102708 Puzzler Solution

Last week’s Puzzler began:


A partner at a "white shoe" New York investment bank (now out of business due to the recent financial unpleasantness) was preparing his deal team for a dinner meeting with a client's executive team, all men, 50-ish years old. The team was working on its first transaction for the client.


The partner turned to the greenest associate on the team (who would have been in his early '20s) and said, "At dinner, find a way to sit next to [the client’s CEO].  If you can't do that, don't bother coming back to work tomorrow."

Suggestions ranged from the salacious (“Find out his mistress’s name”) to subtle (“Tell the partner to go __ himself, then look for another job”) to serendipitous (“Wait in the men’s room. Let him come to me.”) to not very subtle (“Offer him tickets to something he’d really like to go see.”) to the sidling (“Join a conversation that the CEO is having with others, then propose you sit together at dinner to continue”) to the sly (“When meeting the CEO, ask him for his single best idea for getting to be seated next to THE most important person at a dinner meeting and tell him you’d like to continue the discussion over dinner.”) not to be outdone by the multiple suggestions about setting the place cards at the tables.


Virtually every response emphasized RESEARCH (about the guy (personally and professionally) his company, his industry, the deal you’ve been working on) to find common ground or some kind of hook. Many people suggested “personal” hooks. (Example: You played the same sport and know his position, performance etc.) Others suggested “business hooks,” variations of ”I’ve looked at the issues and I have an idea for you.” )


Many suggested finding someone to introduce you, a REFERRAL, from someone on the client team or someone on your own team.


Some suggested completely direct approaches (e.g. “I have an idea for you” or “may I sit next to you at dinner…” or “my boss told me I had to sit next to you” or “”I greatly respect what you’ve accomplished in your career and I’ve read all of the available information about you, may I sit next to you at dinner and ask you some questions so that I might learn from you?”).


Great ideas. The winners, by a large margin, RESEARCH to be informed and to find common ground, a strong statement or question to begin the conversation, and REFERRALS .


Now… back to the “every day” world. Prospecting in particular. So, how come we’re still picking up the phone and dialing for appointments without doing this work?





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