PepperMill July 2016

Tim’s No Rookie


Bear with me this month, as my column is going to be longer because I’m sharing it. I was inspired in late June when I attended the national conference for SHRM (Society of Human Resources Management). The theme was BreaktHRough. The top two breakthrough topics were HR Technology Adoption (see Teer1) and Company Culture.

I’m sharing this column with Corey Garrity, our newest Pepper. He’s on our sales team and just out of college. So much is being said these days about “hiring for culture fit” and we certainly did with Corey. Coming out of college into the working world is no easy transition, so it’s great if someone’s personal values align with the company’s to make the crossover easier—because the “WHYs” remain the same. Corey’s not an exception in our hiring practices, as all Peppers bring their connections to the culture, but his perspectives are the freshest.

I asked Corey to give a personal view of how our eight core values are reflected in his experiences and how they aligned with his expectations. Over the course of this column and his upcoming own column, Through the Eyes of a Rookie, we’ll get to know a little more about what a company culture looks like, from the inside out.

Pepper Group’s core values are a little different in that they’re very inward facing, guiding our behaviors that support us in our craft and personal lives. Though no Core Value is more important than another, we always lead our list with Initiative Has No Boundaries. As a small company, it’s imperative that everyone has the confidence that they can always make positive changes from the status quo or the absence of a good solution.

Hope you enjoy this first entry from Corey as much as I did!

Tim Padgett


­­­­Through the Eyes of a Rookie

Sometimes a change in perspective is all we need to take us from where we are to where we want to be. However, the reality is that a change in perspective is not the easiest thing to approach, let alone act on.

In 2012 I graduated high school to start a new adventure in the windy city of Chicago. Coming from North Carolina to a booming city, I was exposed to a whole new world. The people looked differently, dressed differently and spoke differently. Culture shock? Most likely, but all I needed to adapt ­was a shift in perspective.

Little did I know upon entering my time at Concordia University Chicago, that my perspective, and even the course of my life, would change radically. My whole life had been shaped from the influencers around me, but in the blink of an eye, all of them were gone and I was left at a fork in the road. I had to choose to continue making decisions based upon the perspective I have had my whole life, or integrate the foundation of who I am into a new perspective. I chose the latter. I began gravitating toward inspiring people, motivating people, people who move others. In short, I gravitated toward leaders.

As I began to listen to the leaders around me, my perspective shifted and initiative rose up within me and shifted me from the life I was living, to the life I had dreamed of living. From then on, I began heading down the road less traveled. Four years later, as I continued down this path of newfound initiative and life, I landed where I am today, at Pepper Group. 

Corey Garrity

Chicago Innovation Awards

For the 15th year, the Chicago Innovation Awards will be celebrating the most innovative new products and services introduced in the Chicago region. We’d like all of our clients, prospects and friends to know about this unique opportunity to share your innovation.

Nominees and winners from all industries are invited to enter, from large corporations to new start-ups, for-profit and non-profit, public and private sector, high-tech and low-tech. The key is innovation.

We encourage all of you who have developed a new product or service in the last three years to self-nominate for this year's awards. Nominations are free, and can be submitted via an online form at The deadline is July 31.

This year's winners will be honored in front of 1,500 business and civic leaders at the Chicago Innovation Awards on October 25. The event will take place at the Harris Theater, and will be covered in local and national media. Winners will be invited to ring the NASDAQ Bell, invited to meet with the Mayor, Governor, Cook County President and more.

We hope you choose to participate!


Client Spotlight: Thermal Care

Skim through any plastics processing magazine and notice the ads. Or maybe you wouldn’t notice them at all, because they mostly blend in, with technical copy and pictures of industrial cooling equipment. Now, flip through recent issues of Plastics Technology or Plastics Machinery, and you’ll immediately spot Thermal Care’s latest campaign for its NQV, RQE and TC chillers, featuring tie-dye, blue jeans and green grass.

Thermal Care, a leading manufacturer of process cooling equipment, came to Pepper Group requesting a new ad campaign that highlighted the energy efficiency of its new and improved chillers. Our mission was to make these ads leap off the page and generate phone and web inquiries, while conveying key information about each product.

The resulting campaign focuses on energy efficiency, in a way that’s a huge departure for their environment. They are bold in their attitude, visual and headline style, and include minimal copy that highlights key benefits. Different phone numbers were used in each publication to track results.

Another year, another successful campaign that brings much-needed coolness to industrial chillers and the plastic processing industry!

5 Reasons Your Sales Presentation Isn’t Working

In today’s B2B marketing and sales environment, generating and nurturing leads is becoming an increasingly important part of the mix. By the time your salesperson gets to that first meeting with a prospect, you’ve done a lot of work to make it happen. But how effectively does your sales presentation support your effort to clinch the deal? If you’re like most companies, it could work a lot harder. Here are 5 reasons to consider upping your presentation game.

1. More than half of your prospects think your salesperson shows up unprepared.

This widely cited statistic from International Data Corporation—that nearly 57% of B2B prospects and customers think that their sales reps aren’t prepared for the first meeting—is mind-blowing. You’ve no doubt put a lot of time into your company’s “corporate overview” pitch deck, and any professional salesperson is definitely spending time getting ready for that critical first meeting. So why would a prospect feel like the salesperson was unprepared? Maybe your overview deck is too much of an overview—that is, it’s a general piece you could deliver to anyone, and doesn’t focus enough on how you’ve helped other companies like the prospect solve similar problems. Maybe you’re missing an opportunity to incorporate case studies, samples or other pieces of information that will make the prospect feel like you did your homework. It’s easy to talk about who you are and forget to talk about how you can help.

2. On average, B2B buyers are 57% of the way through their selection process before they even contact a potential partner.

The number 57 must be magical for B2B marketers. You’ve heard us quote this stat from the Corporate Executive Board before, and we’ll keep doing it, because it’s vital. By the time your salesperson is sitting across from the prospect, ready to convince them that your product or service is the very best one for them, the prospect has already done their research. If the salesperson spouts the same info that’s on your company website, you’ll lose attention and credibility in a flash. You certainly have to hit the main points about your company, but the prospect already knows about your history and that new product you introduced last year. Cover those things, but quickly, and spend more time focusing on what’s going to help move your prospect forward. (P.S. Have you read The Challenger Sale? If not, do it, and then let’s talk about how this methodology can truly flip your presentation approach upside-down.)

3. PowerPoint fatigue: the struggle is real.

Don’t get me wrong: PowerPoint remains an important tool for guiding sales discussions and sharing information. But with great power comes great responsibility, and too many years of too many really bad PowerPoints, plus their accompanying technical difficulties (“Do I need PC Input or HDMI 1? Do you have a VGA to HDMI dongle?”), have made it harder than ever to get people engaged with a slide deck. But it can be done! PowerPoint is good for more than lists of bullets. Use it well (think video, animation, more pictures, fewer words, modular options that allow for easy customization), and it can work wonders. Use it poorly, and … well, you already know what poor PowerPoints are like. We’ve all been there.

4. The dreaded “show up and throw up.”

It’s inelegant, perhaps, but we’ve all heard this phrase—a not-so-nice way of saying someone took up space in your office and time out of your day and talked at you. The best sales conversations are engaging; that means both the salesperson and the prospect are participating. It’s easy to fall into the trap of giving the same presentation over and over again, and to be sure, salespeople have different levels of skill when it comes to presenting. But one or two well-placed interactive moments can make a world of difference. Can you survey the prospect ahead of time, and tailor your presentation to the results? Can you ask some pointed questions about the industry or their situation to generate discussion? Can you demonstrate the main idea behind your product or solution in a tangible, tactile way that might even be a little fun? Can you tell them about your company without telling them about your company, such as with a video tour or an infographic? Can you use dramatic flair to make your point? (Hint: the answer to at least one of these questions is yes, for every company.)

5. It takes at least 5 people to make a B2B buying decision.

This is another gem from CEB: in complex B2B deals, an average of 5.4 stakeholders are involved in the buying decision. Since pretty much all B2B deals are complex, that’s a stat you need to care about. You might not get all five of those people in a room to convince them that you’re offering the best way forward. You might get two of them, and then you have to empower those two with the tools to gain support for you from others in their organization. Can your sales presentation work for you even when you’re not there to give it? If your prospect forwards your presentation and three of your competitors’ presentations to the decision team, does yours inspire more interest, better convey your expertise or personality, or give them other reasons to feel more confident you’ll be the best company to take care of them?

At Pepper Group, we’ve helped many companies take their presentations up a notch—so the marketing team puts their best foot forward and the sales team saves time and feels more supported, which makes everyone more successful. With a great presentation in hand, your salesperson can enter that first meeting with swagger—and swagger helps you win.

Jessie Atchison (standing in for George)


Blazing Forward

Forget speedy cheetahs and peregrine falcons. This camera is so fast, it can capture neurons firing in your brain … and who knows what else.

Super-fast cameras aren’t new. There already was a super-fast “streak camera” that could capture the movement of light.

But a new technology, called single-shot compressed ultrafast photography (CUP), goes even further. It can capture a laser pulse travelling through air. A streak camera/standard digital camera hybrid, it produces images with better resolution, contrast and cleaner backgrounds than its predecessor.

Its applications could be life-changing. Researchers may be able to observe ultra-fast biochemical reactions within cells—which could potentially help cure disease. Or, it could help improve combustion engine fuel efficiency. You can read more about it here.

Of course, if you’re prefer slower photography, there there’s always this classic option.

Sharla Davis