At The UnConference, everyone asked about Money...and Sales

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Tue, Nov 05, 2013

MassTLC UnconferenceMassTLC (short for Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council) keeps doing everything perfectly! Having run a number of business associations such as SBANE, ACGBoston and the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge, I personally know how very hard it is to keep things new, exciting, and constantly refreshed.   Members want to feel engaged, sponsors need to feel loved, and new prospects want to join only if "the cool kids" belong.

With some help from his friends like James Geshwiler of Common Angels, and a number of others, Tom Hopcroft, the leader of MassTLC and the creator of the UnConference, just keeps doing it better and better.  Imagine a conference of 800+ people occupying the Hynes for a full day last Friday...

  • no agenda other than allocated blocks of time 
  • Twenty-five 20 minute mentor-to-entrepreneur one-on-ones
  • 60ish one hour sessions on topics decided on that morning
  • no keynote speakers
  • no PowerPoints (What?)
  • no public pitching of one's services (yikes!)
And, yet, one of the highest satisfaction ratings in Boston by the people who matter most-the real entrepreneurs looking for...time, skills and money, plus the highly qualified angels and early stage venture guys looking to provide what?...time, skills and money.  
Extraordinary event, and one in which I had the excitement of attending wearing a number of my various hats...
  • Doing the professor thing, 8 of my Tufts & 2 MIT students attended
  • As Chair of Common Angels, I got to be a mentor for 1-on-1s
  • As the Value Proposition guy, I got to talk about Cheerios
Paige Arnof-Fenn, well-known CEO of the highly regarded global marketing firm, Mavens & Moguls, came to my session on Value Propositions and was nice enough to BLOG  about "the happening".  That's Dave McGlaughlin, the CEO of VSnap, a solid guy with a very interesting startup, who's raising early stage funding, pitching his Value Prop to our group.  

My 2 Lessons from the UnConference...

Whether you're like Dave and hundreds of others at the UnConference looking for early stage capital to help launch your passionate dream that you've poured your reputation and your savings into, or you're a salesperson racing toward the finish line now 32 days away, those goals are only going to be achieved through...
  • ...your own diligence and personal commitment to work 18 hour days
  • ...your personal and business Value Proposition
  • ...and eating Cheerios
Cheerios and Value PropositionsCheerios.  Once again, I had the opportunity to hone and engage others in my now infamous discussion about the Value Proposition of Cheerios.  At the end of the discussion, we discover that....
-Cheerios is a major brand...but, "so what?"
-Cheerios has been for decades...but, "so what?"
-Cheerios has oats...but, "so what?"
-Oats are healthy...but, "so what?"
-Oats lower cholesteral...but, "so what?"
-Lower cholesteral prevents heart attacks...but, "so what?"

And, the real value proposition of Cheerios is that it helps to prevent death, but, of course, General Mills can't really say that, but that's what all of their commercials between little Johnny and overweight Dad at the breakfast table imply..."Dad, eat Cheerios and don't die".
#1 Reason Salespeople Fail
Once a prospective B2B buyer gets past researching the company (which they will have already done long before they take a scheduled call from any salesperson),  79% of them come away from that engagement saying that the salesperson focused on topics unimportant to me and my objectives!
  • They gave canned elevator speeches
  • They did not understand what I was looking for
  • They did little to no research on me or my company
  • Their lips were moving, but they never talked about the VALUE to me.

You want to make your quota in 30ish days?  
You want to get your dream financed?

  • Forget about you and focus on the other side of the table!
  • Think and act like the buyer:  "What's in this for me?"
I'd Love to have you share your own Value Proposition with our readers and see if it meets the criteria of constructing the perfect value prop, which you can learn about by clicking here.
In the meantime, Good Selling!
 Jack Derby 

 Head Coach

Linked In and Sales


Tufts Marketing
Each semester at Tufts, over a period of 13 weeks, I engage 30-35 students in a unique, hands-on, tools-based experience of preparing them for the real world of business in general and specifically the complexities of working in today's environment of Marketing and Sales.

Which leads me to look for 6 new companies each semester. 

Right now, I'm taking applications for the spring, 2014 semester.  If you're interested, please email me at, and I will send you an overview of what's involved and instructions.  Last June, we had 32 companies request information, and we accepted 6.  A truly unique opportunity for both your company and our students.

Save the Date:  April 6th-8th, 2014

Click HERE for information about our next Sales Management Boot Camp.

  • Perfectly timed for new sales management skills for 2014
  • Focused on you and what it takes to enable your team
  • Process, tools, tactics, and technology in a Sales 2.0 world
  • Only 30 managers accepted
  • Always sold out so register early!




Tags: Sales Optimization, Sales Best Practices, sales management, sales enablement, sales planning, sales effictiveness, sales management boot camp, sales boot camps