I was talking to an executive in financial services from Silicon Valley. To be honest, I was having trouble understanding what he did.
He described complex financial products that he partnered with other banks to sell to investors.
He had been with his company for over 10 years now and he had done so much for the organization that he was having trouble explaining what he did in one, simple, but compelling sentence.
When you’ve got 20-30 years of experience, you have so many accomplishments that you don’t even know what to lead with anymore.
You want to cram as much as possible into your conversations with decision makers in the hopes of selling yourself.
We see it on resumes, LinkedIn profiles and in our conversations with executives.
Having a concise, compelling career narrative is critical to win at the executive level.
The C-Suite does not have the time or patience for long winded messages.
I was talking to a marketing executive a while back and she was frustrated because she could literally do everything when it came to marketing, content, websites, etc.
I challenged her to tell me what her main value proposition was in one sentence.
She took days, weeks, and she couldn’t do it. This comes from not deeply understanding your customer enough.
This also comes from a lack of confidence.
Ironically we see many world class marketing professionals who can market ANYTHING, but when it comes to selling themselves…. they freeze.
People tend to try to be everything to everyone, but in the process your message loses all meaning.
For a moment, let’s put ourselves in the C-Suite executive’s head. Let’s assume they are also in the market to hire a new VP of Marketing.
If you come into the conversation listing off everything under the sun you’ve done, the advertising deals, the campaigns, the tactical execution of big projects, then how do you think that stacks up to the conversations your competition is having?
I can tell you right now it’s exactly the same.
I was talking to my friend who’s a VP of HR and she was exhausted from being on a committee interviewing executives. She said they all sound the same as they talk about themselves for an hour.
She can’t even decipher the difference between them. Between the buzzwords, the stories of strategic thinking, and the use of terms everyone throws around, but lack vivid meaning.
At the end of the day, no one cares what you can do. They care what you can do for them.
Or better yet…what can you do for them BETTER than anyone else can?
In most cases, when you’re competing at the executive level you’re expected to have a high level of competence.
The challenge becomes finding your unique ability that no one else can offer that aligns perfectly with the needs of your client (the decision maker sitting in front of you).
We’re no longer in a day and age where competence and years of experience is enough. Everyone has an MBA, 20 years of experience, and a track record of “results.”
We have to remember hiring is an emotional process. A decision that has to do with trust and you must have a compelling message that moves people.
If you don’t, then you’re just another VP.