Q: I missed a perfect opportunity the other day to sell my department’s security program and myself. I was in line at the company cafeteria when the new Chief Operating Officer got in line behind me and asked who I was and what I did. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well as I would have liked and now I’m determined to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Any advice?
A: Sad to hear you missed an opportunity. Happy to hear you recognize it was a missed opportunity and even happier to hear you are taking steps to minimize the chance of it happening again. You never know when or where the opportunity or need to sell yourself or your programs will come to be, so be prepared. Be prepared on different levels. Have a two minute “elevator speech” ready at all times; have a written marketing document ready for distribution at a moment’s notice; have a management document ready upon request; and have your business “dashboard” with all supporting metrics just a click away. Here are a few things to consider when getting prepared.
• Elevator Speech. This is for anybody that will listen. As the name implies you have a few short moments to sell your wares, so make them count. The elevator speech should be concise (30 seconds to two minutes), well planned, and easily understandable. It should be well-practiced for on the spot delivery. If more information is desired or needed, you can follow-up with the appropriately enhanced detail.
• Marketing Document. This is the story of what it is you (and your department) do. Information that you would be willing to share with the general employee population. Perhaps this is a written document, an illustrated brochure, or even a web page on the company intranet. Something that you could use for new employee orientation or a handout that you would be willing to share with other companies or professional organizations. Try a little bit of visual glitz to get a touch of the WOW.
• Management Document. This is the next step in the selling process. A document that contains a little more detail. Details that you might classify as “business confidential” and would only share with members of company management or those bound by some form of non-disclosure. A business document is distributed primarily with cause and is generally followed by a personal appearance.
• Dashboard. Not only is this what you do, but how often, how important and how well it is you do it; all supported with clear and verifiable metrics. This is a document that most likely requires some form of presentation and is probably reserved for management and department personnel only. This is a document that can be used for self, staff and department performance measurement and is updated monthly, quarterly or annually.
A security leader’s job demands readiness; the ability to deal with the unexpected at a moment’s notice, and this should be no different. Be prepared, keep all your information current, solicit the help of others when preparing your materials for both content and style, and practice. The better prepared you are, the more comfortable you will be and the better your presentation. Even consider a little softer, more personal document about yourself for those times when getting to know YOU is important. Regardless of how and what you do, be ready to answer when opportunity knocks.
Answer provided by Kenneth Kasten, Security Executive Council Emeritus Faculty member.
Editor’s Note: For more information regarding the selection and use of security industry metrics along with the development of a security industry related business dashboard, see the Measures and Metrics in Corporate Security series on the Security Executive Council’s web site, which also contains many other security related metrics and dashboards.