Once Upon A Time….

Michael Riener
President and CEO
RCH Solutions

One of my favorite communications leaders and public speakers is Conor Neill. 

Among the many presentations he’s given on effective communication, is a particularly popular speech on, of all topics, “How to Start a Speech”. 

Paradoxically, he begins by telling you what not to do and then offers this very simple and practical advice: Speak like you’re talking to a child. From Neill’s perspective, perhaps beginning your talk with one of the most recognizable lines from almost any classic children’s story … “Once Upon A Time” … not only gets your audience’s attention but creates a sense of anticipation for the story that is about to unfold before them.

The reason for this, I offer, is that a story is not only easy to understand, it also, in the best examples, transports you to a place other than where you are. It suspends time, takes you on a journey, and makes you believe.

Think of history’s greatest storytellers (e.g. Mark Twain, Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, etc.). You may not enjoy or believe what some of them had to say but, you have to admit, they are great storytellers. You understand the message they’re trying to deliver. Most especially Buffet who has this great ability to take a very complicated topic of finance, and explain it in terms that (almost) everyone can understand.

After working in this business for more than 25 years and leading RCH Solutions for the last 15 of those, I’m a firm believer in telling a story. Why? Because despite our tenure in the industry, I’m often asked “what exactly does RCH Solutions do?” 

The challenge is not that I’m unable to articulate our services or value, but rather, RCH is in a very unique business. One which supports a relatively narrow audience, to solve some very specific and challenging problems. So, the answer requires some level of explanation even to our ideal customers. And many times, the explanation is not brief and requires specific detail that demonstrates the very specific problem in a very specific market that we aim to solve.  Besides, would you like to listen to a solution pitch or hear a story about a customer, just like you, who experienced the same challenge then realized a great outcome?

If RCH made software or technology (which, BTW, we don’t do either of those things), the answer would be much simpler and likely the same no matter who’s asking.  

But how do you present or deliver a complex answer in a concise manner, to one individual or perhaps more, in a way they can understand? 

Like Neill says, the answer is to tell a story. So here goes. 

Once upon a time, there was a kind and wise young man, David, who was sent to disarm the mighty and powerful Goliath. Despite all odds, the seemingly inferior David defeated the battle-wise behemoth that is Goliath by hurling a stone to the center of his head. Through a cunning combination of skill, agility, speed, and the effective use of tools, he proved that the things many believe to be an advantage, like size, actually have little to do with ability. 

And what does this have to do with RCH Solutions, you might ask? I’ll tell you. 

Although RCH is in a unique market serving a specific customer base, we do battle competition as well (or at least other vendors who are believed to offer similar products or solutions). Often, we are the challenger. The David to the incumbent in Goliath. And what lessons have we learned from that story?

  1. Speed and Agility Beat Size
  2. Focus on a Specific Area
  3. Not all Rules Apply
  4. Embrace Emerging Technologies

The Stories that Matter Most to Our Customers

At RCH Solutions, we have a top-notch marketing group. They have prepared some terrific material to tell the story of RCH. What we do, what we offer, and most importantly the value the customer will see from our services. Like most companies, we have pitch decks to tell our story. After all, customers expect you to have material. They expect you to have slides and slicks and sales pieces that help prove your value to internal stakeholders. 

However, whenever we have a chance to speak to a prospective customer—who by the way are some of the smartest people on the planet—I always ask the same questions. Would you rather have material about what we do? Or, would you like to hear a story? A story of how RCH helped a customer, just like you, solve a very specific challenge?

Every single time, they choose a story. 

So I tell them about a time we have tackled a challenge like theirs or improved an outcome similar to what they hope to realize, or finished a project started by some other vendor who had the size, but none of the skill to actually get it done. Pulling from our experience, I can help our prospective customers understand what we do through their lens, helping them to see why our service would be valuable to them. 

If a vendor can’t tell a story, then the book isn’t yet finished. Wouldn’t you rather hear a story with a great ending?

Let RCH tell you a story. It begins with “Once upon a time in Scientific Computing….”

About RCH Solutions

RCH Solutions is a global provider of computational science expertise, helping Life Sciences and Healthcare firms of all sizes clear the path to discovery for nearly 30 years. If you’re interesting in learning how RCH can support your goals, get in touch with us here.  

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