that I need to differentiate between what I create to sell this service to testers and what I create to sell this service to managers. Betty really got my brain buzzing on how I can speak to the latter category successfully.

It was an incredibly helpful 45 minutes and I'm tremendously grateful to Betty for giving up her time on a Friday evening. I'm looking forward to our next session in a few weeks.

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