Pesky TBU

A recent study at the Stanford Graduate School of Business reinforced how important it is to include relevant facts, and delete true but useless (TBU) information. Professors Margaret Neale and Scott Wiltermuth determined that using “non-diagnostic information” or useless, irrelevant statements, resulted in an impasse or complete failure in negotiations.

The researchers found that even when one group was familiar with the other side, or did homework on their personality profiles, they still overlooked critical issues. Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and LinkedIn profiles lulled them into a false sense of confidence about who they were pitching to, or negotiating with.

When training pitch teams, we drive them to identify and share a common intention. Then, we assign roles to make the assignments clear, and include big picture and detail. Next, we counsel them to do the unexpected, and not what the client asked, as in “Come in and tell us a little about yourselves.” Instead, launch directly into the potential client’s concerns, and in a concrete way, address how you will solve their challenges. If possible, relate how the client is similar to other clients you’ve served in their space. Your presentation will be the opposite of TBU.

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