Building your own 30-3-30 Exchange

Proactive sales people are constantly looking for opportunities to engage with prospects with the goal of starting a formal dialogue that can result in new business. These prospecting exchanges can happen in numerous ways from marketing events all the way to unintended meetings in social settings.

​It’s critical that the sales person be prepared to present information that is appropriate for the moment and something that moves the sales opportunity forward. For instance, if the exchange is at a marketing event prospects are expecting to hear about your products or services so they’re ready to listen. However, if it’s a social setting prospects are likely not ready to listen and might want to avoid the conversation.

I created the 30-3-30 to help sales people prepare suitable content for any prospecting situation. The 30-3-30 is a collection of 30 second, 3 minute and 30 minute exchanges that allow sales people to be ready for any sales encounter. You never want to miss an opportunity with a prospect but you also don’t want to wear out your welcome by inundating them with information they’re not ready to hear. Following is a summary of the 30-3-30.

30-Second Exchange (30-SE) – The goal is to get the customer to want to know more about your product or service. The tool is useful during unplanned encounters with customers or any situation where a formal presentation isn’t appropriate. This is often called the elevator pitch but I’ve put more structure around it.


The important benefit of building a 30-SE is to help the sales person get clear on what their best value propositions are. In my experience, if a person can’t get me to want more information in less than 30 seconds, they either aren’t clear on their offer or they don’t have a value proposition. Using this simple tool to think through the communication helps target the communication, enhances clarity and simplifies the delivery.

(Note: I referenced the 30-SE in an earlier blog about quarterly meetings with Michael Dell. The goal is to outline the most compelling information the prospect would learn if a formal meeting is granted. Limiting the number of points to three allows the customer to remember what you say and for them to give feedback to help tune your 30-Minute Exchange (30-ME). The combination of features and results sets the expectation for the prospect. This also forces the sales person to prioritize the most important talking points.

An important note is that the 3-ME is best used when the prospect asks to know more. If the customer hasn’t asked for more, three minutes is an eternity. If they ask for something more than you can do in three minutes, ask for a formal meeting. You don’t want to misrepresent your offering by trying to cram 30 minutes into three.


30-Minute Exchange (30-ME) – The goal is to communicate detail on the top 3 reasons why the customer should seriously evaluate your proposal and thus open a formal dialogue to consider your product’s ViABILITY and your company’s CapABILITY.

This is a standard product or service presentation that all companies have, but I purposely limit it to 30 minutes of content. Rarely is this first formal meeting an opportunity to close the sale which is why I call it the opening of the dialogue so you want to choose the most impactful information and ask for another meeting if questions lead to other topics.

In any presentation, it’s important to make time for questions. Any meeting with a customer should be an interaction because there’s always more you can learn and impromptu dialogue is a way for them to get to know you. It’s also good to anticipate questions they may have but be careful not to present based on your assumptions. It’s important that you fully address the value propositions and results that got you the meeting, in the first place, before you address things you think they might need to know.


As with many things, good preparation is hard work but it enables smooth execution. Knowing how to prepare your 30-3-30 and taking the time to do it, will increase your probability of success with new and existing customers.

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