The Seinfeld Meeting.
In 1992, Jerry and George famously pitched “a show about nothing” to executives at NBC, hoping that a thinly-veiled, narcissistic rewrite of their own shallow lives would bring sitcom riches. (That the formula had already worked in real life is just beautifully ironic.) Today far too many of us are still having “Seinfeld Meetings” — gatherings, sales calls and presentations about nothing — and they’re certainly not making us richer in any sense of the word.
What’s a Seinfeld Meeting? How is it possible that a meeting can be about nothing? They happen (or maybe don’t happen) constantly, and they could be afflicting you or your team members. Some examples:
The General Presentation: Ah, the centerpiece of so many sales marketing efforts. But call up a customer and ask “How would you like to see our general presentation?…you know, the exact same thing we’d show to just about anybody?” If a presentation is truly general, you’re making absolutely no traction, leaving no lasting memory, filling time. Seinfeld meeting.
The Lunch and Learn: The lunch and learn lets the agency media group project an illusory sense of fairness and inclusion while also making the sales rep feel as if she’s getting her day in court. But, alas, she’s trotting out the general pitch and it’s unlikely there’s anyone in the room with the seniority and sway to really commit to anything. Worse yet, a big check mark goes next to the site’s name on the agency blackboard. “Why would we see you again? You were just here.”
The ‘Get to Know You’ Meeting: “I’ll ask what kept you awake last night….you rattle off some canned objectives and stats…..I’ll then launch into some version of my general pitch…..and we’ll both walk away from the encounter with absolutely no lasting connection.
In each of these cases, the seller is confusing activity with progress. If you want to stop having Seinfeld Meetings then start putting a sharp point on everything you do. Bring a strong point-of-view into the meeting that the customer can react to. Set an agenda based on client business needs, not on your need to “tell your story.” Come in prepared to make a difference in the customer’s business. And if you’re lucky enough to get face time with a real customer, don’t assume you’ll get a second meeting to come back with your proposal, because you won’t.
Ask yourself “What exactly is this meeting going to be about anyway?” Because that’s just what the customer is asking as well.